If you caught my previous blog post, then you’ll know that I’ve taken some time away from the UK to come over to Australia and New Zealand to see family and travel a little bit. I was in the land down under for about three days before we all hopped on a plane to my favourite country – NZ. I wanted to bring you a little day by day diary style blog post with plenty of pictures. So, in advance – it’ll be photo heavy and if you’ve come from my personal FB, then sorry but you’ll have already seen them. I won’t be posting any family pictures purely because they’re private and I don’t want to plaster my cousins faces all over the Internet, y’know? This is still very much my typical Sunday Lovely Things post but in case you’re wondering, last week’s was skipped due to travelling..
Tuesday 1st March
We were all awake for about 3:30am in the morning which wasn’t actually that brutal. My jet lag was well and truly kicking me at all possible angles but once we were all in the airport eating breakfast, it was all good. The first day of our NZ trip was basically travelling so I’ll bore you of those details. We went from Canberra to Sydney to Auckland – I was sat right near the wing of the plane as we flew into Auckland and the views were pretty incredible.
Once we found our hotel, we met up with other family members who I haven’t seen in fourteen years and it was SO lovely to see them again after so long. We just basically sorted out the plan for the next couple of days before heading to a Japanese cuisine restaurant for dinner. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t like anything but to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I opted for the Chicken Dun (waits for Dad to say a joke..) and it was really, really good. After that, it was time to hit the sheets.
Wednesday 2nd March
The whole reason why I decided to return to New Zealand was so that on behalf of my British family, I could say my goodbyes to two wonderful family members. The funeral process for Maori’s and Kiwi’s is very different to what goes on in the UK – over in NZ, it can last up to four days. During the road trip, we stopped off at the beautiful Whangaroa Harbour for lunch – I’m not a big fan of boats, they’re okay but I was seriously impressed.
We stayed at the Marae for an evening which was a truly extraordinary experience – one which I will never forget. The funeral took place in the Bay of Islands which is, hands down, my favourite place in the world – from the beautiful scenery to the incredibly friendly people, it’s just utter bliss. Being on a Marae is completely different to any UK churches – you have to be welcomed on, you have to take your shoes off before stepping inside and women can’t wear shorts. It’s not strict as such just respectful.
Thursday 3rd March
I must say, the way you’re looked after whilst on the Marae was heart warming. The amount of care and attention that they give you is truly lovely and don’t even get me started on the food – YUM. The second part of the service was just as emotional as the previous day as this was the actual burial. After the funeral, we headed down the road to Haruru Falls where we spent the next two evenings. In total, there was about thirteen of us which is quite a lot to deal with but when you’ve not seen family in over a decade, you kind of want to spend as much time with them as possible.
The house was wow. Actually, wow is a huge understatement. I was one of the first to arrive with the kids and as we were given a tour around, it continually became even more stunning. Seriously – wow. That evening, a handful of us walked down to see the waterfall (which we could see from our patio) before we all relaxed after two days of non-stop emotion with a good old BBQ. I won’t mention my cousin being slightly drunk talking about chewing gum and how much her life is a mess. Nope. Not at all..
Friday 4th March
What better way to have a bit of family bonded than to stick us all on a boat? Visiting the hole in the rock was yet another experience I’ll never forget – it wasn’t something particularly on my bucket list, but it was definitely worth swaying from side to side for an hour or so. Not only that, but seeing dolphins jump in and out of the sea beside the boat brought out my inner child. Who doesn’t want to see that? Before the boat returned us to our starting point, we stopped off at Otehei Bay for about forty minutes where some of us remained on the grass, some opted for the warm sea and some had a walk up a slight hill for epic views. I sat on the grass and took pictures..
Saturday 5th March
Wherever you go in New Zealand, there is plenty of culture to educate yourself about. For me, one thing on my list was to visit the Waitangi Treaty House. I’m pretty sure my parents have visited when we were there in 2002 but I’m very pleased that I decided to go this time around. The Treaty House is full of history between the British and the Maori’s – especially how NZ came about. I’m not a big museum fan but for me, this was ideal. In terms of being respectful, it is the same as being on the Marae – take your shoes off. The views were utterly breath taking, I know NZ is beautiful but wow. Afterwards, we all went back to Auckland to stay at my cousins for the evening. A handful of us visited the nearby beach, Tahuna Torea, before playing Cards Against Humanity – the Aussie version. LOL – that’s all I have to say on that matter.
Sunday 6th March
This day was rather chilled out as we drove to Rotoura where we stayed for two nights in a cute little cabin. The only bad thing about where we stayed was the egg smell as they were hot springs. Wow. That sprung your eyes and stayed within your nose for hours on end. Ha! That evening, we went out for dinner at a lovely local place where I opted for the pork spare ribs.. FOURTEEN came. Yup. I managed seven before declaring food had won.
Monday 7th March
Majority of our group opted to go black water rafting and as someone who doesn’t do well with water, I decided to visit the famous glow worm caves. We went inside two caves – the first being the main glow worm cave and the second being more about the caves themselves. Did you know – glow worms are all siblings yet to reproduce, they all have sex with one another. That was a pleasantly amusing fact from our tour guide. Honestly, I set my expectations really high from seeing professional photographs on Google and in reality, it is fantastic but it’s just like a million glow in the dark stickers on the roof. Still pretty breath taking though.
The second cave was more to my liking. We walked around one big cave and were allowed to take as many pictures as we liked. Remember in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince when Harry and Dumbledore go into the cave to start defeating Voldemort? Basically that. The ice cream which we had afterwards was SO good – I went for chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla. I could eat that right now.
Tuesday 8th March
If you know me, you’ll know I’m obsessed with Harry Potter. I’m not exactly a Lord of the Rings fan but when I was asked if I wanted to visit Hobbiton, I thought why not? I didn’t expect a great deal because my knowledge of the books/films is at a low (sorry Film Studies tutors!), but I’m so glad that I went because it was a fantastic tour. Our guide was full of banter and interesting facts – he was really lovely. After the tour, we drove to Taupo for another two evenings in cabins – not gonna lie, they’re better than hotels.
Wednesday 9th March
I climbed Mount Tongariro.. Yup, you read that right. Little old me climbed a flipping huge mountain, the only active volcano in NZ. Why did I do it you may ask? I’ve lost my marbles. I must of. Ha! It was tough, I’m not gonna lie. At times, I was stopping after every couple of steps because the heat was unbearable. I know a few people who love climbing but seriously, this was a bitch so much so that we renamed it Mount Bitch. I can just about feel my feet. That’s all we did that day – eight hours of climbing, going down black sand slopes and walking through forests. The views though, as per usual for NZ, were beautiful.
Thursday 10th March
Our second to last day was spent in Wellington, we made a little spot at Haku Falls, a place I’ve heard a lot about and it was as lovely as a waterfall can possibly be.. But then breakfast, well, that was as if we’d been transported into Grease. It was seriously impressive – I went for the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. Delicious! In Wellington, we had just over twenty-four hours here and if you don’t mind being thrown around because of the wind, go live there. Ha! Seriously, it’s like being stood at the Albert Docks x10. We went straight to the cable cars which I was very impressed with – think of the end scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where they’re in the lift. Basically that.
SO, that is that. I didn’t expect this post to be so long but honestly, it was such a jam packed trip that I didn’t want to leave anything out. New Zealand has always been a special place to me ever since I was eleven and I’m really pleased that I decided to go back. If you’re not fed up of the photos, I’ve posted a couple others over on Instagram.