Well….the wifi is good when it works or if you don’t mind sitting in a bus stop, library or paying lots for it. Putting it bluntly the posts are going to be sporadic and possibly sectioned into north and south and the odd bits inbetween.
I was up for 41 hours in total by the time I went to bed. This just about sorted out my jet lag but I’m not sure how much I recall from the free tour. Auckland is a biggish city ( by NZ standards) with just about 1 million out of the 4.5M inhabitants living here. My view……it’s ok but head out of the centre. Mount Eden is a beautiful walk up one of the 14 volcanoes scattering Auckland. Beautiful views and an insight into how the land was formed and continues to re model itself. The museum of Auckland was also great with many Maori artefacts. If you go sneak in the back way by the toilets to avoid the $25 charge! I stayed in Parnell where the queen of Tonga lived which proved to be interesting. I met up with a guy fromCornwell who teaches foraging and lives in a tipi. We had lots of food chat and interesting conversations. Also a fascinating cathedral which was totally made of wood and moved in one piece to across the road. A few days in the city and hostel hopping and it was onto the Kiwi experience bus to head up to the Bay of Islands
AUCKLAND TO PAIHIA (BAY OF ISLANDS)
Journey to the winterless north – home to 144 islands
I arrive in the Bay of Islands around midday and checked out the sights surrounding Paihia, including the historical location of Waitangi. This is where the treaty was signed and also the source of much debate over land ownership even today. This was all because of a Mis translation and I ne’er standing of the word Govern. We took it to mean own and the Maori thought it was to look after. Much of the land has now been given back. Northland is rich in history and Maori culture and it is amazing that it is still such a big part of the country and culture when you think about other countries such as America and Australia who have pretty much lost this.
I took a boat trip out to the caves and walked for 5 hrs on one of the stunning beach laden islands. I also stopped off in Russel which used to be the capital of NZ and got quite a bad reputation for drunks and prostitution. A site of the oldest church in NZ. A beer after went down a treat after convincing the 21 year old bar man I was 34. They are hot hot hot on ID
PAIHIA TO CAPE REINGA TO PAIHIA
An early start for an action packed day up to Cape Reinga. This area is sacred to the Maori people we here the Tasman and Pacific oceans meet. A tree rests on the rock that has never flowered and I his is believed to be the spirits staircase. All the dead pass at this point and down spirits bay. Quite a special feeling. We walk d as far as we could along this spiritual site then stopped off a beach for lunch before heading along 90 Mile Beach ( actually 50 ish) and dug up clams from the ocean. We then made our way to body board down the gigantic sand dunes. Yep that’s right no protection just a board, a body and a sand dune. Awsome fun. The day was topped off with a visit to Zealand’s best fish ‘n’ chip shops! It was ok but nothing to write her me about except for the harbour view. I still think we do it better 🙂
PAIHIA TO AUCKLAND
A pub crawl you say with 4 free beers for $10. We’re in. A good night with newly made friends.
AUCKLAND TO HOT WATER BEACH
we made our way to the coramandel peninsula to explore Cathedral Cove and swim in the sea. Stunning views and crystal clear water. We then fox trotted it to the beach before the tide came in to experience a geothermal beach..Hot Water Beach! We dug in the sand with our toes for a hot spot then dug ourselv s a hole. The reality was that it was scorching and I burnt my feet. So we stole someone else’s hot tub. We finish d ththe night with a communal curry and wine. We ate the curry for 3 days. I think we may have gone a bit crazy with the mad dash shop.
HOT WATER BEACH TO WAITOMO
After an early start we stopped at Karangahake Scenic Reserve to explore a native bush-clad gorge, swing bridges and a bit of New Zealand’s gold mining history. Next it’s onto Waitomo (‘wai’ meaning water, ‘tomo’ meaning hole) where I saw the world famous Waitomo Glowwormsand and local Ruakuri caves. Whilst glow worms look nice in. The dark, up close they are horrible caterpillars that let out sticky string to catch flies. It then sucks their sticky string up to eat the fly. Hummm. In the evening I took a stroll into town and around some of the farm land where they filmed the Hobbit.
WAITOMO TO ROTORUA
What a night! I opted to do the Maori overnight stay. We were treated in tradional ways and took part in Maori war training games and songs. It was a fascinating evening which included the tradional Hangi, buffet and cultural performance. We stayed in tradional buildings and told about the Maori believe and creation of the gods etc. Hot tub, beers and bed…..well almost. A crazy Norweigen girl got quite drunk with some amusing consequences which made fir a fun but somewhat restless night. The next day I explored the local geothermal park, took in the awful sulphur smells coming from the pools and took an amazing ncredible walk through the red wood forest. At the look out I saw the the gyser erupt and spurt water 30 meters into the air.
I took a intercity bus to go to the Mount on the East coast to visit a friend I had made whilst in South America. He was working as a life guard so had the opportunity to stay in the club. Day 1 was bowls crown green bowls and bay watch. I spent the next day exploring the area and walking up the amount with more gorgeous views of the miles of beaches. I then borrowed the bike after the guys had completed their early morning life saving challenge. Epic. I went to Tauranga and learnt of the battles in the area. I returned to Rotorur after having an argument with my hostel I was supposed to staying at. Despite emailing them to say I’d be late checking in, they decided to only reply on the day before to say this was not possible. Luckily I was able book somewhere else last minute. Idiots!
ROTORUA TO TAUPO
New Zealand’s biggest lake and plenty to keep you occupied!
We stopped off at Huka Falls as the clouds started to roll in. Things don’t look good for our Alpine crossing tomorrow but we will have to wait and see. I opted not to go on a boat cruise on the lake and it was a good job I didn’t. The heavens opened and we were directly under a storm with lightening spanning the lake ( you can fit San Fransisco in it..that big ). Spectacular but the guys on the boat were soaked and a bit shocked. Beer time me thinks.
Ohh my. 5 am start and we are on. The sky had cleared and the most amazing sunrise I’ve ever seen. The mountains and volcanoes were shining pink from the reflection of the sunrise on the recently snow clad peaks. The 8 he walk across the alpine crosding was spectacular with views of Mount Doom from lord of the rings and emerald blue crater lakes. A highlight for me and a very near tear jerking moment…..if it hadn’t been soo dam cold. I actually got frost bite on my fingers.
TAUPO TO RIVER VALLEY
Today we visited Tongariro National Park to enjoy some more stunning free walks before arriving at River Valley Adventure Lodge later in the day. We headed south around the “great lake” towards the Tongariro National Park for a picnic lunch and a two hour walk through native bush and Taranaki waterfal ( I think I spelt that wrong)
The lodge offers grade five rafting on the Rangitikei River and is set in a beautiful gorge. First time for everything so white water rafting it is. I loved it and to be honest I rock a wet suit. We had 6 people in each raft and we went through the drills to ensure we could make it through the rapids and more importantly what to do if we didn’t. We had boat rolling and dives to the left and right although a personal favourite was the funky duck. Exhausted and with a blister we made our way to Wellington where I was to do my first couch surfing!
RIVER VALLEY TO WELLINGTON
New Zealand’s capital of cool is full of culture, cafes and cinema! It’s home to the largest cultural attraction in New Zealand, Te Papa Museum, which is well worth a look (and it’s free). An incredible exhibition by Peter Jacksons team on the Battle of Gallipoli with giant models.
Having waited for over an hour and half for the girl to arrive for couch surfing it worked out he was in but pissed out of her head. If it hadn’t been for another girl staying and siting outside 12 story office block with no sleeping proviso é except a mattress and a microwave. No key to get back in and no buzzer to let people know I’m outsid. I stayed one night and then checked into a YHA that proved to be great. It’s visa time so I had my visa application printed and photos of the correct size at the ready to present to the Indin embassy. When they said I could only have 3 months rather than 6 I had to haggle and now hav my fingers crossed that they warrant it.
Whilst in Wellington I took the opportunity to have a free guided tour around the Beehive ( parliament), walk around the botanical gardens and cemetery and take in the coffee culture and Wellington museum. At the top of the cable car taking you to the top of the botanical gardens is a Victorian perfumery created my a Dutch guy who completed his studies in forestry and natural extracts from trees. Fascinating man who was impressed with my ability to identify natural oils and presented me with a free sample. I also met up with my friend Greg with whom I’d been in plays with in London. It was great to catch up on his travels and future plans.
later I met up with my friend sister, her husband and kids. It was lovely to have a tour around Miranmar and go past Peter Jacksons house. Their house was in the cliff face with stunning views around the harbour. We played games of hide and seek, defrosted a naughty elf, had an art exhibition where I was presented with a precious Xmas stone and had gorgeous wine and vegetable wraps. A perf ct end to my time in Wellington before getting the ferry
Ferry time to the south
We took the Interislander ferry across to the South Island through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds. it was here I met an old work colleague who was on his honeymoon. Small world hey! What will the south have in store what with Xmas just around the corner.