Travel Journal

Auckland calling...updated 14 March 2011

(Monday 7 March 2011) by Timo and Jon
We arrived on 07th March to yet another time zone! We are now +11 hours on UK time...+9 hours on Finland time...so we need to be careful not to use our phones or we risk waking everyone up at unfortunate hours!:-^

We were upgraded (again!) to a 2 bedroom apartment - right in the centre of Auckland overlooking the harbour..on the 30th floor!! It had a fully fitted kitchen so we cooked and self catered for the days we were in Auckland. It also had a dishwasher and a washing machine and tumble drier...so everything is now sparkling again!B-)

Auckland itself is very clean, safe and organised, a relaxed atmosphere...and the yacht marina was jam packed with flash boats and even flashier restaurants....

We now have a rented car (Nissan Sunny) for 1 week so we can explore some of the North Island by ourselves we were going to take Kiwi-rail but decided to self drive...the roads are easy to navigate, everyone keeps within speed limits and stays on their side of the road. We are most definitely no longer in India!! No car horns without good reason. The whole nation appear to be very 'outdoor folk', lots of horses and boats being towed on the roads ...it is summer here after all..the daytime temparature here is 24c and about 12c at night - a bit cool for us...:-|

We drove south from Auckland to Lake Rotorua (about 4 hours drive) and found ourselves a lovely holiday park with cabins and all mod cons....very comfortable and cheap....we are about 3 minutes walk from the lake itself which is huge....

We saw the awful news about the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan and some of the Pacific areas...however...the tsunami warning that was called by the NZ authorities has now been called off. We are in a central area, not in a known 'quake zone and nowhere near any risky hot spots....so we are both happy and safe. :-)

Yesterday, we drove to Hobbiton where the Lords of the Rings was filmed, a town called locally 'Matamata'. On the way there we could see how volcanoes have shaped the land. Lots of hills of all sizes that were once volcanoes are now inactive and are covered in lovely shades of greenery...very hobbit-like! The fern is a symbol of New Zealand and now we can fully understand why...they are everywhere in every size you can imagine..and they appear in gardens, roadside, trekking areas...

The area where we are has a very strong sulphur smell due to geothermal activity...:-,

Yesterday we visited Wairere Falls..a lovely trek into the hills in this area to a huge waterfall...;-)

All around we can see hundreds of sheep who enjoy the clean fresh air...so Jon eyed a lovely chunk of New Zealand lamb in the butchers, and added to this some red kumara (sweet potato), also come in orange and gold, silverbeet (looks like celery with huge leaves but tastes more like spinach), makes a fantastic meal or two! Yum!!:-p

We leave Rotorua tomorrow to head to the Pacific coast (Coromandel Peninsula) .

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