New Adventures

So begins another exciting trip down south!

We finally finished up our time working in Coromandel, we picked up another job on D’urville Island and have about five days to get there so we booked ourselves a road trip to our new job. Stay tuned for info on the new job.

We will first take a two hour ferry ride to Auckland from Coromandel Town.

In Auckland we will stay at a hostel called Base X. It’s a standard hostel with six beds in a room, a shared bathroom per floor and several other travelers buzzing around common spaces.

The next morning we will pick up our rental car downtown and drive about two hours to Rotorua where we will look for some fun adventures such as hikes, attractions and sightseeing. From Rotorua we will then drive the rest of the way to Whakatane where we booked ourselves an Airbnb. It’s a backyard cottage with a small kitchen, bathroom and queen sized bed! Finally going to get to sleep in a full sized bed (it’s been a while).

The next day we leave Whakatane for Gisborne, a small town with a shopping center and beautiful beaches. From Gisborne we drive four hours to Napier to our next Airbnb. A small shed (love shack) with a bed and access to a working artists’ full home with colorful paintings, kooky lawn ornaments and a well deserved complementary bottle of wine after our long travel.

The next morning in Napier we will travel downtown to an Art Deco town and do some fun hikes along the way. After that we head up another two hours to Turangi and stay at a farm with serval tiny houses all lined up for guest to come and share a communal kitchen, bathroom and living area. With no WiFi or electricity we will hangout with other travelers and relax in our tiny home for the night.

The next morning the real adventure begins with the Tongariro Crossing, also known as the Mt. Doom hike from Lord of the Rings. This hike will take us between 6-8 hours. We’ll track through emerald colored lakes, up active volcanos and past hot thermal land. Ending the day back in the car for a three hour drive to Wellington and another Airbnb.

In Wellington we will stay with a local cheese maker! She’ll have dinner prepped and hopefully some cheese from her goat farm. Ending the night with a well deserved sleep.

The next morning we take off from the Wellington harbor to Picton on a ferry, then hitchhike to Blenheim where we’ll stay at our last Airbnb for the night and prepare to get picked up the next morning by our employer Rachel!

The next day we will purchase a few groceries and head straight to Rachel’s boat where we will take a short trip to D’urville Island where she lives and thus begins the two month adventure on the Island!

So excited to kick these next few days with lots of driving, traveling, sightseeing and exploring the rest of the North Island before starting our travels through the South Island.

Stay tuned for details on our stops along the way and about our new job!

Stay Cheeky Friends

-David Martinez & Ethan Masselli

Hot Water Beach & Cathedral Cove

The most popular attractions here in the Cormandel area are Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. We knew about both when we decided to take this job. After being here just over a month we felt it was time to check it out. The only reason backpackers seem to stay here is to go to both of these destinations, so we were beginning to feel left out.

Two of our coworkers, a couple from the Czech Republic, were moving on in a day so we figured there was no better time. The five of us split the cost of renting the car here at The Anchor Lodge and we were on our way! It was a sunny Friday, perfect for hiking and lounging on the beach. I did the driving, which I prefer, through the winding roads in the hills. Driving here can be sooo dicey. We had to pass through the mountains to get to the opposite coast where the beaches were. The roads are barely wide enough for two cars to fit through, one side walled off by a cliff (“beware of falling rocks”) the other a drop off without a guardrail. We made it to Hot Water Beach just in time for some rain, but showers don’t tend to last long here in NZ. When the rain subsided we were on our way with shovels in hand! What makes Hot Water Beach hot is a hot spring located under the beach. The warm water bubbles up and if you dig a hole on the beach the hole will fill with very hot water. Some spots are warmer than others. We found a spot that was too hot to even touch with your feet. David got cozy in a hole and covered himself in warm sand. The beach was crowded, mostly because the area where the warm water is is somewhat small. I’m sure in the summer it’s almost impossible to find a spot for yourself. After a few of us were all pruney it was time to head to Cathedral Cove.

The two beaches are only 20 minutes apart so it was a quick drive over. In order to get to the cove you have to go on a quick 45 min walk. On our way there we found ourselves in a clearing where a few hundred saplings had been planted for a WWII memorial. Through the opening you can see a cliff that overlooks the ocean with a small semi-worn-out trial. Before we could decide if we would put in the extra mileage David was already sprinting towards the precipice. We all followed suit. The view was rewarding as we stood inches from our demise. We resumed our joinery toward the cove after admiring the view and fighting our fear of heights. The view from the cove is breath taking. It’s almost like an amusement park created by Mother Nature herself. There’s a smooth cut out in the cliff perfect for sitting and watching the waves caress the beach, a small cave occupied by families of crabs, water propelling itself from the cliff above, a large archway welcoming you to the other half of the beach where the Cathedral shaped pillar awaits. Words can’t quite describe the views, so I’ll post as many pictures below as I can.

We had a fantastic day together. It was also nice getting out and seeing new views again, it has prompted us to begin our search for our next location. Also worth noting: we decided that at the end of our year in NZ we’ll continue our journey around the world before we head back to the states. It only makes sense, it’ll be cheaper and our view of the world has changed. We’ve started to feel like the world is something you can conquer. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.

Ethan M.

Coromandel Hike

We’ve been in Coromandel Town for almost two weeks now. We sorely apologize for our lack of attention to the website, we just seemed to have fallen into a routine. As you know we are working while in Coromandel Town, which has turned out to be a bit different than we had expected, and it has taken up most of our energy. Lots has happened in two weeks, but this post will be about a hike we did. Don’t worry, I’ll be posting a couple more things over the next few days about working, meeting people, and other tid-bits. But anyway, here’s how our journey began:
One of our coworkers Narumi brought home a map of surrounding hikes we could do. David and I hadn’t been on a good hike since arriving in Coromandel Town so we were itching for one. To our amazement there are many around here that go up through the mountains or down around the bay. The longest hike on the map caught my eye, Kaipawa Track, 2 hours one way. I figured if we had an early day we could all scoot out by noon or one and be back before sunset. Most of our longer adventures David and I tend to be quite optimistic on time and difficulty, which has come back to bite us. But we’ve made it safely home every time though. This hike would consist of: A 30 min walk from our lodge to a short 15 min walk (Taumatawahine Track) which leads to Success Track which is 50 min long and connects to Kaipawa Track (the two hour track). There and back would take us about 6 hours, and with the sun setting at about 5:30pm leaving at 1:00pm really wouldn’t give us enough time. We left at 1:00pm.
The first couple of hours was easy, mainly just hot. The sun was out and the trail was wide enough for the rays to make their way down to us. The trail was steep as we were traversing a mountain, and later, many mountains. We came across lots of dark tunnels once used for mining. We even stumbled upon an old abandoned tractor that was stuck at the top of a landslide. Once we hit the largest of the three tracks were ready for a break. We sat with a beautiful view ahead of us and got something in our stomachs as we prepared for the rest of our adventure. The next leg was a doozy. The trail become less and less maintained and even more sloped (not a great combination). Narumi and I fell a few times. Though the track was difficult the scenery was breathtaking. As we ascended into the maintain top we entered the clouds above. Every morning I look out at the mountains we were standing on and see the clouds rolling over their tops. It’s very rare that I get to see their tips. Now as we hiked, we were in those clouds. The temperature dropped dramatically as the clouds blew by us. We came upon a weather vain (or so I think) and thought we had reached the end of our trail. We stopped for a quick break and a photo shoot and then we were on our way.

We quickly realized that we were in fact only half way through the longest track. With the sunset only an hour and a half away, and us more than 3 hours from home, we decided to forge ahead as the trail would lead us to a road we could take back. In the last photo of the three above you can see the clouds and how thick they were, this is also the road that the trail lead us to. From the road it was only an hour and a half hike back home. Somewhere along the road I left our water bottle, don’t ask me how. I’m quite upset about it actually, it was from L.L. Bean, and thought not expensive, it had sentimental value.
One thing you will quickly notice in NZ is the abundance of fruit trees, mainly lemon and mandarin (this may only be because of the season) in peoples lawns. The trees are always packed full of fruit, seemingly untouched. I believe this is due to the seasonality of the homes here, and now is not the season to be in them. Every tree we passed we assessed the possibility of procuring some of the sweet citrus that hung in wait. We did find a row of trees near a seemingly quiet home, but I only had the courage to grab three.
We made it home not long after sunset with aching bodies.
This land is beautiful. We are so lucky to be able to be here and to observe everything it has to offer. And we’re thankful for the friends we’re making along the way, especially the ones that’ll tolerate David and I on long hikes.

Ethan M.

Hobbiton

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien

One word can only begin to describe our time in Hobbiton, magical. As you make your way through this country you are captivated by the landscape, and as you approach Hobbiton it's no different. The entrance is nondescript, just a farm with winding roads and rolling green hills on either side dotted with sheep and cows, but mostly sheep. You eventually make your way to a small building that houses the gift shop, small cafe, and ticket counter. We had pre-purchased tickets to the evening tour and banquet (which I highly recommend, you will see why). From the small house you board a bus that takes you into the rolling hills where Hobbiton is hid. The tour guides are deserving of a shout-out. We had three: one who drove the bus and pride himself on terrible dad jokes, and two others who were walking tour guides. The two tour guides split us evenly to help with congestion on the small hobbit sized paths. Our tour guide, Glyn was just as magical as Hobbiton itself. He embodied what it meant to be a Hobbit and loved the tales of Hobbits past. Glyn brought us through the paths and described secrets from the set, the passion that has been poured into the hills, and filled us in on Hobbit lore. From the weathered Hobbit-holes, to the growing gardens and flowers, to the breads and honey out for sale, it looked as if it was a fully functioning Hobbit community. Five gardeners work 50 hour a week to keep the grounds as if Hobbits live and thrive there.
We ascended the hillside to Bag End where Bilbo and Frodo lived. As we made our way up the hill we past Hobbit-holes of different size and color. You could tell the profession of the Hobbit from the contents outside their door, from honey to chopped wood, bread and hanging meats. From Bag End you could see all of Hobbiton and beyond, from the pond to the Green Dragon Inn to the mountains in the distance. The sun was setting and it lit up the sky pink. The Hobbits were turning in for the night as their front porch lights flicked on and the path before us was lit by lanterns. We descended back down the hill toward the Green Dragon Inn where our feast awaited. The path back down led us over a bridge past a water mill.
The Green Dragon Inn sat at the edge of Hobbiton across the pond. When we entered there was a curtain to our left and a warm, open, wooden pub to our right. At the bar our tour guides waited for our orders as the first drink is on the house. They had a cider, stout and ale on tap that was exclusive to Hobbiton and not available for sale. We started with the cider which was crisp and delicious. Across from the bar was a roaring fire. Down the Inn further to the right were little sitting areas surrounded by round archways and round windows (in Hobbit fashion). As soon as everyone had their first drink in them they counted down from 3 and opened the curtain. Behind the curtain waiting for us were three long tables filled high with foods of all kind. Everyone hurried to find a seat. Before us were whole chickens, potatoes, stuffed peppers, lamb legs, meatballs, mushrooms, salmon, mashed potatoes, and so much more. We all passed around what was in front of us making sure that no one missed out on anything. In the dining hall was a bar with a fierce green dragon carved out above it. There of course was a fire lit with a beautiful hearth and a couple of arm chairs. Perched atop one of the chairs was an old calico cat sitting upright and alert. Not too long after we began our feast she made her way over to my chair somehow knowing I was her best bet for some scraps of food, and she was not disappointed.
After we all had our fill it was time for dessert. Quickly the staff cleared our tables and replaced our scraps with a tray of mini pies of assorted flavor, cheesecake, a cheese plate, and a NZ favorite pavlova. They also had coffee and tea available at the bar. I could feel the food up to my throat but I managed to eat a pie (or two) and had a cup of coffee by the fire. As I sat watching the fire, surrounded by laughter I felt a warm feeling rise inside of me (and it wasn't just the food). I wished I could just sit there all night, drinking beer, eventually making my way up to a little bed. The architecture was perfect, wooden arches, shelfs with "old" books, flyers pinned to the sides of the bar. I was full of good food, surrounded by merry people, and being warmed by the fire, how could life be any better?
Alas, it was time to end the night. We all slowly made our way out of the Green Dragon Inn with lanterns in hand for our return journey. Glyn told us some final tales as we made our way into the field where Bilbo's famous 111th birthday was held. We formed a circle and our tour guides sang Hobbit songs as we danced about. The sky was full of stars and so were our eyes.
Anyone making their way to New Zealand MUST go to Hobbiton. 30% of the people that go to Hobbiton haven't read or seen any of the movies/books, so don't think you shouldn't go if you don't know the tales. It's a beautiful place filled with joy and magic.

"Far over the misty mountains old
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold…" Dwarven songs, The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien

Ethan M.

Dune Ride to Cape Reinga

After spending a few rainy days inside it was time for an adventure! Our days here in Paihia are quickly coming to an end and we still have a couple of things we have to check off. We booked a dune rider trip through Explore here in Paihia (http://www.exploregroup.co.nz/en/unique-experiences/dune-rider-cape-reinga/). The trip included a bus ride up through the Northland to Cape Reinga which is the northern most point in NZ, and where the first settlers came from Polynesia. The trip took the entire day with plenty of stops along the way. Our first was at a little cafe and gift shop selling 45,000 year old Kauri trees that had been dug up in the surrounding area. The Kauri tree is very special to NZ as well as the Maori culture. It is the oldest and largest tree here in NZ, as well as the second largest species of tree in the world. We continued our journey north with our driver filling us up with NZ and Maori knowledge along the way.

We arrived at the 90 mile beach and that’s when things got interesting. As we made our way onto the beach our driver stressed that recent rains have packed down the sand which made driving easier. This was after he acknowledged the signs you pass as you enter with pictures of cars and busses stuck on the beach. We cruised along at about 70 mph with the waves of the Tasman crashing on one side and the dunes whipping in the wind on the other. As we made our way down the beach our driver Paul instructed us that towards the end of the beach is where everyone has been getting stuck recently. There’s a river that feeds into the Tasman and cars and busses had been getting stuck there recently. When we got to the river Paul exited the bus to look ahead and gauge the path. After a good look he decided it was ok to pass. He backed the bus up as far as he could and slammed on the gas. We cruised along the sandy river with the back of the bus fish tailing as we rounded each corner. Once up the river a bit he parked us between giant hills of sand dunes, it was time to ride the dunes.

We all exited the bus and were each handed boogie boards. We crossed a stream barefooted with pants rolled up and began to ascend the enormous sand dune. At the peak of the dune the sand was whipping hard, not a great feeling on bare skin. The driver instructed us on how to ride the dune with our boogie boards: weight in the back, hands on the front, feet as breaks. Feet as breaks was the most important instruction seeing as at the foot of the dune was a pretty wide stream. You only had a couple feet to stop before you got soaked. After a few runs down the dune, sand everywhere you didn’t want it, and a couple of rowdy boys soaked to their briefs it was time to make our way to the tip of NZ.
We arrived at Cape Reinga with a storm on the horizon but our spirits high. The beauty of this place can not be put into words so I will post as many pictures as I can. The northern most tip has a tiny little lighthouse overlooking the line where the Tasman and the Pacific Ocean meet. This is where, not too many years ago, 7 ships docked after a long ride from Polynesia. Here is where a tree clings to the rocks that the Maori believe is where all souls come after they exit the body. The wind was hitting us as hard as it could, the rain felt like bb’s against our face, but nothing could’ve taken the beauty from that place.

Before we started our trip back down to Paihia we still had our BBQ to go to! We stopped at a rugby club with a feast waiting for us. Everyone was quiet as they ate, reflecting on everything they saw, and exhausted from scaling the sand dunes. We made our way back onto the bus and enjoyed the view as we drove south.
This was our first paid trip since arriving in NZ. We’ve been reluctant to take one of these trips for a few reason: price, the chance it’s too commercial, or just too touristy. But this did not disappoint. The driver Paul really added to the experience, his knowledge of the land and it’s significance really added to the experience. His accent was also very endearing. The trip was only NZ$129 each, so you can’t beat it!

Ethan M.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds 

Today we went to the spot where New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed on Feb 6, 1840. This treaty was signed by representatives of the British Crown and various Maori chiefs from the North Island of New Zealand. It resulted in the declaration of British sovereignty over New Zealand and gave Maori the rights of British subjects. 

Our time there was spent touring with a guide that knew it all! With the help of little headsets, we were able to walk around and see the land and the war canoes on display while having his voice come through on the headset with valuable information on what we were seeing. We got to see the historic Treaty House, the carved meeting house, and the world's largest ceremonial war canoe. We also were lucky enough to explore the brand new Museum of Waitangi that just recently opened in 2016. At the end of our tour we got to see a cultural performance in the carved meeting house that was honestly so eye opening and exciting to see. We weren't allowed to take videos but below are some images of the performance. Overall this day was a very educational one and we enjoyed finally getting to learn a little more about the land that we are traveling around for the next year. 

Road Trip to Coromandel 

So we're narrowing down to our full month in Paihia and we finally have a plan as to where to go next! 

This is our Road Trip to Coromandel!

1) First, we hop on a bus back to Auckland which is about a four hour bus trip. 

2) Once we've arrived in Auckland, we're going to take a rental car all the way down to Arohena, a little campsite about three hours away and spend the first night away from Paihia there. 

3) The next day we're hitting up some pretty awesome places in this area (Hamilton). First stop is the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Reserve, finally going to get to see ourselves a native kiwi bird! Then we're going to take about a thirty minute hike through some amazing trials that lead us through naturally made arch ways and caves. Ending the night in a near by camp site. 

4) The next morning we're going to head up to Rotorua, a thermal land hot spot! On our way there, we'll track through a few hikes that lead up by some waterfalls and caves. Then we're headed to the Orakei Karako Geothermal Park & Cave for some more exploring. There we'll explore a volcanic world of geysers, hot springs, mud pools and caves! Close to dawn we'll head to the Te Puia Park and Geyser, we'll be entertained by local Maori in a feast of cultural storytelling and Maori Kai (Indegenous Food). Ending the night at another local campsite hopefully stuffed and ready for bed. 

5) After a very eventful night prior, we'll keep the morning somewhat relaxed as we drive up to the very anticipated adventure of them all, Hobbiton! Stay tuned on a post about that experience! After Hobbiton we'll rest up at a nearby campsite. 

6) This day will be mostly spent driving back up to Aukland to drop off the rental car and hopefully we'll do some exploring on the way. 

7) This bus ride over ends our touring for a while. We got jobs in a nearby hostel which is why our final stop is in Coromandel. Who knows what awaits us in this area for three months! Stay tuned for more! 

Stay Cheeky 

David M.