Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Action Packed New Zealand

Well we've been in New Zealand a week and we've managed to squeeze a lot into those 7 days. We landed in Auckland but only stayed long enough to have a peek at One Tree Hill ( long story short - there was a native NZ tree planted there as a monument to the Maori people, the British cut it down and replaced it with a foreign tree, a few years back the Maori's attacked it unsuccessfully but went back to finish off the job more recently, so that really it should be called One stump Hill.)
Next stop was Rotorua. It's situated in a volcanic area, by the side of a thermal lake. It was incredible to see vents of steam just coming up from the drains and out if the ground in scrub areas.
Besides the lake and thermal springs there isn't all that much to do in the area naturally, so of course they have developed a few attractions.
First up for us was Zorbing. We climbed into a giant inflated ball, had some water thrown in on top of us and then got rolled down a hill - great craic altogether.

Fossie's actually in there!

Another pose-y one!

Then we did the Luge. We got a cable car up a hill then went down the hill in what was kind of like a go-kart with no engine, and really basic steering and brakes. We probably would have enjoyed that a bit more if it wasn't bitterly cold, we didn't have wet hair from the zorbing and it hadn't just rained making the seats (and our bums) soaking wet. It was still fun though.

To engage our cultural sides, we took a visit to Tamaki Maori Village. We got to see some traditional Maori weapons, songs and dances, and enjoyed a lovely hangi meal , that was supposedly cooked in a traditional ground oven. The food was good but the rest of the evening felt very fake, a bit like New Zealand's answer to Bunratty.

After Rotorua, we headed to Taupo, stopping of along the way at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, to admire volcanic features like craters, hot springs, mud pools and most impressively the Lady Knox geyser.

Taupo is another lakeside town with a few natural attractions and lots of manmade ones. This time we decide to do a high ropes activity course. This was brilliant fun. It was all walking beams, ropes and shaky bridges that were 12- 15m above the ground. We both loved it and even though Fossie is afraid of heights he still managed to do the whole course.

Foss on the shaky bridge!

Once you got to the top of the pole all you had to do was stand up and jump off - Easy!

Yes - he did have to trust me not to drop him.

After all that we went to Tongariro National Park and got some crazy notion that we should climb a mountain. So we did - just about. (I lay equal blame on an overload of adrenalin from all the other activities and an enthusiastic email from Curran - thanks a lot for that Kev!) And what better mountain to climb than the active volcano, Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. Well actually, the itinerary was to climb the saddle of Mt. Doom and Mt. Tongariro, the mountain beside it like this guided tour.But on the day the weather was so fine that we actually got to go all the way to the summit of Tongariro. The guides made out like this additional extra was a good thing, that we were lucky. I swear it nearly killed me. I have to say it was really full on. We were given crampons (spiky things for you shoes so you don't slip in the ice or snow) and ice-axes in case we did slip so we wouldn't slide right over some edge or halfway back down the mountain, and you really had to climb in some parts. But I suppose it was worth the effort. The views were amazing.

Looking enthusiatic at the start - not having any idea what was in store!

At the summit, with Mt. Doom behind us. I still don't know how we managed to muster smiles!

Since we were up in the snowy mountains, we said we might as well do a bit of skiing too. I have to say I much prefer being transported up the mountain in lifts and coming down it on skis.

If you look closely you can see the top of Mt. Doom above the cloud line in the background.

After all that we headed to Wellington and caught the ferry across to the south island. As we were driving along the coast to a little town called Kaikoura there were loads of seals just basking all along the shore.

And just nearby there was a little stream with a small waterfall that had a pool at the bottom. The female seals swim up the stream to have their cubs and leave them in the pool, so it's like a little seal nursery. It was so cute to watch them all playing in there.

(The 2 black things on the right are seals, one is jumping)

So it's on week inNZ done, 4 more left. Let's hope they're going to be as much fun!

Jan and Paul.


  1. Hi, Well done Fossie on the high wire - If there are no jobs here when you come back you can always apply to the circus!!!!! You deserve 8 Cans of the NZGold for that effort. No way would I do it - a ladder is high enough.
    I am exhausted after reading all that you have done---- Do you ever just rest!!!! I suppose better to keep active in NZ - keeps ye warm!!!
    What about Kerry thrashing the Dubs on Monday last -- SAM is on his way home!!!!

    Love Mum

  2. Hey Jan & Fossie - we are down in Courtmac -just after our walk up Ramsey Hill - I felt good about that until I read about your trip up that mountain!!!!! You put us to shame!!!!
    Matthew got his first pair of walking shoes & I mean it when I say - there is no stopping him. He does not want to be in the van - just outside chasing all the doggies!!!!!
    Will upload more pics soon. Mags, Micheal & Matthew.