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Flashpacking

North Island

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 11 May 2008 | Views [481]

After nogotiating the Cook Strait on the Queen Charlotte Sound and arriving in Wellington late evening, we had no time to investigate the city and just had a quick look around the main shopping area while looking for a place to eat. Therefore Wellington was a missed opertunity.

The next day was supposed to be a 7 hour drive from Wellington to Rotorua which after the dissapiontedment of the past two days i didn't fancy driving, so in the spare 5 hours in Picton I booked a hotel in Taupo which cut the journey down a litle.

The weather was overcast and drizzly. First we travelled along the Kapiti Coast through Tongario National Park. Then whilst travelling up Mt Ruapehu it started to snow and the driving was challenging especially having deadlines to meet, but due to my superb driving skills we got to Lake Taupo mid afternoon. It looked like a nice holiday town, however it was still raining and didn't look too nice through a dingy grey sky. So instead we went to Huka Falls which were wet anyway so the weather didn't matter.

The following day was Geothermal day. Stopping off at the Wairaki Geothermal power station we watched the Lady Knox gyser erupt at 10.15am which it is suppoed to do everyday. It needed a little help from the guide but with some coaxing the hot and cold water mixed and caused the gyser to erupt. It lasted for ages and went up and down, not sure how long it generally lasts for but i got bored and left to see the rest of the Geothermal Park.

They had an array of mud pools, sulpher lakes and all kinds of other hot caves and things that i have no idea how they work but looked cool. From there we headed towards Rotorua stopping off at Te Puia, there were more gysers which seem to erupt with more regularity and more hot mud pools. It was not as diverse as the previous place but we got a free guided tour to mix things up and made it a different experience to the morning walk.

As part of the tour you get to see a traditional Maori show, well traditional tourist show. It was fun and everyone seemed to have a good time.

The smell of sulpher in Rotorua was quite strong even in the hotel, which gives some indication of how big these thermal areas are and how much sulpher they produce.

The next day we were heading for Auckland, but along the way we travelled through the Waikato region to Waitomo Caves where we went on a glow worm tour. There were two caves and the first one was a dingy trip through the cave. We had minor type helmets with lights on, but once insode the caves we turned them off to adjust our eyes to the darkness we then had to hold the person in front conga style to the dingy where we proceeded through the water watching the bright blue glow worm lava on the ceiling as we past.

After a short break we went to a second cave which was dry and had those long pointy things that dangle down in caves (stalotites or Stalomites or something). There were some bones of some animals that got in the cave and could not get out and at the end there was a hole in the roof which is aparantly common in caves around the area. This causes problems for farmers since grazing cattle have been known to fall into the caves and since the drop is long they don't survive. The caves we went to were located on private farmland so they are many and many of the holes in the ground.

After the tour we followed the Waikato river to Auckland where we went for a look around visiting Viaduct Harbour and the main shopping area.

Our hotel room had a view of the Sky Tower and that was where I headed the following day. It was a nice sunny day and ideal for a trip to the observation deck. There were also options to walk around the observation deck outside or jump off the tower on wires. I passed on both of those although we did see a couple of people do the jump. The first guy was ok, but the second one wasn't too sure what he had got himself into, and there is a notice board within the deck keeping up status report. It said the Jumper had nerves, which I don't blame him. By the time he did jump he kinda dangled there for a while then dropped down to the bottom, not sure if he got his monies worth.

Around lunch time we headed over the harbour bridge out of Auckland along the Hibscus coast to Paihia and the Bay of Islands. On getting to the bay late afternoon we went to the beach and watched the sunset.

The next day we went on a dolphin watching tour around the Bay of Islands and also headed to Cape Brett to see and go through the Hole in the Rock. We saw a pod of 10 bottle nosed dolphins or so swimming around the boat, they are more playfull than common nose dolphins and jumped out of the water and followed the boat for quite a while. We toured a few of the hundreds of islands around the area which were quite isloated from the mainland.

After the bay it was time to head back to Auckland. I had spotted a Whale watching tour out out Auckland so to try and make up for the disapointment of missing out in Kaikoura I booked it up and headed out early to make the 4hour drive back to get there for midday.

We made it and on the way to the Whale areas we were followed by Common Dolphins, it was nice to see different types of dolphins two days running, the guide said that they were less playfull than the bottlenose but they swam around and infrot of the boat for a long time. We were following the dolphins as we were looking for feeding dolphins who were creating bait balls, this is where the dolphins trap fish into a circling ball where they pick off food. This encourages other animals and birds to feed one of which is the whale.

We saw a few bait balls occuring and watched the Gannetts diving up to 140km p/h into the sea catching fish. It's an incredible sight, we saw a couple of whales around the area but only saw their trips to the surface when they blow the water into the air. We did not get close enough to actually see the body of the whale which was disappointing but you can't rely on nature.

The following day we flew back to Melbourne.

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