Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New Zealand...North Island

Venturing across the Cook Strait, we landed into the port of Wellington. The wind howled and the swell of the boat rocked. After going sick only twice on the boat journey, I felt slightly dazed and not so fresh. Luckily we had planned to stay in the city for the night, meeting up with our friends Sam & Steve. We rolled into the hostel and felt so happy to just chill in the city for the next 2days. The evening we spent wandering through the glistening lights of Wellington, taking it all in...sounds, smells, sights of a bustling city! Our second day, we hit the cultural spots and did the Te Papa museum, which is an amazing place, it would take you 3 days comfortably to see it all. We opted to head out of the city and more North, as wanted to spend the night in the camper.

We took our time over the next 4days working our way up towards the Tongariro National Park. We stopped off camping along the way, enjoying the outdoors and slightly different landscapes the North Island had to offer. At first, we found ourselves contnually comparing everything to the South Island. I must admit, only when we reached the National Park and witnessed some beautiful mountains that I felt more at ease. After spending our days walking and exploring, we opted to push on and see Taupo, the weather wasn't so good and we where greeted with rain, wind and grey skies...sort of like England! After two nights in a cool free campsite (lots of hippies live there for free!), we felt we where more than due our weekly wash. The decision to visit Rotorua was a must!

The first thing that hits you if the glorious sulphur smell in the air, or more like the stale egg smell. It was not so nice, but the natural elements this place has to offer is magical. The natural springs steam everywhere, on our way into Rotorua we could just see random steam floating upwards in fields, so we knew we where close. We stayed the night and the second day, spent our whole morning relaxing in the spa. This was a beautiful spa, which had over 9 thermal pools, of which all was outdoors...feeling one with nature! After I became all crinkly and prune like, I decided I was clean as I could ever be and also relaxed, its a very theraputic experience. We where both keen to see the Coromandel and North, so we pushed on in our camper. We spent a good few days exploring the Coromandel and I have grown to realise it was one of my favourite places in the North Island. Not many people where around and we would travel for hours along a bending road edged to the cliffs to find our campsite and watch sunset as the waves crashed in, total tranquility.

As time was creeping upon us, we only had one week left in our campervan and before we headed to Fiji, we managed to head to the North of the North Island. We mainly stayed along the Northern strip, visiting lots of quaint towns and beautiful beaches. The climate up here is so different to that even in the South of the North Island. Up here you see palm trees and golden sands, its really special. After staying in some beautiful spots in the North, it was time to say goodbye to our campervan and enjoy our last few days in New Zealand. Luckily, I have family in New Zealand, so we called in to stay with them in a beautiful town called Warkworth.

My cousin Tim, his partner Sasha and son Alex live in a lovely little town just North of Auckland. I had never met Tim in person before, so was lovely to finally meet my family and spend some quality time with them. Me and John loved staying in there lovely home, especially spending our evenings over food and conversation. Alex is brilliant, he is bright, playful and a happy boy, me and John felt at ease playing cars or chase with him and the cat anytime of the day. Tim and Sasha took us to some beautiful places around there region and it made us appreciate a different type of experience, one from a 'home' perspective. As we are always generally on the move and only relish in places for a day or so, it was lovely to base ourselves in their home and see what their daily lives are like. There is so much open space, fresh air and things to do, we felt so happy.

The day before we left, we headed for our final day to Auckland city. I felt really sad to leave my family, as I loved staying with them and I knew it just made me want to come back here for sure in the future. Our final evening in New Zealand was spent with our lovely friends Emma & Gillion, who we'd originally met months before randomly in Cambodia and then ranndomly again in Bangkok. They are brillaint people who are so funny, they welcomed us in to their apartment in the city and we all spent the evening enjoying fish and chips and a beer or two. I felt so happy and content when leaving New Zealand, the excitement began to grow on our journey the airport.... not only the thought of John having a shave and to finally get rid of that awful beard but moreso the thoughts of beaches, palm tress, sunshine and kava that made me smile and think...'now Fiji'.

Exploring Wellington, off to Te Papa Museum

Enjoying the freshair at Tongariro National Park

The oozing smell of Rotorua

Squeaky clean after our thermal baths

One of our nightly meals rustled up in the back of the campervan...delicious!

Just one of many quaint towns in passing, this is what this town is famous for...

My lovely family, Tim, Sasha and Alex enjoying Matakana Market

John, Me and Alex doing some tree hugging...

Enjoying some traditional fish & chips

Enjoying the Marine Reserve in the Noth

Me and Sasha having a laugh and making sure not to get wet!

Sticks...makes a man feel strong! This pose followed conversations on world peace & Lord of the Rings

Alex joining in with his stick too!

The beautiful landscapes along the North Island

The array of colours of night time Auckland

Don't worry it's not a homeless man, it's John with Emma & Gillon

Reflecting in the morning overlooking Auckland city...

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