A Travellerspoint blog

Auckland

We arrived back to where we started almost 3 months ago, back to the traffic jams and back to the big city life. We stayed at a very nice family who we met at the Mclaren falls. We ate dinner with them and the dad makes the most delicious fries (coming from a Belgian, that means a lot). All the dinners were actually amazing, but the fries were the most memorable (especially for Christophe).

Our main goal was to sell the car and hopefully see a bit of Auckland, which we didn’t manage to do when we arrived in NZ. We got quite lucky with selling the car, as the first couple who came to look at it bought it the same day. Although we made a small loss with the car, it was still a good deal. Much cheaper than renting. Some days after selling the car, we went to the Auckland car fair to see how that works and what kind of cars they have there. Lucky we didn’t have to try to sell it there. Some people selling their car/camper looked pretty desperate at the car fair.

The first days in Auckland were quite busy. We met with some BESTies with whom we checked out the Parnell market, went to the Piha beach and ate chinese food in the Chinatown of Auckland. The next day we met some other people who we met during a hike in the South Island. With them we visited the harbour, had lunch there and went to Takapuna beach.

On Monday we had our big helicopter adventure with Helitrips. We took off in the morning from the heliport in Auckland, landed for a short pitstop in another airfield and continued to Coromandel. It was the first helicopter trip for both of us and it was super exciting. The helicopter was very new and very nice and the views were just breathtaking. We’ve seen a lot during our trip in NZ, but that was really something special.

We landed in Coromandel and went for a swim in Whangapoua beach. We tried some bodysurfing with varying success. The helicopter went back without us and we drove a 4WD back to Auckland. Our old car was pretty slow and quite crappy, so Christophe was very happy to drive a decent car. Finally other drivers had to get out of our way and not vice versa.
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Posted by cjfvdk 14:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Coromandel Peninsula

We started the long and winding drive by stopping randomly at a some bird gardens (didn’t go in because it had an entrance fee), but we spotted a passion fruit tree and got to taste some fresh passionfruit :) We drove on, on the East coast of Coromandel peninsula and stopped in all the cool looking and beautiful beaches. I think we swam in 5 different beaches today. All the campings in Coromandel are super expensive for non-selfcontained vehicles, so we stayed at a DOC site for the first night.

The next day we continued with more beaches. We drove to Cathedral Cove, had some problems finding parking, but managed in the end. It was a beautiful beach, consisiting of 2 beaches actaually which are connected by a a passage under the rocks. I was rather full of people. We continued from some more winding roads and stayed at a more expensive camping near (we read) one of the top 20 most beautiful beaches in the world.
The next day we went to New Chums beach, which also is one of those special beaches that you have to see. This one is supposed to be special because you can only reach it at low tid after a walk on the shore and over a hill, so very secluded and no houses or signs of human activity. It was nice, but so are all the beaches here. Christophe found an abandoned bodyboard there at the beach, so we had some fun with that.

In the evening we drove all the way and left Coromandel peninsula. We spend the night at Paeroa. The next day was a library WiFi day :)
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:52 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Tauranga

We climbed Mount Manganui and admired the beautiful views from there. Then we headed down to the beach where many people surfed, we just went for a swim. The day went fast and the weather was beautiful. We stayed the night in McClaren Falls camping 20 min from Tauranga. There we slept near a group of hundred 12-year-old boys who were on their school camping trip. There was a walk with glow worms which where all round you. At one point it was like being in a dome which had a waterfall running through it and around you there were lights from glow worms and on top there were the stars! The McClaren falls are another set of falls where they open a dam every sunday to let the water run through the rapids, but we weren’t there on a sunday :/.

The next day we saw a nice pick your own blueberries place. We stopped there and went picking. Edda ended up eating at least as much as she picked. Together we got 2kg of blueberries to eat for the next days and another 2kg in Edda’s tummy. Yum Yum!
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:47 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Rotorua

Rafting!

We walked in the redwoods area and in the town centre and parks. Unfortunately we forgot to take the camera, so no pics. There is a nasty smell of sulphur from all this volcanic activity going under and around Rotorua. Many dislikes from Edda because of the smell.

This town seems like a perfect place to do mountain biking (next time maybe..). The next morning we went rafting to Okere falls. It should be the world’s highest waterfall that you can commercially raft. It was an interesting experience and luckily we had a cool guide. Edda was very scared (like superscared!), especially of the big 7m waterfall and going under again (traumas from the Whanganui canoe trip). Luckily we didn’t flip :( and it was a lot of fun! Even the water was very warm in the river, 21C they said.

After the rafting we went to the East coast and swam on a beautiful and deserted beach with gigantic waves (Kohioawa beach). After we went up Papamoa hill giving a nice view of the surrounds.
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:43 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Taupo

hot springs

We spent 2 relaxed days in Taupo including a lot of walking, hot springs and hitch-hiking. First day we just walked around the town and of course had to swim in lake Taupo. The next day we woke up early to go to the hot springs near the river. We sat there for about an hour in the nice warm water and cooled down in the river afterwards. Then we decided to walk to Huka Falls. Quite impressive rapids (pics below). From there we wanted to walk to a place called ‘the craters of the moon’, but when we arrived, we saw that you have to pay an entrance fee, so we just turned away. We were a bit lazy to walk all the way back, so we hitch-hiked a couple of kilometres.

In the evening Christophe was swimming in the river with a huge current. So he swam a couple hundred meters, walked back and swam again.
The next morning we went to watch the Aritiatia dam being opened and the water going through the rapids. This whole show took about 20 min and was not as impressive as we had expected. The water was actually flowing pretty slow (no big explosion like in the movies).
From there we continued our drive towards more hot springs. First stop was Waiotapu bridge where we had a really nice and relaxed bath. This hot spring was in a place where hot and cold water meet, so by moving some meters you could control the temperature (warm up or cool down when needed). A really nice place.

Next we went to Kerosine creek. A beautiful hot spring with a waterfall. There the water is however really hot, so you don’t want to spend too much time soaking in it, unless you want to look like a lobster afterwards.
Before driving to Rotorua, we still had to climb the Rainbow mountain. It had nice views and an amazing red, purple and yellow colour on the side.
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Turangi

After the big walk we drove towards Turangi and stayed at a camping nearby. The next morning the weather was good, so we just chilled at the campsite, played cards and swam in the stream/river. We had to leave around lunchtime when the DOC people came to clean the campsite. We went to the center of Turangi, visited the library and ate some meat pies for lunch.
In the evening we decided to stay at the same campsite as it was no very clean and all :) Tomorrow we’ll continue towards Taupo. Ah, btw, we booked some rafting in Rotorua for Wednesday :)

Posted by cjfvdk 16:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

+ Mount Doom

We woke up quite early and started the 30km climb/walk at 8:30. The crossing itself is about 19km, but it’s one way, so if you don’t want to buy an expensive shuttle bus ticket to bring you back (30$), you have to walk back to start. And that’s pretty much what we did.
We started the track with a lot of tourists all walking in a queue. Most of them continued to walk the crossing, whereas we did a sidetrip to mount Doom (a 2.5h return). It was very steep and very hard to climb up, because the stones and sand was loose. You didn’t have too many steady spots to put your feet. Gloves is pretty much necessary, if you want to climb it. The views up there were amazing. You saw the crater and all other volcanos, lakes etc around you. Mount Doom has a Double crater, pretty neat! We walked the whole volcano top, and didn’t see much on one side as it was very cloudy. The view on the other side where really nice and you say how the volcano spilled its lava. You could also clearly see some of the lahars. Ah yes, we did NOT throw a ring in the volcano, like some others did … :P. Going down the volcano is not that easy either. It’s very sandy, it’s like running downhill a sandy beach which is more then 50% inclined. Christophe found a fast and risky way so fell a couple of times, Edda was more prudent and took some more time :).

After Mount Ngauruhoe (Doom) we were a bit dead, but then there is 20 km more of walking. So of we went. Trough the South Crater, over the Red Crater, past the Emerald lakes, over the Central Crater and past the Blue lakes and the North Crater. Then going downwards again to see the whole view of lake Taupo and Rotoira, beautiful! There were also some volcanoe vents in action when we were there letting out some steam, a lot of steam. When we finally saw the last 8 km of the track and the finish, it was time to turn back for another 14 km. So we went back, past the North Crater, the Blue lake, over the Central Crater, past the emerald lakes, over the Red Crater, did a 3km side tour to the highest point of Mount Tongariro, and then over the South Crater, past Mount Ngauruhoe, which we left on the left this time, and then all the way down to the car. After 10h20 min and 28 km + Mount Doom, we were back, a bit tired, but happy and all Edda could think of was to eat a can of Tuna :).

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Posted by cjfvdk 16:20 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Tongariro National Park

We didn’t want to do anything too tough after the river journey, so we did some light walking for 5-6h in Tongariro National Park. We went to the Silicia Rapids (pics), took a swim in a waterfall (pics), went to see another waterfall and some other short walks (also pics). The day was nice and we had some practice for the next day. Yep, tomorrow we are gonna do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, or at least almost :)
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:18 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Whanganui river journey 


4 days of paddling

We arrived at the canoe hiring company one day before to fetch our drybags and barrels to pack our stuff. We packed all of the evening and in the morning also. It was probably the coldest night so far (4C), so we (read Edda) started to doubt if our +10C sleeping bags were a bit too thin for sleeping in a tent by the river for 3 nights...

The canoe journey started at 7:30 with a cappuccino and a training about how to handle some of the most common rapids and obstacles. We got a Canadian canoe, a big one which is open, see pics. Then we went to the river in Ohipane and got some basic info about steering and how to behave in the canoe. Everything got securely tied up to the canoe, so IF we flip (which is not very likely) you don’t lose anything :).
Then we were off. The journey started with a quite a big rapid. Christophe was steering first, Edda was paddling in the front and got totally wet in the first rapid already, and was not happy. The first day we had some problems with steering (we switched positions, but it didn't really go any better after that). On the way we stopped at a nice waterfall, where Edda fell and got all her clothes muddy. In the end we managed to get to the first camping in Whakahoro where we had a swim, and where our campsite was among the horses and in the night you could hear them eating grass right beside your tent. A bit scary, especially if you start dreaming about the horses running over your tent.
It was not so easy to pack nutritious food for 4 days. The first dinner was Christophe’s delicious spaghetti sauce.

The second day we had about 7h on the river, so we wanted to leave early. We woke up around 6:30, had breakfast, packed everything (which takes quite a lot of time every morning) and were off. It was a long day without so many stops in the way. Today the steering went much better for the both of us :) The river was much more calm, not so many rapids as on the first day.
We made it to the John Coull hut and campsite where we met the warden, Young Peter. He was a nice old man (80!) who enjoyed the outdoors and catching rats around the hut :) There were a lot of people, because the 3 day journey-people also joined, which ment many tents next to each other. Dinner: Edda’s tuna mouche. In the morning, Young Peter had caught 3 rats!

We slept slightly longer as the next day was only 5h on the river. Today was Edda steering all day. We stopped at a Bridge to Nowhere (a bridge in the middle of the forest, built when people thought they could farm near the Whanganui river). Today we had some time to stop in places and just enjoy. Our campsite, Tieke Kanga, was also a Maori ‘home’. We had a traditional Maori welcome there (unfortunately there was only one guy to conduct the ceremony, but it was interesting). In the ceremony Christophe had to speak (introduce us) and Edda had to sing. Because we participated in the ceremony, we could go to their grounds (cross a border near the campsite) and even sleep in their Mare, which Christophe did. Dinner this day was an omelet which onions and ham and other things.

The last day we woke up at six, because the hiring company said everyone should be gone by 8 (they’d pick us up at 13:30). It was raining in the night, so our stuff was a bit wet, but we just packed everything in the canoe. We paddled quite hard the whole day together with another couple, who also managed to leave very early (7h50!). We stopped at the waterfall cave (no pictures because they warned us that on the last day there will be a rapid where you probably topple over, so we put the camera into a safe, waterproof place).
The big rapid didn’t look so big at first, but that was because in the beginning you couldn’t see the huge 1m waver after it. We went on, and of course we went over. The beginning went fine, until we scooped a huge load of water in the canoe, after which the canoe lost it’s balance… and down we went. Edda was not so happy about falling over, but Christophe had the time of his life. He even did it 2 more times with a guy who also fell over on his first try. There is a video of this, hope we manage to upload it soon.

After some drying and changing to warm, dry clothes, we paddled to the finish (about 140 km altogether in 4 days). The last day was actually pretty tough. Lots of wind and almost no current, so we really had to paddle hard to make it to the finish at 13:30. Many people didn’t manage to make it on time. Even when we left (I guess around 14:30), a group of 4 Germans was still missing.

The whole thing was pretty tough, but totally fun and worth it!
In the evening we shopped a bit and drove towards Tongariro National Park.
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:12 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Opunake - Taranaki - New Plymouth

Forgotten Highway
 & The surf highway

We checked out the beaches and surf opportunities in Opunake, but unfortunately didn't do any surfing yet. Instead we went for some walking in Egmont National Park. We walked to Dawson's falls and crossed a very high swing bridge to get to a hut close by. It was pretty cloudy, so we don't have awesome shots of Taranaki :/ We stayed at a nice camping by a small harbour with a fake lighthouse. Once again, a very beautiful sunset.
The next day we took of towards New Plymouth, where we asked about climbing the Taranaki summit. It seems to be a difficult undertaking, and the weather has to be perfect for it. We weren’t lucky and had to wait 2 days to climb it, so we decided to skip it this time. We did climb a small mini-dead volcano, one of the sugar loaf islands (which is on land). We went to the museum and booked a 4-day Whanganui river journey. Off to another camping, with a shower! and a good night of sleep.

The next day, we have a 155 km trip ahead on the forgotten Highway to Taumaranui. The trip starts in Stratford (which should ring a bell), where there is the only NZ glockenspiel about Romeo and Julia. Then there are a couple of saddles, and some nice waterfalls. After some hours of driving, you arrive in Taumaranui, fiew!
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Whanganui

We walked around in Whanganui, visited the i-Site for even more info on the Whanganui river crossing. We found a nice Red Cross bookstore and bought a few books to read on the road. We had a deep fried lunch and visited a couple of shops in town. After a small stop at an aviary by the road the trip continued towards Taranaki. We stopped by a very windy beach, where Edda took a small dip in the Tasman Sea.

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Posted by cjfvdk 15:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Martinbrough - Masterton - Eketahuna - Palmerston North

Rain..

We basically just drove through Martoinbrough and Masterton (just to check for wifi and campsites), we found a really nice one in Eketahuna, super nice and super cheap. We even ended taking a room, which was only 25 dollars for 2 ppl. Now the weather unfortunately turned cloudy and rainy. Bad for us, but good for the locals as it has been a very dry summer.

The next morning, we drove to Palmerston North (still raining…). We still had some questions about the car, so we stopped by a Toyota service center. Free cookies and coffee while they were figuring out if there is something still wrong with the car. They concluded that there is nothing seriously wrong, so we can just drive on and charged us nothing :D Next stop was the library and i-Site, where we tried to figure out more about Whanganui river crossing. We also did the museum of Palmerston North and drove on to another seaside camping with yet another amazing sunset.

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Posted by cjfvdk 15:23 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Cape Palliser - Paharinua Pinnacles

It’s a bit of a detour to get there from Wellington, but we stopped a couple of times on the road to admire the view and to climb to a mountain (we forgot the name before Martinborough) from where you can see a bit of Cape Palliser and the surroundings.
We visited the lighthouse (see pics), but unfortunately they were painting it, so we couldn’t go in. Then we went to look at a small seal colony with a lot of pups playing at the rocks and in the water. We had dinner at the sunset and stayed right at the coast :). The next morning, we walked to view the Paharinua Pinnacles which were nice (see pics).

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Posted by cjfvdk 15:20 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wellington

The weather was still beautiful when we arrived in Wellington. We contacted the Belgian guy who we met during Christmas in the Welcome Flat Hut and stayed 3 nights at his place, a luxury apartment with a sea-view (see pics) in South Wellington. Thanks again Stefaan for hosting us :)

In the morning we decided to book our flights to Australia, Sydney. So we are leaving NZ on 6th of March.
When heading to the town, we had some car trouble. This time it was the breaks that made a pretty nasty sound, so we took them to be checked at an AA garage. In the end, we had to leave the car there for the night.
As we were without a car, we just walked around the city, looked at the buildings, enjoyed the waterfront and watched people do all sorts of water-sports. In the evening we had a nice dinner in the city with Stefaan, his room-mates and some of their friends. We even got a ride back to their apartment :)

The next day we walked from the apartment to the city, climbed mount Victoria and visited Te Papa museum (which took quite some hours). In the evening we got the car back, however we ended up paying a lot to fix the brakes, but at least it’s done. In the evening we got some good tips from Stefaan about what to do in the North Island for the rest of our stay. We cooked and ate dinner together at the house. All in all we had great time, great company and great weather, so we got a very good impression of Wellington.

When we left the city, we still drove around the peninsula and stopped by the small cafe there. Very nice scenery :)
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Posted by cjfvdk 15:18 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Marlborough Sounds - bye bye South Island!

Argh, again winding, narrow roads

We arrived there in the morning and found a nice and empty DOC camping (4 tent sites). We could have the campsite pretty much all to ourselves, if you don’t count the visitors; farmer’s kids, their dog and a local man waiting for a boat to go hunting with his friends. We had a nice little bay at the campsite, so we swam many times, cooked at the beach, played cards, read etc.. Just a chill day.
At low tide we found some oysters and many other shellfish at the coast. The next day we drove a bit on in the sounds, enjoyed the views and headed to Picton to take the ferry to Wellington. Bye bye South Island!

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Posted by cjfvdk 14:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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