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Alex’s Travel Diary

Friday, 15 May 2015

Location: North Island, New Zealand

MapNORTH ISLAND
Hey Everyone,

I hope everyone is looking forward to the posts on New Zealand! I am going to keep them a bit briefer than the Australia ones.
After our 3.5 hour flight Florence and I landed in Auckland. It was around 8pm after we got through customs. We had to declare the mud on the bottom of our walking boots. They take their border safety very seriously, not just with drugs etc, but with organic material from overseas that can carry harmful bacteria, fly eggs and other things that can harm the environment.
We made our way, by taxi, to the campervan rental place to collect the van. It’s in essence the same camper we hired in Australia, just a little older and not as high spec. We got lost a few times on the way to the campsite but found our way none the less. We grabbed a few things from the supermarket, ate some food, and then got into bed. It was quite a cold sleep in the van as the temperature is far colder than Australia’s.
It was great to be on the move and travelling once more. We packed our gear up and heading into Auckland to have a look around. Truth be told, not a huge amount to see in Auckland, and we hadn’t been told by anyone to spend any time there, so we headed southward to Rotorua. On the way we stopped at a really pretty café set in a beautiful orchard with lemon trees. Had a bite to eat then continued on our way. LUCKILY Florence spotted that we had entered HOBBITON!!! This is the home of the Shire from the Lord of The Rings/ Hobbit movies/books.
Instantly we pulled over, found the nearest campsite to us and booked a trip the following day to visit the movie set of the Shire.
We were picked up in the coach and taken to the word of Hobbiton. We had a tour guide take us on a walk around the Shire, we were shown Bag End (Bilbo & Frodo Baggins’ Hobbit hole), went in a hobbit hole, and ended the tour with a drink in the ‘Green Dragon’ pub (featured in the movies) and a visit to the gift shop to spend a little bit of gold on merchandise.
After our fantastic day being hobbits we continued to Rotorua where we took a walk through a geothermal national park, had a mud bath and sulphur spa. By the end of the day, we and everything we were wearing at the time absolutely stunk of eggs (the smell of sulphur if you didn’t know)!
Rotorua was followed by a trip to the Taupo region, where you will find Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, and the largest lake I think I have ever seen. Its 196km around and beautiful. I took a good few photos so when I’m back ask me to show you them. Also we wondered whether it was salt or fresh water so I took a sip and its fresh water! So if anyone brings up lake Taupo, I will forever on say I have drunk from it!!!

Next our trip took us to the Waitomo Caves. A small town populated all year round by 41 people, with a lot of tourists stopping on their travels. The reason for us coming here was to visit the glow worm caves.
We went with a small company named ‘Spellbound’. It was a really fantastic trip. We went into a cave wearing hard hats, walked into it a bit, and then got in a little boat. The guide told us to turn our lights off. Now this was real darkness. Florence was sat right next to me; about 2 inches away and I could not see her or anything else. Over 10 minutes the night vision kicked in and there were thousands and thousands of little lights above us. It looked like a million stars in touching distance. These were the glow worms. For about half an hour we were in the boat, and then left that cave to look around another one. It was a really great trip that is very worth doing if you ever get the chance.

We drove to Whanganui after Waitomo. Not really for anything in particular as there isn’t much to do there. It just split the drive from Waitomo to Wellington. At our campsite you could literally see the Milky Way Galaxy in the sky. Thousands of stars of sparkling in the sky. A phenomenal sight. You can look at the pictures the Hubble telescope takes of the universe and be impressed, but until you have seen a galaxy with your own eyes in real time, you’ve not seen it all!
Finally we arrived in Wellington. We spent one night relaxing at the campsite (it was a bit too far out of the city centre to go in), and we watched the first Lord of The Rings movie, so we could see where we had visited!
The next day we drove into Wellington and parked at an overnight car park for campervans right on the dock so to be close to the ferry port for the crossing the next day. We took a walk around Wellington, had some of the best coffee we have ever tasted and then met up with some of Florence’s long lost family for dinner. They took us to a really cool bar to start with. It was tucked away in the heart of Wellington, and unless you knew it was there, you would never find it. The bar was followed by a lovely Italian with HUGE pizzas. It was a really great evening.
Now it was time to get on the ferry and travel to the South Island.
Post soon to follow!

Byeeee x