We touched down in windy Wellington 14/12/17 and spent the first part of our trip chilling, checking out the local area and planning the rest of our New Zealand trip.
Sam found a Muay Thai class to keep him busy and I was introduced to Power Living Yoga which I went to most days. There was an offer on Groupon and I was able to get unlimited yoga for a whole month for $39! The teachers were all awesome. Classes were challenging, dynamic and were very similar to Baptiste style classes. Loved it!
The Cowan family were extremely kind and let us use their home as our base. They made us feel really welcome and like we were part of their family. I was worried that I was going to feel homesick at Christmas but we had an amazing day full of food, bubbles and giant jenga. I only shed a couple of tears and definitely didn't miss the cold weather!
A couple of days after Christmas we headed off in the truck to Lake Taupo with Brook and Kat. We shared a cosy cabin in Great Lake Holiday Park which was perfect for us. We headed to the hot springs early in the morning to beat the crowds then headed to Huka falls. Sam had to do the walk in his pants as he had only brought one pair of shorts with him.
Huka falls was awesome. Apparently, 220,000 litres of water fall over the cliff face every second! We also hiked up Mount Tauhara with Kat's friend Rosie. The steep, sweaty walk was well worth it for the views at the top.
For New Years we went to our friend Hori's. He and his gorgeous other half Mia put on a BBQ and we drank lots of rum and ginger beer while listening to Hori's brother Nev playing guitar and singing. Sam had one too many...
Hori and Mia own a cool shop/gallery in Otaki called Hori Studio / Gallery. Their stuff is real cool...check them out here: http://www.thehori.co.nz/ @thehori
On New Years Day Sam was struggling with his hangover but I dragged him up and out to begin our exploring of the North Island. Our first stop was Opunake where we found a cool freedom camping area just in front of the beach. We stayed here for 2 nights as the surf was really good! He surfed at Arawhata a few times which was cool as there was a grassy bit where I could sit and take photos. One night there was a beautiful sunset over the sea and behind me the full moon was rising over Mount Taranaki. Dreamy.
Opunake was a sleepy little town with a couple of cafe's a shops. The fish and chip shop was delish and so cheap!
Our next stop was Rocky Left and Rocky Right which can be found down Paora Street. Such a beautiful spot, the ocean bright blue. We spent that night down Lower Weld Road where we literally camped in a hedge praying our tent wouldn't leak in the rain.
We drove through the bendy mountain roads and made our way to Raglan. The weather was really bad so I had the pleasure of sitting the car for a couple of hours while Sam surfed the main beach #surfwidow.
As the day went on the weather got worse and we heard on the radio that they were expecting gale force winds, thunder storms and A LOT of rain. We decided it was probably best to check into a motel in Hamilton that night rather than risk it in a our budget tent. We got really lucky and paid next to nothing for a room that had a giant spa bath!
The next day we set off early and made our way towards the Coromandel where we were being put up at a bach (what Kiwi's call holiday homes). The weather was still crazy and at one point a branch flew off a tree and hit the car windscreen! Thankfully there was no damage, but it was pretty scary!
We spent a couple of days in Hahei with Sandy McConnell and his family. Sam surfed at Hot Water beach...it's called Hot Water Beach because at low tide you can go down and dig your own hot pool in the sand. The water beneath the sand is heated by fissures and can get as hot as 64 degrees Celsius!
Sandy took us out on his boat and we zipped around looking at caves and Cathedral Cove. We were even lucky enough to have a pod of dolphins swimming around the boat!
Next stop was Rotorua where we spent a few hours checking out the thermal pools and bubbling mud pools. As expected it stank of eggs due to its sulphur rich air.
From Rotorua we headed to Taupo again and set up camp for the night. We didn't get much sleep due to some very frisky neighbours...
Feeling thirsty for some wine we drove to Hawke's Bay and stopped at Brookfields Vineyards and Te Mata on our way to Clifton Campsite.
We stocked up on wine and food and spent a lovely night camped right on the seafront. We literally couldn't get any closer if we tried.
The following morning we were told not to hurry packing up as the road out had been washed away in the storm! Luckily the local farmer let us leave through his field and we were able to make our way back to our comfy bed in Wellington .
Massive thank you to the Cowan’s for putting up with us on and off for 6 weeks. They made us feel so welcome and we really felt like part of the family.
Thank you to Lowie and the McConnells for letting us stay. Also, thank you to the Bentleys for letting us borrow their car.