Month 19: Travel Summary and Statistics


Waterfall in New Zealand

My nineteenth month of travel was all about moving too fast and doing too much — you may have noticed this by the fact that I disappointingly only managed to post twice this month! The combination of moving quickly and terrible, slow, expensive internet in New Zealand ($18 for 6 hours use, anyone?) has meant that I’ve been mostly unable to work on anything over the last four weeks.

It has, however, been another fantastic month, with tons of exploring, hiking and beautiful scenery!

I began this month with a drive to the northernmost part of the North Island, Cape Reinga, where I was super excited about the month ahead of us.

The premise of our New Zealand trip is for us to spend two months travelling from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island. Having now reached Cape Reinga, it was time for us to start heading south.

We stopped off in Raglan, a stunning beach town on the west coast and my favourite place in the North Island! It had a relaxed, laid back vibe, the black sand beach was secluded and beautiful and we had an amazing afternoon sunbathing and paddling in the sea. When I next come to New Zealand, I’ll probably end up living in Raglan for months…

Black sand beach in Raglan

Next up was Waitomo, famous for its glowworm caves. I had never seen glowworms before so this was another exciting first for me. Despite the cave tours being full of loud, obnoxious people who insisted on yelling for the entire tour despite being repeatedly told to keep quiet, it was incredible to see the glowworms. Next time I’ll do it without the tour group.

Funnily enough, for me, the actual highlight from Waitomo was something we stumbled across on the drive down there. A nondescript sign directed us towards a waterfall and we spontaneously decided to go check it out. Bridal Veil Falls was one of the most stunning waterfalls I’ve ever seen and I’m so happy we decided to stop there!

Waterfall in New Zealand

We continued on to Mount Maunganui, where I fell over and hurt my ankle again so unfortunately my time there was limited to lying in bed and drinking cider. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time too, with a major hike coming up in a few days.

Next up, was Taupo where we had just one thing planned for our time there: Huka Falls jet boat.

You probably know by now that I get incredibly travel sick, with seasickness being the worst of all (I get nauseous in swimming pools and baths!). I am ridiculously sensitive to any kind of motion, so racing along a river at speeds exceeding 80 km/h, with only 360 degree spins to slow us down, well, let’s just say the result wasn’t all that pretty.

I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be getting back on a jet boat anytime soon…

Lauren on a jetboat

After recovering from the jet boat journey from hell, we moved on to Rotorua, a place that was a pleasant surprise! Dave had visited previously and didn’t have many positive things to say about it, if any. I was expecting to find a smelly town with not much going for it.

We spent our time exploring Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Wai-O-Tapu thermal park. Both of these were stunning and so much fun to explore, with vibrant, colourful lakes, crazy geysers and yes, lots of bizarre smells.

Rotorua champagne pool

And then it was time for the one thing I had been dreading the most throughout my time in New Zealand.

Back in July, Dave and I were strolling through the streets of Prague when ten minutes into our walk I had to stop. I was out of breath, I had a stitch and I wanted to sit down. I couldn’t bring myself to walk any further. Dave was understandably extremely frustrated at my complete lack of fitness and as we argued, mostly about how I was going to cope with hiking in New Zealand, I realised that things had to change.

I spent the next six months forcing myself to sort out my fitness levels. I walked when I didn’t feel like it, attempted to climb hills and mountains and bought myself a whole assortment of hiking gear.

I was determined to prove Dave wrong and show him that I could keep up with him on all of these crazy New Zealand hikes.

And so, at 6am, after a sleepless night full of visions of legs breaking, bodies falling and Laurens dying, I packed up my bag, pulled on my hiking clothes and made my way to the Tongariro Crossing.

With a combination of an 18 km track, a height of 2000 metres and active volcanoes, this was going to be the longest and hardest walk of my life.

I am so glad I decided to become A Hiker because I had so much fun! The Tongariro Crossing was amazing and so, so beautiful!

Lauren hiking the Tongariro Crossing

After brief stops in Lake Waikaremoana, Napier and Wellington, it was time to head to the South Island, where I planned on impressing Dave even further with a 50 kilometre walk over 3 days in the Marlborough Sounds.

The first couple of days were… okay. I managed to get through the 12 and 14 kilometre walks reasonably easily and I was feeling confident about my abilities for the final 25 kilometre day.

To put this into perspective, before I arrived in New Zealand, the furthest distance I had ever walked in my life was probably under 10 km!

It was probably the hardest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. Around 5 kilometres from the end point, my legs completely seized up and began spasming, I was dehydrated and soaked in sweat, I had so many blisters on my feet that I was walking on raw skin. I felt like I was dying.

…And yet, I still completed it! I’ve never felt so proud! 

Despite feeling so incredibly broken by the end of the walk, I was happy I stuck it out and forced myself to walk the whole distance. My calves now look like cobras, I feel the fittest I ever have in my life and I got to explore one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.

I don’t know who I am anymore.

… Onto the statistics for the month!

Distance travelled: 3196km

Countries visited: 1

New Zealand

Cities visited: 16

Auckland, Paihia, Cape Reinga, Hamilton, Raglan, Waitomo, Mount Maunganui, Taupo, Rotorua, National Park, Lake Waikaremoana, Napier, Wellington, Picton, Christchurch, Akaroa.

The next month:

The next month will be more of the same as I continue on with my New Zealand adventure in the South Island.

I’ll be heading to Tekapo to relax in some hot springs and go tubing, in Dunedin I’ll be eating chocolate until I vomit at Cadbury World and walking up the world’s steepest street. I’ll be heading to the southernmost point of the South Island for some more hiking goodness and then checking out both Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. After stops in Queenstown and Wanaka, it’ll be off to walk on Fox Glacier and ice climb all over Franz Josef Glacier — I’ve never seen a glacier before so I’m most excited about this! It’ll then be back up to the top of the South Island to check out Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park and then, the highlight. Dave and I will be heading to Ashburton — Dave’s hometown! I can’t wait!

At the end of the month, I’ll have no doubt spent an insane amount of money so it’ll be back to Southeast Asia for my bank balance to recover… and I’ll be heading to two completely new countries for me during this time… I can’t wait! 

Looking to follow along with my travels through my monthly summaries? You can read the previous month’s summary here, the next month’s summary here, or head on over to the monthly summary page to read from the very beginning!

Previous Otres Beach: My Cambodian Beach Paradise
Next Koh Rong: A Paradise Island Riddled with Sandflies

39 Comments

  1. February 17, 2013
    Reply

    I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE ANYMORE!!!!

    I mean like seriously, I’m pretty sure someone hacked your blog and/or possessed you…I see no other explanation for this 3 day hiking malarkey.

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      I know! Though I have avoided all other hiking activities after that 3 day one. My legs are still recovering!

  2. February 17, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! I’m a fellow travel enthusiast and American expat living in Taiwan! I stumbled upon your blog while lazing around on some Thai beaches and just wanted to tell you that I gobbled up all of your(mis)adventures in one day and admire your intrepid spirit! Travel on and write on…

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Ah, I miss Taiwan so much — I want to live there one day! Thanks so much for the lovely comment :)

  3. February 17, 2013
    Reply

    ohhhhhh I can’t wait for your posts on your hikes! Those photos are stunning! And I think I’ll cross NZ off my list for awhile until I can afford it. If you ONLY paid for food/petrol/internet and STILL spent $1500 I REALLY couldn’t reason spending that much. I’d rather hang around asia for a year! Hopefully you’re interest situation improves because 2 posts a month isn’t enough for me! I want to read more. :)

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      I can promise that the hiking posts will be pretty dramatic! :)

      Yeah, New Zealand had been one of the most expensive countries I’ve visited. I’d love to stay for longer but two months is going to kill my bank balance so yeah, I’d probably choose a year in Southeast Asia over two months in NZ!

      Internet situation is currently $2 for 10 minutes use in the hostel I’m staying in!

  4. Nicole
    February 17, 2013
    Reply

    Think you should rename this month and next as ‘towns’ you’ve visited. NZ doesn’t have proper cities =P hehe.

    Hope you’re having fun!
    xox.

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Hahaha, so true. Even Auckland was pretty small!

  5. Suitcase Stories - Nicole
    February 17, 2013
    Reply

    This post makes me want to go back to NZ! NZ is so beautiful but you’re right, very expensive. Hope you enjoy the rest of your time there. I look forward to the next post about the South Island!

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      So, so beautiful! I’m loving the South Island so far and can’t wait to write about it all :)

  6. Nigel Dean
    February 17, 2013
    Reply

    So pleased to hear you are enjoying N.Z.. It is a beautiful country with lots to see and do. Very impressed with your hiking efforts!

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks! :) I’m loving New Zealand and will be so sad to leave :)

  7. February 17, 2013
    Reply

    Ashburton should remind you of home, all the houses are very English in their style!

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Haha, I’m so excited! Dave thinks I’m crazy :)

  8. Stephanie
    February 17, 2013
    Reply

    I want calves like cobras too! Good job that I am bringing walking trainers on my trip!
    I love your hair on the jet skis too! It has a mind of it’s own, like mine! haha

    • Stephanie
      February 18, 2013
      Reply

      Jet boat sorry!

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Hahaha! I’m loving my cobra calves right now… pretty certain they’ll be gone in a few weeks as I’ve completely stopped hiking!

      High five for unmanageable hair — wait until you hit the humidity :)

      • stephanie
        March 4, 2013
        Reply

        I’m in Sri Lanka at the moment and my hair is crazy! I’m more worried about my skin though, I am just sweating all of the time haha. I can’t wait until I get to Thailand though!

  9. February 18, 2013
    Reply

    Beautiful photos as always. LOVE THE JET BOAT PICS !!! You look pretty ;) Understand slow and expensive Internet, but, we’ve missed your posts here… Keep posting, Lauren!

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much! The jet boat pictures make me laugh so hard! :) Desperately trying to keep posting and very much struggling!

  10. Brittany
    February 18, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    We are in New Zealand now and just leaving the Bay of Plenty to head over to Raglan and to Waitomo Caves. We are here for a year so we are doing things VERY slow :) A few questions: how should we do the caves? My boyfriend wants to spend $220NZD to do the tour.. what is your suggestion? How did you get hostel bookers to cover your stays? Your blog is much bigger than mine, so maybe you have more traffic? Let me know the things I cant miss on the north Island!!

    Brittany

    • February 23, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Brittany!

      We went with Waitomo and did their main glowworm caves and Aranui Caves ). We all felt it was kind of lame and not worth the money to do it (both tours were short, were full of annoying, loud people)… So, I would recommend not spending 220NZD unless that allows you to see the caves alone and not as part of a tour group.

      • Brittany
        February 23, 2013
        Reply

        Thanks Lauren :) I have not loved the more “touristy” things here so we just may skip it. Thanks for the help lady ;)
        -Britt

  11. TammyOnTheMove
    February 19, 2013
    Reply

    Those photos of you in the boat are priceless! Would love to go to NZ, but $18 for the internet? Ouch!

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      I know, I’d heard it was bad but assumed it would still be possible to find free wifi in hostels… incorrect!

  12. February 19, 2013
    Reply

    W00t that is A LOT of money considering it doesn’t even include accommodation and I’m guessing that is also expensive! Your photos of NZ are very inspiring though… you have a good eye for photograph scenes!

    I’m planning on visiting Australia later on into my trip but I’ve heard much the same about prices :-/

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Yeah, Australian prices are very similar to New Zealand. They’re expensive countries but also very rewarding — just make sure you visit quickly if you’re not planning on working there, they suck up your budget ridiculously quickly!

  13. February 19, 2013
    Reply

    It’s funny you should mention Raglan – we’ve just added it to our itinerary so we can stay with some family friends; now I’m really excited about it! I’m not so excited about the costs though…do you know how much your tour of Waitomo caves cost – did you do a walking tour or boat?

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Ah, you’ll love Raglan! So, so, so amazing! :)

      We did the glowworm caves with http://www.waitomo.com/. They were $48 for the boat tour and $67 for the Ruakuri walking tour. I think I preferred the walking tour but the boat tour allowed you to see a lot more glowworms. Pros and cons of both!

  14. February 19, 2013
    Reply

    Hiking is kind of addictive..you’ll want to do more and more challenging hikes! I am going to climb Half Dome this summer – eeek!

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Exactly! I always forget about the pain from the last hike and become really excited to walk again… and then a few hours into it I find myself wondering what I’ve gotten myself into!

      Good luck with Half Dome! :)

  15. Alex
    February 25, 2013
    Reply

    Beautiful pictures! :)

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Alex! :)

  16. Sofie
    February 26, 2013
    Reply

    Sounds like you had an amaaaaazing month!
    I actually love hiking and I’d love to take the route you’ve taken!
    I agree that NZ does sound pretty expensive seen the ‘few’ things you had to pay for.
    May I ask if Dave was compensated as well?
    I’m asking because although I’m the one blogging, I often don’t travel by myself.
    Would like to know your view on this:)

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Sofie! It’s been a great month :)

      Yes, Dave, Dustin and I are working with Tourism New Zealand and Hostelbookers throughout our time in New Zealand. They’re both travel bloggers as well though :)

  17. Gayla LaBry
    February 26, 2013
    Reply

    Congratulations, Lauren, on making that hike!! What an adventure and amazing personal accomplishment. You’re one brave person and an inspiration to others for pushing yourself in order to experience new things (and for taking that jet boat ride!) Cadbury World?!?! I’m so looking forward to reading your posts about that. Sounds sweet ;-)

    • February 27, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Gayla! :)

      I don’t often feel brave or inspiring — everything scares me! But I’ve learned that getting our of your comfort zone isn’t ever a bad thing, even if I do hate it at the time!

      Cadbury World was amazing! :)

  18. Violet
    March 15, 2013
    Reply

    Looks like you had an amazing time. Looking forward to your South Island recap. I’ve lived on both Islands, but I personally prefer the South (it is home though, so I may be biased)

    • March 16, 2013
      Reply

      My South Island recap is now live, Violet. And I definitely preferred the South! :)

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