What a great week this has been so far, its only been 9 days and i'm firmly in love with this country.
We spent 4 days exploring Auckland which is such a nice city, it seems a shame to call it a city at all! Tons of green spaces, everything is clean, and people are SO friendly. I got to see 2 of the peeps i met when travelling last year and they showed us a seriously good time, sampling the local beer and wines with us. So great to see them, love it when you can meet people from the other side of the world a year ago and then pick up as if you never left off!
Hired a car and headed north for possibly the most sceneic long distance driving ever. No s***ty service stations and litter along the highway here, the main road is a 2 lane jobbie meandering through some of the most breathtaking countryside ever. I cannot describe how impossibly beautiful this country is and yet so sparsely populated. Since everything here is gorgeous they dont need to boast about it, just pull over to the nearest layby for incredible views - whether of volcanoes, hills, ocean or rivers. Its just fantastic.
Besides sitting in a car admiring the scenery we have got out and about and canoed around the bay of islands, dived with stingrays and moray eels through the Poor Knights marine reserve (one of the top 10 dive sites in the world), and leapt backwards off waterfalls underground while checking out the gloworms of Waitomo Caves.
Have also met some great people from all over the world and stayed in some really nice hostels, cooking up feasts on the BBQ together and getting drunk on the local beers. Also, stayed in some not so nice places, the one last night seemed to be attacked by swarms of flies (they were EVERYWHERE!) which meant a fun few hours swatting them and trying to shake them out of every nook and cranny of our room and ourselves. I guess thats what happens when you stay in a village famed for its snot dripping maggots. Still, nothing to complain about on the scale of things, we havent yet eased into the hardened traveller routine yet - give us a few more weeks and we will have a mangy dog on a piece of string.
We are hanging out in Rotorua for a few days, and despite the pervading smell of rotten eggs from the sulphur lakes, its a nice town. Yesterday reubs and i went luging (essentially toboganning down a big hill). It was great and i am proud of myself for actually going quite fast, anyone who has been gokarting with me knows im a believer in 'slow and steady' wins the race. Bloody nice way to spend the morning though - chairlift to top of hill, luge to bottom, certainly beats walking.
Last night we hit up the mineral pools - super stinky pools of hot water that you just wallow in. It all smells of farts but its supposed to be very good for you. It makes you so tired afterwards though, we managed to grill a huge meal and sink a bottle of vino but fell asleep by about 10.30. Party on. We are in a new hostel that is quite nice, but the fellow clientele aren't massively friendly, yet have happily helped themselves to our food. It reminds me a bit of being at uni again with some of the freaks that lived on my floor.