To my dearest friends, family and fellow culture cravers,
As I mentioned in my previous post, this week has been CRAZAYYY busy. Last Wednesday, I did the most exercise I have probably done in the past year or two put together… I tackled the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
An eight hour trek (19.4km) through the extraordinary Tongariro National Park, this mammoth hike is most commonly known for being home to Mount Ngauruhoe aka. Mount Doom (where Frodo destroys the ring in Lord of the Rings) – one of the park’s three active volcanoes. Due to the areas volcanic nature, the region encompasses outstandingly unique views across steaming hot springs, humongous dense craters and vivid green, sulphur lakes.
Despite the extremity of this walk (and I didn’t even attempt to climb the dangerous 45 degree incline of Mount Doom), the magical scenery of each section makes the aches and pains the next day/week more than worthwhile.
The next day I woke up stiff as a board and waddled my way to the bus to head to our next stop – River Valley. Unsure what to expect from here (other than perhaps a river), I was gobsmacked when we arrived. Located so far out into the countryside I couldn’t get a signal on my phone, it was completely cut off from the rest of the world and boasted some of the best scenery I have seen in New Zealand (if not ever).
We spent the night in a cute, peaceful (until we arrived) lodge with 360, panoramic views of rolling green mountain ranges and a crystal clear river, which trickled alongside the bank.
When I set eyes on how picture perfect the area was, I knew I HAD to go horse riding.
I signed up to a half day trip of horsemanship – a type of horse riding, which encourages the rider to create a bond with their horse. This was horse riding like I’d never experienced before as the horses didn’t wear bits or shoes and thus, there were different methods of commanding the horses.
Once we had mastered the art of steering and stopping our horse in the arena, we headed out into the luscious hills of River Valley. Walking, trotting and cantering through different terrains with views so breathtaking they looked painted on, it was one of the best rides I’ve ever been on.
After my ride, we once again jumped onto the Kiwi bus to the capital of New Zealand, Wellington. Renowned for being a quirky, cool and cultural city, Wellington was right up my street. Offering an idyllic harbour lined with pop up shops, cafés and restaurants, peaceful botanic gardens, hip Cuba Street and the best museum I’ve ever set foot in, this city is not short on things to see and do.
On my first full day in Wellington I met up with a friend I’d met five years prior in Australia who was coincidentally working in the area. We headed to the ‘cable car’ (which was more of an up hill train) to take us up to the peaceful Botanic Gardens. With great views across the city and an abundance of leafy walkways, rose and herb gardens and a cute treehouse and pergola, it is a lovely place to wander around and have a picnic on a nice summers day.
That evening we made the climb (much to my calves dismay) to the highest point in Wellington, Mount Victoria, to watch the sunset. With fab views across the whole city, we could see everything from the airport runway to the football stadium. The sunset behind the misty mountains and we were left looking over the twinkling city…
On my final day we decided to check out Wellington’s interactive museum, Te Papa. Located by the harbour, this museum offers an incredible selection of interactive, fun and visual exhibitions, which could occupy you for a full day, if not more.
On the day we went, there was an outstanding exhibit on the Gallipoli war in WW1. Extremely informative, educating and emotional and showcasing phenomenal, huge models of army officers so detailed we were expecting them to move or blink at any moment, it was one of the best exhibitions I have even been to. Bravo Te Papa.
I am now on my way to the South Island where I will be working my way down the west coast to Queenstown. I keep hearing that the South Island is even more beautiful than the North so my hopes are high!
Until next week…