New Zealand
New Zealand

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1,438 travelers at this place:

  • Day14

    Owaka to Curio Bay

    December 26, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Today we travelled to Curio Bay with stop off at the Whistling Frog Cafe and McLean Falls. Extremely fortunate to swim with Hector Dolphins in the surf (Southern Ocean!) and watched the Yellow Eyed Penguins come on to the beach. Drove to Waupapa Point Lighthohse and saw the fossilised forest. We stayed the night in Bayview Backpackers, Waikawa.Read more

  • Day42

    Day 42/72: Tongariro Crossing

    December 8, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We woke up early to get the shuttle bus to the start of the Tongariro Crossing! It was a cold morning and we were walking up to over 1800m so we wrapped up warm. We wolfed down big bowls of cereal, made some ham and cheese cobs and set off for the bus.

    The bus was full and we arrived at the crossing with about 40 other people. There were already lots of people there, it was a beautiful Saturday after all and the weather promised to stay clear and dry. We began the walk pretty much as soon as we got off the bus, interestingly the driver who took us there becomes responsible for anyone who they bring to the crossing, and has to ensure that they are finished by the end of the day and if not the driver has to go and find them.

    The scenery was fantastic, mountains right in front of us and snow capped peaks looming up from the lava rock that we were walking across. The crowds had come in droves though and at the start it felt a lot like quick queueing instead of hiking. But as Izzi marched on ahead, overtaking people as if she had somewhere to be, the crowds thinned out and walking became much more pleasant. The first section was all uphill and before long we'd stopped to take off all our layers, change into shorts and layered on the suncream. The scenery was brilliant all the way: you'll see in the pictures.
    The path was decent too, gravel and staired, and then we came over a ridge and for about a mile it was completely flat with mountains to our left and right. It felt like a huge crater on the moon (or what you'd imagine that to look like if you walked across it). We then had to scramble out of the crater on the other side, and at the top stopped to have a waffle and an apple, and sit looking over the rolling hills and mountains around us, truly spectacular! We carried on up the hill and below the top of the peak we saw 3 lakes steeply below us, with steam rising from random points in the ground. The walk down there was tricky, patches of loose dry mud that sank under your feet, and gravel on top of very hard dry rock which made you skid. At this point we felt sorry for the people struggling in trainers and plimsoles, and we slightly wondered at the end if they had fallen or not. It was tough going and the steam began to drift across the path, filling out heads with the smell of badly rotten eggs (this won't quite translate in the pictures). We walked around the lakes, taking lots of photos and then left quickly as the stench was getting to us.

    The hike from that point was all downhill, and the landscape below us began to reveal itself. It was stunning, and we were walking towards it and could see for miles. What a great hike! The further we got down, the more the landscape changed. The greener the plants got and the higher they grew. After a few hours, we'd gone from walking through barran desert to walking through a lush green forest. It'd taken us 5 and a half hours of walking, and we sat at the end waiting for the bus to take us back to the campsite, feeling very fulfilled and thinking about the views we'd just seen. Unfortunately, we had done it a bit quicker than expected, and the first bus back wasn't expected for at least another hour, so we sat in the sun and baked for a bit.

    The entire walk was dotted with signs of what to do if the volcano erupts, and "Caution- you are now entering a lahar flow zone- move quickly and don't stop. If you hear noise from upstream, run." which made it interesting.

    After a good half an hour on a bus, we realised just how tired we were and read for the rest of the afternoon and evening in the dappled sunlight split by trees over our campervan. It was a fab day!
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  • Day39

    Day 39/72: Glow worms

    December 5, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    We woke up early and drove for an hour to Waitomo- a tiny village which is famous for a huge labyrinth of caves underneath the hillside, absolutely full of glow worms. We had signed up to do 'black labyrinth', and as we got into our wetsuits and picked up a huge rubber ring, we learnt this was going to involve going through the cave in the rubber ring while looking at glow worms.

    The caves involved a lot of scrambling to get into, and were incredibly dark in places. The water was freezing cold, and we both ended up shivering. The sections of the cave (once we had ducked under stalagtites and jumped backwards off waterfalls and paddled along freezing stretches of river) where we lay on our backs and formed a train and looked up at the glow worms shining above us were absolutely magical. About 5 minutes from the end they got everyone to turn off their helmet lights and we all played a game called 'guess the way out' - if you can't see the glow worms then you've gone wrong.

    The experience left us slightly numb, in awe, and so ready for the soup and bagels at the end of the trip.

    We drove on to our next stop: Rotorua. A supposedly beautiful huge lake, however it just has huge cities around it and we couldn't get close enough to the lake to see it properly. The campsite we were at felt like someone's back garden, however had hot pools heated from the ground underneath--rotorua seems to be a massive source of geothermal activity. We went for a walk and a quick run up in a forest of redwoods, which was lovely.
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  • Day49

    Day 49/72: Kayaking and Pancakes

    December 15, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    We left our campsite and headed down the West Coast, onwards on our journey. The roads were stunning (one of the top 10 coastal roads in the world) and the drive was great. After an hour or so we got to our first stop, Punakaiki. Here, we'd been told there was a couple of great walks to be seen.

    We headed out on the first, called the Pancake Rock Walk. It was a steady loop, with walkways and bridges initially through forest (it felt like we were back in the Singapore botanical gardens!) with little plaques naming all the trees and shrubbery. Then we walked out onto a platform viewpoint looking over the cliffs and coastline. Here, there were stacks of what was indeed rock pancakes! Apparently its due to the erosion of different densities of rock at different rates that causes the pancakes to form but scientists are still confused. These were great, and where the stacks were there were great holes running through the rocks, and the waves crashed in dramatically underneath us. It was very exciting!

    After walking around the walkway, taking photos and admiring the view, we stopped for an early lunch (1200). There was a cafe selling very appealing pizza, and very appealing pancakes, so we had one of each and split it.

    After lunch, we had a debate as to whether to carry on with the journey, or hire kayaks and go up a river we'd passed earlier on the road that looked exciting. We decided to do the kayaking and it was a brilliant decision. We arrived at what seemed to be someone's farm house and kind of peered around until a man found us. He sorted us out with kayaks whilst happily spinning stories of his 28 years of the river. We escaped with a bucket for our phones, nice neoprene bootees and string around Tom's sunglasses ("the amount of times I've had people borrow this snorkel to look for their glasses", "I had a guy come back after 4 years and he still had his string on them!") and headed down to the river. There was a rope tied to the front of the boat used for walking it across the shallower bits of the river, a fair amount as it turned out. It was hilarious, walking up the middle of a large river with great towering cliffs and hills on either side like something out of Jurassic Park, towing our kayaks like walking dogs. We went as far up the river as was reasonably possible, spent some time jumping off rocks and taking photos, and then came back down again through the rapids ("you won't believe the amount of people I've had fall in there, it's like they've never been in a kayak before!"). Such great scenery and a brilliant excursion from the route. The guy was pleased that we'd had a good time and waved us on our way.

    We also had a quick stop at a short track down to a beach*. It was unusually stoney for a NZ beach but had a great waterfall that flowed off the cliff down onto the shale, so we had a quick shower to cool off before heading back up to the road.

    We then drove to Hokitika and a campsite/field by a lake. We thought about going for a run and then decided it was far too late so went for a short walk to a lake side beach to have a paddle as the sun went down. Lovely Saturday overall!

    * all around New Zealand are these green and yellow signs that indicate walking tracks. You can find them anywhere, around campsites, the sides of roads, beaches, car parks. They have the name of the track, or point of interest, the distance in km and the average time it takes to walk it. This was one of them, a side of the road version.
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  • Day60

    Day 60/72: Boxing Day Bungee

    December 26, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We woke up early and drove back to Queenstown, and passed Queenstown heading out towards Kawarea Bridge: the home of bungee jumping. This is where the first ever bungee jump was created, off a bridge 43m above a stunning blue river. The wait for the bungee jump was good fun, chatting to people and watching Tom jump first (I've never seen him look that scared...). You are attached by a harness to a loop, and when it's your time next they strap your feet together with a towel, thick pieces of velcro, and attach you to a huge elastic cord hanging off the edge (by both your feet and the harness around your waist).

    I was slightly nervous but okay until stepping out on the platform, and that's when I completely freaked out. It looks insanely high from up there, so when the guy was getting me to look at cameras and wave at things, I was busy freaking out and backing out of the jump. He took me back inside to calm down, and I was absolutely certain that I was not going to bungee jump that day. Once I had calmed down, however, I had another go, this time forgetting the cameras and just falling straight off the edge. Much much better. The rush is great, and we both finished it wanting to have another go. Once you're done jumping they let you down into a raft a couple of guys are in down on the river and untie you there.

    We watched a few more people do it, and a few more people back out, and then headed back to Queenstown. We spent the afternoon playing frisbee golf (safe to say neither of us are getting any better), and watched a part of a film.
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  • Day70

    Day 70/72: Goodbye Van

    January 5 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We woke up in our van for the last time, and got the last of the things put away. Mended the velcro window blinds, and tried to give away a variety of things from crackers to an umbrella! It didn't take long, and soon we were on our last drive. We were mega early so stopped off for some great brunch in a quirky cafe (pulled pork eggs benedict, and a full English style thing with slow poached eggs (45 mins at 65°C apparently?!).

    We then drove to the Britz drop off, and said a sad farewell to the campvan, with vows that we were going to get one in the future. We'd done 6838km in total, and enjoyed every single one of them.

    The flight was still 3 hours away, and the airport transfer didn't take long, so we had a while to wait at the airport for the flight to Auckland. It was all very painless, and our bags went through okay, stuffed to the brim as they were! We got to Auckland and went back to the hostel we were at before. It was so strange being back there again, being in bunk beds and having people crashing around. We sat in the gloriously sunny park for a while, wondering what on earth we were going to do with over 24 hours in a city that we'd exhausted at the start of the trip! We went out for some lovely That's Amore pizza for dinner and went for an evening run in the park. It had all gone so quickly, we couldn't believe we were back already, but felt like ages since anything had happened. Time flies when you're having fun, and oh boy we had the time of out lives.
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  • Day33

    Day 33/72: A day in Auckland

    November 29, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    After the events of the night before, we managed to get into the hostel and sleep at about 0400! Blimey we were tired, and ended up crashing until about midday! We decided to head out for some lunch, which was more of a breakfast anyway, lots of eggs and bacon.

    After breakfast, we headed to one of the cities parks to sit and plan some of what we were going to do in NZ. This was a great idea as the park was lovely and felt/smelled very British. We sat in the sun and moved quickly to the shade as it was a very hot day. We planned our 10 or so days in the North Island, before planning where we were going to stay over Christmas and NY. Everywhere around Queenstown was booked, and after ringing around, we got some advice. The site receptionist said "right, I can hear you're not from here so let me tell you how the Christmas thing works. Through the year we limit our site to 100 guests. Over Christmas and NY, ie the NZ summer holidays, we have over 5000 Kiwi's decend on our site alone, and spend it there with their friends and families. If I can give you any advice, get out of the most popular areas, you'll be swamped by people if you try and stay in these places, and tbh most of them will be booked up months in advance" (she was right). "If I were you, book somewhere quiet with fantastic scenery inbetween the coast and the city, so you can still move around, but enjoy Christmas at the same time!" Strong words, but we took heed and hopefully it'll pay off!

    Feeling much better after having some structure to the next couple of weeks, we headed down the main street looking in shops and generally taking in the city. We wandered down to the harbour and had a look at what day trips Auckland had to offer. We were enticed by the whale watching safari, something we were both really keen to do, so booked that for the following day (writing this in retrospect, it was sadly cancelled due to weather conditions, but not to worry, we have something planned for later in the trip!). We then headed back to the hostel, a strange place where the reception and pool/table tennis area is occupied by loads of people, not just hostel guests. We had a few games of pool, then trash talk turned to bowling so we went up the road and had a game. Interestingly enough in NZ, the barriers can only be raised for under 12's no matter how hard you protest, which put Izzi at a great disadvantage.

    After the bowling, we headed for dinner and came across a very small pizza place, tucked away in a corner. They served brilliant pizzas though, and we enjoyed an extra cheesy margarita and a carbonara pizza, they were lovely. We then headed back to the hostel and played another couple of games of pool to finish off the day.
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  • Day10

    Early morning Jogging@Blue lake Rotorua

    April 15 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    Beautiful running track around lake blue south of Rotorua. Did not expect more than an hour to get around but the lake ended up being larger than I initially thought. The beers and a bottle of wine from last night potentially also had an impact 🤠.

  • Day11

    Tongariro Alpine Crossing

    April 16 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 0 °C

    Today 06:30 we were picked up for a 20min. bus ride to the starting point of the Tongariro hike. It was freezing cold when we started to walk down the valley before entering the volcanic mountains. What we then saw after reaching the edge of the Tongariro cannot be written in words. It was my day so far on the Northern Island. Aussumn landscape, weather, clear view, blue lakes, Volcanos, smelling air and just pure Nature!
    After 6 hours and 20km hiking we reached the end of the hike.
    Maybe a bit crazy to drive 160km down to the west coast the same day with the Campervan right after. The energy received from that day drove me down....
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  • Day41

    Day 41/72: sledging and Tongariro

    December 7, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    We woke up, as promised by Peter (who ran the campsite) with a loaf of warm bread outside the door. It was wonderful. After the fun of rafting the day before we had signed up to do sledging with the same company. It was just me and Tom and 2 guides in a group, and we hiked to the same stretch of river that we had rafted the day before, only just below the huge waterfall. We watched a few rafts come down the waterfall: one flipped over and no one managed to hold on. Amateurs.

    Then we jumped in the water with our sledges and flippers and kicked our way down the huge rapids. It was so much fun, diving under the rapids and getting pulled around. Our guides pushed us into the insane bits of the waterfalls and cruised ahead to catch us when we eventually got spit out.

    At the end of the stretch of river they announced we were going to do some river surfing. This involves going straight for the rapid from underneath, and balancing on the bit where the water falls down the short waterfall on your sledge. Absolutely great, and we both nailed the flip the first time, something the guides were impressed with.

    One near drowning incident and one swollen and huge nose (Toms- very amusing) later, we got back on the bus and headed back to our van. After buying Tom a bag of peas to put on his face, we started the drive to Tongariro: the mountain area we are walking from tomorrow to do the Alpine Crossing. The drive was beautiful; going past Lake Taupo and the mountains in the background.

    When we got to the campsite we both decided to go for a shorter walk to warm up for tomorrow, so headed out on the trails to a waterfall about 2 miles away. The trail was beautiful and the sky was blue and cloudless.

    After a huge dinner, we settled in early for the night. Another action packed day ahead of us!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

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