Green hues

“It was a grey and misty departure from Wellington”

Nelson, New Zealand


It was a grey and misty departure from Wellington and from the sounds of the weather report my destination – the south island – was to be more of less of the same…

My ferry crossing was pretty much uneventful but the scenery I was approaching… the Marlborough sounds was gorgeously green – lush vegetation and emerald coloured waters. The colour of the water was different from what I expected and the views remained one of the most spectacular throughout my touring through the region of Marlborough and Kaikoura.

My trip over the last few weeks has been full of exploration and walking along the coastal paths in the region. Come rain of sunshine I have made the most of getting out there to see the great scenery New Zealand has to offer and I am sure my photos will speak 1000 words on what I have seen and discovered.

Quick Highlights:

Nelson – a great feel town with lots of art and craft shops – plus a great market to visit on a saturday morning.

Abel Tasman – even though this is the smallest national park in New Zealand it has some amazing walks. I managed to spend about 5 hours walking along the coastal paths getting caught in some rain showers and climbing as high as I could to try and take some good pictures. I will admit I was freezing by the time I had finished and enjoyed every mouthful of the free hot chocolate pudding at the hostel that evening.

Blenheim – getting a break from the rain I ventured off to explore the wine region and you guessed it New Zealand does have some yummy wines

Kaikoura – I was so looking forward to getting here to see the resident sperm whales but disappointedly the seas where too rough and I lost my chance. I did however go on a 3 and a half hour walk around the coast and visited the local seals instead – not the same but at least something.

Full Steam Ahead

Rotorua, New Zealand

 


Hot steamy baths, bubbling mud and erupting geysers were the focus of my next explorations in New Zealand.

I had the privilege of being able to borrow a friends car which not only saved me some money but also gave me the freedom to roam where I chose and at leisure. The drive along the Thermal explorer highway from Auckland was pretty much standard and it was only once I reached the Huka Falls near Taupo that I felt like things were starting to get interesting. I watched the bright blue water of the falls for a while before heading off to see my first official thermal activity at the craters of the moon. I looked into a smokey landscape – puffs of white cloud steaming from the ground with the odd eggy smell wafting past.

Leaving Taupo (pronounced Toe-Paw) I headed towards my friend Ang’s parents farm, Omahamui for 2 very cosy nights. My treat at the farm was being able to kayak on a glass looking river and see plenty of geothermal activity along the way. Stopping to explore and feel the warm water was wonderful, it did however mean that the trip back to the farm around 6pm was very cold and the 4km felt a lot longer.

Wai-tapu was the next destination and is known as the most colorful of all the thermal wonderlands. It lived up to expectations as I passed green, copper, yellow pools puffing with steam. It certainly was a good adventure plus the added fact that I got to see Lady Knox geyser erupt at the set time of 10:15am – with the help of a little soap, very sneaky.

Rotorua was not such an amazing town but it certainly was at the centre on what was on offer. The weather was not wonderful either but I got to see some Kiwi birds at the Kiwi Encounter and hear all about the breeding program they have in place. Such cute little birds it would be sad to see them become extinct in the world and this organisation are doing a wonderful job by having hatched over 1000 eggs this summer.

It was back to the beaches in the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel after all this thermal activity. I fell in love with the Mercury Bay area and decided to stay 2 nights in Hahei so I could walk along to the famous cathedral cove and later watch with interest the people building their own little hot pools on hot water beach. So not totally moving away from thermal wonders I found it fitting to end this part of my journey in Miranda on the seabird coast with a long soak in one of the hot pools.

Accommodation:
Cactus Jacks Backpackers – 1210 Haupapa Street, Rotorua, New Zealand
Tatahi Lodge Motel – Grange Road, Whitianga, New Zealand

Twin coast discovery by Campervan

Whangarei, New Zealand

 


The camper van was booked and I must admit I was very excited about it being my home for the next four days as my friend, Angie, and I made our way up north to explore the ‘Twin Coast’ or the Northland as it is officially known. Our little van (which I will refer to as Nomad) was well cozy and came equipped with fridge, stove, kitchen sink, bed and a portable heater. The main selling point being the heater as the nights were a bit chilly but sadly we found out on our first night that it just did not want to work – at least we had our snow chains so we would not get stuck anywhere for too long!!

We started off by making our way along the west coast which was made up of beautiful coastlines, narrow and windy roads and Kauri Forests. It was a long drive as we wanted to get as far north as possible but we still made time to see the famous Kauri Tree – Tane Mahuta – wow it was tall! We did not get to see the pet dolphin at Opononi but we witnessed a sparkling sunset across the ocean as we headed to Rawene for our first night stay.

The excitement of reaching 90 mile beach in less than an hour got us up bright and breezy to catch the 7:30am ferry. I am sure the surroundings would have been spectacular but as it was so misty we could not see a thing but things soon changed. The views on our drive were spectacular as we followed rainbows in the sky and watched the mist lift eerily from the ground. I was not too sure how many times we would turn the corner and see yet another amazing view before us, but for sure the words ‘wow’ never tired from leaving my lips.

Our stomachs were grumbling by the time we reached Aripara, so we made ourselves some toast and a cup of tea before walking on the wet sand which mirrored the sky above perfectly. What a way to spend a morning. We did toy with the idea of driving Nomad out on the sand but we soon came to our senses and decided it was better to look at everyone else taking a drive than having to dig ourselves out of any sinking sand.

Aripara was the start of beautiful beaches as we headed towards the east coast admiring Doubtless Bay and getting out occasionally to stretch our legs on the white sands. It wasn’t all about beaches so we stopped at Waitangi for a bit of culture and to see where effectively ‘the modern New Zealand’ began.

Our east coast part of our journey we slowed down the pace a little and explored some of the coastal towns of Paihia, Russell and Waipu Cove and of course many more stunning beaches that I certainly could never tire off.


 

Auckland Times

Auckland, New Zealand

 


I am not sure how much I can elaborate on Auckland – you know been a city and all. But to be fair it does have its merits – beautiful bay views from almost every direction and definitely one of the most cleverest things the Kiwi’s did was build the Sky Tower. Not only does it add something to the skyline but it gives perspective and a sense of importance. No not the Tower, although it does ‘tower’ over everything, but the views are just incredible when you are up there and it shows how close the city is to it all – volcanoes, the harbour, waters, greenhills and a growing and buzzing city.

I spent most of my days in Auckland with my friend Angie who I have not seen for a over 5 years – so I got to see the real deal of living here – the suburbs. Filled with gorgeous houses with wooden finishing, porches, balconies and really big rooms (okay that is the London thing coming out). When I wasn’t walking down Queens street trying to find a warmer jacket for the chill, I was up the tower staring at the view from the Skytower and best of all sampling some of the local wines.

Boutique they call it on Waiheke island -which basically means they only focus on quality. Each vineyard was unique in their wine and making up the most of the views from the country houses. Being autumn everything was gold – the trees, the vine leaves, the sunshine, some of the white wines and the olive oils. Talking about olive oil did you know it could taste like pepper, thyme, apple and nasturtium flowers? Me neither – I guess you learn something new everyday!!!