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Never been 12,733 miles from home before (to be precise!)

rain 18 °C
View Cass & Lee's RTW trip! on Cass - Lee's travel map.

Our flight to Auckland was rather turbulent and just as I’d hoped I was about to get some alcohol to calm my flying nerves, the cabin crew were ordered to sit down and belt up :( On arrival in Auckland we made our way to our accommodation and settled in for the night

On our last day of being proper backpackers, before we began tours again, we went for a wander around the city. Or should I say, just found a supermarket and stocked up and then headed back to our room as I wasn’t feeling too great. The following day we went to meet our new group, when we thought we may have been forgotten as almost an hour after our expected pick up time we were still waiting. Once we were finally collected, two of our fellow travellers happened to be from the UK, and went to school in St Albans :) The weather unfortunately messed up the plans for the first day and we ended up having to head straight to Rotorua as our original destination of Hahei was flooded following some freak weather. Our guide took us to a little animal park called Rainbow Springs which was only half open due to the weather. We got to see some of the native animals including a Kiwi, and even found ourselves on a big ‘splash’ ride which was pretty amusing! We checked into our accommodation and headed out with the group to get our food for the evening. After all eating together we then headed back to the room to chill. We decided we should head to the bar and socialise with our group, which resulted in one of those unplanned boozy evenings as we took full advantage of some free drinks. After a few games of pool and Lee taking part in a horizontal bungy contest, we headed back to the room for all of about 6hrs sleep.

The following morning I was presented with the mother of all hangovers, which reminded me that I am now 30, and wine is not my friend :) With a busy day ahead we headed to a geothermal area and got to see the eruption of a pretty impressive geyser. It was very different to the one that we saw in Iceland last year, and just didn’t seem to want to stop! We took a nice walk through the park to see bubbling and steaming pools and caves. Some of the colours were amazing, from greens and blues to bright oranges, and a pool of fluorescent yellow water, really incredible. We then headed to get some food to help cure the hangovers, and ended up in Domino’s ordering a pizza :) Next stop was Tamike Village, a traditional Maori Marae, a meeting house. We were greeted into the village and fed a lovely afternoon tea of scones with cream and jam, which on top of the pizza we had devoured, was pretty filling! We were then taught a Maori song with actions which was quite a laugh! The heavens had well and truly opened by this point, and this didn’t let up all evening. We watched a traditional Maori cultural show which involved singing, dancing and displays of their weapons. We were then treated to a traditional Haka performance, which I could watch again and again and never get bored! We headed inside for a Hangi meal which involves a traditional method of food being cooked underground on hot rocks. After the meal a sing song began which was fun, and then we had to perform the song we had been taught earlier that day, something I am really not a fan of, but it was quite a laugh :) It was lovely to hear how proud the Kiwi’s are of their heritage and their country. We were really fortunate to be able to sleep in the Maori meeting house which was full of traditional carvings and decorations.

The following day, the weather had finally decided to calm down, and we got our first glimpse of sunshine :) We began our drive to Taupo, and on the way stopped at Huka Falls. Though the waterfall itself isn’t the highest we’ve seen, it was pretty spectacular. The force of the water gushing through was pretty intense and has the ability to fill five Olympic size swimming pools every minute, amazing! We then stopped off for a dip in a thermal spring. It was so hot, just like a bath, so relaxing.. .

The scenery we have seen so far whilst driving from place to place has been pretty spectacular, with much more to come. This was apparent when we reached our accommodation, Blue Duck Lodge which is a working farm in the wilderness. Our lodge was nestled in amongst five hundred acres of hilly and beautiful land, and set on a river, we really did feel pretty spoilt! We were taken out on 4WD jeeps to help round up some rams, with three rather lively sheep dogs, Quinn, Cloud and Trev breathing in our ears :) We met their pet alpacas and horse and saw many bee hives which are used to make Manuka Honey. We were then driven around their land up to where it meets with the National Park and took a walk down to the river and then to see a waterfall from it’s top, and to its base. The river was too high due to lots of rain for us to be able to Kayak, but it was still lovely to be shown around. We returned to our lodge covered in mud and ready for some dinner :) We took a walk to their local café and were greeted by a nice big lasagne, Lee’s favourite. We headed back to our lodge for a few drinks and a natter, its great to share stories of travels so far and hear where people have been.

The following day we had a lovely breakfast out on the veranda overlooking the river, it was my idea of bliss, and certainly something I could get used to :) If this scenery is anything to go by, I can see what draws people to New Zealand! We got back on the road and headed to Tongariro National Park and went for a 5 mile walk to see the Tupapakurua Waterfall, and returned looking like drowned rats :) We were so worn out from the exercise we ended up checking into our room and crashing out for a couple of hours, before heading to the bar for a meal with our group which was nice. The next morning we managed to get a sneaky peek at the Tongariro national park peaks, until the cloud arrived and covered them up again within about thirty seconds :) Our last day in the north island was mainly spent on the bus on route to Wellington, the capital. The scenery on the drive was fantastic. We stopped off at a couple of places on the way and then on arrival in Wellington we headed out for a look around. We found a cute little market in an underground car park which was pretty random, and then headed to the Te Papa museum. We learnt all about the earth quakes and volcanic activity across New Zealand, and even got to try an earthquake simulator – I was more worried that the shaking floor was going to make me do my party trick and pop a knee out, so fingers crossed we won’t ever experience a real one!

After a trip around the north island which was plagued by bad weather, we still thoroughly enjoyed it, and have been told that the south island has even more spectacular views to offer :)

Posted by Cass - Lee 12:28 Archived in New Zealand

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