It is time for another entry to the classic photo essay blog post, The Solo Traveler's Journal. This entry, we will explore Mt Eden in Auckland, the extremely active and ridiculously colorful thermal area in Rotorua, and the spectacular forest that is the Redwoods, through a series of photos I took during my 5 week trip in New Zealand.
I have been writing several "New Zealand in a nutshell" posts in the past few weeks and I think it is time to dig deeper and go into detail of what is it that I do each day. Behold the 12th entry to our beloved Solo Traveler's Journal.
Looking for a complete itinerary for New Zealand? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget.
New Zealand Travel Video
Starting from Auckland
After flying across the ocean from Bangkok to Auckland in a whooping 14 hours flight, the first thing that I did was to climb Mt Eden. After all, I was there only a day, so why not make the best out of it.
Since it was already evening and it looked like it was going to rain, I decided to go back and prepared myself for the trip down to Rotorua the next morning. I stayed at the Oaklands Lodge and crashed for the night.
Where to Stay in Auckland
Auckland: Oaklands Lodge: 28.00 NZD/night
Getting from Auckland to Rotorua
Not much happened on day 2 as it was my transit day from Auckland to Rotorua exceptbook that the bus ran out of gas and we were left stranded in the middle of nowhere for an hour. I took the NakedBus at around noon and we arrived at almost 7PM instead of 5.
It was during this mishap that I met Melina, a german student in between her gap year, and we started talking as we wondered if we would ever make it to our destinations. She was suppose to take another transit bus afterward to Lake Taupo and she feared the worst.
In the end, it worked out fine for both of us and she eventually made it to Lake Taupo. At that time, I thought I would never see her again. Turned out, New Zealand is smaller than it looks!
Where to Stay in Rotorua
I stayed at the Crash Palace Backpacker that night. A very cozy hostel that catered to backpackers with free hot chocolate, movie night, free popcorn, and a hot tub.
The day before, I booked a tour to Wai-o-Tapu for 67 NZD through the hostel and they picked me up at 9 the next day. Wai-o-Tapu is a stunning geothermal area that people claimed to be the most colorful nature you will ever see.
Our first stop was the Lady Knox Geyser, an artificial catalyzed geyser that exploded every day at 10:15AM. I was expecting a big geyser like you would see in Iceland but the geyser was underwhelming. Here's a photo with people for scale. Not that impressive.
But that was not why I was here for, I was here for this, the champagne colored lake in the Wai-O-Tapu thermal area.
The color was so vivid, you wouldn't believe your eyes. A shade of green that transitioned to bright orange all created by mother nature.
The landscape was out of this world.
Yup, this was the actual color of the lake in the Wai-O-Tapu area. Bright green, like an Alien blood in the movie, Mars Attack.
This was the lake I had been anticipating to see before I was even in Rotorua. The orange was so ridiculously vivid that I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
While I was on the bus to Wai-O-Tapu, I met Nina and Francesco from Switzerland and we decided to walk around the place together.
There are 3 walks (35 mins, 45mins and 75mins) you can take depending on the time you have Naturally, we went for the longest one.
We stopped for lunch at one of the many picnic chairs spread out around the area (and New Zealand) while thoroughly enjoying the sight and the "unique" smell of a boiling hotspring.
There were smokes coming out from the ground, a sure sign that this place is still pretty much active.
The smell of this place did remind me of the time I spent in an Onsen in Kumamoto, Japan.
I smelled like a god damn boiled egg all day.
As we approached the end of the walk, we decided to check out the natural hot spring nearby. Francesco decided to jump in whereas me and Nina watched curiously. Apparently, It is safe to soak your body in it but not your face since the bacteria could infect your respiratory system.
Walk Around the Redwoods
With half day left after the tour, I decided to explore the city a bit more and walked to Redwood.s A lot of the people I met at the hostel had been recommending this place and for good reasons.
This was the first lesson I learned in New Zealand. Always have a rain jacket in your bag at all time! As I was approaching the entrance to Redwoods, it rained on me and it never stop.
I was not anticipating Redwoods at all since the main reason I stopped at Rotorua was because wanted to see Wai-o-Tapu but I was so blown away by the place that in the end, Redwoods won me over.
It was the immersive experience from standing in the middle tall trees towering me that makes me love this place so much.
It felt like I was walking in the Jurassic Park.
Just a man, among the giants.
You can not but feel small and insignificant when you look at these spectacular nature that envelop you without even trying.
Even though, it was raining, it was not a problem to walk around and enjoyed the place since the trees were so tall that it protected me from the rain.
It took me about 45 minutes to walk back from the Redwood to the city center and as you guessed it, it rained on me twice on my way back. Hard lesson learned.
I was going to go out to a bar with Nina and Francesco that night but I was so tired that I decided to stay in and watched Pulp Fiction at the hostel. Together with free popcorn and a cup of hot chocolate, it was a much-deserved rest.
It was during this moment that I met Ashley Cox, an exchange student from the states whom I would be traveling with multiple times throughout New Zealand in weeks to come. It was at this moment that my New Zealand plan started to shape up to what it is now.
The next day I said goodbye to Ashley and her friend Elise left Rotorua and headed down to Lake Taupo for my next adventure, the Tongariro Crossing and the ascending of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings.
I hope you enjoyed the first New Zealand entry of the Solo Traveler's Journal. There will be at least 8 more posts to come so stay tuned and follow me as I show you every little detail of my trip to New Zealand.
Continue Reading the Next Part: One-Day Hiking Guide to the Tongariro Crossing Trail.
Further Reading for Backpacking in New Zealand
I’ve spent 5 weeks backpacking in New Zealand and I have written a ton more about my journey traveling throughout New Zealand from the North Island to the South Island that you might help in your trip planning.
Here’s a selection of articles about New Zealand:
- Looking for a complete travel guide to spend one month in New Zealand on a budget? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget - The Perfect Backpacking Itinerary.
- New Zealand has a special place in my heart. It is one of the most memorable trips I have ever done and here are 10 things I love about New Zealand.
- Did you know that you can climb Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings in real life? Along the Tongariro Crossing trail, you have the option to summit Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as a reference for Mount Doom in the movie. Here a travel guide on how to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one day.
- Crossing from the North Island of New Zealand to the South is an experience in and of itself. See how to cross from the North Island to the South Island in New Zealand here.
- One of the first big city you will travel in the South Island is Nelson which has a laid-back vibe while Motueka, a sister town makes a great base to traveling to Abel Tasman National Park. Here’s a quick travel guide on things to do in Nelson and Motueka.
- One of the best Great Walk you can do is in the Abel Tasman National Park and you can do parts of it in one day. Here’s a complete guide on how to hike parts of the Abel Tasman Great Walk in one day.
- The West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is not very popular among travelers, making it a great place to go off the beaten path. Here’s a travel guide on things to do, and where to go in West Port, New Zealand.
- Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, a question that has been asked for as long as travelers start traveling in New Zealand. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick as both are a great place to go ice climbing. Here’s a travel guide on how to go ice climbing on Franz Josef glacier with Ice Explorer.
- You must have a seen photo of a lone tree in a lake with beautiful mountains as a background somewhere. That’s in Wanaka, New Zealand and here’s travel guide on things to do in Wanaka in one day.
- Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. If your body can endure it, you can find it in Queenstown. Here’s a 3 days itinerary on things to do in Queenstown.
- Queenstown is also one of the best places in the world to go skydiving. Here’s my experience skydiving with the NZONE in Queenstown.
- The Milford Sound is touristy, there’s no denying it and you are not wrong to be skeptical but I can assure you, it is worth the hype. Here’s a travel guide on which cruise to pick for the Milford Sound and how to get there.
- One of the best Great Walk in New Zealand you can do is the Routeburn Track. Here’s a complete 3 days itinerary and travel guide on how to trek the Routeburn Track.
- Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and the best way to see it is to hike the Hooker Valley trail. Here’s a travel guide on visiting Mt. Cook and hiking the Hooker Valley trail.
- Dunedin is a great place to end your trip in New Zealand. After all the adventure you have been through, here’s how to spend 5 days in Dunedin, taking it slow and seeing the city at your own leisure.
- Not convinced by my words about New Zealand? Come follow me and I’ll show you New Zealand in 70 photos.
- You can see all my New Zealand travel guides and related articles on my New Zealand Travel Guide page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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