Northland, New Zealand

Retreat 2 90 Mile in Ahipara is a nice, relaxing place to stay when visiting Cape Reinga. 


The sunset was just perfect! 


Ahipara town is about 2 hours drive to the northern end of New Zealand’s North Island. 

Cape Reinga is believed to be the place of leaping for Maori spirits to begin their final journey. 

Breath of fresh air! 😌

With the lighthouse and the sacred tree from afar. 


This is the second northern tip of a country I’ve been. The first was in Cabo de la Vela in Colombia which was equally beautiful. One thing they have in common? Peace! Such a very peaceful place! Definitely a must visit. 😊

Sky Tower

Sky Tower is an icon of Auckland’s sky line. I recently did the Sky Jump. It’s basically base jumpimg by wire 192m off the tower. I have done Skydiving and the Kawarau Bungy Jumping last year so this Skyjump was just okay but still fun. I must admit I still freaked out at the start but totally enjoyed every seconds of it after I jumped. 


They didn’t have a photographer. They strapped a gopro and that takes just the video where you can just take a screenshot but mine wasn’t thag good because of the sleeves of the suit. I honestly don’t think suit was necessary. 

Now, what are the odds that my Queenstown kawarau bungy jumping master Jaime is going to be my sky tower master as well here in Auckland. That was 7 months ago in the South Island and I wasn’t expecting to see him again ever LOL. 

Oh yeah, make sure you tie your hair up before you jump!!! 

I checked out the observation deck which was pretty cool. 


I capped off the night with a nice three-course dinner at Orbit Restaurant. 


I also spent some time at the casino. I won some money then I lost all. LOL! I had fun though. πŸ˜‚


These activities are definitely a must do when in Auckland. πŸ˜‰

Easter Holiday in Canterbury Region

I arrived in New Zealand in June 2015. I have been wanting to visit the famous Mt.Cook National Park during my travels in the country but I didn’t get a chance until now, the Easter Holiday. πŸ™‚ 

I went straight to Fairlie from Christchurch as that’s halfway to Mt.Cook National Park and the accommodation is cheaper. I first visited the famous Lake Tekapo. 


Then the historical Church of the Good Shepherd. 


Saving the best for last, I finally got to explore Mt. Cook National Park. 


I ended this trip relaxing in a private thermal pool in Hanmer Springs. 

12 Days in Taiwan

I decided to welcome 2017 in Taiwan when I found out in October 2016 that Philippine citizens can now enter Taiwan with just a travel authorization that can be applied online (with certain conditions), I immediately  applied for one since I currently hold a valid NZ visa. 

The process took just about 5 minutes and I got my travel authorization. 

http://www.boca.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=6464&ctNode=868&mp=2

Finally, another stamp on my passport! My 16th country to explore. πŸ™‚ 


I chose to stay at Flip Flop Hostel – Main. I landed around 3AM and I got to take a bus from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport For NT$ 125 to Taipei Main Station where my hostel was just walking distance. 

Since I arrived around 4:30AM which is outside reception hours, the hostel made sure I get to my room. It was sure nice to be able to rest right away. 



I decided to visit the Elephant Mountain on my first day. 

And these were my first meal in Taiwan. Delicious beef noodle soup and dumplings. πŸ™‚ 


I attended a meetup on my first night hoping I’d get to meet people to spend New Year’s eve with. The meetup turned out well. A few people showed up. 


I spontaneously planned a trip for the next day and a few of them joined me. We took the train to Reufang about an hour from the city. We didn’t have a seat apparently. πŸ˜‚


We were supposed to go on a hike but the train station was too busy that we missed the train to our destination and the next one was not until after an hour and still no guarantee if we can get in. So the whole plan changed. We ended up on a food tour instead in Reufang. 

Here, we got to try the famous stinky tofu which was good by the way. 


Then, we went to the Cat Village. 


That sudden trip with these amazing people was tiring yet so much fun. πŸ™‚ 

On New Year’s eve, I decided to join Couchsurfing group at the park. The Taipei 101 firework was just beautiful. Welcome 2017. πŸ™‚


Then, we ate before we called it a day. 

On New Year’s day, I went to Tamsui. This place is one of my favorite. 

So enough of Taipei for now. I took a train to Kaohsiung on January 2nd. Highspeed! The supposedly 4 hours drive took 1.5 hours on the train. It did cost about NT$ 1500. 


I only stayed couple days here and visited just two places. 

I took the 8:45AM Harvard Express bus from Zuoying station at platform 2 to Fo Guang Shan Buddah Museum. I love this place! 


Lots of walking and it was hot and humid but definitely worth it. I decided to try their vegetarian buffet for NT$ 100 and yes, that was worth it too. 


I then went to the Lotus Pond. 


I went up the tower and this was the view. 


After a long tiring fun day, I had seafood at the Liuhe night market. 


Before heading back to my hostel, I went to see Ai He (love river). 


Found this beautiful church on my way. πŸ™‚ 


Don’t forget to check out the Dome of Light at Formosa station. 


My next destination was Hualien. It was about 5 hours train ride from Kaohsiung.


On my first night, I met this lovely girl at FH Hostel and we went to the night market together and we literally ate a lot. 


The next day, I joined a group tour to Taroko National Park. I ended up having fun with 3 Chinese girls in the group. πŸ™‚ 


On my last day in Hualien, with a Dutch guy from my hostel,  we rented a bicycle for NT$ 100 for 4 hours. Just beautiful! 


I returned to Taipei couple days before my flight because I wanted to get a tattoo. My first! I chose 13 Ink Social Club and this little cute tattoo costs NT$ 3000. I’d say it’s worth it and definitely not something I’d regret. πŸ™‚ 


I got to meet the family of my Taiwanese friend I met in NZ. Her family was amazing. They took me to lunch and we ate a LOT! 


On my last night, Nina, the girl I met through meetup on my first night in Taipei met with me again. She accompanied me to Shilin Night Market to eat again! πŸ˜‚


Before leaving Taiwan, shopping is a must. So I did!!! 


It was such an amazing 12 days in Taiwan. I wish I had more time to explore more of this beautiful country. I’m so thankful for this opportunity. 

“Taiwan Number 1” as they would say. 😊😊😊😊

Queenstown, Wanaka, Β Glenorchy, Te Anau, Fiordland (New Zealand)

So I recently turned 30 in New Zeaand. It was such a sweet and crazy celebration for me. Check outΒ My 30th Birthday CelebrationΒ andΒ Skydive at 30Β πŸ™‚

As part of my 30th birthday celebration doing Queenstown bungy jumping and skydiving, I also got to wander around Wanaka, Te Anau and Glenorchy and Fiordland Milford Sound.

Prior to Queenstown, I was in Fox Glacier for a month so being in a city was not so exciting for me.


I went to Wanaka to see that famous tree. πŸ™‚


Then to Hawea Lake which I fell in love with.


Glenorchy was also my favorite. The views were just amazing.


Te Anau was also nice.



But Fiordland (Milford Sound) was incredible.


I stayed at Milford Sound lodge and booked their cruise as well.


It was such an awesome 30th birthday celebration. I’m so blessed. Thank God! 😊

My 30th Birthday

My 29th birthday last year was my best birthday ever because I was on top of Machu Picchu in Peru which was my top dream destination then.

They say “life begins at 30” so I decided to start mine crazy. I had the craziest birthday ever on my 30th.

I initially wanted to do Skydiving on this day but the mother nature didn’t cooperate. I went bungy jumping instead for the first time.

I did the 43m Kawarau Bridge Bungy in New Zealand through AJHackett for NZD 195. The photo and video cost NZD 80 and they were having a promotion then to just add NZD 15 for printed photos on USB which I availed as well.

It was a little scary just before I jumped off the bridge but just a little! As you can see, I was having fun. 😊

Awesome staff who made my day.

Adrenaline rush indeed. Here’s the bungy jump video. 😊

 


Was that crazy? Yes! I still went to do something crazier than that though couple days later. My first ever Skydiving! 😊

Skydive at 30Β 

I wish I got to do this Skydiving on my birthday itself but due to the weather, I ended up doing Bungy Jumping instead.

However, mother nature gave a lovely weather couple days later which allowed me to Skydive. That’s right, I DID IT! Skydiving has been in my bucket list for a long time and I finally got to tick it off for my 30th birthday.

There are several beautiful places in New Zealand where you can do skydiving but I chose to do it in Queenstown through NZONE.


I decided to do the TROPOSFEAR for NZD 339. There was about 15 minute scenic flight to altitude then I jumped from the plane 12,000ft above New Zealand’s stunning alpine scenery. It was a 45-second freefall at 200kph which was the craziest, longest 45 seconds of my life so far! Then, there was about 5-minute parachute ride above New Zealand’s stunning surroundings.


This was a once in a lifetime experience for me so for my proof/souvenirs, I opted for The Ultimate Combo for NZD 319 which includes 4GB NZONE Skydive branded USB containing 40 mixed photos (although mine got 52 photos in it) and HD video footage combining freefall and handicam.

The photos were uploaded online 30 minutes after the jump and I got my USB after couple hours. I received my certificate to my email 3 days later.

I didn’t find NZONE’s staff in Queenstown’s office friendly except for Bill who was amazing. Other staff didn’t do anything but chat to each other despite having customers in front of them. The staff, the tandems (specially my tandem, Lima) and photographers at the drop zone are nice, friendly, crazy people though. Other than the bad customer service in Queenstown office, the overall experience was amazing.


I don’t think I got scared, okay maybe a little. I’d say bungy jumping freaked me out more than skydiving. I guess it’s because I jumped with a tandem so I felt secure. Here’s an awesome video of my Skydive! πŸ™‚

 

 

This once in a lifetime experience for my 30th birthday costs NZD 658 and is definitely worth it. I’m 30 baby! 😊

Fox Glacier, NZ

I stayed in Fox Glacier for total of 33 days doing help exchange at the Lake Matheson Motel. I apparently liked this place a lot since this is the first time I stayed at one place for more than two weeks during my travels. This small town boasts a beautiful view of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman. 

The best thing to do here is to do the heli hike which I couldn’t afford. πŸ™‚

My favorite place is the Matheson Lake of course. 



There’s the Lake Matheson Cafe with good food. I had breakfast and lunch here with my hosts and colleagues. But of course, this is perfect for coffee and a slice of cake.


I highly recommend The Last Kitchen restaurant though if you want good food. 

There’s the Fox Glacier viewpoint which was just okay. 


Franz Josef is the nearest town. Here, you’ll have more options for restaurant, they have a cinema and hot pools! I paid NZD 8.00 since I was with a local.


There’s only one store in Fox  Glacier and it’s expensive so people usually buy food before coming here or go to Franz Josef for Four Square. 

The good thing is there’s no shops to shop at so if shopping is your problem like mine, this is the place where you can save money LOL. 

Westport, New Zealand

This town is famous for gold and coal mining. I think there is not much to do here in Westport but I stayed here doing volunteering work for a week anyway.

Aside from my wonderful Punakaiki trip that I did while in Westport, I liked the Denniston Experience which is just around 17km from Westport.


I also visited the Seal colony but the viewing deck was too high so it’s far from the seals to get a good photo but I’ve seen a few of them and certainly was entertained. I took this photo because I saw a baby seal being breastfed so it’s up to you to find them among the stones. πŸ˜‚


From the seal colony viewing deck you have an option to walk to Cape Foulwind which is 2km, one way. Taking this track instead of driving was super nice and worth it. The views were stunning.


There’s also this newly opened track just by the fishing wharf. I forgot the name of it. I went but since it’s new, don’t expect anything but a walkway.


Pretty much these are all I’ve got to see while staying in Westport since I didn’t have a car. Not much but I still had a great time. πŸ™‚

Punakaiki, New Zealand

Punakaiki is located between Greymouth and Westport on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes which are both a picturesque must-see when visiting the West Coast.

I was staying in Westport when I went here. It’s about an hour drive and some are winding roads. 

So this is the walkway to the pancake rocks and blow holes. Beautiful walk!

Almost there…

Lots of pancake rocks! πŸ˜‰



And you just have to wait for the sea burst for those holes to blow! I did!!! πŸ™‚ 


Luckily, the weather was beautiful.

And on the way out is just as beautiful as when you enter. 


After enjoying the spectacular views, I’d say that Pancake Rocks Cafe is a good place to eat. They serve pancakes of course! I was with a french woman who never had pancakes before so we shared it with pepperoni pizza. Each meal cost NZD 18.50. They were both delicious and I highly recommend to try this cafe. 


Just about 3km away is the Truman Track which is just 15 minutes walk down to the beach. Be sure to check this out while in the area. 


Punakaiki is truly one of the must-see places in New Zealand. 😊

Murchison, New Zealand

I spent two weeks in this little town in Tasman region of the South Island. Murchison is also known as the “whitewater capital” of New Zealand due to nearby rivers. 

I stayed at The Lazy Cow Backpackers which is an excellent, cozy place.

Right across is the Ultimate Descents where I’ve done my first whitewater rafting for free! This is because they just needed people to fill the raft for the practice of their future instructors which I believe are students from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. How lucky were we! Thanks again for this opportunity guys!


Me and this German girl, Beate were going to Kahurangi National Park but didn’t make it. These pictures are just on the way. πŸ™‚ 


I went to Maruia Waterfalls with the Swiss guy, Christoph. 


My English host Ali and Phil were kind enough to show me around. They first took me to see Rotoroa Lake in Nelson Lakes National Park which is so beautiful. 


Then, we had lunch at The Red Barn Animal Park and Cafe where I fun feeding these cute living beings. 


I did the Skyline Walkway which was harder than I thought it would be but the views were amazing so of course it’s worth it. 


Here’s the view of this little town taken while I head my way up to Skyline Walkway. 


Just the day before I left Murhison, I got to do whitewater rafting again but this time we had to pay NZD 20 per person which is super but this time, they had professional photographer so all these nice photos in action were captured. What a lovely experience! 


There is the Cow Shed Restaurant. Phil makes perfect cappuccino. πŸ™‚


Ali cooks delicious, yummy, sumptuous  food! These are what I got to try. Just yum!


And here are some beautiful photos I’ve taken during my stay in Murchison. 



Most people stay here just for a night to rest from a long drive but Murchison has a lot to offer and is worth staying for 3 days or so. This is now one of my favorite places in New Zealand. πŸ™‚

Ryshel The Explorer

For those of you who doesn’t know my story, I spent almost 8 years being the breadwinner of the family. I supported my two younger sisters from high school to their college even though I didn’t get to have my own college diploma.

Thanks to Call Center industry in the Philippines which paid well so that helped me a lot to help. Most call center companies hire people without a college diploma as long as you can converse and comprehend in English language well. This industry taught me to be punctual at all times. One second late is late and late is not a good record and I don’t like any bad records. If you maintain a good record of attendance, quality, AHT (Average Handle Time) and a great attitude towards work and co-workers, you get rewarded by either recognition certificate, gift certificate or cash. I also learned how to be patient, how to empathize, how to sympathize and specially how to give an exceptional customer service, all over the phone or through email which I also get to apply in my daily life.

When my younger sister graduated in 2012, I felt somewhat free. When she got a job few months after, when both of my younger sisters are finally making their own money, I finally became free from the financial responsibilities I voluntarily took over for years. Then the ME time started. I work. I travel.

I first started my adventure when I went to Doha, Qatar to visit my best friend. I got a job in logistics after couple of weeks so I stayed. After almost a year, I went back home and worked again in call center for a year. I walked to and from work everyday which usually takes 30-40 minutes. I packed lunch. I resisted frequent clothes and shoes shopping. The money I saved from doing all these went to travel funds. I then quit my job in June 2014 and took off to Singapore in July  where my whole backpacking started. I traveled solo for total of 10 months in Asia where I had such a wonderful experience by volunteering. I still remember how tough and fun my first farm experience was.

I didn’t want to stop exploring the world so I took a TEFL course online and I got my certificate after three months which landed me a job in my dream South America  in the middle of 2015. The company paid for my roundtrip flights, visa fee and accommodation. How blessed I am that I got to work and travel within Colombia and Peru for total of 9 months. Here, I got to spend my 29th birthday on top of Machu Picchu mountain. 

From South America, I went back to Singapore in April 2016, I traveled to Thailand to visit my first ever help exchange host and to India where I attended the Indian wedding  of two of my good friends. I then flew back to my home country, The Philippines.

After couple weeks catching up with my family and friends, I felt my itchy feet. I felt like I gotta get out again, go somewhere again, meet new people again, make memories again. I booked a flight to Singapore, then to Malaysia and the next thing I know, I was back in Singapore again for my New Zealand tourist visa.

New Zealand is the 15th country I got to visit and I’d say it’s the most beautiful country I’ve even been SO FAR. I got to extend my visa until December 15th so I am here to explore the country for total of 6 months.

I am jobless right now but of course I have to get a paying job soon. I mainly do help exchange to keep me traveling, to meet new people and to experience the local life. Since people speak English here, teaching won’t work for me. I started doing housekeeping instead. Who likes doing household chores? I just had to do it to keep me on the road. I learned interesting and fun handy jobs though and I acquired new family and friends.

My work varies. Usually only 2-4 hours of work so I still get lots of free time to travel.

I got to feed cows.

I got my hands dirty by doing some gardening tasks.

I walked and played with dogs.

I played with my host’s kids.

Read books and even put some of them to sleep.

I also do help exchange in hostels.

I change bed sheets. Put them in the washing machine, dryer and fold them.

I split kindling and keep the fireplace going for the cat… I mean for the guests.

I wipe surfaces, clean windows, sweep, vacuum, clean bathrooms and sometimes cook Filipino dish for my hosts. All these in exchange of food or accommodation or sometimes I get both. If I don’t get food, (mostly in hostels) I settle for instant noodles and bread but I treat myself to a good meal or ice cream once in a while. For transportation here in NZ, I sometimes hitchhike or just walk for hours to save money lol. Most of the time, my hosts are kind enough to drop me off to places and pick me up.

I go couchsurfing when I’m not volunteering. So far, I’ve got good reviews from all my hosts. πŸ™‚ 



This is how I get to travel for those of you who’s wondering. I mostly live day by day. Enjoy the moment as it comes. 😊

I’m not a rich kid at all. I am just blessed for having a good heart I guess. I share and give as much as I can and in return, I receive lots of blessings in so many different ways. 

“Help someone not for the reward but for the sake of changing a life.”

I may not have a degree nor a lot of money but I have a lot of genuine family and friends all over the world. I have a lot of good and not so good experiences, memories. I learn from them, I treasure them, I share them. πŸ™‚

If you truly want something, YOU make it happen. 

So . . . Travel if you can. Travel when you can. Travel while you can. 

I am Ryshel. 😊

Nelson, New Zealand

I started my South Island trip in Nelson on August 15th. I stayed here for two weeks doing help exchange. I previously posted World of Wearable Art and Classic Museum and my Abel Tasman Full-day Trip.

I’d say that they are my top two favorites here. But aside from that, I also loved The Centre of New Zealand. It was so only 15 minutes easy walk to the top and the view was just amazing and serene.

There’s Founders Heritage Park which was kind of a throw back. Plenty of interesting little museums. There’s NZD 7 entrance fee for tourists.


The Queens Garden was also nice but since I came during the winter, still not much flowers.


Who would want to miss the Saturday market in Nelson? They’ve got pretty cool stuff and yummy food.



The Nelson Provincial Museum is tiny but worth visiting.


Nearby is church hill.


Tahunanui Beach is my 3rd favorite with another beautiful relaxing views!


And don’t forget to visit Penguino in town if you’re an ice cream lover like me.


And here’s a beautiful view from one of the lookouts.


It was mostly sunny during my stay in Nelson and of course this place is just one of the “a-must-visit” in New Zealand.

Abel Tasman National Park

Located between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay at the north end of the South Island, this national park in New Zealand is definitely a must do specially when you are in Nelson. I availed the full day trip package from Nelson for NZD 67 which was absolutely worth it. Details below;


When we arrived in Kaiteriteri, the bus driver directed us where to get the boat ticket. It was through Wilson’s. A small fast boat and it was full. At least 20 people in there. 


We made a quick stop to this big split rock and the seal colony where we got to see quite a few cute seals. 


It was a beautiful day although it was a little cloudy. 


When we arrived in Anchorage Bay, I was the only one they dropped off so apparently I was the only one doing this package! Well, it’s the cheapest package! Then I was left alone in this island which was quite nice. The boat driver told me I can do the Anchorage loop for 1 1/2 hour before I head to Marahau. I am however anxious about the time so I only went to Te Pukatea Bay which took 30 minutes walk going and back. 


Still alone in the island, I took photos before I headed my way to Marahau using my gopro, thanks for the app I can use as remote control. 

And selfies of course! 



At exactly 11am, I started tramping. So here we go, 4 hours to Marahau. 


I was literally alone but it wasn’t scary instead I found so much sanity walking alone with the mother nature. 

First stop was the Watering Cove, it was definitely worth a stop. 

Super clear water and I had it all for myself. It was so peaceful and I felt so isolated. 


As I continued my journey, there were lovely views on the way. 


Then there’s Apple Tree Bay which I checked out as well. 


There were few creeks along the way and the sound of water is relaxing.

It wasn’t until halfway when I started to come across few people who apparently started where I’ll finish. After 2 1/2 walk, I felt tired but at the same time relieved that I’m closer to Marahau lol. Then I saw the sign 55 minutes to go, woohoo! 

Finally, I reached the end of the track.

I did it! At least 13km walk in 4 hours. 

My feet and legs were sore but it was a good pain.

Accompanied by these birds while resting. 


Until my bus arrived and there I fell asleep on the way back to Nelson. I was beat but feeling accomplished. 


This definitely is one of the most beautiful trips I’ve done.

World of Wearable Art & Classic Cars Museum

I’ve never been this amazed to a museum. Located in Nelson, New Zealand, this museum is devoted to wearable art and classic cars. I paid NZD 24 to enter and I must say it was super worth it. 

Before I went in, I stopped at their cafe and had a cup of cappuccino for NZD 4.50 which is an average price. 

You’ll be impressed right when you entered. Lots of interesting items before you even in the actual museum. 


The wearable art costumes are unbelievably amazing. No words can describe how well the talented artists created these. 


I can’t help but stare.


They even have glow in the dark costumes. 


I love classic cars and they have an amazing huge collection of them.


If I live in Nelson, I’d purchase the VIP pass for NZD 55 which will allow you to visit all year. πŸ™‚

Hawke’s Bay Region, NZ

Hawke’s Bay is the renowned wine-producing region in New Zealand but I went there on the first weekend of August which is still winter and unfortunately, it was raining most of the days I was there. 

Napier is a coastal city known for art deco. I stayed here for 3 nights with the hope of visiting the nearby towns but then again it was raining. I got couple hours of sunshine before I had to leave though so that’s something. 

I got to visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand which is not that big but this is where I got to see real kiwis for the first time. I watched the cute little penguins being fed and I saw some interesting creatures. They also have a huge squid which I think is better than the one at Te Papa Museum in Wellington. 


I like Napier’s Marine Parade which has the tree-lined waterfront promenade. 

I visited Arataki Honey which was so cool specially the Bee Car. LOL


Of course, there’s the famous Cape Kidnappers which was closed for the winter. Got some nice photos though. 



I went to Te Mata peak but it was just okay for me but maybe this place is better when it’s not winter. 

And the rest are just beautiful random photos taken along the way. 😊


Hawke’s Bay region is definitely a place I would want to go back to after the winter. Nonetheless, it was nice to see it even though I was stuck in the hostel for couple days. πŸ˜‰

Matiu/Somes Island Weekend Gateaway

Matiu/Somes Island is only 20 minutes ferry ride from Wellington Queens Wharf. A roudtrip ticket cost NZD 23 per person. 

The first ferry on the weekend starts at 10am which we took.


We rented the Education House for NZD 200 which can occupy up to 10 people. It’s a beautiful 3-bedroom house, a fully equipped kitchen and has stunning harbour views. You can make a reservation here; http://www.doc.govt.nz 


Since it’s winter, it’a cold and unfortunately, it started raining after we got settled in which lasted through the night so we were pretty much stuck in the house all Saturday. I spent time coloring instead. 

And stayed warm with my cute Kathmandu thermals.



Blessed with a beautiful Sunday, we finally got to explore this little island. 

According to DOC  this Matiu/Somes Island lighthouse was the first inner harbour lighthouse in New Zealand.

Love this super clear water!


That was a great escape. It felt like you are isolated yet the city is still within reach. Overnight or day trip, this island is a must to visit. 

A roadtrip marking my 1st month in NZ

When I arrived New Zealand on June 15th, I got to go on a really nice roadtrip in Wairarapa Region on my first weekend; https://iamryshel.com/2016/06/20/my-first-roadtrip-in-new-zealand/

And after completing a month, I got to go back to Wairarapa Region on July 16-17. This time, I visited Castlepoint. 

Castlepoint is a small beachside town on the Wairarapa coast about 2 1/2 hours drive from Wellington Central. 


Blessed with a beautiful weather although it was chilly and windy.



I got to see one of the most beautiful sunrises along the Castlepoint Beach. 


Before heading back to Wellington, we swung by at West Wind farm located in Makara. 


Spent few minutes at Wellington Botanic Garden but since it’s winter there wasn’t much flowers. 


Next stop was Shelly Bay where I once again felt in peace. It was just so relaxing here.


Finally, Mt. Victoria before heading home. 


What a productive, wonderful weekend. One month in New Zealand has been completed, 5 more months of NZ  adventure to go. Thank you Lord God. πŸ™‚

The Thermal Wonderland of NZ

Rotorua is famous for hot springs, mud pools, geysers and interesting Maori culture. As I am a budget traveler, I didn’t get to see a lot of what this geothermal city has to offer but I sure had a great time here. 

I first visited Redwoods where I spent at least couple of hours in the woods. You can easily take bus no. 3 in the corner of isite which cost NZD 2.60. 

This is where I get dropped off and the Redwoods isite is just kilometer away. 

Here are your choices. 


I was going to do the Tokorangi Pa Track but when I went up there, there was not one person and I didn’t feel safe doing the trail alone so I went back down and continued on to Quarry Track instead.

Beautiful giant redwoods welcome you ar the start point.

What do you expect in the woods? Of course, beautiful trees along the way! 

Here’s the view from Tokorangi Pa Track where you could see a little bit of the city.


On my way back…

After my nature adventure, I decided to soak myself at Polynesian Spa which was very close to my hostel. 


I paid NZD 45 for the Lake Spa. It includes the use of locker room, towels, shower with shampoo/body wash, conditioner, hair dryer. I rented their swimsuit for NZD 10 where you get NZD 5 refund when you return it. They have 5 pools with different temperatures from 36 to 42 degrees. It maybe a little expensive but I swear it was worth it. I spent at least 4 hours here. I left around 4PM when the crowd started to get crazy. 

On my last day in Rotorua, I just walked around. I went to Kuirau Park where you can see geothermals for free. 


I then went around the lake front where you can see lots of birds and swans. 



And if you walk your way to the Government Gardens, you will pass by the Sulfur Point Wildlife Sanctuary. 


The Rotorua Museum where you have to pay NZD 20 to enter so I didn’t get to go inside.


The Gardens…


Rachel’s Spring…


I didn’t get to spend much time and money in Rotorua. I sure have many reasons to come back here. Anyhow, I enjoyed my 3 days here and the little things I got to do. πŸ™‚

Mount Maunganui, NZ

I hitchhiked for the first time from Matamata to Mount Maunganui (Tauranga). Within 3 minutes standing on the side of the road, a car stopped. A lady named Linda who happened to have visited my country, The Philippines before. She was very kind. She even gave me her number to call her in case I get stuck, I can stay at her house. πŸ™‚


I decided to stay at Pacific Coast Lodge and Backpacker though. A little over a kilometer away to Mount Maunganui which I visited right away. 


Here it is. Not too high. πŸ™‚

I’m only starting and here’s my view already. 



What can you expect from the top? 


I spent at least an hour on this spot. It was just so serene. 


Here’s on my way down on the other side. 


The harbour side is where I ended when I came down.


I then went to Maunganui Beach. Lovely weather!


Nice little town. Bay of Plenty indeed. πŸ˜‰

Matamata, NZ

I luckily found a couchsurfing host in Matamata (well in the suburb actually). I didn’t expect it would be in the so this is like a dream come true to me since I’ve been wanting to stay in the farm. 

This is the house! 


Simon gave me this room for 3 nights with an awesome view. I could literally watch the sunset from my bed.



I visited the Wairere Falls which is only around 2km from his house. 

The hike took me an hour and 15 minutes while it only took an hour going down. It was muddy and slippery as you get closer to the top. The view was amazing of course. 


These are the views from the secret place my host told me about on my way to the falls. πŸ˜‰ 


I got to join my host, Simon for his morning routin at the farm. I got to ride on his cool big ass tractor and helped him a little by unwrapping food for the cows. 


While in Matamata, I got to do the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour; https://iamryshel.com/2016/07/05/hobbiton-movie-set-tour/

I had a great weekend here. I learned a lot about farming and the industry’s current situation. My host was amazing who willingly picked me up and drop me off to places. Cooked meals and shared a lot of interesting information. Staying with the locals is really the best way to get that amazing experience while traveling. πŸ™‚

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

I’ve never read the book nor watched the movie but I did this tour anyway. 

I booked my ticket through Naked Bus company when I booked my bus online from New Plymouth to Matamata where it is $9 cheaper compare to booking it through Hobbiton Tours website. I got the 2pm tour which seemed to be the only option. 

I arrived at Matamata i-site at 1:30pm, I had to check in then I was given my ticket. 



The bus departed at exactly 2pm. Our guide/driver was funny Big John. 


The Hobbiton Movie Set is located at Alexander Family Farm southwest of Matamata in Waikato, NZ. It took about 30mins. to get there, beautiful view on the way of course. Lucky the weather was beautiful too.


Our guide was Charlie. She was funny and friendly. Here we go…photos from the actual set. πŸ˜‰

One of the trees is fake.


Yup, this small tree is fake! They did an awesome and expensive job to make it look so real. 


And this is the billion dollar tree. This is the main reason Alexander Farm was chosen for the set. 


At the end of the tour we had our free drinks. I had Amber Ale. 

We got back at the i-site by 4:50pm.

NZD 70.00 maybe a little too much  but I think it’s worth it. I’m not a scifi fan but I’m definitely watching the movie after this. πŸ™‚

New Plymouth, NZ

So what’s in the major city of the Taranaki Region? I guess the Coastal Walkway is one of the biggest attractions here which I visited first. It’s a 13km path which is good for bicycling or walking or just simply enjoying the breathtaking view of the west coast. The pathway includes the iconic Te Rewa Rewa brigde. I cycled here for 2.5 hours. Here are some of the beautiful photos I’ve taken alomg the way.


Unfortunately, it was too cloudy for me to see Mt. Taranaki but the bridge itself is awesome.


I visited the Pukekura Park next. It was a nice walk as I expected. 



I headed straight to Puke Ariki museum and library. If you need to use a computer, you can simply ask for your log in details at the reception area. 

I also checked out the Art Gallery. There wasn’t much there but it’s worth a visit while in town. 


On my last day in New Plymouth, I went to the rooftop of the Centre City’s parking lot. Mr. Mt. Taranaki showed up just before I left. πŸ™‚

What a lovely stay in New Plymouth. πŸ˜‰

5k Fun Run (Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon 2016)

I used to be active in running. My last run was back in January 2012 in Cebu, Philippines where I ran half marathon. After a while and with no practice at all, I did this 5k. 

I was kind of anxious prior because there was this pressure of breaking my personal record for 5k which was sub-30 back in June 2010 at the Nike Women’s Fitness Festival in Sacramento, CA. 


I realized it would be impossible to break my record so I set in my mind that I will not think of the time and just enjoy the run. Which I did! 

We started at 9:30am from Westpac Stadium. The weather was perfect. Cool, a little bit of sunshine and nice breeze during my run. The route was flat so it was easy. I ran continuously until I reached 3.5k mark where they were giving out drinks. I slowed down here, walked a little bit. Next thing I know, I was back to the finish line. My aim was to go under 40 minutes and I think I did a pretty good job considering I haven’t ran since 2012! 

Here’s the official result and I am extremely satisfied. πŸ™‚


And here are the photos from the run where I was obviously having fun!!! πŸ˜‚

How happy was I approaching the finish line!

Overall, it was such an organized and fun race. So happy to have experienced this during my first two weeks in New Zealand. 😊

My First Roadtrip in New Zealand

How blessed am I that I got to go on a roadtrip on my 4th day and first weekend in New Zealand. Destination? Cape Palliser Lighthouse.

First, we stopped in a farmer’s market in Lower Hut. 

It was chilly and windy so sipping coffee here was really nice after buying some fruits. 


Next stop was in Kaitoke Regional Park where I got to see this unbelievably beautiful Stuart Macaskill Lakes. 



Next stop was the Rimutaka Crossing. 

Very windy!


Then the Lake Ferry. 



We also made a quick stop in Martinborough for these amazing views.



Then there’s the Cape Palliser Bay. 


I got to drive right handed for the first time. Beautiful short drive for me! 

​​
Finally, we arrived in Cape Palliser Lighthouse. It was quite a climb but when I got to the top? 


Here are the amazing views!!! So worth it!



How can I not look back?


Cape Palliser is just beautiful! Amazingly beautiful! 


Before heading back to Wellington, we had my first decent and expensive (LOL) meal in this cute little town of Martinborough.



Then we made a quick stop at Queen Elizabeth Park and Henley Lake in Masterton.



What an awesome weekend! New Zealand is just unbelievably beautiful that the photos don’t even need any editing. I haven’t seen much and I already love New Zealand! ❀️❀️❀️

Karori, New Zealand

As I was walking around Central Wellington yesterday, it made me want to go somewhere where there are less to no buildings and traffic. Karori showed up on Google so today I got up and bought my first Snapper card for NZD 11.00 (just the card). 

I took the yellow bus 3 which dropped me off in front of Karori Sanctuary’s parking lot. The travel time from Central Wellington only took around 15 minutes and cost less than NZD 2.00 


Here’s the entrance which got me so excited to get inside Zealandia. 


And when I got to this sign, I didn’t hesistate to go up. 


Mostly uphills and there was nobody! πŸ˜‰

From here, I got this good view.