New Zealand North Island - Part I

Auckland Travel Blog

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We were both kind of sad when we left Fiji. Jim, Kelly, Julie and Aaron really made us feel like home while we were there. I am glad that we didn't stay for only one week, because I am sure we wouldn't be able leave if we stayed any longer!

Anyway, new adventures await in New Zealand!
After a short 3 hour flight from Fiji, we arrove in Auckland International Airport. We first had to go through their very strict custom procedure! Our hiking boots were considered contraband. We could carry United Stated soil under our soles and in that way severely damage the New Zealand Flora and Fauna. This is, what the customs officer told us anyway. Today, we know better, the first settlers that came to New Zealand brought with them everything they pleased. That's why you are bothered by bumble bee's and wasps all over the country. They have imported trees (for the forestry industry), plants for gardens and hedges and what not! Yes, I have to conclude that that little bit of dirt that could be under our shoe soles would have severly damaged the New Zealand eco-system! It's probably more a scheme of the New Zealand government to create jobs. In Holland we know them as "Melkert banen".

While in Auckland, we picked up our hideous looking rental car and our camping equipment - yes, we are going camping in NZ! - and we went north! Our first stop was Tutukaka (you can laugh if you want). Our dive-masters on Fiji told us we really had to go diving near the "Poor knights islands". This is the second marine reserve and it is kind of a mix of sub-tropical and tropical waters. So you can see tropical fish and non-tropical fish all together. And although it wasn't as spectacular as diving in Fiji, it was quite amazing to see huge stingrays and mantarays swiming by. As well as seeing big morray eels hidden in between rocks and lots of big and colourful scorpion fish.

After diving the poor knights we went further up north to swim with wild dolphins in the bay of islands. This was a the experience of a life-time! As opposed to captive and trained dolphins, these dolphins choose to swim with you because they want to! You can see those intelligent critters swimming around you and really looking at you - very very special!

No time to really digest that life changing experience, because we were heading west to the so called "Kauri (pronounce Cody) forest". That forest is home to the "Lord of the Trees". A huge Kaudi tree that the Maori see as an personification of god. A local tour guide even sang a song as we approached "him" so appease him and telling him we meant no harm. The rest of the forest is littered with more of those gigantic and ancient (up to 2000 years old) trees.

We went a bit to the east and then north, to get on the Coromandel peninsula. There we visited "hot water beach". A beach where you can dig a hole in the ground, and skin blistering hot water pours out. Mix it with some cold sea water and you have made your own little spa. I bet this was discovered by germans!
After this little experience, we went to a beach adjecent to a little surfer town called Hahei to relax for a bit more. Gorgeous blue/greenish water and lovely weather. You get sun-burned quite quickly though. Apparently, there is a huge hole in the ozon layer above New Zealand!

After that, we only went south. First we visited Matamata, this peacefull little town was made famous by becoming the movie set for the Lord of the Rings movie. A couple of miles outside of town Hobbiton was filmed. It is very touristy, and they make you pay for this experience, but it is also quite fun. This is also were I celibrated my 27th birthday! Not a bad place to do that!

Anyway, enough for now! Keep posted to get the lasted updates!
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photo by: Fulla