Well the wait is over the eagerly anticipated blog for North IslandNew Zealand is finally here. I begin by saying hello to all at home and letting you know that we are both in good health and good spirits.
We arrived in Auckland in what seems to be months ago, it was infact around 4 weeks ago and those of you with a sharp eye will notice we should actually be in south America right now (thanks to some fortuitous ticket changing we leave tomorrow). When we arrived in New Zealand's largest city we were greeted at the airport by Carmen, Max 3 and Alex 8 months (female) Sams aunty and two cousins and we were whisked back to the family home in the suburb Hillsborough. When there we lazed around for a while and eat a little home cooked food and later met up with Carmen's husband Tim when he returned from work. Over the next week or so we rested, played with the children and eat some of the most delicious home cooking we've ever tasted. Down from baking biscuits to bread or cooking roast dinners Carmen does the lot and its all tip top, while Tim specialises in meat which he cooks on his "worlds largest" bbq and we've had many varieties including venison hunted and killed by the man himself. We were shown around the local area and the highlights included a trip out on Rachel and Petes (family friends) boat where we travelled from Auckland harbour out to a secluded beach for the day.
After living home comfort luxury style we decided to go slumming it back in the world of the backpacker again and borrowed Carmen's car, we headed north to the Bay of islands where we spent the night eating local fish and chips and drinking local beer and the next day Kayaking around the bay area. We left that afternoon for the Hokianger harbour heading across west for shortish drive where we found a backpackers that was completely empty and we took a long walk down the beachfront. Early the next morning we left to head down the west coast back to Auckland via the Kauri forest, the road basically took you all the way through the forest which was very surreal and we stopped off to see the worlds largest Kauri tree Te Ne Mahuta, which is over 2000 years old. I didn't expect to be impressed by a tree and im sure it's difficult for those of you at home to comprehend even when seeing the photos but it really does take your breath away when you see it up close (or even far away). We headed further down the road and saw the world's second largest Kauri tree and the 7th largest that you can actually touch. The largest ever tree however was 4 times the size of today's largest, all stats can be viewed in the photos. We then headed back to Auckland and after around 6 hours in total we were back to our base.
When back in Auckland we saw some more sights including the volcanic one tree hill (the tree has now been removed though) and we looked around some of the shops in the surrounding area. Like Honolulu and Mexico City there are many volcanic mounts in Auckland although none have been active for a long time thankfully. After more chilling out and meeting more family friends Sue and Paul we took our travels southbound for a week starting at MountMaunganui. We enjoyed peaceful and windy walk up the mount and where truly impressed with the view from the top, the walk as well was not too difficult and so we strolled around the base of the mount too, afterwards spending some time at the beach before rain stopped play. We then caught another bus to Rotorua, New Zealand's smelliest city, this is due to the sulphur in the air from all the Volcanic activity that continues to provide unique bubbling hot pools of water and mud, some of which are around 112 degrees Celsius. Some residents used the hot water as a form of heating and the fad caught on, unfortunately the result was that the levels of water decreased all around the city and at the major tourist attractions so the local government boarded off all houses from accessing the water and now sometimes the pressure build up is so high that people end up with holes in the gardens from explosions!. We left for the cleaner airs of Taupo where we saw the fantastic and beautiful Huka falls, a honey production factory and went and relaxed in the hotpools, I particularly liked the 41 degree pool although Sam didn't fancy that one too much. After Taupo we headed down to Napier which is a strange city in that it is plastered in Art Deco architecture as the whole city was wiped out by Earthquake in the 1930's (I think), and then rebuilt in the stile of the times. After a bit of confusion with bus stops we met up with Jenny and Phil, Tim's mum and step dad. They took us to their farm between the cities of Napier and Hastings, the farm has around 200 hundred acres and we relaxed, saw the animals (one of which was a new born baby calf) and walked around their own private lake. We also saw Phil's pride and joy tractor that had unfortunately spontaneously combusted a couple of days earlier possibly due to birds nesting in the engine. They took us to a chocolate factory and a famous local winery known as the mission for a spot of afternoon tea, at which we had no complaints.
We headed back to Auckland very early the next morning for abig surprise, to find sams brother Andy had arrived whilst we were travelling and was coming to live and work for a while in NZ (the look on Sams face was priceless). We then had an early birthday celebrative bbq at Rachel and Pete's for Sam complete with enormous cake and I completed my 23 hour day by watching the rugby in the early hours. We also did something a little crazy by going skydiving in a little town called Mercer, we had been trying for ages to get a dive booked but the weather kept getting the best of us and we were worried that we may miss out all together on doing one in NZ, until we got the call around midday and we were on our way, petrified we arrived to be individually taken up in a plane held together in parts by duct tape and to dive out strapped to a big sweaty bloke (not too appealing is it!). It was an awesome experience and we both got DVDs so we get to watch the whole thing over and over, seeing our pale faces is certainly a good laugh Sam went from 10,000 ft and I could only do about 7,000 due to bad weather but it certainly beats any theme park ive ever been too (although Drayton Manor runs it close).
We managed to change our flight to Buenos Aires (which involved a 19 hour stopover in Santiago airport) to a lesser stay of just 1 hour in transit. This gave us another 5 days in NZ. So myself, Sam and Andy gave the kids and adults a bit of peace by taking the ferry over to the beautiful Waiheke island for 2 nights where we meet many backpackers, drank beer and had a beach bbq along with exploring the local vicinity. When we were back on the mainland Tim took us along with max to some stunning waterfalls and we had fun walking around and getting as close to the falls as possible (getting soaked in the process). All in all we have loved our time here and will be sad to leave and we can't thank Carmen, Tim, Max and Alex enough for what they have done for us. But we have a new country and continent to move on to and just to let you know we have also changed our itinerary slightly by moving our Buenos Aires to Sao Paolo flight back to November 6th.
We will speak to you all soon and plenty of pictures will be on to follow the blog. Until the next time goodbye and lots of love from Adam and Sam x