NZ Week 9 – 10: A family adventure and leaving NZ

Our final two weeks in New Zealand were spent with my family. It was quite surreal for us all to meet up after not seeing one another for six months, especially down under. 

The stories shared from each other’s adventures were amazing, and we spent many a late night talking. Some of the mishaps Mike and Beth had encountered were hilarious, particularly their experiences with massages in India. 

My Mum and Dad had also had a fantastic time exploring the South Island in NZ, it is certainly something they will never forget. 

I was super grateful to be with everyone for my birthday – it was the big 30 – one I will always remember, thank you to all of them.

We spent the two weeks in two locations – Hihi in Northland and Pukehina in the Bay of Plenty. 

For all of us it was the first time we had stopped and settled in the same location for a while. Days were spent walking, fishing and kayaking, as my dad said ‘it was magic’. 

This chapter of our travels also marked the end of New Zealand for us. The time here has been unforgettable. The landscape has offered the true impact, the vast scale of what has been before our eyes providing a real perspective on life. 

Much of our time was spent in amazement at the sometimes surreal and often breathtaking sights. We leave with a changed state of mind. 


NZ Week 2: Arthur’s Pass – Hokitika – Wanaka 

It was so nice to wake up the first morning in the van and have our own space. It was initially foggy but soon it burnt off and we had clear skies. 

We had porridge for breakfast before heading out for an explore of Castle Hill. It consists of some really odd shaped limestone mounds scattered across the landscape. 

We continued along Arthur’s Pass which was unbelievably tight, steep and winding, with hairpin bends thrown in for good measure. The surrounding scenery was pretty mind blowing too.

Our next stop was Hokitika, a small seaside town. That evening we headed to a cave which was dripping in glow worms, it was magical to see.

The  next day we headed to Hokitika Gorge, it was breathtaking. Once we’d crossed a swing bridge we were surrounded by the bluest glacial water that we have ever seen.

Later that day we had our first glimpse of Franz Josef Glacier, which was unreal. It was amazing to walk towards the face of the glacier and look at this mass of ice. 

That evening feeling pretty blown away by the days events we headed to Gillespies Beach to camp. We finally saw the magnificent Mount Cook looming over the skyline, a sight that we won’t forget anytime soon.

Our final drive of the week was to Lake Wanaka, a place we had read so much about. It was a super chilled out town surrounded by mountains and the famous Roy’s Peak. 

We started out on the hike up to Roys peak early the next morning before dawn. It was quite a climb taking us 6 hours return. The views of the lake were just breathtaking in the early morning orange light, but I was getting alarmed at how much my fingers were starting to swell with every step we climbed.

We were so satisfied to reach the top, but I was also really happy to get back down,take my walking boots off and watch my fingers return to their normal size. 

As a reward that evening we watched the sunset by the famous Wanaka tree whilst eating calzone. Walking the next day was a bit of a struggle.

NZ Week 1: Auckland – Mount Maunganui – Christchurch

It was quite a shock for both of us landing into Auckland, the 36 degree days had been replaced with 16 degree days! Once we landed and found our hostel we headed for an explore of Auckland for the night.

The next day we took a four hour bus journey to visit some friends who live in Mount Maunganui. This was our first real insight into the landscape, which is extremely reminiscent of Wales, quite freaky at first. 

Mount Maunganui was great fun, strolling on the beach and soaking in the hot pools, whilst catching up with friends. The next day we headed to a Gorge for a walk. But the weather had a different idea deciding that it was time we experienced a cyclone. We had a quick walk around the Gorge but our clothes were soaked through to our skin. 

The next day we sat and patiently waited for the cyclone to hit, it was very wet and windy. We took a look at the beach and the waves were huge and messy and to our surprise there were people out surfing!

On our final morning the sun was out and we headed for a stroll up the ‘Mount’ before getting the bus back to Auckland, ready for our flight to Christchurch.

It was interesting walking around Christchurch, in places it was so evident that the devastating 2011 earthquake had taken place, there were buildings just empty and lots of brand new ones that were appearing in their place. 

We used the couple of days here to get things in place ready for picking up our campervan. Trying to think of where to head first, where to stay and easy meals that could be cooked on a camping stove.

It was so exciting to finally pick up ‘Byron’ the campervan, as we have affectionately named him. After all it was one of our favourite places in Australia, so any reminder is a good one. 

It finally felt like we could now explore and start our road trip!