Yet another Swede in New Zealand — Week 1
Wow. Just. Wow. I know these words sound like the cheapest of cliches but they’re true nonetheless. I consider myself a quite experienced traveller at the tender age of 23, but NZ continues to blow me away at every corner we turn. The first week has been all North Island, and while it has been spectacular I can’t wait to take the ferry over to the South Island. It’s supposed to be, believe it or not, even more scenic.
After a 28 hour flight, Auckland was where we finally landed. After the jet lag and the shock of left-hand traffic had wore off, it felt strangely familiar, kind of like a mix between Stockholm and how I imagine the US west coast. Huge yachts and great asian food was abundant, and we were lucky to have my Auckland friend Gordon show us around. Kudos and thanks for the experience!
Bay of Islands
After a couple of days of adjusting, we travelled with the lovely folks at Kiwi Experience further north to the Bay of Islands, a cool archipelago with a Caribbean feel to it. Unfortunately we could only stay for one day, but in that time we managed to see (and almoooost swim with) dolphins, drink local craft beer and meet some nice Welch backpackers who shared our love of Swedish rock music. We then returned to Auckland, all of us feeling that we would like to return to this paradise some day.
I had no idea this place even existed, but the rest of the party were super stoked to go see the “Glowworm caves” from the onset. Turned out Waitomo had lots of these, so we rented a car in Auckland and started driving south. After the first hours of pure fear from driving on the left side of the road, it all went pretty smoothly and still is. Now I fear I will drive the wrong way in a roundabout when I get back to Sweden instead.
We did two cave tours in one day when we arrived. Both we’re awesome, but one was especially awesome because our very awesome tour guide. I can’t remember his name unfortunately, but he is pictured in action below. That cave had lots of nice looking stalactites, stalagmites and the works. The other one had lots of glowworms instead, but you weren’t allowed to take any pictures.
We had so much fun in these caves, we forgot all about our accommodation and drove around the area like madmen trying to find anything vacant. Fortunately for us, the people of New Zealand are uncannily friendly and one motel owner called seven other motels to find us a a place to stay. We finally reached a small motel called Te Tiro in the middle of nowhere, in pitch black darkness. Turned out we where actually lucky again since this place was brilliant, and they had their own glowworm cave in their backyard! Once again among the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
Further south and Hobbiton
The guys at Te Tiro recommended us go see this waterfall which was about half an hour from our motel. We’ve been pretty spoiled with lots of these roadside scenic views along our route, which makes the drive so much more enjoyable.
The first week was eventually finished with the mandatory visit to Hobbiton, the Lord of the Rings movie set in New Zealand. It was pretty nice to see the familiar settings, but to be honest I felt kind of disappointed. It all felt a bit rushed and artificial to me. Well well, at least I got some likes on Facebook out of it.
If anyone is interested in the pictures, these are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.