Stray New Zealand
Welcome to New Zealand!
Hop on a Stray bus across New Zealand and hop off into as many wild adventures as you can … I did, and it rocked my world! Check out my Alison’s Adventures on Stray! Teamed up with photographer/cinematographer, Sarah Lee and editor, Ruth Mamaril.
I only had enough time to experience the North Island so I planned my trip to get a taste of the coast and the mountains. First, I got to kayak with Cathedral Cove Kayak tours at one of “top kayak destinations in the world.” … and I now I know why. We kayaked in and out of caves, around rock formations that looked like giant green gum drops, and learned about the surrounding nature reserve and even had hot coco and coffee on a secluded beach. I was jumping for joy!
The evening was topped off with a perfect finish to an already epic day at “Hot Water Beach” where there are hot water springs beneath the sand that you can actually dig into and create your own hot tub in the earth to watch the sunset.
I then hopped back on the Stray bus and hopped off in Raglan, New Zealand at the cozy Karioi Lodge which is nicely nestled in the hills right above one of the worlds most famous surf breaks and presumably longest left in the world.
If you are a surf addict like myself wanting to get the ride of your life, you can simply walk five minutes down from Karioi and join the surf fun, or if you are a beginner, they run Mojo Surf lessons directly out of the lodge, multiple times a day, and it’s an absolute must. The instructors are awesome and they provide you with everything you need, and most importantly you can say, “I totally surfed Raglan, New Zealand!” One of the best parts about surfing here and staying at Kariori Lodge is coming back to the sauna, then taking a night adventure to see the glow worms on the hillsides that create a magical “Harry Potter-esque” glow.
From sunrise to sunset, Raglan is breathtaking!
Make sure you say HI to the owners of Karioi lodge, Charlie and Erin. Their “stoke,” as we surfers call it, rubs off on you quickly. Don’t forget to hop on their sunset cruise for spectacular views of the bay!
While in Raglan, I shot an Alison’s Adventures with the legendary and unbelievable humble maori surfer, Daniel Kereopa (also known by the locals as “DK”) and his awesome family. More photos and blog post to come soon!
It was like stepping back in time. When he took me out for a surf, he was carrying a paper thin, wooden alaia board with no fins or traction pad and proceeded to paddle out into overhead surf and do 360′s through the barrel like it was a walk in the park!
After our surf, we decided to take on another kind of surfing adventure: paddling boarding into the nearby Bridal Veil Falls. Oh my, what a rush that was!!!
When you get to Raglan, you can actually take a paddle board lesson with Daniel and Renee at DK Standup paddle in town! Don’t miss it! http://www.facebook.com/dksupschool
After Raglan, I headed underground into the Waitomo Caves … and got fully outfitted, head to toe, for an underground Indiana Jones … err … Alison adventure.
After a 60 meter repel, we explored the wet and wild underground stalagmite filled caverns of New Zealand.
The guides were a wealth of knowledge and absolute entertainment. One minute they were cracking jokes, and the next, showing me incredible ancient shell fossils set intact on the sparkling cave walls … and near the end of our adventure, we turned off our headlamps, looked up and observed what appeared to be a perfect night sky, but it was actually hundreds of tiny glow worms!
Then I decided I would take my chances at rafting the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world on the Kaituna river with Kaitiaki Adventures.
We did it!!!
The Kaituna river has incredible ties to Maori history and I was impressed by how knowledgeable the guides were, not only about rafting and safety, but also with the wealth of knowledge they shared on the rich and mysterious history of the surrounding area. When you go, don’t forget to ask about what is buried under the falls.
Don’t forgot to stop off in the cultural hub of Rotorua for a great Maori experience at Tamaki Maori Village in the Tawa Forest. It was awesome to get welcomed on to a Marae by these guys:
And if you REALLY want to join in the culutral action of New Zealand, head on over to Uncle Boys Place in Maketu and learn how to do the Haka and traditional poi ball dance.
After surviving the surf, rapids, and cultural experiences, we headed out to the most landlocked location on the north island of New Zealand to stay at a picturesque farm called Blue Duck Station. I’ve never considered myself much of a farm girl, but I fell in love with Blue Duck and the ridiculously cool crew that lives and works there.
Blue Duck is owned and operated by “good as wood” Dan Steele and his welcoming family. Fun fact: His son’s name is Blue Steele. How awesome is that?
Make sure you stop off for at least a night or two (or even a week!) at Blue Duck lodge and get amongst every activity they have to offer! You can hop on a horse ride with “Cowboy Chad” as I nicknamed him. He is not only very knowledgeable about every plant and the fascinating Maori history of the area, but will also keep you constantly laughing with his classic kiwi humor. He reminds me of Woody from Toy Story.
If you are lucky, you may even get to see sunrise over the mountains where they shot Lord Of The Rings!
…or, find yourself kayaking through glistening canyons to crystal clear ponds, surrounded by waterfalls and frequented by the endangered Blue Duck … which you can find on New Zealand’s $10 note.
Everyone always told me “You have to go to New Zealand! It’s amazing!” … Now I know what they are talking about and I couldn’t agree more!