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New Zealand – One Week in the North Island

Auckland

We arrived in Auckland at 1:00am, feeling exhausted, wondering where we would be spending the night. We abhorred the idea of paying $100 for a room and another$ 40 for a taxi (to and from the airport) for a couple hours of sleep. So we set out trying to find a spot to sleep, unfortunately for us, everything was taken, if you looked in a corridor, people sleeping, if you looked in a booth at McDonald’s, person sleeping, open the stall door to the bathroom? You get the point. Finally Brittany and I found a row of seats in the observation area of the farthest corner of the airport, I slept on the floor.

 With a terrible 6 hours of sleep down, we set off to pick up our camper. Stoked doesn’t begin to cover it, we had grand visions of camping on the edge of smoldering volcanoes, falling asleep to the sound of waves, and opening the curtains to see blindingly brilliant snowcovered peeks. Unfortunately, on the North Island that remained a dream that would stay largely unrealized. Apparently, freedom campers had managed to destroy every last ounce of good will that existed within the good natured Kiwis by shitting in bushes, leaving toilet paper everywhere, and camping where people asked them not to. But onto the fun!
The Plan! North Island.

The Plan! North Island.

Our total time in New Zealand was to be 3 weeks. 1 week in the North, 2 weeks in the south. Our tour would take us from Auckland down to Wellington, sampling about 5 cities along the way before hopping the ferry down to the South Island. We had a blast with the camper, even though the thing was older than most of the white guys we saw in the Philippines (read: really old), was louder than Brittany’s snoring (just kidding), and harder to handle than Brittany when I accuse her of snoring loudly.
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Night One: Some of the only freedom camping we did on the North Island

Waitomo

We got down to the Waitomo Caves where the big attraction is glow worms. The tour walked us above land on the owner’s property and then down into a cavern where the fungal gnat larvae (glow worms) lived. These little buggers glow to attract their food, which is a pretty horrifying thought when you consider the whole “Go towards the light thing”

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15 second exposure

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When they turned off the lights, this is what we saw. Pretty wild to think each of these beautiful “stars” is a hungry larvae luring in it’s prey.

Rotorua

We then traveled down to Rotorua, which I still pronounce like a stuttering Scooby Doo with a mouth full of peanut butter, where the big draw is the thermal activity. The campground we stayed in had pools with piping hot water that we splashed around in while hordes of teenagers milled about, apparently it’s a big vacation destination for kiwis?

We also visited a giant redwood tree forest called Whakarewarewa Forest (Yeah…they have a real knack for naming things up here). We did a two mile hike and I tried to repair my damaged ego after being surrounded by things so much taller than myself. Also, this is a free activity, which is EXACTLY our price range!

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I swear I’m not this pale

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Ancient fern trees. Creepy things.

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“Pretend like you aren’t intimidated”

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Depleted and tired after our glowworm cavern/hiking extravaganza we started to leave Rotorua (seriously, I’m copying and pasting the name at this point because I can neither say nor spell this damn town’s name), but were soon pulled in to one last activity. After all, how could we say no to

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ZORBING, SON!

Zorbing is simply the single most ridiculous, silly, strange things a human being can do. I mean it. Stick a kazoo up your ass and fart the star spangled banner and I’m still going to go with Zorbing as the more strange pastime. For $100 they toss you and your compatriot into a giant inflatable orb filled with warm water and push you down a giant hill. Inside of the ball you feel like you’re on a slip-n-slide inside of a washing mashine set to “spin”.

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Another silly activity we engaged in while in Rotorua was the 3D maze, billed as the worlds largest 3d maze, and at a fairly cheap price, we couldn’t say no.  The goal was to get to all four corners of the maze and then get out. It was surprisingly difficult, as well as fun once Brittany and I stopped cooperating and started competing. Spoiler Alert: I won.

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This chick LOVES mazes, and telling me to get lost :(

 

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Martinborough

Look, I could spend a whole post on Martinborough, it was amazing. It’s a small town in the south of the North Island where they’ve figured out that Pinot grapes really grow well.  So they have within biking distance, about 12 great wineries. So Brittany and I rented two bikes, put on our helmets, and quenched our thirst. This made wine tasting in the states look like amateur hour. It was a blast!

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Come on! Look at this plate! The only problem was I had to share it with Brittany, who adores everything on here as much as I do.

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From Vineyard to vineyard

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Oh hey, I was here too


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Wellington

The FINAL thing we did before heading out on the ferry in Wellington was hit a Crossfit Box and let Brittany get her creepy strength on. Look, I’m all for strong powerful women, but when she starts sliding sleds around with stacks of 45’s on them and knocking out pullups in bulk, I start to wonder if she got like really really mad at me, if I’d even have a chance.

Everyone at MaD crossfit was crazy nice, even to the non crossfitting significant other (that’s me!), although they did seem to try everything in their book of tricks to convert me. With that, we drove down to the ferry, loaded up on the boat, and began our ocean voyage to the South Island. Beautiful Scenary, Lord of the Rings, and Snow Covered Mountains, here we come.

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See she was there!

 

*Note – while we were in the north island, there were tornadoes in Auckland and Rotorua, Earthquakes in Wellington, and a volcanic eruption on a hike we were planning on doing. It seems if the world’s going to end, it’s starting here.

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  1. susan says:

    WOW..so much fun in this post. Enjoyed every word. Hey, Sean..that plate of food looked divine..now you are talking! No belote, no wood worms or other disgusting “food”.Glad you guys had such a great time. Still curious about the inside of the camper. Love to you

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