We knew we’d have a good few days at the next help-x as soon as we arrived. Beth and Graham have a farm outside of Wanganui, in a place called Mangamahu, but when we started they were picking kiwi fruit in their orchard in town. We arrived, got strapped into our bags and went straight to work – and it was really good fun. These particular kiwi fruits were hanging nicely at head height, so we joined the group of pickers and zoomed around the orchard and filled our bags. It was a really nice atmosphere and felt like a bit of a work out too.
After work, we followed Beth out of town to the farm, a truly epic drive. It was one of the most scenic and spectacular drives we’ve done in New Zealand, and we’d never have come close to it if it weren’t for help-x. Winding along the valley and river, with paddocks and hills and fields, we made it to the farm and then got the best news yet; the accommodation awesome! Our own place, big comfy bed and TV. Not to mention, it was set in the most amazing farm scenery. Hills rolling all over the place, forests, the river, mountains. Awesome, and a nice change from campsite cabins and backpacker hostels. We told Beth and Graham that they should charge for the authentic kiwi farm experience!
During our week we had a great time, doing a couple of full on days picking kiwi fruit, and then spending the others around the farm. Feeding chickens, playing with the dogs, riding around on the buggy and just walking around the place was awesome. Watching the sunrise through the misty hills was a pretty darn good way to start the day. And after a hard days picking, we relaxed in the spa.
They also put us in touch with their neighbours, so we spent one afternoon watching sheep shearing and mustering over the most mountainous farm (in my humble opinion) ever. I even got to drive the quad bike – again, awesome.
It was a bit of a wrench to leave, but as we cruised north to Taupo we had a decent enough view. The Tongariro National Park appeared, and we passed Mounts Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom). They were all snow-capped, and we had to stop several times to take photos. In Taupo we spent a couple of days with Cat, who is exploring New Zealand for the month before heading to Asia, and she’ll be back in UK just before us. It was really nice hanging out around the town, cooking in her hostel kitchen and of course the real highlight; watching Godzilla. It’s not a patch on the Broderick version.
After Cat left we did a hefty 20km tramp along the lakeside to Kawakawa Bay, and then treated ourselves to some half price hot pools to sooth the aching bones. The next day we left Taupo for Napier, and following the advice of our Frenzy guidebook we found some more hot pools, these ones for free! We were the only people around, perched on the side of the gorge looking down along the river. Good thing we ignored the DoC warning signs.
Before arriving in Napier, we detoured north a bit, again following the Frenzy book. In the middle of nowhere, with no one around, we parked and headed into the bush for Shine Falls. The walk itself was great, through fields divided by towering granite cliffs and then into the bush. When we arrived at the falls it was just awesome. Nearly 60 metres tall with a nice pool at the bottom.
The guide book suggests that you skinny dip here. No comment… Other than it was very cold.