Auckland, New Zealand
We were a bit sad to leave Wellington and Jason’s parents behind, but by the time we reached Napier, on the East coast, the weather had cheered us up no end! It felt like a different country but apparently it’s the weather patterns which make it the warmest place in NZ! NZ weather is so strange, it´s no wonder that Kiwis have such a detailed meteorological knowledge. Ask any Kiwi about today´s weather and the answer usually goes something like this: ‘Well yesterday there was a mild South-Westerly wind blowing from X place but today is a North Easterly coming in from X so it should be warmer. That means that tomorrow may bring a Southerly from x and that would be freezing….’ ‘oh, ok then.’ Anyway, Napier oddly enough, is a perfectly preserved Art Deco town which also makes you wonder if you have accidentally changed country! The whole place was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and promptly re-built by Art Deco fanatics. Our main reason for coming here though was to sample some of the regions famous wineries which we did by bike. Not sure my legs were quite up any exercise aftre last weeks exertions, but the wine seemed to numb the aches! The weather was boiling hot and we tasted some of the nicest wines I have ever tasted in a Vineyard called Church Road – if you see a bottle of this anywhere try some as it’s got a really distinctive flavour. On to Lake Taupo next where the weather was back to the usual NZ style rain… We didn’t care though as we spent the afternoon basking in the naturally fed hot springs there which was gorgeous. Taupo is NZ´s largest lake and is surrounded by some cool seismic stuff : geysers which hiss and spit out of the ground and pools of boiling mud. Forget being in another country – this feels like another planet! On our last full day in NZ I found myself floating on an inner tube in freezing water through a cave in pitch black. Was I going mad? No this is known as ‘Blackwater Rafting’ and typical of the weird and wonderful things you can do in NZ! Jason’s parents bought us this trip for his Birthday. We started by putting on an extremely elegant outfit consisting of a full wetsuit, big white wellies and a miners helmet! Looking like a group off on an alternative moon mission, we then clambered down into the cave. The formations inside were stunning, but the real gasping started when we turned off our head lamps and saw the 100’s of glow worms all around, twinkling like stars from an alien planet. We then floated 1.5km in silent, errie darkness looking up at the ghostly pale green lights of the glow-worms. A bizarre but amazing experience. The guide then pointed out that the noise we could hear ahead was an underground waterfall which we would drop down any minute. Pathetic girl-like whimpering followed but it turned out he was joking about going down in the dark, instead he made us jump off backwards into the black depths! I definitely wasn’t the only girl screaming! So that was the end of our action packed NZ experience. We are off to Argentina now to learn Spanish. Surely that will be alot easier than my attempts at pronoucing place names such as ´Paekakariki´ or ´Whangamomona´ here! Apart from the English style weather, NZ’s breathtaking, raw scenery, the warmth of its people and the sheer ease with which life is conducted here have reminded me why I liked it so much when I came here last time. There is so much more of it to see too!