New Zealand was incredible.. surreal.. or as their most famous saying goes…”It was sweet as bro!” Where to begin? Oh yeah.. parking tickets. We were loading up the bus on our first day in Auckland and a parking inspector got the best of us. Our bus driver, whom we know as Duffman, was inside searching for his stolen bag. Unfortunately, he never found his bag and was unable to talk the inspector out of the ticket. What a way to start the trip!
Blue Lake on the Tongariro Crossing
Our G Adventures trip began in Auckland, which is at the top of the North Island, and we made our way south to Wellington throughout the week. Our first stop was at an eel farm. Yes, you read that right… we fed eels! The lady in charge, Jan, introduced us to her studies and told us some pretty amazing stories. Her farm is also home to many alpacas and goats out of which she spins wool to use for clothing. This woman was very unique, and I loved every second of that visit.
Jan’s Eel Farm
Raglan was our next stop for the day. We were supposed to spend the afternoon kayaking, but the wind was a bit to strong to enjoy that activity. Instead, we took a boat out along the coast to enjoy supper and great company. We settled into the lodge early that night and ate a home cooked meal. A few of us hiked up to the top of the hill for some sunset yoga. We had ice cream, a few drinks, and played some ridiculous games to break the ice and get to know each other.
The weather was still quite windy and turbulent the following day, but that didn’t stop us from going straight into the water. Surf lessons in the morning definitely kicked our ass, but I smashed it and gave it my best! After grabbing a quick lunch in Raglan, we went kayaking around the bay. It was definitely a struggle, a few of us even enjoyed an unintentional swim, but the day was still sunny and beautiful.
Raglan Surf School
The following day we were able to choose from a variety of optional activities. I had never heard of abseiling before but figured I’d give the Waikato Honking Holes a try! After suiting up into warm, water proof suits, we began our training. We each had to practice how to hook up to the ropes a few times on our own, and then we were ready to hit the caves. We ended up 80 m. underneath a sheep farm and maneuvered our way through a dark maze covered in glow worms. This was easily the best part of my New Zealand adventure. Everyone except for Paul, who was enjoying the couch at the centre, enjoyed the Waikato activities. Paul was just the beginning of a nasty flu bug that spread to nearly half the group.
Abseiling in Waikato Honking Holes
We loaded up the bus, stopped at the Arapuni Swing Bridge for a break, and then were on our way to Rotorua for our cultural experience of the week. Shilo welcomed all of us with open arms… and face. The Maori people say hello by touching their foreheads & noses together, inhaling, then saying “kia ora” (hello). We prepared a traditional Maori song to sing to him called “Tutira Mai Nga Iwi” and added in the Australian line dance “Nutbush City Limits” for fun. Shilo showed us around the Ohinemutu settlement and taught us a few Maori games.
The next day we had to be up early to begin our journey n on to the Tongariro crossing. It was a little bit cloudy, but the mountain really opened up and showed us how beautiful the region is. This 7 hour hike was tough, but a trial well earned! I’m very proud of myself, but more importantly Ben, who started throwing up a few hours into the hike but pushed through anyway! Thankfully, the lodge we stayed at for the night had a hot tub that we thoroughly enjoyed. I haven’t been that exhausted in a very long time.
Our final day as a group was mostly spent driving to finish our trek to Wellington. We made quite a few stops along the way to break up the trip. The first of which was Ohakune to take a picture in front of the “Big Carrot”, Taihape to play a boot toss game and of course take a group picture in front of the “Big Boot” sculpture, and then Otaki to grab a late lunch. The winners of the boot toss game received a free shot that night in Wellington. Lucky me!
The Best of the North Island- G Adventures
We arrived in Wellington around 4, which gave us a chance to explore before supper. We ate supper at the bar next to our hostel with another tour group. The place was packed with people ages 18-35, so the bar put on a few drinking games for us. G Adventures won them all!! Although we planned this trip as a way to say goodbye to our Down Under Crew, I am so thankful for the friends I made along the way. The memories we made here in New Zealand will definitely last a lifetime! Next up.. Fiji!
Last night with the Down Under Crew!