Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2 Lazy Days in Auckland, New Zealand

We spent just two days in Auckland and didn't take many pictures because we didn't do much sight seeing. The first night we went to dinner with two of Henry's coworkers from Accent Group. The company was great, food was great, and polished off two bottles of red wine which is always great. 

The second day we went to Accent Group to see a couple more people. Went out for a drink, and then headed back to pack up for our trip to BALI! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rotorua, New Zealand

We spent a couple hours of our day at the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, and boy did it stink (smell, that is). This is New Zealand's most colourful and diverse volcanic area. There are pathways leading you all around to see all the geothermal activity. So many cool things to see and so many different colors, such as blue, orange, green, bright green, yellow and more. There was also bubbling water, to bubbling mud pools. 

Michael Jackson sighting.

That evening we went to a performance at the Tamaki Maori Village. It began with a traditional welcoming ceremony, then learned about the pre-European Maori, a viewing of the traditional hangi meal, another performance which finished off with the Haka, and ate dinner buffet style. Good times!

In our search for some authentic art we found a locally renowned artist and bought a carving.

Not for the faint of heart: Tongariro Apline Crossing, NZ

Got up at 5:50am to get ready for full day of hiking along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This a famous hike takes you along the volcanic terrain.

The bus picked us up at 7am, sharp! It was a chilly, yet a clear morning as we started our hike. The beginning of the trail was fairly easy, but this was only the beginning. It took about 30 minutes just to reach the bottom of the mountain where the REAL fun began. We took it nice and easy, there was no rush, we had 8 hours to complete the walk. There were certain parts that were very slippery with some strong winds. A few times I thought I was going to get blown right off the mountain…ok maybe I'm being a bit dramatic.

Due to volcanic activity part of the trail was closed. We were still able to see the Blue Lake and the Emerald Lakes. You could also see the white steam rising from the volcano in the distance. Kept my fingers crossed that it didn't feel like exploding while we were out hiking around.

Our descent down was just as difficult if not more difficult on our way up, plus dealing with people that were heading up. Overall it was a wonderful experience that we would do again in a heartbeat.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wellington and Wanganui, New Zealand

In Wellington we checked out the much talked about Te Papa Museum. This place was HUGE, six floors to be exact! It was a bit overwhelming, however there were lots of things to check out. Here are just a couple of pictures.

Traditional Maori Marae meeting house.

Detailed carvings on the Marae.

After repeatedly getting lost in a city that is not built on a grid system (engineer talk for lots of angled and curvy roads) we made it to the botanic gardens. RIDICULOUS! The whole reason we wanted to go was to eat lunch in a beautiful setting. Well, I couldn't wait so I ate mine in the car. 

Our next destination was Wanganui. We hit TRAFFIC!!! It was terrible, I think snails were passing us. We were going soooo sllloowww that Henry was getting really tired so we did a 'chinese fire drill' and switched spots! No chinese were harmed during the drill.

We stayed at Mowhanau Holiday Park (a little off the beaten path) which was about a five minute walk to the beach. Henry and I walked quickly with slight jogging mixed in to catch the last bit of the sunset. Never get tired of seeing those.

At breakfast we met friendly couple that gave us directions out of the city to a road along the Whanganui river. Funny thing was there were no street names or distances, just landmarks. It also happened to include a gas station and french bakery. We made it to both with no problem AND we found the road that took us along the river in Whanganui National Park. Another encounter of very narrow and windy roads, and some bits were unsealed. 

Our local hand drawn map. Not to scale. =)

View of the Whanganui River.

Made a pit stop in a tiny little town called Matahiwi for a cup of tea and a snack. They had a Marae here as well as a few others in the National Park. A Marae is a communal or sacred place that serves religious and social purposes. We continued on our way to another little town called Jerusalem to see a beautiful old church, built in 1893, called St. Joseph. Next to it was a convent where nuns live or used to live. Next stop, Pipiriki to eat our french sandwiches we picked up from the french bakery on the map with no streets. There was a dog wandering around that took a liking to Henry, I'm pretty sure it was for the food. 

Henry's new friend.

The volcanos at Tongario National Park.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nelson, New Zealand

On our way to Nelson we stopped in this little town called Wakefield to pick up some breakfast. We grabbed a bacon and egg pie, a croissant, and an apricot muffin from The Bakery Shop (I think that was the name). We sat in car sharing the pie, it was so good that Henry went back in for another one. Turns out their pies won some award in 2011!

We arrived in Nelson in the early afternoon. While preparing lunch we were greeted by a family of ducks that were really cute and followed us around. At one point a duck hopped into the van and another one walked across my feet. I guess I was in his way. When they got tired of us, they made there way to other guests. Pretty funny to watch.

First thing we saw was the oldest street in Nelson called South Street. It was a cobble stone street, with cute little victorian houses. Next we found a ice cream cart that made ice cream with real fruit, plus waffles. Delicious!

After that we took a stroll through the Queens Gardens. It was lovely.

Henry meditating...for the picture.

Next was the uphill hike to see the centre of New Zealand. Af the top you get a 360 degree view of Nelson. Saw this little guy on our way. Noisy little sucker!

We were standing here taking pictures of Nelson when a runner needed a break and decided to take our picture. It was a win win.

We then continued onto the Japanese Miyazu Garden. It was very peaceful and relaxing.

On the road again

Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again

Time to get on the road again to Picton, where we would catch the boat to take us to Wellington. We drove through part of the Pelorous Sound along very windy and narrow roads, but plenty of great views along the way. 

We stopped at Te Mahia Bay Resort, a beautiful little resort right on the water. Unexpectedly, we had the best veggie pizza of our lives and some Iced Chocolates for dessert. A perfect dessert for a hot day.

Finished exploring and finally arrived in Picton, drove onto to the massive boat and relaxed for our 3 hour boat ride to Wellington.

Got wood?