We are now in Auckland, staying at the Downes Residence. We are being treated like royalty and spoiled rotten so no need to worry about G wasting away etc etc.
Continuing from the last blog, we stayed for another day in Rotorua or Rotovegas as it has been named, due to being so touristy. We visited an amazing place called Te Puia which is another cultural maori place but has been run by the same family for generations. Our guide was amazing and she was a 4th generation guide in her family. I also got to see my first Kiwi and G's first adult kiwi. Very cute, but the beaks look lethal. We learned a lot about New Zealand as a country and the Maori culture and the origins of the people, I personally found it fascinating. The tour finished at the Pohutu Geyser, which if caught at the right time can shoot up to 25meters in the air for around 15minutes. We were lucky enough to catch the spectacle. WOW!! After here we drove to Waio-ta-pu which is a thermal wonderland where you walk through bubbling mud pools and flourescent yellow pools etc, all caused by the volcanic activity. Unfortunately due to the drought atm, alot of the pools were very low so it didn't quite have the wonderland effect but still worth seeing. From Rotorua we headed north to Whakatane (Fakatanee) and to White Island.
Oh as an afterthought, a funny tale from Rotorua. We were staying at a very nice campsite/backpackers. G went to the shower in the morning and heard snoring from the shower next to him, when he looked over the door he saw a tramp asleep. He went and told reception and the lovely receptionist seemed extremely fraught at the 'hobo' situation. When we went to get breakfast we noticed our food bag had been rumaged through and a hell of a lot of food had been taken. We weren't the only ones but the loss of a huge block of chocolate and milk for our breakfast was not a brilliant start to the day. The tramp however, had been kind enough to leave our chocolate wrapper in the bin. In the end the lovely receptionist took pity on us and gave us a huge slab of butter and some eggs, someone had also left some milk in the free food box (result)
Anyway, Whakatane was our entry to White Island. We departed in the morning on a lovely speed boat out to White Island on a gorgeous sunny day. At around 9.30 we got given vegetable soup which was a bit wierd after breakfast (a muffin would have been our choice) but G wolfed both cups down. On the way to the island we slowed down for some dolphins who were playing chase with the boat which was lovely. White Island, is New Zealands most active volcano and its most recent eruption was in 2008 so quite a dangerous area to enter. We were kitted out with gas masks and hard hats, which the asian people put on top of their sun hats which was very funny. And we set off for a 2 and a half hour tour around the island. It was absolutely fascinating, I wont go into detail as it would take too long but search it!! We both came away in awe of the island and its power. Just incredible. On the way back, we did a boat tour around the island to see it from ocean perspective. It was pretty awesome.
From Whakatane we drove up the coast towards the Coromandel. After camping in a random campsite, we drove further to Hahei and Hot Water Beach. For 1-2 hours either side of low tide you can dig a hole in the ground near small fumeroles in the ground and when the seawater mixes with the boiling hot water from the ground, you get a lovely hotpool to sit in. Vey relaxing! From here we also did a bit of a trek to one of the nicest beaches, Cathedral Cove. It has been the setting for quite a few films. A huge part of the cliff has eroded in the middle to look like a cathedral shape. Very nice. We then took the winding road up to Coromandel Township - and the rain started. After raining all night it eased slightly for the drive back to Auckland but as we hit the big city it started again with a vengance. Unfortunately we had to drop Jack back to Escapewhich wasn't nice as we have become very attached to him. We then waddled with our bags through the city in the rain before Brian and Fiona came to our rescue!!
We were whisked back with a little tour to their lovely house. It looks out over the city and also the beach, which is in walking distance. It is all viewed best, at the top of the house in a room with huge windows - so you can all be jealous at our slice of luxury. We were also treated to a Hells Pizza! After a wonderful nights sleep and lovely shower we were whisked away to North Head which has old gun implacements etc right out on the water! it was a lovely afternoon walk. We were dropped off at Takapuna beach and walked back to milford beach. It was again a lovely walk and we stopped off for some icecream aswell. I had a bayberry sorbet and G had butterscotch and a scoop of double chocolate. When we arrived back we were greeted by two crazy girls named Scarlett and Olive (I call them the 2 terrors) B and Fs granddaughters who are completely adorable but the angel looks are deceiving as they are also very boisterous. So we spent the rest of the afternoon meeting Jay B and Fs daughter, and entertaining the two terrors. We watched a Dvd later in the evening and then bed.
Today we took the terrors to a park for a play and a picnic, where we could walk right along the cliff top to get fabulous views. We were then taken to Piha, a tiny surfing village accessed by extreme hills for lunch. In Piha we got to see Lion Rock (not too lion like anymore) Our lunch was gorgeous, i had lamb on a bed of carrot and yoghurt and numerous other additions and G had a burger, washed down with huge milkshakes (told you we are being spoiled) We then walked on the beach which has black sand - very strange. Amazing as it was really sparkly like it had tiny diamonds in it. On the way back we stopped at the visitor centre and then were dropped back in the city to go up the skytower.
We arrived late afternoon so we got to see it in the day, at sunset and at night. AMAZING! Auckland is a very flat city as there are not many tall buildings but it sprawls a long way! It was terrifying going in the lift as it had a glass floor and glass window looking out! Then on the first observation deck there are also sections of glass floor which wasn't so bad. I was only nervous as the tower itself looks like a matchstick balancing an olive on top, it just shouldn't stay upright! Anyway it was just magical seeing the city, we would really like to eat in the revolving restaurant up there!! So we caught the bus back and Fiona has organised the car for us to sleep in while we are up north. We have given it a test this evening for 10minutes and it is extremely comfortable. So we will be heading north towards the bay of islands tomorrow!!