I had always said I wanted to be in New Zealand for my 24th birthday, so that’s just what I did. I had spent my 22nd birthday with the same kiwi girls in the middle of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan so only suiting that I was with them for my birthday. I found some cheap flights and was off, first stop Auckland.
As I flew in late at night, my friend’s boyfriend pick me up and took me back to their place. Once there I jumped on my friend, Terese, who was in bed (school teacher!).
I walked around and checked out the city of Auckland before meeting my mate after school. We met up with another of our friends, Amanda, and sat having a few drinks ‘just like old times’. It was so good to catch up with these girls. We went out for a yummy dinner and the day was over – I was well happy.
The next friend who I met up with was someone who I met whilst living with the Masai tribe in Kenya. Holly picked me up from Auckland and we drove to the Coromandel Peninsular. We walked down to the beautiful Cathedral Cove and stayed in her family’s bach (holiday home) in Whangamata.
As the sun was setting we walked out to Hot Water Beach for the extremely hot water bubbling to the surface and crowds of backpackers drinking and hanging in the hot pools they had dug for themselves. Yummy fish and chips for dinner!
We spent the next day riding bikes around the town and checking out some cool areas before heading to Tauranga where Holly’s Mum lived (who I also met in Kenya) and was great to catch up together. Holly took me for a drive around Tauranga and the amazing Mount Muangani from the blow hole.
We all went white water rafting as a surprise present for Judy’s birthday which was great fun. Holly and I spent the afternoon walking up the Mount and then all the way around the bottom as the sun was setting – amazing!
After a couple of days with lots of local food and drink we headed to Rotorua. This town is known for its ‘smelliness’ and you understood why once you drove in. The thermal mud springs had quite the stench and you would see the steam coming out of drains and all.
We really wanted to walk the Tongariro Crossing but the weather conditions did not allow. Instead, we checked out things such as the Huka Falls (the falls can fill up five Olympic sized swimming pools in one minute!) and spent an afternoon hanging in the hot springs of Wakite – amazing!
I said goodbye to Holly in Taupo and went to Wellington by myself while she headed back to Tauranga.
I didn’t have long in Wellington as I caught the ferry early the next morning to Picton on the South Island. This ferry ride was incredible coming into Picton amongst the mountains.
I got to Motueka and sorted myself out for a walk through Abel Tasman National Park the following day. The walk was stunning and so much greenery and ferns everywhere. It was beautiful and so peaceful. I blitzed the walk doing it in roughly five hours whereas most people do it in seven! This also included stops for lunch and many stops for photos. I walked one-way from Marahau (start of the NP) to Bark Bay and then caught the ferry back to Marahau.
Back at the hostel I had a well-deserved hot shower and cooked dinner to sit on the couch and talk to others staying at the hostel. A perfect night of a few beers and chit chat with people from all over the world.
The bus trip to Christchurch was also stunning, especially along the East Coast. We had a break at Kaikoura which was beautiful and saw a massive amount of seals on the water’s edge.
One of my friends (Terese and Amanda’s housemate in London, Mike), picked me up and took me around, what was left, of Christchurch before our road trip around the South Island.
On the way to Queenstown, we stopped off at Lake Tekapo which was absolutely breathtaking!! The stillness of this lake and the mountains in the background was beautiful.
Queenstown was also stunning and had the great ‘alpine ski-resort’ feel about it. We went to the, well-known and a must-do, Fergburger, for one of the best burgers I have ever had! We even went to Fergbakery the next morning for breakfast and managed to wave hello to the British Royals who drove past.
We were walking the Routeburn track from Glenorchy, so set off in the afternoon for a couple of hours’ walk to camp. We set up camp and had dinner before joining a group of people for a few games of cards by candlelight. Such a great view with snow-capped mountains in the distance.
We could hardly see Lake McKenzie when we walked to the shelter at Harris Saddle. We climbed up Conicle Hill and then turned around to go back down the mountain as the weather was just not good enough to continue on. Back to camp and decided, as it was still drizzling and everything was wet, to pack up and head back to Queenstown for a proper bed.
After a huuuuuuge day of walking, I was buggered. A well-deserved Fergburger for dinner and I curled up on a couch at the hostel watching a movie with a few people.
We did a boat trip on Milford Sounds which was incredible, I felt so small going through the massive fjord.
We spent a couple of nights at Lake TeAnu going for a few day walks (including the Kepler track) and then onto Wanaka for an ‘air show’. We went via Arrowtown which was quite nice.
We camped out at Lake Hawae before pushing on to check out Fox Glacier on the West Coast of the South Island. Again, it was raining a fair bit so the visibility wasn’t great but we went for a walk to the glacier and had to jump over a few streams.
Greymouth was our next stop after slowly slowly making our way up the coast to the pancake rocks of Punakaiki!! Still raining but was cool to check out.
Our final drive back to Christchurch was through the stunning Arthur’s Pass. This road had some extremely steep roads but it made for some stunning views up the top and we stopped off at Castle Hill where the sun was shining!
Back in Christchurch we drove around for the afternoon to a few different parts of the town (Mike had just arrived back from London so was still yet to check out a few places). Fish and chips in Brighton for my last meal and then an early-morning flight back to Adelaide via Auckland.