Following my ‘final’ meeting with my lovely Canadian couple I went on an epic journey to save the world by taking on the evil Sauron!
Ok I had no such quest but I was in the real life home of all those things…New Zealand! It was a pretty long flight so arriving quite tired and automatically being able to navigate my way around due to there being no language barrier was a welcome comfort. I headed straight in to Auckland to find my hostel, kindly warned about an oncoming cyclone (which failed to appear). Not too much to say about Auckland, it’s a city, lots of nice food and coffees, too expensive (but I guess still a little less than London given the quality of produce) but also a lot calmer and quieter than most cities I’ve been to.
My first stop during my very brief stay was in Paihia in the north. It’s a teeny little place but does get a lot of tourism. It seems to offer quite a lot within the local vicinity which is why it’s a good base of operations. Just walking around the weather was pretty perfect for me. Some clouds, nice and sunny, not too hot, a pleasant sea breeze. You could imagine it being a lot hotter in the summer though.
I planned to do quite a lot here but ended up somehow smashing my knee. No idea what I did but it became incredibly painful. Due to this I didn’t get to do a cycle between the 2 coasts which was gonna be fun (saved me $140 though) still it was nice just to relax. This happened when I went for a little hike around the coast, followed by a climb up to a little viewpoint.
Next stop, after a very long bus ride, was Turangi. I actually arrived at about 3am and my hostel happened to be open with no one at the front desk. I decided to plop myself on the couch and watch some movies on my phone. Didn’t last too long and I just fell asleep with a cat on top of me. The owner woke me up and said I could go to my bed even though I was very early and then I spent the day catching up on sleep.
The owner was keen to encourage people to communicate and collaborate on their trips as most people were there for the same reason, to conquer Mount Doom (or just the Tongariro Crossing). This saved me more money as I ended up joining a crew of Germans (a dentist, doctor and teacher) and a Welsh lass who’d just finished her PHD. I felt very safe and slightly inadequate. The crossing itself is actually really manageable, my knee gave out halfway through though (I’m assuming I hadn’t rested it enough) which made it take a lot longer. Especially if you choose not to scale Mount Doom it’s pretty simple. A little strenuous at points but mostly a pleasant long walk.
Mount Doom being the highest point was something I really wanted to do. That, AND it’s Mount Doom. Scaling up was pretty fun and slippy and points but nowhere near as fun as skiing down perilously on your shoes. Probably very unsafe but it took a lot of stress of my knee so I was happy to risk it.
The rest of the hike was pretty frustrating after my knee had given out but we kept on going and it was a good excuse to buy pizza and gorge myself when I got back to the hostel. Almost won a game of Monopoly (we decided to draw) which was a new experience. The Hobbit version of Monopoly I’m fairly sure is saying slavery is alright as you trade in hobbits and you don’t buy properties you buy characters so it was questionable if winning was a good thing.
After Turangi I went up to Rotorua to indulge in the Polynesian Spa. Basically just a bunch of hot water with different mineral contents that supposedly helps your muscles or makes you beautiful. I can’t speak on the effects as I just find it is generally relaxing to sit in hot pools and I’m already beautiful so that’s impossible to gauge.
That was all I did there really apart from learn a new card game with a very fun bunch of Brazilians at that hostel. Didn’t win any of the games but I understood it at least so that’s progress.
The last destination was Auckland again as that’s where I was flying out of. Really did nothing except have some very interesting (and bizarre) conversations with some fellow brits both nights and just generally having a chillaxed time.
Next stop is to cross the pacific ocean and head to Chile and South America!