04.01.2007 - 07.01.2007 23 °C
So we left behind a wet rainy Sydney to head to the airport and fly to Auckland - we had an hour delay but that was nothing major.
We flew into a sunshiny Auckland which was nice considering the rain over the past few days in Sydney!
We grabbed a Skybus who took us on a back streets tour of Aucklands suburbs due to road works on the motorway! Still he was great and dropped us at the door of the hostel - Aspen House - Emily Place. This was a nice clean friendly budget hotel. We were able to get checked in and for NZ$9 we were able to leave in a huge bag of laundry which was back and dry for us by 8am the next morning.
We went for a wander around the extremely quite streets of Auckland - WHERE WAS EVERYONE?? Apparently it was summer holiday period and everyone clears out of the city! Found a Red Lion pub with a happy hour on - so had a pint of Speights - which l wasnt that impressed with it a bit bland for me!
Anyway we headed to Viaduct Harbour and Princesses Quay - where we were had dinner in Loaded Hog - for 2 steak dinners and drinks - it cost the equivalent of £20! Great!
We then went to an Irish Pub and found a bottle of Esk Valley Sauvigion Blanc, Hawkes Bay - this was actually the first NZ SB wine l had ever had so we thought it appropriate for our first night in New Zealand!
So we were due to go to Rotarua for the day tomorrow but decided as Auckland was so quite we would skip a city day and extend our car hire and get a room in Rotarua for the night.
Up early with an overnight bag and got our car from Hertz. It was no problem to extend our car hire and we were able to drop it off at the airport on 7th Jan.
We hit the road and headed toward Waitamo Caves. Now we got our first lesson in driving in New Zealand - although the distance didnt perhap seem THAT far but you simply cannot take you eyes off the road they are so windy, plus you simply have to take it slowly so you dont miss a second of the scenery!
Got to Waitamo around lunchtime and booked on a glow worm cave tour. This was pretty cool although we couldnt take any photos inside the caves. The main chamber of the cave was pretty amazing and fantastic acoustics too - apparently they hold concerts and Christmas carols there which must be cool to witness.
It was then a short boat ride out of the cave to see the glow worm larva glowing on and get bitten a few hundred times by the mozzies!
After lunch in the sun it was back on the road to head toward Rotarua. This was a fabulous drive the countryside was fantastic to see - it was like the West of Ireland coupled with the highlands of Scotland multipied by 100!
We got to Rotarua for around 4.30pm and we went to the tourist information to try and get a room - this was no problem we got a hotel sudima rignt on the rather smelly lake Rotarua! Would have loved to have time to visit Lake Taupo but unfortunately not!
It was a huge big room! We also booked the Maori Hangi show that night - we thought it would be rather cheesy but thought what the heck it will be fun for the night!
So we were met in the lobby by 2 Maori men who invited us into the show! This was fun - they went through the traditional greeting and Kaiora - and touching noses.
We then had a buffet which was rather good - lots of food and then desert!
The Maori concert - was excellent - l was surprised how good it was - lots of audience participation. We were both up on the stage at one point! Oh and of course there was the famous Hakka too - Paul gave it a go - not very well though!!
We went for a wander around the city - which again was very quite - it was only 10pm! Still we found a pub and had some beers!
Another sunny day which was good - so after a lie in - Paul was shattered from all the driving - we had breakfast at a great place in Rotarua called Fat Dog.
We headed down the geo-thermal highway to Wai-O-Tapuo Geo Thermal Park to see the bubbling mud pools and specatular coloured pools created by all the geo-thermal activity.
At this point l must point out the smell was totally of sulphur though you got used to it after a while! It was spectacular to look at! Amazing to think this is something created by mother nature herself!
It was then the long drive back to Auckland that evening - we had a fantastic Thai meal that night which again was a great price! So it was bed for another early flight to Wellington in the morning!