Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Happy Holidays

I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. The way I see it is that if someone has to wait until a specific date to start doing something that is good for them anyways, how likely will they stick to it if they haven't had the motivation to start with right away... However, on a more optimistic note, I am looking forward to all that 2013 has to offer.

To end 2012, my two boyfriends, Chris and Kevin, and I road-tripped around the North Island for the last two weeks in trusty Sophia, the station wagon. Below is a chronologic accumulation of photos taken throughout our journey. Enjoy!!

We started off driving from Wellington to Taupo. A hot and humid day in the car ended in a sunny day at Lake Taupo and a fishless fly fishing expedition on the river. We set up camp right next to the water and enjoyed our first campfire of the journey.

Mount Ruapehu, one of the world's most active volcanos and the closest ski/snowboard resort to Wellington.
Beautiful Lake Taupo, unfortunately a tad clouded over.

A circle rainbow around the sun!

My boys lining up their gear.

Beautiful sunset in Taupo, looking a bit LOTR-y.
Camp #1

On day two, Christmas Eve, we drove from Taupo through to Waitomo. It was almost 30°C and we were able to cool off at the Legendary Black Water Rafting Company for a three-hour caving/tubing adventure in Ruakuri Cave. Unfortunately we weren't able to bring camera in the caves, but we were at least knee deep in water, 100m metres underground, staring at glowworms that look like little stars in the sky. It was so much fun! After caving, we found a camping spot outside some farmland not far outside Waitomo. We were greeted by a farmer who brought us firewood and a bottle of wine to celebrate Christmas.

Camp #2, decorated for Christmas.

This is my first time having Mexican for Christmas Eve dinner.

Roasting pink and white marshmallows.

Christmas morning, we drove from Waitomo through Paeroa and took a brief and rainy walk through the Karangahake Gorge. We continued to drive through Hamilton and up the west side of the Coromandel peninsula. It was cloudy, wet, and everything was closed for Christmas. We eventually found a DOC campsite up in Stony Bay on the north end of the peninsula. 

There are many pictures of me chasing the boys.

Camp #3

Day four, we drove down the east coast of Coromandel down to Whitianga. Sophia unfortunately had some muffler problems which resulted in us setting up camp in an ocean-front grass lot beside a bed and breakfast owned by a lovely elderly couple. Oh darnit! We got our first taste of the ocean and played in the waves until it got too cold. After some revitalizing beachfront yoga and multiple card games in the wraps of our car-tent (it rained in the evening), we called it a night.

Moments after our muffler broke, I was still able to capture a photo of the beautiful scenery.

Camp #4

We woke up early the next day to get Sophia to the car doctor, which ended up being quicker and less expensive than we thought. Yay! We continued driving south and took a leisurely hike down to the stunning Cathedral Cove and a swim at Hot Water Beach. Hopping back in the car, we endured a long drive all the way down to Rotorua to soak in some natural hot springs before setting up camp.

Be sure not to stand under cliffs that are falling.

Interesting... A cave!

Help! I'm inside the cave.

My little monkeys.

Probably my favourite photo from this trip.

The only photo I'm in. At least it's a good one.

Strolling down Hot Water Beach, looks pretty serene.

Yes... Beautiful and serene...

Oh. Nevermind. Hot Water Beach is a busy tourist attraction where people come with shovels to dig holes in the ground and sit in the warm stagnant water. It is littered with humans.

The steaming lake from which the thermal hot springs come from. The entire city of Rotorua smells like sulfur. Yum.

It was dark when we set up Camp #5, so unfortunately no picture. But it looked fairly similar to the other camps and by that point we had gotten quite quick at setting up and tearing down. The next morning we got back in the car and took another long stretch to the east coast to Gisborne. Here we were greeted by Kevin's workmate Nathan and his lovely girlfriend Karly. Karly grew up in Gisborne and was kind enough to let us camp in her parents' backyard (and by backyard I mean acreage). 

We spent six days in Gizzy, soaking up the sun at Wainui Beach by day and dancing at Rhythm & Vines music festival by night. R&V was celebrating their 10th anniversary and was held at the Waiohika Estate vineyard just outside the city. We rang in the New Year dancing our little bums off. My highlights were Funkommunity, Tame Impala, the Presets, and most notably Araabmuzik.

Not bad for a 2 minute walk from Karly's parents.

Welcome to Rhythm & Vines!

Rhythm stage.

Leg wrestle anyone?

Vines stage.

My other favourite picture from this trip. These two are so photogenic together!

Nathan and Karly

On New Year's Day, Gisborne celebrates with fireworks (surprise!), which we got to too early and had to wait for forever. We drove up Titirangi and I was able to capture some nice shots of the city and harbour during sunset. 

Chris then left us to travel up the north of the North Island before returning to SE Asia for another five months. The rest of us drove up to Tolaga Bay for one last night of camping on the beach. On our way, we visited the longest wharf in the southern hemisphere, which is 600m long. We walked halfway, got bored, and walked back. After we got back from our one-night camp, we spent one more night at Karly's and then Kevin and I packed up Sophia and drove back to Wellington.

All in all, it was a fun-filled adventure and we were able to hit most parts of the North Island. Next time we'll have to hit up the South. For our first Christmas without family, Kevin and I were so happy to have Chris join us for the holidays, making it all the more special. And while it didn't really feel like the festive season, I can't complain about my Birkenstock tan.

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