Posts Tagged With: Help X

The Kiwi Farmstay

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.

Low hanging fruit

Low hanging fruit

Crib time

Crib time

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!

The farm

The farm

Sunrise over Mangamahu

Sunrise over Mangamahu

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.

Man's best friend

Man’s best friend

The chicken whisperer

The chicken whisperer

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.

That'll do Pig, that'll do

That’ll do Pig, that’ll do

Mustering country

Mustering country

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.

Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, me and Ruapehu

Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, me and Ruapehu

Lake selfie

Lake selfie

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.

Over Kawakawa Bay, about 13km in!

Over Kawakawa Bay, about 13km in!

Too hot for some pool

Too hot for some pool

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.

On the way to the falls

On the way to the falls

The guide book suggests that you skinny dip here. No comment… Other than it was very cold.

Shine Falls... Chilly

Shine Falls… Chilly

Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Scrubbers

When the time finally came to move on from Coromandel, we had already lined up our second week. Using a website called HelpX, we booked in to work at a place called Kawerau Thermal Motel. It was on the way to Rotorua, where the Bowers were headed, so they dropped us off there. I drove, and just like the drive earlier in the week the scenery is stunning pretty much everywhere. Through mountains and forests, along the coast or rivers and lakes – it’s basically showing off and this just in a small part of the North Island, South is supposed to be the pretty one.

Our new business...

Our new business…

When we did arrive at the motel though, after seeing a little bit of the town, it was almost reassuring to realise that not everywhere here is spectacularly beautiful! This town, and place, is bit run down by comparison to Tairua, and although our hosts Raewyn and Peter were lovely and friendly and straight away, it was slightly weird coming from the luxury of the previous week.

However, we had a really good week. We have a really nice room and all the food we need, free wifi and SKY TV in exchange for a few hours work each day. The motel hasn’t been busy at all, and it is primarily used as a stop for truck drivers. This means in the morning we make a couple of beds, and the evening we help cook a hearty 3 course dinner, usually of corn on the cob, meat or fish and potatoes and a slice of homemade cake. Nice.

Working hard...

Working hard…

Hardly working.

Hardly working.

Whilst the town itself isn’t especially nice, with a few boarded up shops and just the one mountain overlooking it (!), it’s actually been really good being here. The work is pretty easy (although I don’t want to have to clean a stainless steel shower ever again), there are no time pressures, and I get to use the 4×4 truck as well. We’ve also done a fair bit of planning, hiring a car for our USA road trip in July and booking a campervan for the South Island in March.

Our wheels

Our wheels

They gave us a whole day off to go to Rotorua (yet another spectacular drive) to spend one last day with the Bowers, where we spent the morning in various free hot springs just outside the town. The novelty of sitting a normal river, that is flowing hot instead of cold is not going to wear off quickly, even though one of the places had some German nudists swimming there…

One hot river.

One hot river.

Sightseeing AND learning

Sightseeing AND learning

Thermal wonderland!

Thermal wonderland!

After another morning of hard(ish) scrubbing, we drove off into the local Tarawera Scenic Reserve. Bouncing along the dirt roads in the 4×4 was awesome, and what the town of Kawerau lacks in beauty this place makes up for. We drove a few KM into the forest, before stopping to walk along the river to the waterfall. One of things we’ve noticed is how quiet and clean everywhere seems to be – there just isn’t litter anywhere. The forest paths and crystal clear river up to the falls were awesome…

Tarawera Reserve

Tarawera Reserve

Hole in the wall...

Hole in the wall…

… Which was good, because after only a few days of work, the owners went away for the whole weekend leaving us (and the dogs) in charge of the place. It has been quite a surreal experience – good because its been quite quiet, and we’ve been able to cook and eat and drink what we want, but slightly annoying in that we can’t leave the place unattended. Also, when the guard dog barks at nothing in the night, I’m the one who has to go outside and check it out.

The motel survived though, and they were very thankful when they got back. On our last night, we passed the baton on to the next batch of helpx people, and then lay in the thermal spring heated pool. Not too shabby for a truck stop!

In charge.

In charge.

Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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