It might be shocking to hear, but we didn’t visit Hobbiton. A lot of places on the North Island look like it anyways and some people look like Hobbits too. Some might try to pretend they are some cool surfer dude, but I am not that easily fooled.
But back to our North Island adventure. Initially we had thought, the time we had allocated for travelling around would be a bit much, but with only 1.5 days left until we have to take the campervan back, we realised that we will not make it further North than Auckland. The only solution here is, that we will have to come back one day.
Our ferry trip was great. We had sunshine and wonderful scenery, but when we arrived in Wellington I was in for a bit of a “culture shock”. So many people and so many cars……. With a population density of 30.9/km2 (north island) vs 7.1/km2 (South island) this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Even if this isn’t really densly populated, I have to admit that this are more people than I would like to have around right now.
Though the weather was nice during the cross over, it changed when we arrived in Wellington. The forecasted storm had reached the area and believe me, a campervan is not made for this. To distract us from the wind, heavy showers came as a small addition to the fun. I was very happy to be in a van and not a tent. Until the next morning, when we discovered that our roof had leaked and a lot of water kept running in. It only came in in one of the overhead cupboards, but it had to be the one where all my clothes were in. You might imagine that I was not a happy bunny. I expected the day to be completely lost with getting this fixed, but I must admit, it was not that bad. The garage we got sent to by the rental company was helpful and quick, so we still had time to go to Zealandia. A wonderful place! Only 10 min away from the Wellington city centre, but it feels as if you would be far away from everything. It is a predator-free haven for NZ’s wildlife. I still can’t believe how cute the Takahe are. The area is fenced in, to keep all the predators out, but the birds (except the flight less ones, like the Takahe), can come and go how ever it pleases them. The temptation of the feeding stations might help to make them loyal visitors.
The next day was mostly just driving, trying to get to the Tongariro National Park. While I was driving, Felix asked me if I would like to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. He told me about the great scenery, colourful lakes and “best one day hike in NZ”, and since I was rather focused on driving I missed the 19.something km bit and said yes. Felix already wrote about this hike. The challenge of the day was to take as many pictures as possible of Mt Doom. Some can be seen in the Tongariro Alpine crossing gallery.
We than thought it would be a good idea to give our legs some rest and go kayaking on lake Taupo. It was a lovely activity and I can only recommend it. (See also “Braving Lake Taupo“) But I must admit, I’m missing the South Island. It looks like a lot of the native bush has been replaced by coniferous forests here in the north.
Our next plan was to get to Rotorua. We visited various places where the geothermal activity could be experienced. We saw hot springs, mud pools and lakes in various colours. It was a bit like Yellowstone light. The camp ground was close to the lake and the sulfur smell was omnipresent. Before leaving Rotorua the next day, a visit of Te Puia was on the programme. The geysere was nice to watch and we had a lovely walk around to see the other geothermal activities. There would have been a few more geysers, if people would not have done some drilling to make use of the steam and hot water in previous years.
They had a Kiwi house in Te Puia, which was a bit sad. The space the Kiwis had was very small and one of them was running back and forth in a very nervous manner, like it is known from many other animals in captivity. I really didn’t like it and had to get out of there quickly.
We then travelled further North and entered the NZ fruit basket. This is where the kiwis (fruit) and avocados are grown. 1$ for an avocado – heaven. Loved the kiwi fields, they just looked funny. Shame they weren’t ripe yet.
On this day we drove up to Waihi beach and had a swim in the sea. The water was super warm and it felt quite Caribbean. We found a place for freedom camping right by the beach, did some stargazing (with silly photos) and got up early to see the sun rise. Sounds more romantic than it actually was, since we were doing proper boot camp style exercise while watching the sun (that is what you have to do if you reall like the NZ cakes). I’m not sure if I actually had already mentioned that the coffee is really good in NZ and they usually have lovely home made cakes to go with it. I will reall miss this when we are off to Indonesia soon.
But for now we are enjoying the last few days in this wonderful part of the world.