the North Island, hiking and hot springs


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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island
February 10th 2016
Published: February 10th 2016
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So after my 50th flight ever I arrived in the land of the kiwis: New Zealand. After the most extensive customs procedure ever, I caught a bus into the city of Auckland. A bit of a walk later, I found my hostel on Beach Road. Which is not actually near a beach at all :p When I got to my room, I unpacked a little and then set of to find some of the vegan friendly restaurants I'd Googled with my English roommate Tim. We found two, but they were both closed... Luckily we found a nice Indian restaurant instead 😊 After that we went back to the hostel, bought a box of beer and hung out in the common area with the some what strange other residents; like the 25yo female stripper and her 50+yo male best friend who had been living in the hostel for about a year now... Right.

The next day me and Tim walked up Mount Eden, where we had a really nice view of the city and the islands/water surrounding it. After that we tried to find another one of my vegan cafés, which also turned out to be closed... So we went to a Mexican place where I had a hard shell, black bean taco, wrapped in a soft shell. Very tasty 😊 On our way back to the hostel, we bought a box of beer again. Stripper and co weren't there to entertain us, so we spend half of the night watching Eddie Izzard video's :p

The next day I went to the vegan lunch café again, and was very happy to find it to be open this time. I got two boxes of food and then took the bus to the airport to meet up with my parents! When they finally got through customs, we had some coffee and food before taking a free shuttle bus to their hotel. After they'd settled in a bit, we went down stairs to have some drinks next to the swimming pool. We had dinner there as well and after that I went back to my hostel and went to bed quite early.

The next morning I checked out and walked over to the Sky Tower. My parents got there a bit later than me and after some coffee and breakfast we went to the top of the tower. We spend a good hour up there and then walked over to my hostel to pick up my bags. From here we took a taxi to their hotel to pick up their bags before taking a shuttle to the camper van rental place. It was our turn quite quickly and before we knew it we were on the road in our Mighty camper van! We set of for Coromandel straight away, with a short break to do groceries along the way. When we got to the campsite there was a note on the reception door saying we could choose any powered site and do the check-in tomorrow morning. So we parked the van, had some beer and cooked some dinner. After that we spend some time trying to figure out how to convert the sitting area into a bed using the table and another piece of wood. My bed came sliding out over that, which was a lot easier to do, but a lot harder to get into! After this we went on a quest to find the unlit bathroom facilities and were treated to the most beautiful starry sky I'd ever seen 😊

The next day it was time for our first hike in New Zealand! The 3 hour Matamataharakeke trail (no joke) started right at our campsite. A fern covered path led to a really nice viewing point on top of a hill. The first part was almost like a rainforest and we had to cross this small river about twenty times by walking over some rocks that had been placed in the water. The hike was a bit more intense than we thought, cause after that first part it went uphill quite steeply. But it was a beautiful and very satisfying hike nonetheless 😊 After that me and my mom went to the beach that was on the other side of the campsite for a bit of a swim. Then we had a cold but nice shower before going to the food truck next to the reception to get some wood fired pizzas 😊

The day after that it was already time to go to our next destination: The Waikite Valley. Here, we had booked a campsite with natural hot springs! Quite the difference from the unlit, cold showers 😉 When we got there, we changed into out bathing suits and soaked away in the different pools. I also walked up the Manaroa eco trail, which was a five minute walk to the spring where the water came from :p It was pretty awesome though, cause there was some real interesting facts along the way. I learned that the water comes out of the spring at 98 Celsius! And that the life forms found there are thought to be really close to the life forms that existed at the beginning of time. Pretty cool.

The next morning we spend another hour in the hot pools, before going to our next stop: The Tongariro National Park. Along the way we stopped at Taupo to see the Huka Falls. This water fall isn't very high, but it has a very special color. The water is extremely clear and as it pours over the edge it's a beautiful light blue/turquoise 😊 We got to our campsite quite early, so after having lunch there we decided to drive to the information centre in Wakapapa (again no joke). Here, we got some info on all the tracks running through the area. We decided to do the Skyline walk, which is a hike to the crater of Mount Ruapehu with beautiful panoramic views.

So the next morning we did some groceries and then drove to the ski lift that would take us up to the beginning of the trail. If the hike we did in Coromandel was intense, than this one was super intense! The hill was even steeper and at some points it was more like a climb than a hike with the path running right across some huge rocks. At the bottom of the mountain it was nice and sunny, but the higher we got, the more cloudy it became. So you guys can probably guess what happened to those great panoramic views... We did see some really cool rocks in lots of different colors, like bright orange and a sort of light Bordeaux red. But I think it's safe to say the Skyline walk would have been more rewarding with a view of the skyline. At the campsite it was nice and sunny again, and we had a nice and relaxed rest of the day.

The next morning we left to go to our last stop on the Northern Island: Wellington. Here, we stayed at the Wellington Waterfront Motorhome Park, which was basically a car park with power plugs :p But it was nicely located and the showers were nice and hot, so nothing to complain about! After parking the van we took a cute cable car up the hill and then wanted back down through the Botanical Gardens. We had burgers for dinner at a pub on Cuba street, which is the main going out street. Tim had arrived in Wellington a day earlier. So after my parents went back to the campsite, we met up and had a couple more beers 😊

The next day we went to the New Zealand Museum: Te Papa. The first exhibition we visited, we bumped into Tim again :p The exhibition was about the first world war, in which New Zealand had lost a lot of men. There were sculptures of soldiers that were three or four times the seize of a normal human being and they were crazily detailed. You could see drops of sweat on their heads, see the veins run along their necks and the hair on their arms moved when you blew on it. I have never seen such amazingly realistic sculptures in my life. They were combined with lots of stories, pictures and interactive displays. Altogether a very impressive exhibition. There was also a DreamWorks exhibition that I wanted to go to. It was all about the making of animated movies and the creation of the characters. It was really cool to see how much thought goes into every aspect of these movies and how important the use of colors is for example 😊

After that we went to grab some lunch. Me and my mom had some really good vegan Malaysian food and my dad had Burger King... Then we did some shopping: My dad bought an All Blacks shirt and I bought a long dress. We had an easy dinner at the camper van and went to bed nice and early. Cause the next morning it was time to take the ferry across to Picton on the South Island of New Zealand!

Sorry about the blog being this long! I'll try to make em more manageable by writing the next one a bit sooner 😉 Also, the wifi situation is supposed to be a bit better on the Southern Island, fingers crossed.

Cheers!

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