Cathedral Cove Beach – Weekend Trip

Cathedral Cove

On the 13th of December our group traveled to the Coromandel Peninsula, a real treasure of a spot and a favourite for locals and tourists alike to visit and enjoy the weather, beaches and nature. When we arrived on the coast, we went directly to Hahei beach and met up with the local kayak guides to take us on our first activity. After a few minutes of explaining some kayaking techniques we were all ready to get out into the water for an afternoon of paddling. Our guides were really cool and filled us in on all the history of the surrounding areas. It turned out that where we were paddling was a marine reserve, and that there was no fishing allowed in the area-  making it the perfect place to see wildlife. We saw lots of fish, native birds, stingrays and even some penguins – no whales of dolphins this time unfortunately although I’m not sure I would like to have seen a whale show up next our kayaks!

The kayak took us around the coast to one the beautiful sandy beaches and a truly iconic landmark in New Zealand, Cathedral Cove. It is so named as on the beach is a rock-formed arch which looks like a Cathedral. We stayed there for the couple of hours, enjoying it when the sun showed itself and took a bunch of pictures.

After our paddle we headed to the famous beach located between Tairua and Whitianga – “Hot Water” Beach! Its name comes from underground hot springs which filter up through the sand between the high and low water tidal reaches. Armed with spades, our group had a chance to dig holes and make their own private Jacuzzi’s!

After a long day outdoors we arrived at our accommodation, which overlooks – and is right by, the beach. In the evening we enjoyed a delicious barbecue, had some drinks and played some games before heading out to the nearby town for a night of partying and live music at their local popular pub. The next day before heading back to Auckland we stopped at the local famous ice-cream house – special mention to Sanne for devouring an 8 scoop “gut-buster” ice-cream by herself!


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Kauri Trees Weekend Trip

Bay of Islands Trip

On the 22nd of November we went to the Bay of Islands. On the first day we visited two waterfalls – Whangarei and Haruru. Also our fellow travel mates saw the famous local giant trees ‘Kauri’ and we were sure to give the trees lots of big hugs. Afterwards, we went to the historic place where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and went to explore a mysterious glowworm cave. The first day of the trip was busy, but we were not ready to go to sleep early! We had to finish the day off with an amazing party in the local club which is attached to the hostel. We all dressed up in the nights costume theme “beach” – this is how we do it at Student Trips!

The next day after breakfast and a little bit of time to recover and take stock of the night before, we went on a fantastic boat cruise. Along the way, the skippers navigated the boat towards the most famous dolphin spots. We were all a little nervous that the Dolphins wouldn’t make an appearance but before long we spotted them in the distance playing and dancing in the water. They even came right up to our boats bow to say “Hello”. The cruise also took us through the ‘Hole in the Rock’, an island in the bay that has a hole “just” large enough to let a boat pass through. Finally we stopped at a lonely island and were given the chance to hop-off the boat and explore the island.

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This day trip was a great getaway and unforgettable for the LOTR movie lovers among us! The private bus took us out to Matamata, about 2 hours South of Auckland. It is here that they have set up the film-set of the Hobbiton for use in all of the movies. On arrival, our friendly guide, Billy, was ready to introduce us to this magical place and he was able to answer any and all the questions our group could throw at him. We took our time to walk through the village, exploring inside the houses (some of them have stuff in them!) as well as all the tiny intricate details. It is clear people had put a lot of time and money into making sure Hobbiton looked exactly how Tolkien had dreamed it would look all those years ago. To round things off, we visited the “Green Dragon” – the local pub that the Hobbits love to drink and sing at – and that now works as a fully functional pub/restaurant wherein we received a complementary Hobbit beverage, as well as had the opportunity to purchase “Hobbit-style” food! All-in-all, a wonderful and sunny day out for all our group.


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Pinnacles Hike

Pinnacles Hike

This weekend was not for the lazy! It was high time to get out of the city and back into the beauty of New Zealand’s nature once more! The hike to the top of Coromandel’s highest point certainly had its highlights; rivers, swing bridges, stone steps and rugged bush track. It was all totally worth it – though! When we reached the top we were rewarded with one of the the best sights on offer – a sweeping view across the whole of the Coromandel Peninsula and the upper part of the North Island. Leaving our bags at the DOC cabin, we climbed on a little further to reach the top-most point of the mountain, and witnessed the most amazing sunset as the sun disappeared below the horizon and “into the sea”. We then returned to the cabin and played cards, shared some stories and cooked our food (we were ravenous by this stage!). Not wanting to miss an equally beautiful sunrise and in keeping with the motto ‘The Early Bird…’, at around 6am we once again climbed these famous Pinnacles and caught the early rays of the suns morning light. We were to be the first in the whole world to see the sun rising and welcome in the new day.


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Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tongariro crossing

Yes! we did it! We mastered New Zealand’s most beautiful day hike of about 19.4 km over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

We started off with a great day around Lake Taupo. We visited the city and grabbed a bite for lunch before the brave ones amongst us dared to make a 47 meter bungy jump off a cliff high above one of the sections of the Waikato river. That night we made sure we were well rested, for we knew the next day was going to be a challenging one and that we were about to tick off another item on most of our bucket list’s. The night before we heard from the Ranger that this would be one of the last days where it would be possible to do the crossing before the conditions became too cold and windy and would require additional snow and ice equipment. We rose at 6 am to a beautiful day, there was not a cloud in the sky and it was relatively warm for this late in the year – perfect conditions for it! After a hearty breakfast to give us energy for the day, and were transported to the base of the mountain to begin our climb. By the end of the day, everyone had made it, a little tired and sore, but everyone had smiling faces and a real sense of accomplishment! Thankfully, back at the accommodation we were able to eat and relax our tired muscles in the hot pool. Been there, Done that!