After weeks of working and settling down in Christchurch I had a long weekend off and decided to finally go on a little road trip down south. Just me, good music, my camera and a lovely little rental car I proudly named Louis.
Finishing work on Friday, I picked up my car on a cloudy Saturday and was all ready to hit the road. Driving down the highway towards the great lakes of the south island, the sky cleared up and by the time I arrived in Lake Tekapo (about 3 hours from Chch) it was a clear blue skied day with great views across the lake towards Mount Cook. With open windows, sunnies on my face and singing along to the radio I drove up and down the mountain passes through small towns of Twitzel and Omarama where I picked up some french backpackers that had plans to go to Wanaka.
Since I've been on the receiving end of the good karma vibes throughout my entire journey up I felt this time around I should be the one offering a ride. So we spent the last two hours of the six hour drive to Wanaka talking about travels across New Zealand and future travel plans.
After dropping my two new friends off in Wanaka, I drove over to Lake Hawea to stay for the next two days.
Early on the next morning, I grabbed my camera bag, some food supplies and made my way to the starting point of Roy's Peak Hike about a 30 minute drive from Lake Hawea. Now, for everybody going to Wanaka it's "THE HIKE" to do in the area. Not because it is an especially beautiful and fun walk (quite the opposite actually). The walk itself just slowly creeps up across fields all the way along the hillside with now even parts or shady spots. While the views are breathtaking and constantly get better while walking up, three hours of constant uphill across fields is not my definition of a fun hike - at all.
Still, by the time one finally finally reaches the top (or rather the viewpoint since the actual peak is another 300m up the hillside) the views are truly breathtaking. Looking all across the lakes and valleys over to the Glaciers of Mount Aspiring NP in the distance and back down to the small town of Wanaka and across the deep blue lake, I finally saw that beauty everybody kept telling me about.
So far, I though NZ was nice, pretty even but in my mind I was always comparing it to Canada's great landscapes and simply stunning beauty. Now, standing on the top of Roy's Peak I finally saw a spark of NZ pure and wild side. High mountains and valleys and lakes and glaciers all combined under a bright blue sky while the leafs slowly changed as fall kept crawling closer.
Having lunch up on the mountain top, definitely one of my favourite places in NZ so far.
After another 1,5h walk back down the endless hillside I went for a cruise further down the road and around the lake before spending some time wandering through Wanaka and finally 7 months after my tripod broke that first week in Bangkok I bought myself a new one! Who would have thought this day would come!
After a quite evening at the hostel, the next morning I drove back up across the mountain passes of Linids Pass and through Twitzel to turn off the Highway and spend my last night of my short trip over in Mt Cook Village right in the centre of the National Park with amazing views of NZ's highest peaks and biggest glaciers. Driving down the mountain road and stopping multiple times for photos I went for a short hike up to the glacier lakes where I met a nice girl from Denmark that - surprise - was just about to move to Christchurch! New friends in town!! YAY!
The afternoon I went for a casual 10 km stroll down the Hooker Valley Track offering stunning views of the mountains and the glacier lakes.
Walking across the valleys and three swing bridges further and further away from the village, deeper into the National Park and as close as one can get to Mt Cook without actually climbing up (which is possible with Ice climbing experience and a really well educated Guide). Strolling down the easy trail, climbing down to the river and up the rocks around the lakes I spend a perfect couple of hours out and around the trail while the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountain tops and gave room for the million stars and a massive full moon lighting up the sky.
By Tuesday morning the clouds finally crept across the mountain tops and the predicted rain started soon after so after a few hours spend around the iSite of the Village watching a documentary about the National Park, I packed my things, turned the volume up and drove back up to Christchurch after a perfect couple of days away from the city and simply enjoying being on the road again.
And while driving back to Christchurch, I realised that when you are travelling it's not really about the tourists hotspots you click of your list. Not at all actually. It's really about all the crazy shit that went down the road in order to get there. The songs you sang along to and the laughs you had along the way.
Those moments are the things that define our journeys and those are the scenes that will forever play on loop in your head when you think back at all the good times you had.
All these journeys will be the things you'll always remember. The places you originally planned on going? Not so much. This road trip will for sure be one of them.
Of course I wouldn't be much of a traveller moving straight from one house and job to another. Which is why I decided to spend two nights in beautiful hammer springs on my way to the big city. Hanmer is not a big town by any means, but coming from Murchi after a month in which I not once left the town, I was excited to be moving again. With summer still on I spend two days with about 25°C and clear deep blue skies mostly hiking around all the walking tracks close to town.
Starting on my first afternoon around Hanmer I went for a stroll around the Woodlands Walkway and than continued on up Conical Hill for some pretty great views across town and to the Alpine Mountain passes looming in the distance. The next day I literally walked all day.
I left my hostel (dorm room all to myself wohoo!!) after breakfast and started the long way up Jollies Pass Road to the trail head to than pass over Jollies Pass and Isobel Mountain all across the settle to finish at Jacks Pass and make my way back to town from there. Looked easy enough on the map. And Mount Isobel is only about 1500m high so surely nothing compared to some of the hikes I did up north in the past months, and while all this is true it was still a really long walk. Quite steep stretches leading up to the summits and even steeper parts moving back down on the other side. And while it was a lovely blue skied day, the wind at the top was so strong I had to hold onto my beanie had to not have it blown away.
Still the views all along the way were spectacular and just what I needed on my little vacation before moving to the city. With the town tiny and far in the distance, I just concentrated on walking and enjoyed the beautiful scenery (no so much the winds of course), still though after a total of 7,5 hours spend looping across the mountain tops I was glad to be back in town and spend my final half day just relaxing and strolling around maybe have a look at some of the small shops, or go for one last hike to see the waterfalls not too far from town.
After all though, Hanmer is only a 90minute drive from Christchurch and I'm fairly confident I might end up back here on a day off from work occasionally.
But for now, let's see what Christchurch is all about.
Some people might be content living a small town life, happy that the local coffee shop knows your favourite after only two visits. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those. Most definitely not.
Surrounded by hillsides and rivers, no doubt Murchison is a beautiful place. Peaceful and quiet. Great to save money and spend a few months taking a break from the fast paced backpacker life.
I told myself all these things many times over, really ever since accepting the cafe job in town.
Looking back at it now, I realise I tried to convince myself of something deep down I already knew wasn't for me. I left my home in a small town in Germany only to move to an even smaller town at the other end of the world, now did I really expect this to be different?
I met great people while living in this small town and if it wasn't for my uni work, itching feet and wandering heart, slowly dying to hold a camera again, I may have tried settling in for a while longer. But through out all my travels I always promised myself that my uni degree would come as first priority and simply put: It's not working from Murchison. Truth is though, even with no course work to consider I'm not sure how long I would have lasted.
I like nature and climbing mountains, but I love busy streets and cities with things to do. I still miss Toronto and love remembering my time living in this amazing town, taking the tub through a winter wonderland and meeting friends for nights out around town. So how could I think I'd be okay moving to a town with about 400 people? A town with exactly one major intersection, zero traffic lights, one small supermarket and a single yoga lesson once a week? No need to lock the door to your house and giving directions without street names or an actual address, all these things are great of course, but it should have been a clue how small a town can really be.
Throughout the four weeks spent in Murchison, I had fun times around town and loved going for walks around the countryside. I made good friends and spent a brilliant time with my flatmates and colleagues, but in the end this simply wasn't enough to keep me tied down. Maybe this time it will be different, at least I feel like it will be, but then again sometimes even I wonder, if I am just trying to recreate a place I've already come to love.
After one month in Murchison, I'm moving on. Christchurch get ready!
Months of travelling have past and just like hiking the mountains there are ups and downs along the way. Six months and the same number of countries have taken me quite literally to the other end of the world. With almost 20,000 km from home one would believe the world grows smaller the more you travelled, I believe quite the opposite to be true. With every mile I go, new opportunities and challenges are awaiting and every day I get a clearer and more detailed picture of the world we live in.
Even though I love travelling and my bucket list is definitely growing faster than I can check the boxes, every once in a while there are those moments when you miss a former life. Times when I remember the veggie gardens of Anutara Ashram in B.C., days when I miss walking home from work across the snowy streets of Toronto, quickly moving around the sidewalks to meet up with friends outside a bar or cinema, or just brief moments when you see a newly wed couple in central Hanoi getting their wedding photos taken, and it reminds you of the numerous times you've taken those photos.
The amazing thing about travelling though is, whenever you feel the melancholy creeping in there's new experiences and adventures waiting for you to take your mind elsewhere. Hiking the mountains and reaching the top, enjoying the view and getting a new perspective, from above the world looks very different and when before I was feeling a little sad or alone in this new unknown place, now I can see clearly, reset my mind and focus on this new memory I might one day look back to longingly. The thing with memories is after all, often we will remember the small at first almost insignificant moments in between the big adventures, times when you would go for yoghurt coffee around the corner in Hai Phong or singing Christmas carols while scootering the streets of Bali.
Throughout the past months I have often looked back and wondered what all the characters I have met travelling throughout the past years are up to - where have they moved to and what moments are they looking back upon? Truth is, the world might be a big place, a picture constantly expanding, the backpacking network not so much and there's always the chance to meet a familiar face half a world away again.
For now my travels have me settled in a tiny little town called Murchison in the north of New Zealand's South Island. I've once been told everybody should try the small town life once and I guess this is my turn trying. Maybe this town will turn into one of those cherished memories one day. If not, I can only hope there are enough mountains to keep my mind busy for a while.
So after a few nights in Picton I took down my tent and via Nelson got to Motueka in the afternoon, ready to explore the Abel Tasman from there the next morning.
Here I once again slept in my tent in the backyard of a small family run hostel in the centre of town. Motueka is a cute town of about 10,000 people and next to some orchards the main work can be found during the summer months when a lot of tourists stay around town as it is only about 20 minutes from the Abel Tasman NP. After going for a wander and buying a few supplies for work and my move to the small town, I was picked up to explore the park the next morning and took one of the many bus boats to Medlands Beach further North in the National Park before then walking back along the trail leading around the coast and trough the woods up and down the hills with some great views across the cliffs and great bays to rest and track down to the beach.
I hiked a total of 20 km that day with the whole Coastal Track being more of a three day hike adventure. I met many people actually caring their big packs and trekking the whole way, I unfortunately didn't have the time this time around, but still really enjoyed the one day I spend on the trail.
It was a beautiful day with blue skies and the sun was up and shining.
After a lazy day in Motueka preparing everything for my move and my job down in Murchison, I spent my 'last day of freedom' in a kayak going around the able tasman for another day. Unlike the first day, this time the weather wasn't quite as great but it was still a lot of fun Kayaking and turns out my kayak guide from Canada actually used to work for someone I also know from my time back in Nova Scotia a couple of years ago. It's a small world being a backpacker, isn't it?
Anyways, me and four others spend the morning paddling around split apple rock and took some time exploring the beaches around, unfortunately my GoPro only made it about half of the way before falling of my west and drowning in the clear blue waters. Even paddling around for a while and thinking about jumping right after it I couldn't find it anymore, so there's only one image of the kayak tour taken with my phone (which isn't that great either since it's a cheap NZ phone after my Samsung broke down back in January).
On the upside though, one of my kayak companions actually planned to drive straight from the park down towards the west coast and I ended up scoring a free ride all the way to Murchi after our kayak adventures.
I made it! After night with little sleep spent on the ferry I arrived in Picton bright and early in the morning and was greeted by a cloudy sky and heavy rain. Luckily my hostel and therefore tent side was only about 100m walk from the ferry terminal and due to the rain I din't mind just hanging out in their very comfy lounge for the greater part of the morning. By the time I was allowed to pitch my tent all the showers had past and the sun actually made an appearance for the rest of the day.
Picton itself is a small town with a couple of hiking and biking trails around.
A handful of tour companies also offer excursions all around the Marlborough Sounds and across to the starting points of the Queen Victoria Trail, one can go on dolphin tours, biking, wine tasting or just explore the small town and the harbour and museum.
Since this was my last week before starting my job a little further south from here, I actually went on a dolphin viewing and swimming tour and we were all dressed up and wearing our wet suits for about 4 hours on the boat while we toured the sounds. The weather was great, it was nice and sunny with just a view clouds and a little bit of wind. Unfortunately we couldn't find a single dolphin or really anything in the waters all morning and were all a little disappointed when we returned to the shore. Still it was nice to see the landscape and the sounds from the water and spend some time on the boat and hopefully I will end up seeing some dolphins somewhere else.
The afternoon I hiked around the coast and along a few of the trails all the way to the land tip out of town, before returning to the hostel and making some plans for my last stop on the south island before starting to work… Abel Tasman National Park.
After saying Goodbye to Jenn in Napier, I made my way once across the North Island and put my tent up in New Plymouth, a town on the west coast with that famous picture perfect mountain looming in the distance at the centre of Mt Egmont National Park, no surprisee the volcano is called Mount Egmont or Mount Taranaki and with over 2500m it's the second highest mountain in the North Island and last erupted 1854 so quite a few years back.
I spent three days in and around town, hiring a bicycle and cycling up and down the coastal path for about 30 km the first day, before heading out to climb the famous mountain the next morning. Luckily, I met some nice people with a car at my hostel and got a free ride to the National Park. So at 6:30 the next morning we left town and set off to conquer the mountain. With the trail only being a little over 6 km long one-way, but an elevation gain of 1.6 km over this the trek starts fairly easy before turning really steep from the half way mark on.
Moving across millions of stairs onto slippery soft sand and than scrambling up rocks before crossing the snow covered crater had me and everyone else stopping for short breaks on a regular basis. Than the final stretch goes up the side of the snowy field across lava rocks of every colour before final hitng the top! The total climb took about 4 hours including stops and a lot of chatting to other hikers I met on the trail. Along the way the the clouds slowly started crawling in and by the time I reached the top, unfortunately the view was gone and the peak was somewhere covered in a cloud.
I still think the climb up was worth it, I managed to take some nice photos along the way up and actually really enjoyed the final stretch rock climbing up to the top. Almost harder than the way up, was the way back down again, that had me fall over and slide down big parts of the sandy slope (definitely the worst part of the entire track!) After another three hours of constant down hill adventuring (with the distance now actually feeling twice as far as on the way up) I met up with the rest of my hostel gang at the bottom again, before slowly heading back to town almost crawling from my tent to the shower and lounge for the rest of the evening.
My final day in New Plymouth, I really slowly made my way to the art gallery (FREE!) definitely feeling my previous days adventure with every step I took. Checking my audience at the gallery, I tried to avoid stairs as much as possible (esp. going down) but otherwise enjoyed my time at the gallery. After taking advantage of the free wifi at the library to make final arrangements for my journey over to the south island, I spent the evening hanging out with fun people at the hostel before getting a ride with some of them up to Whanganui on my way to Wellington the next day.
Still recovering from my mountain hike, I arrived in Wellington in the late afternoon hours and got a ticket for the overnight ferry to Picton leaving that night.
Which is how I slowly had to say 'Goodbye' to the North Island after almost two months of amazing adventures all around. I'm sure to be back at some point this year, but for now it's time to hit the South!
After our short stay in windy wellington we decided to make a move further up north again and spent the past few days before Jenn was travelling back home, in sunny Napier. Napier is a small city of about 15,000 people right on Hawke's Bay in between vineyards and orchards with plenty of jobs in pack houses and fruit picking out around town. Now we both don't really drink wine, but Napier is also known as the Australia of New Zealand, always sunny and hot - so just want we were looking for. Leaving Wellington a little late after lunch we managed to get a ride from the suburbs all the way to Napier. The four hour drive went by fast and we were chasing about music, travelling and stuff to do around Napier.
By the time we actually arrived in town that night, unfortunately all affordable accommodation was fully booked due to the long weekend and many Kiwis spending their holidays up around the Bay. This is how we ended up camping put in the backyard of Damons house were we spent the next couple of nights and got to meet his lovely family of three kids and his wife Andrea, who even drove us all the way over to Te Mata Peak the next evening so we could see the sunset from the top.
The views from up there were simply amazing, seeing across the hills and the ocean and all the way down and back to town. The sun was slowly going down and a couple of actually took off from the top flying around and enjoying the view - definitely the best seat in the house!
Our days Jenn and I spend wandering around town drinking coffee and Chai Tea, doing some shopping and looking at all the buildings around the city centre, that were actually rebuilt in an art deco style after the 1931 earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale and killing 256 people in the region. In terms of loss of life, it remains the worst civil disaster to have occurred in New Zealand.
The CBD is a bustling place, with many boutique fashion stores, galleries, restaurants and bars, which we also check out one of the nights we spent in town.
After three days in town, it was time to say Goodbye to Jenn on Tuesday morning, since she had to get back up to Auckland to fly home again. Dropping her of at the bus stop and driving Ra's (Damon's oldest son) car back home, I now have way too much space in our tent and am actually back to solo travelling after a month of constantly having someone else with me for all the great adventures. Have a save flight home, Jenn!
A day later, I also said Goodbye to Napier and a lovely family that had us stay with them for a couple of nights, taking us on day trips, and offering their home to us.
Thank you so much for everything. We couldn't have found a better place to stay in Napier and hopefully we'll meet again.
Now I'm off to my last stop on the North Island - New Plymouth.
One of our final stops on the North Island before Jenn had to return home was Wellington. Now, I heard news before that the NZ capital was supposed to be quite windy, but boy, we must have picked the worst possible weekend to stop by. The wind was blowing unlike anything I'd seen in NZ so far, it was cold and raining two out of the three days we spent in town. To top it all, due to a Guns'n'Roses concert at the stadium all affordable accommodation in town was completely booked out, so we had no choice but to pitch our tent in a hostel's backyard and hope it wouldn't be blown or washed away by morning. Luckily this kind of worked out, we didn't't have the best or most sleep but at least made it somewhat dry through the night ready to explore the city the next morning.
The rainy day we spent around Cuba Street, kind of like Wellington's super hip, alternative and funky Cafe and Shopping area. With plenty of second-hand and vintage stores around there's tons to explore before taking a break in one of the equally trendy independent coffee shops (to quote Jenn:" We can't go in there, I'm not dressed for this!" - while wearing dirty hiking boots and backpacker attire)!
We had great fun people watching and strolling through the small shops around town before making it down to the museum (FREE!) for the afternoon. Te Paka is probably the most well-known museum in NZ and perfect for a rainy day in Wellington. It has a large exhibition on ANZAC day with giant sculptures looking beyond realistic and an earthquake simulator - which we obviously needed to check out. There's art exhibitions, Maori history and Natural history parts to explore and one can definitely spent a whole day or two inside the museum.
Finally on a sunny day (the only one), Jenn went to West Cave to check out some LOTR tours while I hiked up to the Mount Victoria lookout and strolled around the park just a few minutes from downtown. After lunch we met up and went for a walk along the waterfront before passing the Beehive (the parliament building that just happens to look like a bee hive) before making our way to NZ first and only free-food store to stock up on real bread and some other baked goodies for free.
After three days, we left the windy city and decided to spent the final days of Jenn's visit somewhere nice, warm and sunny => in NZ this place is called NAPIER!
And sometimes words just aren't enough.
Describing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is definitely one of those rare occasions.
High up in the mountains passing in between summits and after hours of climbing up you find yourself high high above the ground, villages, cars and life itself seems unimportant and insignificant when put in perspective from up here. And as we slowly pass across the peak we are confronted with a breathtaking view across emerald mountain lakes and a very steep hillside with a pretty deep drop down on either side - daydreaming and thinking deep thoughts, this definitely got me back to earth and paying attention since I really didn't like the idea of sliding down the side of the hill.
After our short stopover in Taupo, Jenn and I continued our journey further south, this time setting our tent up in a tiny village called National Park (seriously this is the name!). Staying for three nights our main reason to come to this village were the shop ( which is actually the gas station) closes at 6 and all of three coffee shops and restaurants can be found. Apart from this there are plenty of hiking and mountain bike treks in the area but really the big thing to do while in town is the day trip to do the Apine Crossing. Rated as the best day hike in New Zealand, Jenn's slight obsession with Lord of the Rings and the hobbit was really the main reason why we had to go (and maybe also because I really felt like climbing a mountain). Still the path crosses through the landscapes filmed as Mordor and while hiking we actually passed right passed Mt. Doom or Mount Ngauruhoe which is the actual name of the volcano now as the destination of Frodo, Sam and of course the Ring to be destroyed. Well we passed by the mountain side and since we didn't carry a ring anyways decided not to do the additional 3 hour hike up to the top - which is also strongly advised against since a lot of loose gravel slights down the steep sides of the volcano often hitting hikers in the process.
The entire crossing trail of 20km took us about 5 hours to complete, so roughly the same amount of time it took us just to walk to the gas station and coffee store the next day.
The hike itself is free, the path is clearly marked and with hundreds of other hikers surrounding you it's pretty unlikely to get lost. Ordering a shuttle to drop you of at the start early in the morning and the pick you of at the other end later in the day also seems to be the easiest way to do the hike.
We had an amazing day out there, with breathtaking views and surrounded by amazing scenery. It was definitely one of my NZ highlights so far and totally recommend doing it - the view is sooo worth the hike.
In Taupo we stayed on a free!!! campground only about 2 km walk from Huka Falls and about 20 minutes walk into town. We actually only mend this to be a cheap overnight stop on our way further south, but Taupo turned out to be one of my highlights of the North Island. The campground (Reid's Farm) is located right on the river that leads up to the falls and the beautiful turquoise wateris perfect for a quick dip before going on the hike to the Falls. From the falls, I decided to go for a hike back all the way along the river to Taupo and then through town to the other side and back to the campground, while Jenn went for a swim in the river (after detouring through the forest for about one hour).
The hike along the river was beautiful with great views across the river and over to the campground. Than walking through Taupo I only saw a little part of the town before crossing the bridge (the only bridge next to the foot bridge up at the falls) to make my way back to our campside for the night.
Haveing a nice chat with our neighbours and some other campers I was relieved to be back out of town and living in my tent. Next stop: National Park Village at Tongariro National Park!
On our way down and across the North Island Jenn and I decided to spent a few days around Rotorua to check out the thermal pools and for Jenn to go to see some real Kiwis. Afterall seeing a Kiwi was one of about three things on her list to do in New Zealand, and after successfully seeing a waterfall and spending days on the beach, I had to make sure we'd cross this one of the list as well.
After weeks of camping we actually decided to spent some time in a realy hostel for a change, why the hell we decided to do that is completely beyond me and I can say that so far this has been the only hostel dorm I stayed in and honestly prefer my tent by far. In Rotorua the hostel itself was in a nice central location, but loud snoring all night and mattresses way too soft, made me look forward to our next camping location.
The town of Rotorua was actually quite big and even though it looks like a small town (hardly any multi-storey buildings anywhere in New Zealand) you can spend hours exploring the parks and walk along the lake or to see the thermal pools. Although interesting to see, the smell all around town due to all the geothermal pools is really something to get used to.
Undoubtedly the highlight of our days around Rotorua were the weekly nightmarket along the main street with soo much food to choose from. Food trucks were lining up all down the street all selling food from different countries so one could choose anything from mexican to vietnamese, and french to indonesian (gotta say though - $12!! for Nasi Goreng is way too expensive - god, how I miss Baliprices). After a quick stop at the pub and some souvenir shopping around time, we actually left Rotorua to move a few hours further South to Taupo for one night before moving on to Tongariro.
Meeting up with Jenn in Red Beach we stayed for a couple of nights at a campground and pretty much spend the first full day hanging out in our thankfully waterproof tent watching movies and waiting for the storm to pass.
Red Beach is a tiny part of town close to Orewa but still within the area borders of Auckland. It has a couple of stores and supermarkets a well as countless hotels and campgrounds (some of them ridiculously expensive!). On a good day, one can spend the days at the beach and walk around or go for a short hike in the surrounding country side. We watched the waves, bought strawberries on sale and strolled along the waterfront enjoying the sun and blue skies after the rain passed.
From Red Beach we got a ride further out of town and ended up meeting Kim on the side of the road. Kim is a lovely Kiwi Lady originally from the east coast. Turned out she had plans to spend her weekend in her holiday cottage up north - shortly after so did we!
Kim invited us to stay up in coopers beach with her, and she even took us on short day excursions and stopped multiple times along the way to show us all the main sights. Since she used to work in a tourist information centre up North, she also new all about the bus companies to take for the final stretch up to Cape Reigna.
Since Jenn was fighting a cold over the weekend, I went into town and god us the tickets before visiting Mantai Bay and going for a bit of a hike around Coopers Beach and the surrounding bushes.
Sunday, the two of us went on the all day tour and we drove all along the 90 mile beach, literally driving up on the beach for over an hour of the journey. We stopped for photos, and then for our first activity of the day - sand boarding!
Taking boogie boards down the sand dunes all around Te Paki is an absolute must-do if you're planning to drive up to Cape Reigna. Surfing down the hills is so much fun and really the hardest part is hiking up to the top before flopping down on your board and dashing down the steep end of the hill only stopping when you hit the small stream at the bottom. The first three rounds, I was doing really well, but of course the final lap, trying to smile for the camera, I crashed and ended up next to my board in the water ( and really covered in sand from head to toe) instead of on my board. Still a lot of fun and would totally do it again!
After our surfing adventures, we went back on the bus, now covered in sand and drove the remaining distance to the Cape. When talking to Kiwis, most don't really understand why so many tourists want to go all this way just to see a lighthouse - but there's just something specical about standing at the top of a mountain overlooking the ocean and knowing there's nothing out there for miles and miles and miles. Watching the two oceans meet and walking down the walkway knowing the special meaning of this place for the Maori, makes it something people should do if they have the time while in New Zealand.
For the Maori, the cape is a sacred place, they belief that the spirits of their deceased depart this world from the Cape, diving deep down into the ocean and then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the islands and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui.
The Cape and the lighthouse is Standing at an impressive 10m in height and 165m above sea level, it is one of New Zealand’s iconic landmarks.
Jenn and I walked all the way down the path and then slowly back up after taking pictures of the sign post pointing all directions indicating that in fact we are a lot closer to western Canada (12000km) atm then home (18000 km).
After a fantastic day out we arrived back at Kim's in Coopers Beach in the later afternoon and quickly packed our bags before leaving the holiday cottage. Kim dropped us off further down South in Pahia at the campground, before driving home herself.
In Pahia, we spend two final nights up North enjoying the sea views and heat before continuing our adventures, this time heading South.