Wednesday, 23 January 2013

New Zealand Adventures Part 1- North Island

Happy New Year everyone! (a few weeks late!)
After a previously discussed rough patch leading up to the holiday season, things took a turn for the better.  The hubby and I spent the holidays traveling all around New Zealand for a few weeks.  It was truly an amazing trip.  I'm going to have to split up the posts because of all the pictures.  Easiest way to get that done is having the first post be about the North Island... where we started the trip for the first 6 days or so.

Started the trip seeing this in the airport when we arrived bright and early for our flight.  
I love Australia.

We flew from Sydney to Auckland and stayed north of the city in a town called Devonport.  Super cute with lots of nice cafes, shops and views of the city.

View from walkway along the water.

Buildings in Devonport.

View from morning run up to a lookout point.

The following day we drove through Auckland on our way to our first destinations... really just to pick up some Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  Not the same as at home, and not really as exciting as in Bali... but still pretty good.

Also, let us take a moment to reflect on the prices here. 

The hubby was excited to see an actual Burger King and Wendys all on the same road.  Kind of like being back home :)


We drove all along the crazy winding roads to get to Cathedral Cove.  A short 45 minute walk down along a path gets you to a lovely beach area with beautiful rock formations.  

 One of the few pictures we were able to get without hoards of people... it was super crowded!

From there we drove to Rotorua.  Land of sulfur hot springs.  Yes it smells bad when you drive into town... a bit like rotten eggs.  But an interesting place to visit.  

There are thermal springs all around town where you can walk around.  Lots of danger and warning signs, which clearly I like.  It was pretty amazing to see parts where the water and sometimes mud was actually boiling.  The pictures just don't do it justice.

The hubby and I taking in the lovely smells of the hot springs.

This is where they do a lot of Maori cultural activities.  That night we did a show/dinner... similar to the luau we went to in Hawaii... it was a lot of fun and these guys taught the Haka to the hubby.

Next we were on our way to Waitomo.  Just for the night to spend time at an area where there are caves with glow worms.   Awesome I know.  First on our way we stopped off at a berry farm... yet another one of my newfound obsessions.

I got some homemade berry ice cream and made some friends with these two cute donkeys. 

Although, I believe they may have just wanted the ice cream.

 The area where the caves are have walking paths you can do during the day and at night.  We did both... I still have not mastered night shots with the camera, so no fun pictures of the glow worms.

We also did an actual cave tubing tour.  In doing so, got to wear these cool wet suits.  It was fun, and a bit claustrophobic for the hubby to be in the caves.  It was more intense than a similar cave tubing thing we did in Belize.  This one had us jumping backwards off small waterfalls into our tubes, climbing around in the dark... we also learned what glow worms actually are.  However, despite this new knowledge, I choose to think of them as the cute toys I had growing up.

This picture is just sunset from dinner at the place across from our hotel.

Next up we made the drive over to Lake Taupo... this is where we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas.  The area was quite nice, but the weather was a bit off for part of the time.

They had some trees at the lake decorated with baubles. 

The hubby was impressed by the McDonalds plane in town.

Sunset over the lake.

So here is the fun part... I am crazy and planned to do the Tongariro crossing walk on Christmas day. It is a well known day trek that takes you over volcanic craters and such... the second half has been closed due to volcanic activity, but you still do the first part to the emerald lakes and then back.  In total around 6-8hrs. The morning of the walk we left the hotel around 4:30am (I'm surprised the hubby didn't kill me with this plan) to get to the shuttle location for 5:45am.  It was a cool and raining morning and they gave us the option to not do the walk when we arrived at the National Park.  It wasn't too bad at that point where we were, but you could tell once we started up the trail to the mountains it would be rough.  Alas, it was our only day to do it and off we went.

The start of the day.  In our Santa hats, smiling and ready for a fun filled day of adventure!

 And a few hours later...

In between this there were some pretty cool sites.

This is pretty much where I tucked my camera away the rain was coming down so bad.  Overall, it was indeed an adventure.  A wet and sometimes scary adventure.  At one point it seemed we were walking through a cloud on top of the crater and couldn't really see a few meters in front of us.

On our way back down the weather of course started to improve slightly and we saw a few rainbows.

Well, the weather back there was still not so great.

The day would not have been complete without an intense danger sign.

Mount Doom.

Happy post trek despite the weather... next years Christmas card?

A well earned drink later that night before an epic Indian feast in town for our Christmas dinner.

Last stop on the North Island was Wellington for the night...

Some nice scenery while driving.

They are a bit obsessed with Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit there.

Pretty busy sounding trip... and this was the more relaxed part of the trip!  I will try and get the South Island post up in the next day...

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