Day 17: Chilling out ❄️❄️❄️
We were all pretty tired and sore from the kayaking the day before, we decided to have a very relaxed day. We didn't, however, plan to not leave the couch until 3pm! We decided by then that it was too stuffy and foolish to stay in when we were legitimately surrounded by the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. So we went for all six of us went on a walk on to a now huge beach, which before resembled a lake, beneath the threat of the grey clouds. We saw some sea creatures, although mostly starfish, and promptly made our way home to the warmth and sand-free sofas and freshly made cookies (thanks greg!). We convinced people to watch Shutter Island saying it wasn't very scary, but we were soon proved wrong. Good film though.
27 April 2017
Day 16: Kayaking around Marahau 🛶
After a great night with nobody else in our 8 man dorm, we said goodbye to Sam the lone hiker and smoker who was in to Paramore and My Chemical Romance. We met the others who were staying at Adventure Inn for a full day of kayaking. We spent 5 hours on the water, stopping at various beaches and coves for hot drinks from the mobile starbucks Matt was carrying. We went through caves and by waterfalls, but the most amazing thing was definitely seeing and almost touching seals!!! It was actually one of the coolest things I've done because we were so close to the shore where they were sunbathing and later we were in a small cove and they came right next to us- absolutely brilliant! 🌊
We stood on kayaks and took a group photo, then the home straight was tough. About an hour of rowing towards grey clouds, against the current and wind later saw us get up and go for a shower with painful shoulders. We had a drink at the only bar and then got Fat Tui- the bes
26 April 2017
Day 15: Wellington to Abel Tasman National Park 🌳
Today was always going to be a long day. The transition from the North island to the South involved some hours on multiple buses, a three hour ferry and most importantly a 6:15am start- the latter wasn't too bad as we got to see the sunrise.
The ferry through to the South Island was soooooo beautiful- we were lucky enough to have yet another stunning day and the views were just unreal. Turquoise calm water, rolling hills caked with forests of ferns and other native trees, clear skies with no clouds and not one other boat in sight- bloody paradise. We got into Picton (the port on the South Island) at around 12:15pm, collected our bags off the carousel and piled onto a bus for a couple more hours. The views we were with greeted were nothing short of stunning either, vineyards and more forests. With a quick stop at Pak n Save for some supplies, I was picked up by Greg to go straight to Marahau and meet the others there. 💤
25 April 2017
Day 14, Part III: Cable car and botanical gardens 🌿🚠
So to walk off the immense amount of food we just consumed, we decided to go up to the top of the hill by cable car and walk back. It was just before sunset so we aimed to watch it from the top, but we were a bit late and got there just after- we saw it from the cable car though! So with music blaring we made our way down the hill, with an obligatory stop at the playground and toilet. Reminiscing about times past having lunch on the swings at TBS and making Sally fly up every time I went down on the seesaw. 😂
Once we got down, we walked along the waterfront while I was on the phone to Paula (randomly) and Liv was on the phone to her mum. We saw some art installations which were pretty interesting but one was getting a bit ruined as people were jumping on it and climbing it. We stopped by the New World on the way home, picking up some hot cross buns and ham. Essentials really. ✨
Day 14, Part II: Fidel's on Cuban Street 🇨🇺
So, thanks to Celia's Lonely Planet book recommending the food at Fidel's, we walked to Cuban Street. With pastel coloured art-deco style façades lining the bustling street, independent boutique type shops were scattered between little bohemian cafes and thrift shops. So pretty!
So we get to Fidel's and luckily find a table for six despite how busy it is, we get given menus and this is when everything falls apart a bit. There were just too many incredible, mouthwatering options!! We ended up going for "El Cubano" sandwich- pulled pork, cheese, bbq sauce, ham served with chips. And a salted caramel milkshake. Oh my god. It was so so sooooo good. Unbelievable. 😍😍😍
Day 14, Part I: Te Papa
On our only full day in Wellington, we decided to have a lie in first (yesssssss) and then go and be very touristy. With yet another fabulous day of sunshine and blue skies we walked from our very central Base backpackers to the very highly acclaimed Wellington Museum, the Te Papa. It was in fact Anzac Day, which celebrates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps valiant efforts in various battles and wars, so we decided it would be a worthy cultural experience to go and see the Gallipoli exhibition. It was absolutely brutal in terms of honesty and communicating the pain and grief felt by individuals. They had huuuge and incredibly uncanny statues of men in combat and nurses finding out loved ones were dead. What hit us the most was the fact that we had never ever been taught this in school, despite the fact that it was very clearly the Commonwealth that recruited them. The NZ National Youth Choir was singing as we exited so we all teared up. Awesome.
Day 13, Part II: Basement
We decided to use our free cocktail vouchers in the hostel bar. Was a good chat, and Liv and I met a guy who hadn't been home for 10 years and was celebrating his birthday that evening, and Emily was also out (of course) which is always good fun.
24 April 2017
Day 13: River Valley to Wellington
At 8:15am we were awake and ready for white water rafting, despite being a bit scared and wary of the cold water. There was only 8 of us rafting, and because they warned us of the grade 5 water so I didn't take my Xiaomi but I soooo could have. It wasn't intense of scary and the guides were good fun and very kiwi.
The drive down to Wellington took ages so we only got back at 6pm. We had some more $5 domino's pizza, and then Liv and I did the girls makeup before going out for a free drink in the hostel bar Basement. It was good fun although a bit quiet, and we were in bed by about 1.
23 April 2017
Day 12: Taupo to River Valley
Despite the fact that about 80% of the bus had done the gruelling 8 hour hike the day before, the bus had another planned stop for a 2 hour hike in another part of the Tongariro Crossing to a waterfall. We had our lunch in front of the falls and walked back, where Sally and I had an awesome, mouthwatering conversation about our favourite foods.
We then stopped once more before getting into River Valley, where we had a great view of lakes for about five minutes before getting back on the bus and arriving at the Adventure Lodge.
There was no wifi, so we left our phones upstairs and had roast dinner (omg so good) and then played some cards and the best game on Earth- bunnies. We went to bed around midnight but our entertainment continued when some of the other girls (who were far drunker than we were) came into our room singing and dancing. It was brilliant.
We were in bunk bed dorms where the beds were all stuck together, so I had 5 beds to myself. 💤
22 April 2017
Day 11: Not doing the Tongariro Crossing
So Liv and I are not avid hikers, so when we heard of the Tongariro Crossing costing $65 for 8 hours of pain with a 5am start, we weren't as keen as the other girls. So we had a very chilled out day instead of that ridiculously early start- we got sushi and learnt how to say thank you in Korean, walked around following the graffiti, then made the most of the $5 pizza and while Liv napped on the lakefront I skyped my mum and dad for a couple of hours.
That night we also went out, but it was much calmer than the one before. Yet another great day. ✌🏼
21 April 2017
Day 10, Part III: Element Bar
I just wanted to post these photos of Liv and I. We so cute. 💙
Day 10, Part II: Skydive Taupō
It was on this leg of the journey that I decided to do a skydive (thanks to the persuasion from Alice in the forest)!! When I told Kathy she actually shouted "YES CAT" for the whole bus to hear 😂 So after ten minutes at Hukka Falls, we were shipped off to the skydiving place by Tim, a very very kind Kiwi kid. We got there and were talked through the whole thing, then strapped into harnesses and attractive skull caps and with a few minutes for photos and video interviews we were whisked off into the small pink plane. I was first on, so when we climbed to 16,000 feet I was the last to dive off. This meant I had to go through the readjustment of the plane's balance every time someone jumped out, which was like turbulence with an open door. Mars (my instructor) did a false start but it was fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It kind of felt like the air was holding you up and not really a free fall which was cool and unexpected. ✈️
Day 10, Part I: Rotorua to Taupo
We set off at around 9 (lie in!) and stopped for about an hour to walk through the Redwood Forest. It was pretty chilly and I probably could've done with a coat but it was really pretty and almost refreshing.
We then drove for a bit longer and stopped at the Hukka Falls just outside Taupō. It was strange to see such a huge amount of aquamarine coloured water in such a small space, you could really feel the power as it surged through this tiny canal.
We also stopped at some mud pools for a very short amount of time, which was cool because they make a really satisfying bubbling sound as they boil up.
20 April 2017
Day 9, Part II: birthday celebrations
After the very taxing walk (not), we headed back to the hostel and while Liv, Alex and Alice napped I showered for a considerable length of time. Then I headed to the Pak n Save with rest of the girls to prepare a risotto dinner for Liv. Kathy came to my aid as I left my purse behind and wanted to buy Liv an easter egg since she had been craving one for a while (I love Kathy).
We were then a bit sneaky and headed off to the night market while Celia and Sally cooked the risotto, we got free thai massages and tried many many of the foods which all looked incredible. Pity we couldn't eat there!
When we got back the food was ready so we decided to wake Liv up from her now three hour nap and sang happy birthday to her as she came in. We all signed a card and even got her some cake for dessert. It was super super cute. 💙🎂🍫🍷
Day 9, Part I: Rotorua
The small town of Rotorua was surrounded by the natural hot springs due to the geothermal activity right below it. This means that the town often smells of sulphur, as the steam coming from the hot pools carries it through the streets. The eggy smell wasn't that bad to be honest, it came and went pretty quickly if you weren't right next to the pools.
We did a fairly long walk along the edge of the lake, a public green are filled with pools and also the government gardens and buildings. We did however stop for an ice cream and ended up getting lost as the rest of our group didn't wait for us. 🍦🌬
19 April 2017
Day 8, Part II: Tamaki Maori Village
We got dropped off at the Tamaki office around 1:30 in the afternoon and were promptly shipped off to the village. Our bus driver proceeded to say various welcoming words in about 60 languages (it took around 20 minutes). When we got there we had to choose a chief for our tribe, who ended up being Ser a European "god amongst men" (at least he thinks so); he had to say a welcoming speech and choose a song for our tribe to sing in return to their song and speech.
We then had some afternoon tea which consisted of cake, coffee, cookies and some heavenly donut type things with whipped cream and caramel sauce. We then got settled in our room (one massive hall like thing lined with single beds and carvings) and played some typical maori stick games, followed by singing a preschool level maori song which we then performed after the Hangi buffet dinner! We finished the evening with wine in hot tubs to celebrate Liv's 19th at midnight. Such an awesome day ✨
Day 8, Part 2: Hobbiton
On the way to Rotorua the bus has an optional stop at the Hobbiton Movie Set- obviously we did the tour. It was a perfect day for it also, clear skies and bright sunshine which made the rolling hills and hobbit holes particularly beautiful to walk through. We posed in front of many many doors, most of which were basically made for my stature, and even danced around a maypole. The tour included a free drink at the Green Dragon, and the very apple-y apple cider I got was so refreshing. The most impacting thing from the tour was the amount of detail that went into the making of the set- individually wiring on Taiwanese leaves onto a fake tree, using wood chips and paint to create mossy looking fences and even growing real produce in the gardens surrounding the hobbit holes. I really really enjoyed the few hours we were here, even if you're not a die hard fan of the Lord Of The Rings it's 100% worth a look.
Day 8, Part 1: Waitomo to Rotorua
As usual, the early morning bus stopped off for us to go for a short walk. This wasn't a problem because of all the natural beauty in New Zealand, and it's always nice to get off the bus for a while and stretch our legs. It was particularly fresh this morning 🌿
18 April 2017
Day 7: Hot Water Beach to Waitomo
Leaving the picturesque and remote Top Ten hostel in Hot Water Beach was slightly sad just because it was such a clean and calm place to have stayed. But the trip to Waitomo was pretty chilled, broken into two main parts by a trip to the supermarket for wine, sweetcorn and decongestant pills for my cold- obvious necessities.
A short walk just before getting to the hostel was surprisingly beautiful, with small waterfalls and views of caves and valleys.
We had a few hours before our scheduled Black Water Rafting caving trips to see the glow worms (4:15 in the afternoon). Our guide Nacho/Scuba made pose as nachos! We spent just over an hour in the caves, in full wet suits and wellies and using small inflatable rings to float around in the pitch black caves and admire the iridescent lights of the worms. By the end it was so so cold, but I was so happy to have done it- such an amazing experience. Also we had toasted bagels and tomato soup after- WIN.
17 April 2017
Day 6, Part II- Hot Water Beach
After a very overdue HIIT workout, we all headed to the beach at 4 to avoid the high tides. The beach was pretty cool but very crowded- the premise was to dig your own hole which fills with very hot water from the ground, thanks to geothermal activity under the sand. The word hot wasn't an exaggeration either, there were some parts that were actually too hot to step into (especially with my low tolerance for heat). We stayed until the sky went pink, then headed to the hostel for some pasta with tomato sauce, tuna and carrots.
16 April 2017
Day 5: Paihia to Auckland
As the bus leaves at 2:15 in the afternoon, we took the opportunity to have a lie in after an evening visit to the bar. We awoke to do a foodshop, some washing and sorting out the rest of a trip.
We got to Auckland at about 6pm, meaning a very chilled evening and early night before the 8:40am bus the following morning.
Day 6: Auckland to Hot Water Beach
Some cool views on the way to a much more rural spot on the North Island.
15 April 2017
Day 4, Part III- Kauri Forest and 90 Mile Beach
On the way home, after stopping by the first ever fush and chuppery in New Zealand (mandatory), we stopped by the Puketi Forest. Despite the fact we had already been, the place was still fascinating and made more magical by our tour guide Chris doing some Māori singing into the wilderness. We also stopped at the 90 Mile Beach, which is in fact not 90 miles but 90 kilometres (disappointing!). It was pretty incredible to see so such a huge length of seafront, horizon to horizon, so I'm glad we ticked that off the list also. 🌿🌊
Day 4, Part II- Cape Reinga
After an hour or so of driving, we got to the northern most point of New Zealand with the scenic lighthouse on the edge. With great weather we walked down to tip of the peninsula under the sun, passing some lovely maori girls on holiday for Easter weekend, a couple flying a drone who were almost unable to take our picture (but then did) and some of the boys on our bus. Great views of where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet and the greenery surrounding the beaches.
Māori culture teaches this is where spirits pass through to go to the other side if they're ready, and if not they head back inland. 💭
Day 4: Paihia ft a successful trip to Cape Reinga with Chris ⚡️
Part I- Sliding down sand dunes
Second time lucky! We ended up making the right decision to stay a couple of extra nights and reschedule the trip to the Cape as the skies were clear and the sun was out! Our first stop was at the sand dunes just before heading to the very north of the peninsula, where we used body boards to slide down the steep edges. It was at least a ten minute hike to the top (super tough) but the way down was super fun. A bit of a belly flop at the bottom as there was a ledge before a small stream 🌊
14 April 2017
Day 3: Paihia ft Hole in the Rock boat trip
So today we got a small ferry out to tour around some of the 144 islands surrounding Paihia, with the main attraction being the Hole in the Rock (original name, I know). We left Wharf 7 at 9am on the dot, at which point some Chinese asked me to take a photo of them and in return forcibly took one of Liv and I (above). We were not prepared.
On the tour we saw a group of about 15 dolphins, including some baby ones, stopped off at some islands and then stayed on Russel Island for an afternoon of sunbathing and coffee. Suuuuuuch a good day. ⚡️
13 April 2017
Following a slightly disappointing start to the day and a pretty chilled afternoon, Bools and I decided to watch the sunset at the beach. Needless to say it was instantaneous gratification. 😍
Day 2: Paihia ft a failed trip to Cape Reinga
Another early morning for the two of us to head up on a day trip to Cape Reinga- the northernmost point of New Zealand. Along with Alex and Alice (friends!!!), we got a 7:15 bus to make the trip up there under a cloudy grey sky 😭
We got as far as the Puketi Forest, full of the Kauri (kouri) tree which has such significance in New Zealand, before the driver/guide telling up we had to turn back! Apparently over night Cyclone Cook had gotten to the next town on our trip and flooded a road vital to our crossing up north. So we got back to our room at 8:30 in the morning after rescheduling the visit to Saturday (having to stay an extra two nights to fit it in), and with nothing to do for the day I witnessed the longest nap on earth. Liv slept from 9am to 1pm, by which point I had had the most interesting conversation ever with a Dutch girl who'd been to Antarctica, made three cups of tea and bought some food from the supermarket.
12 April 2017
Day 1 of Kiwi Experience: Auckland to Paihia
Despite the dullness of the sky, we set off to the Bay of Islands with high hopes. The three hour journey was broken up by a few stops- the Whangarei Falls and Warkworth- and arrived at the Pipi Patch hostel at around midday.
As the weather didn't pick up we ended up having a very relaxed afternoon and evening- getting some food from the supermarket and napping for a bit before heading to the bar to socialise 😋
Setting your alarm for 5:30 in the morning is never fun, but it's made slightly better by the fact that we were starting our trip!!!
After the 6:22 train to Britomart and a ten minute walk to the pick up point- outside Oakleys on Queen Street?- we boarded our first Kiwi Express bus in the dull, grey and windy day. Needless to say napping took place.
11 April 2017
Walking around Auckland in a half asleep daze was pretty tiring, but despite this we managed to make it to early afternoon before heading back to Middlemore. The buildings in the CBD were pretty cool- a mix between serious and inventive, which was interesting to look at. We also went in to a shop and met a really camp Argentinian man and spoke about the troubles getting visas nowadays which was cool because his perspective was different to our privileged British passport view.
At about 2 we decided to head back, and basically slept into the early evening, had dinner and then fell asleep again. Riveting, I know.
10 April 2017
We left the glorious Beach Road flat with time to spare, resulting in an impromptu Yo-Chi and Churchill screaming as if he was incurring bodily harm.
Taking the JQ217 flight leaving Melbourne Tullamarine airport at 23:45 and landing at Auckland Airport at 5:20 local time was bloody exhausting. Turns out I need more than two hours sleep to function remotely normally.
Getting to New Zealand was somewhat traumatic- extreme immigration checks and customs controls consisting of x-ray machines, multiple beautiful dogs and having to declare any dirty shoes? But we met the cutest child who looked a cartoon in the queue so that made up for it.
After waiting for a decent time to show up at Ollie Milner's place of employment- King's College Auckland, suuuuuch a nice place- we ended up showering and chilling for a bit.