Backpackers love the North
When seasoned backpackers Robin Gayraud and Laura Symonds decided to visit as many off the beaten track destinations in New Zealand they could in one year - they chose Northland as their last region.
The pair are the founders and writers of BackpackerGuide.NZ and this year they decided to showcase more destinations in the hope they would tempt visitors to extend their stay in New Zealand.
During what they call ‘‘New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year’’ they challenged themselves to tackle 365 activities in 365 days.
Gayraud - originally from France, has been in the country for seven years while Symonds arrived three years ago from the United Kingdom. Both fell in love with New Zealand and feel proud to promote their adopted country to others.
‘‘We kept the best leg for last,’’ says Gayraud.
‘‘The winter-less North has so much to offer with a huge variety of both spectacular landscapes, surprising wildlife and fascinating historical location. It is always a crowd pleaser even in winter.’’
‘‘We spent day 334 to 341 in Whangarei taking part in some absolutely unforgettable activities from an incredible dive at the Poor Knight Islands which is probably my favourite activity in NZ to date, to an unscheduled visit of the Whangarei hospital after Robin tripped on stairs when coming down Mt Manaia,’’ Symonds says.
‘‘After tackling 350 adventurous activities across the country it was probably the lamest way to break a couple of bones,’’ laughs Gayraud.
Skydiving is on the agenda before the trip ends in the Far North.
Both have been impressed by the kindness of locals and their care for the pristine New Zealand wildlife.
And they’re not shy to sing their praises of Whangarei which they found ‘‘a backpacker’s dream because it featured many stellar free or cheap things to do such as visiting the Abbey Caves, the picturesque Whangarei Falls or the colourful Quarry Gardens.
‘‘We are glad to have dedicated a week to showcasing the town and all it has to offer.’’
❚ BackpackerGuide.NZ: NZ’s #1 guide for backpackers is free online. To follow the couple’s travels go to http:/ /www.backpackerguide.nz/blog/
Laura Symonds and Robin Gayraud view the Whangarei Heads from Mt Manaia.