A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - part 2

Auckland to Wellington

sunny 15 °C
View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.

Arrived at the hotel, still raining, and checked in. Nice enough hotel, Ramada, and eventually met my room mate for the night. She’d arrived from the UK that morning so was still getting over her jet lag… We all met up in the hotel lobby in the evening to meet our CEO, chief experience officer (as named by G Adventures), Jonno and the rest of the group. There are 16 of us ranging from mid 20s to 70s. Some are solo travellers, some married couples and some family pairs (sisters and father/son) so a total mix really. From there we headed to Elliot Stables, a food court type place with lots of different cuisine options but they bring it to the table and thankfully ours was reserved as it was busy. As I was so stuffed from the late lunch in titirangi I opted for the healthy dinner of cider and smoothie! Was tasty all the same…
The following day saw us leave Auckland and start our way south towards our lodgings for the night in hahei. We stopped for lunch at tairua and then carried on to our lodgings, tatahi Lodge, and checked in before we went out, dropping off the majority of the group to go on a boat ‘tour’ to cathedral cove – it says tour but it’s a tour in a speed boat dipping in and out of the coves between hahei beach and cathedral cove. 4 of us opted to take the walk to the cove and back. Luckily I was in shorts and sandals so I could go paddling and walk through the archway to cathedral cove as the tide was high enough to soak people’s legs if they got the timing wrong, but low enough that I could paddle through even if I got the timing wrong… Once back at the resort it was time to change into swimwear and grab a shovel. We were off to dig ourselves a pool at hot water beach…..! Yep, we were literally digging out the sand to make a shallow pool that the water welled up into from underground. The trick was finding a geothermal outlet but not digging completely on top otherwise the water was too hot. You needed to dig a cool bit to one side too so that the hot mixed with the cool to make a temp you were comfy with.. Easier said than done. Using a previously dug one did help somewhat but some were just too hot to even dip a toe in! We got there at dusk so saw a lovely sunset and then headed back in the dark. A quick shower to rince off salt and sand and then to ‘the pourhouse’ for dinner, all of a 2 min walk from where we were staying.
Tuesday morning saw us leave about 8am – Jonno had told us we’d be having some early starts but this was a lie-in compared to some early starts I’ve had over last couple of months! – back over some hills and headed to Rotorua. We stopped on the way at Paeroa (famous for L&P – lemon & Paeroa, a lemon flavoured spring water drink from that town!) to get a group photo in front of a giant bottle of said drink and then Matamata for lunch. This is the closest town to Hobbiton and their info centre is designed on a hobbit house. Unfortunately, due to lack of time (and extortionate cost) we didn’t go there but was a good photo stop all the same.
On arrival at Rotorua those going rafting were picked up by their company and those going zip lining were also collected. The rest were having a wander around town or going for a walk in a redwood forest. I opted for zip lining. Could only fit in the original tour with our timings but still, 6 lines and 2 bridges plus a nice bit of a nature walk including highly informative conservation talk, was a good afternoon out! The reserve we were zip lining in (Dansey Scenic Reserve) is a virgin native reserve, which means it has never been logged or cut down. Some of those trees were seriously big…. And boy, was it fun… think I may need to find some more of these to do, either while travelling or once back home. The first 2 lines we could only launch in a normal manner (forwards) but were encouraged to let the arms go and lean back etc while zooming across amongst the trees. Between 1st and 2nd lines we also had a bridge to cross. Quite a long one and quite wobbly. Being harnessed to a guide wire was definitely reassuring.
3rd line was the longest one at 220m. This one started from a massive kauri tree. The platform was about halfway up! For this one they were encouraging us to launch backwards, ideally without arms holding on to the harness straps, and lean back to admire the tree. Ideally we were supposed to then look down at something but I kinda forgot as I was having too much fun leaning back! Had a little nature walk where we saw a pretty rare blue mushroom – only out for about a week – and I got to feed a North Island Robin before we moved on to line number 4. From here we had a little bridge to cross. No hand wires this time and also a photo op while proving the wires and harnesses are truly safe. Yep, we moved to halfway on the bridge, turned to the side, leaned back, straightened our legs, and posed! A few of us did do one leg off poses, and one of the guys turned around and leaned forward on his harness.. After this a quick line number 5 and then the last one to bring us back down to ground.. For this one we were challenged to go upside down.. I managed to get ¾ of way there but couldn’t get completely upside down but not far off – if it had been a longer run I would have tried again. A couple of them manage to get upside down. The ultimate aim was upside down and no hands – only the guides managed that, and even then Charlie nearly lost her rucksack when she went upside down – she cleverly caught it though!
From Rotorua we made our way to the Tamaki Maori village, where not only would we be spending the evening at their dinner and show event but also staying overnight. The experience was out of this world and the welcome, information and show was incredible, not to mention humbling. As we were staying overnight we had some afternoon tea with traditional fry bread, kind of like a doughnut but you cut it in half and have jam and cream with it like a scone! We also had to sing a welcome song. As we had no idea what to sing Jonno taught us a maori kindergarten song – basically the maori version of run rabbit, run rabbit! I think they did very well not corpsing with laughter at our attempt to be honest… We were also told that as the overnighters we had to sing a song to those just coming for the evening. We were then taught another kids song where they learn the vowels. We also had to learn some hand actions! From there we were taken to our sleeping quarters – one room for all 16 of us…. We were told about the meaning of the woodwork on the outside and the reasoning behind no shoes inside the building.
We grabbed some warm top layers and followed the hosts to the village entry where we were treated to the welcome. At this point we weren’t allowed to smile, laugh, move, although we were allowed to take photos. Once the welcome was over we moved on and learnt about different aspects of the maori culture, from tattoos, housing, cooking over hot rocks (saw our dinner come out of the ‘oven’) , learning games, and other such facts. Once we’d learnt all this we moved indoors to the dinner part. All the hot food had been cooked in the hot rock pits – lamb, chicken, potatoes, stuffing, veggies, corn. All very tasty.
Once dinner was over and we’d not yet sung we thought we’d got away with it, but no.. We were asked to come up and sing the vowel song to the rest of the room. Trying not to laugh was the hardest part I think… Thankfully we were treated to a couple of songs by the staff afterwards so this eclipsed our efforts. The maori race all seem to have beautiful singing voices. Must be something genetic as not one couldn’t sing amazingly. This signalled the end of the evening for the non overnighters and they all trouped back to their coaches and went back to wherever they were staying. We were then free for the rest of the evening, to either go to bed or head to the hot tubs – either standard one with bubbles or a geo thermal style one.
The following morning we had a quick breakfast and then we were off – the long drive day down to Wellington via waiotapu and the thermal wonderland (stinky, hot and acidic at times but amazing) followed by the lady knox geyser. We stopped at taupo for lunch and then otaki to watch the sunset from the beach before getting into Wellington about 6.30. We stayed at the CQ Hotel in Cuba street, a new hotel to the gadventures tour, so we checked in, grabbed our raincoats (chucking it down) and headed out to dinner at the flying burrito brothers.
Our final day on the North Island was a ‘free’ day and most opted to keep it low key. In the morning jonno took us on an orientation tour of the city which ended at the start of the cable car that went to the top of the botanical gardens. I opted for this. What I hadn’t realised was that the gardens are on a slope and not the flat area at the top, that I had anticipated. They were also smaller than I thought so walking around was quicker but still tiring with all the ups and downs. After this I caught the cable car back down and went to the Te Papa museum. This is the museum of New Zealand so covered all aspects from extinct birds/animals, Maoris, immigration, creation of the country etc. My quiet day wasn’t quite so quiet by the end of it. Dinner was at Bresolin, a restaurant just down the road. It specialises in slow cooked meats and between the others beef brisket, lamb shoulder and pork belly were sampled.
This ended our visit to the North Island. The next stage – flying from Wellington to Christchurch and the south island…

Posted by Labgirluk 13:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland wellington hahei te_papa hot_water_beach waiotapu rotorua_canopy_tour tamaki_maori_village lady_knox_geyser

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