BootsnAll Travel Network

From Coast to Coast to Coast

After my last entry my day continued on in Auckland. I decided to go up into the Sky Tower, which offered an impressive view of the city. Auckland reminds me a lot of Seattle. It sits right on the water and there is surrounding land and islands with other communities on them that you can see as well. I was told that Auckland is the most spread out city in the world, which became obvious from atop the Sky Tower. I opted out of throwing myself off the top for $100, though we were able to see people falling past us from the Observation Deck. After the Tower, I walked up to a spot called Mt. Eden. Auckland sits on many active volcanoes, and while they aren’t active at this very moment, scientists believe one of their volcanoes will erupt in our lifetime. Mt. Eden is one of those volcanoes and is a good hike up from the city center. Once to the top, imagine my surprise when I saw cows grazing inside the crater. Someone had also decided to spell out the name “Daniel” with rocks at the bottom of the crater. While I was there, a moronic father and his three kids decided to walk into the crater and try to scare the cows, even though there were signs everywhere asking you not to walk inside the crater. The view from Mt. Eden was even better than the Tower, as it gave you a view of the city itself. Plus, it was free. It was too early for the sunset, so I walked back down towards what I thought was the direction of my hostel, but got myself a little lost and ended up walking right past the prison, which was not in my guidebook. Since I was booked on an early bus the next morning, I had a quick dinner, packed and pretty much called it a night after so much walking around.

The next morning the Magic Bus picked me up at my hostel. New Zealand and Australia in particular are rife with these companies of “backpacker” buses, which drive you around to the popular cities and sights and take you from hostel to hostel. I was trying to avoid these, as many of them have the reputation of being full of 18 year old partiers, but I didn’t have much of a choice as the public bus Intercity didn’t go where I wanted. So I got on the bus and was pleasantly surprised. We had a Maori bus driver who told us some stories along the way. What I do like about Magic bus is you can hop on and off wherever you want and as many times along the route that you paid for, plus they stop at some bigger sights that you might miss on Intercity and don’t have your own car. So he was more than happy to drop me off at the Kaihu Farm backpackers, a hostel in the countryside close to many forests and the West coast of Northland. I decided to go down to a little park called the Trounson Forest, which is a preserve for the endangered kauri trees and kiwi birds. The son of the hostel owner dropped me off, and it was a lovely little walk inside the reserve. The kauri trees were almost all cut down by loggers, as they grew very high and completely straight, with almost no limbs along the trunk until the top, perfect for building homes. Many other native trees were also cut down for timber. New Zealand used to be covered in about 63% native subtropical forest, but now is down to about 5%.

After my walk inside the reserve, which took about 40 minutes, I decided to hike back to the hostel to get some exercise. I knew that it was 5km to the next campsite, and thought it was another 2km maybe back to my place. Imagine my surprise when it turned into actually 11km in total, most of it uphill, on the road in the sun. Luckily I had enough water with me, but I failed to put on sunblock in time, not learning my lesson from Sydney. The sun really does get you here very quickly. I made the hike in about 2 hours, contemplating hitching a ride at every km or so, but decided to push on. I finally reached the hostel, bright red and sweaty, but with a great sense of accomplishment. At the hostel, I didn’t realize they were so far from other towns, so I hadn’t brought any food with me. I was however, able to buy dinner with the family that lives there and eat with them. Three other people arrived after dinner, and since it was kind of a hard place to be without your own car, I tagged along with them the following day to the Kai Iwi lakes. Jay, Kate and Marianne were three great Kiwis who were just up for a long weekend from Auckland. We went swimming at the lakes, and contemplated going horseback riding, but it was too hot and little pricey. We also went into town to buy some groceries, and had a nice barbeque that night outside at the hostel and drank some really good New Zealand wine. Those three left the following morning, and I was picked up by Magic Bus again around 1pm today. I had the same driver Rob, who was surprised to see me, as I had extended my stay after he dropped me off. The route that I paid for was to take us to Paihia, on the East Coast.

Before heading to Paihia, we stopped at the Tane Mahuta, “God of the Forest,” in the Waipoua Forest. This is the biggest tree living in New Zealand today, thought to be about 2000 years old. Kauri trees are in the same sort of “big” tree family as Redwoods and Sequoias, but this this was massive, about 50 meters high and 15 meters in girth. I can never remember the name, so I like to call it the Big Kahuna. After stopping there, we also stopped at a small town called Opononi, known for a wild dolphin that used to swim with the children there in the 1950’s called Opo. People from all over New Zealand used to come to swim with this dolphin, so we stopped at the visitor center to watch a short film of it. After that, another two hours or so, and we made it to Paihia, on the Bay of Islands. I am staying at a very nice hostel called the Saltwater Lodge. (Since I’m not able to upload pictures from most internet cafes right now, I’ll try to post some websites at least of the places I’m staying and stuff. I’ll try and get some pics up soon.) Paihia is really just a touristy town full of hostels, motels and B&B’s, with tons of water activities and hiking and things that people do around here. Tonight should be a lazy night full of laundry and maybe a few beers out on the water, and tomorrow up early for a day trip to Cape Reinga, the northernmost coast and tip of New Zealand.

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2 responses to “From Coast to Coast to Coast”

  1. Sharon says:

    Hi Kirsten!

    Your mom just gave me your site. Sounds like the thrill of a lifetime. Kevin is going to take the web address to school and hopefully will be able to follow it with his classmates. I envy you. 🙂


  2. david says:

    Enjoying reading about your travels, makes a dreary cold winter here in glasgow scotland all the more bearable

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