Exploration of White Island in New ZealandRead More
Sep 23th: We woke about at about 6:00 am and were incredibly tired. It's always just pretty difficult to motivate yourself to wake up at such an early hour on the weekend. It had also been Ryan's first week of work, so the sleep deprivation was real. We stumbled out of bed and made a quick breakfast and coffee to take on the road.
We jumped in our campervan Noah and went to pick up our friend Riley. We were set to join a "Meet Up" group. Long story short, Ryan and I joined a community called Meet Up that has its platform on a mobile application. You can join whatever group that suits your fancy. This one was a hiking group that was doing a weekend long trip and our first stop for the day was the Blue Spring along the Te Waihou Walkway.
There were about fifteen people who went on the trip with us and it was hosted by an amazing guy named Charlie. He put the whole trip together. We met at a local train station with the rest of the group and then headed south for the spring.
The Blue Spring is located about two hours south of Auckland and is absolutely worth the drive. It is where New Zealand gets about 70% of its drinking water. The spring is fed through the Mamaku Plateu where water takes 50-100 years to filter through. In turn this allows the water to be extremely clear. I believe the water is so blue because of this long filtering process.
The Te Waihou Walkway runs adjacent to the spring and is a loop that takes about 2-3 hours to walk. Walking along it was pretty easy and we literally stopped every couple of feet to take pictures. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL, like everything in New Zealand. As I mentioned before, the water was literally crystal clear and a BRIGHT aqua blue. There are also apparently some designated areas for swimming which are farther away from the actual spring itself!
Towards the end of the track our group stopped to enjoy lunch. Unfortunately Ryan and I left our food in the car and didn't get to enjoy with the rest of the group. But, we did head back after relaxing for a bit in order to make some peanut butter, nutella and banana sandwhiches. These are some of our go-to foods while on the road.
Sept 16th: Per Usual, the weather forecast was supposed to be raining but we had a small window of sunshine that we wanted to take advantage of. We decided to go to Duder Regional Park. It's located about an hour south east of Auckland. Right when we arrived, it started pouring but soon after it cleared up and we had some beautiful weather. I really enjoyed Duder, because of the beautiful lush green rolling hills filled with spring blooms and sheep. There was also the aqua blue ocean of Hauraki Gulf in the background.
We started our hike. It was a pretty mild hike and only took us about two hours to complete. It was just incredibly muddy and filled with cow and sheep poop. It was pretty hard to tell what was mud and what was poop. I ended up stepping in a huge monstrous cow poop too. I think it must of been my lucky day.
We also got to see a ton of sheep. A really cool thing about walking on these tracks is that they are partially through farmland, hence you get to see a ton of sheep and get up close and personal with them. They are quite sheepish, if you know what I mean. We ended up having an awesome time and had a afternoon picnic amongst all the poop.
We quickly explored Mount Cook National park & unfortunately came across the unexpected.Read More
Sept 7th: We drove from Lake Tekapo to Christchurch. Back in 2011 Christchurch had an earthquake that devastated the city and was a 6.3 on the Richter Scale. I was looking for signs of damage and saw some minimal stuff. People from there say it's hard to see when you've never been there before and that there are whole buildings missing from the city centre.
That evening we arrived at Godley Head during sunset. We were in the hills filled with sheep, overlooking the city. This was one of the most beautiful campsites in the morning and had a three hour loop for walking and its own mountain bike track. We we're excited to walk the loop the next morning.
Once inside the campsite we started our dinner of baked beans and hot dogs. We had some sauvignon blanc with our meal and then read before bed. One of the strangest things happened: We heard an emergency type siren go off in the night and then all of a sudden the winds started picking up. We searched the news but could not find anything going on... and were worried it may of potentially been a tsunami warning. I guess it was a test drill?
Sept 8th: We woke up and wanted to fit a hike in before our lengthy drive back to Picton. We completed the loop track. It was absolutely gorgeous and there were so many sheep. The water was incredibly blue with beautiful lush green rolling hills in the back round. The sun was out and life was good.
Sept 9th: We caught the Ferry back to Wellington and drove 9 hours to get back to Auckland. We decided to head straight back because the weather was pretty bad. Although the trip was quite condensed we really got to see a lot and finally see the magnificent South Island. The trip really was quite astonishing in the fact that the entire South Island is so incredibly beautiful and on par with a National Park. The island itself, is so condensed and filled which such diverse landscape that is so close to one another. It is hands down the most amazing place I've ever been. I feel incredibly fortunate we got to explore it.
Sept 5th was an incredibly exciting day! We had finally made it to Wanaka which is this picturesque town in the South Island that also has amazing breakfast and coffee! (NZ has some of the best coffee ever by the way!) We prepared ourselves and charged our phone and camera batteries that morning at Beanie Cafe. We had also prepared for the hike by buying waterproof pants in case there was snow at the top of Roy's Peak. We had made it a day earlier than expected to Wanaka thanks to Ryan, because the weather was supposed to be pretty terrible on Sept 6th and we really wanted to get Roy's Peak in!
We were so incredibly excited to get to Wanaka and hike Roy's peak. We had seen images before and we're completely stoked and you'll see why!
Roy's Peak was oh so incredible. It was about a 3 hour continuous upwards hike to the first peak and then another 45 minutes hike to the top! We didn't have too much snow going from Roy's Peak to the actual top, luckily. If you have snow though, it will most likely take a longer time to get up there. Roy's peak is very weather dependent and we made sure to go on a nice day. The view was so incredible that you have to make sure you're actually able to see it! I promise it's worth the effort!
If it's still winter or early spring or cold weather in general: bring some waterproof boots and pants with you. Bring layers, no matter the weather at the bottom because from the first peak onwards is extremely windy and cold. Do make sure you bring lunch, snacks and plenty of water with you too. Also sunscreen and hat protection is key. It was definitely a bit of a difficult climb for us being intermediate hikers and pretty fit people. It took 2 to the 3 hours in order to come back down. Getting down is actually quite hard on your legs and knee's since your on a continuous decline.
We had our lunch at the peak and took amazing pictures. I inhaled a peanut butter, nutella and banana sandwich and Ryan sabotaged me with a pack of nuts on top of that. I like to think it was because I was beating him on the way up to the peak. Luckily we didn't have much snow to trudge in but man did we get a workout! Also coming back down was pretty challenging but SO worth it. I don't think I've ever seen anything more astounding. I told Ryan immediately after finishing that I wanted to retire/move/live in Wanaka.
After hiking Roy's peak and not having showered for four days or eaten a proper meal, Ryan and I decided to retire Noah for the night and sleep in motel inside the city. This wasn't your typical U.S motel, it was more like a "Chalet". We also ended up getting some really dank burgers at Red Star Burger Bar and some reward beverages.
Sept 6th: We woke up and actually ironically met a woman who had lived in Atlanta, Georgia for quite some time as an Au Pair. It was nice connecting with her! I also spontaneously decided to try & drive Noah, which lasted only a couple of minutes before Ryan took over. I thought he was kidnapped by the front desk on returning our keys and had to see what was going on. We had a quick stop at Lake Wanaka before starting the trek eastward.
I technically had a two week break at Uni. Since Ryan had two weeks off before starting work, we decided to take advantage of one of those weeks. Luckily we have the South Island right in our backyard. It was out of this world beautiful. It seemed like it was the way the earth looked before humans.
September 2nd: We left our home in Kingsland, Auckland bright and early Saturday morning in our campervan Noah, otherwise know as Whokanoa (pronounce Fukanoah). We took Highway 1 down to the outer rim of the Tongariro Crossing. Although we didn't have the time to actually venture on to it, we had our lunch overlooking its beauty.
Fun fact: The Lord of the Rings location of Mordor, was filmed on and around the Tongariro National Park!
The first night we spent at a campsite, Waikawa, about an hour north of Wellington. We got to stop at a nearby beach for a little. Unfortunately, it was getting dark by the time we got there so we didn't stay very long. We somehow managed to see a music video being filmed? It was definitely interesting trying to get to the actual beach, due to the fact there were no marked pathways and we had to hike up some dunes to access it. Maybe we overlooked something, but we made the best of it! Once arriving at the campsite around 6 or 7 pm, we made some baked beans for dinner and strung up our new LED solar powered fairy lights with some good old fashioned duck tape.
September 3rd: We awoke in Noah around 5:45 am and had to catch our Ferry in Wellington. Atlas, we were heading to the South Island! We had heard so many good things about it and had seen so many amazing pictures... and YES it absolutely lived up to it's expectation! Once arriving to the Ferry port we sipped on some coffee at a nearby cafe, shortly after hopping into Noah to drive him onto the Ferry.
Another fun fact: There is no bridge that connects the two islands (North and South Island) and understandably so. It would be a massive feat of engineering for that matter. So instead, you have to take a pricey ferry notoriously known for being quite rough out in the ocean! Otherwise you can fly! Being that we just bought Noah, we wanted to take him out for a spin. The Ferry ride was just beautiful though.. See below when we started to make our way into the sounds of the South Island.
Once we arrived at the Ferry Port in Picton, we started southwards and got to see the famous Marlborough Region of New Zealand. Marlborough is known for it's Sauvignon Blanc wines, which happen to be some of my favorite!
That same day before sunset we had the opportunity to explore the pancake rocks in Punakaiki. They were formed 30 million years ago from tiny fragments of dead marine creatures and plants. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify into hard and soft layers.
Sept 4th: We made our way into the mountains. The South Island is an incredible place; One minute you can be at the beach and see beautiful palm trees, feeling the warmth of sunshine on your back and the next minute you can see the mountains with snow in the distance. We made our way to Franz Josef Glacier that morning via highway 6. It is located inside of Tai Poutini National Park and is currently receding. The water leaving the glacier was the brightest aqua blue I have ever seen.
Later that night we made our way to Lake Wanaka to camp in Noah for the night, before heading to Hike Roy's Peak the next day. We camped in a very scenic campsite that was literally on the lake.. it was incredibly windy but beautiful.