While I was busy slaving away in the kitchen, David was kind enough to write a blog post about the first leg of our Kiwi adventure together. Enjoy!
When Emma says adventure, she means adventure. We started the morning with a trek across the sprawling metropolis of Auckland from Emma’s apartment to the car rental agency. After waiting about forty minutes for the car rental dudes to finish the paperwork for the people in front of us, Emma, Hannah, and I piled into our rental car. With an easy left hand turn out of the car rental lot I was quickly hurtling down the Kiwi expressways at 110 somethings per hour (freaking metric system) on the wrong side of the road sitting in what should be the passenger seat of our teeny tiny Toyota. I had to constantly flip everything I had ever learned about driving a car (keep left, pass right) and it was definitely an interesting experience.
We stopped short of our first destination to get breakfast and lunch for later. In a small town along the road we found a breakfast place full of people so we joined the queue to get some take-away sandwiches that we could clearly see through the case. When Emma asked what kind of sandwiches were available for take-away the woman said, “Oh I’m sorry we don’t have any sandwiches here, only paninis.” …I’m pretty sure there is some mistranslation from English to Kiwi going on here because in my book a panini is a sandwich. The nice lady redirected us to a bakery around the corner where they sold sandwiches and we were not disappointed. We also picked up some ‘savory muffins,’ an interesting muffin full of bacon, cheese, carrots, onions, and other ruffage that was delicious.
We arrived at our destination, the Waitakere Ranges, watched a quick video about the sprawling forest preserve, and set out for our first hike to Karekare beach. We were warned at the visitor center that the recent rain might make the beach hard to reach but we were told to “roll up our jeans and get wet.” When we arrived we found an enormous stream directly in our path to the beach and we almost gave up until a nice woman walked by and told us “oh just Bushwalk over the dunes and you’ll find the beach.” She was right.
After forging a path over a couple of dunes we found ourselves on a beautiful and large black sand beach that was the set for the 1993 movie The Piano. It was a really amazing secluded beach that was totally worth our bushwalk.
Our next destination was a seriously awesome waterfall where we stopped to take some photos. Photo taking sessions can be a bit dull sometimes so to spice things up I took a “picture” of Emma and Hannah.
The waterfall was pretty cool too.
After Waitakere we dropped Hannah off for a bus back to Auckand and Emma and I headed off to Waitomo a super small town that is home to New Zealands famous glowworm caves. We got up early the next morning, had a delicious bowl of porridge for breakfast and went for our scheduled “Black Water Rafting” ride through a particularly famous cave. We donned wetsuits, were reminded six or seven times not to pee in the wetsuits, practiced jumping off of a dock to simulate the forthcoming waterfall jumping that we would be doing once we were in the cave (…umm, excuse me?) and walked down a road to the entrance to the cave. I was expecting a lazy river cruise down a huge underwater river where we’d be able to relax, look up at the cave roof at some pretty glowworm formations, and go get the promised soup and bagels at the end of the tour. What I got was a white knuckled trip down a raging underwater river full of sharp rock walls, tight squeezes, and a pretty substantial waterfall that we had to jump over. It was legitimately scary but we both survived and even got to see a few glowworms along the way. It was awesome.
The next stop was “New Zealand’s premier tourist destination” Rotorua. Emma has mentioned Rotorua in a previous post where she described the town as smelling “like sulfur which only added to the ambiance.” Ambiance or not, it smelled like ass. That being said it was an awesome little town. After checking into the hostel we walked across town to the Polynesian Spa, a spa fed by the natural hot spring water in Rotorua. The alkaline pools tinted Emma’s earrings black but it was really relaxing after our adventurous morning. We finished up at the spa and went to dinner at one of the only Latin American restaurants in all of New Zealand, Sabroso. The waitress took me back to first year Spanish when she said “de nada” (it’s nothing) every time I said thanks, wished us “buen provecho” (enjoy your meal) when she brought us our food, and said “la cuenta” (the bill) when she brought me the bill. It was a great restaurant which Emma said satisfied her craving for good Mexican food.
Our final destination for our trip was a New Zealand invention, Zorbing. Basically you jump into a plastic inflatable ball with a little bit of water to make it slippery and a bearded New Zealander with neck tattoos pushes you down a hill. Words cannot describe how awesome this Zorbing thing is. The ball falls down the hill as you slip around in your little plastic cocoon having no idea which way you will be forced next. Unfortunately the whole experience takes about 30 seconds but nevertheless this should be on everyone’s bucket list. It was a perfect ending to an awesome adventurous weekend.
We’re back in Auckland now and I’m writing this blog fueled by some homemade Kiwi sangria (red wine, apples, oranges, ginger ale, and kiwifruit) procrastinating packing for stage two of our adventure.
If all goes to plan Emma and I will be flying to the south island tomorrow to check out the “Burlington of New Zealand,” Queenstown and to visit Emma’s friend in Dunnedin. Unfortunately a Chilean volcano is sending volcanic ash into Kiwi airspace and flights to Queenstown have been cancelled for the past few days so we’re waiting so see if we’ll be able to fly out tomorrow.
Thanks so much, David, what a great post!!! This totally made me laugh, and it was great to read about what a great time you had. I had a blast, too!