there and back again… NZ recap.

The holidays are over and so is our vacation to New Zealand. It was a fantastic trip abroad and had, for the most part, great weather. 

Over a year ago, our friend Ross asked if we were interested in going ‘tramping’ in New Zealand. Tramping is kiwi for our type of backpacking. We agreed to visit Middle Earth and purchased our plane tickets in March after my thru-hike of the Florida Trail. Because I like to stretch my dollars, I ended up buying a ticket that gave me an extra few days in NZ. This meant I’d be traveling back to the US alone but also enabled me to visit more places without the group. A little solo traveling is always good, especially if it is in Middle Earth!!

Our First Tramp: Greenstone and Caples track. Four days.
As a group, we hiked the Greenstone and Caples Track 86km away from Queenstown on the south island. It was around 60km loop trail that provided great views. Our fun tramping group consisted of 3 Aussies, 3 Americans and 1 Canadian (me!). We started the trail at The Divide, a common start area for the Routeburn Track as well. the first mile was busy with tourist but quickly became quiet. The DOC (Department of Conservation) has huts on each trail that you can use for a fee. These huts were amazing! I mean, one of the cleanest huts I’ve ever seen and all the huts on the Greenstone and Caples had flushing toilets! That was luxury! So much so that we skipped tenting and all stayed in the huts. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones who seemed to enjoyed these huts. We packed ourselves like sardines in them and it made us rethink our strategy.

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The whole gang! 

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Taking the ring to Modor…

Our Second Tramp: Hollyford Track. Four Days. 
On the second tramp, we lost a member due to a bad blister and our group went down to 6. The Hollyford is in the Fiorland National Park, the biggest NP in New Zealand. The start of the Hollyford was well maintained with great bridges and a wide, flat trail but it quickly changed on the second day. It rained every. single. day on this tramp. By the second day, the trail became a faint path in the woods. Most often than not, the trail was just a bunch of little slippery boulders. This hike had many walkwires. Add a bit of rain and they became slippery. Huts on this track were quieter than our previous one and we were fortunate enough to have an entire hut for our group on our very last night. These were great as we were able to dry some of our gear by their wood stove. Due to the fogginess and the rain, we did not have the views we anticipated until we flew back to civilization in our pre-booked bush plane.

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Rain, Rain, Rain and Waterfalls. 

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Our New Year’s Eve Hut. 

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One of the many walkwire. 

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Plane back to civilization.

Hobbiton
We parted ways with the group after the Hollyford track. Bryan and I flew to Auckland and bused to Matamata where we explored Hobbiton on a guided tour. My goal was to do the evening banquet but unfortunately, they were completely booked for WEEKS! It was amazing to set foot in The Shire.

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Plagued with bad cold but still happy to be here!

Rotorua
After Hobbiton, I said farewell to Bryan and was on a quest to reach Rotorua. An easy hitchhike had me in town within an hour or so. I visited the geothermal pools that were accessible by foot within the city. I booked myself a Maori cultural experience which consisted of a traditional hangi dinner and a cultural performance.I got to see a kiwi bird and learned about the New Zealand sheep industry.

 

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Maori Experience

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Sheep show! 

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Geothermal Pools

An overall great trip! I’d highly recommend checking out a few treks if you’re ever in New Zealand. It was summer in NZ, as it is in the south hemisphere, so it’s a great place to visit when it is winter in the USA.  It’s a must-add to your bucket list but be sure to bring your bug spray to protect yourself against sandflies!

 

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