After an 11 hour plane ride from South Korea, we had arrived in New Zealand!
We were so excited to see the coast of Auckland from the sky. We were even more excited to see how green the landscape was!
We were definitely ready for New Zealand and the next leg of this adventure! While India was about culture, New Zealand was about nature. Hiking, walking and exploring the islands!
Our first stop was to pickup our home for the next 10 days – our campervan. While in Europe we rode in style with the 25 foot Magic Edition motorhome, we decided to keep it rustic in New Zealand with a basic backpackers campervan.
As Kevin likes to say, “We got range, babe!”
Once we picked up the campervan, we headed North out of Auckland to Orewa Beach to meet up with a couple of Kevin’s friends he met on the first part of his tour through Africa (before I arrived).
Gavin and Katherine showed us around their town and treated us to fish n chips for lunch! Wrapped in paper, we took our lunch down to the beach to enjoy the view and catch up.
The birds slowly started to circle us waiting for any crumbs of food we had to spare. They had clearly been treated before as they all looked extremely well fed, and were quick to grab any piece of food you held from your hand.
Well, at least they were willing to work for the food.
Afterwards, Kevin and I walked along the beach and then back to town to catch a bit of the busker festival that was happening.
It was our first day and New Zealand was already impressing us with its beauty, fun and laid back feel.
That night we camped on the beach at Arundel Reserve. A small park in town that allowed free overnight camping. You could not beat the beachfront view! We cooked up some spaghetti, cracked some beers and got familiar with our new home.
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful sunrise. We packed up our things, grabbed some breakfast and headed North to the Bay of Islands!
We stayed in Paihia for two nights to enjoy the views of the bay from the town and explore Russell Island.
The first night we headed out to find some seafood for dinner! We ended up at Al Fresco’s on the beach and it proved to be an excellent decision. We ordered the seafood platter to start and were shocked at the size of the mussels on the plate! Neither of us had ever seen anything like that!
Well done, New Zealand. Well done!
To finish the meal off, we ordered New Zealand’s specialty, Roast Lamb. It was delicious. So delicious in fact that we headed for breakfast and dinner there the next two nights.
Hey, if it ain’t broke…
Our next day there, we hopped on the ferry and headed to Russell Island!
After walking around the island which took only about 30 minutes, we tested out the water to see if we wanted to go for a swim. While it was beautiful.. That water was cold!
As the weather looked like it was going to take a turn for the worst, I suggested that we look for massages! I mean, who doesn’t love massages?
They had two available times that day.
The next day was a long day of driving. We headed south of Auckland to Waitomo to visit the Glow Worm caves.
What we learned about New Zealand quickly, was that while everything appeared to be really close on the map, travel times were far longer than anticipated. The roads were windy and hilly and usually two lanes only.
Kevin did a great job driving! I still was not ready to get behind the wheel but was taking my navigating job very seriously.
Maybe on the South Island I will give it a try…
We checked into our campsite the night before visiting the caves. This turned out to be great because it allowed us to get up first thing in the morning to see the Glow Worms! The caves were amazing. While photos were not “encouraged,” were able to sneak a couple of photos on the tour.
I think photos were not allowed only because they were trying to sell you some they took … So no harm done..
The real highlight of the tour, however, was the boat ride under the Glow Worms! Unfortunately, we could not take photos during the boat tour as it can disturb worms and can cause them to turn off their lights.
Well, I definitely didn’t want to be that person.
So here is a photo from the website, so you can see what I mean!
After the Glow Worms, we were recommended to head further down the road for a cool 30 minute hike. It was great!
Our first couple of days in New Zealand had been great, but tomorrow was when the real adventure started!
Our hike of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing! We trained for two months in Salt Lake City at the gym for New Zealand’s Great Walks.
We were ready!