The incomparable beauty of New Zealand...
05/06/2008 - 30/06/2008 10 °C
When I was little, I loved stories, especially ancient myths and legends and folk tales........then when i was only about 10 or 12 years old, my dad gave me a book by Kiri Te Kanawa (New Zealand opera singer) called "Land of the Long White Cloud". It contained all the Maori folklore legends, fully illustrated, and i was captivated by this magical land of New Zealand - the beautiful pictures, the intriguing stories.... It seemed to me - 12 years old and never having been further than Switzerland - that I could only dream of visiting this faraway place. So when I got to 23 and found that I was lucky enough to be able to actually go there.....well I couldn't quite believe it.
So hopefully that might give you an idea of how hard it is for me to explain how i felt upon actually arriving in New Zealand, parking up the campervan and standing on Waiwera beach, surrounded by stunning scenery, clean sea air and blazing sunshine. Quite simply, New Zealand was everything i expected and hoped for...and more.
New Zealand is fantastic - the scenery is breathtaking, the people are so friendly, and you can drive for miles without seeing a single soul. We saw only the North Island, not the South Island, but there are so many varied and beautiful areas it's unbelievable. We began with the northland, visiting the Bay of Islands, Whangarei, Waiwera and Tawharanui national park. The coast up towards the Bay of Islands was absolutely gorgeous, and we found ourselves stopping every few kilometres simply to soak in the view.
We also stopped quite a lot on our mission to feed every animal in New Zealand.....
It all began with Sheepworld...we stopped just to have a look and use the toilets, but ended up staying for quite some time, touring the farm and feeding the sheep, goats, deer, donkeys, horses, ducks, chickens, guineafowl, guinea pigs, rabbits, parrots, possums, pigs, and eels! we both loved it - simple things eh?
From then on it just escalated.....from stopping to feed ducks at the lake, to turning round and driving back 2 km along the road to feed the biggest goat we've ever seen, to feeding chickens in car parks and being mobbed by seagulls on the beach. Ian has always had an Ace Ventura aura about him...and it would seem that our psychadelic van enhances the effect!
Another theme of the New Zealand trip was Getting Lost. I was doing all the driving, Ian was therefore in charge of navigating.....trouble was I didn't actually check if he could navigate before we started. As he said on the first day: "this place is a dyslexic's nightmare - everything begins with a W!!"This turned out to be a very real problem.....literally, almost half the towns in NZ seem to begin with a W, and everything is unpronounceable
to us!! Still, we managed to find our way around one way and another (including some directions from very friendly locals) and generally had a fantastic time!
I would be here forever if i tried to describe everything, so i'll try to just give you the top highlights:
Watching the sun set over so many beautiful beaches, mountains, lakes and hills, sitting in our campervan drinking New Zealand wine and enjoying the tranquility.
The extreme sports - mainly done by Ian of course! He did skydiving, bungy jumping, river sledging, black water rafting, rock climbing, abseiling, white water rafting, and skyjumping (controlled basejump from skytower in auckland)......and apparently that was all fantastic!!how he does all that i have no idea cos I'm far too much of a wimp to get involved.....
However i did join in with the Zorb (giant inflatable sphere, us inside with warm water, rolling down a hill, screaming), and the luge (kinda like tobogonning or go-karting).
The freedom of driving around in the campervan, stopping whenever we want and wherever we want.
The Maori Cultural Experience in Rotorua - such a great night. We saw a concert showing all the traditional Maori songs and dances, the Haka, traditional weapons andhow to use them, and explanations of the tattoes and clothing. Then we were treated to a traditional Hangi dinner, which is cooked using thermal heat from the earth in this volcanic area - possibly the best meal i have had in many many months! after that we went to Rainbow Springs wildlife park next door where we had a guided nighttime walk and saw lots of birds, plants, fish, and of course the national mascot - the Kiwi! They're such cool little birds! All in all a really fantastic experience
And what did we get free with the Maori Experience? Tickets to the Lumberjack Show!! cheesiest thing ever but totally hilarious....and Ian turned out to be a natural at axe-throwing, getting a bullseye first time much to the disgust of the guy he was competing against, who couldn't even hit the board at all!
Well that's it for now folks, like i said I'd be here forever trying to describe it all but i hope this has given you the general idea - basically it was amazing! One day I WILL be back..in the summer months, when it is warmer and i feel brave enough to visit the South Island too, which is apparently even more stunning. Can't wait....