Coromandel Peninsula, NZ: are the hot spots worth it?

One of my stops on the North Island a few weeks ago was the Coromandel Peninsula. Its an area just to the east of Auckland (around a 90 minute drive). With only a day or so in the area, I made sure to stop by the “top spots”. When researching where to go, the main two places were: Cathedral Cove & Hot Water Beach…. so its safe to assume I made sure to stop by.


thumb_IMG_6787_1024

If you are headed this way: RENT A CAR! The drives everywhere are gorgeous and filled with endless pull-offs.

Stop one: Paeroa

I stayed in an Airbnb just south of the peninsula in a small town called Paeroa. It is home to the famous Kiwi drink “L&P” (theres an L&P cafe, and a massive L&P bottle in the middle of town). But back to the important stuff, my air bnb; it was behind this adorable, rustic cafe called The Refinery.

I’m really bummed I didn’t get the chance to sit down and take it all in (I was running around like a maniac, no surprise). They had a wide array of coffee (which i had on the go), food and also a cute front courtyard filled with lots of greenery.

thumb_IMG_6466_1024

Stop two: Thames

Thames is small town just on the southern west coast of the Coromandel. As you can tell from me above, I decided to have lots of fun being a marine biologist (my friends thought I looked like Darla from Finding Nemo, which i now can see).

thumb_IMG_6453_1024

More beach sunset pics???? of course!!!

thumb_IMG_6487_1024thumb_IMG_6488_1024


stop three: Waiau Falls

The next day started with some gorgeous coastal drives (I highly support the western coastal road to drive on, here’s some proof).

thumb_IMG_6576_1024thumb_IMG_6586_1024

I decided to make the trip up to Waiau Falls. Whats very convenient, is its located just off the road; what is inconvenient, is its located down a windy gravel road that cuts through the center of the peninsula. The North Island really takes the cake with breathtaking trees (don’t worry South Island, cabbage trees I love you). Of course the renown silver ferns, and other ferns for that matter, never disappoint.

thumb_IMG_6599_1024thumb_IMG_6667_1024

is it worth the trip? I would give it a 50/50 depending if you feel comfortable driving down a loose gravel road.


stop four: Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is on the Eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. It is really easy to find with lots of signs helping the lost tourists, like me. It is famous for its “Cathedral” shaped rock formation (wow, cathedral at Cathedral Cove???), which paints the frame for a gorgeous white sand beach.

thumb_IMG_6684_1024thumb_IMG_6686_1024thumb_IMG_6690_1024thumb_IMG_6696_1024thumb_IMG_6708_1024

What they don’t tell you, is to get to Cathedral Cove you have to hike up and down a winding path from the car park. Even though the walk one-way only takes about 25 minutes, I wouldn’t say its the kind of stroll to do in flip flops; the scenery is stunning so it made the steep inclines worth it. Of course being a tourist beach it is going to be crowded but the beach wraps around a bit so there’s plenty room to explore. What I found funny, was there was a water taxi that was around 15$-20$ per person and apparently drops you off closer to the car park to decrease your hike up. It was very popular but I was perfectly fine walking it (more money for coffee). I would block off at least 2 hours to do the trip, enjoy the view and walk back.

thumb_IMG_6715_1024thumb_IMG_6728_1024

is it worth the trip? 100% a must-see!


stop five: Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is just south of Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel. A hot water stream runs underneath the beach and is exposed around low tide; it is recommended to visit in the period two hours before or after low tide to feel the “hot water”.

(sorry I have no photos! I didn’t want to get my phone soaked!)

It was very crowded; what they don’t tell you is how small the area of the geothermal “hot water” actually is. So most of the foreigners (like me), who went to visit and try their luck, found themselves on the sidelines waiting for a group to leave to take their already dug-out pool. No it is not impossible, but I am assuming those who snatched a good spot in the sand got there well before the recommended two hours before the tide. On top of that, 50% of the already small geothermal beach area makes it difficult to keep a continuous pool of water. As you can guess, the sand caves in, or gets pushed in, or gradually builds up over time.

The pool me and my friends ended up snatching was a decent sized one but was further away from the water. The water was BURNING hot, so the family who dug it had the hot water streaming into a pool of cooler water farther down so it was kept at a more pleasant temperature. Once we had the pool, we were surrounded by those who didn’t have one and were looking for one. Safe to say there is a lot of competition and unneeded drama. OH AND BRING A SHOVEL! Most people didn’t want to share :/

is it worth the trip? Yes I do recommend going for the heck of it, but you have been warned.


As touristy as the Coromandel is, its touristy for a reason; I’m so happy I made the road trip.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Advertisements

Hobbiton Set Tour // Matamata, New Zealand

thumb_IMG_5692_1024

I decided last minute to take an adventure to the Hobbiton Movie Set, where both Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogy was filmed. I was beyond impressed with the tour of the set & its attention to detail. The movie set is in the middle of no where in the New Zealand countryside; the hills are filled with livestock and imagination.

thumb_IMG_5529_1024


The tour itself was roughly two hours, and for what it gave it was pretty reasonable. The movie set is on private land so the only way to see it is by taking a tour. There is a Hobbiton shop and cafe on the outskirts of the private land, but dropping the money for the tour is worth every penny.

thumb_IMG_5557_1024thumb_IMG_5546_1024

I am not the biggest fan of the movies personally, but I still had a blast. I was ahead a good part of the tour group which never even saw the films (don’t worry i have), so I’ll take it. The scenery is honestly breathtaking in person.

thumb_IMG_5565_1024thumb_IMG_5575_1024thumb_IMG_5579_1024thumb_IMG_5601_1024

Everything on the set is real: all the plants, flowers, trees (except for one), etc. The tour is a walking tour around the perimeter of the set.

fun fact: the hobbit holes are scaled differently to give the viewer the idea that the hobbits are so short. Only one is scaled to be life-size at 100%.

thumb_IMG_5615_1024thumb_IMG_5621_1024thumb_IMG_5625_1024thumb_IMG_5632_1024

Some of the hobbit holes are fenced off, while others you could walk up to or even walk inside. Although, the indoor scenes were filmed in a studio in Wellington.

thumb_IMG_5681_1024

Even after walking by 15-20 hobbit holes, each one is so different. Based on how high up on the hill you are, is how much your hole was worth. Different props are outside each one to specify what kind of hobbit would live there.

fun fact: some of the holes were built only to be featured in a distance in the background for 30 seconds, INSANE!!!

thumb_IMG_5638_1024thumb_IMG_5644_1024thumb_IMG_5719_1024

I was so happy to find out that the time of year I went on a tour, was the perfect time. If you visit during the New Zealand summer, there is little time to stop and take lots of photos due to the influx of people taking the tours.

thumb_IMG_5724_1024thumb_IMG_5731_1024thumb_IMG_5733_1024

I did the tour out of Rotorua. The tour included transportation to and from along with the walking tour. On the bus ride different behind the scene clips were played showcasing what went into making the Hobbit trilogy.

fun fact: the original Lord of the Rings set was taken down after the trilogy, and was made out of synthetic, plastic products. For the Hobbit trilogy, they took two years to rebuild the set on the same farm; that time they built it all to last for years to come, all real wood and products.

thumb_IMG_5737_1024thumb_IMG_5738_1024(featuring Bilbo’s party grounds hmm hmm).

thumb_IMG_5743_1024

At the end of the tour, is the trip to the Green Dragon. A glass of beer is included (3 different options), or juice, coffee and tea. There is a separate tour that includes an evening buffet inside. I am pretty sure I saw them sell small food items as well.

thumb_IMG_5750_1024thumb_IMG_5751_1024thumb_IMG_5753_1024

The last stop before heading out is the gift shop! I overheard that there is more at this one than the one that is right off the property. Also, there is a gift shop in Rotorua where I caught my tour bus.

thumb_IMG_5756_1024

Again, Peter Jackson’s (the director) attention to detail blew my mind.

fun fact: during filming, someone was hired to put laundry up on the lines every morning and take it down at night ONLY so it made footprint indents in the grass.

If you find yourself in the area, or are unsure if you’d enjoy it because you aren’t a hardcore fan, JUST DO IT!!!!!

thumb_IMG_5718_1024

Question for you: if given the opportunity to go on the tour would you?

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Brighton Beach – south of Dunedin, New Zealand

By living in Dunedin, New Zealand for the past three and a half weeks now, I’ve come to terms with how many beaches there are to explore. In my last post, I explored Tunnel Beach just north of my next destination: Brighton Beach.

Brighton is a small village around 45 minutes of a drive south of Dunedin. It was a gloomy Sunday night and my flatmates felt like exploring, so of course I was down.

When we arrived it was an eerie beach evening.

thumb_IMG_4616_1024thumb_IMG_4619_1024thumb_IMG_4621_1024

Without coming to the realization that the sun was due to set soon, we all turned around in awe to see the colors peaking through (and of course the vibrancy only got better)!

thumb_IMG_4628_1024

(peep an excited me)

thumb_IMG_4633_1024

thumb_IMG_4641_1024

LOOK AT THOSE COLORS I’M IN SHOCK THAT IT ONLY GOT BETTER FRIENDS!

thumb_IMG_4646_1024

thumb_IMG_4645_1024

I could not help but to continuously take panoramas, so enjoy.

thumb_IMG_4648_1024thumb_IMG_4649_1024

Visiting here for the first time during high tide, only gets me even more excited to return while its low tide; there were so many little rocks and islands to explore.

thumb_IMG_4651_1024thumb_IMG_4669_1024

Once the colors started to subside, the eeriness started to return (but with a more serene demeanor).

thumb_IMG_4670_1024thumb_IMG_4671_1024thumb_IMG_4672_1024

What these pictures do not show, is how just after the sunset was in its full fiery, it started pouring (thanks new zealand 🙂


This country continues to surprise me every day. Some intense adventures are coming soon, like a road trip around the north island!!! Keep posted for more of my trips and adventures. This week I will be putting together a list of my favorite coffee spots throughout Dunedin, no I cannot contain my excitement.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

 

 

 

Tunnel Beach – South of Dunedin, New Zealand

What makes this walk great, is you don’t have to dedicate more than a few hours to take in the views. It’s even more perfect if either of these criteria fit you:

  • you are short on time
  • you aren’t a very experienced hiker

thumb_IMG_4424_1024thumb_IMG_4429_1024

The walk both down and up is steep, so take it at your own pace. It is more common for people to visit Tunnel Beach when its low tide, but don’t neglect going if its high tide. I visited at high tide, and as you can see, it was still 100% spectacular.

thumb_IMG_4433_1024thumb_IMG_4443_1024

What I really appreciated about the area was:

there wasn’t just one place to take photos, or one view to admire.

Above is one of the views when reaching the bottom of the trail, from there you have a few options.

Man-made Tunnel

thumb_IMG_4497_1024

In the 1870s, a man excavated a tunnel to reach a private beach so his family could be secluded in more privacy. (OOOOOOH)!!!

thumb_IMG_4448_1024

thumb_IMG_4446_1024

The beach is filled with boulders and insane looking rocks & cliffs. It makes a lot of sense why someone would go through the trouble to build a tunnel to get here, the serenity.

thumb_IMG_4450_1024

Mini Peninsula

thumb_IMG_4462_1024

thumb_IMG_4471_1024

Head out a bit further along to the peninsula and see the waves crashing along the side and circumferential views of the coast.

thumb_IMG_4477_1024

thumb_IMG_4451_1024thumb_IMG_4458_1024

*peep the cheeky little seagull who decided to model for me*

thumb_IMG_4495_1024

I plan to go back at low tide soon to see how much more beach and rock is exposed. If people are interested I could either update this post or do another post altogether.

I highly recommend making the pit stop if you are in the area. I did get there by car but there is the Dunedin bus system which has a few routes that stop not terribly far from the beach.


Anyone been to New Zealand and have recommendations for me??

Make sure to comment below if you do!!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

 

First full day exploring Dunedin, NZ

thumb_IMG_4307_1024

Dunedin is the second- largest city in the south island of New Zealand. Dunedin is more urban than I expected; you can walk practically anywhere within the lines of the city.

thumb_IMG_4143_1024

This past weekend, I had a jam packed day full of exploring around both Dunedin, and its’ surrounding areas.


  1. St. Clair Beach

thumb_IMG_4157_1024thumb_IMG_4147_1024

First stop is the ocean, are you surprised?

St. Clair is just south of Dunedin and is a popular surfing spot. There are some nice outdoor cafes, but the main draw is the ocean.

2. Sheep

thumb_IMG_4209_1024

After a scenic drive on the Otago Peninsula, it was time to tack into a famous icon of New Zealand: sheep. I visited Nature’s Wonders, which offered a sheep sheering demonstration along with any facts you can imagine about wool and the sheep of the area.

thumb_IMG_4245_1024

There also was a short herding demonstration.

3. 4-wheeler trek

thumb_IMG_4296_1024

What’s awesome about the company mentioned above, is they offer packages where you can see the sheep demonstration and then hop on a 4-wheeler to trek down to sea level. As you can see, the views were green and gorgeous.

thumb_IMG_4318_1024

The first official stop was at a Southern fur seal colony (they blend in so well)! Since the fur seal pups were so young, they weren’t daring enough to stray far from mom.


top tip – If you plan it right, say two weeks from now, the pups are about the age where they get curious about humans and will come close for better viewing.


thumb_IMG_4324_1024

(I apologize about the quality, I only had my phone on the tour)

thumb_IMG_4352_1024

Next up, was to a beach untouched by humans for seventeen years. What I learned was how temperamental yellow eyed penguins are; if one feels they are unsafe or uncomfortable, their entire colony will flee the next day. A general example is blood or other samples were taken humanely from penguins for research, the next day the whole colony fled.

The yellow eyed penguins are known as one of the rarest penguins of the world; different factors play into their decreasing population, like disease and habitat degradation.

A vital tool in viewing the penguins, is doing it in a way that doesn’t break their trust.

thumb_IMG_4355_1024

A tunnel and hidden viewing platform (under vegetation) was built to give both the yellow eyed penguins, and also the blue penguins (another species found here) enough room to do their own thing. Conservation is at its prime importance here in New Zealand, and it’s great.

My tour was able to see a yellow eyed penguin strolling on the beach.

thumb_IMG_4356_1024

….but… the penguins have a ramp… for when they get curious…

4. Signal Hill

thumb_IMG_4359_1024

To get to the top you can either walk it, or drive it. This time it was by car, but next time I’m excited to walk up. Signal Hill is located just north of Dunedin and overlooks the Otago harbor. On top there is some parking and areas to picnic.

thumb_IMG_4357_1024

5. Baldwin Street

thumb_IMG_4381_1024

Known by the Guinness Book of World Records as the steepest street in the world (even beating San Francisco).

thumb_IMG_4377_1024

It is an amusing tourist spot, which attracts many different kinds of people. Some walk it, some make it their work out, and some drive it. Those who drive usually are the ones with rental cars because the trek both up and down I would imagine isn’t great for your car… Also there is barely any room up top to turn around to go back down…. but your call!! While I was there, one group even did the drive two times….hm.

thumb_IMG_4368_1024

thumb_IMG_4396_1024

More personal updates will be posted soon. I caught some sort of sickness while traveling, and with it being mixed with jet lag, it has required a longer adjusting period.

But nonetheless, a lot is to come!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

 

reflecting on a plane

I took advantage of down time, casually reflecting on a flight to LAX.

Traveling is hard and stressful, no doubt about it. Security can take way too long but…. here I am!

It’s amazing how relaxing flights can be; once you’re in the air you don’t have much room to stress about what is going on down on land. It’s like I’m in my own corner of the world, just watching TV.

thumb_IMG_4004_1024

…but I’m flying through the stratosphere. Weirdly, it makes the emotions and anxiety worth it, to have time like this.

Every flight is different: some are relieving but some are hell; the emotions range from time of day, to who you’re sitting around. Right now the key is hydration (no mater how in the mood I am for a coffee). I’ve had the most water I ever have on a flight (wooo!!!) and I have a carry on hand cream and all that jazz. If i can knock out some of the dehydration to come that’d be great, because to have anything on top of jet lag is not ideal.


Finally it’s starting to hit me where I’m going (see here). Look at me being so optimistic!!!!!! (when next, I have a 7 hour layover and three more flights)! Emotions are weird let me tell you!!!

question for you: How do you stay sane on a plane?

okie,

over & out

foot

packing essentials i didn’t know i needed

Today I have officially made a dent in packing for my departure, (only took me a few weeks). Over time I have accumulated things that I originally didn’t realize they were essentials.

1.Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack

I have had my eyes on a new mini backpack for a while, and just recently got this one as a birthday present. I AM SO OBSESSED. I am not much of a purse/handbag user, so I rely more on backpacks to lug my belongings around. This time around, I was more after function over fashion and I’m so happy I was.image14

For some reason, I am in love with the fact that the zipper is in the front of the big pocket, versus the middle like most backpacks. I feel it opens up the bag more, and structures it making it easier to bring around. This will be perfect for hikes, day trips, shopping, lounging, breathing…the whole bit!

2. Cord Wrap & Portable Charger

I came across this cord wrapper on etsy and am in love with the function and simplicity. Yes, I love cats, but also, this is my first cord wrapping experience and am already so relieved to have one.

image13

I have gone through a couple portable chargers over time but I never dropped the extra few dollars for a good quality one. I did get this as a gift (thanks mom!), so I didn’t have a chance to make up excuses; as in….. I will continue to use ones held together by duck tape.

3. Daily Planners

image6

Yes, I am so extra that this year I feel I need two instead of one. The bigger one I see myself using for more daily tasks: school work, errands, and small lists. I could go on for a bit about how grounded I feel once writing out little things I want to get done each day, even as a reminder. The smaller one is a moleskin, which I got as a present (thanks brother!). What I really appreciate about it, is in the beginning there are pages for international phone codes, and a map with all time zones. To have easy access to information like that, and also with it being visual, could come in handy! My moleskin I use for bigger dates, in-detail travel plans and also longer lists. Another pro, is with each weekly page is a whole empty page for notes.

4. Journal

Let me tell you, I am SO late to the journal game.

image7

I decided not too long ago, to drop the money on a good quality journal that I would enjoy carrying around places. Barnes and Noble had so many fancy ones with the antique feel and FUN LATCHES so I was all for it.

image8

I see this journal full with endless possibilities. I like to jot down stories, blog post ideas or thoughts that are overwhelming my head that day. I am 100% a visual person and again, I am confused why it took me so long to get a journal.

5. An Eye Mask

image5

The trend only continues here: this was a gift (thanks megan!) & I’ve wanted one for a while. This one is so much more high tech than I would have gotten myself. It’s weighted a bit to help stay on my eyes, and block out light. I am excited to try this out especially on planes and see how it helps block out what is going on around me (also could be helpful during a little meditation). aaaaand its super soft!!!!

6. New Luggage Tagsimage11

Shout out again to my Mom, who is adorable and got me a set of luggage tags with marine mammals on them. In case you forgot, I am a marine biology major and am always rocking some seal/whale/sea otter merch (YAYYYY THE OCEAN)! These will make it so much easier to spot my luggage coming off the claim and they’re so much fun to look at.

7. Waterproof Phone caseimage10

I am an outdoor person; I like hiking, kayaking, being on boats for leisure and also my major. This is something I did not even think about but I know could be vital. I am also a prone klutz, who can be seen chucking their phone across the room without even realizing. This is perfect for that exact mix.

8. Life Strawimage9

Going alongside the waterproof case, it is better to be safe than sorry. A Life Straw instantly turns contaminated water into safe drinking water. Yet again, another birthday gift that will fit my needs abroad perfectly.

9. Packing Cubes

image1

I recently discovered these existed, and will update you on how they are put into use. A big pet peeve of mine is opening my suitcase and NEVER being able to find what I am looking for, or having to go through hell to get there.

image2

They seem really easy to manipulate and squish, so we shall see! Next post will be how these packs are used to organize this mess…..

image3image4

Stayed tuned as I am leaving in ONE WEEK AHHHHH!!!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

What I hope to accomplish abroad

Yesterday I sat down and expressed in my journal what my personal goals are for my adventure abroad to New Zealand. I didn’t realize until writing them down, how many there are (looks like i’ll be keeping myself busy!).

  1. Focus on what’s in front of you: I tend to look towards the future and forget about what is going on around me in that moment. I’m an avid planner; I love to organize my life months in advance (like “oh! what else could I be doing now?” or “where will I be going next week?”). One that I am currently battling with myself, is: “Where else could I travel to during my semester? What other countries could I get to explore?” (ash, calm down and breathe for a hot minute). I hope to step back and instead admire the beauty and my opportunities in New Zealand first.
  2. Spend more time outside: Along with admiring my surroundings, I want to take a break from my phone and laptop and spend more time taking in the scenery. Hopefully I will go for more walks/runs and find excuses to instead, go outside (maybe even combine the two and work on my laptop while at an outdoor cafe? hmmm). thumb_IMG_2088_1024
  3. Be wise about money: I didn’t find this one surprising since money is a stressful topic. For me personally, it is a lot of making sure I am working enough at home to save up for travel and school. I hope that with my new “planner” obsession, I will be able to track my spending more and keep an eye on what funds to keep aside for the weeks to come. On the other hand, I do love to treat myself, especially to a nice coffee; so for me, it will be important to find a balance between the two.
  4. Gain connections both socially and in the field: I am not only traveling to New Zealand because I think it is an awesome place to visit, but I am for my future science carer (for a more in-depth reasoning of “why New Zealand” check  this out). I hope that with my planned research for my capstone project, I will able to secure connections in a country that has endless opportunities for a marine biology major. On the other hand, I hope to make some life-changing friendships with memories I can look back on for the rest of my life (awwwwww!). thumb_IMG_2067_1024
  5. Learn new techniques, specifically in research: Additionally, I aspire to pick up techniques and ways of thinking that I have yet to learn. With my hopefulness of conducting my own research one day, my excitement to learn will sure help me push through.
  6. Step back & be proud of accomplishing a big dream of mine: It takes a lot in me to be proud of myself, I think that goes along with my first personal goal; I do not always step back and realize how far I’ve come. Studying abroad has been on my mind since first actualizing that it exists. Before enrolling into university, I thought it would be even cooler if it was possible to learn at a different school each semester. Although, now I realize that my idea isn’t actually practical. I am, in fact, very happy with my choice to get my undergraduate degree at the University of Maine.thumb_IMG_2090_1024

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

 

fund my travel campaign!

As we all know, traveling expenses add up quick. I decided to create a campaign to help lessen the burden of my expenses (like flights, program fees, etc.). Flying to the complete opposite side of the world has proven to be a bit pricey. I will be studying abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand in their marine biology program. I’ll be working alongside reputable biologists in a setting which could sky-rocket my future career opportunities.

I’m asking for any little help that your heart can give. Anything will be appreciated and used directly towards the development of my career in the field of marine biology. Thanks so much!

the campaign can be viewed here