I woke up to my final day in New Zealand on Great Barrier Island (a serenely beautiful place but very far from civilisation and an airport. I did have a slight doubt about the ferry and if it were not to arrive I would definitely miss my flight home). We hitch hiked to a village near the ferry terminal where we rented kayaks for a couple of hours to pass the time and soak up the scenery of the Island. Fortunately the ferry did arrive (although 30 minutes late) and a long 4.5 hour ferry ride back to Auckland followed. There were however, huge bottle nose dolphins which swam alongside the boat for some time which was quite amazing. I ate some proper food in Auckland before going to the bus stop where I briefly skyped my ‘kiwi’ family. Unfortunately the bus came and I had to leave them to go to the airport. 24 hours worth of flying ahead and a nice little time change to go with it. This is the worst part of my travels so far – leaving NZ for the Uk.
After a day of travelling I am finally home! I have had the best two months of my life and I will definitely be returning to New Zealand.
After a cosy sleep in the camper van and an early 6 15 wake up, Antoine and I walked to the ferry terminal to see if there was any space on the boat as we knew it was fully booked (the earlier we were there, the more chance we had). Our friend Mathieu was waiting for us on Great Barrier island (a remote island 4.5 hours away from Auckland with only 800 residents) and had left his job for a few days to explore the island with us. We thought we were going to have to spend another mundane few days in the boring city of Auckland however 5 minutes before the ferry was due to leave they kindly let us on. The ferry was long and slow although we did catch glimpses of whales. We arrived at the Island to find Mathieu holding a taxi sign saying Antoine and Toby. We had a map, some food and a backpack and somehow had to find our way to a campsite which was 20 odd kilometres north. The locals are extremely friendly and so we managed to hitch hike to a local town before going on an arduous 4 hour trek up and around a mountain. Great Barrier Island is in fact beautiful; we were the only ones on the trek and it felt as if we were the only ones on the Island. We arrived at the campsite at 8 o clock where there was a tap and a toilet and no other people. We washed ourselves in the cold Pacific Ocean before cooking some pasta over a tiny gas cooker which eventually ran out of gas meaning we ate the pasta raw. Sleeping on rough ground as well tonight as I have no sleeping bag or small roll out mattress. A great day and trek nonetheless. We are really in the middle of nowhere.
I did in fact manage to sleep relatively well last night considering I was sleeping on grass, although it was a bit cold without a sleeping bag. We left the charming little campsite at 9 o clock to pick up some rental bikes which we would go around the Island with. The bikes were not in good condition at all but we are in the middle of nowhere and so thought they would hold up for one day. We did not know what we were getting ourselves into when we courageously picked out some of the hardest trails on the Island from our a4 map. I have to admit that Antoine and Mathieu are super fit and were shooting up the ascents; It was tough to keep up all the time. After a couple of hours of serious, serious mountain biking we dumped the bikes and headed off a track which we thought would be not too long and lead us to a suspension bridge. In fact we had taken a wrong turning (which we later found out) and hiked up an extremely steep mountain until an hour later we reached a different suspension bridge (but one nonetheless). After retracing our steps and finding our bikes we continued ascending. However, Antoine’s old, rusted bike decided to break soon after and so without phone reception we were a bit stuck. We managed to walk/cycle to the nearest village where we rang the boss who fortunately picked us up and dropped us off at our new campsite. I was secretly very glad the bike had broken as my legs could not have taken me much further. As our cooker is broken we ate plain bread and canned spaghetti for dinner which was not very nourishing. This campsite on the other hand has a shower albeit cold so I jumped at the opportunity to have a proper wash. My last night sleeping on the rock hard ground. I can’t wait for a bed.
After solidly travelling all around new zealand for the past month, today was the first day in which i did nothing. Travelling is very tiring due to many reasons so it was nice to be able to relax and enjoy a bit of quiet. Although it did feel quite strange as i have been sharing a room with 7 good friends for the past 4 weeks. I felt obliged to watch lord of the rings since i am in NZ and so that was all i accomplished today. More of the same tomorrow i think.
Another relaxed day in Mount Maunganui with Jo and her two little maniacal kids. I feel i am now slowly starting to recover from two months of full on travelling. In the afternoon i went to see two friends who live in the south of France and who are kiwi fruit picking near to the Mount. We had a drink and a catch up on the other side of the globe which was really nice. Jo then picked me up and we went to have dinner at her parents house. We ate crayfish for dinner which felt far too tasty for something a backpacker should be eating.
We left the wonderful city of Queenstown early morning en route to Christchurch. This is the longest bus journey of the entire trip. We left at 8 and arrived at 4 30 with very few stops in between. The drive was in fact quite spectacular due to the incredible scenery in the South Island. Christchurch is still in a poor state after the devastating 2011 earthquake. There are abandoned buildings and scaffolding everywhere. There is virtually no city centre and very few shops. It is quite a depressing city.
After an incredible few weeks travelling with my ‘kiwi family’ I said goodbye to them this evening as I headed to the airport to spend my night before a 7 am flight to Rotorua to stay with Jo (who I stayed with right at the beginning of my trip before starting the bus tour). Emotions have yet to kick in but I’m sure they will very soon. People are what make experiences great.
I managed to get a full 3 hours of sleep last night in the comfortable airport of Christchurch. Bustling with energy I took a tiny plane to Rotorua then a bus up to Mount Maunganui to meet Jo. I am now back in the north island and on the home stretch.
Another stunning day in the adrenalin junkie town of Queenstown. Dan and I decided to do a jet boat ride which was overpriced but good fun. The jet boat goes up to 80kph and does 360 degree spins in 10cm of water. The ride didn’t quite live up to the Bungy or Canyon Swing but was an experience nonetheless. We went to get a burger after from a restaurant called Fergburger which makes the best burgers in the world. I relaxed on the waterfront for a few hours reading my book before having another round of 18 holes on the frisbee golf course. Everyone showed a lot of improvement since the last game with birdies on a few of the holes. If only proper golf was that easy.
We had a nice lie in this morning after quite a big night out in Queenstown. I sauntered down to the lake to finish my book this morning eventually falling asleep under the new zealand sun. At 2 o’clock my Canadian friend Sinead had booked her Canyon Swing and i went along to watch her and if there was a space open on her trip i would do a jump. Fortunately there was space and so the fear and nerves started to kick in again. I chose to do the ‘chair’ from the 70+ jumps which is where you sit on a plastic chair and they push you off the cliff backwards. 3rd time round and the canyon swing was just as thrilling!! Unfortunately tonight is our last night in Queenstown (it has been one of my favourite places in my 2 months of travelling). I don’t think i will ever experience the adrenalin i experienced this week. Back to reality and the casual, safe english sports like tennis. How boring.