NZ North: Tongoriro and Wellington

Day 8: Tongoriro

Tongoriro National park. Long walk (6:45 hrs). No words. It speaks for itself, check out the stunning pics. $35 NZ for the shuttle bus to/from your hostel, you may find a better way of doing this as we just did it through stray who don’t always offer the cheapest option but always the easiest!

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Day 9: Wellington

Capital of NZ. Smaller than Auckland.  It has a more creative feel here rather than the business feel of Auckland.  It’s known for its museums, music and film production scene (Lord of the Rings of course…. aghhhhhh).

It was very wet and windy here, had to go out and buy a new rain jacket and long trousers (NZ is expensive so be prepared for the weather before you arrive).

Day 10: South island commences

Early ferry to the south island. Everyone (but us – too busy sleeping) saw dolphins swimming next to the ferry 🙂  The scenery was amazing on the way in – it sets up the south island well.

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NZ North: Lake Aniwheniwer and Blue Duck Station

In the afternoon we drove to Lake Aniwheniwer which is a cultural stop. A Maori family own a hostel and have close links with the local community and mori for their tribe. So in that afternoon they take you to look at some stone wall carvings and then to the mori where they welcome you onto the land by singing and everyone completes the hongi.

That night they cook a hangi which is a traditional meal cooked in the ground. This was pretty tasty; mainly the stuffing!

This one night stop costs $95 dollars so it’s pretty pricey but quite a unique experience.  If your tight on money, work out your alternate route (Rotorua to Taupo) in advance otherwise you won’t end up saving money. Unless you plan to hitchhike!

There were great (paid) activities you could do throughout the afternoon such as bracelet weaving, bread making, poi making and in the late evening eeling.

Can definitely recommend the bread making as it tasted so good ( its fried like doughnuts) and the late night eeling – used to feed the next stray bus so no waste.

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Day 6 AM: Lake Aniwheniwer day trip to a maori school.

This was a very unique and nice experience to share with the kids from the school.  Their school was fantastic and it was lovely to hear about their progress with their academic achievements because of the visits.

Day 7: Blue duck station (farm)

Quiet day just enjoyed being in the middle of nowhere.  Did a long and very muddy walk to a waterfall.

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TIP

If you are not on the Stray bus it’s not necessarily worth the detour.  There are hikes there but we couldn’t do them due to the bad weather.

NZ North: Hobbiton and Rotorua

Day 4: Lord of the Rings tour on route to Rotorua

From Raglan we drove onto Rotorua. We didn’t have much time to do anything that night because we spent 3 hours wandering around Hobbiton – so fun. Definitely for everyone and not just the hard core LotR fans.

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TIP

Use bookme.co.nz for this trip

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Day 5 Rotorua

The next morning we went on a geothermal walk. It was interesting to learn about and see all the pools but the walk was a bit lengthy and sometimes difficult to hear the guide.

We tried to stay in Rotorua a bit longer as one night feels really rushed, however, the bus behind us was full so we had to stick on our bus.

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IMPORTANT TIP

Before you get on the Stray bus have your route completely sorted with all the buses booked in where you want to have extra stops because unless you’ve got months to play with, time starts to constrain you to the same bus. We loved our bus, the people and the driver, Lolly, were great, but we did get a but stuck!