New Zealand’s Northland: Hiking & Picking Kiwi

Welcome to post #5 in this “as told by mom” New Zealand Adventure travel series. My son, Chris, has a one-year work visa in New Zealand. Chris and I are working together to bring you the photo-filled stories of his adventures. I hope you enJOY!

The following is my favorite photo that he has shared to date from his entire adventure. Look at those stars! Chris said that those were the nicest stars he’s ever seen. The star view is crystal clear because there is no city light pollution.Amazing star-lit view in Cape Reinga, New Zealand. #NewZealand

Not to get sappy, but  it reminds me of Linda Ronstadt’s song, Somewhere Out There. (Remember, my “baby” is on the other side of the globe!)

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishin’ on the same bright star
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky

The Final Four

Throughout the month long travels around the New Zealand’s North Island, Chris was with various friends who he had met while in the South Island. All were there simply for the life experience, and the others all happened to be from Germany.

There were about 10 people total, but only 4 of them finished the entire trip. Chris has definitely made some friends for life.

Four friends who traveled throughout New Zealand's North Island
Chris is the third person.

Auckland, New Zealand

In the last post of this travel adventure series (New Zealand Adventure: Exploring the North Island), Chris and his new-found friends were traveling northward in New Zealand’s North island. They had just arrived in Auckland.

Auckland is the most-populous city in New Zealand with a population of 1,534,700. The German  friends who owned a car took advantage of the large city and sold their cars to prepare for their upcoming departure from New Zealand.

Although Chris has a van, it’s a backpacker van that’s converted to a sleeping area in the back, so he can only have one passenger. The German friends then rented a car to complete their trip into the Northland region.

City view of Auckland, New Zealand

Stillwater and Whangerai, New Zealand

The WiFi is spotty throughout New Zealand, and in the Northland region it was particularly weak. This meant that our communication was minimal with Chris while he was in this area. I’m hoping that a picture is worth 1000 words!

Gorgeous waterfall in Whangarei, New Zealand

Coastal view of Whangarei, NZ

A little cave exploration…

Exploring the inside of a dark cave in Whangarei, NZ

Cape Reinga, New Zealand

Cape Reinga is the most northern point of New Zealand that is accessible to the public. (North Cape is further north, but it’s a scientific reserve that is not open to the public).

The cape is a popular tourist attraction, and according to Wikipedia it has “over 120,000 visitors a year and around 1,300 cars arriving per day during peak season.”

The Cape Reinga Lighthouse is a world famous tourist attraction because it’s where two seas meet; the Tasman Sea and South Pacific Ocean. It was built in 1941, is 33′ high, and is a gorgeous view!

Cape Reinga Lighthouse in Cape Reinga, New Zealand

Beautiful coastal scenery in Cape Reinga, New Zealand

This photo of giant sand dunes is very cool, and the Snapchat he sent me of them sandboarding down them on a boogie board was really fun! The sand dunes are just outside of Cape Reinga.

Incredible sand dunes in Cape Reinga, New Zealand

And that concludes the great adventures of exploring the entire North Island of New Zealand!

Kiwi Picking

As I explained the 2nd post of this adventure series (New Zealand Work Visa: First Few Weeks), Chris has a one-year work visa for New Zealand. Before his one-month (maybe a 1.5  months) trip in the North Island, he worked at a vineyard in the South Island.

Now that they explored the entire North Island, it’s time to get another seasonal job. Both Chris and his friends all decided to get a job at a kiwi orchard in Te Puke, which is located in the North Island.

Kiwi orchard in Te Puke, New Zealand

Generally they work 5-6 days per week, 8 hours per day. Kiwis are collected in a basket that is worn around the shoulders. It uses different muscles, so it took some getting used to.

Basket that is worn around the shoulders to collect kiwis.

He gets paid based on how many pounds of kiwi he picks, so speed is important. If the kiwi are too soft (the way we want to eat them), he needs to toss it on the ground or eat it! So living on a budget, free kiwis are of course awesome and he eats 5 or 6 each work day.

Kiwis are one of the most nutritionally dense fruits out there It makes this momma happy to know he’s getting some good nutrients since he otherwise lives mainly on pasta and pb&j sandwiches.

He’s also become somewhat of a kiwi snob, as he picks and prefers only golden kiwi. I had only heard of green kiwi, but once aware of the golden I saw them in the store and must say they’re delicious!

Odd thing, they’re too expensive for him to purchase in New Zealand where they’re grown, but those same New Zealand kiwis are fairly reasonable here in Wisconsin. Go figure.

Golden kiwi purchased from store
Golden kiwi look the same on the outside, but the flesh is more yellow rather than green.

He’s staying at a large house….sort of. There are several people staying at the house, but some of them, including Chris, sleep in their backpacker vehicles. He has full access to the house, and just sleeps in his van.

I asked if he was going to move into the house when a room became available, but he said his van was comfy and it was less expensive. Whatever works!

Large group of house mates who all work at a New Zealand kiwi orchard.
House mates who all work at the kiwi orchard in Te Puke, New Zealand.

Of course life can’t be all kiwi picking and no fun, so they went fishing and caught their dinner! (Note how Chris’ bass fishing experience taught him how to properly hold a fish for a photo–as far away from your body to maximize fish size!)

Friends fishing near Te Puke, New Zealand

And as the sun sets on this post, it seems fitting to end with this beautiful coastal New Zealand sunset. Be sure to check back for the next post. New Zealand’s seasons are opposite of the United States, so as we begin our summer, they begin winter. Tune in next time to see what his next adventure will entail.

Sunset in Te Puke, New Zealand

Want to see more photos of gorgeous New Zealand? Check out my post with over 50 photos of New Zealand’s North Island.

Pin For Later!

Come along as a vicarious traveler to New Zealand's Northland. Enjoy photos of gorgeous scenery taken by this group of young travelers during hiking adventures. And when in New Zealand, pick kiwis! Kiwi picking is a popular seasonal job for backpackers traveling #NewZealand.

Read More Posts in this New Zealand Adventure Travel Series:

  1. New Zealand Travel Adventures as Told by Mom
  2. New Zealand Work Visa: First Few Weeks
  3. New Zealand Adventure: Working at a Vineyard
  4. New Zealand Adventure: Exploring the North Island
  5.  This post! New Zealand’s Northland: Hiking & Picking Kiwi
  6. Omanawa Falls: New Zealand Adventure
  7. Mt. Ruapehu: New Zealand’s Epic Winter Playground

8 Replies to “New Zealand’s Northland: Hiking & Picking Kiwi”

  1. All the photos are so gorgeous – I agree the stars is the best I’ve seen in the series but it’s hard to say that considering how beautiful New Zealand is.

  2. This is a wonderful article, so nice to hear about a young man having a life and discovering and experiencing what life has to offer. I think its great how he is sharing it with you as well. Beautiful photographs.

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