From South America to New Zealand!
Travelling from a Salvador, Brazil to Auckland, New Zealand took us three days. For reals. We left at 5am on a Wednesday morning and arrived at 4.30am on a Saturday… Rough, right?
But anyway, we had to make the most of the time we had here because our time on the north island was really limited! We spent the rest of that first day in Auckland taking in the sights and eating some gourmet ice cream (at Giapo’s) and the next day we joined a Kiwi Experience bus tour that would take us on a short tour through the middle bit of the island. We decided on this bus our last minute as we has initially planned to hire a campervan and drive ourselves but we didn’t realise we’d need the paper counterpart of our driving licence with us… Massive fail on our part!
We had a lot of misgivings about doing a Kiwi tour- they’re notoriously known as the ‘party’ bus and full of 18 year old gap students. And they were right. The bus was jam packed full of young brash British students. It was pretty awful. The driver, Dallas, was a terrifying man too. He’d clearly been doing this too long and just hated his job… There was a lot of yelling and throwing luggage around. Scary times.
Anyway, we did three stops with Kiwi- at Hot Water Beach, Waitomo and Rotorua. Hot Water Beach was an odd place. When the tide is out you can dig pools in the sand where the water can be boiling hot! Though you really wouldn’t want to sit in the boiling areas. It’s a bit surreal- large expanse of beach, the sea stretching out in front and a crown of people are just digging around you…
The next day we were off to Waitomo. Now the only reason we were here was to see the glow worm caves! We joint the black Abyss tour with the Black Water Rafting Co which was 1) very expensive 2) really good fun! It started with a 30m abseil into a pitch black cave, wading through icy waters, a zip line, tubing and snacks! It was a great laugh. The staff here are really entertaining too!
From Waitomo we travelled on to Rotorua with an afternoon pitstop in Hobbiton! It’s was AWESOME!!! And the best $90 I ever spent… The little hobbit village was everything I ever dreamed it would be and more! The guides know a lot about the filming and and lots of inside stories to tell. Included in the ticket price is a drink at the Green Dragon pub which was really good.
After an afternoon in Hobbiton, we had a Maori cultural experience evening. I kinda felt obliged to go to one to ‘experience’ the local culture and customs but frankly the whole thing was really really naff. It all felt too fake and put on. I didn’t even believe their tattoos were real- like they were just drawn on! Dinner was included and was cooked in an underground stove. Again, it all seemed to lack a little something (called flavour)… Not the best I’ve had! Saying al, of that, this is probably the only way to experience anything Maori as it seems as it’s all died out which is a shame.
From Rotorua we left Dallas the crazy driver and headed up north to Auckland on another bus. We spent another day there, tucking into more gourmet ice cream before heading to the airport and to Christchurch.