Friday, March 5, 2010

North Island

Where do I begin? If I were to tell you about all of my experiences in New Zealand for the entire 5 weeks I was there, you would be reading forever. Let me recap some of my greatest North Island experiences that have left me with the fondest memories and a desire to return to NZ as fast as I can.

Having worked in Lake Louise where many Aussies and Kiwis flawk to, I had made many great contacts for countries all over the world. Niki, a very good friend of mine who is originally from Auckland, not only suggested but insisted I call her parents when I arrived and stay with them. To tell you I was spoiled through this contact would be an understatement.

Niki's parents, Jenny and John, were more than I could have ever asked for. They lived in a beautiful home overlooking the water with a view of the entire city. The entire back wall of their home was sliding doors that opened up onto a gorgeous patio with a fireplace and the most comfortable black, wicker patio set I have ever sat in. Having been invited to stay in their home, the first 2 weeks of my New Zealand experience was not your typical backpacking experience. I slept in a queen size bed with feather pillows, the stone shower had a waterfall like water flow and even the towel rack was heated. I ate steak and BBQ chicken almost every night, had free access to the Internet and Jenny became a personal chauffeur to show me the most amazing sights in the city.

I spent a long weekend hiking old gold mines in the Coromandal Peninsula, boating catching fish and even caught a shark while deep sea fishing with Jenny and John.

I visited Waiheke Island by ferry and wandered over the rolling hills through endless wineries sampling this, that and whatever they had to offer me. I picnicked on the sheep covered grass under the sun and fed very angry looking cows with rings through their nose, hoping not to have my fingers taken off. In the later part of the day when I had walked as far as I could walk I rented a scooter to take me to the furthest parts of the Island that I hadn't seen before. I wrote "Hi Jo" in the sand of every beach I came across, a tradition I have had for as long as I've been traveling with my best Friend Jodi from back home.

In Rotorua I visited the thermal hot pools and became very familiar with the stench of sulphur that seemed to exist in far too many places. I joined in a cultural experience of the native people of NZ, the Maori Tribes, where I learned about their culture and ate an earth over feast called "Hangi." which is essentially where food is cooked in the ground and covered in dirt however, quite tasty.

One of the biggest highlights of my North Island experience was a 2 night trek in the mountains. I trekked roughly 8-10 hours a day, stopping to enjoy the scenery, take photos and enjoy the absolute silence that filled the air. At night I understood the true essence of fending for yourself while I slept under the frame of a wooden shelter and woke up to a massive possum standing on my chest, I knew I had felt something heavy.

Some of the most amazing memories of my travels are surrounding the unbelievable people I met who opened up their homes and hearts to me without even knowing me. As I share with you my South Island experiences you will hopefully see how the people you meet while you travel can leave lasting impressions that remain forever.


  1. Wow. Sounds like an amazing experience. Do you think Jenny and Jon would mind if I stopped in? They may have a toddler living with them if I do though.
    You are definitely right that the people you meet make a lasting impression on your life. Meeting people will allow you to not only to experience the land but also have a more eventful time while travelling.

  2. I love random connections for places to stay. They often turn out to be the best experiences of the place you are in!

  3. Dawn, you are so lucky! I love traveling but always worry about being far from home. Your blog is starting to make me think that I should just take the risk and travel the whole world. Have you been to Greece? That would be my first stop...

  4. Wow Dawn this is amazing! I can see that you are very adventurous. It also helps that you are friendly and outgoing and are able to meet all these amazing people. You are truly blessed! I hope one day experience some of the adventures that you have been.
    Keep the posts coming. I love them.

    Just like Alanna, have you ever been to Dubai, if not lets plan a trip!!

  5. What an amazing experience this was for you. North Island sounds amazing. I have always wanted to visit New Zealand and this post has just reinforced that for me. You're quite the world traveller Dawn. I wish I could afford to have these adventures. For now though I will live vicariously through you!

  6. I have always wanted to tour New Zealand. And not just because of Lord of the Rings, lol! I did have a stopover there on my way to Australia though and walked out on a balcony. Probably doesn't really count...But I had the good fortune to travel Australia staying with the many friends I'd made in the U.K. so I know how this adds to the experience. Time for another trip I believe!