Into the library because of snow
Actually, our plan for today was to do the Tongariro Crossing. After personally resisting successfully for years to do such a mainstream hike, Philipp managed to convince me in the common travel time. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was negative and the crossing was closed due to the danger of snow and wind. Good for us, because so we went to the library for a working day and managed to do a big block of work.
Not the most exciting, but it has to be done so you can see photos and reports here. Preparation is the key to effective work.
In the evening, after our stay at the library in Taupo, we drove to Reid's farm for one last night and stayed there again. Reid’s Farm is always very busy and so there is always the chance to meet other travellers.
The Tauhara Bush Walk and time to say goodbye
After we had a good night's sleep, we followed Saskia's recommendations and started the Tauhara Bush Walk. At the end of the mountain road we parked our car at the side of the road and followed the trail markings towards the mountain. Mount Tauhara is the highest elevation in and around Taupo, so we expected a great view.
The trail leads along narrow paths through trees and bushes towards the top of the mountain. The hike is not very long, but due to the ascent it is quite strenuous. It is 530 meters of altitude difference up to the summit, the whole distance including the way back is about 7.5 kilometres and we needed 2 hours and 10 minutes for it. Including a photo break at the summit, because there is a great view and many possibilities for cool photos when the weather is good.
After the hike we drove to Taupo, ate a pizza together and then split up with David and Franzi. Our next destination was Opotiki, because there we were invited by a working hostel and of course we didn't want to miss this chance.
A real bed and many nice backpackers
After we arrived late in the evening in Opotiki, we spontaneously checked in at the hostel and even got our own double room so that we could work. Here in Motu Trails backpackers can stay if they are looking for work. Jess Neoh and the owner of Motu Trails bring backpackers in wages and bread so that they can have a great time. There is a difference of opinion about the work they get. In Opotiki the jobs are mainly for the kiwi industry and this is not the most popular one. But I don't have any experience of my own and it varies a lot depending on what is happening in the season.
From the first impression the Motu Trails is definitely one of the better working hostels, not comparable to many other hostels I have seen before.
The next day we rented bicycles and rode a little towards the beach and the sea. There is a very pleasant bike path which we tried out in parts.
At many places in Opotiki and surroundings you can see Maori flags and signs, because they are much more present here than in other parts of New Zealand.
All in all, it is good to be with so many backpackers, interesting conversations and the one or other cool drink for Philipp almost automatically result.
Kayaking and meeting employers
After a short night, much shorter for Philipp than for me, we spontaneously decided to stay a little longer. Actually, we wanted to stay for one night only and have a look around, but meanwhile we are already here for some nights and it is of course nice to have a fixed place with electricity and a bathroom.
At noon we rented kayaks in the Motu Trails and paddled together with Melina and her guide the river behind the Motu Trails towards the sea. At high tide the river gets slower due to the higher water level in the sea, so we could paddle down the river quite comfortably. Also, the way back was less exhausting than expected and so we had a great time three hours on the water. A few photos, videos and drone recordings included.
In the evening we met one of the employers in Opotiki. He runs a bigger kiwi farm in Opotiki and also some other businesses in other countries. It is a very interesting conversation and important to hear the problems, worries and needs of the New Zealand employers. For example, for the blog or Backpario such information is extremely helpful to link the problems of backpackers and employers.
For Philipp it is going to be a long night with lots of cold drinks and I retire around 0 o'clock.
A photo session and the journey on
Since we fortunately had no fixed departure time, Philipp sleeps as long as possible. Meanwhile Jess has drummed up all her backpackers for a photo session with us and so I wake up Philipp a few minutes before. Visibly tired he is quickly on his feet. A photo session for us, totally crazy and a great sign that both the blog and Backpario are on the right track.
From Opotiki we start our way towards the next Kiwi stronghold, which is located in the region around Te Puke. This is also a strong growing area for kiwis and everything that has to do with them.
Te Puke and a creepy experience
As we also want to visit a lodging in Te Puke, in this case a shared flat, we arrive in Te Puke in the afternoon. Unfortunately, we learn that all the people are on the way, so we look for a place to sleep by the sea and park our van there.
After dusk, there are always some cars coming to the parking lot, but most of the time they drive fast again.
While Philipp is talking on the phone outside, I sit in the van and listen to music, fortunately our windows are darkly tinted and so one cannot see into the van from the outside.
Suddenly I hear how Philipp hurries into the van and closes the door directly and locks it. During the phone call he saw someone approaching our van in the dark at a distance of only a few centimetres and tried to look through the windows. So late in the evening no good sign, while the guy goes back to his car and hides behind it and continues to look in the direction of our van, I dial the police emergency call and we watch curiously what happens.
While we are still on the phone with the police and describe where we are, the car drives off the parking lot. Only when it drives away, we see that behind the first car there is another car parked. Both without license plate and visible signs. Meanwhile we assume that only thanks to Philipp's reaction we did not become victim of a burglary.
So always remember, even in New Zealand such unpleasant experiences can happen. But to be fair, it's also the first time that I have had such an experience on what is now my fourth trip through New Zealand.
Just as we are about to leave the parking lot to take another place that feels better, another van drives into the parking lot. Three Frenchmen sit in it and we tell them briefly what happened a few minutes ago. After that they decide to come with us to the second place. This place is even video controlled, so we don't worry about anything happening here.
With the three Frenchmen we sit at the end still outside, exchange stories and also a bottle of wine makes the round diligently before we go late at night to bed.
The next day and a working accommodation in Te Puke
The next morning, we leave the place quite early and drive back to the place of the previous evening. The view to the sea is simply more beautiful from there, because we want to have a relaxed breakfast by the sea. Many other locals are also on the beach, fishing or searching the beach for shells. Thus, the place feels much better in the bright one. The fright from last night is still in our bones somehow.
Around noon we drive on to our accommodation in Te Puke. Here we find a shared flat consisting of a few bedrooms with many beds and a parking lot full of vans. The people here can choose if they want to sleep in their own van or if they want to have a bed in a shared room.
The concept is basically exciting, but what always deterred me from visiting these working hostels or accommodations during my Working Holiday year were the prices. Because we usually paid between 50-75NZD per week and person on a campsite. Many Working Hostels on the other hand like to take sometimes 120NZD per person in a van and sometimes 150-200 NZD per person in a dorm. For this I can treat myself to one-week hostel central in Auckland. A gross disproportion which is still common today, my tip: Don't go to an accommodation with prices you don't agree with. Most of the time it is also possible to get a job without the respective accommodation if you just visit the farm yourself and ask for it.
The way to Coromandel
After we have visited the accommodation, talked to the local people and spent a night there, we leave the accommodation already in the morning. Our further journey leads us to Mount Maunganui.
After we have looked for a parking place in bright weather, we briefly walk the mountain and enjoy the view. From here you can see perfectly the port of Tauranga and the beach. With the great summer weather, I feel like in Miami and also the beach outfits are adapted to the weather.
From Tauranga we drive towards Coromandel, because we want to see New Chums Beach. With Kathi I was already there once in 2016, but time changes a lot and also the naming as a beach in the Lonely Planet has been beneficial for the fame of the beach.
The parking lot at the beginning of the hike to New Chums Beach is almost empty. We cross the river and I still remember the advice to watch the tides, but I don't think anything else about it.
The way leads over thick stones and we quickly regret not having shoes with us. After some time over the stones, we reach the part where the path leads up a small hill, which is muddy but much more comfortable for our feet.
At the height of the hill we turn right, because here we are heading towards New Chums Beach Lookout. A place with a great view over the beach and an opportunity to take some unique photos in a beautiful place.
On the way back, the tide comes in the queer, because it is just before the peak, so we empty our bags, keep the electronics as high as possible and wait through the waist-high water. At least now I understand why the tides are so relevant here…
At the van we change our clothes and stop at another place on the beach, cook relaxed and then drive in the dark to a Freedom Camp in Coromandel town. There we are the only ones and park directly opposite the police station, a good feeling.
Travel period and interesting facts
Our fourth New Zealand trip took place from 15.08.2019 – 13.11.2019. Without much planning but with a lot of knowledge we explored New Zealand in our own van and got many updates to already existing knowledge. So, we can continue to be a relevant and important source of knowledge for you as a New Zealand interested person. If you want to get information about New Zealand, this blog is available for free.
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