After getting the campervan and dealing with someone* almost losing the keys and causing us to never leave Auckland at all, we finally set off toward the Waipoua Forest, our first stop on our road trip. At first, we were going to go to a beach, but heavy rains were expected, so we decided to steer clear. When were about 75kms out of Auckland (and after about an hour or so of driving), we decided to pull over and take a “rest” by tramping (Kiwi word for hiking) up through the Dome Forest. We thought it would be the perfect opportunity to stretch our legs and break in our hiking boots at the same time. We parked down at the bottom and walked up a steep, paved hill to the entrance to the Dome Forest, next to the aptly named Dome Forest Cafe and this car that was made to look like a rabbit. Because, well, if given the chance who wouldn’t make their car look like a rabbit?
From there, we started the hike up to the “viewing platform.” We didn’t know what to expect – Dome Forest wasn’t in the LP guide, so we were just flying by the seat of our pants. After a good 20 minutes, we made it to the viewing platform. The walk was fairly easy in comparison to future hikes (ahem, Tongariro Alpine Crossing), but when we were doing it, we thought we thought it was fairly dangerous because the path was quite steep. The cool thing about New Zealand and tramping is that a majority of the paths have manmade stairs put in, so that if it’s too steep to climb (or if you don’t have the proper gear), you can step up.
After snapping a few pictures from the viewing platform, we debated going to the summit. As this was our very first tramp, we decided to go back to the car and continue on to the Waipoua Forest before it got too dark outside. Additionally, this sign did a mighty fine job of dissuading us as well.
Overall, the tramp was a fun introduction to what laid before us, and I would definitely like to do the whole loop before I leave. After doing so many others throughout NZ, we realized we would have been fine doing that one. Of course, I would also like to drive that car. – Jennifer
*Yeah, it was totally me. I put them on top of the car because that seemed just so… right at the time.