Author: Edwin (page 1 of 6)

The last day of the adventure – New Zealand top 10

It’s the last day of the adventure. Last night I checked in for my flight and tonight I fly back to the Netherlands. I chose to spend my last money on a seat with extra leg space, because I enjoyed that a lot on the flight to here. I’m not really looking forward to fly 25 hours again, but I’ve got a lot of movies and books, so I think I’ll manage. I was thinking that if I watch the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings again, I’ve already covered about 18 hours, but I’m not sure yet what I’ll do.

Just like yesterday morning I start the day with lighting the fireplace. It feels like a nice thing to do to start the day with. Then I have a shower and breakfast and finish packing my bag. It feels like a great victory when I’ve packed everything in my backpack. I think it’s never been so full, but I’ve managed to take almost everything with me. I still need to put my laptop in my hand luggage, but I first need it for writing this last post. I’m listening to the music of The Shire and I know that there is one place I’ll miss the most. It has been a great adventure and I’m thankful for the great time I had here in New Zealand.

This afternoon I’ll drive back to Auckland, return the car and go to the airport. I thought about what would be a good way to finish this blog and got the idea to write down my personal top ten things of this adventure. So here we go:

New Zealand Top 10

1. Visiting Hobbiton (both times, but mostly the visit at night).
2. Camping in Rivendell.
3. Hiking at Mount Cook.
4. Staying in the Hippo Lodge in Queenstown for a week.
5. Visit Dunedin and do a journey by train through the mountains.
6. Camping at Bay of Islands.
7. Hiking in Edoras, Lord of the Rings land.
8. Climbing Mount Doom.
9. Learning to surf.
10. Having breakfast at the beach.

Thanks to everyone who was part of this adventure, both here and back home following the blog. I’ve met many great people during my travels and visited beautiful places. I believe that traveling is a great way to discover new things, about yourself and the world you live in. This journey wasn’t always easy, but I’m happy with how things went and have collected many new good memories.

When I return the car to the rental company and see the same lady again, it feels like it’s been much more than seven weeks. It seems like a lifetime ago that I started the road trip here. As I hand over the keys of my campervan I slowly start to realise that the adventure is over. Even though I’m looking forward to go home and see my family and friends again, I also feel some sadness that it’s over. It has been a great time here in New Zealand and a journey I’ll never forget.

I get back tot the airport and go on my way home again. I could write many words now about how horrible the flight back is, but I want to finish this blog on a positive note. I just want to strongly recommend everyone to never fly with Malaysia Airlines, it was the worst customer experience with flying I’ve ever had. After a big delay and over 30 hours of traveling I finally arrive in Amsterdam and am glad to be back.

It takes a long journey to get to New Zealand, but I think it is worth it. If you love nature and hiking, you’ll have a great time there. It’s a country with beautiful nature, some places wild and untouched by humans. You can go on great adventures and live close to nature. You can see most of the country in about five to six weeks and like many others I recommend to spend at least as much time at the South Island as at the North Island. I’ve seen most of the country and had great adventures. I’m not sure if I’ll ever return to New Zealand, but it’s for sure a beautiful part of the world worth a visit at least once in a lifetime.

Getting ready to go home

I wake up in the small house and stay in bed for a moment thinking what I shall do today. I think it’ll be a day of errands, cleaning the car and doing laundry before I travel home tomorrow. I get dressed and walk to the large house where I light on the fireplace and see if I can already check in for the flight. It turns out that checking in is not until tonight. For a tall guy like me it’s important to be one of the first to check in, to get a place with some extra leg space.

It’s nice and quiet here. Except for the birds there are no sounds outside. It sure is a lovely place to rest. I take a shower and make myself breakfast. While drinking a cup of coffee I read a book. Life is good. I collect all my laundry, which is quite a lot after a couple of weeks of camping and I think that the laundry will take most of the morning to do. They told me I could cut some logs for the fireplace and I eagerly give that a try. But since I’ve never done that before I don’t manage to cut the big logs and choose the small logs instead. I think I have to ask my dad to teach me how to cut logs when I’m back home.

Lighting the fireplace in the morning
Trying to cut wood
Doing the laundry
Hanging the laundry
Pizza and beer

The rest of the morning I spend doing some webdevelopment work in between the errands. The family who owns the house also have their own business and yesterday we talked about how challenging it can be to let it go for a while. We agreed that it’s a good sign and that you love your work. The father of the family told me yesterday that time flies when you’re here and he’s right. Before I know it, it’s half way the afternoon. The day is flying by. It’s interesting how just a few weeks ago I wanted time to go home, but now I almost feel like I would stay longer. Almost, because I’m also looking forward to see my family and friends again, though it’s very nice to be here.

I start with one of the biggest challenges of traveling, packing my bags. It’s hard to fit everything in, because I bought new clothes and some souvenirs. I’ve watched YouTube videos with tips for packing, but I think I’m just not such a talent in this. There are still some clothes hanging out to dry and I really hope I can fit everything in. After packing the most things I go outside to clean my car a bit, so it looks good when I return it tomorrow. Then I drive to town to get a pizza. I’ve decided to end this relax day with a pizza and another movie. I still got some beers cold in the fridge, so it’ll be a relaxed evening. Tomorrow morning I’ll pack the last things and drive to Auckland to return the camper and get my flight back home.

Visiting Cathedral Cove and receiving the biggest surprise at the end of the journey

When I wake up, I look at the map to see what I will do today. There is another touristic place I haven’t been yet, about two hours from where I am. Cathedral Cove is a beautiful beach, some people told me. It was on my original New Zealand todo list, but I skipped it because it was quite out of the route. Now I have another day to spend here, so I decide to visit it after all.

I’m thinking of calling this post ‘Racing in Coromandel’, but since the rental company told me it’s not allowed to race, I’ll call it driving. Let’s just say that the trip is a nice practice for my driving skills. The route goes via winding roads between hills filled with many trees. I think it’s a combination of getting hungry for breakfast and that the road is so inviting for it that I drive quite fast. I take a mental note that I won’t drive before breakfast too often. When I arrive at the coast after about two hours, I can see why this place is popular. The view of the bay with little islands and high cliffs is very beautiful. I walk the path down to Cathedral Cove. It’s a nice walk between beautiful plants and trees. I expected it to be a walk of a few minutes, but it actually takes half an hour to get to Cathedral Cove.

Driving through Coromandel
Walking to Cathedral cove 3
Me at Cathedral cove 2
Walking to Cathedral cove
Cathedral cove 2
Pretty flowers at the walk to Cathedral cove
Me at Cathedral cove
Me at Cathedral cove 3

While I’m walking to the cove, I’m hoping it’ll be worth the two hour drive and half an hour walk. When I arrive at the beach, I know it is. The bay is very beautiful and quiet. The cove is huge and you can walk through it to go to another beach. When I’m inside the cove I ask a lady to take my picture. She turns out to be from Belgium and we speak in our own language for a moment. She’s moved here more than 20 years ago and lives here now with her family. Her husband and three children join us and we walk together at the beach. After just meeting them for a couple of minutes they tell me that they have a house nearby and that they won’t be there the coming days and that I am welcome to stay there. I’ve never experienced something like this before and thankfully accept the offer. They write down the address and tell me that the doors aren’t locked and that they’ll be there in an hour or so before they go back to their house in Auckland. Blown away by such hospitality I walk back to my car.

I drive to the house and my mouth falls open. It’s a huge vacation house made of wood. It’s hard to believe this is true. I walk to the house and indeed it’s unlocked. No one is there. I know they’ll be here this afternoon to pack their stuff and that brings me on the idea to make pancakes for the kids. I go to town to do some groceries and when I return, the family is at home. They greet my just as heartily as on the beach and show me around the house. There is a smaller house next to the big house and that’s where I can sleep, but I can use both houses, they tell me. The smaller house is really cute and has a huge bed in it, I think I’ll sleep very comfortable tonight. It’s hard to describe how thankful I feel. I didn’t see this coming on the last couple of days of this adventure. A huge house where I can stay, who had thought that?

Cathedral cove 3
Huge vacation house where I can stay
My bedroom
Walking back from Cathedral cove
Eating pancakes together
My bedroom 2
Hot water beach
They tasted well - I love this happy face
Time to relaxe

I bake pancakes and we eat together and I play with the children outside. They have a swing in a tree and a tree house and a cable runway. We have a great time and then they have to pack their stuff to go back to their house in the city. For a moment I feel sad when they are gone. It’s such a lovely family, some of the kindest people I’ve met here in New Zealand.

I walk around the house and am still amazed that I can stay here. I get my food and some clothes from the car and enjoy a nice shower. Then I sit down at one of the comfortable couches with a cold beer and I watch a movie on tv. After camping for so many weeks it’s really nice that I can spend the last days of the journey in this beautiful house.

On an adventure between green hills

It’s funny to wake up near a farm. I never knew cows can make such loud noises. Besides the cows, there are sounds of many birds and the rain on the roof of the car. I don’t mind that it’s raining, I am thankful for the great night I had in Hobbiton. It was a grand final of this trip and I’m ready to go home. Since I still have a couple of days left here, I plan to drive to another nature area today. I drive to Port Waikato, also one of the movie location of the Lord of the Rings. It’s raining the whole morning and it shows me again how special it is that we had perfect weather last night.

The cows that woke me up
Drive via beautiful green hills
The rocks I want to visit
The beach at Port Waikato
Some rocks that look like pancake rocks
Private property
Coffeeplace in Port Waikato
Getting closer to the rocks
Permission to walk further

It’s still raining when I arrive in Port Waikoto and I go a local coffee store to upload the pictures and update my blog. I also order the books of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings online, I think it’ll be nice to read them this winter. I’m not so sure what to do the coming days. It’s a strange thing to be ready to go home and still have some days left. It looks like it’ll keep on raining today, but I decide to drive to the nature area anyway. The road turns into a gravel road without notice and the scenery gets more and more beautiful. Wide spread out green hills with rock formations everywhere. It finally stops raining, which makes it even better. When I arrive at the movie location there is a sign that it’s private property and that unauthorized access is not allowed. For a moment I decide what to do and then I drive back to a farm I just passed by. A friendly man is sitting in front of the farm and I ask him if it’s his property and if I can get permission to walk there. He turns out to be the owner of the land and gives me permission to walk on it. I’m happy and drive back to where I just was and climb over the fence. First I walk through a field with cows, then a field with turkeys and finally when I get closer to the hill with rocks where I want to go, I walk by hundreds of sheep. The sheep keep running away as I walk further. The rocks are very big from nearby and except from some fences for the sheep, this area looks completely untouched. It’s so beautiful to see all these rock formations and little crooks hidden between the green hills. I think that not many tourists have walked here. I keep walking and almost get lost between the green hills that look very similar, but I find the car back after about an hour. It was a beautiful hike. It’s nice that every time when I think that the journey is almost over, I find myself on another adventure.

Some cows on the road
Beautiful nature hidden between green hills
I hiked quite far through the green hills
Iconic landscape
Beautiful nature hidden between green hills 2
Driving through the green hills of New Zealand
Big rocks in the middle of green fields
The sheep are running away
Driving on backroads of New Zealand

I decide to keep following the gravel road which goes further through the green hills. I can’t drive too fast, because the road is in quite bad condition. There are random holes in the road and sometimes there is water flowing over the road. It isn’t too bad, because it gives me the opportunity to look around and enjoy the scenery. There is no one here, only lots of sheep and some goats and cows. It’s a real backroad, mainly for the few farms that are here, I think. After about an hour I arrive in a small town. There is not much in the town, but they have a free campsite next to a football field, so I decide to stay here for the night. There are a few other cars parked, but since it’s a bit raining again everyone stays inside. I do the same and watch a movie in my car. It’s nice that even a quite ordinary day can become a bit of an adventure if you search for it. It was a beautiful hike through the green hills and steep rocks.

The best day of the journey: Another visit to Hobbiton

It’s misty this morning and usually that means it’ll be a beautiful day. I’m starting the day hopefully and after a quick shower I have breakfast at the picnic table outside. It does start a bit raining though and the sky looks pretty dark. I don’t mind it too much since there is still a long day ahead and I hope the sun will break through during the day.

I drive to the town and find a coffee place with Wi-Fi. Since I can’t go back to the campsite at the farm until 4pm, I think I’ll hang out in town until then. I update the blog and do some reading. I’m also spending some time thinking about what to do with the last days here. There is not much left here that I want to do, so it’s basically waiting until it’s Thursday and I can fly back home. There is one nature area not too far from Auckland where I still want to go and I probably need half a day to pack all my stuff, clean the car and return it. Other than that I have no plans.

While I’m sitting in the coffee place it starts to rain harder and I just hope the weather will get better later today. It’ll be great to visit Hobbiton again anyway, but I think it’s better without rain. The coffee place where I’m at is called Workmans Cafe and I decide to give some honor to the name and do a bit of work myself. I work for a couple of hours and time goes by pretty quickly. Around three o’clock I go outside again, do some groceries and go back to my car. I’m excited for the evening and drive back to the campsite at the farm.

I still have plenty of time, but can’t wait any longer and walk to Shires Rest, the pickup place for the touring bus to the Hobbiton movie set. It’s actually a bit further than I thought, but it’s a nice walk through green hills filled with many sheep. I’m very excited and arrive an hour too early. I get my ticket and sit down at a chair in The Shires Rest and read a book. When it’s about time for departure, I walk to the place where the touring bus picks us up. I’m starting to get hungry and that’s good, because the evening tour includes a big all-you-can-eat dinner.

Cloudy in the morning
Drinking coffee and doing a bit of work
Walking to Hobbiton and doing some sightseeing 3
Matamata i-site
Walking to Hobbiton and doing some sightseeing
Walking to Hobbiton and doing some sightseeing 4
Back in Hobbiton Matamata
Walking to Hobbiton and doing some sightseeing 2
Walking to Hobbiton and doing some sightseeing 5
Walking to Hobbiton and doing some sightseeing 6
Welcome to Hobbiton
The sun breaks through as we enter the Shire
Arrived at Hobbiton
Welcome to Hobbiton 2
The sun breaks through as we enter the Shire 2
First view of the Shire from the bus
Our tourguides
First Hobbit house as we enter the Shire

We get in the touring bus to the film set and our bus driver is a funny guy called Mike. He is our tour guide for tonight and makes a lot of jokes while telling everything about Hobbiton. Even though I’ve been here before, I hear many new things. When we arrive at the film set, the sun breaks through the clouds and it’s nice weather. I’m thankful and happy. We are with a group of about 40 people. Last time I was here during the day, there were many tours and many people everywhere, this time we have the whole movie set for our group, much better. We get a tour via the many Hobbit houses and just like last time we stop for a drink in the Green Dragon café. But where that was the end last time, now this is the place where the main part of the evening starts. We have to wait behind a curtain and when the curtain opens, a marvelous dining room is presented to us. Tables overflowing with all kinds of food. There is folk music playing and the fireplace is on and everyone finds a place at one of the tables. I’ve just met a couple of nice guys from England and join them on one of the large tables. There is chicken and lamb and beef, potatoes, mushrooms, vegetables and much more. I think I’ve never seen so much food on a table as tonight. Everyone is laughing and enjoying dinner. This moment is almost unreal and feels like a dream. We have a great time together and eat until we’re full. And then we have cheesecakes and sweet pies for dessert. It’s an amazing evening. After dinner we go outside again and walk once more through the Shire. The hobbit houses are beautifully lit in the dark. We walk to the party field where we all dance together for a moment before we walk back to the bus. As one of the English guys, who were here before during a day tour as well, states it perfectly: “The first time we saw the shire, the second time we experienced it.” I look back one more time, knowing that I will miss this wonderful place a lot.

We go back to our starting point and say goodbye. Mike is so friendly to give me and some other people a lift back to the campsite. I’m back in my car writing this all down and am thankful for the best night of my New Zealand adventure. There is no place like Hobbiton. It was already the highlight of my trip six weeks ago, but this night tops it by far. If you ever go to New Zealand, I highly recommend you to visit Hobbiton. A trip to New Zealand is not complete if you haven’t been here.

First Hobbit house as we enter the Shire 2
A Hobbit house 3
The path where Bilbo walked
A Hobbit house
A Hobbit house 2
the Shire
Me in front of a Hobbit house
More Hobbit houses
Me inside a Hobbit house
Me at the end of my own adventure
Me at Bags End 2
The Party Field
Our tourguide Mike in front of Bags End
Bags End
View of the Shire from one of the hills
Me at Bags End
View of the Shire from Bags End
View of the Shire from one of the hills 2
The Party Tree
Bridge to the Green Dragon
Dinner in Hobbiton 2
Roadsign to the Green Dragon
Bridge to the Green Dragon 2
Tables overflowing with food at the Green Dragon
The Green Dragon
Dinner in Hobbiton
Tables overflowing with food at the Green Dragon 2
Tables overflowing with food at the Green Dragon 3
Drinking a Pale inside the Green Dragon
Fireplace inside the Green Dragon
I start with chicken
And lamb - I have never eaten so much meat in one meal
Making new friends in Hobbiton
Me at dinner in the Green Dragon
Dessert in Hobbiton
Hobbiton at night
If I had more time, I would sit down here with a good book
A Hobbit house at night 3
Time for some dancing in the party field
A Hobbit house at night
Me in front of a Hobbit house at night
The Hobbit houses at night
A Hobbit house at night 2
Me in front of a Hobbit house at night 2
Last view of the Shire

Back to the green hills of Matamata

It’s Saturday morning and I decide to sleep in (read: I stay in bed until 8.30am). Then I take a shower and go to the main lodge and have breakfast there. Already some people are hanging out here and I talk with some of them. After breakfast I grab my laptop and do a bit of work. It’s nice to finally have a place with Wi-fi again. On the other end of the table is a girl working on a website as well and I’m happy to help her out with some code. The fact that I’m actually looking forward to working and coding back home, reconfirms me that I have the right job and that I love what I’m doing for work. Outside some people are playing guitar and there is a nice relaxed vibe here.

Walking through the jungle 2
Peopl playing guitar at the balcony
Campsite at a farm near Matamata
Walking through the jungle
Driving behind a Mini Cooper
Watching an old movie in my car

When I checked in at this lodge in the jungle yesterday, they told me that I could later decide if I want to stay longer, but when I walk to the reception this afternoon, they tell me that they already rented out my spot to someone else. I find that quite unfriendly, but accept the fact that I have to find another place again today. I think after my experience with the other hostel and now this one that I’m done with Raglan. It was good for my first surfing experience and meeting some great people, but I’m happy to go somewhere else.

I drive back to the green hills of Matamata, because I have one last activity planned tomorrow. I go to Hobbiton for the second time, this time in the evening. It costs quite a lot, but I love this place so much that I didn’t want to leave New Zealand without seeing it another time. I’ve found a campsite at a farm just 2,5 kilometers from Hobbiton, so that’s perfect. A nice old lady welcomes me and shows me where to park. Except for the green hills, there is not much here and I spend the rest of the afternoon reading a book and watching a movie. Fortunately I already had a warm meal at lunch time (leftover Spaghetti of the night before), so I don’t have to cook tonight. I just make myself a few sandwiches for dinner and enjoy some popcorn with the movie. Because this is a farm, they don’t allow campers to stay here during the day when they are working, so I think I’ll go to the town Matamata tomorrow morning and then come back at the farm at the end of the afternoon. From here I can easily walk to Hobbiton.

In the evening more cars arrive at the farm. I meet a couple from the Netherlands and from Australia. Most people here in the North just start their journey, so I’m happy to share some travel tips with them. Places to go and tips to make traveling cheaper, like the discount on the Bluebridge ferry they have available online now and the fuel discount cards for Mobile and BP. Some people ask me if I’m sad to leave the country, but I’m actually looking forward to go home and see my family and friends again. It’s been a great adventure, but I’m happy to go back to normal life.

Staying in the jungle

It’s interesting how every hostel has it’s own vibe. This surfers hostel isn’t so welcoming actually and the staff and long-stay people are quite exclusive. I didn’t mind it too much, because I liked the jacuzzi, but last night some of my travel friends who also just arrived here asked me out of the blue if I had noticed it as well. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that. It makes me appreciate again what a great job Miki had done with the Hippo Lodge in Queenstown. He made sure everyone felt welcome and was immediately included in the group, I think that’s what makes a house a home. It’s quite the opposite here, people don’t talk that much with each other and the main group just stick to themselves. Time to travel further. I say goodbye to my new friends from Germany. I’m very glad I’ve met them, that alone would be reason enough to have visited this place. I hope to meet them again some time in the Netherlands or in Germany. They recommend me to go to Raglan Roasters, a local coffee place, where I get a great cappuccino.

Raglan Roast Coffee
Main Lodge in the jungle
Couches in the living room
Parking in the jungle
Main lodge in the jungle 2
Playing pool
Little kitchen in the jungle
Free Wi-Fi
Volleyball at the beach

Yesterday during surfing I met some cool people from a hostel not too far from here, called Karioi Lodge, and I decide to there. It’s only ten minutes driving and the lodge is in the middle of the forest. They have a nice parking place for me and they have free Wifi as well. This is really a cool place, there are many wooden buildings in what looks like to be a jungle. In the main building a group of people is sitting on the wooden balcony. Inside are some couches and a huge tv. There is a big kitchen as well and there are coin machines for drinks and snacks. I think it’s a great place to relax for a day or two. I talk with some people and then sit down in the living room with my laptop to do some writing and catching up on e-mail. There is another guy with his laptop, he is from Spain and we talk a bit. I think this place is quite different than the hostel I stayed the last two days and I like it already.

In the afternoon we watch a movie on the huge tv in the living room and then some people suggest to go to the beach. We get into two cars and drive to the seaside. We play soccer and volleyball at the beach and have a great time. After traveling alone for quite some time I appreciate the company of nice people even more. We stay at the beach until dinner time and then get back to the hostel to eat dinner and chill out at the couches with another movie. The living room is quite big here and we hang out here with about ten people. I like this place and I think I will stay here for a least one more day.

First time surfing

It’s cold this morning, but when I walk to the living room one of the surfer guys already lid up the fireplace. I have breakfast and sit down at one of the couches to read a book. It’s a relaxed morning. Everyone here is telling me that I should try surfing, so I sign up to join them later in the morning. There is also a class in the afternoon, but it’s much more expensive and the people here say you can better just try it out. I decide I’ll give it a try. Around ten o’clock we come together at the reception and get a short introduction of about five minutes. We get our wetsuits and surfboards and I’m thinking by myself what I got myself into. To be honest, I’m a bit nervous about surfing, because I’ve never done it before. We get into a car and drive to the beach. I’m together with three people from Germany and Austria, also beginners.

When we get into the sea, I’m surprised by how warm a wetsuit keeps you. It’s not cold at all. It helps of course that it’s a bright sunshiny day. The first hour I don’t like surfing at all. People around me keep saying “this is so much fun!”, but I can’t see the fun at all yet. Getting the seawater smashed in your face over and over gets quite annoying. You really need some patience and determination for learning to surf and I wonder if I have it. After an hour I go back to the beach, ready to give up. When I’ve been sitting on the sand for five minutes I decide to give it another try. I go far in the water and after a couple more tries I manage to catch a wave with my knees on the board. That already feels great and is motivating enough to keep trying. I actually find it becoming more fun as well and don’t mind the seawater smashing in my face all the time anymore. I’m enjoying it more and more and after a while I finally manage to get on the board standing. Even though it’s only for a few seconds, it feels as a big victory. From that moment on I really enjoy surfing and I feel like I could do this all day. I have a great time in the water and only when the wind gets stronger and the waves are not so good anymore I finally go back to the beach. I’m glad I kept going when I thought about giving up, surfing is indeed a lot of fun!

Fireplace in the morning
Getting ready to surf
Nice burger place
Chill living room
Me after a couple of hours surfing
Having burgers and fries with a new friend from Germany

When we’re back at the hostel and have the boards and wetsuits cleaned I can’t wait to get back in the hot tub. It’s even better after a couple of hours of surfing. I stay in the hot tub for about an hour and then one of my new German friends asks me if I want to join her for a burger at a burger place across the bridge. Of course I’m in for that and we enjoy a great burger and fries together. After dinner we do some groceries at the small local supermarket and I get some more beers, I think we’ve earned it after today. It feels good to have been so active. I’m not sure yet if I’ll do it again tomorrow. I heard the weather is gonna get worse, so as usual I’ll see in the morning what I’ll do. While surfing I met some cool people who stay in another hostel not to far from here, so I think I’ll move to there tomorrow. This hostel was nice, but somehow I didn’t like the vibe so much. The guests were nice, but the people that work here seem a bit unfriendly. Some of them are Dutch, but refuse to speak Dutch at all, even in one-on-one conversations. They act like they are from here, while they’re clearly not of course. For me that’s strange, because all Dutch people I’ve met before were very kind and eager to speak some Dutch as well. I speak a bit of German with the German people here, but they’re actually quite good in English, so we mainly speak English here.

I’m glad that I went surfing, something that had been on my bucket-list for quite some time. I still need to learn a lot, but we had a lot of fun today and I really enjoyed it. I think I’ll do it again some time.

Staying at a surfers hostel

I’m nearby Auckland, where I started this journey about six weeks ago. I’ve seen the things that I wanted to see and am ready to go home. The issue is that I still have a week here in New Zealand. I’ve looked into flying back earlier, but that was too expensive. So I have got some time to kill here in the Southern Hemisphere. This morning I’m quite blank on what to do today. After breakfast and a shower I drive on the road by the beach to the small city Tauranga where I stop for a cup of coffee and internet to make a plan for today. One of the good things of the blog is that it stimulates me to do things, so I have stories to write.

Another beach at Tangarino
Maybe I can stay here for a night 2
Roadtrip to Raglan 2
Another beach at Tangarino 2
And I thought that I have big feet
Beautiful New Zealand green hills
Maybe I can stay here for a night
Roadtrip to Raglan 2
Wendys Hamburgers

I decide to drive to a town on the west coast called Raglan, about two hours from where I am now. Some time ago a traveler I met had told me that there is a nice surfers hostel there and I plan to check it out. Half way the road trip to Raglan I see a big sign of Wendy’s Burgers, a typical American fast food place. I’m surprised, I didn’t know they were here as well. Their burgers aren’t that special, but it’s still a nice place to go and so I stop there for a lunch break. It actually makes me miss America. The funny thing is that often while I’m traveling, I’m missing America just as much, if not more than, as the Netherlands. For a moment I play with the thought to change my return flight to a flight to America, but I really have to do some work after this adventure, so I will first go back to the Netherlands.

I continue driving to Raglan, which is less than an hour away now. When I arrive at the hostel I can see why that travel friend was so excited about this place. It looks really cozy with a big yard with hammocks, a jacuzzi and a sauna. There is a shower outside and many surfboards against the wall. I don’t know yet if I’m going to surf, but I’m quite sure I like this place. There is also a living room and a kitchen. After checking in I first sit down in a swinging bench for a moment to read a book. Then I want to try the jacuzzi. I get myself a cold beer, take a shower and take a seat inside the hot pool. A cold beer inside a hot tub is a perfect combination, I learned that many years ago from my friends in California. I enjoy it here again.

Surfers hostel in Raglan
Reading at a swing bench
having dinner with a German couple
Surfters hostel
Me sitting at a swing bench
Sunset in Raglan
Swing bench

After a while of enjoying the hot tub alone, a friendly couple from Germany joins me. We start talking about traveling and so and it turns out they’ve also done a road trip in America, enough stories to share. After the hot tub we decide to have dinner together and sit at a big wooden table in the yard. After traveling alone for some days, it’s nice to meet new people again. The guy picks up a guitar and plays for a bit. We talk and after dinner I bring out some ice cream that I bought this afternoon in the supermarket. I love to share ice cream and make other people happy with it as well. The girl is surprised that I can eat so much sweet stuff and still look sportive. I find it a nice compliment and also a good reminder that I should eat healthier when I’m back home. When this journey is over, I’m determined to eat healthy again. After dinner they go to bed and I also return to car. I have chosen to just sleep in my camper instead of a dorm room. It saves me some money and I actually prefer sleeping in my own room. I booked this place for two nights, so I stay here in Raglan until Friday. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do the coming days. Maybe I’ll try surfing or else I’ll just have some relaxing days in this small town next to the sea.

A long drive and listening to a book

This morning I wake up just after sunrise, but still in time to take some nice pictures again. I look at my phone and have some texts from work, so after I have breakfast and sit at the beach again for a while, I go back to Starbucks to do some necessary work. It’s nice to wake up early, this way I can do the things that need to be done and then still have a long day ahead of me. I plan on driving to the North West. The shortest way is to go back the way I came, but I don’t want to drive the same road again, so I take a small detour to the North.

Another beautiful sunrise
Long drive 2
Quick stop at a pretty river
Another beautiful sunrise 2
Long drive 3
Listening to a book
Long drive 1
Palm trees
Arrived at another beach

The small detour is actually a seven hour drive instead of five hours. Normally I love to drive, but knowing that it’s a long ride to get out of Napier again, I don’t feel so much like driving today. Fortunately it’s a beautiful ride and what makes it even better is that I have the audiobook I got yesterday. It’s the latest book of Richard Branson, very inspiring and enjoyable. I read another book from him during my vacation last year and this one is just as great. When you read or listen to one of his books, it’s like you’re having a cup of tea with him while he’s telling his life story about all the business adventures he has had. The drive is long, but I barely notice it while I’m listening to the audiobook. Before I know it, it’s evening and I have to find a camping place. I manage to find the camping I was looking for, but it’s fully booked. Fortunately the guy behind the counter is very friendly and they make an extra spot available. I’m glad, because even though I didn’t notice the time so much, I do feel quite tired after driving for about seven hours. I park my car and walk to the beach which is just a couple of minutes away. After I got some fresh air I walk back to the camping where there is a kitchen filled with people from Germany and French. I speak with some of them and make myself some soup for dinner. Most of the people I speak are here for long term and do a combination of work and vacation. It’s quite hard to find free campings in this area, so I might drive a bit further tomorrow, but at least I’m not too far from Auckland anymore, so I don’t have to drive too much in the last week here.

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