Kia Ora from Lachie,
After our week of using New Zealand’s fantastic public transport system, our Kiwi mate, Ana, picked us up for a tour of NZ. We were slightly worried that having a car would stifle some of the excitement and spontaneity that we had hitch hiking, but as I reflect to write this piece from the plane to Patagonia, there was no need to worry. We spent our final two weeks in NZ clocking ~3500 awesome kilometres around the North Island. Loaded with 4 packs, 3 boogie boards and 3 surfboards, there was no real way we could go wrong. This post about week two of our trip features cliff jumps, riding the boards down rockslides, on waves, and behind cars as well as sneaking in to secret waterfalls. So without further ado, here’s our highlight reel for week two in New Zealand.
Our first stop on our way from Port Waikato was a local secret. Ana led us up small rock climbs to get over gates, army crawling under others, and following old tracks up and down steep ridgelines to a series of ladders leading to one of the most spectacular waterfalls we found on the trip. The icy water of this waterfall kept other travellers out but couldn’t deter some crazy Aussies from making a splash.
After thawing out from our icy swim, we continued west to see what we could find. Warnings of rough dirt roads and water crossings didn’t stop us from hurtling through the night towards our next campsite. Waking up in the morning to water pooling our tents from the nights rain, we found ourselves deep in the Urutawa Hills.
Because we weren’t wet enough, it was time to explore down the river that snaked through the hilly country. Now, if you have a maths brain you’ll understand that four people don’t fit on three boogie boards. But all you creatives out there might be able to imagine how we can make that work. We rode downstream solo and tandem through a series of rapids, collecting bruises on top of bruises, but having a ripper time.
Back at the campsite we found a group of locals jumping off cliffs we had somehow managed to overlook. Joining them we practiced synchronised backflips, and got to know these friendly people.
That afternoon, with dust billowing out behind the car as Ana raced along the dirt roads, we were off again. We made it to Rere falls just in time for sunset and wasted no time grabbing out the boogie boards and sizing up our lines down the incredible natural rockslide. The slide is a wide, relatively smooth slab of slanted rock about 60m long with water pouring over the top meaning we could fly down it side by side at 50-60km/h before hitting the pool at the bottom and skimming across it.
Having made it to the East coast successfully, it was time to change tack. A few corners and a day or so later we found ourselves in the Kiamanawa hills near the centre of the North Island. A bit of time and effort well spent eventually led us down to the pools where we found some epic cliff jumps in a spot very few people seem to make it to.
Refreshed from such an incredible morning swim we made tracks past Tongariro to the coastal town of Whanganui. We stealth camped in the botanic gardens under the stars and woke early to find a cliff top ocean view for breakfast. Spying the morning dewy grass as we ate brekky, what choice did we have other than tow each other around on the boogie boards.
Two thirds of the way through our trip around NZ left us with only one week left to see what type of mischief we could get up to as we started to charge northward at full throttle. Stay tuned to hear about hiking volcanos in the night, finding an epic rock pool, getting lost in glow worm caves, and even being shot at. What a time to be alive.