Aloha! I’ll take you further on this trip of awesomeness through New Zealand. Imagine the last post, where Hidde told you we hopped on the ferry to the north island. Good news: we made it! The ferry didn’t sink. Although sometimes it felt like it. After an hour or 4 we saw land in the distance! The land of New Zealands capital Wellington! We reserved a campspot -read place on a parking lot- next to the ferry harbour and decided to abandon our van for once and go out for dinner. Wellington is a capital with a towny feeling. It’s young, hip and just after one glimpse I already had a handful of shops where we had to return to the next day. We went to see some of the best and free museums of NZ and walked to -another- lookout point. For one reason or another if we go to get some information on walking routes they keep on suggesting the lookout routes. Always very beautiful ofcourse, but not to forget always up up up, up to the top. So we did this one, but agreed to try and avoid those in the future.
The day after we went to Queen Elizabeth Park, north of Wellington and according to Lonely Planet a must visit. Maybe we’re getting a teenyweeny spoiled, but for us it was nothing more than our own Belgian or Dutch dunes. Don’t get me wrong there’s absolutely nothing wrong with our coast. I love it. These dunes were used as a training ground for American soldiers in World War II. On only a few kilometres away there’s Kapiti Island, aka the Kiwi island. But for now I’ve had it with boats, so we stay on vast ground.
Our next goal: Mt Taranaki, with a short stop on the way in Whanganui. If you’re curious where exactly everything is: Google! ? Always handy. So Mt Taranaki. We ‘planned’ to spend the night in Stratford, the closest town before entering the mountain, on a free campground and leave early morning for some serious hiking. But eventually we left after being weird out. The camping spot was nothing more than a parking where youngsters in cars were watching everybody. Since we were the only ones there that ment that they were staring in our van the whole time. Every time we thought they left, a second later another car came. And the staring started all over again. We weren’t sure if this was a good thing like to keep everyone safe or to intimidate us. To be honest they looked quite ‘ghetto’ themselves. Whatever it was we decided not be a part of it and left after nightfall and drove towards the national park. The trip itself was quite adventurous changing from flat open space to suddenly very close forest and steep up. We nearly turned a wild goose, a possum, a weasel and a hare into roadkill. In the end no animals were hurt. When we arrived at the other parking lot and free campsite we were so happy we made the decision. The most clear starry sky was waiting there for us.
The next two days we did some nice walks. The first day ‘we took it easy’ to head the next day to the top. Not the top of Mt Taranaki, because therefor you need to be an experienced climber, but another one really close and doable in 5-6 hours. We finished it in 4 hours and Hidde faced his fear of hights and staircases like a pro. Another satisfying day. Because we finished the walk earlier than expected we decided to head to New Plymouth, famous for being a great surfspot and it’s dark black beaches. For us it was legendary since we had our very first swim here since we left. Jiha!
After some mermaid dreams we woke up in the soaking rain so we drove the Forgotten World Highway, a 155km road between Taumarunui and Stratford, which keeps you sweet for the whole day. 11 km was unsealed road through a gorge. Stunning! A bit tricky though since we didn’t want to end up there with a flat tyre. But all went good. And as we have to say with the camper: 20 km an hour is also a speed. The grass was so green you could actually imagine hobbits living here. And sheep. Heaps of sheep.
The Forgotten World Highway brought us not only beautiful sights, but also lead us towards Lake Taupo. We planned to have an off day after all the walking, but still had one big tramp on our list: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing: it’s said to be one of the best wilderness day-walks in the world. It’s recommended to check the weather forecast several times because it can get very nasty up there and you need to have a good level of fitness. After all the walking we did, that shouldn’t be a problem. The weather was going to be cloudy early morning but fine later, so it was a big GO. We left at 5 in the morning and arrived around 2 pm back to our car. They didn’t lie: it was all 19,4km worth it. The views were splendid, as well as the people.
When we arrived 6,5 hours later at our van, we were still in good shape. Until… we took our shoes off. For no money in the world we’re putting them back on today. Or just for the driving then. And now: laid back, a book, a beer, the sun and some good company. ❤️
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