5 March 2012

Thumbs Out & High Hopes [Rotorua + Wellington, New Zealand]

After almost a solid year of travelling across the world you might think the last thing I would want to do is pick up my backpack and hit the road again. But that is exactly what I did do; this time to discover my own country. I had told Julia how beautiful New Zealand was, now I just had to prove it.

After a wet Christmas and New Year in my home town of Gisborne, we set out for Rotorua to spend a couple of days staying with my Mum. We visited the standard attractions, starting with Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley for its bubbling mud and shooting steam. There is a thermal stream close by where you can bathe for free - a bit of a local secret, which was really cool. We also visited Taupo to check out the steam fields and Huka Falls. And I finally got my Burger Fuel fix after four years of being out of New Zealand!

As New Zealand is significantly more expensive than the Asian countries we have been living in for the last four months, it took some time to adjust. But we planned well; packing camping gear, using Couch Surfing, and decided to hitch-hike the majority of the journey. So early on the 6th January Julia and I found a good spot on the side of the road, stuck our thumbs out and hoped for the best.

We didn't have to wait long before we were picked up by a semi-crazy Jordanian dude who took us through to Taupo. And from there we were picked up by a van full of young Wellingtonians heading home after Rhythm and Vines. We arrived into Welly late afternoon and made our way to meet up with our Couch Surf host, Matt, a really friendly guy from Aussi.

We managed to catch up with Shaun (a good friend from back home) for a couple of beers that night, and the following day he took us out to the Weta Cave. Weta is the company responsible for movies like Tin Tin, The Lord of the Rings, Narnia etc. There are some amazing sculptures and props there, as well as a really cool film showing all the different films they have worked on.

Uhhh, what else? We checked out Te Papa, the massive museum on the waterfront. I really enjoyed it, especially the displays showing world events from a New Zealand perspective. There is a whole lot of cool stuff in there that I'm not going to bother explaining, but I really recommend checking it out if in the area.

The following day it was pouring with rain, but thankfully Shaun dropped us down at the ferry terminal. Destination: Picton that the northern tip of the South Island. The plan is to head down the west coast for the next couple of weeks.

So it's been a pretty good beginning to our New Zealand adventure. I really like Wellington. It's small, easy to get around, full of cool cafes and bars... and just has a cool vibe. But I can't wait to get down south and really start exploring!

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