My first week in New Zealand was busy and packed, but I really enjoyed it.
Here's a brief summary of what happened:
- Left LA 10pm Saturday, arrived 5am Monday after a 12 hour flight (that's time zones for you!)
- Caught my Stray bus from Manukau, south of Auckland.
- We drove to the Coromandel Peninsula which is very picturesque, hilly, green and lush
- Settled at Hahei, a small village on the coast - stayed in a backpackers lodge on a caravan park
- Walked to Cathedral Cove which was lovely
- Had a barbeque with the 20 or so other backpackers/travellers. Most of them were in their early-mid 20's. There were a couple about my age. But I was the oldest! What was nice however, was that everyone thought I was about 24-25!! Thanks Mum and Dad for the young-looking genes! :)
- Next day drove to Raglan, a surf town on the West Coast. I was tempted to learn to surf but instead went for a good walk around the town and chilled out for an afternoon drinking coffee and chatting to one of the Strays. Had fish and chips for tea....yum
- Went on a 'Lost World' experience...this involved completing a 100 metre abseil down a large sinkhole, followed by a climb into a cave. It was very physical - walking over and bending my body round and over rocks. We ended up in a very dark part of the cave and saw glow-worms. It really was rather magical. But did you know that the glowing part of glow-worms is actually their poo! Had to ascend a 30 metre ladder to get out of the cave. That was quite scary, and hard work on the upper body strength. Thank goodness for the safety harness, that's all I can say.
- We were treated to a typically touristy Maori evening. After some traditional Maori food, we enjoyed watching some Maori dancing and singing. Boys and girls were separated and the boys learnt the 'Haka' whilst us ladies were taught how to do the 'Poi' dance. It was good fun. We all kipped overnight in the Marae (Maori Meeting House). It was like one big dormitory.
- Visited Rotorua to see the smelly bubbling mudpools.
- Went on a fantastic walk - the Tongariro Crossing. This took about 7 hours, walking past Mount Ruapeho, which is a young live volcano, and then past/over a couple of dead/dormant ones. It was a wonderful walk, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mount Ruapeho is Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.
- Spent a day chilling out in the National Park Village (in proximity to Mount Doom), before catching my bus back to Auckland for week 2 - which I will write about next time.
Enjoy the slide show.