Kia Ora from Lachie,
If our antics on the East coast of NZ weren’t enough, it was time to show the West coast just what we had left in us. From a midnight assault on a volcano to crawling deep into caves, and surfing to flash flood hikes, the saying ‘Ain’t no rest for the wicked’ comes to mind.
It was cool and clear at Mt. Taranaki on the South West Coast as we walked out of the carpark at 4am. With the active volcano silhouetted against the milky way we climbed up above the clouds to a hut for a beautiful sunrise.
To recover from our early morning start there was no option other than to head down to New Plymouth to surf between the spectacular pyramid islands we’d seen from the volcano. Exploring the beach, we found a 100m sand dune to slide down, burning our feet on the scorching black sands of the west coast in the process.
To cool our feet down, we swam out to one of the several islands sitting off the coast. Swimming above stingrays and below the beating sun, we eventually stumbled across a pretty surreal rock pool. Not only did it have a stunning view and crystal clear waters, but it came with more than we could ever ask for, yet another cliff to jump off.
We then high-tailed it north through Auckland to the Waipu caves. Without hesitation, we donned the head torches and in we went. It wasn’t long before we ditched the hoards of people and found our own nooks and crannies to explore. Crawling on our hands and knees up a shallow stream of water, we found a huge cavern filled with hundreds of glow worms. From here we squeezed through narrow cracks that would open into huge rooms, and onwards through twisting paths and up underground streams for at least 100m. It doesn’t sound far, but trying to remember how to get out was a pretty good test for our memories.
Hitting the northern most point of our trip, we hiked over some hills and into the secluded Lane Cove Hut. After swimming in the rain and getting a tour on a couples’ boat, the evening settled in. Several games of cards later and a series of escalating bets found Lachie not eating dinner, Ana having to sleep on the floor, and the boys only being able to eat peanut butter for the whole next day. A compromise was eventually struck to cancel the bet for the boys providing they walked the 2 hours back to the car naked.
The challenge was accepted. Arriving back at the car, Pat realised he had left behind his favourite pair of shorts, so ran the whole way back to the hut to get them. As he re-tied his shoes after a small river crossing a loud gunshot and ricochet about 15m away got his attention. After the shooters confirmed he wasn’t a DOC agent (Department of Conservation, our version of Parks Victoria) they came down to apologise for the mix up and sent him on his way. Apparently the land had been handed back to the Maori people and they were sick of DOC still trying to manage the land. Gunshots became one of their preferred methods of scaring DOC off. Who’d have thought…..
With all the excitement of the last three weeks coming to a close, we all went our separate ways for the last night before we left for South America. Pat recouped at his uncles place, Paige was dropped at an Auckland Servo to hitch her way to Christchurch, and Ana and I went for one last trip out to the Waitakeries. As night fell, we could see a big storm chasing us across the black sand dunes and up a deep valley to shelter. Having breakfast the next morning a ranger said hello after coming out to check we were still alive. Not having noticed anything in our secluded valley, the big storm had actually wreaked havoc just over the hill, causing serious damage, injuring several people and even killing two. At the car we did a final pack of the bags and then it was off to the airport to meet Pat, and fly out to Santiago.
Massive massive shout-out to Paige England and Ana Ross for being the absolute legends they are, bringing lots of fun to the party and embracing the many dumb things.
Looking at a map, you could call it a trip for the geographically challenged, but my word we had a good time.
At the moment we’re cruising around Patagonia and will have some more updates for you shortly about hitchhiking adventures and doing the southern most trek in the world. But for the mean time, we’ll leave you with some key stats from our time in NZ. YEW!
> Peanut butter consumed = 8kg
> Kumra chips eaten = 20 scoops
> Rides hitched = 16
> Nights Camping = 17
> Nights couchsurfed = 2
> Nights paid for = 2
> Total spent over the 3 weeks (per person) = $200