Kia Ora and Hello to you all!
Gary and i are having a really good time in NZ. Just to recap we stayed at Sandies for a while and got throughly spoiled by her and her mum Rhonda. Then we stayed in a Hostel in Auckland City centre for a few days and met Sandie After she had finished work in the evenings. Then we went up North on the North island (!) to the "Bay of Islands" and stayed in a town called Paihia. That was where we saw the dolphins which was amazing.
Then we went back down to Auckland and stayed with Sandie a few more nights! It was great fun. Then we finally said our goodbyes to those lovely people and started moving down south.
Stayed at a few hostels along the way. We saw Rotarua, which is a famous geothermic site and saw lots of geysers and bubbling hot mud and water. It smelled really bad like rotten eggs because of the sulphur, but was an amazing place, really reminds you how powerful the earth is and how hot it is under our feet!! Then we went to Taupo which has a huge lake in the middle of it and you can see the volcanoes topped with snow on the otherside in Tongriro National Park. (they were used as Mordor in Lord of the rings!) Also saw the town that was "Hobbiton" in Lord of the rings. Also went to Waitomo and stayed for a night, they have really lovely countryside there like at home but much bigger and more sheep!! Gary and i went for some nice walks there, while some people did activities in the glow worm caves.
From Taupo Gary and I started the "East As" bit of our tour which is just a bus that goes round the East cape of the North Island. You can theoretically do this in 4 days but Gary and i stayed at the first stop for a week!
We were staying at a homestead lodge in Te Kaha, with a Maouri family called the O'Brien's. They are lovely and gave us free board and meals in exchange for a bit of work! Gary cooked, sometimes for more than 15 people when the bus came in and then on top of that there was all the family...!! We aslo picked kiwis in the orchard. I cleaned and washed and just generally helped out. We made friends with a girl from Belgium called Evie who was staying there too in her camper van and we went to the beach and around the coast exploring together in her van!
Te Kaha was amazing, right on the cliff edge and the beach was at the bottom of the garden. There was also a hot tub which was there so you could watch the sun set over the sea! There were also 2 dogs and three puppies.They were a great family and every other night when the bus came in we sang songs (some of them in Maouri!) for the new guests. We had the time of our lives and thankyou to the O'Briens for making us so welcome.
After leaving Te Kaha we arrived at the Eastenders Farm Stay in Rangitukia where we spent three lovely nights in a chalet in the middle of nowhere! again Gary and I worked although this time it was for free horse rides and one free night accomodation. We did Four Horse rides in three days it was wonderful, cantering on the beach and up and down mountains with amazing views. Afterwards we were sore for about a week but are recovering slowly!
Are now in Wellington and going to look round the city today before catching the Ferry to the South Island tomorrow....
Love and Christmas wishes to everyone, peace!
Hannah & Gary xx