This country is definitely one of the most beautiful and diverse countries I’ve ever traveled to.
I’ll even go out on a limb and say, to this day, it’s my favourite one of all.
New Zealand has so much to offer, especially when it comes to outdoor action and fun. We spent ten days traveling around the north island in yet another wicked camper van. Every one of these days was completely jam-packed with scheduled rafting trips, mountain hiking and what not. (thanks to me and laura going all Austrian on the planning)
I can also safely say, I have never ever slept as well as on this trip. I’m usually a tosser, a turner and a frequent mid night loo go’er. I transformed into a full on – rock. Exhausted and content.
This was our ten day plan of action:
Day 1: because our flight arrived pretty late we decided to stay at the nomads hostel in the centre of Auckland. the hostel was fine, clean, what more do you want. we basically only had dinner and slept so i don’t have much to say about auckland – it’s a very small city, and when we arrived it was pretty much a ghost town. as i’ve already mentioned in my australian posts – don’t bother spending valuable time in the cities – they won’t live up to the architecture or food in europe.
But by god, the nature will!
Day 2: Van pick up at the wicked headquarter – which was a little in the back arse of nowhere – we got the train from britomart to penrose, and walked. if you’re planning ahead just stay near here, it’s way closer to the airport, we were just too many.
Ready? set? go!
After some classic food and supply shopping (thames – great one stop town) we drove all the way up to the Coromandel Penninsula, to hot water beach. due to delays we missed out on cathedral cove – go! just saw a friend’s pic, amazeballs.
hot water beach – is not only beautiful, but it has mind blowing special effects too 😀 between certain times of low tide you can dig, dig, dig your way to a private jacuzzi on the beach.
Yeah you heard me.
Easier said than done though 😉 but with a few strong lads helping us out we were soon butt cheek deep in a warm, sometimes even scorching, pool of water.
Our camping spot was a little far to drive so we asked a B&B just beside the beach if we could camp there – the owner was super friendly, and the spot was perfectly romantic too.
Day 3: our third day had us splitting into two groups – the lord of the rings fans and …well…the others 😀
The LOR lads obviously headed off to hobbiton, but we decided to spend the afternoon mountain-biking in the redwoods at rotorua. and boy, i’m glad i did.
First time mountainbiking – big hit! the tracks gave me an unexpected adrenaline kick, the trees and vegetation were exotic and mystical and my body enjoyed the much needed workout.
We hired our bikes and helmets here – awesome light bikes, i think i would have fallen several more times if we didn’t have them, yes i did fall – only cause i’m hardcore. they also give you great track maps. to our rejoice – they even had showers (cost $1 or $2), a backpacker’s dream.
Our campsite for the evening was one of the most beautiful of all – on the banks of lake rerewhakaaitu. basic camping, around $8 each – the most beautiful sundown view, to have some tea and a camping meal with.
I found most of our campsites here. again, go prepared or go home. we found ourselves snagging wi-fi to google search at burger king, and having a sundae too many, too freaking often.
Day 4: Only about a half hour drive from the lake was the famous Wai-O-Tapu active geothermal area. full of geysers, colourful hot springs and mud pools. although i found the bright neon colours somewhat impressive, the intense smell of sulfuric acid (rotten eggs) had me feeling queazy. I was quite glad to sight the end of the trail when we did. on the plus side – the shop has cute outdoor clothes.
Next pit stop: Kerosene Creek, bit of a tough one to find, but worth it. a natural hot pool situated along a river. basically it looks like a normal river, but then – BAM – it’s as warm as a hot tub. this place is just full of crazy ass side effects. lor must be real after all, damn shoulda went to hobbiton.
The creek is freely accessible, a lovely place to spend an afternoon swimming, picknicking and sipping beers at. for some reason (that i’m too lazy to google) you’re not supposed to dip your head under water, so don’t do that please.
Campsite: reids farm in taupo (free). busy, busy – full of young backpackers, but we managed to get some good spots. along with some dramatic neighbours who started a fire with a gas cooker, and then proceeded to ‚kidnap‘ some of our guys to a creek, although i don’t think they put up much of a fight.
Day 5: We rose and shone early to have a quick look at the tremenduous huka falls. A waterfall, that’s astonishingly clear and powerful. It took us all of five minutes. Good thing cause we were in a hurry to jump off things.
well…this is what I did
A few others followed with just a rope, head first. yeeeeah…maybe next time 😉
we then headed off to do some white water rafting. which was really cool and fun, and no you don’t get thrown overboard and die. you get to jump off a waterfall, which is pretty neat.
Day 6: full day hike – Tongariro Crossing. possibly one of the most challenging and rewarding days of my life. if my memory serves me right it took us an entire eight and a half hours to complete the circuit including the mount doom summit. this part is a very steep ascent to the tippy top of the volcano, where you have to full on climb up rocks on all fours, for about two hours. once we reached the snow-covered tip and peeked into the hollow volcano pit – our mission was complete.
A sandwich and a müsli bar never tasted so good. I was on top of the world again.
Day 7: Blackwater rafting and glowworm caves. although my nerves had me itching at the idea at first – entering an underground, water-filled, small spaced cave. it all turned out pretty dandy. the experience was unique and memorable and definitely one to recommend. jumping around caves, the unique and beautiful stone features, and of course floating under a glow worm lit ceiling – which looked much like the outback night sky at night.
Day 8: We had a long drive to the bay of islands and unfortunately got a bad day of weather. The kayaking tour was booked in advance, and despite a few moans and groans before getting into wet suits in spit rain, we all had an absolute blast. Our guide was totally chill, and we even managed to sneak a few ‚water bottles‘ on board. We had an amazing day, I can only imagine the great views on a clear skied one.
Day 9: My van had to get back to Auckland early, but the others headed to Waipoua Forest, to see a tree 😀 reports say it was impressive. On our last night of camping I decided to not let any food go to waste and cook up a storm with my french sous chef – Antoine. Rice for daaays 😀
Day 10: Dramatic steve moments due to wicked being *a lot of curse words* – they claimed vans weren’t clean enough, after having them professionally cleaned by their ‚recommended partner‘. function wise the vans were awesome – we fit everything, and i must say the rooftop tents were easy to use and comfy. after being charged extra for something so ridiculous and staff’s behaviour, i’d think twice next time. if you do decide to hire with wicked be careful and be aware, make sure that everything is spanking clean (including dishes) upon return.
– book activites on => book me nz, it will save you A LOT.
– bring warm clothes & sleeping bag. we went in december, temperature were mild during the day but very cold at night.
– buy sim cards (in any country) if you are traveling with people and if you’re staying for longer than a week. it’s worth it.
– look up campsites or have map/internet.
– don’t worry about food shopping too much, there’s stores and restaurants everywhere.
– if you’re coming from australia, yes they do charge you even if you’re with ANZ, crazy right?
– go visit this drop dead gorgeous country.