NEW ZEALAND: Dec 2009 - Jan 2010
3500 km on the car in 2 1/2 weeks and we don’t get below Lake Taupo and only do a small number of the many, many activities available. I guess this means that there are opportunities for returning - especially to experience the South Island.
It’s vacation! We catch a bullet train to Shanghai and then Maglev to the airport - 430 km per hour! Landing in a world of vibrant green hills, deep blue skies and clean air takes our breath away. The homey airport in Auckland greets us and we instantly know that we are away from the crowds of China, indeed the entire population of New Zealand is about half of the “small” Chinese city where we live.
We start driving south in our rental car - on the LEFT side of the road! A four hour drive takes us to Lake Taupo at Oreti resort. This amazing resort is right on the shores of the lake’s sparkling waters. We stay three days enjoying the countryside and getting over some jet lag. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an incredible 19 km hike up an active volcano - wow!
North to Mangonui is an all day drive that takes us up to the beaches of the far north. We have a lovely little room in a five room, home style B&B - all to ourselves. We explore the north beaches and travel up to Point Reinga where the Indian meets the Pacific Ocean and stop at the gum fields and the huge Te Paki Sand dunes.
We make a short stop for kayaking and sight seeing in the beautiful Bay of Islands (to be returned to!) This area has every activity that you can think of from helicopter rides to parasailing - you have the money, they have the experience for you!
It’s great to see friends in Warkworth for a night and get a quick tour around the area with huge Kauri trees and beautiful silver ferns.
The next day sees us traveling down to see other friends in Mount Maunganui where we enjoy the resort town, walk the beaches (cold at night), visit with our friends and climb up the extinct volcanic hill at the point.
Rotorua, thermal sulfur spring area, sees us stay for three nights. The colors, odors and strange sites of the thermal park - bubbling mud and green lakes makes us wonder what planet we are on. Xmas day we hike in a beautiful redwood forest - yes, these are real redwoods transplanted from California, US to see if they could be timber trees for NZ. It’s a magnificent hike enhanced by the fact that we just about have the forest to ourselves. This is a huge mountain biking area, but time runs out for this activity.
It’s on to Gisborne for three nights and enjoy the amazing beaches, vineyards and the arboretum.
Our final stop is at a holiday park near the Waitomo Caves. On our last day of vacation we experience the exciting black water rafting through some caves. Then it’s on to the airport and back to China.
Photo Gallery: click on each to see a larger image.
New Zealand Book Video
Here is the book that we put together from our New Zealand trip over our holiday break. We toured part of the North Island over a 2 1/2 week period. Winter here in China while it was early summer in New Zealand : )