En route – A trip with my parents
For the first time in my travels, my parents were able to come over and join me on a trip of four weeks. I enjoyed having them here, especially after 16 months of not seeing each other. It’s the same amount of time that I stayed away from home on my first big journey overseas. Only this time round there is no end in sight…
After leaving our jobs behind, Sarah and I hang out around the scenic Kawau Bay while waiting for my parents to arrive in Auckland. Spectacular low tides at Snells Beach, artistic toilets in Matakana and a nice camp spot at Mattheson Bay are worth getting the camera out.
When my parents arrive at the airport in Auckland they run into the infamous New Zealand customs. Because I had warned them beforehand, they make sure to list everything they can think of and show the officers all their food items in question. Unfortunately, after a journey of over 30 hours, they forget one boiled egg and get caught in the last scanner. A true prick by trade gives them an instant fine of 400NZ$. Moreover, the whole process is quite upsetting for my mother.
On the Coromandel Peninsula we begin our journey and visit some Kauri giants in the Coromandel Forest Park. In the next morning we cross the Peninsula to relax in the natural hot springs of well-known Hot Water Beach. With hundreds of fellow vacationers, relaxation is out of the question though. I’m beginning to understand the reluctance of some Kiwis towards the annual hordes of tourists in their country (around 2,4 million short term visitors in 2014/15).
From the Coromandel, our route takes us to Rotorua, where geothermal activity gives way to bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs. Apart from the obvious highlights of the region, we stroll through the nicest patch of Giant Sequoias (Redwoods) since visiting the US and watch other people shoot over a 7-meter waterfall in a guided rafting expedition.
On our way back to the coast, we pass Tongariro National Park, which Peter Jackson chose as a set for Mordor in his epic Lord of the Rings film series. Sadly we don’t have time to take a closer look and press on through the Whanganui river valley to reach Koitiata on the Tasman Sea in the evening. In this small and unknown coastal town, we wind down for two days and enjoy the mystic Turakina Beach.
Next stop is Wellington, “the coolest little capital in the world” as referred to by the Lonely Planet. We soon agree, that Wellington is quite a nice stretch of urban expanse! The “Gallipoli – The scale of our war” exhibition in the Te Papa museum with its giant models of real people is especially remarkable. An interesting little series of videos about how this exceptional exhibition was build can be seen HERE.
Wellington is also our gateway to the South Island by car ferry through the Cook Strait, which itself is considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world…
Arriving wholesome on the South Island, we soon have to stop to get our wooden entrance steps rebuild. They had been getting close to collapse due to rotten wood and heavy usage over the last few weeks. By helping out the mechanic as much as possible, we get the job done reasonably inexpensive, but are still stopped for three days and have to skip hiking through the Abel Tasman National Park.
Instead we drive up to the Farewell Spit, a narrow sand spit at the northern end of the Golden Bay, which is the northernmost point of the South Island. Windy weather lets the coast reinvent itself every day and gives the spit and close by Wharariki a magical feel.
To finally get my father out in his hiking boots, we make one last stop at the Nelson Lakes National Park before driving over the Lewis Pass to Christchurch. Two days we hike, run and climb around the mountain ridges of Lake Rotoiti, after which everyone except my energetic father has had enough action. On our last day around the lake, the soothing tranquility is disturbed by a speedboat event taking place. Lap by lap highly aerodynamic crafts dart by our camper next to the lake.
We spent our remaining time together in earthquake shaken Christchurch, which still is a massive construction side. While the city is making good efforts to find a new direction, like a creative retail mall that is made entirely out of steel shipping containers, there is obviously still a long way to go.
Whilst we are strolling through the ruins, we realize that four weeks have already gone by. It’s been a lovely time, even though sometimes everyone had different ideas about how to spent the day. Business as usual when traveling with a group of people! Thank you for your visit!!