Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo, Turangi, Wellington, Nelson, Wellington, Auckland
Well I am massively behind with this travel blog because I have done my three week trip, arrived back in Cronulla in one piece, and had a great time. I travelled by Intercity bus for the most part and stayed in budget accommodation and, with the exception of one hostel in Wellington (about which I have written blistering reviews on both Booking.com and TripAdvisor) my travel plans went without a hitch.
I spent two days in Auckland and climbed Mount Eden again just for the view then walked back down into the city through the Domain and re-visited the beautiful glass houses of the Winter Garden.
A ferry ride to Devonport and a walk up Mount Victoria gave me wonderful views over the town and across to Auckland CBD,and I finished the day with a walk back through the city to the hostel passing an eclectic piece of modern sculpture on the way.
On my second day I spent two hours in Auckland Art Gallery and then a rainy afternoon in the War Memorial Museum, somewhere else I didn't manage to get to last year, and they were both well worth the time. I did go to the art gallery last February and remember not being too impressed with it but it seemed to be bigger and with many more exhibits this time so either it has been extended or I missed a great chunk of it during my last visit. I had a couple of hours in the museum while visiting friends in Auckland in September but did not explore it fully so it was good to have a chance to spend longer.
Moving on to Rotorua, and a brilliant little motel with an outdoor swimming pool and indoor spa (both thermally heated), two days gave me a chance to explore an area of thermal vents and to spend an afternoon hiking one of the trails in the Redwoods. I also had an opportunity to re-visit the small but very informative museum and to chat, at length, with one of the receptionists, an expat woman from Yorkshire.
Taupo was the next stop. TheBotanic Gardens were vibrant with colour and a 6.5km riverside walk out of town arrives at the impressive Huka Falls.
At Turangi I spent two nights in a comfortable riverside lodge from where I was able to walk the 15km Tongariro River trail, watch the rugby final, (what a great place to share an All Black's win) and to get the shuttle to the Tonagairo Alpine Crossing. This was the absolute highlight of my trip! Weather conditions were perfect and all I want to say about this experience to anyone who has the opportunity is JUST DO IT! It was an incredible day and one that I will never forget.
The 6 hour bus ride to Wellington the following day was an opportunity to recover and to enjoy some stunning views of the volcanic range as we drove around it and two full days in the city gave me time to take the cable car to it's 120 metre top station for great views of the city and a walk back down through the lovely botanic gardens. A climb up to the lookout on Mount Victoria in Force 6 winds was interesting and watching the planes taking off from the 2081 metre long runway (with water at both ends) led to some intakes of breath. The Te Papa museum is always a pleasure and it is currently hosting a truly remarkable, and powerful, exhibition about Gallipoli.
In the YHA I met up with an English woman who was also travelling on the ferry to the South Island the following day so we shared this 3.5 hour journey and, although the weather was too closed in to get the full benefit of the picturesque Marlborough Sounds, we enjoyed some lively conversation.
I arrived in Nelson on 4/11 for a five night stay and it was great to catch up with some of the friends I made during my house sit and to walk new trails.
The WOW museum (World of Wearable Art) is quite extraordinary and I can imagine that the annual shows in Wellington are a complete sell out.
Rather than to fly direct to Auckland I had decided to spend a night in Wellington on the way back to Australia and to get The Northern Explorer train from there. This is an 11 hour journey on the other side of the mountain range to the bus route and travels through some spectacular scenery. There is an open sided viewing carriage at the back, a cafe on board and stewards that move regularly throughout the train collecting rubbish and offering service to your seat. There is also a plug in commentary available for the entire journey delivering masses of information about the history and development of the rail service and the communities along its track. The Track crosses five high rise viaducts and negotiates the incredible Raurimu Spiral. It is altogether an amazing travel experience!
I flew back to Sydney on 11th November to enjoy the last month of my trip with T+B and with my sister who has come out from the UK.
More adventures from Dora and Flora, the explorers, to come.