So as you may or may not know or even gathered by now.
I like to travel.
I want to inspire more people to travel. To have experiences. And to do those things which some may consider to be “once in a life time”. Or if nothing else, then to chime in on those “gap yah” conversations.
So with all the freezing temperatures I thought I would give you some proof that Winter isn’t all bad. Ladies and Gentlemen…
The North Island of New Zealand.
To fully explore what this beautiful island has, you really need a car so after flying in from Sydney we hired out a campa with Jucy rentals picking it up in Auckland and dropping it in Wellington. This little baby became our home for two weeks whilst we tried to pack in as many activities that the north island could provide.
Starting off our tour in the Coromandel Region. This drive alone pretty much makes the trip worth it, the winding road along this beautiful coastline meant that we had to stop several times for a Photo-opp.
Although that’s not the only thing we stopped off for here, this place is world renown for its smoked mussels, let me tell you, they did not disappoint.
I am aware that some people may be frightened off by the fact that we stayed in a campa for 2 weeks, but New Zealand is pretty much made for this type of a trip, it has more camping sites than you can shake a stick at and many towns have showers that you can pay for (if your campa doesn’t have one that is)
I have met many people who have gone onto organised bus tours but with driving a campervan, not only is it a money saver but it also meant that you could have dinner and watch the sunset like this…
And then wake up in the morning and jump out of the car and have breakfast like this.
It is funny how quickly you can end up living the “hippie” lifestyle…
You brush your teeth in a tree.
You bathe in natural hot springs.
You eat pasta and drink booze in the same place that you sleep.
…Neighbours which have a beautiful home.
But our journey onward made us truly realise that New Zealand in its winter months is extremely quiet. Now we all know the jokes about how the farm animals mostly, sheep and cows outnumber the population of this country, but it is startlingly true. Heading down the country’s main roads, which are nestled in between fields of said farm animals, you could easily be travelling for an hour without meeting another car. It is a rather odd experience, but you may be starting to see why this is potentially one of the best road trips you will ever take.
Tauranga was another port of call. This place was clearly a big hotspot for activity in the summer, a costa del sol if you will, a place to both surf and dive as well as taking a trek up “The Mount”. With the exception of Auckland and Wellington, this was the biggest town that we visited in the north island, with restaurants and holiday homes (or “batches” if you will) in abundance.
Meeting up with some old friends who now live there, we were given a tour of the town and all its beauty spots.
New Zealand is rather famed for its geothermal activity and a key player in that game is Rotorua; another key stop to make on the southward road trip. However with great geothermal power comes great smells… (its the sulphur)
The town was full of bubbling and steaming ponds, steaming rocks, naturally heated pools and constantly hot natural BBQs (FYI these BBQs do not turn off…do not touch them. Trust me. It hurts.)
This town is also well known for its clear Maori influence, as shown through their churches, their totems and even their boats. Taking a stroll through the Maori quarter it is clear to see that the ancient traditions and rituals are still honoured and continued by the tribes.
Lord of the Rings Much?
So lets get down to business. What a lot of people really tend to think of when you mention New Zealand is Middle Earth. Lord of the Rings. LOTR if you will. So there is of course much throughout the entire North and South island which is related to the films, be it Hobbiton in Mata Mata, the Weta Caves in Wellington or Mount Doom near Taupo, honestly the list can go on forever and many people do tour the country with all these sites in mind.
Being fans ourselves we did of course make a few stops to do with the films. The best undoubtedly was Hobbiton in Mata Mata. The set, which is based on an extremely large farm just outside the town of Mata Mata, was originally taken down after the first trilogy but once The Hobbit trilogy emerged, the undeniable potential for a major tourist attraction meant that the set was left just the way it was with all details in tact. Here are a few snippets…
Trolls from WETA caves in Wellington…
Learning to Fly
So as I have already mentioned, the scenery in the north island is beautiful, however the best place to see the view is from the air. as you’re jumping out of a plane. obviously. so where else other than…
Taupo. The Skydiving capital of the world, with good reason.
If you get the chance to go skydiving particularly in New Zealand, take it. It is honestly one of the best experiences that you will have in your life.
So that was a few snippets from the North Island, the post on the South Island will emerge eventually (I Promise!)
Sorry that it was a bit meaty, but if I haven’t convinced you to venture to the land of the Hobbits, clearly it was not meaty enough.