Monthly Archives: December 2014

Our Journey South

The next stop on our trip was a visit to Napier and the region of Hawke’s Bay. Part of our time here involved visits to wineries, but I want to do a separate post about all of the wineries/wine regions we’ve visited in NZ, so I will just talk about everything else we did for now.

We drove to Napier via a route referred to as the “Gentle Annie” but officially known as the Taihape-Napier Road (taking the 41 to the 1 and then turning off just about 15 Kilometers past Waioru). There is a sign indicating that this road goes to Napier, but there isn’t much of a warning and could be easily missed.

This drive turned out to be incredibly beautiful…from pretty grassland over rolling hills to canyons and mountains with a fading view of the Tongariro National Park behind you.

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The Journey Through Mordor

You all know that famous saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, for this post I am going to let the pictures tell the story because no matter how much I can say about how amazing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was, words just won’t do it justice. This hike is regarded as one of the best day hikes in New Zealand, and it certainly lived up to its reputation for us. Enjoy!

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Geothermal Wonderland

T and I said good-bye to our cozy cabin in Coromandel and hit the road to Rotorua along the east coast of the peninsula.

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We stopped in Tairua for a quick coffee and ended up finding the town quite pleasant with beautiful views of the bay and coastline. I would say this is a better spot to visit than Coromandel town if you’re looking for another town on the peninsula to visit.

After getting coffee, continued on to the Karangahake Gorge Road, which is known to be one of the prettiest short drives in the country, and it did not disappoint. It’s incredibly worthwhile to take this route, and leave a bit of time to do some of the walks through the gorge area.

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Coromandel Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula is a must-see spot on the North Island. Whether you want to go for a pretty drive, a short walk, a long day hike, relax on the beach, snorkel, swim, kayak, paddle board, sail, enjoy a coffee with a view of a pretty harbor, taste fresh mussels, or sit in a hot, self-made jacuzzi on Hot Water Beach, this area really has something for everyone.

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Road Warriors

The following morning we woke up to the sound of rain outside. Originally, we had plans to kayak, but instead we opted for a warm Cappuccino. We walked down the street to El Cafe, a little South American inspired cafe, to have breakfast and take advantage of the free and fast wifi. We were pleasantly surprised by the delicious coffee and breakfast.

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Fueled up, we set out on our long day of driving to the Coromandel Peninsula via the opposite side of the island, as we wanted to check out the west coast and take a different route from how we traveled to the Bay of Islands.

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Keep Left!

For our first morning in NZ, we decided to cook breakfast at the hostel to save a little money. I’d say we put together a pretty tasty spread!

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After breakfast, we hopped on a bus across town to pick up our rental car. We got a pretty good rate with Jucy, so we booked through them. They ended up upgrading the car for free to a newer model car (and it uses diesel, equaling fantastic gas savings!), but they didn’t have any GPS units left. Since we don’t have much of a data plan, we found out we could get a GPS at the I-site by the harbor before heading out of town, which ended up saving us a bit of money as well. Good thing it was relatively close by and didn’t involve too many turns because it is incredibly anti-intuitive to drive on the left side of the road. Basically, we think we are always doing something wrong. In the city, it felt a bit like Toad’s Turnpike level in MarioKart. However, with my navigation skills and T’s driving skills, our first attempt at driving on the left side of the road was a success, and so was our mission to get a GPS. Prepared, we set out on our road trip to the Northland, trying to stay on the correct side of the road.

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