New Zealand! Wow. I don't really know what to say except I already love this country. It's England but quieter laid back and stunning. Everywhere you look there is an opportunity to stare at a view each as breathtaking as the last. The people are awesome, the places are brilliant and it has enough adventure sports to keep anyone on their toes.
So after leaving Singapore I arrived in Auckland on the 29th of February. The sun was out and it gave me a great opportunity to explore the city. We went to the harbour, up to the top of the sky tower to check out the awesome 360 view, and walked all the way up to Maungawhau (Mount Eden) one of the many dormant volcanoes in the city. The crater of the volcano was cool; a lot deeper than I expected covered with a thick layer of grass. We were at the highest point in the city and it was great to learn that the Maori tribes of the North used to use this volcano for ritualistic means as well as a defensible location. It was also interesting to learn that after battle Maori warriors who were victorious would eat the bodies of the defeated tribe. They believed that the only way to absorb good qualities of an enemy and to destroy the soul was to eat them. Scary stuff!
The next day was my first trip on the big green bus! The Kiwi Experience!! After the self direction of South East Asia it was really nice to just sit back, relax and have someone else take care of everything. Transport, accommodation, activities, information...the drivers had it all, Sweet as Bro!
My first stop was at Paihia (the bay of Islands), after checking into the hostel I booked on for a dolphin trip. We were meant to swim with the dolphins but unfortunately there were juveniles amongst the pod...very disappointing but it was still great to see them up so close where I managed to take some awesome pictures!
The next day was an early start to Cape Reinga, the most Northern point in New Zealand. On the way we stopped at a Kaori tree national park; a rainforest of huge sacred trees to the Maori people. They are pretty similar to the giant redwoods of California so you can imagine how big they are. The next stop was sandboarding...Boom! Driving on the 90 mile beach (actually only 68 haha) we climbed some sand dunes and went mad! We had a driver maybe mid fifties; I have never seen someone run up and down dunes so fast... I would say I am quite a fit guy but my god he was insane. It was awesome, I was quite good too! The only person on our bus that made it all the way down to the river at the bottom despite a face plant on my third try haha.
Back on the bus it was to a beautiful beach for lunch. Playing in the crashing waves I only had time to eat an apple haha I was having too much fun! On the way our driver made us all laugh by telling us past accidents with the sand boards, apparently someone broke their back, our own driver actually broke his shoulder and even lost his front teeth, maybe wouldn't have gone so hard if I knew I could have lost my teeth.
Finally to Cape Reinga. It was beautiful day but very windy- almost strong enough to blow you over! A short walk along the cliff there was a white lighthouse. To its left the Tasman Sea, to its right the Pacific Ocean. This was the point that the two oceans met both fighting for supremacy. It was an incredible sight! The meeting point of the water was a clear turquoise with white surf where the water crashed together. I don't know why you would risk it but there was once a Maori tribal leader who actually swam these treacherous waters making it around the Cape, impressive!
The whole day was brilliant, some absolutely incredible views that I will never forget. So glad I went on this trip, definitely worth a visit.
Driving back from the Cape didn't take long, stopping for the best fish and chips ever! We were back in Paihia in no time. A BBQ for dinner and a few drinks with friends from the bus, not bad for my first trip in NZ.
The next day we were heading back to Auckland in the afternoon, so we had a free morning to go Kayaking. Pretty good fun paddling to a nearby island, water fights, a bit of football we were soon back on the bus on the way back to Auckland. New Zealand is fast becoming my favourite place along my travels. I love it!!
Until next time