Get the van, pack up our things, and lets just go
Best way to travel New Zealand, hands down is to do a road trip. The roads which intertwine with the rolling hills nestled in dense forests, iridescent lakes or the wild waves of the ocean. You really have it all when it comes to New Zealand. A perfect balance between nature, activity and just jaw dropping beauty. Theres scenic route which takes you winding up and down the cliff face of mountains, or roads which make you feel like you’re driving on water you’re that close to the ocean. Sign posted turn off’s for waterfalls, lookouts or amazing walks. It’s one of those things you can do totally unplanned and still expect to have the most memorable trip (thankfully, because I’m terrible with planning!)
We had luckily gotten a steal of a deal from one of Jerym’s family friends, who acquainted us with our trusty road trip companion, a Toyota van named Wilfred. So with Wilfred all decked out, including a glow in the dark galaxy ceiling we were more than excited to get on the road! Unfortunately I hadn’t taken my driving test back in England as a way to save money, a decision I thoroughly regret, which also lead me to crash Jerym’s previous car he was trying to sell… long story short I was the passenger for the whole trip. Jerym seemed more than welcome to the idea of driving the van, but after spending intensive hours the road rage got the better of him and I’m pretty sure the excitement wore off pretty quick… hahaha. Nevertheless it was one of the best times we had together on our road trip of New Zealand.
Our first of many stops was at the Blue Springs. It’s situated in between Hamilton and Tauranga, so kinda in the middle of nowhere, and a place definitely worth a visit! I recommend going morning or midday when the sun’s high in the sky as it’s rays really enhance the swirls of blues and greens in the water. It’s truly a beautiful spot, and during summer you can cool off and take a dip! Pretty cool hidden treasure.
Mount Maunganui, Tauranga. As well as being a super cute beach town, it’s home to the Mount, an awesome hike with rewarding panoramic views of the town below and the never ending views of the sea on both sides of the peninsula. A favourite with both locals and tourist. Jerym and I loved it here, the general good vibes, the active lifestyle, the cute township it was a place I could definitely imagine living in… who knows!
The next stop, Rotorua. The smelly sulphur aroma was definitely something to remember, oh the smell of rotten eggs to wake you up in the morning….But it’s a awesome place. The sulphur geysers that would just pop up around the town, making it look like the town was on fire with smoke being puffed out of the ground! You could pay to go and see some of infamous ones, however we were all about the nature being a free to see so we ventured to the Redwood Forrest. This was a magical place which makes you feel very very small whilst you wonder in-between trees. We also visited the 7metre drop waterfall, Kaituna, which is famously known as the highest commercial waterfall. I’d free fallen from the waterfall whitewater rafting on a previous visit, but this time we decided to take less of an adrenaline junkie approach and wondered around the boardwalks after setting up camp close by.
Taupo. A favourite. We took a rather chilly boat ride over the lake which was really lovely, all wrapped up in blankets with hot chocolate to keep us warm listening to the not-so-funny tour guide try on his dad jokes. It was a nice to be out on the water, and we also got to see the maori carvings! However we were slightly disappointed when we learnt it had only been done not long ago, just to ‘fill the space’, so if you’re into all the history there isn’t much to learn!
The Forgotten World Highway. Which we soon learnt was very well forgotten. It was a mysterious but beautiful drive, something that I’m glad I could tick off the bucket list. It really sum’s up the New Zealand road, as it hugs the rugged contours of the land taking you on it’s natural roller coaster. It had a certain eeriness about it, the long one lane tunnel really gave us the chills as well as the fact that we didn’t see any other car on the road for the whole 3 hours of driving. If you’ve got the time, and a full tank it’s definitely worth doing, but be prepared for a bumpy ride with up to 15k of unsealed roads. If you’re in a camper like us the sound of pots and pans clinging really juxtaposed the outside viewing.
Wellington. The capital city of New Zealand. After having been venturing around the more secluded places of the north island it was a little shock to the system to be back in a city again. But we really enjoyed our time in windy Wellington. It’s a creative and quirky city, with lots of vintage shops and funky bars and cafes, so it was fun to just ponder around and explore. The Te Papa museum was awesome too, a interactive and fun way to educate yourself on NZ history, and I thoroughly recommend going to their cafe… BEST SAUSAGE ROLLS EVER, like literally just melt on your mouth. Apologies but I don’t have a photo for evidence so you’ll just have to believe me or go try it for yourself! Apart from the food and the great coffee Wellington has to offer I still think it’s a place you’d have to live or tour around with locals to really see more of the place. But I’m sure we’ll be back!
We only spent one night in Wellington before heading onto the ferry over to the South Island. We had parked up Wilfred in a nice lil’ camping spot, the only problem being (and something that unfortunately we did a little too often) was park him in a self contained camping spot. As amazing as Wilfred was he was not a self-contained camper, and whilst we were all tucked up in bed, we heard a police man knock (quite heavily) on our window. I think we just about sh*t our pants, so we just sat there in the dark extremely still and hoped he would disappear… we were in luck. Oops.
So that was part one of our road trip, Jerym’s kindly taking over for part 2 so keep an eye out for our south island adventures!
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