Land of the Long White Cloud (North Island)

Trip Start Jul 27, 2004
Trip End Dec 13, 2006

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, September 14, 2005

We have just arrived in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand after a couple of weeks travelling around the North Island. We first visited Auckland which is in a beautiful harbour surrounded by volcanoes and we took a ferry trip over to Mt Rangitoto and climbed it for great views of the City. We also visited Devonport which is a sleepy suburb across the gulf from the main city and also reached by ferry. It was in Auckland that we met Nathan who works for the backpacker buses called 'Stray' and we spent several nights partying with him and the other staff. We also went to a rugby match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies at Eden Park which NZ won 34-24 to win the Tri-Nations Trophy and the Breeders Cup.
We then jumped onto one of the 'Stray' buses and headed North to Pahia in the Bay of Islands and from there we visited Cape Reinga at the top of the island, drove along 90mile beach and did some sandboarding down some huge dunes. We visited the sleepy village of Russell where the first whalers and settlers lived in New Zealand - this was also the first Capital. Other highlights of the North Island included the beaches at Hahei on the Coromandel Peninsula - one of them has thermal water which comes up from beneath the sand and you can make your own 'hot pools'. At Raglan we stayed in a hostel surrounded by beautiful forest and had fun on the 'flying fox' zip line - Mandy also went to the local dance class! On Pauls birthday we went Blackwater rafting at Waitomo - this is a combination of caving and tubing down underground streams (we spent 2hrs underground) - and we got to see thousands of glowworms. Later we went to a Maori evening to experience the local culture and food which is called a hangi. Mandy got to learn a traditional dance, Paul learned how to do the Haka and then later on we all joined in a stick throwing game. Alcohol is not allowed on sacred Maori land but Paul did get a birthday cake !! The following day we switched to Whitewater rafting down the Waituna River - the name means fish food!! We spent 50mins on the river through several rapids and at one point plunged vertically down a 7metre (21feet) waterfall - the largest commercially rafted drop in the world. We all got soaked but it was great fun as you can see from the pictures.. At Tongariro National park we became 'flashpackers', staying at a lovely hotel with thermal spa and great views of 'Mount Doom' from Lord of the Rings. Paul played a game of golf in its shadow (well maybe not in its shadow but pretty close) and Mandy walked to the nearby waterfalls. We are now in the capital Wellington at the bottom of the North Island and will get the ferry across to the South Island tomorrow. We are already learning to speak Kiwi - our speech is now littered with phrases such as "alrightyyyyy" and "sweeeeeeet as" but we have yet to see one of the real Kiwi birds as they are very rare. For touring the South Island we are going to hire a spaceship (see the website and we will let you know about all of our space travels very soon........
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