My New Zealand adventure has come to an end: 38 days, 21 cities, 18 beds, tons of great people and an uncountable amount of breath taking views! Sitting in the airplane back to Australia right now thinking of everything I’ve seen and done and what there is still to come. What an adventure!!
After the South Island I continued my journey exploring the North. From Wellington to Waipukarau, Hasting, Napier, Taupo, Rotorua, Coromandel, Whitianga, Waiheke to Auckland.
Peaking in Hawke’s Bay
After a 4-hour bus drive to Waipukarau Bennick was already there to pick me up. I met him in Den Haag last year, lives in London but originally from NZ, Waipukarau. Funny to meet friends on the other side of the world! We drove to his parents house, where Bennicks parents were warmly welcoming us. I could sleep in the guest room: a double bed just for me! Heaven for every traveler who is used to the bunk beds in hostels 🙂 We had dinner outside in the evening sun. A kind of sweet potato, home grown vegetables and a real BBQ steak! And of course a nice glass of red wine (or 2) from Hawke’s Bay. Yum!!
The next day was fully planned with things to see and do. We drove to Hastings and hiked up the Te Mata Peak, or Tomato Peak as I thought I heard them saying haha (New Zealanders and their pronunciation ;)). Again, gorgeous and so different then the South Island! After a hike you deserve some relaxation, so we had our lunch at Ocean Beach. Clear blue water, warm (well, in comparison to The Netherlands!) and about 30 degrees with a little breeze, what else do you want! I just fell asleep when it was already time for our next stop: Craggy Ranch. A winery, one of the biggest in Hawke’s Bay. A fancy place with a beautiful garden looking out over Te Mata Peak we just climbed. But I must say, I’ve never had such a quick wine tasting! I think we’ve tasted 6 wines within 10 minutes. The sommelier was even talking like he got paid by words per minute 😉 Luckily even Bennick didn’t get everything he was saying haha. Back home Bennick had to work some more, so I sat on the veranda enjoying the last sun. Dinner was again super, lamb rack this time 🙂 What a treat!
Back to the 30’s in Napier
Our last stop was Napier. While driving over the Marine Parade, Bennick told me about the earthquake that hit Napier in 1931, where almost the whole city centre was destroyed. They rebuilt in in the beautiful Art Deco style. I really liked the city, just walking through the Art Deco streets, hearing the matching music from the different shops, even the woman in the shops were even dressed in the same style. Too bad I wasn’t there a week before when the whole city was transformed because of Art Deco Festival!
After lunch at the harbour it was already time to go back to the city to get the bus to my next destination: Taupo. Bennick, thanks for showing me around in your home city, Y-puk for life! 😉
Being doomed by Mt Doom!
My main reason to go to Taupo was the famous Tongariro Crossing, a one day hike of about 19 kilometres through a volcanic terrain. Added by a 3-hour climb of Mount Nhauruhoe, or Mount Doom as the Lord of the Rings fans would know it probably. This was by far the best thing I’ve done in New Zealand!! The weather was the best you could have wished for, the views amazing and let’s not talk about the personal gains! I was glad I already did some hiking in the south, cause this was truly the hardest I’ve done so far. But so worth it! That’s why I wrote a separate blog about the Tongariro Crossing 🙂
Smelly business in Rotorua
Only an hour away, I took the bus to Rotorua the next day. Went to I Site to ask what’s there to do in Rotorua that doesn’t require too much walking. My knee was still not feeling great and I didn’t want to make it worse. There were some options, nothing too exciting though so I decided to just take it easy in Rotorua. Luckily the hostel was only one street away. I checked in, got my stuff up in the room and there was a big surprise waiting for me: a normal single bed with a super comfy mattress! Still recovering from the crossing I laid down and didn’t move for the next couple of hours. Actually, after a quick dinner I moved upstairs again and went to bed early. Loving the bed! It was called Central backpackers Rotorua for the travelers who’d like to have a nice bed for once 🙂
The next day my knee was feeling a lot better, so I walked around the city. A weird city, with a constant sulfuric smell, like rotten eggs. “It has benefits too you know,” Arthur from the hostel said to me, “you can just fart unnoticed and claim it’s the city!” haha. Funny guy Arthur. The smell is caused by the geothermal areas, with geysers and bubbling mud pools. Impressive but also kind of ‘scary’ to see the smoke coming out of the earth like that! After the park I walked to the lakeside, enjoyed the black swans swimming and walked back along the lake to the city centre. Nice green parks with colorful flowers and an amateur band playing some songs for the (elderly) audience. At night we – Do (another Dutch girl), Ceri (Wales), Or (Israel), Nick (USA) and later on Casmin (Romania) – enjoyed the hot tub and just chilled all evening. I love all the (free) hot tubs at the hostels in New Zealand!
What to do when it’s still raining the following day. Played some Sudoku (I finished my first expert levels! Still figuring out some of the techniques…), wrote my Tongariro Crossing blog, sorted out photos. You know, that kind of stuff 🙂 Later on I convinced the two American girls Christine and Casey and Casmin to stay up and go out because my bus to Coromandel was leaving at 03.00 am and I didn’t want to pay another night for just 2 hours of sleep 😉 First we went to the Polynesian Spa, with thermal hot pools. We were glad that it was raining, cause those pools were bloody hot! We met a girl there, Michelle from Ireland, and she joined us to the city. At 01.30 am everything closed unfortunately, so we went back, got my bags and waited at the busstation the last hour. Called Anna slightly tipsy, turned out she was at work with all her colleagues haha. Forgot that it was already a Monday again… 🙂 Once I sat in the bus I put some music on and tried to get some sleep. With all the stops in Auckland and Thames on the way to Coromandel (shitty connection), I didn’t succeed much. ‘Luckily’ the weather in Coromandel wasn’t much better than in Rotorua, so I could sleep some more without my conscious feeling guilty 😉
Beach time in Whitianga!
Only an hour from Coromandel there is Whitianga, on the other side of the peninsula. Finally, beach time!! I had the greatest time with Linda, a girl from Finland. We laughed I think the entire time. We only spent like half a day together when other people already thought that we were traveling together, that we were ‘sisters from another mother’ or soulmates haha. After we discovered that we even had the same ‘teeth protection box’ we started doubt it ourselves haha!
We took the ferry to Cathedral Cove, climbed the rocks to avoid the crowd on the beaches there. Linda, as a true outdoors Scandinavian girl, hopped around on her bare feet like it was just a solid sandy beach or something. I did a pretty good job keeping up with her, although I’m sure with a little more pain in my feet 😉 We sat down on a rock, the best spot on the whole beach for sure. On our way to Hot Water Beach we treated ourselves on a pizza lunch in Hahei. Our loyal old bus driver picked us up again and there it was Hot Water Beach. Turned out that we weren’t there on the right time because the tide has to be right to be able to dig yourself a hot pool there. Since we’ve got a great imagination, we just assumed it would be like the Spa or the hot tubs at the hostels, so we decided to catch the last bus back to Whitianga instead of hitch hiking our way back 🙂
At breakfast the next day we met two German guys who were going to Auckland as well that day, but were planning on going snorkeling first at Gemstone Bay. Why not! So I cancelled my bus and Linda and I joined Tino and Manuel to go snorkeling and ride with them to Auckland. Unfortunately the water at Gemstone Bay wasn’t really clear, but we saw some great fishes! Curious about Stingray Bay (the normal path was closed from the top), we hopped on the rocks again – Linda to arrive as the first of course – and there it was. Our own private beach! The water was really warm, and after only 2 minutes it was clear why it is called Stingray Bay: we saw like 5 stingrays swimming right next to us! Got my camera and took some nice photos.
Auckland – one more beach day in Waiheke
After our goodbyes I checked in at the Friendz hostel in Auckland, where I met an English girl right away in our dorm room, Danielle. She was having some drinks with friends at the rooftop of the hostel, so I joined them and we went out to the city centre. Ended up in a bar with live rap/r&b music, back in time! The next day the weather was still perfect, so nothing better to go to the beach on Waiheke Island! Only 30 minutes with the ferry from the city centre, we just chilled on the beach (okay, maybe I wasn’t the most lively – slept the entire time!). Getting back in Auckland we made ourselves a healthy dinner and FaceTimed with Anna afterwards. I love the technology nowadays 🙂 She moved into her new place, finally I got to see it too!
I left tonight at 04.00 am, took the Sky Bus to the Airport and now I’m already in Australia again! Catching up with Stephanie this afternoon already, the girl from Wales I met during the trip to the Great Ocean Road. So, let me add the photos to this blog and off I go!