We arrived in Auckland on 28th Nov to blazing sun and heat..yippee!! We made it safely through customs with my stash of chocie bars I still have from home (they have been scoffed in whole since!) and found our way to the Airbus into town. Our driver informed us en route that the Auckland Christmas parade was on that day and recommended we drop our bags at hotel and get into town to see that. So we did just that, it was fab! Though Santa must have been very hot in his suit! It was boiling hot-not at all like Christmas should be!? We spent a nice few days in Auckland, lovely parks, visited the Viaduct/ harbour and did a bit of shopping :@ ) We then organised renting a car ,with a guy we met en route from Hawaii, to visit the North and South island in full, so we could see all the sights we really wanted to see. So we set off on our road trip the following morning after being introduced to our trusty rental, 'Franc', a Nissan Sunny…
First stop was the north of Auckland, The Bay of Islands. We decided to stay in Paihia for the night, in preparation for the long journey to Cape Reinga the next morning, a 6hr round trip! Up early the next morning to head up north and a few hours later we were in Cape Reinga. It was gorgeous with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean meeting the Tasman sea-it was so cool as you could see the waves meeting in the middle of the ocean! We walked around the area and visited the Lighthouse there too before turning back to Paihia. On the way home Adam saw a signpost for some Giant Sand dunes so we decided to check them out-they were massive and it was hard to get up to the top of them but the view was amazing-sand dunes as far as the eye could see-like something out of Arabia! We stopped off at a fish and chipper in Mangonui on the way back to the holiday park (a recommendation of the lady in park) and enjoyed some fresh fish and chips-not the same as home I have to say but enjoyed all the same..we were they attacked by a hundred seagulls who were very hungry, looking for scraps! Very funny!!
The next day we had another veeery long journey ahead of us a we wanted to head down past Auckland to Tauranga to visit the Bay of plenty. The weather was amazing and we visited the beach near Mt Maunganui, which was stunning!! Took a few pictures here and decided to head onto Rotorua for the night so we could visit the Wai-o-tapu Thermal Park the next morning… When we got to Rotorua, a smell of rotten eggs hit us! it's the smell of sulphur given off in the geothermal areas apparently-phew!! We got settled into the cabin we booked for that night ready for the day ahead!
The next morning we visited the Thermal park and it was fab weather again-lucky us! I even got a little sunburnt! We all really enjoyed our tour around the park and I especially like the 'Champagne Pool', so called as the water is 100degrees plus in temperature so bubbles appear on surface1 We saw bubbling mud pools and the Lady Knox Geyser which erupted before our eyes! Afterwards we made our way further south to Lake Taupo for 2 nights. Again, like everywhere in NZ, Taupo was another beautiful town! We got supplies in the supermarket and had a birthday BBQ for 'King' Adam and headed into town for drinks that night, we had a great time and it was nice to chill out and have fun!
After Lake Taupo, we wanted to see the Gloworms caves in Waitomo! So we booked ourselves onto the Black Water Rafting co Black Labyrinth tour! We were kitted out in our wet suit, boots and helmet-very fashionable! And let loose in a cave on black rubber rings! We walked through the cave where the water wasn't deep and where it was deeper, we floated through the cave on our rings and jumped off underground waterfalls! It was brilliant fun and we got to see millions of gloworms! We were glad of our hot showers and warm soup and bagel afterwards too!! :@ )
That evening we carried on further south to Tougariro National Park. We stayed in a lovely wee Park lodge that night as we had to pull in due to really bad fog that surrounded the area really quickly.. When we walked out to the parking lot the next morning we were greeted with some sight! The fog was so bad the night before, we hadn't realised we were right beside Mt Ruapehu, with its snow-cap and Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings movies)! The guy at reception told us about a nearby waterfall that also appeared in the movie as Golem's pool so of course we had to see this! After a short walk we found the waterfall, it was stunning and Adam and Rene decided they wanted to jump off the top of the falls into the plunge pool..it was at least a 30foot drop and I nearly had a heart attack watching them jump, but they did it in style! They said the water was freezing but loved it!
After the lads dried off we took on our longest journey of all, 7hour drive down to Wellington! It was a long trip but we passed some amazing sights and scenery! We arrived in Wellington, stuffed our faces with Dominos pizza and got tucked into bed as we were knackered! The next day we explored some of Wellington city centre though unfortunately the weather was not good and it rained all day!
Caught the ferry to the south island on 9th Dec, watch this space..!