We’ve officially been in New Zealand for exactly one month now. At the end of July, Matt and I landed in Auckland after twenty four hours of travel from Kuala Lumpur to Australia and finally to New Zealand. We had spent the previous five months travelling around Asia and asides from freezing our butts off when we first arrived (the middle of winter here!), New Zealand has not disappointed. In Auckland, we stayed with our friend Nina who we met in South Korea four months ago. We had been warned by many people that Auckland is, I quote (I forget who) the “armpit of New Zealand”. I haven’t seen much of the rest of New Zealand yet but arriving in Auckland felt like coming home (compared to Asia of course). The weather was right there with Canada. The air was so fresh, and GREEN. You wouldn’t think “green” could be so missed, but from the first day of our travels leaving Canada until Auckland, we had not seen such green grass, green hills, rolling and rolling and rolling.
After a windy, sunny, rainy, even hail one morning, five days in Auckland, we decided to head quickly down South to try and squeeze in some work before we start our walk. We have a good friend Roger Rog in Wellington who was so kind to let us mail all our winter clothing/miscellaneous useless items from overpacking throughout our travels. Yes, we made the classic first time traveller mistake of overpacking, WAY overpacking. Roger was lucky to receive packages from Japan, South Korea AND Taiwan. Anyways, we chose Wellington to settle down for a couple of months/pick up our winter clothing before the walk, so down South we headed.
Our next stop was Taupo after a five car hitch down from Auckland. (Sorry Mom). Anyone that’s travelled Asia would be just as unimpressed as me that a four hour bus ride could cost $60 when a few months back, you spent 16 hours on a bus for less than $10.
- Hal, the Irish-Peruvian
- Mark, the proud UK father
- John, the pot grower
- A lovely husband and wife born and raised NZ
- The two sheep shearers heading to shear some sheep
for getting us down to Taupo!
When we arrived in Taupo, we explored Huka Falls. Huka Falls is the result of a river that has to pass through a narrow gully and dumps 220,000 litres of water each second over the other side!
Taupo also has a stunning view of Mt. Ngauruhoe across Lake Taupo. For those of you that aren’t Lord of the Rings fans (nobody), that’s Mount Doom!
After Taupo, it was Napier for two nights thanks to
- Jo from Hobbiton
- a mountain biker from Napier
After a massive earthquake in 1931 in Hawkes Bay, much of Napier had to be rebuilt. Most buildings were built in a quaint Art Deco style making it very popular for tourists. We spent our one full day biking 60 km, to Cape Kidnapper’s and back. The mountain biker let us know that Napier is working to make itself the bike capital of New Zealand. Our ride was entirely on bike path’s along the coast and it was stunning.
Next stop, and last stop (for a while), Wellington.
- a young dad and his baby for taking us to a spot that he’s personally hitchhiked to Wellington from
- Christine, for putting up with us for five hours all the way to the capital
It took Christine all of five minutes to pull over for us. She was going all the way to Wellington. Together, we escaped death on the highway when a car lost control coming towards us and missed us just barely thanks to Christine’s lack of freak out and calm manuevering. Luckily no one was hurt but we were the only ones to see it, so we became police witnesses. Asides from that scare, we shared lunch and then even a room and dinner when we finally arrived in Wellington. To catch one ride for such a long distance was extremely lucky and any hitchhiker’s dream… as long as you didn’t get some crazy in the driver’s seat.
Luckily, we didn’t get a crazy.