New Zealand, so far, part one

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.

Mount Eden, Auckland
Mount Eden, Auckland
Auckland
Auckland

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.

Thanks to

  • 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!

Where John the pot grower dropped us off, not sure where
Where John the pot grower dropped us off, not sure where.

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!

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Huka Falls

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!

Mt. Ngauruhoe
Mt. Ngauruhoe

After Taupo, it was Napier for two nights thanks to

  • John
  • 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.

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Next stop, and last stop (for a while), Wellington.  

Thanks to

  • 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.

across the Wellington harbour
across the Wellington harbour

 

Why New Zealand and wait, what are you doing?

Any Canadian I’ve ever spoken to about New Zealand has told me how similar New Zealand is to Canada (at least to western Canada and our mountains). I’ve also been told endless times how stunning and breathtaking the scenery on the South Island is. I’ve been here a month now, and well, I think the North island is stunning so I can’t wait to see the South. Yes, there are plenty of thru hikes closer to home, much better known, more traveled…

Truth is I was so quick to jump on New Zealand because their scariest wild animal is the possum and anyone who’s been to New Zealand, even if only for a day, know that the Kiwis are doing everything they can to rid themselves of this “pest”. I’m not a total scaredy cat. I find bears absolutely magnificent. I’ve seen black bears in the wild, recited the classic “hi bear” phrase they teach you to say, seen how utterly disinterested they are in your life, yada yada..BUT I have yet to see a grizzly. I want to. Wait, no I don’t want to. Well, I do really. I’m just not fully confident in my ability to use bear spray if I actually was unfortunately close enough to said grizzly. I also am terrified of Cougars. So, there you go. New Zealand should be perfect. Just us, a whole lot of sheep, the occasional deer or wild boar, and way more possums than New Zealand ever wanted, if they ever wanted any at all.

So, in under two months time, Matt and I will be taking our first of many steps along New Zealand’s long pathway, the Te Araroa.  The Te Araroa is a 3000 some kilometre walking trail, from the northern tip, Cape Reigna, to the Southern tip, Bluff, of New Zealand.

We’ll be walking for a while.