This will be a rather short one, I do not have a lot of time and the Internet here is really expensive. I believe I left you guys off when I was just about done in Cairns. Cairns is a nice city, very warm. However, I was getting a little bored there. We left for New Zealand on the 27th of November and arrived in Auckland (biggest city in NZ) around noon. The first thing I noticed was how green everything is. Australia was in its worst drought in over 30 years but NZ is flourishing! Again, we rented a car but we did not hesitate to leave the big city and head for Paihia.
Paihia is known as the gateway to the Bay of Islands. Consisting of 144 islands, the Bay is quite remarkable. We took an eight hour sailing trip through the islands making a stop at one of the bigger islands. Other then getting somewhat sun burnt, it was amazing. We also managed to see some bottle nose dolphins, the biggest of the dolphins, while we were out. We also saw a penguin swimming in the ocean. While we stopped at the island, the crew prepared lunch consisting of smoked chicken, roast beef, and fresh mussels (in fact they dived down while we were stopped to get them…). They tasted alright, but I could not get over how they looked…if you have seen one, you may know what I mean. Although, I do not expect Lili to get it. We left Paihia the next morning and made a six hour drive to Waitomo Caves.
The caves at Waitomo offer a very unique experience. The caves infested with the ever-cool glow worms, an insect that glows while it in is in its larvae state. The ceiling of the caves glow a bluish green colour and there was this one section of the caves that the worms glowed enough to illuminate the entire passageway, we didn’t even need our head lamps. The other thing that makes Waitomo caves unique is the ability to go “Black Water Rafting”. It was really fun. We got to jump off waterfalls and float through rapids, though somewhat disappointing, and navigate our way through a pitch black cave. At one point we were over 65 metres underground! The next morning we left for Rotorua, the city of volcanoes.
Rotorua is really smelly, in fact the entire city smells of sulfur because of all the volcanic activity around it. We went to the Waiotapu Volcanic wonderland while exhibited some of the really neat things that volcanoes form, bright green lakes, boiling mud pools, etc. The next day we went luging, think a big hill and a cart on four wheels. Then we went to an evening show at the Tamaki Village. This included a traditional Maori, NZ Aboriginals, concert and Hangi (earth) meal. Everything was good and it was definitely worth the $80.
Anyway, we are heading for Auckland today and we fly out tomorrow for the South Island.
See you all soon,