New Zealand’s First Stop – Hahei

Stingray Bay – my favorite spot in Hahei

More like Hah-yay. This was the first official stop on my New Zealand adventure. A small village located in the Coromandel Peninsula (northern area of the North Island). The guide said that many New Zealanders holiday here in the summer months and that this wasn’t a typical tourist stop.

The bus left Auckland before 8am. I grabbed Dunkin’ and hauled my luggage down to the bus stop. There were about 30 or so other travelers on the bus. Most of us are traveling solo, but there are a few people traveling pairs or with significant others.

Once in Hahei there is an optional kayaking trip that afternoon. I opt out and go for a walk/mini hike instead. From Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove is just under 4km. Cathedral Cove is a beautiful beach/marine reserve hidden in the cliff side of the bay. This location was featured in Narnia as well as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Can’t Hold Us music video. I stay on the beach for a little bit enjoying the sun before heading back.

Group Dinner

That evening we has the option of joining in for a group dinner. It was the perfect opportunity to get to know each other over a super tasty meal. A group of us stayed up late playing Cards Against Humanity (Australian version and yes it is different/weirder than the U.S. version).

The next day was very easy going and at 1pm we made our way to Hot Water Beach. There’s a section of the beach where an underground hot water river flows and two hours on either side of low tide you can dig your own hot pool. It’s like a man-made, natural hot tub. For dinner we had food truck style burgers from Serial Griller. These are dubbed as one of the best burgers in New Zealand if not “the best.” That night a smaller group of us decorated the bus for Christmas and absolutely made a mess with glitter.

A couple of us wanted to watch the sunrise and planned on waking up at 5am so it was a chill night. At 8am we were leaving Hahei and heading off to the next destination.

Hahei Holiday Resort Review

We arrived at the Hahei Holiday Resort and had our own section of the property sectioned of for Stray travelers. It included private bathrooms, cabins, a kitchen, dining area, and outdoor terrace with a BBQ. At the peak the property can hold 1,500 people in a range of cabins to campgrounds. We had cabins with bunk beds and single beds (I scored a single bed – woo!).

The property is right off the beach and a 2 minute, easy walk. It’s also a 5 minute walk into town. There is another hostel in town, but the town is very small so you are limited on accommodation options.

Serial Griller is located on the property and there is also a breakfast pop up. The small coffee shop has coffee and gives you a .50 cent discount if you bring your own cup.

Everything about Hahei was a positive experience. It was the perfect first stop during my NZ trip. In general I wish I could spend more time on the Coromandel Peninsula. This would be high on my list of spots to come back to.

Packing for a Year Abroad

How do you pack for a year? And contrary to popular belief it’s not bathing suit weather 365 days a year in Australia. On top of that it gets quite cold during “winter” in major cities and can even snow. You can guarnettee I will do everything in my power to avoid the cold, but it would be naive of me to think of only bringing warm weather clothes.

Since college I’ve been trying to adopt a minimalistic lifestyle and let’s just say it has been a multi-year work in progress. I’m definitely better than when I was in NYC and even more so than when I was in college, but I’m not there yet. My philosophy while packing was not “less is more,” but “I don’t want to always do laundry and I don’t want to buy things that I have at sitting at home.” I also had the thought process that if I left something at home and could live without it for a year then I really didn’t need it at all. So major clean out will happen once I’m back from Australia.

When I found out the airline I was flying allowed you to bring two 32kg (about 70lbs) suitcases free of charged, I took advantage of the situation. I packed two large suitcases, one carry-on bag, and a backpack. Yes, I brought way too much. I fully admit that, but I haven’t had to buy much and I hope to eventually let go of some things as well.

At JFK airport about to take off

A more practical “backpacker” packing list would be like so:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 5 tops
  • 1 skirt
  • 3-5 dresses
  • 1 evening dress or outfit (ex. LBD)
  • 3 workout outfits
  • 2 bras
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks 
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of plastic flip flops 
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 pair of pjs
  • 2 pairs of swimsuits
  • 1 pair of sunglasses 
  • Travel sized toiletries
  • Sunscreen 
  • Deodorant 
  • Water bottle

Good luck with packing! It’s stressful, but also an exhilarating part leading up to any trip.