New Zealand Summer Roadie Week I: Rotorua, East Cape & Mahia

Last day of 2015 was the first day of our New Zealand summer road trip. Surfboards and yoga mats packed down in our new old van and over 2 months to explore Leon's beautiful home country. We're on the road now and here sharing some destinations and moments from our first week on the road of the North Island: Starting in Leon's parents home in Mount Maunganui we headed to Rotorua for a stop before the rural and exciting East Cape.

First Stop: Rotorua

We started our New Zealand summer road trip the day before the big New Years Celebration with plans to spend it on the rural East Cape. First stop was Rotorua - mainly for a birthday celebration but also for a bit of exploration of this famous Maori town.

Highlights from my visit to Rotorua were hiking the Rainbow Mountain, dipping in the (very) hot Kerosene Creek hot springs, my first bit of Maori culture and our first camping experience in the new old van yuhuu. And what an experience waking up to a swim in the beautiful Okareka Lake just outside Rotorua.

I already love van-camping. Also, despite the weird and famous Rotorua smell caused by the geothermal activities in the area I’m definitely keen on going back to explore some more of Rotorua and the beautiful lakes one day. And to visit Leon's former Auckland roommates Jemma & Nick again!

New Years Eve In Waihau Bay

Last day of the year and the first real day of our NZ roadtrip, yay! Reaching the first spots on NZ’s beautiful East Cape with destination Waihou Bay in mind for our New Year’s celebration on the beach: Connecting with nature and setting intentions for 2016!

THE highlight was the most magical New Year’s eve on the beach with Leon where we skipped staying up until midnight in order to be able to WAKE UP with the first sun on the first year instead. New Zealand’s East Cape is also the first place in the world to enter a new day (and a new year), how awesome is that?

Our menu of veggie wraps, wine & dark chocolate cake worked so perfect for our little camping set-up.

New Zealand's East Cape

Our beautiful New Year’s weather changed drastically and first day of 2016 was rainy, windy and very cozy... Bad weather is perfect driving weather and calls for lots of interesting snacking & napping stops =) We reached the actual East Cape and continued along the coast to the various interesting Bays (there's plenty of bays in NZ...).

Highlights were napping in the van under the largest Pohutukawa tree in New Zealand (the vibrant red colored New Zealand "Christmas tree"), breakfast pi-lates (or pies and lattes) at the cool Te Puia Springs main "cafe", exploring cool abandoned factory buildings in Tokomaru Bay and our walk along the longest wharf in the southern Hemisphere: Tolaga Bay (600 something meters).

Mahia with Shanghai Friends

After a couple of days on the road we arrived in beautiful beautiful beautiful Mahia - the East Cape peninsula and the most beautiful part of NZ I've seen so far. Here we met up with our Shanghai friends Kem & Chaz at Chaz’ family beach house for a couple of days of catching up, exploring and chilling with yoga & surfing.

Highlight was seeing "Shanghai family" OUT of Shanghai and being in Mahia with them! Absolutely stunning scenery.

Next stop:

Hawkes Bay, South of the North Island and the cultural capital Wellington