Published: February 10th 2012February 10th 2012
The large Maori boat displayed in the Auckland Museum
Well, we arrived safely in New Zeland without any hiccups. The jet lag wasn't even that bad. We spent our first few days in Auckland, which is the biggest city in New Zealand. The weather has been beautiful- upper 70's and sunny. This is pretty typical weather this time of year, but the locals tell us they've had a terribly cold and rainy spring and summer so far. We'll give kind of a play-by-play of our trip so far, not super detailed yet and spelling may be incorrect- our internet access is limited so I'm typing quickly. Also, we're having an issue with uploading photos but we'll try to put a few up as soon as we can.
We rented a little studio apartment in downtown Auckland that had everything we needed. It took us around 36 hours total to get there from home, so by the time we dropped our stuff off, ate a delicious Thai food dinner, and walked back to the apartment it was time for bed. Auckland is a very walkable city, though it has some serious hills like San Francisco. Our first full day we walked through a large green space called the Auckland Domain
Our little studio in Auckland
washer/dryer in one, dishwasher in a drawer
and went to the Auckland Museum. The museum has some really nice things, particularly from the Maori culture.
The next day we took a ferry to Waiheke Island, about a 40 minute ride. We spent some time at a beautiful beach, toured some vineyards (bought an awesome Syrah), and ate a very tasty lunch at a vineyard's restaurant called Casita Miro. It was just perfect. That night we went to the top of Sky Tower in Auckland to enjoy 360 views of the city. We also decided to be extra tourist-y and had dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top. It was kind of weird to be slowly rotating while we were eating, but the views were fantastic. We also got to try a New Zealand dessert called Pavlova cake, which is like a meringue.
We left early the next morning to drive to the Waitomo Gloworm Caves. The drive was beautiful, and driving on the left side was actually not too terrifying. We kept accidentally turning on the windshield wipers though- the turn signal indicator is on the opposite side. We decided to go easy on ourselves and got an automatic transmission
beautiful view of one of the beaches on Waiheke Island
so we didn't have to learn to shift on the left as well. In Waitomo we went blackwater rafting in the gloworm caves, and this was truly an awesome experience. We weren't able to take any photos, so do a google image search of "Waitomo gloworm caves" and you'll get a good idea of what we were able to see. The gloworms were incredible- they look like little twinkle lights on the cave ceilings. After Waitomo we drove to Rotorua, got settled in and took a walk around a nearby lake. Last night we saw a Maori cultural performance and ate a traditional hangi meal. The educational section and the song and dance were very well done, though there were too many tourists there, which ruined it a bit. We'll be bringing back some videos to share.
Today we started off our day with a tour at Hobbiton! They still have it set up to look how it does in the movies because they just finished filming The Hobbit here in November. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and we got to take a bunch of photos. It was actually very beautiful with all of the landscaping.
yummy paella at Casita Miro vineyard on Waiheke Island. they also had quite possibly the best olives ever
This afternoon we went Zorbing- which is king of like a large hamster ball that rolls down a hill. They put water inside with us, so we kind of sloshed around inside as we rolled down the hill. We'll try to post a video so you can get an idea. We're spending the rest of our day wandering around Rotorua and enjoying the geothermal areas (which means it smells like sulphur everywhere). Tomorrow we'll head to the redwood forest and then Lake Taupo.
More to come later...
Briana and Brian
There are more photos below