New Zealand Trip Part 1: Chillin’ Up North
New Zealand Trip Part 1. I talk about my two weeks in Coromandel, Taupo, Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and more.
My New Zealand adventure started off on a rough patch. I landed in Auckland at around 9AM after a 24+ hour journey only to find out that United Airlines had lost my baggage.
The worst part was waiting to be served at the baggage service counter. A few other people’s baggage had been lost as well and it took ages for the staff to tend to us. I ended up waiting an hour and a half just to talk to the agent at the counter. The baggage service staff at Auckland airport really need to get their shit together.
My mood was lifted soon after when I was greeted by my girlfriend Kylea and her dad at the airport. They had come pick me up in a freaking helicopter! This was by far the most gangster shit I’ve ever experienced.
It was my first ever helicopter ride and what a freaking sick ride it was. The views of the islands, beaches and landscapes were incredible! We flew 15 minutes from Auckland to their cottage in Cooks Beach, located in the Coromandel Peninsula.
Their cottage was on top of a hill with a wicked view of the Pacific Ocean. I spent a lot of time sitting on the bench and gazing out into the horizon. It was a great place to squeeze in meditation sessions.
On the second day I went for an early morning fishing session with Kylea’s dad and brother-in-law. We woke up at 5AM and hopped on a boat to catch some fish. I hadn’t been fishing since I was a kid so I was keen on waking up early that morning.
I don’t know if it was beginner’s luck, but I friggin’ killed it that morning. Within 30 seconds of Kylea’s dad showing me how to reel I felt something tugging. I started reeling and lo and behold, there were two red snappers on my line! I ended up catching five red snappers that morning.
Kylea’s mom made some filets with our haul later that evening and they were super delicious. There was extra satisfying about eating food that we caught ourselves.
A couple of days later, we did an early morning hike to Cathedral Cove, which was one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever been to. The beach can only be accessed by foot and it took us roughly 45 minutes to walk there. Once we reached the end of the hike, we walked through a beautiful rock arch to get to the beach.
The beach was really nice and we spent a good two hours just lying in the sand and listening to the waves.
Kylea’s sister and brother-in-law were staying a nearby campsite in Hahei so we hung out there often. We had some solid BBQs and beach sessions there, and I discovered my love for Kingfisher Strong beer. Just two tallboys would give me a nice buzz-on!
Tauranga & Mount Maunganui
After four days in Coromandel we headed out to Tauranga, which was a three hour drive from their cottage. Luckily I was able to avoid this as I flew to Tauranga on Kylea’s dad’s helicopter 🚁.
We stayed at Kylea’s older sister and brother-in-law’s place in Tauranga. We made frequent trips to the nearby city of Mount Maunganui where there were lots of beaches, hiking, and shops.
On the second morning we hiked up Mount Maunganui, which was about an hour hike. It was pretty freaking tough at parts (there was one stretch with what seemed like a billion stairs) but it was well worth it. We were rewarded with a wicked view of the beach and the Mount Maunganui city.
Later in the day, I dropped in to the Mount Jiu Jitsu gym to get in a bit of jiu jitsu training. The teacher there was super nice and energetic and I had a really good time there. Having not trained since early December, I felt insanely out of shape and was panting after a few drills. I made a mental note to train like a mofo when I return to Montreal in February.
After three days in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, we drove to Kylea’s parents’ home in Taupo. Their place was less than a minute walk from Lake Taupo and the view from their backyard was great. We spent most of our brief time in Taupo at their home relaxing, BBQing and enjoying the nice summer weather.
Rotorua, Tauranga, and Mount Maunganui: Part 2
Kylea had a baby shower to attend back in Tauranga, so we drove back there after spending a couple of days in Taupo. On the way we stopped by the town of Rotorua as Kylea’s parents had gotten us zip-lining vouchers at Rotorua Canopy Tours.
My only exposure to zip-lining had been through South Park so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Turned out zip-lining was really fun! My only gripe with it was that there’s quite a lot of waiting as the guides clip and unclip other zip-liners, but other than that it was great.
The guides were super friendly and knowledgeable. They taught us a lot about the wildlife in Rotorua and their efforts to restore the forest there. They are actively trying to eliminate stoats, rats, and possums (who were introduced by Europeans) there as they are extremely harmful to the native wildlife.
Back in Tauranga we spent some more time with Kylea’s sister and brother-in-law. On our last day there we went paddle boarding at a beach in Mount Maunganui. I had a moment of panic when I saw a freaking stingray lurking underwater. My thalassophobia went into full gear and I froze momentarily, but fortunately it just disappeared into the abyss.
On our way back to Taupo we made a stop in Matamata to check out the Hobbiton farm. This was where the scenes of Hobbiton were shot in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. It was really cool to walk around the actual set where the movies were shot. The amount of detail on the houses, props, and fake vegetation was unreal. I was shocked to learn that the huge tree at the top of Hobbiton is completely artificial and its leaves were painstakingly added one-by-one.
Taupo: Part 2
Back in Taupo we spent our time relaxing at Kylea’s parents’ place and hanging out in town. We also did some kayaking, mountain biking, and a bit of sightseeing. We did a short boat tour to see the Taupo Maori Carvings, a 14 metre tall piece of art by Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell. It took Matahi and his team four years to carve and was completed in 1980. It was stunning to see up close.
The first two weeks of my New Zealand adventure was incredibly fun and was filled with many new experiences. I’m also going to miss all of the nice people I’ve met there!
In Part 2 Kylea and I explore the South Island. Stay tuned!