My 19th month of travel was all about moving too fast and doing too much — you may have noticed this by the fact that I only managed to post twice this month!
The combination of moving rapidly and slow, expensive internet in New Zealand ($18 for 6 hours of 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 hiking and beautiful scenery!
I began this month with a drive up to the northernmost part of the North Island: Cape Reinga, and from that moment on, our New Zealand journey began. I was so excited about the month ahead of us.
The premise of this 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, visiting 50-odd towns in-between. Having now reached Cape Reinga, it was time for us to start heading south.
We stopped off in Raglan next, a stunning beach town on the west coast and my favourite place in the North Island! It had a relaxed, laidback vibe, the black-sand beach was 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…
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 obnoxious people who insisted on yelling for the entire tour despite being repeatedly told to keep quiet, it was still 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!
We continued on to Mount Maunganui, where I accidentally tripped, fell over, and sprained my ankle — I think it’s still weak from when I injured myself in Cambodia a few months ago. Unfortunately, that then meant that 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.
You probably know by now that I get seasick. I tend to be 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…
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, and so, 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 so much fun to explore, with vibrant, colourful lakes, gushing geysers and — yes, lots of bizarre smells.
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 frustrated by my 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 on all of these challenging New Zealand hikes.
And so, at 6 a.m., after a sleepless night full of visions of legs breaking, bodies falling, and Laurens dying, I packed 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 a handful 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!
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.
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 I had so many blisters on my feet that I felt like I was dying.
…And yet, I still completed it! I’ve never felt so proud!
Despite feeling 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
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… Well, then… I think it might be time for a solid nap.
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!