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The weather over here is super annoying, man!! Climbing up a hill to get a good view, just to realize that the view is blocked by multiple clouds is annoying too!! Yep, the odds are currently not in my favour!
The mountain I climbed up is “Mt Taranaki/Egmont”. It is the most perfectly shaped volcano you’ll come across here in New Zealand and besides that, it resembles “Mt Fuji” in Japan quite a lot. It’s massive!! You stand at its base and you just see this monster right in front of you! Photos for sure don’t do justice! And I did not even see the whole thing yet! 😀
It’s snow-covered as well, which makes it even more beautiful!! So I tried the whole day to find a spot, that gives you a good view, but failed bitterly. I drove halfway around the whole National Park, hoping that the cloud that blocked the view would either move or not surround the whole tip! Unfortunately, the cloud decided to mate with other clouds, while I drove around, covering even more of the mountain. Thanks, Karma -,-
By the way, I decided to start my own project, called “Dare Yourself – Prove them wrong”. I’m trying to reach out to people, to help them build up confidence and to overcome emotional struggles… It’s a project and worth a try. If it fails, I can at least say, I tried! I hope, I can help though! Check it out: (I had to lower the video quality a lot in order to be able to upload it at all.. I’m sorry, but unlimited high-speed wifi is rare in a backpackers world.. )
I even met a guy that was living exactly according to my philosophy of life! He is an Aussie who recently lost his wife… But instead of sitting back home grieving every day, he came out here, doing what no one expected him to do! He came out here, hired a van and now travels around all by himself! He did exactly what scared him the most at that exact moment: Letting go and starting all over.. he dared himself and proved everyone, who didn’t expect him to just leave, wrong! You go, mister!! Be an individual and only listen to yourself!! That’s the go!!
That was not the only person that proved, what I’m always talking about, is true. There are people out there with a heart of gold, helping you no matter what. I wanted to pay for my parking ticket and inserted my card. Somehow, it got stuck and I couldn’t get it out .. Luckily, the lady behind me jumped in! And guess what?? She paid the parking ticket for me, cause I didn’t have cash and she didn’t want my card stuck in there again!! I didn’t ask for it or anything! I would have just parked somewhere else.. That kind of people is what the world needs! ❤
All that happened while I was literally waiting for better weather!! I’ve spent two and a half days waiting for the clouds to clear to get a good view of “Mt Taranaki”. I was so close to just giving up and moving on, but I decided to wait. I parked my car and just waited and waited and waited… And finally, the clouds cleared and the sun came out!! The best view you could ask for!! It was unbelievable!! It’s about 2500m high!! Never give up, guys! Patience is the key!!
I also needed a lot of patience while backing up about 20m.. downhill and around a corner… I actually wanted to explore the white cliffs, but little did I know, the walkway is closed until the end of September, due to lambing. Yep, sometimes it helps to do your research before heading out for a 60k detour. Why did I have to back up, you might wanna know?! Well, I didn’t pay attention to the massive sign, telling me I had reached the walkway. I kept driving and had two choices: ending up on the beach or ending up on private property… Too bad you couldn’t turn around… Hence, I had to back up all the way… Got all the attention, that I didn’t want…again. Pay attention, kids! Not only in school, but also on the road! 😀
The weather didn’t stop messing with me, so I ended up spending a full day driving! I planned on seeing “Cape Egmont”: a lighthouse with dominating views of “Mt Taranaki” in the background. But guess what: There was no view! Once again .. 🙁
And I was extremely tired. Don’t ask me why, but I didn’t end up getting much sleep since I had a little tsunami – anxiety – panic – attack. What the hell am I talking about?! I discovered a few years ago, that the open water freaks me out. It’s probably even a phobia, I don’t know. Anyway, I was camping right next to the beach, which is actually amazing, don’t get me wrong! But somehow the whole situation got a little too scary for me and I suddenly started fearing a tsunami… to be fair, it’s not unlikely to happen over here, but I don’t know why it popped into my head right when I was about to sleep. There was even a video about Tsunamis randomly appearing on my phone straight after! THAT brought the thing to a whole new level! I actually started panicking a little and ended up not getting any sleep at all 😀 Yeah, I’ve had some weird anxieties recently. I don’t know, what’s wrong with me! At least, there’s proof that travelling makes you get to know yourself better after all. I didn’t know that the ocean freaked me out that much until I tried diving and snorkelling!
However, we haven’t heard of my good old friend Karma recently, have we?! Don’t worry she wasn’t far! I finally got a good night’s sleep and got ready for the day, when I suddenly noticed a little piece of paper on the driver’s window… What could that be?? Guess what it said: “Back tyre flat”… It was the right rear tyre… Again!! Those of you, who followed me throughout my Australia – adventures might have noticed that I never had any flat tyre other than the right rear one… twice.Haven’t got a logical explanation for that yet, but I will work on it 😀
Anyway, since I haven’t had this car for long, I had noooo clue where all the gear was.. I’ve been told it was there somewhere, but not exactly where. Great… I had 40 minutes left till checkout. I had no other choice than grabbing every single piece out of my car. Of course, I drew some attention on me. But this time, I was quite glad about it! Two guys came to help! Just to let you know: I don’t take it for granted, that people just come over and help!! They did not even just offer it, they just did it!!
We soon figured out, how to get the spare tyre off, which was a pain in the arse!! Unfortunately, I was missing a proper wheel spanner and neither of the guys had one. Therefore, one of them decided to drive into town and get me one! I had to trust him in that moment, giving him cash and seeing him driving off with it. But I’ve learnt, that at one point you just figure out who is trustworthy and who isn’t!
Time went past and the other guy and I were slightly concerned about him not turning up anymore. But he did! He even paid the difference and believe it or not: he offered me a job!!! As soon as I’m back in Taranaki, I can contact him and he will organize me a 6-week job, more or less well paid!! (No, I’m still not used to NZ – wages, after having worked in Australia!) How crazy is that?! That again shows that you meet people when you expect it the least! And of course, that there are people out there with a heart of gold!! ❤
The whole thing took way longer than the supposed check out time, but the lady at the reception just waved me through! They could have charged me for another night! 🙂 So I drove on and ended up in Napier. There was not really much time to explore left, so I decided to settle for the day.
I couldn’t quite believe my ears though, when the lady at the reception of the new caravan park asked me, whether it wasn’t a bit cold for camping… Uhm… yes!! It does get super cold at night!! But NO, I kinda haven’t got another option. This is the cheapest… Of course, I’d love to be in a warm and cosy room instead. That’s the life of a homeless person by choice 😉
What is even worse than the cold is the constant investment of money into your “home”. Especially, when it ends up to be more than expe…ed.. I mean, a lot more. I thought of spending 30, maybe 50 bucks to get that tyre fixed, that’s it… but instead… I ended up spending 500$!!! Gone! Just like that!! And you know why?? Someone messed up my car and put 3 different types of tyres on there.. apparently.. and one of them was worn out because the wheels weren’t aligned at all. According to the mechanic, what I was driving was illegal and if the police had stopped me, they would have taken the car off the road.. I don’t know whether it was really necessary to get 3 new tyres, but anyhow, I got 3 new tyres and a wheel alignment.. 500 bucks… I got it for a lot cheaper though! Normally the tyres are 175$ each and I got them for 105$ each! It helps, when you look like you’re about to cry, because you just realised that you spent almost all of your travel savings and you’re pretty much broke.
I could definitely feel the difference while driving, though. And apparently I will save a lot more on fuel now. What confuses me a little is, that the last mechanic that serviced my car, didn’t mention anything of the above… hmm..
As soon as that was all sorted, I could finally explore the area. And you won’t believe it, but a mysterious natural phenomen accured, which is not to be missed… th sun was out!! 😛
So I hiked up “Te Mata Peak” in the TukiTuki Valley. A 5.5k hike with the worst track-signage I’ve ever seen! I think, I’ve changed track accidentally about a million times! The views were sooo worth it, though! I’ve never seen valley – views like that before! Absolutely breathtaking!!
It was super windy but, which made the way back scary as! You basically had to walk on the outer rim of a hill. A windy, narrow track leads you along massive rocks on the one side and the hill on the other… Yes, the wind makes you lose your balance every now and then.. That was the scariest hike, I’ve ever undertaken! But you always gotta dare yourself, hey?! Of course, you had to share the track with other hikers and even cyclists! At some point, a guy, running like a bear was chasing him, past me, while I was trying really hard not to stumble 😀 I don’t know what the hell that guy was doing, but he made me feel like the most unfit person on planet earth!
I gotta correct myself: the worst signed track is the “Otatara Pã Loop”! First of all, a Pã is a formerly in use Maori defense base. Practically, a massive hill, with their living base in the middle of the crater, well protected. It was quite intersting to learn about it, but since there is not much of it left, I soon found the new inhabitants, the sheep, much more interesting! The lambs were sooo cute!
Anyway, as I mentioned before, the signage was bad!! It was supposed to be a loop, but at some point, the track just ended at a random street and you were left alone with your own fate… I had to use “Google Maps”, cause I had no bloody clue where I could possibly be… Took me 45 minutes to find back to my car.. What the heck?!
But I gotta give credit to the Kiwi’s this time, before I finish the blog post! If you wanna get fuel over here, you basically just drop your car off and get it refilled and washed, while you can use the bathroom or buy groceries or just wait in line! I don’t know why, but it’s super cute! Might be because the demand for fuel is lower. While in Australia, everyone is running to the same service station because it’s the last for the next 300ks, people in New Zeland can easily grab fuel wherever, whenever they want. Running out of fuel is quite unlikely! 😀
I’m sorry that this blog might be less exciting than usual. But it has a more personal note instead. Hope you don’t mind! I can release a second post this week, commenting on anything you want! Just leave a comment with any ideas, please 🙂
I often hear people telling me how brave I am for travelling on my own in a foreign country! Well, basically, you’re never alone, since you always meet people, plus, it’s not like someone is trying to kidnap you or something… (I’m not saying it’s not possible!) Anyway, here are five reasons why you should travel solo at least once in your life:
1. Flexibility. All travellers know it. You just started your roadtrip with a new travelmate, that you literally just met. Everything seems to be perfect, but soon you realize, that your travelbuddy has totally different interests… You wanna climb up that mountain, while he/she wants to sunbath on the beach… Uhm, akward! So you’ve got two options: 1.You try to find a compromise and risk having an argument every now and then or 2. You tell your travelmate, it’s not gonna work out and drop him/her off in the next city. But let’s be honest, that wouldn’t be the nicest option! To avoid all that hassle, I prefer to travel on my own! I can do whatever I want, whenever I want! 😀
2. It’s easier to meet new people. Okay, this is more of a subjective opinion. Some people find it easier to talk to people while being surrounded by other people. I agree with that, but on the other hand,you end up meeting the most amazing people in the most akward situations, completely unexpected! I’m not the most social person, but just by doing what I am doing,which is in 60% of the cases messing up, I made friends for life! 😀 So, don’t worry guys, you don’t necessarily have to actively look for new friends, it happens all by itself! There’s hope for the anti – social people! Trust me!
3. You learn to appreciate things, you didn’t appreciate before. Travelling solo is great, but of course it can also have disadvantages! While you’re out there all by yourself, anything could happen! And to repeat it once again: You’re all by yourself! Your car could break down in the middle of nowhere in 40 degrees heat… Happened to me, I know what I’m talking about. In that exact moment, I realized how much I actually learnt to appreciate water or sunscreen or those people with a heart of gold that helped me after sitting there for four and a half hours! Honestly, no matter what happens, people are willing to help!! Wether you need a ride, a home, directions etc. There are people out there with a heart of gold! But another thing I appreciate is someone sitting next to me in the car, telling me where to go! The perks of having a travelmate 😛
4. You learn to be independent. While you’re travelling solo, no one is by your side, telling you how to pay your taxes, how to apply for an insurance or what to do in case of an emergency! You have to figure that out all by yourself! You gotta survive on your own, figuring everything out by yourself, which ultimately means you learn to be independent super quickly! Well, you’ve got no other choice! It still happens that you end up lost, of course. But isn’t it a great feeling, when you can finally adult and book that plane ticket yourself?! 😀
5. You get to know yourself. It sounds super cheesy and I didn’t believe in it at first, but little did I know, I actually got to figure out how my brain functions. Being out there all by yourself teaches you where your limits are (I’m not speaking of alcohol – limits! :D). It shows you what your capable of on your own, how much stress you can bare and most importantly, you get to know your character! You’ve got a lot of time to think and to study yourself. You actually get to know yourself for the first time, just by spending a little time with yourself! You quickly figure out new interests and characteristics! I still haven’t fussed out what I wanna study, though.. I guess that bit is just a myth, I’m never gonna figure out 😀
All in all, you can see that these points are all quite subjective, based on my experience. But how are you supposed to know for yourself, wether I’m right or wrong, if you haven’t even tried travelling solo yet?! I can highly recommend it! It doesn’t have to be for long! You gan give it a go and if you don’t like it, you stop or find yourself a travelmate! Honestly, I had awesome times with the travelmates I had! Both, travelling solo and having a travelmate, can be fun! Why not giving both a shot?! You’ve got nothing to lose!!
Hey yo, what’s up?!
Did you know that New Zealand’s national bird, the Kiwi is considered a mammal rather than a bird? No? Me neither, until I learnt all about it at the “Kiwi House” in Otorohanga.
But first, I went to explore the “Hamilton Gardens”, which are seen as one of the most beautiful in the world. No, I don’t necessarily like gardens, but these ones were beautiful! It would have been even more beautiful if it hadn’t been raining non stop! -,- The weather forecast states it’s gonna be raining all month, wish me luck guys, I’ll be walking around in swimwear from now on!
The gardens were subdivided into little themes. So you could see the difference between international gardens and even Maori gardens. Definitely worth a visit! I recommend summer or spring though: less rain and beautiful colours 😉
Getting back to the Kiwis, I was quite disappointed at first figuring out those are nocturnal animals. You could watch them in a night house but weren’t allowed to take any photos. I did not even spot one until later. I did not spot anything at all in the whole bird sanctuary in the beginning. I know, I’m usually the last to spot exciting stuff, but come on, what did I pay for?!?!
All good, I good to see one a bit later during a feeding. Seeing this little something running around was the cutest thing I’ve seen all day. To everyone who doesn’t know it: these “birds” can’t fly, but they have an excellent sense of smell and whiskers! By the way, they lay eggs as big as emu eggs!! Those tiny things?! While they’re pregnant, they’re not even able to eat, since there is not enough room for food and they carry around 25% of their body weight!! 25%!! In contrast to that humans carry only 5%!
So yeah as I said, unfortunately, no pics of a living Kiwi, but I got a few other shots instead:
Finding a sleeping spot that day was like going through hell!! The first caravan park I tried was apparently hiding their office from me, I don’t know. I’ve been driving around for half an hour, but couldn’t find it, even after I asked a lady about it. So I decided to try somewhere else. But the second caravan park I tried was currently under construction and didn’t take non – self contained campers. So I drove ALL the way back to where I just came from to book into another park, knowing that I have to drive all the way back again the next day for my future plans… Yep, a traveller’s life is not all fun and laughter, referring to my last blog post..
In my case, my future plans were basically abseiling into a cave to see glowworms 😛 Yes, that’s correct! I went down one of the “Waitomo Caves”, which are world famous glowworm caves! Well, the cave that I went into, was a completely natural cave, only accessible via an abseil! The first time in my life I’ve actually done that properly and it was definitely fun! At the bottom, you landed in a river which has, together with the cave itself, the Maori name “Manghawitikau”, which means translated “the river you shouldn’t cross”… We did it anyway!! 😛 This was apparently also the only company still running their wet tours since we recently had a lot of rain and the caves are basically flooded. The river was a lot higher than usual and the current was a lot stronger, but that also meant there was a lot more fun! Especially because you had no idea where you actually stepped! Normally the river is clear and you can see every rock, but now you can’t see a thing 😛
We all got a tube for our cave tubing experience and made our way down to the end of the cave first. To get there, we literally had to climb the cave walls… one-handed, since we had the tube in the other hand! That’s how it happens quite easily that you slip and fall down into the river, getting pulled by the current! 😀
Every now and then we had to squeeze ourselves through the tiniest holes! I’m not joking, one of them was not much bigger than my helmet!! And we did it with our lights turned off! But surprisingly I got through and got instantly rewarded by a million glowworms! I can’t describe what I saw, you definitely have to experience it yourself! Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to bring our own cameras though.. Here are the pictures that the guides took though:
Let me tell you this, glow worms are actually maggots who have quite an interesting life. They basically eat for nine months, sleep for two weeks, mate for two days straight and then die. Yep, that’s it 😀To catch their bait, they produce little sticky threads, hanging from underneath them. A little bit like a spiderweb! From close up they definitely don’t look as nice as they do from further away, glowing in the dark!
These glowworms were everywhere! It was for sure a magical moment!! We could still watch them while tubing down the cave, down tiny waterfalls and through minor rips! It was definitely fun, even if you fell out of your tube!
To get out of the cave, we all had no other choice than climbing up a 20-metre cave wall! It was steep and slippery as hell, trust me! I’m so proud that I made it without falling. Of course, we were secured on a rope, in case we slipped! Other than that, the rope didn’t do much! We had to do the climbing ourselves 😀
The whole adventure took 5 hours and was so worth it! This is the only cave system in the world that allows you to see glowworms while tubing down its stream! Pretty cool right?!
I was soaked, clearly having trouble to get out of boots and wetsuit afterwards! Oh, by the way, they had to cut the back of my gumboots open to make them fit! My calves were too big for the regular boot.. what should I say… I’m sorry, mate, those are dancer – legs! 😀
I could definitely feel my arms the next day!! Luckily, I didn’t spend my day climbing another wall. Instead, I drove to Matamata to see the “Hobbiton” movie set. People who know me are probably gonna think ‘hang on a minute’ while reading this. Which is fair enough, I mean.. I have neither finished any of the movies nor have I read any of the books.. the effort was there though!! I started two of the movies… but fell asleep 😦
So yeah, I had noooo idea what happened at this movie set or who any of the characters are and I had nooo idea why I still paid 80$ to see it… Well, the answer is clear: I don’t know… I kinda felt the urge to see it. It’s a beautiful place though! I got some awesome shots! Couldn’t answer any of the questions that have been asked during the tour but 😛
I still learned some interesting facts though: Did you know, that the actors of Bilbo and Gandalf (?) are actually of the same height?! Thanks to some special movie tricks, they appear to be a 5-foot difference in the movie! Plus, it is the only living film set in the world, constantly being maintained!
In the end, we all got a free drink at the “Green Dragon”. No alcohol, of course! Don’t drink and drive, kids! 😀
The next day, I was barely driving at all! Instead, I decided to walk 14ks… in the pouring rain… for whatever reason… it started with me trying to get a bee out of my car after it landed on my passenger seat… It could have flown anywhere, but decided to land there. What the hell?! A bad sign?!
Just kidding, it was still worth it! The first 5k return walk went up to the top of the “Wairere Falls”, which are the highest of the North Island, plunging 153m in two steps! The walk, or better hike, was absolutely ridiculous! I think it was one of the hardest I’ve ever undertaken!! It basically went constantly uphill, over a thousand rocks and roots, a thousand steps up and through the deepest mud, which made the whole thing even more fun!! It took one and a half hours to climb up 2.5ks!! In addition, it even started raining halfway through, making it even more slippery than it already was before! I was sooo glad when I FINALLY reached the top! The reward was a view over Matamata’s farmlands and of course the massive waterfall! Well, I couldn’t really go anywhere near it, since it was so windy that you just got all the water which was supposed to fall down the cliff, splashed straight in your face!
On the way down, you could literally hear almost everyone passing me swearing and puffing 😛 I actually thought I was super unfit, but maybe this walk is just Satan’s personal masterpiece 😀
I definitely got the confirmation, when I was about to walk the last 20m to my car … I tackled the whole walk without slipping, falling, getting lost or anything… but on the last 20m, on flat ground.. I fell and rolled my ankle… -,- Karma is a b*tch!! Don’t worry guys, my ankle is super flexible for some reason, I’m fine 😀
Anyway, Karma still wasn’t finished with me on my second walk. A 9k return walk to the”blue spring”. 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water is obtained from this spring! I totally get why! This is the clearest and cleanest river I’ve ever seen in my life!! You could see every single plant in the river and the further you walked, the more the colour changed from green to turquoise to blue! Definitely, the most beautiful river I’ve ever seen!!
Karma didn’t let me enjoy the views much though since it started pouring again, as soon as I finally reached the “Blue Spring” -,-. Of course, it wouldn’t stop either, turning the way back into a massive slip n’ slide!! I had to go through three gates and one of them was electrifying… I just opened the gate, like normal people would.. and got a shock!! What the hell?? It’s part of a tourist track, it shouldn’t give you shocks?! But maybe it’s just my permanent bad luck, I don’t know 😀
In the evening I actually realized why Karma hates me so much: I lost something of really high personal value, without noticing… I actually got this from someone of high importance and if that person would find out, that person would be super disappointed… It literally could be anywhere… I hope it still turns up somehow… I could punch myself for that!! How did I not notice?!?! :((
But I found it back, guys! Chances were literally one in a million to find a little coin, but luckily I lost it in my car! What an adrenaline rush! I later got a similar feeling seeing the MASSIVE “Huka Falls” in Taupo!! First I thought ‘not another waterfall’. Kinda had enough of that in the past days, but seeing these falls is SO worth it!! Simply, because these falls are so different from others!! By massive, I mean strong as hell! I’ve never seen such a strong current!! It joined into the unexpectedly very contrasting, CALM Waikato River. The stream just looks like foam all the way, hence its name. “Huka” is the Maori word for “foam”. Seeing all that was just unbelievable! You’ve got these massive forces and then suddenly, without any warning, it’s just gone!! Rafting would be fun here, I guess!! 😀
How is this naturally possible, you might think? Well, the only reason I know of is a gap in some rocks way too tiny for the water masses, causing a build-up in pressure and consequently a strong current like that! Comment, if I’m wrong!
And because I’m in the part of the world, where extremes live right next to each other, I even got to experience a geothermal natural phenomenon on the same day! The silica terraces you can see in the photo are remnants of the pink and white “Tarawera terraces”, formerly considered as the 8th world wonder, but unfortunately, they got destroyed in a volcanic eruption in 1886. These terraces are not naturally formed, but the silica formations and the hot water are all 100% natural. You could find these in the Maori village “Wairakei”. I’ve seen quite a few geothermal formations now already, but I had never seen anything as spectacular as this formation!
Did you know that the Silica hot pools are of high therapeutic value, curing skin deseases, arthritis and rejuvenile soul and body?! They contain all these components like iron or magnesium that I’m lacking! I should get a private hot pool in my van, hey?! 😛
I wish I was sitting in that hot pool, while I was sitting on a sailing boat called “Barbary”, sailing to Maori rock carvings in the pouring rain and freezing wind! The rain over here is unreal!! I’ve barely had any sunny days, it’s crazy!! In Australia, everyone is praying for rain and over here, they can’t get enough!
The sailing adventure is not to be missed though! First of all, because you finally start to be aware that you’re sailing on the second largest super volcano in the world! After “Yellowstone”, “Taupo Volcano” has caused two of the most violent eruptions in geological history! In fact, there have been major eruptions every thousand years! How scary is that?! Before I came to New Zealand, I had absolutely NO idea about the volcanic activity going on over here!! It’s not all about beautiful landscapes!!
The second reason for “Lake Taupo’s” popularity is Maori rock carvings, only accessible by boat! They are up to 10m high, carved into the cliffs in the 1970s, depicting “Ngatoro-i-rangi”, the Maori navigator, who navigated two tribes into the Taupo region. The carving is still missing pupils, which were supposed to be added February this year after it had caused a lot of trouble for being left out on purpose. Surprisingly, this never happened. Next to the big carving are a few small ones. One being a mermaid’s face, which is supposed to live in Lake Taupo eating cayaks and children according to a myth. Another one is a big lizard and a third one is the carver’s wife, standing on top of a rock naked! Why not 😛
Highly interesting, that’s for sure. However, I was glad being back on solid ground as my motion sickness started to kick in again. 😦
I didn’t feel better while driving the “Lost World Highway”. I don’t even know why I took this way. I knew it would be windy and hilly.. “plans” for the day kinda changed. I actually wanted to check out “Tongariro National Park”, but it was raining like crazy and there for sure wasn’t any views, plus the whole park was turned into a winter wonderland… So I drove on for now .. My next destination was the “Taranaki region”. To get there, you had two highway options. I don’t know why on earth I chose the windier and longer option, but I guess the so-called “scenic route” got me… and fooled me! It was 151ks long and mainly about historic places, which is not really my thing. It offered nice views here and there and you had to drive through a 180m tunnel, which was fun. Interesting and crazy at the same time was, that you drove through a place called “Whangamomona”, which declared itself a republic, having its own passport and residential election!! Hence, I also drove past a sign stating:” Farewell from the Republic, welcome back to New Zealand!” I was super confused in first place until I found out what it was all about! 😀
It was less fun driving 12ks on a muddy gravel road but!! I actually had to pull over at some point, feeling extremely sick 😦
Guys, to everyone out there suffering from motion sickness… I got ya and feel for ya!!
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Take it easy!
Hey Guys, what’s up?!
Well, I don’t know .. I really don’t know what to think about the Kiwis… on the one hand, they are super caring, lovely people. I got offered a lift, for instance, when I was standing on the side of the road with all my luggage, waiting for the girls I bought the car from or I just got an upgrade for a large instead of a small hot chocolate, just by telling them about my day… Just little things like that 💕 But then on the other hand… I got pulled over by a police officer for going to slow!!! Yes, you have read correctly. I was going like 10ks too slow, causing the van behind me to get a ticket for crawling up my a**!! What the hell?! And you know why?? Cause the roads here are super narrow and windy, going along cliffs and over mountains… and they make you go 100!! Plus, it says every 5ks “Slow down, high crash zone!!” Sorry, police officer, I’m gonna make sure I go 100 next time while falling off the cliff.. super ridiculous!! I didn’t get a ticket or anything when I explained that I’m not that confident driving on roads like that yet. In Australia, you have people going slow all the time and they don’t even have an excuse!! Anyway, the officer liked to make me feel a little more uncomfortable by constantly pointing out that the van behind me got a ticket just because of me… Thanks, officer! You’ve encouraged me to speed, sir!!
It was not my day anyway. I got everything in my car set up. Not the prettiest or best car, but it does the job. Here a few pics:
I did what I had to do and started my travels up to “Northland”. First stop: “Black sand beach” in Muriwai. Yeah, I’m not a massive fan of beaches, hence, I didn’t stay long, but it was still cool to see a “black beach” and the black sand was beautifully sparkly ***
But the Kiwi’s are weird man, I tell ya… I was just on my way to the ” Waipu Caves”, when I saw a guy cleaning someone’s windscreen. Not such a weird scenario, you might think, but what if I told you that all this happened at a red traffic light and the guy cleaning the windscreen was a stranger to the guy driving the car!! Sort of like a pitstop!! This made my day!! Absolutely hilarious! I was next in line, but unfortunately, it had turned green already 😀
So I continued to the caves. The road got crazy again. The last 5ks were offroad, along a narrow edge. Oh, and basically it was a one-way road… at least at some parts. It was a bit like Russian Roulette..you’ve got a 50/50 chance of dying by a car hitting you while driving around that corner! BUT I gotta make sure I’m going full 100 guys!! Better sorry than safe, hey?! 😛
Anyway, the caves were really wet. Everything was muddy and my torch wasn’t really bright enough for an excursion deeper into the cave. I didn’t see any glowworms either. What I did see, was a big spider right above my head. They follow you everywhere!! The caves were still really great to see though! And you can access them without a guide at your own risk, which is kinda a really rare thing over here. So, I played around with my camera a little bit and look at the picture I took! Now I finally know how that works. Next time, I’ll take a picture like that on purpose! 😀
Next stop was the “Hundertwasser public toilets” in Kawakawa. No joke, they are a tourist attraction!! An Austrian guy named Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who immigrated to New Zealand, made this his final project using his special and unique style of architecture. They were definitely special and I really enjoyed going into these public toilets, which I usually don’t! This guy definitely knows about standing out of the crowd. My respect! A beautiful piece of architecture!!
Do you know what it feels like to get circled by chooks?? I do! I just wanted to get out of my van to go and explore the “Haruru Falls”, but unfortunately I couldn’t get out cause I was surrounded by a dozen roosters and chickens!! Was not as hilarious as it sounds, but I just jumped out at some point and managed to get down to the falls! Due to the fact that it constantly rains over here, the falls were 10x stronger than usual! Definitely worth a visit!
Anyway, I drove on! Up to the northernmost point New Zealand’s. It took me ages to get there and the road was super windy!! Perfect for people with motion sickness!! You know, it was only like 200ks. It would have taken me an hour and a half maybe to drive that distance on Australian roads, but here it took me like 3 hours because roads are just super dangerous!! I eventually made it to the top and still missed that little adventure… no water crossings, no corrugations, no dirt, no mud… but you can’t have everything 😛 Instead I passed massive sheep stations, which was also worth it! Anyone wanna offer me a job?! I’m almost out of money 😀
Whatever Cape Reinga was beautiful though!! I don’t like beaches and coasts, but this one was impressive. This is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet! It was also suuuuper windy though! Taking pictures of yourself when you’re by yourself is already hard… but the wind brought the thing to a whole new level!! 😀
If you ever wondered about the weather at night, I can tell you it’s freezing! -3 degrees and I’m sleeping in my car!! And we all should know that frost is even colder than snow! Yeah, I’ve got a pretty awesome sleep! 😛 Oh, and guess what: my heating is not working … you can start shaming me now! I take it… 😛
It was finally sunny during the day though! So we decided to go to Raglan, a surfer hotspot. Well, we don’t surf and it was freezing anyway, but the beach was still nice! It was another “Black sand beach”, but I noticed something… The sea is a bit too calm for surfing! There were no waves at all 😛
So we walked along the beach for a while and then 265 steps up and down to get to the “Bridal Veil Falls”. Yep, we ’re pretty active that day in contrast to the day before 😀 It was a pretty waterfall! About 50 metres high and quite strong due to heaps of rain! Unfortunately, we passed another horrible accident on the way out. This is the second I’ve seen since I’ve been living on the road… It definitely stresses you out mentally…
Because where else would I be able to get back into my 4 wheel driving, if not in the extreme sports capital?!
I’m back in my element! So, we joined this Bush safari – 4×4 track in Rotorua that definitely gives you an adrenaline rush! It takes about an hour taking you to multiple obstacles like deeper water crossings, the “bridge under construction”, which was basically a log on one side only, an obstacle that brings your 4wd into a 45-degree angle without rolling over or “the luge”, which is the craziest one! You drive downhill at an 80-degree angle in “neutral”!! This was soo much fun!! Can highly recommend! Proves once more that 4 wheel driving is definitely my thing!!
But it also proves that it’s justified to have trust issues! The guide that helped us throughout the track, made it really hard for me to trust him after giving us a leave of the so-called “bubblegum tree”. It’s edible and supposed to taste like bubblegum… in the beginning… then the taste turns into pepper. Of course, he didn’t tell us until we were all chewing on the leave already… ewwh 😛
The trust issues continued when he started shaking the car while we were hanging in a 45-degree angle, telling us that you shouldn’t put your car in a bigger angle than 40 degrees if you don’t want to roll over 😀 Well and then it still didn’t stop. On the so-called “Luge” the obstacle that forces you to drive straight down a hill in an 80 degree angle, he made us drive right to the edge, put the car in neutral and then asked us to do multiple “brake tests”, bringing us closer and closer to the point, where brakes don’t work anymore! He kept going, though, because he didn’t want to give us a chance to decide ourselves when we want to start rolling down that hill, so during the last “brake test” he gave us a little push! That was a pure adrenaline rush!! Throughout the track the kept putting signs up like “parachutes for hire” or ” underwear for sale” just to make it a little more fun! 4 wheel driving is definitely my thing! Makes me happy! One day I’m gonna own my own high clearance 4wd.
But, Rotorua’s geothermal activity, on the other hand, is an awesome way to warm up in one of their 40-degree hot pools!! Definitely what I needed after a freezing night! I couldn’t handle it too well though since I almost fainted when I got out of the hot into the cold 😀 Don’t worry, I’m fine now!
I’m fine now, but I wasn’t for long since it was the day of our bungy jump!! Ahhh!!! I had to go into sort of a “birdcage” hanging from a crane, 43 m in height! It was just me and the instructor up there. While standing on the edge, I was 150% convinced, I wouldn’t do it! I was scared to death and I’ve got no idea what sort of higher powers made me actually jump when he counted “3..2..1..BUNGY!”!! Felt like a leap into death because you can’t feel that you’re attached to anything! Well actually you can, because the velcro around my calves was so tight, I could not even feel my legs anymore 😛 The first leap was not even the worst! As soon as you start bouncing back up and down, even faster… that’s when you should start screaming!! On the way back down, they just let you hang on that rope and let the cage down slowly. They grab your hands and pull you on your back and at that exact moment.. you know you survived!!
Watch my “leap of pride” here:
Always remember: If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space! 😉
Just do it!