Day 231 to 244 Kia ora whakamīharo New Zealand

Waiotapu Thermal Park in Rotorua

We landed in Auckland a less sunny, quite cold and windy sunday afternoon. Our first impression of New Zealand at the airport was not too good. As we tried to pass the immigration counter we found the women less friendly and in a bad mood! We were a little worried this was going to be our impression further on… Luckily we met a young man picking us up from the car rental company who was the total opposite – very friendly and helpful. We were relieved!!! Phew! And – for those of you who wonder -” Kia ora whakamīharo ..” means ” Thank you wonderful…” in Maori language. 🙂

Auckland is by far the biggest city in New Zealand with its 1,5 million inhabitants. It is situated in the northern part of the North Island. After some time staying in New Zealand talking to the New Zealanders we found that they often refer to themselves as Kiwis (their national bird), they often engage in volunteer work, and that there are several or many earthquakes every day!!! in the country (although seldom severe). That is the reason why they often build one storey houses. Other than that we found New Zealand quite a bit similar to Norway in terms of people mentality, weather, nature and outdoor activities.

Our first days in Auckland started off a bit could but we were able to visit the volcano plug “One Tree Hill”, a vinery, do some sightseeing in the city center and go shopping… We just had to buy some warmer clothes to be able to handle the change in climate from 30 – 45 C in Australia to 10 C and end of summer in New Zealand. We went to have a Valentine dinner in Sky Tower – a very nice experience with a fantastic 360 view.

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After some days in Auckland we headed to see “The Shire” from our favourite movie “Lord of the Rings”. We were not disappointed… The weather was nice and the land of the Hobbits (Hobbiton) felt just like heaven on earth and soooo peaceful.

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Following this wonderful experience we went to Taupo to relax, walk in the forest and bathe in the natural hot springs around town. We rested for two days making our own dinners! and washing our clothes 🙂 while spending the days exploring nearby attractions, nature and hot springs.

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On the road again we drove “The forgotten world highway” to Palmerston North, another beautiful city of the North Island of New Zealand. We stayed over night only to head for the capital Wellington in the southern part of the North Island the next day. Wellington took us by surprise as a beautiful harbour city with nice walking streets and old and new buildings side by side. The museum and Cuba street became our favourite spots!

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We hoped to visit the beautiful southern island of New Zealand as well but unfortunately our time was limited and the weather was not too good so we decided to stay on the North Island. On our next visit to New Zealand we will definitely go to the South Island to experience its beautiful nature with steep mountains, waterfalls, lakes, volcanoes and fjords. 🙂

Our visit to Wellington – the Capital of New Zealand

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After spending some days in Wellington it was time for us to head north again towards Taupo. On our way up we were lucky to stay one night in the house of Olivier and Sam, a very friendly couple living in Paraparaumu on the west coast of New Zealand. Thanks again for making our stay so pleasant!

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As we continued back to Palmerston North we decided to sleep over in an old Manor nearby town. That night we were not sure what or who went through the garden after bedtime!!! Luna Noor still talks about “the mad housekeeper with the bridal dress”… We have to admit that we did not sleep as well as we would have liked to be but after leaving we are sure this place will stay in our memories forever.

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Still heading north, we booked a horseback riding tour in River Valley. We all loved the ride – even if Ole walked the whole way to accompany us! He had the best training session ever on this trip!

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Back in Taupo we celebrated Ole’s birthday eating a nice dinner out – only the two of us – while Emeric and Luna stayed in the summer-house we stayed in. During daytime Emeric had his most thrilling day ever starting with a bungy jump, continuing with a jet boat ride, followed by a helicopter ride and finishing with a skydive. Luna Noor accompanied him on the jet boat and helicopter ride having a blast! In the afternoon we went kayaking in Huka Falls where we ended up bathing in the hot springs again! Soooo nice! Needless to say that we slept like babies that night! 🙂 The day after we relaxed with a mini golf session, playing football-tennis and taking a swim in the pool nearby our rented summer-house.

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Our last days in New Zealand we went to Rotorua for more fun and outdoor activities. Early in the morning we all got our very first contact with OGO balls rolling down the hills with us staying inside of it! We were laughing our heads off! 🙂

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Our nex adventure this day was the Luge. We went up in the mountains with a cable car and drove tiny cars downhill. The view was amazing, the weather perfect and the whole experience was just breathtaking. Again – we loved it!

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Before leaving Rotorua we visited the Waiotapu Thermal Park, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and had the most wonderful night in Tamaki Maori Village where we had our very own HAKA experience!!! The colors of the thermal park, the glowworms, and the Maoris, their dinner and war-dance will stay in our memories forever! 🙂 The pictures will speak for themselves…

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On our very last day in New Zealand we headed back to Auckland to take the plane to go to Los Angeles in America. On our way we stopped to play some footballgolf. That was really funny! Suddenly I got a message from a dear friend of mine, Inger Liv. To make a long story short – we ended up visiting Inger Liv and Dave for 1 1/2 hours in Mount Manganui on the east coast of New Zealand. Thanks you soo much for showing us around the area and taking so good care of us! Hope to see you in some months time back in Norway!

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Kia ora, New Zealand! We will surely be back! 🙂

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