The North Island - Bay of Islands to Rotorua

Trip Start Apr 15, 2009
Trip End Jun 09, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So it was all a bit wierd when we arrived in New Zealand because we basically left Buenos Aires at 9am Monday, and then 13 hours later (10pm Monday in Buenos Aires) we arrive in to Auckland at 2pm Tuesday! Crazy mixed up time zones!

So, we headed straight from the airport to the "Spaceships" office to collect our campervan which was to be our home for the next month. I use the term campervan lightly as it was basically a people carrier, which had had the back seats ripped out and a matress,hob,dvd player and some storage space fitted in their instead. It wasnt very spacious but good things come in small packages and it did us very nicely indeed!

Bay of Islands
So after the first of many bowls of noodles and an early night, we woke up early and headed up north to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. We missed the first cruise around the islands that we had indended to go on, and so we went on a 5k walk to see the local Huraru Falls.
Not quite Iguassu but very nice all the same, and that night we camped in a site right opposite the Falls so we got beautful views to wake up to which was nice.

Then we went on the Bay of Islands cruise - a 3 hour cruise around some of the 150 islands in the bay, and with promises of dolphin sighting and the chance to swim with the dolphins for only $30 extra we were very excited. The weather was lovely, and I couldnt believe the colour of the sea - it was a gorgeous turquoise!

The cruise was great but it was spoiled by one thing...we didnt see any dolphins!! 95% of the boats get to see dolphins, but we happened to be the unlucky 5% who saw nothing but a few lousy seals! They gave us a voucher to go again, but we had to be on our way as we had less than 30 days left and lots of NZ to see...

We headed back south, past Auckland, and headed for Waitomo - famous for its glowworm caves.  Unfortunately, cameras weren't allowed in the caves so I can't show you what it was like but it was pretty spectacular. The roof of the caves were completely covered in what looks like millions of tiny fairy lights. Its hard to believe that they are actually living creatures and its not a special effect! It was only a 45 minute tour though as that was the cheapest option, and then it was time to move on...

The first thing I should tell you about Rotorua is that it STINKS!! OF STALE EGGS!! We didnt appreciate it really, in fact, at times we were actually feeling sick with the stench! Its all down to the fact that the crust of earth below Rotorua is very thin, and therefore the area is very thermally active - they have lots of natural hot pools heated by the earth's surface because it is so warm, and they also have lots of sulphur escaping from the earth, which is the reason for the eggy smell.

We thought we would make the most of this thermal activity however and we headed straight for the shores of the lake, where we were told you could dig your own hot pool in the sands!!

We tried a bit of digging but it wasnt very easy and the water was pretty horrible so we didnt exactly want to bathe in it! So, we then headed back to our campsite which had 3 proper hot pools just waiting for us to relax in...

And, as you may already know, it was whilst we were relaxing in the hot pools, that some cheeky beggar broke in to our beloved little spaceship! Luckily, I had decided to make my way back to the van and disturbed the good for nothing theif in the act, so he didnt get the opportunity to take anything. Or, then again, I did have all of our valuables on me - so he probably just realised there was nothing worth stealing in there apart from smelly clothes and mouldy food!! So we were pretty lucky anyway, but our evening was ruined as we had to spend the evening giving police statements, and the next day was a write off as the police wanted to fingerprint the van and we had to stay in Rotorua another night waiting for a local locksmith to get the parts for new locks. But the next day we had new locks fitted by 10am and hi ho hi ho its off to Taupo we go........

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