When we arrived in New Zealand a sense of home washed over us. It was “bloody” freezing, we finally had traffic lights and we could potentially communicate with whomever passed us by.
Beth’s family friend Bec picked us up from the airport which added to the homely feel. It was the perfect warm welcome we thrived after South East Asia. It was so lovely to be greeted by a friendly face.
We were welcomed at her home by two beautiful Black Labradors, Jack and Pango. I just wanted to cuddle and squeeze them for eternity. A few coffees later, I felt right at home. This actually made me quite emotional; it was frosty outside, just like Christmas. I guess I felt we missed out on a real Christmas, the British kind anyway. We spent Christmas in the Australian sunshine eating prawns and dancing in Santa hats on the beach. It wasn’t the same.
After a few days at Becs, we needed to get back to the adventure at hand. We chose to travel through New Zealand with The Kiwi Experience, a ‘hop on hop off’ bus (allegedly). It takes a minimum of 23 days to travel through both the North and South Island.
We were picked up in Auckland (outside Oakley, as you do); we waited patiently for our transport looking around wondering who looked nice, approachable, my cup of tea? Soon it was time to perch our bottoms down and drive to our first stop, The Bay of Islands.
Our driver was of the female variety, which was a nice change (because I love the ladies like that). I spent most of the journey enjoying her thick Kiwi accent giving it all the “To easy”s and “Sweet as”s (sounds like Sweet Arse to me).
Did you know beer pong is a very serious game and the rules aren’t made to be broken?
The weather was terrible during our time at The Bay of Islands. We didn’t really get up to much. A stroll to a lookout was about all we could manage. Beth did however; ‘accidentally’ cheat at bear pong which meant we won the first round against two guys. This didn’t seem to amuse a few of the girls watching (because beer pong is a very serious matter and the rules aren’t made to be broken).
One wasted journey down, the bus headed back to Auckland, ready for the real adventure ahead. New bus, new driver, new start and the girls who seemed to disapprove of Beth’s ‘disgraceful’ cheating were nowhere to be found (what a relief). There were plenty of new people too, “Well hello”.
During our drive to Hot Water Beach we were encouraged to do a bit of speed dating or speed mating (no, still sounds odd). Anyone who was sat next to the window stayed seated (luckily I was one of them) while everyone in the aisle would change seats every time the driver honked the horn. Even though I was dreading it at first it was actually quite fun. We found out that a few others on our bus were also heading to South America after here.
Once we arrived at Hot Water Beach we grabbed our shovels and made our way to the beach. Here, you can dig your own hot water pools in the sand. After a few desperate attempts to dig ourselves a hot Jacuzzi, it finally started to take shape. It looked nothing like it does in the guide book, but nothing ever does. We dipped our toes in the burning hot water while others had a good old roll around in it. After the hard graft was over (which I didn’t actually participate in) we all headed back to the hostel. Some of us sat up for a while with some beverages (nothing too crazy), getting to know each other, it was a lovely start.
Our next destination was Waitomo, famous for its Glow Worm Caves. Please note, they’re not worms, they’re Maggots. We did the cheapest activity on offer; consisting of walking through a cave to then floating around in complete darkness on a boat watching maggots light up like a Christmas tree. I’m still convinced they were actually fairy lights. This wasn’t really what I came to New Zealand to see, but anyhow it was pretty cool (I guess).
The activities became a little more exciting from here I promise. That’s only if visiting The Hobbiton Movie Set would be on your list of must dos in New Zealand, Beth certainly enjoyed herself. On the other hand, I just appreciated everything was my size; the place was made for me. It was extraordinary the intricacy that went into the set. It must have took a hell of a lot of time and effort. Some of it was a bit ridiculous, I don’t think anyone would of noticed.
Then there was one of my many highlights, the Tamaki Maori Village, in Rotorua. Here you get an insight into the Maori culture. The atmosphere was brilliant. The evening was filled with ceremonial rituals, cultural performances, singing, storytelling, dancing and games. The Haka was also performed which was definitely what Beth and I was most excited for. It was all finished off with a traditional ‘Hangi’ feast, which was the best meal I’d eaten in a long while. The whole night was an absolute delight from start to finish. I loved that they encouraged us to take as many pictures as possible. Even the drive back was epic. Who knew singing Children’s nursery rhymes, whizzing around roundabouts while flashing the lights on and off could be so much fun?
1. (verb) (-hia,-tia) to call, call out, shout, summon.
We instantly had a warm feeling about New Zealand (despite the freezing temperatures). We loved New Zealand that much we even changed our flights so we could spend more time there. I was feeling extremely optimistic about the trip. A week in and we were already surrounded by beautiful scenery, an awesome group of people and some great tours ahead. We could just tell this was going to be the best adventure yet.