Day 18: Wellington
Moving up to North Island, the first city that we set our foot on was Wellington. Feels like it’s been a while that we haven’t visited big city like this. Busy streets with traffic light, rules, sky scrappers, somehow we needed to adjust ourselves back to this kind of environment. We booked a hostel, yep, our first time ever sleeping in a proper bed after spending almost two weeks in campsite! I was so excited, no more freezing night in the tent and a nice comfy bed to lay down.
Time to explore Wellington! First thing we did was Te Papa Museum. This six-storey museum offers alot of information particularly on history and Maori Culture. There are a lot of things to learn here, I spent roughly two hours in this museum itself! Then we took a walk to the Waterfront, tried some food in the Capital Market and ended our day, having a nice afternoon stroll at the Botanical Garden.
Lodge in the city is a affordable backpacker hostel, close enough to attractions in the city. Spacious kitchen and common area.
Day 19: Wellington – Mangaweka
We were indecisive which direction should we take. I was considering the most efficient route to take, we would love to hike Mt. Taranaki however, there’s nothing much to do along the long ride. Second option was to drive up to the east coast, visiting Hawke’s Bay which would be easier for us to reach our next main destination, Lake Tekapo. So we decided to throw a coin, and which side turned up, that where we’re gonna go with. The result was Hawke’s Bay. (I bet my friend Fahmi hated this idea cause he really wanted to do Taranaki haha).
Turned out, we didn’t make our way to Hawke’s Bay either! On our way, I checked the weather in Tongariro National Park and it’s gonna be at its best for the next two days, after that it would drop like shit. So we took detour and drove to Tongariro instead. It’s a long long way – we did half of the north island in one day. We still have two hours to go and it’s getting late, luckily we found a nice campground to rest.
A nice and quiet campground next to a river with a view of exquisite white cliff. $2 for 5 minute shower.
Day 20: Mangaweka – Tongariro National Park
Continuing our drive to Tongariro National Park. Nice drive starting from Palmerston North Highway, passing Ohakune Town where we stopped for a picture with a big carrot! It is said that carrots were first grown in this area. We did our last shopping here before heading to the national park. From the distance, Mt. Ruhapea stands fancily with a bit of white snow on the peak. We also did a short walk to Tahwai Falls, less than 30-minutes walk to get to this waterfall.
A bit pricey but it’s the closest and easiest campground to stay to do Tongariro Crossing. They provide paid shuttle bus ($35 pp) return for the crossing. Complete facilities.
Day 21: Tongariro National Park
The long awaited day! Hiking the most well-known track in the north island, Tongariro Alpine Crossing. To complete this course, people normally starts from Mangatepopo Carpark and ends up in Ketetahi Carpark, in total 19.4 km. Did I tell you that the names in North Island are even harder to remember since they’re using Maori names? (sorry for being random suddenly)
So we booked the first shuttle bus at 5.30 a.m leaving from the campground. The driver checked our equipment, make sure you wear comfortable trekking shoes and bring a raincoat or a waterproof jacket. The weather can change unpredictably, better make it safe. It’s a right decision to start early, to be ahead from the crowd and before the sun is up too high. (I will save the full story of this walk on my next post)
Day 22-24: Tongariro National Park – Taupo
Feeling great but exhausted after the crossing, we’re back on road again and drove to our next destination, Lake Taupo. Truthfully, we did nothing much around here. We spent three nights in a free campsite, went to the ‘world’s coolest McDonalds’ (at least that’s how they claimed). Well, basically you can have your Big Mac inside an airplane. I found nothing cool about it, haha.
Most of the days we were just sitting in McDonalds or library to get wifi. Oh, Vivi did sky-diving by the way, must be thrilled jumping 15,000 ft down. Last day in Lake Taupo, we did Huka Falls. It is extremely amazing to see such a big volume of the water rushing down the river and rumbles until it hits the pool. How can the water look so clear and blue?
Reids Farm (free)
Free large campsite not so far from the town. It was pretty busy during that time, lots of travelers camped in this area. Not so far from Huka Falls as well. Clean toilet.
Day 25: Taupo – Waiotapu
We all know that New Zealand has some of the most distinctive natural features in the world. One of them is the geothermal activity in the north island. Clear enough that we have this big question mark drawn on our faces. While we driving closer to the national park, we could see smokes coming out from the ground. Even at the tavern where we stayed, there’s a small hole and steam just coming out from it.
The admission fee to Waiotapu for adult is $32.50. Once we bought the ticket, we drove back to a separate area of Lady Knox Geyser. Every morning around 10.15 a.m. the geyser can erupt to 15 meters high. I thought it’s a natural thing happened to the geyser but I was wrong. There’s a sort of chemical they put in and after a few seconds, bubbles out and slowly it bursts up high.
Next, we went back to the visitor center and parked our car. Then we walked around the area and see the geothermal activities, including the famous Champagne Pool, Muds Pool, and Devil’s Pool.
Waiotapu Tavern ($20/car)
A small tavern, perfect to stop for a night before heading to Waiotapu.
Day 26: Waiotapu – Tauranga
There’s nothing much left to see, we’ve done all the main things that we’d like to see in New Zealand. Few days left before our flight back home, so we took things slow and easy. From Waiotapu we passed Rotorua and arrived in a small beach town called Tauranga. We did a short hike up to Mt. Maunganui, good view of the whole town and the beach.
Clean campground, nice kitchen area just across Papamoa Beach.
Day 27: Tauranga – Whitianga
Driving on the winding road along the coast again..chilling, humming in the car, chit chat, that’s all we do. We just need to get to Auckaland and that’s it. Before that, we made our last stop in Cathedral Cove.
Idyllic place to stay, large campground and quiet, Comfy shower, clean and complete kitchen set with barbecue area.
Day 28-30: Whitianga – Auckland
Finally, after a long drive from South Island, we made it to our final stop, Auckland. It’s been a long long journey. A month road-tripping in New Zealand, we camped, cooked our food, hiked, did loads of fun things. One of the most memorable trip that I had. It wouldn’t be this fun without my travel buddies; Vivi and Fahmi. I would love to do New Zealand again someday. I mean it!
Traveled in 27 Desember 2016 – 26 January 2017
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