South Island, New Zealand (Pt 4)

The South Island of New Zealand was one of the most picturesque and adventurous destinations I have ever experienced in my travelling career. It is somewhere I will always seek to revisit, and have fond memories from. I had the opportunity to experience the beautiful landscape, people, food and adrenaline with Stray New Zealand’s hop on, hop off travel network. 

Stray bus

Abel Tasman – My journey in the South Island began as we got off the Bluebridge Ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton. We spent approximately 3 hours cruising along and passing through the beautiful Cook Strait, named after Captain James Cook. Once we arrived in Picton, our group headed straight for the Marlborough region for some wine tasting! Wine from the Marlborough region is known around the world, as some of the best Sauvignon Blanc of it’s kind. Following the wine tasting and lunch, we began the journey West towards the smallest but most visited national park in New Zealand, Abel Tasman!

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Split Apple Rock – Abel Tasman National Park

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Kayakers in the National Park

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Torrent Bay – Abel Tasman National Park

While staying in Abel Tasman the choice of activities are endless! I decided to go sailing around the National Park on a Full Day Sail with Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures. If sailing isn’t for you, you can choose to rent a kayak, experience a half/full day coastal walk or go skydiving! Whichever you choose, you will be sure be able to experience the beauty and magic of the Abel Tasman National Park.

Westport – After an amazing time in Abel Tasman we continued our journey south along the coast towards Punakaiki. Punakaiki is famous for the Pancake Rocks that lay along the coastal waters. We had the chance to check out this natural wonder, and participate in a few scenic coastal walks in the area.

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Punakaiki

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On the way to Westport we passed through Greymouth, which is home to the famous Monteith’s Brewery! Unfortunately due to limited time, I was unable to visit the brewery – however it’s on my list of things to do next time I go to New Zealand… I did drink enough Monteith’s Cider while I was over there to make up for this though! We continued our journey south and in the early afternoon make it into Westport. Westport is home to some of the best surf on the South Island. This was a night to grab a quiet dinner, relax and rest up for our next stop… Franz Josef!

Franz Josef – Bright and early in the morning we continued south towards the Franz Josef National Park. Franz Josef is a very common bucket list item for many travelling in New Zealand; everyone including myself wanted to see the glacier! We arrived at the Stray accommodation, Rainforest Retreat in the early afternoon where we had the whole afternoon to explore or soak in the hot tub!

While visiting Franz Josef I choose to do a glacier hike with Franz Josef Glacier Guides called the Ice Explorer. This activity included a 5-minute helicopter transfer to the top of the glacier, as well as a 2 hour guided walk up and through the beautiful natural wonder.

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And we are off!!!

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Landed on the Glacier – Time to explore!

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Fellow Stray traveller and I 

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Happy Days!

As the glacier is slowly receding/melting over the years – this is something you MUST DO when you visit New Zealand… who knows how long it will still be around for!

Wanaka: After spending a couple days in Franz Josef, we continued south towards Wanaka. The journey to Wanaka is a spectacular drive where you pass by various stunning lakes, and mountain ranges that cover the area. If you look really closely you may even be able to spot Aoraki/Mt Cook in the far distance. When you arrive in Wanaka it is easy to notice that the beautiful Lake Wanaka is the focal point within the town that everything is situated around.

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Lake Wanaka

While in Wanaka you can choose to participate in a few scenic walks, sit by the lake with some wine and cheese or grab a bite to eat along the boardwalk. Wanaka gives off a very relaxed and peaceful feel to it, and it continues to make its visitors fall in love with it. It is sometimes described as a smaller Queenstown, as it presents with characteristics of mountainous scenery and a beautiful blue lake. In the early evening, make sure you head down to the lake to take in one of the most incredible sunsets; it’s an experience you don’t want to miss!

Queenstown – For myself, Queenstown was somewhere that I have been looking forward to visiting for a while… And for good reason… it is the adventure and adrenaline capital of New Zealand – talk about my kind of place!

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Lake Wakatipu – Queenstown

While I was in Queenstown, I choose to participate in a variety of adrenaline and scenic activities, some of which included: the 134m Nevis Bungy Jump, 15,000ft NZONE Skydive, 43m Kawarau Bridge Bungy, Shotover Canyon Swing, Skippers Canyon Jet Boat, Real Journey Milford Sound Cruise and finally an evening up on Queenstown Hill at Skyline (Gondola, Kiwi Haka performance, dinner & stargazzing)! It was an action packed week and one I will never ever forget!

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43m AJ Hackett – Kawarau Bridge Bungy 

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The Chair of Death – Shotover Canyon Swing

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NZONE Skydive Queenstown – 15,000ft

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Skipper Canyon Jet boating

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134m AJ Hackett “The Nevis” Bungy Jump

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Queenstown Hill – Skyline Queenstown

Mt Cook – After a very sad goodbye to Queenstown we made our way north towards the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Travelling back along the road we took to get to Queenstown, we said one final farewell to Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables Mountains and Coronet Peak, capturing one last photo on the way.

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Lake Wakatipu – Queenstown

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Lake Pukaki – Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

In the early afternoon we approached the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Along the way we passed by one of the most pristine and spectacular lakes in all of New Zealand, Lake Pukaki. The distinctive blue colour of Lake Pukaki is caused by the glacier feed and the natural glacial flour (extremely finely ground rock particles).

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Hooker Valley Walk – Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

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Hooker Valley Glacier Lake – Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

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Never stop exploring – Go Pro shot 

While in the National Park, I chose one of the most popular activities, which is doing the 3hour return Hooker Valley Walk, which takes you to the Hooker Valley lake and the Aoraki/Mt Cook glaciers!

Rangitata: The next stop on Stray was to Rangitata – Peel Forest. Along the way, we passed by Lake Pukaki again for some last minute photos. When in Rangitata I chose to go rafting down the Rangitata River.

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Rangitata River

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Rafting with Rangitata Rafts

A fun fact about the Rangitata River is; the most recent series of Amazing Race: Australia vs. New Zealand was filmed on the same river Rangitata Rafts uses for their trips! They had to shut down their tours for the day to facilitate the teams competing on their river… cool! Back at the Rangitata Rafts Lodge we had the chance suntan on the deck, cook up a mean BBQ dinner, and have a few drinks in the evening. 

Kaikoura: It’s an early morning as we headed north along the coast to Christchurch. We only made a quick stop at the Christchurch airport to drop off some passengers and continued our journey North to Kaikoura.

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Dolphin Swim with Dolphin Encounter

Kaikoura is one of the main spots in New Zealand to experience interactive wildlife encounters. One of the most popular activities in Kaikoura is Dolphin Encounter: Swim with the Dolphins. This trip allows you to get the chance to swim with largest quantity of dusky dolphins in the entire world – sometimes you can get up to 200 dolphins in the area. Dusky dolphins are the most playful and energetic dolphins in the world, and swimming with them is one of the most interactive wildlife encounters out there!

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Dusky Dolphins – Close Up!

In the evening, we had free time to explore the beachside shops; wander along the beach, grab a bite of dinner in town, or take in the beautiful sunset from our accommodation.

Wellington/Auckland: We departed from Kaikoura and headed north through the Marlborough region to Picton. In Picton I jumped on a small plane for a trip to Wellington, and later a flight to Auckland in the evening! My final night in New Zealand was spent catching up with the Stray Auckland crew at Nomads Fat Camel for a couple farewell drinks!

The South Island of New Zealand lures in it’s visitors by it mountainous landscapes, clear blue lakes and stunning scenery. Home to the adrenaline capital of the World; Queenstown and the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook – the South Island is action packed! Everywhere from the Abel Tasman National Park, the Franz and Fox Josef glacier, Lake Wanaka, Milford Sound and more; travellers come near and far to experience everything that makes the South Island special. It’s a place not to be missed, and a place I will never forget. I will be back soon!

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North Island, New Zealand – Pt. 3 (Rotorua – Wellington)

I was awoken by bright and early in the morning with birthday wishes, and a big smile from Tessa as she sent me off on the rest of my journey. I had an amazing action-packed few days in Rotorua, and it was time to jump back onto the big orange Stray bus and head to the second cultural stop of the North Island – Lake Aniwhenua. Lake Aniwhenua I instantly fell in love with Lake Aniwhenua the first time I experienced it on the Stray North Island Agent Famil. I had absolutely no idea what to expect for the evening, but I was blow away by the passion, and cultural significance this stop had. I also was very excited to visit the lovely family who runs this unique Stray stop – they make you feel home, while being away from home. 20140925_145756 Lake Aniwhenua has recently been voted by Stray Passengers as the second favourite stop of all Stray stops. We stay at the stunning Kohutapu Lodge, which is ideally located by the lake. The location presents with exceptional views and a very welcoming atmosphere. At Lake Aniwhenua you’ll learn about the traditional Maori culture, as well as have the option to learn to weave flax bracelets, cook, and go eeling! 20140925_160841 I really couldn’t of asked for a better place to celebrate my birthday than Lake A. While we waited for dinner to be served, the whole group enjoyed the happy hour specials as we sat by the glistening lake. My birthday dinner at Lake A was one I will never forget. 20140925_171911 Imagine the most amazing Canadian thanksgiving dinner you have ever had in your life; that is the hangi dinner. A hangi is a Maori way of cooking, where the meat is cooked underground for hours before serving. Your plate will be overflown with various styles of meat; chicken, pork and eel, as well as stuffing, salad and vegetables, bread rolls and dessert to top it off! You are guaranteed to leave Lake Aniwhenua feeling happy, full and inspired. Taupo After a sad farewell to Nads and her family at Lake A, we made our way South to Taupo. Taupo is situated next to New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo! To give you a bit of perspective, you can actually fit the entire country of Singapore within Lake Taupo. While stopping in Taupo, I chose to participate in an adrenaline-based activity, the thrilling sport of skydiving! IMG_4081 If free-falling 15,000ft doesn’t excite you enough, then how does jumping over New Zealand’s biggest lake! Skydive Taupo offers not only an adrenaline rush, but a scenic experience as well! I walked away from my skydive with a huge smile on my face, and the feeling I was invincible! IMG_4129 IMG_4155 Another highlight of visiting Taupo is seeing Huka Falls. Huka Falls is New Zealand’s fastest flowing waterfall. Not only will you sit in amazement as it rushes below you, the falls gives off a beautiful vivid blue colour! Make sure you take a few snaps of this stunning natural attraction while visiting Taupo. 20140926_095503 We began our journey through the rugged New Zealand countryside to our destination for the next two nights – Whakahoro, Blue Duck Station. 20140927_123601 Blue Duck Station continues to be voted as the most popular and favourite stop on the Stray network by passengers. Blue Duck Station is a working sheep and cattle station in the middle of the New Zealand country. You spend two days at the station and are given options to go on a guided hunt, 4WD bush safari, horse trek, kayak and jet boat or to give clay pigeon shooting a go!

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I chose to participate in the guided hunting option while staying at Blue Duck Station. The girls formed one hunting group, and the boys formed another. To keep things classy while hunting the girls ensured to put on some bright red lipstick! We jumped onto our Ute’s and headed out to the hunting grounds to get us some goat! By the end of the day we managed to get a goat and a rabbit – which was later skinned, and cooked for dinner! Conservation at it’s best! 20140927_082750 DCIM100GOPRO In the evenings at the lodge, we chose to spend the night kicking back, relaxing around the fire having some drinks. Many Stray passengers have been known to fall in love with Blue Duck Station and decide to stick around to WWOOF and participate in the various conservation projects that happen in and around the area. Tongariro National Park A highlight for me in the North Island is a visit to the Tongariro National Park. We departed early in the from Blue Duck Station and made the journey to the beginning of the 19.4km Tongariro Alpine Crossing around 9am. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the Nine Great Walks in New Zealand and is an absolute must-do when travelling through the country. DCIM100GOPRO 20141012_084330 DCIM100GOPRO We hiked to over 1800 metres in elevation through the beautiful mountain ranges, snowfields, pristine blue lakes and active volcanic zones. Along the way you will spot Mt Doom (Lord of the Rings) and Mt Ruapehu (operates 2 ski fields in winter) and you will experience moments of complete amazement for your surroundings. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing will leave you with spectacular photos, a sore body and a well-deserved hot tub session back at The Park Lodge! Wellington The final stop of the North Island was to New Zealand’s capital and one of the world’s “coolest” cities, Wellington! Located at the southernmost point of the North Island and surrounded by water, Wellington is somewhere lots of people like to explore further for a couple days! When visiting Wellington you can choose to accompany your Hobbiton Movie Set tour in Matamata with another Lord of the Rings film set tour, or you could choose to spend your time at leisure wandering the harbour and the shops. The night in Wellington was spent at the Blend Bar having a few beers and saying farewell to many other travellers who decided to stay in Wellington for a bit longer!

Rotorua, NZ – North Island Adrenaline Adventure Capital

A great night’s sleep at the Marae refreshed me for my visit to New Zealand’s North Island Adrenaline Capital… Rotorua! Only a short drive away from Stray’s unique stop – the Marae, Rotorua offers a selection of adventure activities to the traveller. I planned on stopping off in Rotorua for 3 nights – to visit the Peterpans Rotorua team, in addition to take advantage of everything Rotorua has to offer – adrenaline, scenery, culture and more!

When I arrived into town, I went straight to the Peterpans Rotorua shop – here is where Tessa, a good mate of mine from Sydney has recently relocated for work! We both travelled on the Stray North Island Agent Famil a couple weeks before, but it was great to catch up with her and spend a few nights at her house.

Kaitiaki Rafting – Kaituna River

Kaitiaki Rafting are the leaders in adventure rafting in North Island, New Zealand. My day with Kaitiaki rafting took me down the Kaituna River in a thrill-seeking fashion! This trip is definitely not for the fainthearted! In addition to the adrenaline aspect that Kaitiaki provides, the crew incorporates a cultural feature which pays respect to the people of the river; Ngati Pikiao- by the way of karakia (traditional prayer) prior to entering the river and while travelling along. Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.08.50 AM

Kaitiaki Rafting takes you on a Grade Five rafting experience, as you pass through remarkable steep, narrow, bush clad canyons and across 14 rapids! During the hour I was on the river my group rafted down 3 waterfalls, one of which being the 7m Tutea Falls … the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the WORLD! My raft group managed to conquer the waterfall with the whole team staying safe and sound in the raft… this isn’t always the case though 😉

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As mentioned before, Kaitiaki Rafting has a big focus on providing you knowledge on your surroundings while floating down the river. The fully trained guides ensure to give appreciation to the land and the original owners of the river wherever possible. It is fascinating to hear the Maori stories, about how this river was originally used back in the day.

While rafting with Kaitiaki, you are fully geared by the staff prior to entering the river with wetsuits, boots, helmet, splash jackets and a thermal jumper. You don’t need to have any experience rafting and all you need to bring along for the day are your swimmers, towel and a positive attitude!

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I had such a great time with Kaitiaki Rafting – and not to mention… one of the raft guides found it quite humorous to pick on me along the way and push me out of the raft a couple times! Is this rafting protocol… or was he just flirting with me?… we’ll never know!

Agroventures

Agroventures has been somewhere I have been looking forward to experiencing since beginning at Peterpans Travel. I am always up for a thrill, and Agroventures delivers that!

Agroventures Rotorua offers a selection (5) of different adventure activities that you can choose from – it really is no surprise that Agroventures is known as New Zealand’s premier adventure theme park!

Offering complimentary pickups/drop-offs (based on availability) one of the lovely crew members from Agroventures picked Tessa and I up from the Peterpans shop to head to the park for our morning of adrenalin. When you arrive the crew welcomes you with a smile and provides you a summary of the various activities you can choose from while visiting Agro. I went for the “go big or go home” package, which was all 5-adventure activities – including the Shweeb, Agrojet, Freefall Xtreme, Swoop and Bungy!

As the Shweeb was something that I had never tried, yet alone heard of before, I was keen to give it a go first! The Shweeb, only one of it’s kind in the world was originally created as a futuristic model for transportation. As you enter the “capsule” sitting on your behind with your legs propped in front of you, you will begin self-propelling yourself around the 3 loop race track. Speeds of up to 45km/h have been reached, and your legs purely generate this! To add an extra bit of incentive, you can race against the clock and the previous world record speeds. If you shattered the world Shweeb record you can bring yourself home $1000 dollars!!!

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The next activity I took a go at was the Freefall Xtreme. Agroventures is the only place in New Zealand’s with an outdoor wind tunnel and the only place in the Southern Hemisphere where you can body fly! The crew at the Freefall Xtreme geared me up in a full jumpsuit and goggles prior to entering the wind tunnel. You are taught the basic flying position, and all the tricks/techniques used to manipulate the air and move yourself while flying. Once you get going, you will be flown up to 2 metres high by speeds of up to 220km/h! Your guide will bring you up and down, side to side and may even take you for a spin in the tunnel. You will be able to watch all yourself fly on the GoPro footage they capture throughout the experience but be forewarned… you may have a bit of drool at the end of your flight!

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Similar to the Minjin Swing I did a few months ago in Cairns, the Swoop will swing you up to 130km/h towards the earth! The best thing about the Swoop is you have to release your own rip cord… from 40 metres above the ground!!! I found the Swoop really puts your mind to the test as you have control of your own destiny. Being the adrenaline-junkie I self-proclaim myself to be, the Swoop was a favourite activity of mine at Agroventures!

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The most extreme activity at Agroventures is the Agro Bungy! The bungy at Agro is 43 metres high which provides you with approximately a 3 second free-fall. Regardless of how many times I have bungy jumped, I always get a bit nervous. It is very unnatural of the body to feel comfortable throwing yourself off a platform headfirst. Regardless of how unnatural it is, when you get up to the top, I find that one sec of insanity and take the plunge! Bungy-jumping is truly a mind game, and something that will challenge you beyond what you could imagine.

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The last activity… that I intentionally prolonged was the Agrojet; New Zealand’s fastest jet sprint! For some reason (not quite sure why) I have always had a strange fear of jet boating. I have never understood how these boats can turn on a dime, and how they can be so agile. With heaps of encouragement from Tessa and the crew at Agro they managed to get me into the boat. The professional driver will take you around the 1km track 3 times, reaching speeds of 100km/h in 4.5 seconds! After all I was psyched I gave it a go, and ended up loving it in the end!

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With all 5 activities complete and under my belt – I left Agroventures buzzing off adrenalin and with the biggest smile on my face! Agroventures is the perfect place to visit for travelling through Rotorua and looking for adventure. It’s great place for all ages, adventurous levels and budgets!

Hobbiton Movie Set – Matamata, NZ

With my 23rd year of life rolling in (October 9th) while travelling through New Zealand, I couldn’t think of a more unique place to spend my morning than the infamous Hobbiton Movie Set, in Matamata!

Experiencing Hobbiton is a bucket list item for many travellers. Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans from around the world travel near and far to see what it’s like to be a Hobbit for the day.

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I was picked up from the Rotorua CBD shortly after 9am for my journey to Hobbiton. When you arrive at Hobbiton, our group had the chance to explore the gift shop, buy some postcards and grab a coffee from the café. Once we were all checked in, our guide directed us to the buses that would escort us to the movie set – a short scenic drive down the road. On the journey to the set, we travelled along the beautiful country landscapes while our guide explained a few things – one of which being why this farm was chosen by Peter Jackson (Director) as the perfect location for his movies.

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When we approached the entrance to the movie set, you instantly feel like you are in the movies. Everything is placed exactly as it appears in the films – from the real life crops being grown in the gardens, to the colourful selection of hobbit holes surrounding the area. I found it extremely difficult to pay attention to the information the guide is telling you about, as I wanted to take photos of everything! Apparently the record for photos taken while visiting Hobbiton was 2000+ photos… in just over an hour!!!

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Though I have never seen all the Lord of the Rings, or Hobbit films, various people in my group would point out different hobbit holes that bring them back memories of a certain part of the movies. A few die-hard LOTR fans in my group insisted on reenacting some of the scenes that happened at that particular part of the set. As I made my way along, I knew exactly what I would be doing when I got back home… Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie marathon.

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The last, and in my opinion the best part of the tour was pass the “Hobbit party field” and then the visit to the Green Dragon Inn! At the Green Dragon we had the choice of a complimentary traditional ale, cider or handcrafted ginger beer to toast off to a great day together!

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Looking back on my time in New Zealand, I can concur that Hobbiton was the most unique and ‘strange’ thing I have done. For those who are huge LOTR/Hobbit fans a visit to Hobbiton is a must… and even for those who aren’t die-hard, you’ll unquestionably find yourself enjoying your day at the movie set!

From Rotorua, my Stray group was off to Lake Aniwhenua – where I could continue to celebrate my 23rd birthday, kick back relax and stuff my face with a traditional hangi dinner!

Until next adventure;

s.c

Raglan to Mourea – via Waitomo Caves

Our first night as a group on Stray New Zealand was a complete success! A few people noted that being on the Stray bus is like entering First Year University (College). Everyone is there with different hopes, expectations, apprehensions and dreams – when you jump on the bus you are signing yourself up for the ride of your life! There are so many new experiences to be had, so many new people from all over the world to befriend, and new life challenges to accomplish!

Stray is something that all those travelling through New Zealand should part take in as it not only takes you off the beaten track “geographically,” it tests you as a person and takes you to lengths that you never thought possible.

Waitomo Caves and the Glowworms

When we left Raglan, we made our way to Waitomo. Waitomo is home to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, which are an absolute MUST when travelling New Zealand. These caves are very special to New Zealand, and more specifically Waitomo.

Waitomo Adventures Ltd offers 5 amazing adventure options – everything from half-day black water rafting trips, abseiling and rock climbing trips to full day Lost World ultimate caving experiences!

When visiting Waitomo I specifically chose to participate in their “most concentrated ACTION activity”, the Haggas Honking Holes. The Haggas Honking Holes is for those looking for a bit of thrill – it is adrenaline-filled, energy pumping and action-packed to say the least. Throughout your Waitomo adventure you will do 3 abseils of different heights down cascading waterfalls, rock climbing as well as many “army style crawls” throughout the cave.

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We arrived at Waitomo Adventures in the morning and got completely geared up. We were provided with full wetsuits, gumboots, helmets and a headlight. After a few safety drills, we were ready to hit the caves! Our group entered the cave through a small hole, which led us to our first abseil of the journey.

At certain points in the experience, you will be taken to depths of 70 metres underground, facilitated by various abseils, and rock climbs. Whilst traversing the underground playground you are surrounded by the infamous Waitomo glowworms.

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Throughout the trip, our guide would tell us to shut off our headlamp to take in the surrounding thousands of glowworms! Not only is this a physical experience, it is very educational as well. The guide gives you heaps of information on “what actually is a glowworm,” as well as you will be to told about how the various formations found in the caves, including Stalactites, Stalagmites have been formed.

The Haggas Honking Holes is something unlike anything I have done in my life. There are moments when you are in the cave that put you in a state of complete amazement, as you are 70 metres underground. The Waitomo Caves and the Haggas is the perfect adrenaline activity for those travelling through the North Island of New Zealand.

Pictures don’t do the place justice so you might have to go check them out yourself!

Evening in Mourea

The night at the Marae has been something I had been looking forward to since I was introduced to Stray New Zealand. Having the chance to be immersed into the Maori culture by staying with a family is such an incredible experience.

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When we arrived at the entrance of the Marae, (since I had previously been welcomed into their home) Ruth automatically allowed me to enter the house and sit amongst her family. The welcoming ceremony at the Marae is very special and spiritual – as you approach the house from the car park you are guided through spiritual “chant” from one of the family members. Before entering the house you must remove you shoes, and the file into the provided chairs. As soon as everyone has found a seat, the whole group sits down as one unit. With the males sitting at the front and the females at the back, one member of the family recites a Maori speech, which goes with the welcoming ceremony. Once this speech is complete, all the members of the family (including myself as I have previously been on their land) stand in a line and begin a “nose-tapping” ritual. This is a personal hello to all those who are being welcomed onto the land for the first time – ‘Kia Ora’ followed by two taps on the nose by each person is the practice. As this concludes, it’s time to eat – which finishes off the welcoming ceremony!

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Following afternoon tea, members of the family performed for us with traditional Maori singing and dancing – showcasing the Huka, and the technical manipulation of the Poi. The family sang us a few traditional and well known New Zealand and Maori songs that speak to the history of their culture. You can’t help but smile while you watch the performers – its beautiful to watch how proud the family is of their native culture.

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Dinner was served shortly after the cultural show which consisted of a massive portion of chicken, roast vegetables, garlic bread, peas, carrots and a delicious dessert. This meal put me straight into a food coma, which made it easy for me to settle into the Marae stay for the evening. Once dinner concluded the group cozied up in the Marae (meeting house) for a night of story telling and a good nights sleep.

Staying on the Marae is a once in a lifetime experience that I found quite powerful and spiritual. It is definitely something that sets Stray apart, and goes alongside with their motto that they can take you off the beaten track.

Until next adventure,

s.c.

Imagining yourself here? For 5% OFF any Peterpans Adventure Travel Package, use the promo code: SAMNZ on the peterpans.com.au website, email the call centre at info@peterpans.com or visit one of our many shops and quote SAMNZ to receive the discount!

Auckland to Raglan – North Island seaside town

After an amazing couple days with the Peterpans managers in Auckland, it was time to head south to begin my Maximus pass onboard Stray New Zealand!

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Keys, our bus driver picked us up outside the Stray New Zealand shortly after 715am, she packed our bags into the bus and we then headed off on the road! Our first stop of the day to visit the Stray head office in Penrose, to meet the team, and get a better idea of how the Stray travel network works.

Our journey from Auckland to Raglan was spent travelling through the Waikato Region, ‘Wai’ meaning water, and ‘kato’ meaning mighty. The Waikato River is the longest river in New Zealand, starting in Taupo and finishing just south of Auckland in a place called Port Waikato.

One of the highlights of the drive was stopping at Bridal Veil Falls. A short 10-minute walk into the bush we made it to the waterfall lookout point. Bridal Veil Falls get’s it name from it’s shape when it flows… in a shape of a bride’s veil.

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The final destination for the day was Raglan. Raglan has been featured in various surfing movies, including The Endless Summer and more recently Last Paradise. It is a seaside beach town located on the Northwestern coast of New Zealand. It is the perfect spot for beginners to learn how to surf, or for those with a bit of surfing experience to perfect their skills. When we arrived in Raglan, the Raglan Surf School took the group of us through an on-land surf lesson. The surf team guided us through surf safety, styles of surfing, and techniques on how to get up while in the water. After we all perfected the 4-step surf approach, we were ready to head to the beach.

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I think it’s safe to say; it’s hard to surf without smiling! Whether it be smiling after catching a good wave, or smiling from taking a massive wipeout – it’s all in good fun! Raglan Surf School guarantees that you will get up at least once, no matter how long it takes!

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After everyone got a chance to have a sauna and shower up we headed down to the water for some Fish & Chips for dinner! There is nothing better than fresh out of the sea – fish and chips!

Later on after dinner a bunch of the group enjoyed some drinks in our lodge to toast off to an amazing journey ahead of us!

Until next adventure,

s.c.

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