Tuesday 11 November 2008
helloooo from new zealand nearly 2 weeks have passed and we're now in the south island. time is flying by. it's our 5th night in the south so not much to report as yet. will write about the south soon, for now it's all about the north. looking back we've actually done quite a lot and still managed to squeeze in some chill out time in our campervan.
we picked up the campervan as soon as we landed in auckland. i was a nervous wreck driving it at first but come the second day all was well. and no bumps or crashes so far... touch wood! i think the bump in australia was probably a blessing in disguise as i'm waaaay too cautious now. and we're waaaay to skint to loose another deposit lol.
new zealand is kind of what i've expected. it's similar to back home but on a much grander scale. with new zealand you don't have to drive far to be surrounded by some amazing scenery. only a few days ago we saw our first snow capped mountain towering over a beach. it looked pretty huge but going by the map it's nothing compared to what's coming up. the further south we go, i reckon the better it's going to get.
i had noooo idea how volcanic this country is, a bit of ignorance in my part, i just saw some amazing photos of the place and heard good things that made me want to go. we arrived in the north and on our 3rd day we were in a town called rotorua, one of the worlds most accessible geothermal areas. we drove into it and came across a park that looked to be on fire. unknown to us it was full of boiling mud pools with steam rising from them.
the smell of rotorua was yuk. because of all the volcanic activity, hydrogen sulphide lingers in the air and makes the town smell of egg. it was so bad it made paul's farts smell of roses! that's how bad it was. we saw all sorts of stuff... i read in our book that the towns crust is so thin that digging a grave would unearth a hot spring... and birds don't have to sit at their nests because the ground is so warm. we walked around a loop track just outside of rotorua where we saw lots of birds nests resting in craters. it was a cool walk, we saw some pretty amazing stuff... lots of small lakes that were multi-coloured because of all the minerals in them, a huge boiling mud pool where paul managed to collect some mud with a stick, i then walked about with a fresh mud pack on my face lol... and a 10 metre geyser where a guy pours soap flakes into the vent and within minutes steam and water shoots up from the ground.
close up of boiling mud
all around rotorua there are so many geothermal hot tubs, even campsite have them. we stopped off at a polynesian spa where we had our very own outdoor mineral pool to ourselves looking on to lake rotorua. the temperature of our pool went up to 45 degrees. we wanted an hour in it but for health reasons you're only allowed half an hour. just as well because it was pretty hot... but very relaxing.
we camped one night at lake taupo, new zealands largest lake. it was such a lovely setting. we arrived there fairly early so it gave us time to chill out, read, write blog, feed ducks and admire the views before it got dark.
camp at lake taupo
we headed to tongariro national park the following day. this is where some of the filming for lord of the rings took place. and for anyone who doesn't know (as we didn't), there isn't just one place where lord of the rings was filmed. it turns out they took scenery from all over new zealand, north and south. some scenes were digitally manipulated with mountains from one place and lakes from another.
so tongariro np was a part of the film... but unfortunately we arrived there and the weather was just terrible. it was bucketing down and we could only see a few feet onfront of us because the fog was so thick. we arrived at the visitors centre, where normally you could see snow capped mountains in the distance, but all we could see was fog and rain. we checked the weather forecast and it was pretty much the same for the next few days. so we left tongariro and started heading further south.
our last night in the north island was perfect. it was the 5th november and we were in the capital of new zealand, wellington. what better way to see a fireworks display. we spent the day checking out some sights and took a walk up mount victoria for panoramic views of the city and it's harbour. we then managed to find the perfect spot that looked on to the harbour and oriental bay, where the biggest firework display we have ever seen took place. it was brilliant. we pulled out our camper chairs, sat outside with a drink and watched the 15 minute display. paul made us some chilli, so after the display we were quick getting into the campervan to munch some yummy chilli and heat up... it was frrreezing outside! we decided to risk it that night and not bother with a campsite. we parked nearby and woke to a lovely view of the harbour. it's not exactly legal but you can get away with it in certain areas if you're sensible and not park in a busy place.
fireworks over wellington city
our view the next morning
we also spent a day sight seeing in auckland. not much to report about this place, just another city with not much to do apart from the sky tower. so far we've been in 2, sydney and kuala lumpur, so auckland was our 3rd one. vancouver and toronto will make it 5.
check out the floor in the sky tower
we also stopped at a place in rotorua where we took a cable car over some hills to the start of 3 luge tracks. if you don't know what a luge is then you've not been reading my blog! read entries in singapore and then you'll know we got 4 shots in the luge and it was so much fun. although paul nearly fell off his and i nearly went off the edge at one point. it's actually quite dangerous if you go too fast... and the barriers were practically non-existent, hence the reason i was close to rolling down hill.
cable car and lake rotorua
as mentioned we are now in the south. the scenery is supposed to be far better than the north. it was evident at the start but the last few days have been pretty miserable because of the weather. today we drove by the alps but because of the low clouds we didn't see them. we're hoping it'll pick up in the next few days... summer starts next month and everyone is complaining that it's like winter. another reason why new zealand is similar to back home!
more sooooon, stay tooooooned x