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New Zealand

Curious what backpackers do in New Zealand? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • This morning we visited Queens Park in Invercargill, where Solana enjoyed the aviaries and small animal enclosures - but rain stopped play when we reached the play park area! We headed back onto the Southern Scenic Route, this time driving North from Invercargill. We stopped on a headland near the town of Riverton for a picnic lunch - but the weather was still a bit wild (wet, windy & chilly), so we made it a "car picnic". Whilst there, we saw the amazing sight of a very large flock of seabirds (black petrels we think) feeding on what must have been an even larger shoal of fish just beneath the surface. There were many hundreds of birds feeding and more kept arriving the whole time we were there, so that in the end there must have been a couple of thousand birds, making shallow dives into the water to feed - fascinating to watch. As we drove away, we also saw a spoonbill feeding in the estuary. Clearly our lunchtime coincided well with that of the birdlife today! Our next stop was at Gemstone Beach, where we had a windy but mostly dry walk - although we didn't find any gemstones. We stayed in a cabin on campsite/holiday park - cheaper than a hotel/motel but still with en suite plus kettle & toaster. It was ideal for us and I think we'll be staying in more places like this. Best of all the site had a "kangaroo jumper" - like a giant trampoline, that we all enjoyed bouncing on before dinner!.We enjoyed a tasty dinner in a nearby restaurant, before an evening walk down by Te Anau Lake.Read more

  • Yesterday we spent the day in Dunedin, stocking up on cheap travel stuff & a few warmer clothes (thanks to June for the tip about Warehouse) and groceries (thanks to Wendy for the tip about Pak n Save!). We also visited the Otago Settlers Museum and the botanical gardens, spending an enjoyable hour or two in each. We are now entering the 2nd half of our “big adventure” – and hoping that the 2nd half will be as enjoyable as the first half has been....

    This morning, the time came to leave the comfort and hospitality of June & Dave and head out on our own again. Thank you so much again to June & Dave for a really lovely few days, with our spacious en suite room, full board, free WiFi and kids toys, great company and our own personal and knowledgeable tour guides – easily the best “hotel” we’ve stayed in on our trip so far!

    We set off on the Southern Scenic Route – as the name suggests, this is a longer but more scenic road, following the coast South and West from Dunedin. The weather today was significantly cooler, about 12C, and breezy at times. Our first stop was Kaka Point, where we had a delicious picnic of sushi, bread & cheese, with a view. A bit further on we saw a sea lion lounging around on the beach – great to see. We did short walks at Nugget Point and Roaring Bay – one to a penguin hide but there were no penguins to be seen (a bit early for them, as they don’t usually head up to land until later in the afternoon). The roads were mostly good but a few were gravel tracks, including one 14km detour on a gravel road – we’re working our rental car hard! Along the way we encountered a farmer moving her sheep – there were dozens of them all over the road but she told us to just “keep left, keep driving, they’ll move”! We couldn’t drive on for laughing at the sight of at least 200 sheep all around the car – it was like passing through a sea of sheep, with all their faces looking up at us as they passed by! We did a short walk to Purakaunui waterfall, through some native forest (which looks like the kind of vegetation you imagine was widespread when the dinosaurs were roaming the Earth). In the early evening we visited Curio Bay and we managed to reach there around low tide, so we got to see the amazing petrified forest on the beach – dozens of tree trunks, all fossilised in the rocks – amazing to see. Whilst there, we were also lucky enough to see a yellow-eyed penguin coming ashore for the night – we saw it waddling all the way across the rocks – a magical sight. We finally reached Invercargill around 7:30pm, ate tasty fish & chips (which seem to be a pretty cheap and tasty meal here, so I’m sure it won’t be the first time we eat f n cs), then spent the night in a motel on the edge of town.
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  • We woke in the night and heard the unusual call of a female kiwi (but still yet to see one)! Rather than take the easy option of a ferry we took the long gravel road around to Paihia. It was like a stage of the World Rally Championship (the photo is the nice smooth section) that took about 45 minutes, passing only 3 truck like 4x4's.... Paihia had a nice but definite tourist town feel to it with helicopters buzzing out over the bay. Yet another good spot for a picnic and swim. Went the 100m out to the swimming platform so James could perfect his back flips off it and I could perfect my dive bombing technique! As we loved the Tutukaka coast so much we decided to head back down this way to spend longer exploring here.Read more

  • Spent the day at this beautiful bay. The sea was so calm so there was no body surfing today, just swimming in crystal clear water. Before the tide came in too far we walked/climbed over the headland to the Mermaid Pool which was so clear and a lovely spot to swim and dive down. Back in the bay and at the other end there is a river inlet that also made for great swimming as the upper level of water was quite warm. After some bangers on the bbq we watched all the goings on of a wedding on the beach while taking another swim, hopefully we won't be in the background of their wedding snaps!Read more

  • On our way back South we had to go back to Whangarei to get another massive icecream, this time one scoop of raspberry and white chocolate and the other maple and walnut..... Needed a wander around the harbour after that lot. Had a look at more beaches along the way, stopping off for quite at one and watched more surfing lessons in very calm waters. Stopped at Waipu, more Scottish than Scotland. They are very proud of their ancestors who sailed here from the Highlands via Canada, due to the clearances. They have a Highland Games on New Years Day, a piper painted on the wall and a welcome sign written in Gaelic! We camped for the night again at the very peaceful house plot that belongs to a family we got to know last week.Read more

  • Caught a bus in Auckland for the 5 hour journey to Rotorua. Famous for hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools, there is a distinct smell of sulpher where ever you go. James is sat outside a supermarket with a full rucksack, eating a bread roll - small girl walks past with mother and says 'mummy, what's that tramp eating?'. Time for a shave and haircut??
    The main reason we are here is to catch a couple of mountain bike events in the town. Apologies for non bikers, the following may not be that interesting!
    We will be here for 10 days to watch the EWS (Enduro World Series) and attend the Crankworx festival. Both are staged at various stops around the world so we are very lucky, and VERY excited to have the opportunity to be here. Friday was a practice day whilst Saturday one of the race days for the EWS. Friday was also the official opening ceremony for Crankworx, with lots of speaches and a welcome from the local Maori tribe. As the stages are quite far apart, like a car rally, plenty of walking involved. It's great being a part of the mountain bike community again, where everyone chats and assists each other. We helped an injured rider on the course and a top 10 seeded rider picked us up on the road when we were hitching back into town - can't think of many sports that this would happen....
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  • Today has been all about volcanic and thermal. Rotarua is situated in a volcanic basin and is covered with collapsed craters, cold and boiling pools of mud, water and steaming fumaroles. We were taken by bus to see a variety thermal active areas. We saw a geyser which goes up at about 10am each day, they set it off by adding some washing powder into it and within a couple of minutes it goes up for a short time and then the pressure builds up again for the next day.
    Jan and I and another couple took a 40 minute helicopter flight over Mount Tarawera to view the spectacular craters and domes formed by the eruption in 1886 which was the largest eruption in NZ. We were supposed to have landed on it but due to it being too windy the pilot took us over one of the areas the we had walked in the morning which was good to see from the air.
    This evening we were taken to Tamaki Maori Village where they put on a dance, musical and cultural evening followed by a Hangi Feast.
    Artists palette
    Domes formed after volcano
    Entrance to Tamaki Maori Villaga
    Geyser about to errupt
    Maori warriors arriving
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  • Pictures added that wouldn't add yesterday

    Today was a long day of travelling from Rotorau to the Bay of Isles with only toilet breaks and a lunch stop. We by passed Auckland via the motorway as the traffic is much heavier than the South Island, there is also a big difference in population. The South Island has 1 million and the north Island 4 1/2 million.We were given a quick tour of the town where we are staying for 2 nights.It will be an early 7.15am start for our choice of options tomorrow as we are going to Cape Reinge the most northerly point of NZ.
    Wednesday- it was a long day but very enjoyable as we didn't get back until 6pm. We travelled 480 km and approx 100km of that was on the beach and stream.
    North of here is only a narrow peninsular with only one main road but the east coast is the 90 Mile beach which is also a dedicated road for tourist buses to travel on when the tide is out. The tide was out this morning so we travelled up the beach which is quite firm when they know where to drive, we also had to travel up a stream which was a bit more tricky as there wasn't much water in so the track softer. Along the way we stopped for those on board to go sand boarding down a large dune which was quite interesting, the walk up was the hardest part.
    We had quite a walk to get to the light house at Cape Reigne which is the most northerly point on the Island, the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea also meet there. We came back to Paihia via the main central road.
    Driving along 90 mile beach
    Walking up the sand dune
    At the top
    Sand boarding down
    Cape Reigne lighthouse
    45,000 year old timber
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  • We started the day with a cruise on the bay and it was a perfect day for it. We cruised out around the islands and found a pod of dolphins who were happy to put on a show, then went to the hole in the rock. The hole was big enough for the cruiser to go through and as it was such a calm day we were able to sail through it, we then went to Otehei bay where we were able to get off and walk up the hill and get some great views of the bays and islands.
    After returning to shore we again boarded the bus for the last leg of the tour to Auckland where we have 2 nights. Tomorrow afternoon we are taken on a city sight tour before going on a sailboat around the Auckland Harbour, then a farewell dinner tomorrow night before flying out Saturday morning.
    Hole in Rock
    Etehei Bay
    Etheridge Bay
    Hole in Rock
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  • After a week of working at our new job our boss decided to invite us out on his boat with a few of his friends for dinner. Of course we went. Really nice evening with a bbq, beers and kayaking around the coves and into caves...thanks Gav!!

You might also know this place by the following names:

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