2 Weeks On The North Island, New Zealand
After spending two weeks in the North Islands, I really didn't want to leave. I had had the most incredible time with my new friends, far better than I had expected to. I think the North Island was a great introduction to the Kiwi culture whereas in South Island I was expecting a bit more adrenaline! Here's a little summary of how I've spent the past two weeks!
Hot Water Beach / Cathedral Cove:
I spent the morning hanging out on the beach, where you have to dig holes in the sand to find extremely hot water. A group of us who had signed on to the Cathedral Cove Kayaking tour, left for our tour along the coastline. This was the setting for one of the Narnia films, and it was pretty spectacular. Sadly it was cloudy in the afternoon, but it was still really enjoyable!
Before arriving at our next stop, the bus pulled over to allow us to explore the Karangahake Scenic Reserve. I really liked that Kiwi found us these cools places to see during the bus journey so that it could break up long drives and we could stretch our legs. During the bus journey, we then had a chance to sign up for Black Water Rafting.
Upon arrival at our hostel, we got picked up and taken to the caves. I had chosen to do the Black Labrinyth, where we could be climbing, jumping, and floating on these big rubber tubes through the caves. I was again nervous, but more excited. At one point I was chosen to jump first, it felt like a leap of faith because as it was pitch black, you couldn't see how far you were jumping! The last part of the caves was the most special as millions of glow worms lit up the ceiling, it was pretty magical!
Rotorua / Hobbiton:
The next stop was Hobbiton! I had seen the Lord of the Rings a couple of times before, but I would be lying if I said that I was a big fan or that I understood the storyline. Nevertheless, I was really looking forward to this! Also, by this point, I had become really comfortable with those around me, and we were all becoming really great friends!
It was incredible to see the level of detail that was put into the set; apparently the writer had tried to include every single detail that the book had mentioned in order to make it as realistic and magical as possible! It's also massive, a much larger area than you would think for a film set. We spent a couple of hours walking around and taking photos in front of the houses, in fact behind the doors there's absolutely nothing! It's a surreal tourist attraction for those hardcore fans!
In the evening in Rotorua, Anna and I were the only ones to sign up to visit the Tamaki Maori Village! This was one of the most popular things to do in the north island, and it really gave me a insight into their incredible history and culture. We learnt the phrase 'Kia Ora' while they also performed the haka for us.
En route to Lake Taupo, we passed by the incredible Huka Falls. Then once we arrived at Taupo, I couldn't get my head round how big the lake was! On the bus we had signed up for a boat trip which would take us out on the lake with a couple of drinks in hand. We were super lucky with the weather and the boat trip was a lot of fun; some great views and a peak at some Maori carvings. Sadly we were less luckier the next two days as we had planned to do the Tongariro Crossing but the weather would have made it dangerous and a lot longer than it needed to be, and my Skydive was also cancelled!
Our penultimate stop on the North Island was in the middle of nowhere, a remote hostel named River Valley Lodge with a 32 bed dorm! En route we stopped for an amazing two hour walk through Tongariro National Park, a filming location for Lord of the Rings with a view of Ngauruhoe a.k.a. Mount Doom in the distance. At River Valley we were offered two options; Black Water Rafting or Horseback Riding. Although I'm usually someone who goes for the adrénaline option, I had just done some tubing and I had missed out on riding in the Bay of Islands so I chose to do the horseriding! I used to ride a lot when I was younger and I'm reminded of how much I enjoy it whenever I get the chance to go now. I was given a horse called Ricco and we went on an incredible walk for a couple of hours.
Our last stop on the North Island was Wellington. I hand't really heard much about the city except that it was the gateway to the South Island. We arrived late afternoon and after settling in to our dorm, we hiked up Mount Victoria to enjoy an incredible sunset!