Every time I visit New Zealand I fall in love with it a little more.
Like many travellers I was one of those people who would meet someone that had visited New Zealand and be in awe listening to the wonderful places they had visited. More often than not I was met with a look of disbelief when I told these people that I hadn’t actually been to the places they were describing. I think everyone is guilty of this little sin, not exploring our own countries fully before heading off overseas to discover others.
So I was happy to have three weeks to play around with this time and plan trips to the locations I had enviously listened to others lovingly illustrate.
Our trip began rather dramatically, being met at the airport by my pregnant sister who moments later informed as that she was having contractions - we thought it best that I drive the way home.
After my sister and her husband rushed off to the hospital, my boyfriend and I jumped in the car and drove to the nearest supermarket. After forty or so minutes we emerged with bags of liquorice, bread and cheese, nectarines, crumpets, toffee pops, ginger beer, chocolate fish and crispy noodles. As you can imagine, we spent the rest of the afternoon feeling a bit sick, but managed to fit in a visit to the top of Mount Eden for a fantastic view of the city and the crater of the old volcano.
The next few days I spent reacquainting myself with driving on Auckland roads and spending outlandish amounts on parking fees. We ate fish and chips at Mission bay, shopped in Queen street and visited old friends, and of course I met my gorgeous new niece.
Our next stop was Wellington and we flew down there from Auckland in the middle of a hail storm. Our plane was struck by lightning, a novel and frightening experience for us both. The Air New Zealand staff was great and made everyone feel completely safe explaining immediately how each plane is designed with lightning protection engineered into the aircraft. As we landed they announced that we were all now a part of the lightening club.
Wellington true to form, gave us its temperamental weather, but we managed to experience a few hours of sun as we walked along the harbour. We ate at a couple of my old favourites including the Dixon street Deli for breakfast one morning and we visited the Roxy cinema in Miramar owned by Lord of the Rings’ Jamie Selkirk which underwent a 7 million dollar revamp in 2011. The theatre is beautiful with a 1930's style interior, Lord of the rings statues and lavish furniture.
We went to the Weta workshop where we watched an interesting documentary on the journey of Weta from their humble beginning to their Lord of the rings success.
Finally we arrived in good ole Palmy. Palmerston North gets a pretty bad rap especially after John Cleese dubbed it the suicide capital of New Zealand. It is a university town and can be a little dead outside of the university semesters. But you have to give credit where it's due and Palmy isn't so terrible. Massey University itself is worth a visit – a massive campus located on 40 acres of farm land in beautiful park grounds full of native trees and bush. It was so nice to be home and back in my old room. We spent a few days relaxing, catching up with friends, shopping and eating.
One of the highlights was walking the new Gorge loop track which was created after a massive slip occurred in the gorge earlier in 2012. The Slip lookout was pretty spectacular. It was awesome to do a hike through the native New Zealand bush and I think I appreciated it more than I ever did before.
After spending a few days at home it was time to explore more of the north island.