Aotearoa! The Land of the Long White Cloud...
Kia Ora Everyone! Well what can I say...Its been none stop since I got to NZ...where shall I start....?
Having an absolute blast ...once I got over the "sh*t I'm on my own travelling" thing and sorted out what I was going to do from Auckland (City of the Sails)...that took a couple of days...things have turned out great...keep meeting some good folks along the way which has really helped. I have been travelling on the Stray Bus. Firstly I headed up north of the North Island to the Bay of Islands and Paihia. The weather was lovely when I arrived so arranged a little sailing trip around the Bay of Islands and had lunch on Robertson Island...actually got to steer and sail the boat which was such fun, something I've not done before and did a little snorkelling. Next day onto Cape Reinga (very Northest part of the NI) to watch the clashing of two oceans taking in the beautiful rugged scenery along the way...then dune surfing on the Tepaki stream some of NZ's biggest dunes, how much fun was that.
If I wrote down everything I did I would only bore you all so just going to skim some parts as it seems I've done so much in such little time I cant quite believe it. Went to The Coromandel Peninsula where I walked 2 hours (+ return) to Cathedral Cove (pics on the log), the beach was out of this world such a shame we didn't have very long there, stayed the evening in a campsite in Haihai. The next day we visited Hot Water Beach where you're given a spade and you can dig the sand to sit in your own hot geothermal water, actually a bit too hot to sit in at times until the tide comes in and puts a little cold water in it for you!!
Then there was the surfing lessons at Raglan...I wasnt very good think I need a lifetime worth of practice to get that right...it was exhausting! The accommodation that night was great, in a lodge surrounded by native bush and lots of huge spiders (that wasn't so great)! On the way to Rotorua we stopped off at Ruakuri Reserve and I faced my fear of dark enclosed spaces took the plunge and attemtped the black water rafting and caving (Waitomo caves)...once I got over the fear the ground wasnt going to swallow me up I actually really enjoyed it...it was mad...pooed myself a few times (not literally!!) in the smaller darker spaces but the whole experience was absolutely mind blowing...especially the glow worms...I know how to say the latin term for them but can't spell it, but the non technical term for them 'canibilistic maggots with shiny sh*t'!!!
Wanted to do the white water rafting at Rotorua but rivers flooded due to lots of rain am sure will get loads more oppotunities next few weeks me thinks. I did a little 'zorbing' which was great fun, for those who don't know what that is, you are put in a big plastic ball filled half with water and sent rolling down a spirally hill...apparently you could hear me chuckling all the way down...human washing machine springs to mind! Visited Hells Gate and had a mud bath great for the skin but hell on the nose! Went to Hobbiton where they filmed the Shire parts of LoTR's films...a really miserable day weater wise but so worth experiencing that...you could say it was a little touristy but visiting somewhere they filmed LoTR's had to done somewhere along the way, I actually have to admit I enjoyed it! I wanted to do the sky diving at Taupo (huge volcanic lake the size of Singapore) but that cancelled due to bad weather. I found out by visiting one of the museams that Taupo had a slight earthquake the day I landed in NZ, 4.8 on the richter scale!
Couldnt dive at Poor Knight Islands as the weather turned stormy which was a real shame as I was looking forward to that and also tried to do it on the East Cape over at White Island live volcano...have had a little bad luck about a few things I have wanted to do. It has been a mix of great sunny days, the sun quite vicious at times and lots of rain and cloud. The thing that has struck me the most travelling around the NI so far is the beautiful colour of the sky and the white fluffy clouds...I know it sounds soppy but you should see it, I feel like a moth caught in the light, can't stop staring at it! ...and the trees well, I've never seen so many different colours of green... its all so very stunningly captivating.
After Taupo I headed to the active volcanoes of Tongariro National Park where I 'hiked' the Tongariro Crossing (volcanic plateau complete with steaming craters), apparently its rated as one of the world's best one day walks (parts of the LoTR3 filmed here). I did the walk in 5hrs 35mins...it can take 6 to 8 hours on average...quite proud of myself...the most physically enduring thing I've done ever I think...muscles really hurt the next few days...the weather was okay to start with then it just clouded over and got quite cold once we got half way. We stayed at a place called 'The Park' in the National Park for that and its really lovely...the best hostel I've stayed at so far...I even treated myself to a double room with ensuite...only 21 pounds bargain! The dorms have been lets say interesting...quite an experience at times, I think I've been quite lucky as its not been too much of a nightmare just takes getting used to, the most I've shared a room with is 8 at the mo, but it only takes one snorer!! I treat myself every so often just for my sanity!
Arrived in Wellington and stayed there for 3 days. I liked the town, gave me a chance to chill for a couple of days although I did get out and explore and ended up walking around the very hilly botanical gardens...why is everything so hilly in NZ...my poor feet?!! Sunday 21st Jan I flew (13 seater plane) across the Cook Straights to Picton...it was only 2 dollars more than the ferry..bargain and less hassle, mind you I didn't like it when it got a little bumpy, caught the Stray bus at Picton and have it booked for all over the South Island.
Bye fow now...X