Taking the ferry to the North Island, Wellington, was a total cruise. The ferry was HUGE with a cinema, several restaurants, cabins. You name it, they had it. We ended up going to the cinema and at the end of the movie the boat started rocking. Half an hour later it was pale faces galore and here and there an occasional puke. Lovely. The water in New Zealand isn’t really like the Maldives. So after a rocky entrance we arrived in Wellington. In the pouring rain. But ready to explore the North Island.
Pouring rain. Camping on a parking lot. No, we did not hit it off immediately. So after a fancy dinner at McDonalds we decided to just go to bed. In the morning we did give Wellywood a tiny chance and walked a bit through the center and we had an amazing breakfast in Cuba Street at Floriditas. So good!
We’ve heard so many spectacular stories about the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is supposed to be the best day hike in New Zealand. 19 km climbing and descending on vulcan terrain. We had to do that! The weather forecast was not so great, but the best of that week, so we decided to just go for it. We started early (7 am) and yep, the weather was not awesome. Cloudy and a bit of drizzle rain. But even with that it was amazing. As soon as Kelvin noticed we were pulling this off quicker than the given time, he was even more excited. The weather did not make stopping for sandwiches very appealing, so we would just eat and continue on hiking. No nice big breaks. The scenery was like the moon meets hell 😉 coming down in a rainforest. And at the end the sun finally decided to come through which made it perfect.
The hike was not extremely difficult but not easy peasy. We definitely felt our legs after that day. Kelvin however decided to bike to our next location after the hike (like 70km). Lost for words.
A week before we arrived in Taupo, Ironman Taupo was held. It was really nice to still see all the Ironman flags and signs. They sure do love this event in Taupo. This made Kelvin extra motivated to get out there and train. The weather unfortunately was crap which made it a bit more difficult to enjoy Lake Taupo. We also visited the Huka Falls. Really cool to see the force of all this water!
There is lots and lots to see in and around Rotorua, so we decided to make it our homebase for a couple of nights and visit some sights from there.
In Rotorua we visited the buried village. This is a museum and archeological site from the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. Super interesting to learn some more about. Rotorua has a lot of geothermal activity because of all the volcanic history. You can visit several parcs to see more of that geothermal activity but you will notice it everywhere. We did a long run through steam coming out of the ground and a constant smell of eggs. Lovely! 😉
Rotorua is also the place to learn more about the Maori culture, which we were very interested in. We ended up going to a cultural show of the Mitai Maori Village. This was super touristic, but it is nice to learn some more about Maori Culture and have a traditional Hangi meal. We did a combo where we went for a evening walk after the show and dinner to spot some glowworms and see kiwi’s in the park that is next door to the village. We saw 3 kiwi’s which was really cool. They are so much bigger than we expected!
Not too far from Rotorua you can find Hobbiton. This is where they filmed for the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. After ending filming the last film the owner of the land (a sheep farmer) asked if they could leave the filmset so the public could visit. Smartest move EVER. Busses full of people go up to Hobbiton every 30 minutes for a tour. We really liked it. Also because the tour guide had lots of fun facts about the process of making the set and the tour did not take too long. Unfortunately we were there in the pouring rain, but we still had a great time.
Thousands of glowworms in a cave which you can visit by boat. This was really high on our ‘want-to-visit-list’ of New Zealand. We booked our excursion with Spellbound, which was nice because it was on a smaller scale. Not having boats leave every 15 minutes. We really had the cave to ourselves with a guide that learned us a lot more about the caves and glowworms. We were both amazed at how beautiful this was. Thousands and thousands of small lights. Magical. Just magical.
Oh how we loved Auckland! So this is where everybody lives?! 😉 Being the awful city people that we are, we loved Auckland. It really does have everything. A New York like center with a cool vibe, beautiful nature surrounding it, gorgeous islands a ferry ride away. Can we live here? We could have definitely enjoyed ourselves much longer. After a nice hop on hop of adventure through the city, we ended up climbing Mount Eden, which was great. It reminded us of the Vondelpark in Amsterdam combined with Run Canyon in Los Angeles.
We also got some recommendations for Waiheke Island, so we decided to spend our last day in New Zealand there. We rented a scooter to tour the island and it was definitely a must do. The island is full of beautiful beaches and wineries. After not having a wine for a million years (we tend to go for beer when the wine tends to be awful) we were two very happy people in the sun with a lovely glass of wine, a huge tasting platter (finally! Cheese that is good!) and an awesome view (just for that view alone, do go to Stonyridge vineyard). Perfect end to our New Zealand adventure.
New Zealand, you have been amazing! It is crazy to look back on everything we did and saw! Time for a new adventure in the USA and time for another Ironman. Florida here we come!