Road Tripping through New Zealand in an RV

A long ways back, my ex-boyfriend and I took a trip to New Zealand. (Don’t worry, we’re still friends 😉  We rented a mini RV camper since I was told that’s the best way to see as much of the country as possible. If you get a chance to visit New Zealand, I highly recommend you get out of Auckland and see the rest of the country. And bonus for those of you living in Hawaii, because Hawaiian Airlines has a sweet little direct flight there now!!

When we picked up our RV, I showed my route map to the receptionist, who politely reminded me that New Zealand is a large country and that we couldn’t possibly squeeze that all into one trip! After crossing off some items, we set out on the road!

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In New Zealand the driver’s on the right side of the car. It was our first time driving a car like that, so it took some getting used to. Oh, and it was a giant RV and it was a stick shift.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I apologize, but these pictures aren’t really in any sort of order, so I’ll probably jump around a bit. This is Rotorua, a geothermal natural park. There are tons of geysirs and hot springs at this park.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I kind of lagged it on the camera equipment for this trip. I def should have had a wide angle. These hot springs were REALLY smelly. You can imagine how sulfuric the areas were. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I forget the name of this place, but it was pretty much the only place we actually saw any  Maori (the indigenous native people of New Zealand). When we first arrived, I was really surprised to see how few maori there were. I kind of thought New Zealand would be more of a melting pot, like Hawaii. But everywhere we went we primarily ran into white folks with British accents. This place we visited was sort of the equivalent of the Polynesian Cultural Center back home. They did traditional Maori dances like the haka and had arts and crafts on display.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

These were the sorts of artifacts on display.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Some of the roads we drove on were quite tricky in an RV. Add to that the stick shift and driving on the opposite side of the road, and it made for some hairball situations. This road in particular was gravel, single lane, and right on the edge of a cliff.DSC00165 (Small)

The single lane thing got really sketchy when this tractor trailer decided it needed to share the road with us. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Oh, ostriches. Or, if you’ve ever seen ‘Dude Where’s my Car,’ then llamas. But more on these guys later. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Ho’ala stopped by this random spot for directions and ended up chatting with this guy for a really long time. I’m not exactly sure what he found so mesmerizing about the guy, but I think they were having a moment. Ho’ala gave him a Viper fins shirt as we left, which I’m pretty sure the guy never used.DSC00177 (Small)

So while we were together, I convinced Ho’ala to go on 4 international trips with me. But the criteria was always the same: I will go as long as there’s surf. So Aotearoa was kind of a no brainer destination.
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Ho’ala wanted to do some fly fishing while we were there so we camped a couple nights at an RV park near Lake Taupo. It was a really nice place to wake up in every morning. He caught a big trout but I don’t seem to actually have any pictures of that.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Another pic from Rotorua. DSC00093 (Small)

We saw this ostrich farm on the side of the road and stopped by to shoot some pics. I think we were more amused than the birds were.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Okay, maybe they were a little curious about us. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

So he likes making faces. This is his haka face.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Had to stop for the lambs. Which is what we had to do in Iceland. I swear, if Hawaii and Iceland had a baby it would be New Zealand.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The infamous Raglan surf break. DSC00185 (Small)

The surf was really small, but he hit it up anyway.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It was also really cold. Full wetsuit required. greeves at raglan small (Small)

You can see why they filmed the Lord of the Rings series  here. Very Tolkein-esque.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

We also checked out a glow worm cave, which they are famous for. I didn’t have the right camera on me for this tour, but in the dark, all those shiny things hanging off the ceiling light up the cave. It’s pretty neat. DSC00143 (Small)

Here’s a closer view. DSC00144 (Small)

You have to crawl in to get into the cave, so it’s probably not for claustrophobic types. But it’s pretty cool once you get in there. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

A New Zealand sunset. Can’t remember where we were when I shot this. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The hot springs thermal fog. DSC00099 (Small)

Of all the cities we visited, Auckland was actually my least favorite. It’s a typical big city, and New Zealand just has so much more to offer than that. One thing we did do in Auckland though, is jump off the Sky Tower, which at 1,076 feet tall, is the tallest manmade structure in the southern hemisphere.

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Here I am getting ready to jump. I didn’t look nearly as fabulous as Beyoncé did when she jumped it last year, but in fairness to me, that suit was about 2 sizes too big. And I wasn’t about to jump off a building with my hair running wild. Power to you, bey.jacy jump1 (Small)

It’s a little misleading because although when you jump  you free fall for a bit, you don’t free fall the entire way. They slow you down about here for a picture, then it’s a controlled drop down to the bottom. It’s not slow, but it’s not really that fast either. greeves jump4 (Small)

This is how high we jumped. It still takes some courage to push yourself over the edge.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA


In this pic you can see the cables that you’re attached to. This is how they control your speed after you’ve jumped. I personally would like to have gone a little faster or been allowed to free fall for a little longer, but hey – safety first, right!MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And this is the sky tower at night. Nice purple shade.

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Oh we also went way up north and did a boat tour of all the hundreds of little islands that pepper the coast. It was cold and wet, but fun nonetheless.

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Sunset on one of the lakes we visited. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Another geyser.

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I think this is where we embarked on the boat tour. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains across Lake Taupo.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Another view of the sketchy road we drove on.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And this is the reason he agreed to New Zealand. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Walking through the mist in Rotorua.

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No matter where I go in the world, there always seems to be some reference to Hawaii somewhere. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The boat tour was cool, we got to go into several caves and arches.DSC00196 (Small)

This was the inside of our RV. The bunk area was nice and toasty, so I’d stay snuggled up there on cold mornings while he made breakfast.DSC00075 (Small)


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I like road trips. DSC00103 (Small)

I honestly don’t even remember what this is or where we were when I took this, but hey – cave with a river in it. What’s not to like?

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Okay we didn’t make it through the trip entirely unscathed. While I was able to maneuver the stick shift RV on the other side of the road without any altercations … Ho’ala was not so lucky. Or should I say not so talented 😉 MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Here he is pondering post card stories. I suggested he go with the time he got into a fender bender 😉

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Back Roading it.DSC00137 (Small)

Whipping up some breakfast in the ride.DSC00111 (Small)

I’ll say it again: Iceland + Hawaii = New Zealand MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

See?? DSC00171 (Small)


And last, but definitely not least … The All Blacks. Can’t come all the way to Aotearoa and not take a photo with the All Blacks. Even if it is just a bunch of cardboard cutouts. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA e


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