Auckland New Zealand

Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
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Saturday, November 6, 2004

So 2 months in New Zealand and what did we get up too? Well hear you ask. We arrived in Auckland after our short flight of about 4 hours and was met by an old friend Albert from UK and Martin's sister Sharon who we had met up with a few months previous on the Galapagos Islands.

For the first day or so we stayed in Auckland then we decided to hire a car for a couple of weeks and take off for a jolly around parts of the North Island. Having visited here in NZ for 2 weeks on our last trip in 2003 we were quite familiar with Auckland and it's surrounding towns.
We headed off for Taupo famous for it's huge lake, water sports, sky diving you name it New Zealand has exploited it!! We stayed with a friend of Martin's sister in his luxury home affording stunning views of Lake Taupo and surrounding area. Thank you Mike for that.
Martin did plan to do a Sky dive but the morning turned out to be too cloudy so it was cancelled. Mike's friend who would have been taking Martin for his big jump was prepared to go without his breakfast too. As the tandem sky diver had to be under 95 kilos, Martin needless to say had to go with out meals for a whole week to reach that goal!!!! Guess you could say he was praying for bad weather!!!!

From Taupo we drove west to Waitomo. Famous for it's caves etc. We stayed in a B&B which was actually a working ostrich farm too. The owner took us for a tour around his stock. Those birds are huge with particularly strong feet and the longest toe nails imaginable. As well as selling the meat the owners used the leather to make all sorts of things like purses, wallets, jackets and even to cover seats on motor bikes all very odd!!! But a great place to stay. We also got to see inside their glow worm caves. It was pitch dark and all around you were thousands of glow worms. It was just magical and they looked just like fairies. The next day we paid to take a completely dark raft ride inside another cave but the experience just wasn't the same as the night before. Especially when some "bright spark" thought that they could take a photo of it. Setting off a camera flash when your night vision has just kicked in is not funny!
Martin and Sharon did go abseiling and flying foxing, another adrenalin activity where you are harnessed up and literally go flying through the cave in the pitch dark. Not my idea of fun so I went for a 2 hour horse ride instead. Just me and the guide I was treated to some stunning views of the New Zealand countryside while those other two were under ground scaring themselves in the dark. Lovely.

After a week of jollying around we dropped Sharon back to Auckland where she flew to Sydney and Martn and I continued further north to the Bay of Islands area. We revisited the farm that we spent 5 days of our 2 weeks in NZ in 2003. They were very pleased to see us. This time we spent a week there. Both Martin and I took part in some 'natural horsemanship' clinics which Ellen the owner practices. By the end we were able to go into a field of 30 horses, all charging around and focus on one horse and catch it with no goodies to bribe it with. Amazing or what. Both of us went riding too on their 1000 acre farm, although at the end of the day Martin does still prefer a motor bike, something about having control?
Horse wisperers Lamb chop
While we were in the Bay of Islands area we went for a dive on the Greenpeace ship 'Rainbow Warrior' The French had very kindly blown it up in July 1985 as it was protesting about the nuclear bombs that were being set off in the Pacific. Well the wreck was re-floated and towed out of Auckland Habour and sunk again further up the coast. That was nearly 19 years ago now and as a dive sight it is fantastic. It is completely covered in soft coral which resemble those tissue flowers you see stuck on a carnival float. When you shine a torch on them the colours are even more vibrant. We were able to swim inside one of the holds that was full of fish. It was great despite the water being a teeth chhhhhaaaatttttering 15 degrees. Any womanly and manly features we had before our dive completely disappeared and some might say have not returned since!!!!
Fur seal Dolphins at play
We took a boat ride out of Piahia to the famous "Hole in the Rock" which is as it's name suggests. On the way we encountered a pod of dolphins which was great then we spotted the Orca's. We counted 10 dorsal fins in one go. They were very calm, our captain stopped the engine of the boat and they swam around close for about 15 minutes. It was fantastic. The crew were even excited as they had not seen them for a few months. We even saw 2 Hammerhead sharks!!

So after 2 weeks it was time to give the car back. To returned back to Auckland where we met up with friends we had first met in Malaysia 2003. We had gone snow boarding with them during our 2 weeks here in 2003 but it was time to catch up with them again. Thank you Chris and Laura for the meal and laughs we had on our last evening in Auckland.
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