Reflecting on #mykiwiexperience by Kadeem Alphanso Fyffe.
The Northern Round Up takes you through the core of New Zealand’s North Island. You'll go to the amazing beaches in the Coromandel, geysers of Rotorua, the Central Volcanic Plateau (home of Mt. Doom) and the lush farmland of the Horowhenua. Mix this with some amazing activities like black water rafting, a marae visit, skydiving, and the exclusive overnight stop of River Valley, and you're in for one amazing trip! To book your Northen Round Up, click here!
I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand only knowing two things about the country: The locals were called “Kiwis”, and the country was known for breath-taking nature and expansive landscapes. Even with my limited knowledge, I was super excited to embark on the Kiwi Experience Northern Round Up - I was to spend the next 12 days as a backpacker on a bus tour of the Northern Island of New Zealand. My adventure with Kiwi Experience was jam-packed with thrilling activities and cultural experiences with amazing people from all around the world - and, indeed, the natural landscape of the country did not fail in taking my breath away!
The scenery in New Zealand is truly awe-inspiring; if you ask anybody who has been to NZ they will tell you that the South Island is much more beautiful than the North - while this may be true, I was still able to experience heaps of gorgeous nature during my North Island tour. We kicked off the trip by heading to Cathedral Cove, a very popular tourist destination where everyone stops to take a photo with the famous rock sculptures on the beach (I certainly snapped a few selfies)! This was the perfect way to kick-off my Kiwi Experience because it set the bar high for NZ scenery.
Throughout the week we would have several other magical experiences with nature, whether during a bushwalk in Karangahake or Tongariro National Park, a pit stop at the magnificent Huka Falls, or a moment of peace and serenity in Waitomo, River Valley or Lake Taupo. The three highlights from my trip in this regard were Huka Falls, Pohutu Geyser in Rotorua, and the Waitomo Viewing Point. At Huka Falls I stood in utter amazement as the water rushed powerfully by - it’s really great to take a moment and appreciate nature at work with no interruption from man or technology; though, of course we all utilised out iPhones and GoPros to take awesome selfies with the Falls! I was also able to witness a Geyser Eruption in Rotorua (after eating a boiled egg that was cooked in a Natural Hot Spring) - it’s not every day you get your breakfast cooked in a Natural Hot Spring, or get rained on by a Geyser! In Waitomo I hiked to the top of a small mountain by myself and was able to meditate and be at one with the universe while overlooking miles of beautiful greenery - this moment of solitary peace was truly profound and reinvigorating!
After each breath-taking destination, we would re-board the bus, reflect on our experience and share photos, with each other and on Social Media! As a backpacker, especially on an adventure like the Kiwi Experience, you meet amazing people from around the world! On my bus, I made friends with people from Scotland, The Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, and many more! I even managed to make a few friends that I am sure I will have for a lifetime - looking at you Meg from Ireland, and Claire & Jess from Jersey, Channel Islands! Thanks to Meg, I hiked an hour in Wellington to the top of Mount Victoria and got some epic “I can see everything” photos! Thanks to Claire and Jess for partying the night away in Taupo, and reacquainting me with Maccas!
My favourite cultural experience in NZ was a Maori Overnight Stay in Rotorua! Upon arrival, I had no concept of the natives, so once I found out that we could spend the night in a Maori Village, I jumped at the chance! We learned about the Maori history and customs, participated in tribal rituals, watched an amazing song/dance performance, ate a traditional “Hangi” meal, and topped off the night with drinks in a jacuzzi! The village stay was a perfect mix of tradition, education and fun - we were able to ask our guide everything about the Maori people! My stay in the Maori Village was the absolute highlight of my Kiwi Experience.
I am so happy I took a leap of faith and travelled to a place that I knew nothing about, because it was truly amazing. New Zealand is a place of decadent nature, which served as a perfect backdrop for inspiration and introspection, and Kiwi Experience is the ideal vehicle (pun intended) to make memories and friendships to last a lifetime!
As I stood atop of Huka Falls, I thought to myself: What was TLC thinking when they sang “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to”? Absolutely not! Always go chasing waterfalls!! It is with that mindset that I was able to truly experience all that New Zealand had to offer, and how I will continue to feed my wanderlust for the rest of the world!