New Zealand - North Island
Trip Start Jan 25, 2006
14Trip End Jul 20, 2006
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We arrived in Auckland to lovely sunny weather (no rain at last!). We managed to hire a car for the next day (Nissan guys you will be pleased to know that it was a 1991 Sunny - only luxury for us!). The bonus was that it has so many scratches, rust and windscreen chips that it made it very easy to return without damage, although Billy tried his best by throwing it around the narrow New Zealand roads.
In Auckland, went up the Sky tower which showed brilliant views of the city. We then spent $2 (about 75p) in the casino. Not that we are cheap skates or anything, but on a budget you have to be cautious. It gave us 100 goes, but neadless to say we didn't win anything. We stayed in our first youth hostel for the night - nice!
The next day we travelled in our Sunny up to Paihia ( The Bay of Islands) to meet up with Kath and Russ (Sarah's best mate from home). The Bay was stunning, but our first night of accommodation was a pit of a caravan (see photo). The windows didn't even close, so we froze.
We then travelled to the north tip of the Island with Kath & Russ (Cape Reinga) where we did our first long walk along the coastal path. Beautiful scenery. On the beach Russ suddenly started to run without saying anything to anyone, when we looked around a massive wave was headed towards Billy, Kath and myself. The under current almost took our legs away. Russ was laughing at us and took a photo of us. Kath lost one of her trainers to the wave and had to try and catch it. Very amusing after, but scary at the time. They did us proud in the evning and cooked us a bbq (one of many- thanks!!!!).
Billy and I then went back to the Bay of Islands and onto Waitangi where NZ independance was declared in 1840 by us Brits. We then went on a 10km walk to Hururu Waterfall which was lovely, although by the time that you receive this we have seen so many, they are not so exciting now.
We have found the wonders of NZ supermarkets - muffins to die for. Obviously this means that Billy is a very happy man. However saying this, he has managed to lose 8 pounds already (no Maddo & Ed it is not off his head or money!).
Our next port of call was Coromandel Peninsula which made driving a pleasure for Billy, although for me it was more like a rollercoaster. The views in all directions are amazing. We started off in a 'Hillbilly town' where they used to pan for gold, but we soon moved on to a nicer area. We walked to a place called Billy Goat Landing which was apt. Billy had to walk across a rickety swing bridge which was very high up. Obviously, with Billy's fear of heights it made it interesting, such expletive language!!! Parents you will be proud to know that we have been to several gardens. Friends you will think WHY!!! Billy's favourite part was going on a small steam train which was more like a kids railway, we all know he is easily pleased
We did a great boat trip the next day around Mercury Bay, which took us to the Cathedral Cove. Our skipper Kevin was a top bloke, although he is convinced that we will not be holding the Rugby Cup for long (Neil, I needed you there to convince him otherwise.
Our next stop was the thermal valleys of Rotorua. It was very smelly, however it was better than BIlly's bottom the night before! It is hard imagining that you are sitting above a volcanic core able to erupt at any time (that isn't Billys bum that I'm refering to). The highlight of the day was a domino's pizza, chocolate and red wine!
The next day we had a rest and played mini golf with Kath and Russ and whipped their asses meaning that they had to do the washing up that evening. However we were not so lucky in the evening playing pool as they won 3/3 games meaning that we had to down a double vodka each (which we haven't forgotten mate, we will do soon!). We booked massages for the next day which was painful as they were sports massages, not relaxation ones. However, felt great the next day. That evening we went to a Maori evening with traditional Hangi feast and dancing
Our journey down the country took us inland around Lake Taupo and to Tongariro National Park. We stayed in a 'shed like' cabin for 2 nights. Billy joined Kath and Russ on a 17km trek up and across the volcano which was used in the filming of Lord of the Rings. It was almost too much for Billy who found out that his legs are no where near as strong as he thought (maybe not a footballing giant after all!).He was chuffed though as they finished the trek in under 6 hrs. I got a cable car ride up the tallest volcano at 2800m (Mt Ruapehu) and did a walk their as my hips and knees wouldn't be able to take the pounding of their walk. On my walk a bloke started to scream for help. The pathway had fallen away under him and he fell several foot onto rocks. I went and tried to help. It was many cuts and bruises. Thik I need to redo the first aid course with you guys at work though!
Our travels down the country had to be temporarily halted as we had to return the car to Auckland and collect our 2 berth hi-top (so we can fit Billy head in) campervan
After Auckland we had a brief stop in Hamilton and Waitomo Caves to see some glow worms. On the 22nd we continued our journey down to the far west coast and Mount Tarinaki which is another active volcano. We did a four hour trek around the side of the volcano, but did not attempt to clim to the summit as Kath and Russ did it the day before and said how terrible it was as the terrain is near vertical and it is 2500m high!
On the 24th we headed down to Wellington via the surf highway and Wanganui. Today we have walked around Wellington which is surprisingly small for a capital city and we are getting the ferry to the south island on the 28th.
The weather has been brilliant for the whole time and are now looking forward to 5 weeks in the south island. Our next travel log will be much sooner as we have had a few technical problems. Take care everyone and hope your weather improves.