FREE trip to the adventure capital of the world? Sure why the hell not! That’s exactly what James Ranken said when we told him he had won an adrenaline fuelled trip around New Zealand! Travelling the length and breadth of this beautiful nation on the bright green Kiwi bus – the only way to really see how incredible it is. So we sent him off bags packed, ready to get stuck into some of the most heart-racing activities out there including; black water rafting, sky diving, glacier climbing and bungee jumping.
Here’s what he got up to on New Zealand’s North Island…
The first day I jumped aboard the bright green Kiwi Experience bus I was greeted by a load of friendly backpackers and our AWESOME driver. We began our journey north to Bay of Islands, instantly I realised everyone was in the same boat (or bus) as me and we were about to embark on the trip of a lifetime! The driver handed a clipboard around and quickly I could see everyone signing up to a crazy amount of activities; like black water rafting, glacier climbing, bungee jumping, the list was endless! That’s when I knew my itinerary was going to be FULL. ON.
Getting hot & steamy
The North Island of New Zealand has so much to offer with its rich history, beautiful beaches and crazy geothermal activity. It amazed me how much the landscape could change in a single day. I couldn’t really see how the trip could get much better! After spending time on the beautiful Bay of Islands we began to head south. Arriving at Hot Water beach the driver handed us shovels and were told to dig holes in a particular place along the beach. The idea is that you dig a circular pool and it fills up with warm volcanic water from underneath, providing you with your OWN natural hot tub – free Jacuzzi!
Things that glow in the dark
Next stop was Waitomo where we rappelled 30 metres vertically down a glow worm cave. I had never seen anything like it, you can expect to normally see stalactites on the ceiling of a cave but this place was covered in illuminated glow worms! The ceiling began to look like stars as our eyes adjusted, something I won’t forget for a very long time.
The next day we continued our journey onto Rotorua, the most amazing thermal activity can be found here (FYI all that geothermal activity creates a bit of a sulphurous stink, you’ll get used to it!) Oh and a casual 7 metre waterfall which you can white water raft down! Can imagine that? Well when in New Zealand you just got to do things like raft down a giant waterfall. If extreme adventures aren’t your thing trips to Hobbiton depart from Rotorua, taking you to the set of the shire or if you want to brush up on your history then definitely take part in a Maori cultural experience – they cook your dinner in a pit underground!
The Kiwi Experience Bus made life so easy for me. I can’t tell you how great it was having everything planned out, all the activities and accommodation were sorted each day. It just meant the trip ran so smoothly. You can literally board the bus, see all of the best parts of New Zealand and take part in fantastic activities. Less journey planning = more adrenaline pumping. AND you do it all with a bunch of great mates! Plus they go to places that you would never find in a guide book, like the ‘Poo Pub’ at Lake Mahinapua – NOT what you think, but so much fun! They’ve got the insider knowledge.
Chillin’ on Lake Taupo
We arrived at Lake Taupo after a busy few days so I took the chance to relax and see the lake, the hostel even had scooters we could rent to go chill out at the hot pools! There’s always something to do whatever the weather, that’s one thing New Zealand is renowned for. So as a group we decided to spend the evening sailing across Lake Taupo on a historic yacht, as you do!
Going off grid
After a chilled out day and evening it felt good to get back on the road and head to River Valley, this place is seriously picturesque, it’s a small lodge built amongst a valley. Now was the time to lose the Wi-Fi and phone signal and go off grid! There’s plenty to do here, white water rafting, horse riding, hiking, even camping. One guy on the coach actually brought a tent with him and decided to camp out, bearing in mind it was still winter – madness!
Time to say Kia Ora to the South Island
Wellington was our next scheduled stop before we began our journey across to the South Island. We arrived late at night and left early in the morning but some of the group decided to stay and explore the capital city. It was sad to see people go but also cool to meet more new faces as we set sail on the ferry for the South Island! It was a strange feeling; we had become such a close group, kind of like a little family after spending so much time together – that’s what life on the Kiwi Experience Bus will do to you!