When we first started planning the trip, we decided to not book anything in advance in order to allow ourselves some flexibility. It worked out for the most part, and we were able to change our itinerary as we went along. Our determination to go with the flow was really tested on this leg of the trip where everything was turned topsy turvy and we had to scramble to make lots of last-minute changes. Luckily or unluckily (depending on how you look at it) we are no strangers to dealing with problems that arise while traveling.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is often promoted as New Zealand’s greatest single-day hike – maybe even the world’s. The spectacular 19.4 km track winds its way through the country’s oldest National Park and a dual World Heritage Area. The hike passes through alpine landscape, old lava fields, and even past a steaming volcano that erupted just three years ago. The place was made even more famous by its appearance in the Lord of the Ring movies as the setting for Mount Doom. Continue reading
After a short visit to the home of the hobbits, we continued on to Rotorua, a city best known for its dynamic thermal activity and Maori culture. Its location in the middle of an active Taupo Volcanic Zone, makes Rotorua a geothermal hot spot. The intense subterranean heat feeds into the numerous natural vents, hot pools, and mud pits found in and around the area. The concentration of hydrogen sulphide emission gives it it’s nickname as the “Sulphur City”. Even with the unpleasant “rotten eggs” smell that lingers in the air, Rotorua is still one of the most popular and most frequented cities in the North Island. Continue reading
For the second leg of our trip, we packed up all of our belongings and headed for Hobbiton. Before I start the article, let me caveat: I am a big fan of the Lord of the Rings; I’ve watched all the movies and read all the books. In fact, before coming to New Zealand Fausto and I re-watched all the movies in anticipation of our visit to the Hobbiton movie set. This place is the number one tourist attraction in New Zealand, and for good reason. Even for people who have not immersed themselves in the world of Middle Earth, this absolutely beautiful imagining of The Shire made it a must visit. For the LOTR fans, a visit to the home of the hobbits is a fantasy come true. Continue reading
Kia Ora – hello and welcome back. So glad you can join us for the first leg of our epic New Zealand road trip in a campervan. Sticking to our plan of staying away from the bigger cities, we decided to pick up our van from the airport in Auckland and drive straight over to Coromandel Peninsula. After a very long 20 hour flight from New York, that might not have been the best idea in hindsight but we managed anyway. We drove for 3 hours in the pouring rain and made it to Cook’s beach with just enough time to celebrate Fausto’s birthday before we both passed out. Continue reading
Meet Betsy, our trusty campervan for the trip
As you know, we traveled to New Zealand last November, but what you might not know is that we spent most of our trip in a campervan. We agonized over this decision for a few months – getting bogged down with questions, pro/con lists, and budget considerations. Ultimately we decided to go through with it because we wanted to experience the magnificent beauty of New Zealand on the road unencumbered. Renting a campervan was one of the best decisions we made for the trip.