Days 75-84 – Land of the Kiwi

I’m not going to describe my adventures in New Zealand too much here, but I’ll let you enjoy the pictures. They tell the best parts of the story.

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How could I describe Auckland? It’s like Yakima masquerading as a big city. All the buildings seem to be miniaturised (they are literally shorter) and the downtown area suggests that its “big city” amenities really only exist for the tourists. After Sydney Auckland seems dead. After 6 pm there’s no one on the streets and all the restaurants and shops close down. As this picture shows, however, it is a beautiful city and accommodates the few kiwis with a penchant for city life. From what I saw it is certainly not characteristic of NZ culture or scenery.

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The Sky Tower! This is a famous building in Auckland. Pretty much the equivalent to Seattle’s Space Needle. It’s apparently the tallest building in the Southern hemisphere, a fact I found hard to believe since it seems like Sydney has so many more tall buildings. Hmmm. If you’re feeling adventurous you can base jump from the tower while attached to the wire kind of like a really short skydive. Personally I’d recommend actually going skydiving if you want a really good free fall experience.

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A beautiful garden/park/fountain that I forget the name of.

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A super awesome installation at the Art Gallery in Auckland. It’s a community project where people can build anything with legos. Let me tell you that some of these towers were incredible! Very intricate and artistic even if they were not architecturally sound.

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I dare to say that the cows in New Zealand may be even happier than the cows in Australia.

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Fun fact: the photos they put in the tourist magazines of New Zealand are 110% accurate. It actually is all idyllic rolling green hills on the North Island.

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At the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. I couldn’t get any pictures, but when you look up at the cave ceiling it looks like the night sky with all the pin pricks of light. It’s a wondrous sight.

 

 

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Coming out of the glow worm cave via boat.

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What’s that? That… is a pint. I’m getting one.

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Entering the Green Dragon

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I do not have words to describe Hobbiton. Just go. Make the pilgrimage. You have to see it.

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They like this tree so much they knitted it a sweater. This is outside an art gallery called RAVE in Rotorua which happened to be about 1/2 a block from where we stayed.

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This was at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park. You may not think of geothermal activity as one of New Zealand’s best features, but after you sit in a naturally heated mineral water spa you may change your mind. New Zealand’s terrain is still very much alive and you can see it all over the place!

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The sulphur smelled pretty bad, but it kind of grows on you after a few days. The people who live in Rotorua probably don’t notice it at all.

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And they disappeared into a shroud of steam. This area was a literal hot spot with boiling water and mud all over the place!

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Notice the evil green colour of this pool. They call it Devil’s Bath for a reason.

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A black swam on Lake Rotorua. In the background St. Faith’s Anglican Church which is built using Maori architectural style.

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Since it is springtime here we got to see a lot of baby animals: cygnets, calves, lambs, goslings. SO CUTE!

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The Government Gardens in Rotorua. Very pretty. Worth a visit.

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Mmhmm

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It’s one thing to think “Yeah I want to go bungy jumping. It’ll be fine. It’ll be an adventure!”, but it’s a completely different thing to arrive at the bungy site and actually do the thing. First you SEE the distance that you are going to fall, then there’s the signing paperwork, putting on of the harness, and the whole walking out onto that platform business. From the moment I arrived to the moment I jumped I was physically trembling and trying unsuccessfully to shut up the naysaying voices in my head. But I did jump, I lived, had a massive adrenaline rush, and I might have even had a little fun.

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The amazing HOT waterfall that we got to soak under at Spa Park in Taupo.

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I really like this hat. Here I’m showing it off.

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Our amazing hostess, Vicki Cleaver, who allowed us to stay with her in Paraparaumu Beach and showed us around Wellington for two days. She is a very neat lady!

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New Zealand bush is pristine and mostly untouched. Our tour guide said almost all of the fresh water streams are perfectly drinkable, even healthier than the tap water.

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View from a ridge along the west coast north of Wellington

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At the Weta Cave in Wellington. This is the workshop that built and crafted most of the props and costumes for the Lord of the Rings. They’ve also worked on Narnia, Avatar, and the Adventures of Tintin. Their tour was so interesting and revealed a lot about the movie making industry and production process. There’s so much more to it than I imagined.

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She touched the troll. See what happens when you touch the troll.

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That’s all folks. Back to Sydney now.