I am writing this blog post about our four weeks on the Northern Island of New Zealand (NZ) for the second time. It was completely finished, but I couldn’t bring myself to publish it. Something was missing. And discussing it now – quite a while after leaving the country -, sitting around the table in our camper on the island of San Juan (USA), it is quite clear what the missing part was: Brutal honesty. The truth is: We flatlined.
I was fed up with staring at booking platforms for hours and figuring out where to go next. John lost his insatiable drive for exploration. Was that because we had seen NZ before? Because the weather wasn’t playing ball? Because we had set the expectations too high? Or were we showing first signs of traveling fatigue? We can’t really put our finger on it.
But please don’t get us wrong. We still had a lovely time, got to see amazing places and most of all, wonderful people. They definitely helped us getting over our temporary blues and gave us the opportunity to reboot for all there was still to come. North Island NZ was “economy”, but the time spent with our friends was “first class”.
Some of our highlights:
- Admiring the perfectly shaped volcano Mt Taranaki. Mainly at dawn.
- Roadtripping the “Forgotten World Highway”.
- Spending a day in the climbing hall in Turangi. John and I had climbed here before – and stayed in the hostel next door. The climbing hall was still a winner. Staying in the hostel next door not so much.
- Reuniting with our traveler friends from Lenzburg, Switzerland, (we met them on Smiths Farm Holiday Park on NZ’s South Island) for visiting the roaring Huka Falls and the Aratiatia Rapids.
- Frolicking in Kerosene Creek, a naturally hot river.
- Moving in with Judy in Tauranga for two weeks. She made us feel like family. And after so long on the road, we truly enjoyed having a “real” home for a fortnight. We reorganised ourselves, caught up on schoolwork, edited hundreds of photographs, cooked meals that require a functioning oven (i.e. Lasagne!), baked our favourite cakes, lounged around in a warm, cosy house… and all of that in Judy’s loving company. It was so good to see you again, Judy.
- Beach combing in Manganui, before and after walking around the Mount.
- Discovering a different world when entering the Tattoo exhibition in Tauranga. We were so fascinated by the numerous tattoo artists decorating every imaginable body parts of their customers. Not totally U-rated;-)
- Celebrating Sophie’s birthday a month too late (15th of April instead of 15th of March) – with a proper birthday brunch, her favourite birthday cake and a trip to the luge in Rotorua.
- Searching for cool murals in downtown Tauranga.
- Marveling at the autumnal trees standing in the water at McLaren Falls Park.
- Hiking to the Raparapahoe Waterfall and back, accompanied by Max, the tour guide dog. The girls just pretended that he was ours.
- Venturing through the gold mining tunnels of Karangahake Gorge.
- Watching the white water rafters getting soaked at Okere Falls.
- Hot Water Beach! We got up early, drove to Hot Water Beach, started digging a hole in the sand at low tide until reaching really hot water. Quite a surreal experience.
- Hiking to the famous Cathedral Cove on a glorious day.
- The four of us on a tennis court. Nothing like the Federers, but we had great fun.
- Marathon chatting, drinking bubbles, feasting on fish & chips, running through dark tunnels, rolling down the hill, sitting on cannons and meeting Indiana Jones… all in less then 24 hours. Thank you Sal, for having us. We would have loved to spend much more time with you. Your positive energy is so infectious.
- Spending the last 24 hours in NZ with Carol and Colin. In their company, we enjoyed a tasty meal, interesting conversations, a good night’s sleep and a relaxed morning trip to Muriwai Beach. Thanks for opening your house to almost strangers and being such wonderful hosts.