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New Zealand Adventure

After a busy start to the year I am only finally getting around to updating you all on our 3 month trip to New Zealand. After the admin nightmare to get into the country, along with the mandatory Managed Isolation Quarantine stint in Christchurch's finest airport hotel for 10 days - we were ready to go!

Christchurch Novotel Airport
Our view for 10 days from Christchurch Novotel Airport

We hadn't been in the country since 2019 so we had plenty of catching up to do seeing family and friends, along with some simple pleasures of New Zealand in the form of the food and drink we had missed from being away. New Zealand are really into their craft beers so it was ace tasting all of our old favourites and trying some new ones as well.

New Zealand was in summer when we were there. So we left a grey and rainy Heathrow in single digits degrees Celsius, into 20+ degrees clear blue skies in the Southern Hemisphere - it was amazing.

Himatangi Beach, Manawatu, New Zealand
Himatangi Beach, Manawatu

One of main blessings with New Zealand shutting their borders to everyone but passport holders and their families, was that all the touristy areas were super quiet. Crazy quiet.

Areas which would normally be crammed with tourists were no deserted. It was a little eerie at times but for the most part it was great.

If you have never been to New Zealand it has some breath-taking views, insanely picture-perfect beaches (that picture above is of Himatangi Beach in Manawatu) and a ridiculous density of beauty in their islands. Even at it's busiest it's still quiet compared to Europe, but there are a few hot spots which get proper busy. Not this time.

Enjoying these beauty spots with only us or one other couple there was truly a blessing. Never again will we be this lucky. So we took full advantage. The picture is from Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel, usually swarmed with tourists, but on that day it was just us!

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel, New Zealand
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

We went to Taupo 3 times, around the East Cape over 3 weeks, Wellington, Raglan , Hastings and the Manawatu. We still only scratched the surface on the North Island - remember that density of beauty? This is it in action!

One piece of news (aside from COVID) that occurred when we were out there was the purchase of a stretch of beach called New Chum. Ultimately the residents of New Zealand all donated some money to ensure this pristine beach didn't end up in the hands of the property developers. This sums up the mindset of New Zealanders, they are incredibly proud of their country and happy to put morals and values above property profits.

We were in the area so had to get across and check it out. One quirky feature was that there was no 'path'. You needed to wait until low tide, walk along the exposed rocks and then up over the little spit onto the beach.

I won't write what we saw - just this photo.

New Chum Beach, New Zealand
New Chum Beach, New Zealand

I've been fortunate enough to live in Thailand and travel around South East Asia, along with the coasts of Greece, Italy, Spain and France. This beach was the best beach I have been to.

It had no bars, no pedalos and no tacky souvenirs for sale. Just peaceful beauty. Perfect.

We did obviously get to do some cycling. I went to my old stomping ground of Makara Peak in Wellington to dust off my old mountain biking skills which was so much fun, especially as there were some new runs to terrify me! Getting on a full-sus bike for the first time in a while was a nice change as well, my old Boss sorted me out once again. The views across Wellington harbour and even the South Island is such a privilege, you become a little numb to it doing it so often, so after a few years away I well and truly appreciated the views.

Makara Mountain Bike Park Wellington New Zealand
Makara Mountain Bike Park Wellington New Zealand

In Lake Taupo I went for some leisurely bike rides around the bike path close to the waters edge. A nice relaxed pace broken up with another New Zealand feature - good cafes! I even got the most appropriate hire bike from Torpedo 7.

Mammoth Bike with Marin water bottle Lake Taupo
Mammoth Bike in Lake Taupo

I did manage to go and explore the Craters of the Moon mountain bike park whilst I was in Lake Taupo as well. I hired a hard-tail and explored around for half a day during a heat wave - which made everything a little harder. The routes were awesome but it lacked the views of Wellington - still fun and something new to experience which is always a blessing.

Craters of the Moon Mountain Bike Park, Lake Taupo
Craters of the Moon Mountain Bike Park, Lake Taupo

Leaving New Zealand in mid-January whilst it was still enjoying their summer was tough, especially landing back at Heathrow. Yes you guessed it - grey, dark and cold.

New Zealand still hasn't opened up their borders, but they are due to later this year. If you haven't been I cannot recommend it enough. Not only is it beautiful, with so much outdoor fun on offer, the people there are absolutely lovely. I have never met anyone who visited New Zealand and didn't enjoy it.

Just Go!

Rich Johnson


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