Dates: 28th Jan-3rd Feb
Another week has gone by in New Zealand, and we have transferred from the North island to the South Island. This week we visited; Taupo, River Valley, Wellington, Nelson and Kaiteriteri. It has been so great!
On route to the next stop of our New Zealand adventure we stopped at Te Puia which spans 70 hectares of the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal valley. Here we got the chance to see the world famous Pohutu geyser (not pronounced like geeza as a lot of the Londoners on our bus thought), mud pools, and hot springs. We also got a glimpse of a Kiwi bird, although it was pretty difficult considering they’re nocturnal and you could hardly see two feet in front of you in the enclosure. The highlight of this excursion was definitely seeing the geyser erupt but also enjoying a boiled egg which our guide cooked in front of us using a boiling hot spring. This is a traditional method that Maori tribes would use to cook their food, some still do it today— imagine having that in your back garden!
Huka falls was next on the list to visit which is in the region of our next stopover, Taupo. This is the most powerful waterfall in New Zealand and it can fill an Olympic size pool is just 11 seconds. The colour of the waterfall is beautiful too and it is a must to do when visiting this part of New Zealand.
Once arriving in Taupo we settled into the Base hostel and were sharing a four bed dorm with an en suite which is always a plus, however the room was quite small and we had to climb many flights of stairs to get to the third floor where our room was—with bags as heavy as ours it wasn’t easy! Otherwise I would be happy to stay here again, the kitchen was a good size and there was a balcony to relax on, plus it was in a really good location overlooking the lake (if you were lucky enough to have a room with a view).
That evening we set sail on an organised, bring you own booze, evening boat trip. I loved this trip and it was definitely one of the highlights of my travels so far! It was so nice to sail around the lake at Taupo and have a few drinks as the sun was setting. We sailed up to a Maori contemporary carving that display a tattooed face. The carver took four years to complete the sculpture and did so by abseiling down the cliff face. It’s really impressive. We stopped to jump in and although the water was FREEEEZING it was quite refreshing and a lot of fun! Some of the houses we saw on the hillside looking over the lake were stunning, definitely a dream location to live- Phil and Kirstie would love it!
The Taupo region is in the caldera of Taupo Volcano and has many hot pool spas that you can visit. We spent an afternoon at the Otumuheke Stream/spa park. Here a hot stream flows into the Waikato river and meets the cold water so you can swim around to find an ideal spot where the temperature is just right, although you are often met with an icy blast!
Overall, I really enjoyed Taupo and preferred this town to others we have visited. The lake is beautiful and it is a reasonably quiet town but with enough to do to stay a good few days.
The next day we were picked up by a non green bus. The kiwi bus that we were supposed to get on had broken down before it reached Taupo to pick us up so we had a replacement. The seats were smaller, the air con might as well have not worked and it really struggled to get up hills and there were so many hills! Long journeys lead to us feeling sick from the heat- it was awful, even the driver was complaining. Couldn’t be helped though and at least they didn’t cancel our buses!
Driving to River Valley was really scenic and it’s in the middle of the countryside so it’s very secluded too. We had no signal or WiFi here so it was back to the basics, which was nice, but I missed talking to my boyfriend!
It was really beautiful here and I thoroughly enjoyed my time relaxing, reading my book, swimming in the lake and of course drinking! I also dropped lucky with a double bed so that was a treat. I wouldn’t spend longer than one night in River Valley unless you’re into white water rafting as those who participated said it was the best so far.
Next we were off to the capital city, Wellington, which is the southern point of the North island. We didn’t get up to much whilst we were here as we shall be revisiting on our return journey to Auckland. We did however, hit the shops a fair bit (I only bought a pair of sunglasses) and visited the Museum of New Zealand, Te Pap Tongarewa. The museum was really interesting and gave us an insight into New Zealand’s cultural treasures and links to the Maori people— it also had really good WiFi and I managed to get all my photos backed up!
The hostel here wasn’t my favourite. The room we were in was quite hot and the walls moved with the wind, they weren’t even outside walls and there was scaffolding all around the building so we were a little worried. This did lead to an interrupted sleep as my bed was moving slightly so I was pleased to only spend a couple of nights here (we’ll be looking for another hostel on our return!)
We had a few cocktails at The Library bar in Wellington which were really tasty, and not too pricey, plus there was a jazz band playing— I know, very civilised!
Wellington is a great city, there are beautiful houses set into the hillside that overlooks a harbour filled with yachts and boats of all sizes. The restaurants and bars on offer seem good too and I’m looking forward to our return so we can discover some more.
The next day, we transferred to the South Island and departed on a huge ferry. The journey was about 3 and a half hours. Thankfully the waters were pretty calm but I was still feeling a little sea sick. Once arriving we had another good few hours drive to Nelson so it was a long day of travelling and twisty roads added to the travel sickness.
Nelson is the oldest town in New Zealand and is also the most central town across the two islands. Here we stayed with Zoes family friend, Laura, who has lived here for more than 5 years. It was great to see the town from a local’s perspective and of course to catch up on our washing, use air con and WiFi that works and have a good, hot shower! Thanks so much Laura!
I can definitely understand why Laura lives here, she has a lovely view of the sea from her house and an abundance of shops, bars and restaurants to visit right on her doorstep plus numerous outdoor activities! It’s a beautiful town.
After our day in Nelson we jumped back onto the Kiwi bus and were sat for about 10 minutes before stopping for an hour at a supermarket. One thing to consider if doing a bus tour in New Zealand is the amount of stops you make and the length of time it takes to get from A to B. I definitely think it restricts what you can do— if you were to hire a campervan you can control how to plan out your day. Of course, the bus does come with its benefits, for example, meeting people and not having to worry about driving. The driver will organise your activities and some of your hostels which is really handy but definitely weigh up the pros and cons before you choose how to travel around.
We arrived in Kaiteriteri, a really small town, quite late, but made it to the beach for a couple of drinks with some friends before the sun set. That evening we just chilled and made use of the hostel bar before having an early night. We were up the next day to relax on the beach before getting back onto the bus mid morning.
When arriving in New Zealand I bought a travel SIM card from Vodaphone. It was sold to me because it has 10GB plus unlimited use of the social media apps such as instagram, facebook, WhatsApp etc for the first 30 days. While I was relaxing on the beach I got a text to say my data had run out, which I was very confused about considering I’ve only been using the social media apps. After a phone call it turns out that if you’re using high quality video, photos etc it uses your data instead, so when I have been sending pictures or videos or even WhatsApp video calling it has been using my data instead of the ‘unlimited’ data it promises when you buy the sim. I was pretty angry but they argued that if I read the small print on the website I would see the terms and conditions, of course they didn’t tell me this information in the shop before I bought it! SO, don’t be conned by Vodaphone travel sims!!!!
I can’t believe the second week here is over already, this one has gone very quickly! I’m really getting the feel for New Zealand and it is such a beautiful country, but very quiet. I’m not sure there’s enough going on to persuade me to move here. We’ve had excellent weather here so far which has been great. The South Island is definitely cooler but it’s a welcome relief and I don’t need to be as worried about burning!
Next week will involve an activity that I’m looking forward to the most, the Franz Josef Heli Hike which takes us up to a glacier where we will hike. Fingers crossed the weather holds out and we get to do it, stay tuned!