Wonderful New Zealand. 

New Zealand. I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve not even been here for a week, and it has already completely blown me away. But to start from the beginning, I spent my last few days staying with Reese and his parents on the Gold Coast, thank you so much for taking me in and feeding me and giving me a real bed again. I really appreciate it! I got to see a last wild koala too, and got a awesome Christmas gift.    

    

Natural bridge in Queensland. 
 

Wild koala.    

But on Friday the 11th I flew to Auckland with air New Zealand and it was a nice three hour flight. I arrived to a chillier and rainy NZ which I didn’t mind at all actually. Nice with some cooler weather, at least for a day. Took the bus into Auckland city and the Haka Lodge where I was staying for the night. despite that it was only a three hour time difference I really felt it though. I had a hard time falling asleep that night, but it might also have been nerves from meeting my tour group for the first time the next morning.
On that Saturday morning I got up, and walked down to the common room to meet my group. It took me less than ten minutes to realize that this was going to be so good. The core group that’s going to be with me for 24 days is a couple from America that’s around my parents age, two English women in their 35-40’s, and Australian guy in his 40’s, a Swiss woman who’s 45, a Belgian woman who’s 23 and a German guy who’s maybe 25. Such a great group of people! I was so scared that I’d end up on a “party tour” with a bunch of people in their twenties just wanting to party, this is so much better. And every one are traveling solo except for the American couple. Our tour guide for the entire trip is Tom, a kiwi guy who will also be our driver and basically everything else. I had such a good feeling after that first meeting.    

We got on the bus and headed north out of Auckland right away. The bus is called Murray, and the trailer is Lurky, because he’s always lurking about behind us. 
The good thing about the Haka Tours is that we have a destination set for the day, and then the itinerary is up to the weather and us basically. This day Tom asked if we felt like going for a swim at goat island, and we said yes so off we went. Super pretty!  

   

  

       
After the swim we headed north towards Paihia, after a quick stop at a waterfall in Whangarei. Fun fact: wh is pronounced fh in New Zealander so that is fhangarei. That also means that the mountain Whakapapa is pronounced… Yeah, you can figure that one out yourselves. (If not, it’s fhuckapapa. Good job New Zealand!) 

    
Haka tours has a hostel up in Paihia called Haka Lodge, with this amazing view. We got dinner that night for the first and last time on this tour, the rest of the time we’ll just get breakfast. That’s fine though. The next morning I was booked on a “swim with dolphins” tour, but luckily I had been warned that the probability of there actually being dolphins was very low. Good thing, because they were right. No Dolphins were to be found. We saw a hammerhead shark and a tiny penguin though, and nice scenery. Still a by disappointed, but I still have another chance later on.

   
    
    
   
 We have a lot of tour options with Haka, which is great. I have pre booked a lot when I booked the tour, but you can add anything during as well, and it ends up on your bill at the end. Very convenient, also dangerous haha. Whenever we have group meals Tom just divides the cost between us and it ends up on our tab. 
That afternoon a bunch of us went over and rented some paddle boards and went around the bay. I was the only one of us not to fall in, success! It was a lot of fun, and I met some swedes on a pontoon. Or Tom found them and called me over to say hi. 

          
We had a great evening having dinner and just talking, and getting to know each other better. It really goes fast when you hang out with each other 24/7 and even sleep in the same room. Such a great gang though. 
The next day we got back on the bus and headed south again. We visited the place where the British and the Maori signed the peace treaty first, I can’t remember the name because the names are really hard, but it was a cool place. 

          
Then we were off to watch new Zealand’s “best toilet”, so bizarre. Some German guy designed it apparently. We got back on Murray and went to a beach that Tom recommended, and had a picnic on the beach and went for a walk. Never mind that half the group got lost, luckily it wasn’t the half that I was in. 

   
    
    
   
We walked on the beach and around the coast before Tom met us on another beach to pick us up. And then the best part about Haka happened: we were supposed to get back to Auckland and just have dinner, when Tom said that he could get us on a private sunset cruise with bbq in the Auckland harbor. Everyone went “YES!” so we bought supplies and went to the harbor instead. The guy who took us out was called Steve and was the very first Haka tour guide. So cool and we had an absolute blast. 

   
    
    
    
 On Monday morning we picked up another 7 people who are doing a 7 day north island tour. We’ll drop them off in Wellington as we get on the ferry to the South Island. It was cool getting some more people in, and we were all eager to leave Auckland again and get on the road. People who live in Auckland are known as Jafers. That stands for “just another fucking aucklander”. Not very popular apparently! 
Our first stop was mount Edna, one of 48 dormant volcanoes in Auckland. We went for a short walk, it was nice. Then off we went, heading south! Tom told us about this guy living in Coromandel with hundreds of pigs, so we quickly decided that we needed to stop and visit the pig man. Best part of having a flexible itinerary: we can do whatever we want some day. And the pig man really had a lot of pigs! 

      

      
Next we got to some other places with lots of w’s and a’s in it, where we played at a playground after having lunch. I love that everyone is such kids on this tour. 
Next up was bone carving. Another thing I’ve never done before. We got a piece of bone and instruction how to shape it, and went wild. It took us almost 2 hours to get them done! It was a lot of fun. 

  
  

  

      

   
And one of the guys cooked a German dinner for us all tonight which was super sweet of him, so we had a few beers and food and played darts. Afterwards the girls bonded in our dorm rooms when I put on my Taylor swift tshirt to go to bed and it turns out that two of the others are serious swifties. One of them have even met her and has a photo with her! So jealous. It was great though.
Seriously, i was a bit scared of going on an organized tour with so many people at first, but it’s been so good so far. Everyone is great, it’s nice not having to plan every thing myself and I’m just loving this tour company. I’m in no way sponsored by them, but I’m just so impressed by how they operate. It’s flexible and all about having fun while also being safe. I like it. 
Next up is sea kayaking by cathedral cove, and so many other fun things. When we get to Wellington we’ll all dress up in costumes and go watch the new Star Wars movie, so much fun! I love New Zealand so much. Good times, aye! 

Pacific coast of Australia.

On one of my last days in Sydney I went to Bondi Beach, because you can’t go to Sydney and completely miss the most famous beach in the entire city. I understand why it’s so popular, the sand was bright white and the water was perfect both for swimming and surfing. 
    
    
  

After a while I decided to make the most of my transport pass that day, and take a ferry to manly beach too. I vaguely remember someone telling me that there’s a Swedish restaurant there, and I felt like having a cinnamon roll so it was an easy decision, especially on such a beautiful day. 
    

So much goodies! It was nice being able to walk in and speak Swedish, even if it was just for ordering coffee. I’m confident in my english, but sometimes I stutter, or forget words or pronounce them wrong so being able to speak my native language every once in a while is nice. 
 

I got a typical Swedish fika, a coffee and kanelbulle. Wikipedia defines fika as this: “Fika is considered a social institution in Sweden; it means having a break, most often a coffee break, with one’s colleagues, friends, date or family. The word fika can be used as both verb and a noun. You can fika at work by taking a “coffee break”, fika with someone like a “coffee date”, or just drink a cup of coffee, tea or other non-alcoholic beverage. As such, the word has quite ambiguous connotations, but almost always includes something to eat, such as biscuits, cakes and even sweets, accompanied with the drink. This practice of taking a break, often with a cinnamon roll or some biscuits, cookies, or a fruit on the side, is central to Swedish life.”

 While in Sydney I also celebrated 6 months of travel! The bicycle is made out of wood and I found it in a store a while ago, I thought it was pretty so it will come with me back to Sweden.  
Since Sydney I’ve been slowly making my way up to Brisbane, and I’ve found one of the absolute best camp spots of this entire trip. Just take a look yourself. It was supposed to cost $17 a night, but no one ever came to collect our money in the two days I was there so yay. But first: hunter valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine regions. 

  
   

I know very little of wine, apart from that I enjoy drinking it. But apparently the semillon in the middle bottle is what hunter valley is known for, and I was recommended the chambourcin on the right so I gave that a chance. One man told me I looked like I enjoy fruity and light white wines. I scowled at him and told him that I enjoy very dark and flavorful reds. Light and fruity, as if. Also fun fact: from America where I was asked for ID every single time I bought alcohol, I’ve been asked zero times since coming to Australia. I finally look like I’m legal again apparently. 

But the camp spot! After hunter I drove to one that I had picked on the map, but it was so crowded and the toilets were really far away. I decided to keep on driving but the next stop was even worse, as it was completely empty and pretty spooky. I went back to my app and found the third spot, and decided to give it a chance. And just like that I found the best camp site in Australia. I spent two days there, just swimming, reading and existing. It was amazing.    

    
SO good! Ugh, so good. I really recommend it. Also, yes that is my wine glass. And coffee cup. Good because people never know if you’re drinking coffee or wine hehe. 

    
  
This is a goanna I’ve been told. It was huge and there was two of them patrolling the area. Well, who doesn’t enjoy a little wild life every once in a while. 
    
   
Coffee or wine? Who knows! (It was coffee. It was 8:30 in the morning and I had just been for my morning swim.)

I’ve also been to billabong zoo which I was mildly impressed with. Especially after learning that it’s illegal to hold koalas in the state of New South Wales. So disappointing. But I still got to see them and pat one of them while its handler held him so still worth it.   
    
Look at it holding my hand! I died. 

    
I can identify so much with this koala lady. 

    

But yesterday when I got to the free campsite I had chosen, I had one of the very few encounters that made me seriously uncomfortable during this adventure. I asked a man camped next to me where I could access the river so I could wash off the day, and then he wouldn’t leave me alone. He came over when I was putting on the tent part and tried to help put the sheets on the bed (just NO), he opened the door to the car without asking permission, he touched my hip when I was standing in nothing more than a bikini and towel by the car which made me take a huge step back and reconsider staying there. Had it not been for the fact that at least 7-8 other people were camping there too I would have left. After a while I had to excuse myself and say that I had promised to skype my parents just to be able to get him to leave me alone. And he still came over as soon as I had hung up! I was so annoyed, but I told him that I wanted to be alone and he luckily backed off then. The guy was around 50-60 maybe, old enough to be my dad. This morning I left without even having had breakfast, I just wanted to get away. Seriously creepy.    

But it was a beautiful site at least. You could stay there for two nights for free, but nothing in the world could have made me stay another second while he was still there. 

Anyway. I drove to Dorrigo National Park, which my friend Mimmi had recommended. It was so pretty! I took a 2,5 hour hike through the rainforest, and saw waterfalls and bridges, a lot of birds but best of all a snake!

  

  

  

  

  

  

Can you see me?

  

    

I came around a bend in a path and all of a sudden the snake was right there, just a few meters in front of me. I actually gasped out loud, before I quickly took some pictures and filmed it. I was cautious but not as scared as I had expected me to be. I’m not that scared of snakes, I am much more terrified by spiders. An hour later a spider came on the outside of my windscreen and I freaked out. I was so scared I almost got nauseous, and it was on the outside! Wow. Anyway, I showed a lady working there the picture of the snake and she told me it’s a red-bellied black snake. They’re venomous but usually not deadly. I’m actually glad I got to see one up close before I left, now I’ve seen most Australian animals except for sharks, but that I can do without. 

Tomorrow I’m heading to Byron Bay, and then I’m crossing the border back into Queensland and the Gold Coast. I’ll spend a few more days with Reese and his parents before i leave, so I have time to do laundry and wash the car. It’s so filthy, oh god. That’s what 2,5 months of driving through outback and rainforest and everything in between will do to a car. On Friday I get on the plane to Auckland, New Zealand and on Saturday the three week adventure tour begins. It will be so weird traveling with other people, but I’m looking forward to it so much. 

Life is so good!