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Published: March 11th 2017
After three fun days in Auckland we started our journey south to Waitomo to visit the area and the famous caves and we weren't disappointed! The vegetation was beautiful with lush mountains and two lovely sunny days. The high altitude air was a bit cooler than in Auckland but the sun was warm. We stayed at a quaint 100 year old English country inn with great views of the surrounding area.
We did a fantastic hike in the area that took three hours as we wound our way through tropical forest, farmland, streams and limestone caves. Very invigorating!
Another highlight was our visit to the caves with numerous shafts dropping into under ground cave system and streams. There are 300+ mapped caves in the area with three main ones for tourists..... Ruakuri (which descends 65m), Aranui and Glowworm. We toured all three impressive caves which takes about four hours. The Glowworm Cave was very intriguing which included a boat ride through the dark cave where there were literally thousands of Glowworm shining from above. It was quite magical!
Day three of our journey was awesome! We boarded "Kiwi Rail" for the Northern Explorer Scenic trip from Waitomo to
Wellington. The scenery was breathtaking and we were lucky with a clear sunny day. One of the cars had open sides so it was great for taking pictures. I would highly recommend this train trip to get a real sense of the diverse landscape on the North island. As well the tour included a commentary about the areas we passed through which provided interesting geographical and historical information. Even though the trip was 7 hours, the time went fast. Tasty hot and cold meals were available as well as all kind of beverages.
Around 6 p.m. we arrived in Wellington (population 400,000) which is located in the very south of the north island. The city itself is surrounded by tall mountains with many streets and homes high above the harbour. Staying in the city center we quickly were able to find the historic Cuba Street with lots of vibrant cafes and pubs. Unfortunately the next day we awoke to a very cloudy, cool and windy day not at all condusive to sight seeing. Apparently in Wellington the weather is often dreary and particularly windy so we were glad we only had a few days here. We made the best
of it and walked the city center checking out the Te Papa Museum, The Wellington Cable Car and the beautiful Wellington Botanic Gardens.
We carried on the next day back up north by inter-city bus; very efficient, double decker, inexpensive and very comfortable. The day again was cloudy and rainy which was disappointing as the scenery would have been nice.
We arrived mid afternoon in Rotoura which is known for its thermal areas, spurting geysers, hot springs and mud pools. Having experienced that kind of thing in Panaram before we opted for a walk in the Redwood Forest with a spectacular treewalk consisting of 23 suspension bridges across the forest. Apparently the redwood trees here were started from young trees from California in the early 1900's They were fairly big but not nearly as gigantic as the ones the California.
Tomorrow we will be heading to The Bay of Islands for a two week stay where the weather typically warmer with highs of around 26 degrees.
Thanks for reading!
Mallory and Warren
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