January 2016 I boarded the Kiwi Experience bus and headed off on an incredible 4 week journey through the stunning country of New Zealand. In this post i’ll chat a bit about the North Island and then i’ll have a chinwag about the South Island and Kiwi Experience over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!!!
My journey started in Auckland – a city which I didn’t particularly like. Not much personality, not particularly pretty and no impressive architecture. Whilst there though I can definitely recommend a trip to Muriwai Beach, an absolutely gorgeous never-ending coastline which is home to one of the worlds biggest gannet colonies and consequently a whole lot of bird poop! Mt Eden is also worth a visit – a volcanic crater right on the edge of the city boasting better views than any man-made tourist gimmicks.
Our journey began and out first few stops didn’t disappoint. Cathedral Cove, a beautiful little hideaway which opens up at the end of a scenic little 2.5km trail was absolutely stunning. For some reason I didn’t have my camera with me so no pictures from there but trust me, its stunning. Hot Water Beach was next and does exactly what it says on the tin. Take along your spade, dig yourself a nice little hole and watch in amazement as it fills with scalding hot water. Its truly extraordinary. You’ll have to time your visit with low tide and just make sure not to burn yourself, its seriously just out the kettle-hot. Waitomo was next and home to one of my absolute favourite activities in New Zealand – Black Water Rafting through the famous Waitomo Caves. Why so famous I hear you ask? Glow-worms. Ill never forget sitting in that tube in my god awful wetsuit, wellies and hard hat combo, floating along in the pitch black dark staring up at thousands upon thousands of glow-worms. Fascinating.
The best night of the trip was spent at the Tamaki Mauri Village in Rotorua. You have got to do this. Not just the afternoon visit – do the overnight stay!!! There is no better way to learn about traditional Mauri culture than this. Yes, its a bit of a touristy gimmick but that doesn’t take away from the experience in my opinion. You’ll stay in the most beautiful hut lined with carvings of Mauri Gods, eat a traditional (and delicious) Hangi cooked underground, learn traditional games and songs and spend the evening soaking in the hot tubs under the stars. I was gutted to leave.
Before we left Rotorua, we spent a morning at Te Puia – a geothermal valley. We cooked eggs in the geothermal pools and ate them under the spray of the giant geysers. Pretty bloody cool (minus the horrendous sulphur stench).
On to Taupo and that meant one thing – SKYDIVE TIME. We were all buzzing with excitement as we travelled in our limo to the airfields! Safety videos, signing our lives away and photo package choices all fuelled our excitement levels until we finally changed into our super sexy skydive outfits ready for the jump!! We were packed into this tiny little hot pink plane and off we went – I was first out.
The jump was out of this world. I have no words to describe the feeling of free falling from 15,000 ft, theres just nothing like it. If I could have afforded to, I’d have gone straight back up and jumped out of the next plane. That adrenaline rush lasted for days. If you’re thinking about it, DO IT.
Our next adventure was hiking the Tongariro Crossing, and what an adventure that was. The weather was certainly against us. We all thought we were going to get blown off the side of the mountain at one point, we had to duck behind rocks as the biggest gusts of wind came by! We weren’t allowed up to the highest peak (Mount Doom) due to the conditions but to be honest I was already knackered, i’m not sure I could have hacked that bit as well!! When the clouds cleared, the view was absolutely worth the effort. The Emerald Pools are beautiful. I can only imagine how incredible the view must be on a clear day!!
I spent my birthday at River Valley Adventure Lodge and it was the best birthday ever. We stayed up all night, watched the stars (the most amazing starry night sky I have ever seen) jumped in the river at midnight and went White Water Rafting in the morning. It’s a Grade 3-5 section of the Rangitikei River and it was SO fun!! Such an amazing adrenaline rush with rapid after rapid after rapid. The instructors were fab, even when I almost knocked ours out the boat!
Last Stop was Wellington – its alright, just your average city. We did have a good night out there i’ll give them that!
So thats a pretty brief round up of the North Island. I realised as I was writing this that I could go on for hours and hours. I have so many amazing memories from this trip!! I’ve just picked out the highlights really to keep this post somewhat concise! I hope you enjoyed, I’ll be posting all about the South Island and Kiwi Experience in the next couple of weeks! In the meantime, here’s a video montage of our adventures!