A little while ago I embarked on a magical journey to a not so far away land. New Zealand.
Thanks to some crazy cheap plane tickets, a spontaneous trip to our beloved neighbour country was made.
Excitement was in the air. Joel and I didn’t know what to expect.
Armed with a street directory, the Wikicamps App, and a Lonely Planet guide borrowed from the library back home, we were ready for anything.
As soon as we touched down in Auckland, we picked up our new home on wheels and drove through the rain as the sun went down, picking up some groceries and good ol’ mead on the way. We didn’t really know the deal with where we could and couldn’t park the camper van for the night, so we drove until we found a cute little spot on a cliff overhanging the ocean and slept there.
We hiked up an incredible little mountain right on the beach called Mt. Maunganui. The climb was tiring but totally worth it; the views were spectacular and it felt really.. fresh! Hard to describe I guess, the colours were bright, the grass was soft and on this mountain lived the happiest sheep in the world. I was just waiting for a hobbit to appear behind one of the boulders.
Such coziness was delivered sleeping in our camper van at night. It had everything we could need -even a fridge, a stove and yes, a kitchen sink! But I won’t lie to you, I was very happy to find a shower at Waikite Valley Hot Pools, as we edged closer to Rotorua. (Pay for a swim & camp there for free, great deal I say.) This place was out of this world, you can follow a path winding around to Te Manaroa Spring which is the largest natural source of boiling water in NZ. It felt like we were in the Jurassic period; steam everywhere rising from a whirling river down below with multicoloured mineral rocks and ferns like you have never seen. I wouldn’t have been too surprised if someone told me it was a pterodactyl flying above us instead of a pheasant.
One of my favourite memories from New Zealand is when I saw a red toadstool with white polkadots for the first time. I didn’t even know they were a real life thing before this trip. I only knew about these majestic babies from story books as a child, so imagine when to my surprise I saw them sprouting up by the side of the road. Luckily for me this wasn’t the last time I would see them either. We were blessed to stumble upon a number of fairytale forrest wonderlands to camp in, full of toadstools, fairies and magic. And because it was off-season no one else was around.
Check out the video of us discovering the fungi, I laugh every time I watch it but maybe that is just because it brings back funny memories:
Rotorua is famous for their geothermal wonders. They have incredible hot springs and bubbling mud pools. I knew at once I needed to get this mud on my body and my body in those hot springs. My dreams came true. We slathered mud all over ourselves and found our way into a natural hot spring river at a junction that met a cold stream. Yes. It was amazing. We went again at night and could feel all sorts of beautiful spirits.
There is a place in New Zealand which is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world, but is hidden from many. Even the locals we asked didn’t know where the Blue Spring was. The Te Waihou walkway follows the most beautiful river I have ever seen. It is so insanely crystal clear with an intense blue hue. This is where 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water comes from and I can totally understand why.
We visited the hot water beach, where at low tide you can dig a hole in the sand until you reach a delightfully steamy surprise. It is a bit of a trick as you have to navigate your diggings to just the right spot so the water is not too hot or not too cold. We were lucky enough to jump right into Goldilock’s dream as someone was leaving their roomy hole just as we arrived. Such a unique feeling to have the freezing waves crashing just a few metres away while we essentially sat in a natural spa bath.
Ah there are so much to share, maybe I should do a sequal post and tell some more stories. But for now, feast your eyes:
This was the first overseas trip that Joel and I took together, and it was such a beautiful time. They say travelling can make or break a relationship (friendships included) and this thankfully was in the ‘make’ category. We actually got asked a couple of times on this trip if we were on our honeymoon and said yes just for fun.
I really have to commend New Zealand for being so traveller friendly. We stayed in free campsites nearly the whole way on our trip, and they were top notch!
Thank you beautiful Kiwi land, I will be sure to visit again soon.