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Around the World: For the love of the North

August 13, 2019

 

 

They hit the Outback of Australia in the middle of summer, toured the East Coast and explored the beauty of the Great Ocean Road. Now we follow Chloe and Matt as they venture across to New Zealand with their trusted side-kick Caroline…

“On 29 December, after a lovely family Christmas, we boarded our flight from Sydney to Auckland to start our tour of New Zealand.

 

In Auckland we visited the Sky Tower, Auckland War Museum, hiked to the volcanic crater on Rangitoto Island and took a guided tour of Eden Park (to satisfy Matt’s rugby withdrawal symptoms).

 

We celebrated New Year’s Eve at Mount Victoria in Devonport, watching the fireworks from the top of the Sky Tower. We must admit we found the fireworks a little underwhelming but maybe we’re being unfair by comparing them to London and Sydney.

Shortly after, we picked up Caroline, our beautiful camper van and home for the next three and a half weeks.

After collecting Caroline we had the long drive up to Paihia, hoping we made it in time for our kayaking trip. On arrival we found out it had been cancelled, which was a real shame as the local bays looked stunning from the beach.

 

The next morning we were up and out early and took the ferry from Paihia to Russell where we were due to board the R Tucker Thompson for a day sailing trip, but not before we tucked into the best breakfast ever at Butterfish on the waterfront in Russell.

 

The R Tucker Thompson provided an amazing day out with the right mix of relaxation, fun and education on local cultural history. They provided a lovely lunch and afternoon tea service and allowed you to climb the rigging to really take in the views. A fantastic day out finished with fish and chips on the waterfront in Paihia.

The next day we were up early and visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. With our first dose of New Zealand’s history and culture, we had lots of things to think about on our long drive down to Waitiomo that afternoon. 

Zip lining and abseiling through caves, climbing up underground waterfalls and floating along underground rivers lit only by beautiful glow worms was next on the agenda as we took on the Black Abyss Tour with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company. This was an amazing experience and definitely worth the $255 price tag.

‘I’m going on an adventure’ we yelled as we drove Caroline from Waitomo to Rotorua, but not without stopping at the famous Hobbiton for a guided tour, including a nice cold beverage in The Green Dragon.

After reaching Rotorua we headed out to the Redwood Forest to walk up in the trees on the Treewalk, just like Harry and Meghan did.

Afterwards we headed to the Polynesian Spa for a little breather and some relaxation after running around like Hobbits all day.

Feeling completely relaxed, it was all ruined by an early start and an exhilarating adventure White Water Rafting with Kaituna Cascades, which was amazing and scary as we rafted down the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world at around 7m. That afternoon we hiked up the Pohaturoa Track to get a view of the whole city.

Another great view was from the Skyline, which was where we headed the next morning. Here we had three luge runs each and had so much fun! 

 

Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity and that afternoon we headed to Te Puia Geothermal Park to see the famous Pohutu Geyser, Geothermal Mud Pools and unexpectedly got to see the National Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where they train locals and educate tourists on traditional Maori arts such as carving and weaving. 

We had the most spectacular evening of our trip so far at the Tamaki Maori Village. This was a meal and cultural experience combined. Matt was chosen as the chief of our group so we had a really involved experience in cultural performances, education on local stories and traditions and the unveiling of the Hangi Pit (the traditional underground oven where they cooked our meal). We would go as far as saying you can’t visit New Zealand and miss this experience. It was incredible! 

The next morning we drove from Rotorua to Lake Taupo via the Aratiatia Dam and stopped to ride the Huka Falls River Cruise, which takes you right up to the edge of Huka Falls.

 

Afterwards we rode the New Zealand invented jet boat at Rapids Jet, we had a great time however we felt it was a little overpriced for what the experience actually offered and became repetitive at times.

After driving on to Tongariro National Park, we hired bikes and cycled along the Tongariro River Trail. Then it was an early night for our big day ahead.

After a 5:45am wake up call, we hopped on the transfer to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Described as one of the best one-day hikes in New Zealand, we were raring to go and crossed the start line with fresh legs and happy feet.

19.4km and 5hrs and 46minutes later we crossed the finish line with not-so-fresh-legs and not-so-happy-feet. But we were very pleased with ourselves and completely blown away by the views on the trail. This day hike is a must do and well worth the time to visit. We finished the evening with a well deserved Burger King and an early night.

Our last stop on the North Island was Wellington. Here we met up with some friends who took us up to Mount Victoria and showed us around some of the bays outside of Wellington. They took us to a lovely local place for dinner called Aroy which did amazing Thai food. Probably the best Pad Thái we’ve ever had. 

 

Our final day in Wellington was spent exploring the city, visiting a few shops and seeing the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum/ Museum of New Zealand. Afterwards we went to the cinema where they held the premiere for the Hobbit film series. That evening we planned to take the famous Wellington Cable Car up to the Botanical Gardens to see a light show playing for that month only. Unfortunately when we got to the top, the light show had been cancelled because of the rain.

The next day we were up and out early to catch our 9am ferry for the next part of our adventure… The South Island of New Zealand.”

 

Chloe and Matt  

 

Follow their adventure on Instagram here