Week 5: New Zealand – North Island

Week 5 and 6: New Zealand – North Island



Monday 6th Feb – Friday 17th

Whakapapa Village, Rotorua, Taupo, Tongariro, Raglan, Bay of Islands

As our adventure in New Zealand comes to an end, I have been thinking about all that has happened in just 6 weeks in this beautiful country!

I have experienced things I never thought I would (ticking off the bucket list!) I have seen the most breathtaking views, I have woken up in places I never would have imagined, I have met people I wouldn’t have usually met and I have definitely been out of my comfort zone more times than I had expected…

Thank you New Zealand!


Whakapapa Village

We had planned to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing early this week, but our shuttle was cancelled due to poor weather conditions – it is not recommended you hike when the winds at the red crater reach 65km an hour. We decided to trust the professionals and rescheduled our hike for Friday when the weather was meant to have improved! There was not much in the village, it is mainly used as a stop over before the crossing, so we quickly headed further North…



Rotorua was a really interesting place – it is full of Maori culture and crazy geothermal activity! We spent the morning in Whakarewarewa (remember – wh = f!) at a living Maori village where the landscape of the village is full of geothermal activity – bubbling mud pools, geysers and boiling hot pools. The Maori’s who live here literally open their doors into their lives, showing you the way that they use the geothermal activity in their everyday life – from cooking to bathing – we even ate corn cooked in one of the natural hot pools! We were shown many of the Maori traditions during a performance, including the famous Haka! After leaving the village we made our way to Kerosene Creek – a natural hot pool. It was seriously so hot, it was quite amazing to think that it’s all natural!


We made our way (ran!) from our campsite to Huka Falls – an awesome water fall which is seriously worth a visit. Over 200,000 litres of water flow through the waterfall every second – it was crazy! The colour of the water is incredible and the sound that volume of water makes is quite impressive! We ran straight back and jumped into the river that ran through our campsite – a freedom camp called Reid’s Farm.  We enjoyed walking around the town, theres lots to see and do, and walked by the great lake (and they really do mean great – its’ massive!)


The Tongariro Crossing was amazing! The hike takes 6-8 hours (we did it in just over 6) and takes you through such a variety of settings, it really didn’t feel like that long at all. The walk starts at Mangatepopo Car Park, where you make your way first to soda springs up the Devil’s Staircase to the South Crater, followed then by another climb to Red crater (Wow!). The Emerald lakes and the Blue lake are just stunning – I am not sure how water can even be that colour, it really is breathtaking. You then zigzag your way down to the Ketetehai Hut with stunning views, then finally make your way through a forest area before reaching Ketetahi Car Park. One tip – drive to the end of the hike, and get a shuttle to the beginning in the morning before the walk- we did it the other way around and ended up having to wait two and a half hours to get our shuttle back to our car at the start!


We went to Waitomo to see the glowworms! We had planned to go on an organised tour but after meeting people at our campsite, the Ruakuri Bush Walk was suggested to us instead. So armed with torches  at around 10pm we went on this walk in search of glowworms! It was magical! The glowworms were spread all along forest trees lining the path which leads you to a large cavern lit up by glowworms. It was so awesome (and free!)


Raglan is a small surf town on the West coast. We met one of Tom’s friends here, (a friend he hadn’t seen for ten years!) and enjoyed an afternoon of surfing. The beaches are awesome and I know nothing about surfing, but its meant to be a great place to go! We hired wetsuits and boards from Raglan Backpackers, which at £30 for both for a full day, was the best deal we could find by a long shot! My second attempt at surfing showed slight improvements, I can now balance on my knees! Next stop – standing up! And there will be lots of opportunities when we reach Australia!  On the way back to Hamilton we stopped at Bridal Veil falls, which is just a ten minute walk down the track, and totally worth it to see the 55m falls!

Bay of Islands

Next we headed to the Bay of Islands, where we spent the morning (and all our money!) looking around the shops and Farmer’s Market in Kerikeri. We then moved on to Paihia, where we were staying for a couple of days. Paihia has great places to eat and drink, amazing beaches and loads of activities! We freedom camped right on one of the beaches, there is not a lot better than waking up to to the sunrising over the sea. There are over 140 islands in the Bay of Islands and what better way to see them than out at sea. There are loads of options, but we chose the Gunga II, a sailing yacht. After sailing around the Bay of Islands (Tom got to help sail the boat!), the boat anchored and we had the option to ether swim/ snorkel (whch we chose), kayak or take a ride in the dingy to the island we were stopping at – Motuarohia island. On the island we climbed the track to see 360 degree views of the Bay of Islands – it was so stunning we spent ages sitting up there and soaking in the view! On the sail back to Paihia, we saw a pod of dolphins! This is something I have wanted to do my whole life so I was ecstatic!  They were leaping out of the water and swimming right up to the boat – it was awesome!

Good Bye Bongo!

Today is  the day that we say goodbye to our beloved Bongo, our camper van and home for the past 6 weeks! The camper van life has been seriously amazing… somewhat interesting…but completely awesome.

We will feel rather sad saying goodbye to Bongo, but it’s time for a new adventure…Hello Sydney!



On active days we are still having porridge with honey, raisins and peanut butter, but on less active days we have tried to have lighter breakfasts. We picked up a delicious honeydew melon from the Farmers Market which was a lovely breakfast!


Lunch has been the usual rice cakes with avocado, marmite or peanut butter! Maybe its time to change things up when we get to Australia…


 For a snacks this week I have been enjoying carrots and hummus – there is an awesome brand here called Lisa’s hummus who do amazing flavours! My favourites are the basil and pesto hummus or the sundried tomato!


We have had the usual easy campsite dinners, eggs and baked beans, but also enjoyed a few BBQs this week –  always with a big portion of salad too!

Eating Out!

Blueberry River Orchard: From the Farmers market in Kerikeri I had an awesome smoothie –

*Almond milk + Blueberries + Banana = So much goodness!*

Once or twice this week we had a sushi box for lunch – the sushi here is seriously good!

Avocado love at the Farmers Market!

Avocado love at the Farmers Market!


Running: For our last couple of weeks in New Zealand we have been making an effort to finally run! We have aimed for 3 runs a week and managed to stick to that!

100 rep challenge: After our runs, we have been completing reps of push ups, tricep dips, squats (holding a huge water bottle), lunges and sit ups! We set ourselves the challenge of 100 reps of each a week, but I think we were a little way off!

Swimming: Early morning swims have been quite enjoyable! Our campsite in Taupo was right on the river (and had a rope swing) and the water wasn’t too freezing! In Paihia we stayed right on the beach so a swim in the sea first thing was a great way to wake up and get some exercise in!

Tongarario crossing: The crossing was great exercise, over 30,000 steps tracked on the fit bit and there were some steep climbs in there too!


Alongside (Paihia):  This awesome cafe/ bar is situated over the water and overlooks the Bay of Islands. We came here on a number of occasions for a coffee or glass of wine and the views just didn’t get boring! The menu looked really good too, but we didn’t eat here!

YHA Juno Hall (Waitomo): Primarily a hostel, we stayed in the campsite and were able to use all of the facilities. The manager, Dave, was amazing and went out of his way to be helpful! (and his dog Max was a cutie!) When we arrived we were told about a shuttle that would be coming in 5 minutes to take people to Roselands Restaurant a few minutes down the road, where we could get a buffet meal for $10 (and beers and wine for $5!) – this was a great way to meet other people staying at the hostel and we had a great night! The food was real comfort food too – beef stew, rice and roast potatoes – perfect after our Tongariro hike !

Beachside Holiday Park (Paihia): We stayed here after freedom camping for a few nights with very limited facilities (aka just a toilet!) and when we came here it was amazing! The facilities were excellent, with rapid wifi, newly decorated toilets and showers (and hairdryers!), immaculate grounds, a great kitchen and BBQs to use and an awesome outdoor social area – I would go as far as to say they were the best facilities we had during our whole 6 weeks in NZ! It cost $20 a night for a powered campsite, which was cheaper than many paces we had stayed!

View from Alongside

Farm animals at Juno Hall!

By | 2017-10-28T09:11:25+00:00 February 17th, 2017|0 Comments

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