Our First Taste of the Souther Hemisphere
After crashing in the hostel on our first night due severe jet lag we decided a trip up a mountain would be a good way to liven things up - so we tackled Mt Eden head on! Not far from downtown Auckland this volcano gave us some pretty impressive views of the city, we even spied Eden stadium where the Rugby World Cup final will be held later this year.
We had to move hostels on our second night to be in the city for our very early bus pick up on the Kiwi Experience. Lugging our bags around the busy city in the middle of the day wasn't great - but we made it to our cell - i mean room in the end (definately the worst accomodation we have endured so far!). We explored the rest of the city and took a trip up the tallest building - the sky tower, but decided to take the lift back down rather than the more extreme route on the outside of the building! Even though the lift was extreme enough for the two of us - the perspex floor of the lift had us clinging onto the hand rails - how pathetic! ...thats what everyone else in the lift must have thought too!
Once at the viewing level .... and after having told myself (Natalie) to man up after the lift incident, we had amazing views of the city, and all the differnt islands/volcanoes surrounding it. We were pleased to find the lift to the highest level was in an enclosed lift and so we didnt feel too worried!
Having walked everywhere possible to prevent spending time in the prison room, we eventually had to return...
After an early morning start we made it on our bus heading for Paihia - about 4 hours north of Auckland. We arrived eary afternoon but didn't have much to do as the rain had followed us - and being in a beach resort there wasn't much to do once we had wondered around for a couple of hours.
But things picked up that evening with a BBQ at the hostel where we met some pretty funny people - who we spent the night with having a few drinks... this eventually resulted in us visiting a kareoke bar. All that needs to be said about this was our (the group - not just the two of us!) opening song was "I believe I can fly" by R Kelly - the locals did not look impressed! Things didnt improve with our rendition of Mr Brightside being met with a stoney silence after the curtain came down...
After this eventful evening Alex had to spend a night in a female dominated dorm - 5 v 1 - much to my delight as the tables had now been turned! We had another early start, which wasn't great after a couple of beers, but we were promplty woken by the torrential rain as we walked to catch our boat... bad weather beginning to become theme on the trip!
Thankfully the weather held off for the actual boat trip - which turned out to be a bit special.
within a few minutes of leaving the harbour we came across a pod of bottlenose dolphins which was pretty spectacular to see. Alex was straight in with his snorkel whilst I debated getting in the deep, dark water with these wild beasts! In the end we both snorkling around with 4-5 dolphins darting aroudn within touching distance. the guides said it was one of the best swims they had seen this summer - normally they only see 1 or 2 dolphins not a whole pod and they stayed for over half an hour!
Once back on the boat we went searching further out and discovered "Common" dolphins who were "bow riding" with our boat just inches from us - this time we were with a pod of over a hundred so didn't get out. Just as we were about to head back we spotted a family of Killer Whales - which are incredibly rare to see this time of year! It was unbelievable to see "real shamus" again within a few metres of the boat.
The guides said that our trip was one of the best they had ever given and we couldn't disagree - even they were getting excited over all the luck we were having!
We are now back in Auckland heading off to Mercury Bay in the Morning - let hope for some better weather soon!