I have to start by saying that I’m not a big fan of tinder or any other dating app but when out of the blue, a random article I saw on Facebook claimed that Tinder was a good way to meet new people while travelling and a few days later while talking with a friend, she recommended the app to me I felt like the world was telling me that I had to try it.
I didn’t quite trust dating apps so I downloaded the app and made a simple profile with just one photo and a purposely misspelled name and then started swiping left and right. I have to admit it was quite fun and at one point I had text conversations with about 17 different guys! it was a such a confidence booster!
Among those guys there was one who caught my attention, he was a Spanish guy I will call “J”. He mentioned he was going on a road trip to from Auckland to Wellington. Immediately I thought it would make for a great story if I were to go on a road trip with someone I met in Tinder, a risky move but I was compelled to try.
After texting for a few days J sounded quite normal compared to some other guys I was texting and plus, I thought he was kind of funny and quirky and we seemed to have the same kind of humor. He seemed harmless enough.
And so even though I had never met this J in person I asked him if I could join him in his road trip.
He said yes.
And that’s how it all started....
Before the road trip we met only twice but I had fun both times and more important, he didn’t seem like a serial killer.
2 “dates” and 3 weeks later it was time for the road trip, since it was his trip I decided to just go along with wherever he wanted to go. All I was interested in was to have a new crazy experience I could possibly write in my blog.
I have to admit that I decided to go to the trip almost as an impulse and typical for me, a few days before the trip I was really scared and having second thoughts, my friends joked I would end up a skin suit or in a river (assuming he was a serial killer of course) and I worried about the awkwardness of being in a car for hours on end with someone I barely knew, would the conversation hold? Would it be awkward and boring? Would I really end up in a river?
Nevertheless, I went through with it and I’m writing this because I’m alive! Haha. But seriously it was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far in my travels and I am 100 percent glad I didn’t chicken out because if I had decided not to do it, I would not have spent such precious days with J’s company. He planned it all and it was so perfect I couldn’t have done it better if I tried.
Road trip Day 1 (Coromandel)
Bags packed as light as possible I waited until J came to pick me up at home, he had rented a manual car from Jucy car rentals which turned out to be around $125 each for the whole week. Cheap huh?
Since it was a manual car I couldn’t help him drive, but I think it was for the best because even though it was J’s first time driving on the left side he was still a better driver than me, it was safer to leave the driving up to him. The only thing was he occasionally turned on the windshield wiper instead of the turn signal, obviously because it was on the “wrong” side. So funny, but I could never catch this mistake on video!
Also I like about being in the passenger seat so that I can take pictures and videos of the scenery while on the car, something I struggle to do when I am the driver.
The first destination was the Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel, the weather forecast predicted rain all day…. but we were lucky, not only did it not rain, but it was quite a warm day, almost forgot it was winter for a while, in fact later on some people we met in the backpackers said it was the only good weather day that Coromandel had had in a while. We were off to a good start.
Even though I had seen the Cathedral Cove before, coming with someone made the experience completely new and exciting.
Then we went to the hot water beach, I was glad to come here because last time I came I was alone and too shy to dig a hole enjoy the “hot water” by myself but this time I had the chance to try it!!! It’s more difficult than I thought to find a hot spot. It’s not hot everywhere and you have to dig deep, but when you find a place its quite nice and warm. While J dug the hole, I changed to my bikini. At the end though we only dipped our feet because to be honest it was freezing cold in the beach and there was only a tiny bit of hot water.
We stayed the night in Surf n Stay Backpackers in a small town called Whangamata. J cooked us a really delicious dinner of “Tortilla de Patatas” which is a traditional Spanish dish which is like a potato omelette. And I learned how to make a new dish!
After dinner, we went for a walk in the beach and around town, it was dark already but it was a really nice walk with a beautiful full moon.
Road trip Day 2 (Tauranga)
Day 2 started with a pancake breakfast in the backpackers followed by a walk in the beach. It was cloudy and cold I could tell it was going to be a rainy day…
Our destination for the day according to J’s plans was Tauranga. The drive there was not too long but it was cloudy and misty day with occasional rain.
Once in Tauranga we checked-in at Apple Tree Backpackers before going out…This is where I had the most mortifying experience in my life! Have you ever been so embarrassed there was not a black hole dark enough for you to hide in? Well I have.
When check-in was done with I had to go to the bathroom to go number 2….and then stupid J just had to go right after me!!! Why!? Why aren’t the bathrooms separated for boys and girls!? And why is there just ONE bathroom!? I mean what kind of a moron designed that hostel!? I was dying of embarrassment! It was a nightmare!
But the nightmare was just starting, later on as we walked through the town of Tauranga, J made a comment about the incident!!!! He dared say that he smelled what I was doing in the bathroom!!!
I wanted nothing more than to take my things and get on the next bus and never see him again I was so ashamed and so angry! I seriously wanted to cry or punch him in the face for even mentioning such a thing!!!! I mean what kind of a person just goes and says that!?
Problem is I couldn’t go because the backpackers was far from town and he was the one driving and of course I couldn’t leave all my stuff there….so I had no option but to stay.
And he acted so normal after saying that to me! Like he kept on talking like nothing happened and all I could think of was this guy is insane! Can’t he see that I am a second away from punching him and leaving!? Can’t he see how angry I am?
For the rest of the day I went to my friends for advice, should I keep going with this rude guy or leave him and take a bus by myself?
My Japanese and kiwi friends agreed with me saying he was rude, inconsiderate and immature and I should ditch him if he was rude again
My Latino friends said that’s just how the Spanish are, no filter and direct to the point of rudeness but that was just their culture and I should pay no attention to it…
At the end, I decided to laugh it off, anyways going to the bathroom is something we all do, right? But I decided if he was rude just one more time I was going to go on with the trip on my own.
And that’s all I remember of the second day! Haha. We went to a bar because J wanted to have a beer and this is a picture he took of me while I was texting and trying to ignore him.
At night he made tomato Tostadas and we had leftover Tortilla de patatas from the day before. He wanted to make fajitas but I was in no mood to cook with him…the tostadas were delicious and simple though.
Road trip Day 3 (Rotorua)
It was another rainy and cold day, perfect to fit my mood. Even though I had decided to laugh off the incident with J, I have to admit I was still sore about it. And by being together with him that was all I could think about and couldn’t enjoy anything. So, I decided we needed to spend some time apart.
The original plan for the day was to go do Zorb, an activity I requested to do but with such a rainy day plus the fact that I wanted to spend time apart from J, I told him I changed my mind and wanted to go to the spa instead. He went to do and activity he wanted to do and I went to the spa.
Last time I was in Rotorua I went to the Polynesian so this time I tried the smaller less touristic Qe Health spa.
Entrance to the spa is $14 and but if you book a massage you get to go into the spa for free. I wanted to try their massage technique so I booked a 30-minute therapeutic massage. Even though 30 minutes for $79 feels a little bit too expensive I think it was the best decision ever! Plus the price includes the massage, spa plus towel, robe and slippers rental.
First, I went into the spa, they have 2 pools one with hot water which was about 40◦C and a tepid bath which was 36◦C
There wasn’t a lot of people around and most of the time it was the place to myself so it was quite peaceful and relaxing. The water was nice and hot as well.
Then it was time for the massage, which felt so nice! The room was so clean and had a soothing scent and the massage bed was really comfortable. I could tell the therapist had a lot of experience and after the massage by back felt like new again. It was heavenly!
After that I went on a walk around town by myself. I think a day apart and so much relaxation was exactly what I needed to forget some unpleasant events! Haha
Road trip Day 4 (New Plymouth)
Because I had already gone to Taupo, J being the thoughtful guy he is decided to go to Tongaporutu on our way to New Plymouth and see the “Three sisters and the elephant rock”. A place J had discovered just the night before. I got to applaud his researching skills. I didn’t even know this place existed.
Apparently, you can only visit the 3 sisters during low tide, and when we got there around 1pm it was still high tide. At first, we tried to go even in high tide thinking it was doable by just getting a little bit wet but no! don’t try to do it. Its slimy, slippery and there is a current that might take you.
We decided to wait.
As we waited for the tide to go down an elderly couple who lived in the area approached us and we all started talking. They told us the tide would go down around 5pm and that there was another way to go to the 3 sisters but the farmer who owned the land did not allow anyone to go through and that’s why we have to wait until low tide….
Having conversations with them and later a German girl travelling alone in her camping car who also came to see the 3 sisters, joined us and even made us coffee with her camping gear. The time flew by and finally the tide was low enough for us to go to see the 3 sisters.
I really loved this experience of meeting other people and fellow travellers and hear their stories too. It’s just really special to me.
The 3 sisters and elephant rock were beautiful and totally worth the wait! And we had it all to ourselves!!!
The 3 of us took some silly photos in there and had a blast! Until it started raining on us! Haha But the rain only lasted a little while. I will never forget this.
At night after checking into YHA sunflower J and I went to explore New Plymouth town and to see the famous Te Rewa Rewa bridge. But by the time we got to the bridge it was already dark and we couldn’t really take good pictures or see it well. But anyways I took out my DSLR camera and took a few photos and that’s when J discovered something amazing!!!! He was taking a photo of me with some random settings I had put in the camera and I had my iPhone torch to try to illuminate myself and took the coolest photo! We could draw with the light!!!!
We were really excited, and started taking more and more photos.
When the night got even darker, J started experimenting with the camera settings and got even more amazing results! That’s when I realized he was really smart because we had just discovered something and he immediately thought of a way to improve it! He used my camera better than I did!
The result was us playing with light photography for over 2 hours in the freezing cold night but to me this was the most fun I had had in the road trip so far.
And when he wrote my name in light! My heart melted!!!! I couldn’t even believe it! I realized J was not only smart but also really cool and artistic. A really sweet genius. All rudeness I felt before was forgotten immediately.
Road Trip Day 5 (Whaimangu & Wellington)
This was the last day on the road, and in between New Plymouth and Wellington there is a town called Whaimangu. We stopped there for a while to see its charms.
The highlight of the town was the Durie Hill elevator. Which was interesting to see, but if you don’t have much time to spare I wouldn’t recommend stopping just for this. But if you do stop there is a parking lot right at the top of the mountain so you can see the elevator. Do not park in the residential area because the locals are wild about that!
It was evening when we arrived at our final destination, Wellington. It’s funny how just a few days ago I was contemplating separating myself from J once I got to Wellington but now I could not imagine spending any time apart. How did I have fun travelling without him before? Haha
We walked around the city together, and to be honest I was jealous that he would be moving here and I had to go back to Auckland. I realized I made a mistake choosing the city to live in, Wellington is so much better!
The city was more alive, with so many cafes, restaurants and bars. Museums, libraries and theatres! We even found a night market and a really cool bookshop. I felt betrayed into choosing Auckland to live in!
After walking around the city we went to Base hostel (our hostel for the next 2 nights) and in their bar they had some really good coupons. If we bought a drink we got a free meal! Yay
Then we participated in their trivia quiz which was something I had never done in a hostel before but always wanted to do! I had a lot of fun.
Day 6 (Wellington)
It was the last day I had to spend with J and also to see Wellington. The trip was coming to an end and I was so sad but I we made the most out of the day.
We went to the Te Papa museum which was huge and best of all free entry! We spent hours there but still there was more to see in Wellington so without being able to see it all we went out to enjoy the sun. The weather was amazing, sunny and warm.
Walking around the city we saw the Beehive, the Parliament building, Old St. Pauls Church (which is really simple outside but inside is beautiful!)
Then J drove us to Mt. Victoria lookout and it was a beautiful view of the whole city!
From there J saw the “Wellington” sign and asked me if I wanted to go there.
It’s like a Hollywood sign but its Wellington. It amazed me J’s sense of direction! He saw something and he knows exactly how to get there without a map or anything.
At night, we went to see a movie “Dunkirk” I didn’t really get it but still I thought it was a nice thing to do. And movies in Wellington are so much cheaper than in Auckland. Just $10!
Definitely I have to move!
Day 7 (Northern Explorer Train)
I was so sad to say good bye to J. After spending 6 days together all the time it felt strange to say good bye…but that’s how things are in the travelling life I guess. You meet someone really cool and in time you have to say good bye. It’s sad but I think I have to just be grateful we met and had this time and did this road trip together.
Even though going by plane would be faster and going by bus would be a cheaper way to go back to Auckland I decided to take The Northern Explorer train just to experience yet another NZ treat.
The train departed at 7:55am from Platform 9 in Wellington station, and it’s the same train all through Auckland. It makes a few stops along the way but there is no time to get out of the train and wander off. If you take this train make sure to bring snacks and drinks if you want but they do have a café on board where you can purchase some simple meals and drinks, plus a few souvenirs.
Also, there is a toilet inside the train.
The views are good and there are plenty of commentaries you can hear in the headphones if you want to know more about the land that you are travelling through.
If not, you can read like me, J bought me this book to kill time in the train! So sweet!!!
There is no wifi on board because there is something better (said the train driver) Windows! Just look at the views through the windows. They are nice in some areas, and the driver usually announces when something good is coming.
Once in Auckland the train arrives at the Strand train station and from there you can take the free shuttle bus to the city which stops at Britomart train station.
Before the trip and even during I had my times of doubt whether it was a good idea to travel with someone I barely even knew, but through this trip I think we got to know each other and I can only speak for myself but I actually enjoyed travelling with J way more than I ever enjoyed travelling solo. It got to the point that after being together for 6 whole days I really missed him when we went our separate ways!
If you ever have the chance to do something a little bit crazy, go ahead and do it! even if you are a little scared because at the end it might be a great experience. But of course, always listen to your instincts and be careful of strangers, but overall I found that Tinder is not that bad, I don’t know if I will be doing it again but I got a really amazing experience out of it.
Thank you so much J for letting me tag along in your road trip, it was the time of my life.
Let me know in the comments if you have any Tinder stories!