I was so lucky on my journey from Raleigh to New Zealand. A delay in my original itinerary made it necessary to change flights completely. I ended up taking two flights to Hawaii instead of three, and avoided the dreaded LAX airport.
I had a whole row to myself on the flight to Auckland and slept most of the 9-hour flight.
Those nine hours of sleep were crucial to prepare me for the jam-packed day that awaited me after my 7am arrival. Because I stayed awake until that leg of the journey and got such good sleep on that flight, I didn't experience much jet lag at all. We had a long scenic drive along the Northern Coast, a short hike to see Cathedral Cove, and then more driving through mountains to our ending point in Raglan.
American citizens are very lucky travelers, especially in New Zealand. There is an expedited customs lane for US, Canadian, Aussie and UK citizens. Americans get a free 3-month tourist visa on arrival.
Tony picked me up in our bright blue Subie hatchback rental and we hit the road. I've always wanted a bright blue Subaru hatchback, and at last, I have one, even if it's just for a little while.
Our route was the Pacific Coast Highway which winds around the Coromandel Peninsula. The road reminds me so much of another Pacific Coast Highway on the other side of the Pacific Ocean- Highway One in California. The Kiwi PCH is narrow and winding, lined with old gnarled trees overlooking gorgeous white sandy beaches and rocky coves.
We passed through countless little coastal towns with cute little houses, coffee shops, and surf rentals. I couldn't resist stopping at this beach to put my feet in the ocean.
Cathedral Cove was a busy spot. We had pay to park in a local's yard because the lot was so full. The hike to the cove is about 30 minutes there and 45 back because the way back is more uphill. The views of the coast and islands along the way was gorgeous. I definitely daydreamed about living on one of those uninhabited little islands.
The path was undergoing construction so a short detour took us through a lush forest with moss covered boulders and ferns.
After our little hike, we jumped back in the car and headed to Solscape, our hostel in Raglan.