New Zealand 2013: Week V

29 August—03 October, 2013

(Look at me go! A second post within three days!)

DAY 28 — 27 SEPT

Alright, everyone, this is the start of our last week in New Zealand. I know, sad! 🙁 It’s gonna be a fairly short post, too, but again filled with lots of pictures. The last week was more of an actual holiday than the rest of the trip, though, because we actually got to spend a few days in the same place and, you know, relax.

But first we had to get there, of course. So we took another InterCity coach from Auckland to Paihia, which is nearly at the northern tip of the North Island. No photos of the trip, nor of the rest of the day, because all we did was have dinner and unwind a little after the long drives of the previous days.

I do need to talk about the hotel we stayed at, though. Aside from the one night in Doubtful Sound, we had stayed only in youth hostels. Which was fine, for the most part, but we had decided that we’d want something nicer for that last week. So we ended up renting a room at Tarlton’s Lodge, which you should definitely consider if you ever want to stay in Paihia. Why? Because this is the view from the room:

on top of the world

Each room comes with a jacuzzi right on the patio, too, and the owner, Mike, is a wonderful host. Just in case you needed more incentive.

DAY 29 — 28 SEPT

Despite our plan to take it slow for the last few days, we got up early for a tour through the Bay of Islands. Definitely worth it, though. I hope you’ll agree once you see the photos.

bay of islands panorama

a change in perspective

little hole

sunny day at the coast

cape brett lighthouse

wide open spaces

hidden beach

As if the landscape wasn’t impressive enough, the boat we were on stopped at some point, and suddenly, a helicopter approached to “rescue” someone from the boat. It was just a drill, of course, but still, pretty cool to see!


There was one more impressive thing that day, though: The night sky. After having missed the opportunity to see the Milky Way in Tekapo (thanks, full moon…), I finally got to see it in Paihia, and it left me speechless.

i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night

DAY 30 — 29 SEPT

Another day, another tour, because apparently, we suck at this whole ‘relaxing’ thing. The alarm went off even earlier than the day before, but this sunrise kind of made up for that:

northland dawn

And off we were to Hokianga! A Maori guide led us through the forest and explained the local flora to us.

off to hokianga

mysterious forest

bridge through nature

Eventually, we got to Tāne Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest. Once you see this kauri tree, it’s not hard to imagine why it would be called that. The tree is estimated to be somewhere between 1,200 and 2,500 years old, and it’s the largest kauri tree still standing. It’s truly majestic.

tāne mahuta, lord of the forest

The final stop on the tour was Haruru Falls. Not a very big waterfall, but nonetheless cool to see.

haruru falls

DAY 31 — 30 SEPT

And with that, our stay in Paihia was already over and we were off on our very last coach trip, back to Auckland. No pictures of that, either, because it was a sad, sad day.

DAY 32 — 01 OCT

Fortunately, we had one more day left in New Zealand. We chose to spend a large part of it in Devonport, which is a short ferry ride away from downtown Auckland. It was so windy my camera on the tripod nearly got blown over several times, but it was still worth it for the view across the water towards Auckland.

back in auckland for the last time

And with that view, it was time to say goodbye to New Zealand.

goodbye, new zealand! :(

We spent one last night at the Auckland YHA, and then, with heavy hearts (mostly because we both hate flying so much), we boarded too many planes and spent too many hours in the air before finally, finally arriving at home what felt like countless months after we had left.

In retrospect, our trip had countless high points, but nearly just as many lows. Despite those, we were very lucky, all things considered, especially with regard to the weather. The weather was usually nasty only on those days when we were cooped up inside a coach anyway. We also had a gorgeous day in Abel Tasman, warm enough to walk around without coats, and it wasn’t even really spring yet. And perhaps luckiest of all, we got to see Doubtful Sound in both sunshine and rain, contrary to a friend of ours who’s been there three times and has still only seen the place while it was pouring down with rain.

During those five weeks, we saw so much, yet we also missed out on so many things that we know we want to see next time. And while the travel coaches were the best solution for us at the time, we’ll probably do things differently the next time we’re there. Don’t get me wrong, InterCity does the whole thing amazingly, especially with the type of ticket we had where you buy “miles” in advance and then spend them on distances between places. It enabled us to be very flexible in deciding where to go next, and the coaches in general are a great way of being introduced to the country and its various landscapes, and they’re equally good for getting from place to place fairly quickly. Next time, though, we’ll probably hire a car or a camper van to be even more flexible, especially with regard to my photography. There were a lot of places where I wish I could’ve stopped the coach to take a few photos.

It’s not hard to see why so many people rave about New Zealand. It is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world, both in terms of landscapes and in terms of people. I have yet to meet friendlier, more helpful people anywhere in the world. And having all those different types of landscape in a single country? How can any other place compete with that?

I can already say for sure that I’ll be back eventually. Not too soon, because getting there really is an ordeal and it only really makes sense to go with enough time off to stay for at least a month, but it’s just too wonderful a country not to go back.

© Isabella Valenza; all rights reserved. Do not repost or copy without permission.
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Week I | Week II | Week III | Week IV | Week V

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