23rd Feb 2012 - 24th Feb 2012 Today we headed north to Auckland. On the way we stopped off at a Rotorua, where we had the option to go to Te Puia a natural park with volcanoes, geysers and insights into the Maori culture. Instead we chose to wander around the town, stopping off at tourist shops and stocking up on our 'stubby holder' collection, then we went to Wai-O-Tapu to see the geothermal mud pools. We watched in amazement as the boiling mud bubbled under the surface and then spouted hot mud into the air, there is a strong eggy smell, this is due to the hydrogen sulphide emissions, which gives Rotorua a "rotten eggs" smell. (*actual words written in 2012- It was bubbly and smelly but interesting).
We then drove to a torrentially wet Matamata where we were only meant to stop for a toilet break, but the wipers on the bus had broken, and as it was chucking it down it wasn't safe to continue driving, we would have to wait for the part. We sat in a cafe and had hot chocolate then had a look around, the tourist information centre was a great place to shelter from the rain and read up on some Lord Of The Rings information- Hobbiton, the film set is located near Matamata, Shannon was gutted we didn't have time to go see Hobbiton, but apart from the rain and the fact we didn't have time 'Hobbiton' is closed as they are still filming so unfortunately (for Shannon) we couldn't visit.
Then we continued on to Auckland, and to be honest we were a bit blasé when we first seen the tower- we have been to so many cities that all have their towers. We walked down to the harbour and seen all the city has to offer, the tower looked it's best at sunset with it contrasting the colour of the sky. We went for dinner just down for our hostel and a place called 'Cassette 9'. The food was lovely (one of the best spag bol I've ever had) and food was was cheap, the decor was cool too- it was funky like moulin rouge with big draping curtains, and fun with a giant disco ball. It was a really cool place. We also went to the cinema to see 'This Means War'. We'd heard mixed reviews, and it was cliché but funny too.
Our hostel 'Base' was in a great location on Queen Street close to everything and one block away from the Sky Tower. Our 8 bed dorm was on the top floor and we had nice views of the city. But the hostel was a bit crap, and talking of crap there was actual sh*t in the men's toilet floor- Shan took me in for a look! Then as we were getting into bed a room mate came in and announced ''they come here, they party, they get drunk, they shit on the floor...'' We found it funny!
So Kiwi Experience says it's a 'hop on, hop off' service but that's not exactly true, we wanted to swap a night in Auckland for somewhere else but we were told we would be on a standby list and when we turned up the next morning we were told the bus was full. So we had our second day in Auckland to plan, and we chose to spend it at the zoo. We seen all the normal animals and fun ones like rhino, red panda, peacock, penguins and the great Kiwi symbol the Kiwi- which was much bigger than we expected, we only caught a few glimpses of the Kiwi as they are nocturnal. Interesting fact- Auckland is home to 1/3 of New Zealand's population. Another 1/3 is in the rest of North Island and 1/3 in South Island.
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