Looking for the Kiwis – Final week

Good day dear readers,

welcome to the last post about my adventures in New Zealand. This week is a bit special as I’ve been travelling for exactly 4 months. Still 8 months to go. Time is flying so fast!

Day 22 (Daily kms 96, cumulated kms 4483)
As I wake up in the early morning, the first thing I do is checking the weather forecast. Indeed, I have a nice trek on the plan: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This trek is very famous as the track goes up on old volcanoes and offers nice views on volcanic landscape and on the vivid colors of high altitude lakes and craters.
The weather forecast is not so good. A cloudy sky and showers are announced the whole day. However I stay optimistic as the weather can change very fast in the mountains and I hope for good weather at the top.
The first part of the trek is quite ok, it rains only very slightly and the path is quite flat. I meet several school groups on my way to the first check point, the Soda falls.

I don’t stop very long here, as the falls are not the most interesting part and start the difficult part with the climbing to the top. I am happy to have walked almost everyday before and to be fit as the path is very steep and particularly demanding due to the heavy rain and wind that just started and that makes the ground very slippy. Unfortunately for me, the weather forecast was accurate this time and arrived at the top after around 3 hours I can barely see 2m in front of me. The only thing I will see between 2 clouds are the emeral lakes. No nice red craters or volcanic black landscape. It is a bit disappointing to walk so long to see nothing, however bad weather is part of the game. To cheer and warm me up, I stop quickly at a bar for a hot chocolate on my way to the next camping, which is located on the north side of the Lake Taupo.

Day 23 (Daily kms 153, cumulated kms 4636)
My first stop this day is at the Huka Falls. They are a quite famous touristic point, even for the locals, due the power of the water stream and the clean blue water color. The current is so strong that the river could feel the equivalent of 1 olympic swimming pools in 11s.

My second stop is a very funny one, the Wai-O-Tapu volcanic park. This entertainment park is a collection of small ponds of different colors, that are the sign of the active volcanic activity in the region. The different colors are due to the concentration of chemical substances like sulfur or ammoniac. This is very fun to watch some black ponds “boiling”. The smell is also very strange.

My last destination of the day is the city of Rotorua, where I will spend the whole afternoon. This city is very interesting to visit as it has many places where the volcanic activity can be seen. I am starting with the Kuirau Park. At first sight, this park looks like any other normal park. However as I keep walking around, I see more and more holes in the ground with vapors coming from boiling chemical substances.

After that I am moving to the sulfur bay. It is basically the same as in Kuirau Park, but this time very near to the water or directly on some beaches.

I finish the day by the visit of the Ohinemutu village. It is a part of the city where the maori community is very active and the maori style buildings well conserved.
Not surprisingly, some signs of volcanic activiy can be also seen in the village.

At the end of the day, I move to a camping place not far from Matamata, to be able to join the first morning tour at Hobbiton, the famous Hobbit village of LOTR.

Day 24 (Daily kms 93, cumulated kms 4729)
Day 24 is quite light. I planned to join the 09:30 Hobbiton tour from Matamata, however, as the indications at the iSite tourist office were not very clear, half of the bus waited on the wrong side and didn’t see the bus leaving. However, no problem, we were all put in the next bus at 10:15.
/geek mode on
Hobbiton, the hobbit village of LOTR is a very touristic place and can only be visited in fully guided bus tours. That’s why I hesitated a lot before going there as I didn’t want to struggle the whole visit with selfie addicts.
However the reviews on the net are very positive and it seems to be a must see for all Tolkien fan. I must say that I am not a hardcore fan of LOTR but the geek part in me couldn’t resist 🙂
The visit takes around 1,5 hours and is very entertaining with a lot of stories and links to the filming of LOTR and the hobbit movies. At the end of the visit, we even have the chance to try the ginger beer brewed on premises.
Some people were really experts and could tell all scenes where the hobbit holes are seen. Surprisingly, the guide also told us that a recent survey showed that 40% of the guests have absolutely no clue about LOTR or the hobbit, they didn’t read any book nor watch the movies. Most of those people are only coming here to take pictures to make friends of family jealous 🙂
/geek mode off

Day 25 (Daily kms 136, cumulated kms 4865)
Day 25 is my last day with the camper van 😥
As I feel a bit tired and don’t want to drive a lot, I spend most of the day in Hamilton to surf a bit on internet ot prepare my trip to Australia.
In the late afternoon, I am driving to Piha Beach near Auckland to spend my last night in the camper van there.
Piha beach is a famous day trip from Auckland. it takes some time to go there as the road is quite narrow and is really curvy.
The view on the beaches from the Lion tooth is really nice. I enjoy watching people surfing at sunset.

Day 26 (Daily kms 37, cumulated kms 4902)
Last day of the road trip, first day in Auckland. My last stop before giving back my camper van is the Kitekite falls near Piha Beach.
The track is quite short, it takes only about 30mins return to reach them.
After that I drive to Auckland to give back my camper van. It is a bit sad to leave what was my home for the last 3,5 weeks.
The flat I booked over AirBnb is not far from the Jucy office. After a short walk, I arrive there for a quick check in and I am then picked up by my friend Hayden and his girlfriend Hannah.
It’s cool to see Hayden again, as I met him when he was visiting some friends we have in common in Lausanne during a long trip in Europe.
Hayden and Hannah take me on a mini private tour in Auckland. We start by driving to the top of Mt Eden to enjoy the view on the city, after that, we go for sushis at lunch (there are plenty in Auckland) and then we have a nice ice cream on the beach at Mission Bay.
The tour ends in the city part where Hayden is living, Howick, in the Eastern part of Auckland.

Btw, Hannah is playing in a band, which released its first EP a few days ago.
I invite you to check Mae Valley in iTunes or Youtube to discover those talented artists:

Before going to bed after a long day, I finish my first day Auckland visit by spending some time in the Casino in the Sky City near the Sky tower. I enjoy watching the dealers handling the chips and the cards at the different tables.

Day 27
On my second day in Auckland, beside getting “lost” in the city center to enjoy the atmosphere of the city, I walk around some urban exhibitions installed in scope of the Auckland Arts Festival and I attend a show called 360 Allstars.

The show is an amazing mix of different urban arts (BMX, juggling, basket ball, etc…) with live music performed by a vocal loop artist.
It is very entertaining and the 70 mins are just too short.
Here is a link to a trailer of the shower:
and another one to a performance of the vocal loop artist Sam Perry for TedX:

I finish my day by going to the top of the Sky Tower to enjoy a beautiful view on the city at sunset.

Day 28
Day 28 is only a relaxing day, as I need to work a bit of the planning of my trip to Australia.
In the morning, I finally get to see the last Star Wars episode The Force Awakens. The realisation is nice, the battles are very cool to watch, however I am very disappointed by the scenario as I have the feeling that it is only a collection of ideas taken from the previous movies without anything new in the story.
After lunch, I walk a bit in the harbour near Britomart to observe the giant cruise boats coming and going.

Day 29
I spend my last day in Auckland visiting the Waiheke Island. It takes a 40min trip by ferry to go there. As the weather is very good and as I am there during a weekday, i enjoy walking on the five beaches track almost alone. The funny part of the walk is when I get a bit lost at the end of the track to arrive at a beach that is not on the plan. People there were watching me quite amused. The particularity of this beach is that it was reserved for nudists 🙂

Day 30
Day 30 is the end of my stay in NZ. I wake up at 04:00 to have time to catch my flight to Sydney at 07:00.
Bye bye NZ, it was very cool visiting you and I can say you’re the most beautiful country I’ve visited till now!


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