Hello! We arrived into Wellington on Dylan's bus and spent two nights there. We met the new people off the next bus we were going to be on the way up North Island and had drinks with them and said goodbye to Dylan- the best Kiwi driver! In Wellington we sent the day at Te Papa museum, celebrating all that is NZ and Maori. Wellington definitely lived up to the nickname windy Welly!
The next day we headed to Taupo, again stopping off in a tiny township called Bulls- the only place in NZ that you can get milk from bulls- ha ha. Everything here has signs with '-bulls' on - the police station's one is 'Consta-bull' and the estate agents is 'Live-abull'. We arrived in Taupo and got an early night as the next day we were getting up at 6am to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing - voted one of the best one day walks in the world. The entire crossing involves walking up a volcano and crossing the plateau and down the other side passing the Emerald Lakes on the way down. We began the walk and it was a beautiful day. As we began to hike to the top of the volcano we strapped on our crampons for the ascent which instead of being nice powder snow as our guide informed us it usually is it was covered with rock ice which was a bit trecherous on the way up. We reached the top of the volcano at lunchtime and the views really were spectacular. We could see the Red Crater of the volcano and the faint outlines of the Emerald Lakes as they were snow covered. Our guide decided at the top that after our lunch we would head down the same way as we came up instead as the rock ice would make the walk down the other side too dangerous. This was ok for us as it meant we sledged all the way back down! It was an exhausting day and when we arrived back in Taupo that night we grabbed our towels and headed for the Taupo hot pools to relax our aching muscles.
From Taupo we got on the bus to Auckland for one night. The bus journey wasn't very exciting as there were three of us so we watched DVDs and stopped in at Mata Mata again for our lunch. Once we arrived in Auckalnd we went finally got our hair cut after four months!
After Auckland we took the Kiwi bus' trip to the Far North, stopping for one night in Paihia a beatiful little beach town ont he Bay of Islands. There was a jazz festival going on so there was a lot of street music and men with silly hats around. We also saw the Kauri trees of NZ the secondest largest tree in the world after the Californian Redwood trees. The Kauri are sacred trees to the Maori. Once in Paihia we caught a boat trip around the beautiful Bay of Islands and saw the famous 'Hole in the Rock'. Unfortunatley we didn't see any dolphins or whales. We had a BBQ at the hostel and had drinks with some of the other backpackers. The next day we had a trip to the very top of NZ and Cape Reinga- which is a sacred Maori place where the spirits of their dead leave NZ and go to the spiritual homeland. It was so windy I thought I was going to blow into the Pacific Ocean. Here it is also where the Tasmand Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and because it was so windy you could actually see a line of waves crashing intoi each other where the waters met. We drove down Ninety Mile Beach on the way back which is also a legal road in NZ and then grabbed a board each and ran up a sand dune for some sandboarding which was ace! We stayed in Paihia for one more night before heading back to Auckland for one night before our flight to Thailand...