Monday, August 25, 2008

New Zealand (North Island)

A wet start to our month in New Zealand saw us spending our first day in Auckland holed up in the Library, where we got our first disappointment, NZ is a bit behind when it comes to offering free Wi-Fi. We ended up on the desktops they had available for 30 mins at a time. We did get up the Skytower briefly but as the weather was pretty miserable we quickly descended. The rest of our soggy time in the largest city in the North Island was spent trying to buy warm clothes on the cheap!

We decided pretty quickly to head further North to see if the weather would be better up in the Bay of Islands, it was a little. We did some cultural exploration visiting the Waitangi Treaty grounds where the Maori and British signed their agreement to share NZ and for the Queen to provide protection for them.

As we hadn't planned to stay long in the North Island we quickly continued our whistle-stop tour and ended up staying with Jen and Dave who we'd met in Samoa. Jen didn't stop feeding us from the minute we arrived till the minute we left! It was great catching up with them both, they really showed us the meaning of great Kiwi hospitality!

>From Jen and Dave's we did a side trip to the Waitomo Caves to see the glow-worms, thanks to the rain it was partially flooded so we got in half price which meant we had enough to visit a kiwi sanctuary on the way back. We also stopped off at an Angora farm to see some bunny bondage (see photos for graphic pics...).

On the day we departed from Jen and Dave's we woke to a flat tyre on the hire car so after changing that we said a sad farewell to our new friends in Te Awamutu and headed off to the stinky place known as Rotorua. We had been warned but nothing prepares you for the stench of this volcanic town. We had a wander round the even stinkier Wai-O-Tapu before a soak in the Polynesian spa in town.

Very relaxed we continued on to the east coast to see my friend Abi from home, her hubby Hamish and her little lad Jacob. It was great catching up with them and having a nose round Gisborne and the unspoilt coastline north of the town. The two nights we stayed with them passed too quickly though and we were sorry to leave their cosy house but we were back on the road down to Napier for a night far too soon. We continued quickly onto Wellington to stay with Anna's bro's friends place (tedious link). Danny and his girlfriend Penny were great hosts.

We had a walk up to Mt Victoria the first evening which got our hearts pumping! The next day we visited the Te Papa museum which is NZ's national museum and a great place to while away a few hours out of the damp afternoon. We particularly liked the earthquake simulator house.

On Sunday we had a nice veggy brunch cooked by Danny and Penny before setting sail for Picton and the South Island..


Sue + Nigel said...

Just enjoyed reading the N.Z blog and photos,very envious.
Looking forward to "visiting" South Island again!! Enjoy.
Love Sue+Nigel x

Dave + Jen said...

Just visited your site for the first time. Great photos and words Matt. Was fantastic to have you and Anna stay with us. Jen has stopped the feeding frenzy now. We both hope you've had a brillant trip in NZ and the weather's been kind.
Safe travels, Dave & Jen.