Happy New Year!
Once again we've been quite slow with updating the site as so much has been going on and the laptop doesn't like the internet any more. So, we're going to back date this a little and tell you about the first month or so that we spent in NZ.
Auckland is our version of hell, basically a sunny, busy, noisy, multicultural London esque place. We got out as quick as we could after finding our little van which has 2 sofas, 2 single beds or 1 double, 3 way fridge, cooker, grill, sink with hot and cold taps and a shower. The van also has a pop top and electric lights, what more could you ask for?! We ventured north and headed for the Bay of Islands for some Dolphin swimming. There are lots of luxurious holiday homes in this area known as bachs (pronounced batches). The dolphin swim was not so good as they dediced the young were too young for us to swim with them, but enough about that.
Next we headed across to the west and in a sleepy town called Opononi, home of the friendly dolphin once upon a time, we went sand boarding. We took a small boat across the dunes and walked to the top then sped down on body boards. A definite if you're in the area! Go fast enough and you can hit the water!
Further on we headed for the Kauri trees. They are tall and wide, absolute giants! The kauri trees are incredible to stand near and just tower over the world. It is illegal to chop down a kauri tree but there are some swamp kauri which can be dug up and are used to create a variety of wooden items.
Kauri country is also rather close to Kiwi country so we went to spot some native nocturnal birds and only saw one in the wild as it was running away from another group of people. At least we saw a wild one though!
Next North island stop was Rotorua. It smells horrific, but those thermal sprinfgs are fab to sit and relax in. We went to a Maori village where we were entertained by a concert of singing and dancing in the metting house which was beautifully carved. There was also some amazing thermal activity in this area and we watched the bubbling mud and two high shooting spurts of steam aim for the sky. Rotorua has several great attractions, but we believed ourselves to short on time so only went to the Rainbow springs wildlife park as you can go after dark to watch the Kiwis who are just behind a very whort wall, no glass and no fencing. We also went up the gondola and went down on the sleighs, then back up and down and so on. From the top we could see just how vast Lake Rotorua is, it looks like the sea!
Across at Taupo we went for a sail on the Lake in a boat called the Barbary. This boat once belonged to Ernest Hemmingway who won it in a card game. The boat has a great little history which we can't quite remember! We took the boat across to some Maori carvings which had been done within the last 50 years. The artists would often be suspended by ropes to complete the work. The Lake was rather choppy and didn't look dissimilar from the sea. We both had the chance to sail the boat. One of us was a little better that the other, ahem.
So, to round up the North Island we also visited Napier, which is completely art deco, Hastings and Wellington. Time constraints weren't helpful, but we were really excited about getting to the South Island. Next blog entry will probably written today and more photos too! Stay tuned!