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Since Paul was there for work and I was there to play, I didn’t get to pick where I’d be visiting in NZ. The work was in Auckland and that was my base for exploring for the first couple of days. In doing some research on Auckland, I was a little disappointed. Although Auckland is the most populated city in New Zealand, there just didn’t seem to be much to do there beyond the city. Auckland is not in the top 10 places to visit in New Zealand much less for the North Island. It’s located on the water and has several smaller volcanic islands around it. Upon arrival, I checked into the hotel, a casino no less – woo hoo!, and headed to visit the little town of Davenport. It was around 5 pm and the town and everything in it was closed. (Have I mentioned how most retail shops in Australia are only open from 9 am – 5 pm? Thursday nights are their late shopping nights. They’re open till 7 pm . . . those rebels and their late hours.) Sadly, there were great shops to go in and check out but all I could do was window shop. However, window shopping is much nicer to my unemployed bank account. I spent the rest of my time sitting on the pier and watching the sail boats in the water. They were absolutely stunning against the Auckland skyline. Hanging out on your sailboat, on a summer evening after a long day at work looked just about perfect. I think I need to find a friend with a boat. Well, I guess I shouldn’t get picky on who I’m attempting to befriend on this side of the world. I ended the night by checking out the nightlife with Paul and his co-worker. I can now safely say that there isn’t much of a nightlife in Auckland. Even though it’s their biggest city, there just aren’t that many people.
The next day I took another ferry out to a further volcanic island and took a 4WD tour to the summit and walked around the crater. Although currently considered dormant, the pumice rock still had several hot pockets. The volcanic island is currently in the process of eradicating all pests (i.e., rabbits, feral cats, rats, mice, etc.) and will then reintroduce native species. Well, prior to boarding the ferry, I received a detailed packet instructing me to check my shoes, clothing, and bags, for insects, rats, and mice. I read this, and then looked around thinking seriously?!?!? If I’ve got a rat or mice or huge insect in my shoes, clothes, or bag then we’ve got WAY bigger problems then a concern me about bringing it to the island. Honestly, who is roaming around with a random mouse in their bag, even by accident? That’s just gross.
Later that evening, I decided to experience a little bit of Kiwi culture and attended a local theater’s play. It was called “I heart camping” and it was considered an “unromantic comedy” mocking New Zealand’s love of camping. It was hilarious and I had a great time, but when I attempted to share some of the funniest moments with Paul he just didn’t seem to get the jokes. Maybe it was my horrible attempt at a Kiwi accent. ญญ
People keep asking me if I can tell the difference between the Aussie and Kiwi accent and I can’t. I try, but they all sound the same to me. I can’t even truly distinguish the difference between an English accent and an Aussie one. Don’t I get a little bit of a break. . . I’ve only been here a month.
New Zealand is known for its crazy adventure sports. If you want to bungee, skydive, hang glide, paraglide, heliski, kayak, whitewater raft, etc. then this is your place to do it. Obviously, the insurance requirements aren’t nearly as stringent there as they are in the states because there is no way some of these adventure activities would be occurring. People have even made up crazy (yet fun) activities and tourists just pay to do them. Folks, this is where I come in. I am not even slightly interested in bungee jumping or skydiving, but throw me in a large inflatable ball with some water, zip up the hatch, and roll me down a large hill and I am a happy, although soaked, girl at the bottom. This experience or contraption is called the ZORB (www.zorb.com) and it was invented by two bored Kiwis. I’m not so sure if they were bored or just smoking something when they thought of the ZORB, but regardless, it was AWESOME. (If you happened to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics then you might have seen people lit up hopping around in huge inflatable balls. Those would be ZORBs. And even though I broke up with TV, the closing ceremony was a cultural event and is okay to watch. I decided to break up with TV so I can make up the rules.)
The ZORB has two options, one is with water where you just slosh around and the other is without water and you are harnessed in. Paul and I both failed to pack bathing suits as we just didn’t see the ZORB experience in our future, so we threw on some dirty clothes and jumped in the inflatable ball. We opted to ride separately as I really didn’t want his toe in my ear or other random body parts flying about as we bounced our way down the hill. Paul went first and the only way to get into the ball is to jump through this tiny hole. When Paul jumped in and got stuck, I just giggled. As he wiggled through, it reminded me of that Winnie-the-Pooh cartoon when Pooh gets stuck in the hole to his home because he ate too much honey. (I think my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh moment is when he taps his forehead and says, “think, think, think.” He was probably thinking, “What would Christopher Robin do?”) Unfortunately, I giggled too soon because I was the next Pooh bear to get stuck as I tried to enter the inflatable globe. And no, it wasn’t so funny then. The poor guy working the ZORB ride at the top of the hill probably gets tired of seeing people’s butts all day as they get stuck. Or maybe he mocks everyone’s attempt in a blog.
FYI – Here is a short video of me going down the hill in the ZORB. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-z6MONYalA
The next day we set out on a jet boat ride on a river. Sounds innocent enough but with 180 degree turns while going 40 mph, there was definitely a need to hold on. We got extremely wet on that adventure too even though I wore a huge raincoat type thing which was extremely attractive. Although we didn’t buy the tour company pics at the end, it was awesome to see us as we launched off the wave 10 ft in the air. The whole jet boat ride was sweet-as and I highly recommend it.
Oh, I failed to mention how we made it from Auckland to the other parts of the North Island that we visited about 4 hours away….we rented a car for our first formal attempt to drive on the left hand side of the road. Actually, I was just the passenger that tried to stay quiet and be supportive and Paul was the driving expert. He did really well as he reminded himself aloud on several occasions, “left, left, left.” I giggled then too, but it worked, except for that one time. Early Saturday morning we exited our hotel parking lot and turned right into oncoming traffic. Luckily there wasn’t too much traffic and the drivers saw us and slowed down until we got to the correct side. All in all, my brief visit to New Zealand was great and we even avoided a head on collision! Can’t wait to go back!