A Travellerspoint blog

Wellington

New Zealand's Capital City with Hobbit fever!

On the way from River Valley to Wellington we stopped in a little town called “Bulls” for lunch. The town is famous for selling Bulls milk and many of the local stores and places have decided to be witty (or not-so-witty, you decide!) by encompassing the word “Bull” into their names! A few examples are: Dispensa-Bull Pharmacy; Bank-a-bull; Socia-bull; Consta-bull (Police Station); Forgiva-bull (Anglican Church); Lick-a-bull (Ice Cream); Cure-a-bull (Medical Centre)… I could go on but I think I’ll stop there!

We arrived in Wellington in the afternoon and decided to go to the Te Papa Museum seeing as it’s free! The museum is huge, it took us ages to get around it and I still don’t think we really saw everything! It was interesting though and they even have a preserved (by that I mean dead!) colossal squid on display – it looked like a freaky alien! Afterwards we were all pretty hungry so we went to an Indian Restaurant for dinner. I thought I’d be brave and ask for my tikka masala to be medium but soon regretted it as it was soooo spicy! Unfortunately after dinner we had to say goodbye to some great friends we had made as they were getting straight back on the Kiwi bus the next day and we wouldn’t be seeing them again!

The next morning we had a massive laptop internet session sorting out all our photos and videos etc from our travels around the North Island. The day went by pretty quickly and in the evening we met up with a friend from back home who is currently studying and living in Wellington. We went for a nice meal and drank lots of wine (Jonny even tried some wine!) and then went back to his place and hung out for a while listening to old records and chatting. When Jonny was almost falling asleep we walked back to our hostel.

The next day we slept in quite late and didn’t really get going until around lunchtime! The world premiere of The Hobbit is taking place in Wellington on 28th November and the whole city has gone Hobbit mad in preparation for it! We heard that in the little park across the road from our hostel there was going to be a Hobbit Artisan Market so we went to check that out. It was small but quite interesting, basically there were several little stalls of arts/crafts/jewellery etc all made by people who had worked on the film. The company that wove all of the costumes that Gandalf wears were there selling “Gandalf Scarves”! We were looking at some jewellery and I heard someone ask the woman selling it what she had been involved with on the film and she said that she worked with props but that everyone was under contract not to say anything so she couldn’t say what she had actually made for the film! The next day we didn’t do much apart from making a start on applying for jobs in Wellington but in the evening we went back to the park because they were showing The Fellowship of the Ring on a big screen! We took a blanket and a little picnic and wrapped up warm and met one of our friends down there to watch the film. It was really windy and cold and sitting on a field to watch a 3 hour film was probably not the best of plans! By half way through all three of us were lying down with our heads propped up on our bags, all snuggled under the blanket together keeping warm!

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The next day we got up and were a bit more organised. We went to the post office for Jonny to post a package home and then we went to view the rooms at the Hotel St. George as it’s like student living so that’s the sort of place we want to try and find when we come back to Wellington and get jobs. Unfortunately Hotel St. George was an absolute shit hole so that is going to have to be a last resort! We went to another place called Vic Central and that was certainly nicer and cleaner but we have one more place to view when we get back to Wellington before making any decisions. We were pretty busy for the rest of the day just doing boring things like laundry and packing our bags but we were too tired to manage sitting in the park in the cold again to watch The Two Towers so instead we watched it on the laptop in the comfort of our own room! We didn’t get the chance to watch Return of the King in the park as that was on the day we left Wellington!

Next stop - the South Island!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 17:05 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

River Valley

Lord of the Rings scenery and a lodge in the middle of nowhere!

sunny 22 °C

The next morning we set off on the bus and drove for a little while before coming to Tongariro National Park. This is the home to three volcanoes: Ruapehu (Roo-a-pay-hu), Ngauruhoe (Na-roo-ho-ay) and Tongariro which is also known as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. One of them is the one that the hikers climbed yesterday (but Jonny can’t remember which one!). A lot of filming for Lord of the Rings was done in this park and we went for an easy 2 hour hike through it. I was really glad that I got to see lots of LOTR scenery without almost killing myself on that difficult hike (and this was free!). We took the Taranaki Falls trail where we saw a waterfall and the little river where Golem chases a fish! There was hardly any uphill walking and it was a really nice day so I was happy! We had a little picnic by the falls too which was nice. When we got back to the bus Scottie told us that one of the volcanoes had erupted and we hadn’t seen it because we were on the walk! It was only a little spat really, nothing serious but I’m glad it happened the day after Jonny’s hike!

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After that we were back on the bus and we drove to River Valley. When we were near the lodge we ran into a “New Zealand traffic jam” which was basically a shit load of sheep all over the road! It was quite funny watching the farmer and his dogs rounding them up and getting them into the field! River Valley is in the middle of nowhere and even the bus couldn’t handle the last bit of windy road down to the lodge so we had to throw our bags into a trailer and walk the rest of the way! There were two lots of Kiwi Experience buses staying that night which never usually happens so their accommodation was at absolute maximum. There were 6 double rooms that needed filling so as we’re a couple we thought we might as well take a double. When we got into our little lodge we realised that there was an ensuite but it was locked! If we wanted the key it was going to cost us an extra $25! But then we saw that the toilets and showers were outside, the shower cubicle walls were so low that you could look over into the next stall and they were unisex! There were also only about 7 of each with about 70 people sharing them so we decided to treat ourselves to the ensuite! Really it was justified because most people were spending $15 each on a roast dinner but we just made some pasta in the tiny kitchen (yes, Jonny really did turn down a roast dinner!) so the money we saved doing that went to our ensuite instead and it was definitely worth it! In the evening we hung out in the common area and some people started to get quite drunk as anyone not doing activities in the morning was going to get a lie in! There were some normal bunk bed dorms but there were also two massive dorm rooms with two long massive bunks so you could fit 8 people next to each other along the top and the bottom! They were nick-named the “orgy” rooms and we found out the next morning that after a lot of drinking those rooms did see some action! I’m glad we weren’t there to witness it! So the next morning various people were off doing activities and the bus drivers decided that instead of waiting around for them to come back and leave after lunch, they might as well take one bus load of people straight to Wellington so we were able to jump on an earlier bus. This means that we really didn’t do anything in River Valley and unfortunately I forgot to actually take any pictures but the views were very similar to everything we’ve seen in New Zealand so far – lots of green!

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Next stop is Wellington!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 14:18 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Taupo

Lake and sunshine

The next morning we were back on the bus and we drove a short distance to go to the Te Puia Thermal Park where there are geysers and hot mud pools from all the geothermic activity in the area. There is also a lot of information about the Maori culture and we even saw a few of the warriors from the night before working there! Our Maori tour guide took us around showing us various cultures like wood carving and weaving and then took us to one of the smaller geysers where the water was naturally boiling. He put two bags of eggs in there to cook us some hard boiled eggs for breakfast! Then we saw the mud pools and the big geyser that erupts roughly every 15 mins, it was quite an amazing sight. After we had eaten our eggs we went to the Kiwi bird enclosure where it was really dark and we had to be quiet and weren’t allowed to take photos. The Kiwi birds are strange looking things and are bigger than you might think, they’re about the same size as a chicken!

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After that we got back on the bus to drive to Taupo. Taupo is one of the main places to do lots of adventure activities such as skydiving and bungy jumping. As I have already done a skydive in Australia I decided not to do one again. One reason is because it’s so expensive but also the skydive I did in Mission Beach was just so totally amazing that I knew it couldn’t really be topped so there wasn’t a lot of point spending all that money to do it again. Jonny did do a skydive though and he really enjoyed it. This is the first place we’ve come to so far on the tour where we are actually staying for more than one night – we’re staying two nights so that means that we were able to go out and have some fun in the evening! Well actually not everyone could go out because one of the activities happening the next day is a serious 12 mile hike for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I would really have loved to have done it because apparently the views are supposed to be amazing but we were warned that the first 3 miles are completely uphill and you will encounter all 4 seasons of weather and that you really need a reasonable level of fitness to get through it which I just know I don’t have. If there wasn’t any uphill and I was able to go at my own snail-like pace instead of keeping up with everyone else then I probably could have handled it but I knew I couldn’t. Jonny decided to take the challenge though so that meant he couldn’t come out in the evening as they were being picked up at 6.30am for the walk! I went out and had a good time with some of the other people from the bus.

The next morning Jonny and some of the others got up and left super early for the hike and the rest of us enjoyed a lie in for the first time since getting on the bus! I had a shower and then spent the morning sorting out my photos and typing up these blogs! At lunchtime I met up with some people and went to get some food and then we spent the afternoon walking down by Lake Taupo and sitting in the first proper sunshine we’ve seen so far in New Zealand! Then I went back to the hostel and soon after Jonny got back from the hike. He enjoyed the views but found it very hard work and confirmed that there was no way I would have been able to manage it! He though that he wasn’t going to be able to finish it at one point it was that difficult! Everyone else found it hard too and they all complained about their legs aching for ages! Once they had showered and done some laundry we all went out to eat. We decided to just go to the hostel bar to get pizza but soon regretted it when 40 minutes had gone by and we still hadn’t received our food! Jonny was shattered so we just watched a film in the evening and went to bed.

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Next stop is River Valley!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 14:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Rotorua

Tamaki Maori Village

all seasons in one day

Once again we were back on the bus and off to a new place! We didn’t drive for too long because we stopped at the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve to go for a bush walk where once again the views were amazingly beautiful. Some of it was uphill again so I was quite worn out by the end of it as I hadn’t had a proper breakfast! After the walk we went to a café and had some amazing hot chocolates and then we got back on the bus and drove for a couple of hours before getting to our hostel in Rotorua. Unfortunately this time the bus could only be unloaded from one side and our bags were right at the back and there was only one person on reception having to check in 50 people so we had to wait for about half an hour! Once we checked in to the room Jonny and some of the other got changed to go in to the pool downstairs. We could see them from the dorm room as we had a balcony! We had showers and then we went out to get some food from McDonalds. We hung out in the afternoon and then in the evening we went to the Tamaki Maori Village which is a Maori culture experience and it was absolutely amazing. I would say to anyone coming to New Zealand, if they don’t do anything else they have to go to Rotorua and go to the Tamaki Maori Village! We were picked up in a bus and we had to choose a chief to represent us at the village – somehow we ended up choosing a hungover Scotsman from our group! When we got to the village our chief had to stand in position whilst we gathered around. The Maori woman who drove us on the bus told our chief what to do and told us that we had to be quiet and stay still during the challenge but we were allowed to take photos and videos. The challenge is a serious part of their culture when someone comes to enter their village and Scottie our bus driver told us that once his bus chose a dutch guy to be their chief and when the Maori warriors came out and started making all the faces and noises they do that he just starting laughing so the warrior head butted him and broke his nose! Luckily our chief did well and was given a fern leaf as a peace token which meant that we were allowed to enter the village. We went around several huts and learned lots about the Maori culture and how their ancestors lived which was all really interesting. Then we were shown how our meal that night was being cooked which is in the ground with hot rocks and smoke! Then we went to their meeting place and the Maori chief, warriors and women sang and danced for us which was so cool. Then we went through to a dining area to have our meal and it was such a feast! There were potatoes, vegetables, lots of different meats, stuffing and gravy so it was like having a roast back home but the meat had such an amazing smoky flavour from the way it had been cooked. For dessert there was steam pudding and custard which was also really yummy. After that they sang a few more songs and then the evening was over. It was such an amazing experience! On the bus ride home our chief had to sing to us and then several other people got up to sing too and we were all singing along. Then the driver got us singing “She’ll be coming round the mountain” whilst she drove round and round a round about 10 times it was so funny!

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Next stop is Taupo!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 13:50 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Waitomo

Lots of caves and glow worms!

semi-overcast 18 °C

It was another early start in the morning and we were on the bus for a while before getting off to go for a short walk at the Karanghake Scenic Reserve where we walked across two suspended bridges, past a gorge and through an old gold mining tunnel where it was so dark that we needed torches to get through it! The fun part was that most people didn’t have a torch! It was a really nice walk and we’re getting used to there being stunning scenery everywhere we go! Then we got back on the bus and later had a supermarket stop to stock up on food and then went on to the hostel in Waitomo. “Wai” in Maori means water and “tomo” means hole so basically this is cave town with lots to explore. A lot of the activities that the Kiwi Experience bus offer are really very expensive and we’re trying to watch our money so we’re trying to choose which ones we do wisely. Most of the activities are also very extreme, the caving ones tended to involve a lot of water sports which neither of us really like being afraid of the water so we opted to go for a cave walk. We went to the Ruakuri cave and saw glow worms and lots of stalactites and stalagmites. When we got back to the hostel we hung out in our dorm for a while chatting to everyone and then later we made some dinner. After that we went to the pub next door for a drink but as we had to be up early in the morning again we didn’t stay out very late.

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Next stop is Rotorua!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 13:40 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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