13.03.2013 - 22.03.2013
After a 2 day delay from Santiago, Chile our flight FINALLY landed in Auckland, New Zealand and from there we got a connecting flight to Christchurch. We had two options for transport around New Zealand, either rent a camper van or book onto one of the hop-on hop-off buses. We only had 3 and a half weeks in New Zealand so we were conscious that we needed to move around quite quickly! With this in mind and considering myself and Diana aren't a loved up honeymooning couple (...not too far off though!!) we decided we'd be social and hop on the Kiwi Experience bus!!
So it turned out the buses leaving Christchurch were all full for the next 5 days but there were seats on the buses leaving from Auckland! Soooo we put ourselves on standby and got a cheap flight BACK to Auckland!! (We must of looked like absolute loons in the airport that day flying back and forth!) After one night in Auckland we hopped on the bus and headed to our first stop, Hot Water Beach. En route we stopped off for a lovely coastal walk along the white sandy beach of Cathedral Cove.
After another short bus drive we arrived at Hot Water beach. (Voted as one of the world's top ten beaches by Lonely Planet!) Here you can rent a shovel and at low tide dig your very own hot water pool in the sand (pretty cool! ...well hot actually...like ROASTING!!) It was this day that we met the 'Griffindors'... our New Zealand partners in crime ...Sue and Charlie Griffin! ...it was pretty much love at first sight!! That night we treated ourselves to some amazing fish and chips at Hot Water Beach Holiday Park as well as a few drinks to wash it down!
The following day we headed off to Waitomo. Along the way we stopped off at Karangahake Scenic Reserve and tunnel walks. You walk along the river, over two swing bridges (there's warning signs for ten people max but of course everyone goes at the same time ...and of course you always have the rebellious ones who jump up and down!) So In fear of my life I legged it across both bridges and into the long railway tunnel. It would have been handy to have known it was going to be pitch black and you needed a torch!! (Diana took a few pics so we tried to use her flash as our light!)
That afternoon we got to Waitomo and myself, Di and the Griffindors went on the AMAZING tubing cave tour. ....It's too much fun!! Each person is given a tube and you just float through the cave staring at all the gloworms. It's pitch black so it looks like your surrounded by stars - very romantic! ...but in fact your actually looking at glowing worm shit! (..Maybe not so romantic!)
The caves were so much fun, at some points we had to turn off our headlights to see the full effects of the glowworm's shit, of course my light was the ONLY one that failed to turn off so each time we did that little exercise the tour guide had to hit me over the head with a rock ...bit weird but it worked every time!
Next stop was to the unusual town of Rotorua. Also known as Sulphur City the place smells like REALLY bad rotten egg!! ...I don't know how people live there! During the day all us ladies visited the geothermal hot pools. Although it was quite relaxing the lingering smell was just a tad off putting!! At night we visited the Tamaki Maori Village for a night's experience of Maouri culture. We learnt a few Maori words, the Haka, played some games and had an AMAZING buffet! (Probably our best feed since we starting travelling!!) Our "hangi' meal was cooked on hot stones underground! ...might have to give it a go in the back garden when I get home!
We were all dropped home by a hilarious/mental bus lady. At one point she kept driving around a roundabout whilst singing 'The wheels on the bus go round and round...'. I thought the bus was literally about to topple over! Luckily enough our very own One Direction (a group of very entertaining 'gap yah' English guys) took over the singing and blasted out a few 1D tunes. (Fair play to them - they knew every word!!)
The following morning we left the smell of Rotorua behind and headed on to Taupo. Taupo is known for it's awesome skydiving so a few of the group signed up. I had done one before and considering the price and my budget I opted out! (It wasn't because I was scared I swear! ) ...anywho Miss Brave Diana Donnelly decided to tempt her fate ....
To celebrate that night we headed out to a UV glow party...the following day was St. Patrick's Day so the plan was take it easy so we could fully enjoy our National holiday. (We were in bed until 3pm ......)
So eventually the Irish arose to celebrate Paddy getting rid of the ole snakes ..... There was Guinness hats, face paints, alcohol and A WHOLE LOT of Irish dancing!!! So much so that people actually asked us whether we were proper Irish dancers at home (they had obviously never seen the Riverdance!!)
'Unfortunately' the weather the next day was too bad for us to trek the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (I think St. Paddy knew we'd be hungover and had a word with God!) So off we headed to our next stop .... River Valley! For me this was a bit of a random stop but for Lord of the Rings fans it was CHRISTMAS! A lot of the trilogy was filmed here so they were in their element ...snapping away! Unfortunately the water levels were too low for us to go rafting, one of the main activites that River Valley is well known for. So instead myself and Diana took it upon ourselves to do our own activity ...a RUN ... (the first 1 since leaving Ireland) ...we'll say no more!!
After a night at River Valley we headed to New Zealand's vibrant (but incredibly windy!) capital city of.... Wellington!!!! Whilst in Brazil we we're lucky enough to have met a hilarious Scotsman called Andy Sweeney ...who said..."Get in touch when your in Wellington and you can stay at mine for a few nights". Never ones to turn down an invite we arrive with our backpacks at Andy's doorstep in Wadestown...and he let us in! #Success
The following night we head out in Welly to Mishmash, The Etablishment and Mini Bar with Andy, Mike (met in Peru) and a few of their friends!
The following day 'the fear' was lingering about the house! It took a particular liking to Diana who convinced herself that she had bed bugs and decided to put her entire backpack in Andy's dryer for 2 hours. ....shrunk her runners, flip flops and most of her clothes ...it turns out she didn't have bed bugs! Of course this was a difficult time for Diana who had shrunk most of her belongings for no apparent reason at all ...but for those spectacting it was highly entertaining!!
That afternoon we took a scenic tour of Wellington followed by a trip to the cinema (Django - great film!) I was chauffeured in Andy's fancy motor whilst Diana joined Paddy on his Harley Davidson. (Horrifying!) ....I put the helmet on in the house and that was enough adrenaline for me!!
So after a fantastic few days in Windy Welly and the North Island it was time to catch the ferry across to the South Island and hop back on the Kiwi bus.....