I still cannot quite believe that I’m writing this from the other side of the world; New Zealand.
I’ve kindly been brought along by my parents to visit my brother who is living out in Tongariro.
We are spending three weeks out here so we will be enjoying a New Zealand Christmas — although any festive vibes have instantly been melted away by the hot weather … it feels weird seeing Christmas trees in mid-20 degree heat.
Having never flown for more than 4 hours, a full 24 hour day of travelling and two long haul flights was quite the experience.
If you’ve read some of my previous blogs about my anxiety and struggling with the claustrophobia of busy airports and boarding the plane, then you’ll know that I was ‘code browning it’ to put it in a polite way.
I had a few minor wobbles, but ultimately the flying experience was pretty smooth (minus the turbulence that meant I just missed out on a cuppa tea).
We flew with Malaysian airways and changed flights at Kula lumpur. I had minimal sleep, was very baffled by the aeroplane food, but watched a couple of films including my comfort film Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone.
Anyways, enough about the flight… that’s the boring bit! I’m in New Zealand!
We arrived in Auckland and were instantly hit by the heat. I very rapidly delayered from the clothes I had put on in the -2 degree weather we had at home when we left. That reminds me, I forgot to say, they had to defrost the plane in England before we could take off!
My brother Rich picked us up and drove three dazed and jet lagged Purvis’ through to Auckland CBD to our hotel, before sensibly taking us out on a walk to the waterfront to keep us awake. We had dinner, and just about managed to avoid dozing off onto our plates of food!!
After some solid sleep, we got up and ended up walking 23km around Auckland as we explored the city.
We took in the local parks – I love how green the city is with parks and pot plants dotted around everywhere – and then headed up to Auckland Museum.
I was super stocked to visit the museum knowing it had a volcano exhibit. The inner GCSE geography student in me was buzzing. It even had an earthquake simulator— so cool! Other notable exhibits were the Mãuri stories, New Zealand at war, and the T-Rex’s skeletons of Peter and Barbara.
After the excitement of the museum, we went for a walk to Mount Eden, a dormant volcano. The views of the city from up here were amazing. You really don’t have to walk far to find somewhere green in the city, it’s amazing.
For some even higher up views, we then walked back into the city and took the elevator up to the 60th floor of The Sky Tower. I’m still quite shocked by how rapid the elevator was, it took basically no time at all to be able to look over Auckland CBD. I was even slightly brave and walked over the glass patches on the floor that look straight down at the 328 meters below.
After walking 23km in a skirt, I was quite gutted I didn’t have my trusty chub rub for my thighs…. Lesson learnt. Despite the rub, it was great to be able to explore by foot, which is probably just as well as I think if we had sat down on a bus or train we might have fallen asleep from the jet lag!
For anyone wondering, and knowing me as their pastey pale ginger friend, it was on this first full day in New Zealand that I got my first – and probably not the last – bit of sunburn.
To the Bay of islands:
Man the Bay of Islands is beautiful! It’s on the east coast of the North Island and is absolutely stunning. It offered the New Zealand views I was expecting and missing whilst in Auckland.
On the journey up here we stopped for a walk around Mangawhai. The sea was stormy, incredibly choppy, and impressively powerful. We got some pretty cool views through the sea mist, although we did take a very muddy path up the cliff to get to see them. It made an enjoyable walk – or should I say slide – back down which I did barefoot as my sandals had ZERO grip. Apparently in New Zealand this is called “getting your dogs out” and it’s not a rude euphemism.
We took in a few shops at Wangarei to get some supplies, including a food shop in Pak’nSave which was quite the experience. It’s like a massive warehouse but a supermarket— rather overwhelming on your first visit. I made sure to get some Whitaker’s Choccie whilst we were here: delish.
To get to our accommodation for the next 2 nights we took a ferry from Opua to Okiato then drove up through Russell to Whangaroa.
Once settled in we cooked some dinner and hid from the rain.
Exploring the Bay of Islands:
With only a couple of days here, we jam packed our day full of trips.
We started the day with a cultural experience at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It was fascinating learning about the Mãuri culture, the treaty between New Zealand and England, and watching a cultural experience of a Mãuri greeting and music.
It was really interesting seeing the differences in the way the land is viewed as something we use and respect, rather than something we own. It’s certainly a value that resonated with me.
From here we had a quick drive to have a picnic lunch at Haruru waterfall. I had hoped to have a swim here, but I couldn’t see a safe way in and out of the water so made the family promise a sea swim for later in the day.
We then went for an ice cream in the coastal town Paihia. Although the views are totally different and superior, it felt like we were sat in a Cornish town enjoying the sunshine a pottering around gift shops.
After having driven through it a couple of times and remarking on how beautiful the town is, we had a wander around Russell. I was obsessed with the beautiful purple trees which were particularly prominent here.
Finally, I got my swim! This was back at the beach near our accommodation with some great views of Tapeka Point. Although feeling initially cold, it didn’t take long to become accustomed to the water and we thoroughly enjoyed bobbing around in the pacific ocean.
After eating a homemade curry, we then had a sunset walk along the same beach and listened to the local birdsong. There was also a tyre swing which we had a brief childish moment on.
Back South (to the Coromandel):
This was quite a long journey so we broke it up with regular stops.
Knowing that we were gonna spend most of the day on our bottoms in the car, Rich and I went for a pre-breakfast run which involved a fair amount of walking due to the hills. We then cooled down with a swim in the sea in our running gear. Best cool down ever, I wish I could do this every time!
We then packed up and hit the road. Our first stop was Helena Bay which offered a great stretch leg, before heading up the hill for lunch on the hill that overlooked it.
We then took in the Whangārei Fall for a 30 minute walk in the sunshine. It was absolutely stunning and probably one of the biggest waterfalls I have ever seen.
Then we proceeded on the LONG trip to the Coromandel with a stop off in Tairua SurfN’Turf for a takeaway before finding our new home for the next few nights
We are spending a few nights in the Coromandel and I’m very excited to report what we get up to once we have enjoyed our time here.
Thanks for reading!