We suddenly had perfect weather for our drive up north. Through Napier, Taupo and Rotorua.
(In case you've missed it, read part 1 of my New Zealand travel log here!)
Rotorua highlights: The Luge. We got a 3 ride pass and took a turn on the beginners, intermediate and advanced courses. It was great fun and over too quickly. At the end of each track you jump on a chair lift that carries you up to the top again for your next ride. The short chair lift ride is peaceful and a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery; New Zealand native ferns with Koru shooting up from the stems, Lake Rotorua and Mokoia island in the distance.
Te Puia Maori village: We had a guided tour around the site where we saw a Powhiri at the marae. One of the two geysers was in full force and spraying water over all the guests. Sadly the Kiwi was asleep so we were only able to glimpse a rolled up ball of feathers in the corner. We were also able to walk through the national carving school and speak to the students there who were at work on various projects. The students crafting Pounamu (green stone) were really friendly and informative. It was well worth the visit. There are about four or five different Maori village visits for tourists in Rotorua and we did the rounds trying to find the best looking deal before we finally decided on Te Puia.
Matariki Maori show and hangi: The hangi wasn’t exactly traditional or very tasty but the cultural performance was great especially getting to laugh at the tourists who were led up on stage to take part.
The Coromandel: Waihi, Whangamata, Whitianga, Hahei, Cathedral cove and Hot water beach.
The highlights: Definitely Cathedral cove. It is a great hike down to the beach which we managed in about 25 minutes and the scenery is stunning.
Back in Auckland again we had a day at Waiheke island exploring the extraordinary beaches and soaking up as much sunshine as we could before our impending departure to the winter of Seoul and Berlin.
We went up the Skytower, caught up with more friends, had lots of hugs with my gorgeous niece and then suddenly it was time to start packing to go home, but not before a mission to the supermarket for an insane hoard of chocolates, biscuits and liquorice.
Saying goodbye was difficult especially without having a return date set in stone.
After the first week being back I felt as though I had really needed not only to get away from Europe but to let my home seep back into me. Hearing the Kiwi accent uttered everywhere I went and encountering the laid back, friendly Kiwi attitude was really refreshing. The greenery we saw while travelling through the country and the lushness of the country side we visited was invigorating.
I know a lot of clichés are are worn out with descriptions of New Zealand, but it really is a beautifully unique country not just because of the scenery, and there is still so much of it left for me to explore. I miss it already.
As always if anyone is planning a trip to the land of the long white cloud feel free to email me for any tips or advice.