Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Zealand So Far: My North Island Adventures

Te Mata Peak View

Kia Ora! 

A big hello from New Zealand... A country so beautiful, it makes me want to throw up. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Having been able to spend some time up here in the North Island, I find myself in a predicament. I have been enchanted by the beauty of this country, so much so that I feel like I'm cheating on Scotland - the country that holds the number 1 spot in my heart.

Too dramatic?

It really is just so magnificent here... As my new Spanish acquaintance, Dulce, says (in her Sofia Vergara accent), "How you say this... Is too perrfect, no?" -- And she used that to describe the SOUTH Island, which I hear is even MORE beautiful! I honestly cannot even imagine, because I already feel that way about the North!

A Cow in New Zealand
I think the cow may be looking straight at me..

Everything is just so green... and it's the kind of green you've never seen too. It's luscious! No wonder their dairy products taste so good over here.. their cows have the best and healthiest diet! There are sheep and cow and horses and goats everywhere, scattered across rolling fields and mountains! The views are so breathtaking that I constantly curse my camera for not being able to capture what my eyes can see! 

A sheep in New Zealand
OMG... The sheep is staring at me too!
OK. Let me walk you through a brief summary of my journey through the North Island of New Zealand so far...

I arrived in Auckland and stayed with Kuya Andre, an old church friend of mine from the Philippines, and his family. Spent about 3 days wandering around, took ferries to the neighboring islands, the usual touristy stuff.

Auckland The City of Sails
Auckland, The City of Sails
Auckland is a pretty city - sort of like a mini Sydney, but honestly it just felt like a city like any other. It wasn't the New Zealand I was expecting, nor was it what everyone made it out to be. I was starting to get a little disappointed until I started my journey towards Mata Mata.

But first - Meet Sparky... my car.

A Small Black Holden Barina Spark. The smallest car I've ever driven
Sparky is a tiny Right Hand Drive Manual Transition automobile that I rented for a few days. Did you get that? A RIGHT HAND DRIVE STICK SHIFT. It's bad enough that my brain had to suffer an imbalance from having to switch to driving on the left side of the road... On top of that, I chose to endure the stress of maneuvering a car from the other side of the seat, shifting with my left hand. Unfortunately, these are the woes of traveling on a budget sometimes... You tend to make stupid decisions based on cost, not realizing spending a few extra dollars (on an automatic) could end up saving your life.
Oh well, that's neither here nor there! For the record -- I apologize for the mayhem that I caused on your roads, New Zealand!!!

Driving in New Zealand
Sparky and I went through a lot together...

The Road Map

This is a map I made of my journey through the North Island. 

My North Island Road Map

Mata Mata

After Auckland, I drove down to Mata Mata to experience Hobbiton! Soooo much to say about this place! For now - just a photo of me helping out a few of the hobbitses will have to do. (Full article on the Hobbiton experience to be posted on Sunday!)

Having Fun in Hobbiton


Right after The Shire, I went straight down to Rotorua for my first Couchsurfing experience! (More on that in the next few weeks too!)

I learned about the Maori culture, ate some of their food (Maori Hangi) and learned the Haka from a willing local!
Doing a Haka Face
I did it wrong. I was supposed to make my eyes bigger, like his!
Afterwards, I zigzagged through a huge mountain and got caught in the middle of a lightning storm where it HAILED for a good 20 minutes! I swear - at this point, I thought it was the end of me.


Good ol' Sparky pulled through, and I lived to tell the tale! And just at the bottom of the mountain after the storm, I was greeted by a full double rainbow!

Rainbow in New Zealand
I only managed to take a photo of one of them :( Stupid zoom lens.

I screamed - "OMG It's a Double Rainbow!!! It's so INTENSE!" almost crashed Sparky into a herd of cows trying to find a place to pull over to take a picture! The rain clouds moved swiftly across the sky and I only managed to take this photo (I had my zoom lens on and didn't have time to switch!). You can't see the second one because it was fainter, AND because I was on my zoom lens. :(

You have to believe me though - it really was a full on double rainbow... It only lasted for a couple minutes or so, but it was beautiful. I took it as a good omen... especially after having to go through a near death experience.

I was in high spirits after that, and drove to Gisborne, staying at another Couchsurfing host (again, more on this on a separate post) to spend the night, and wake up to the First Sunrise!

First Sunlight in Gisborne New Zealand
First Light :)
Gisborne, NZ experiences the "first light" of the world... The first place to see the sunrise! I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to experience that.

#Bucketlist :)


After a day of exploring, I drove over to Napier - The land of Art Deco. I honestly didn't care much for it - Art Deco isn't really my style, but just a few minutes south of town was Te Mata Peak, where I got to see this.

Beautiful View from Te Mata Peak NZ

And this...

Top of the world in New Zealand

Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.


Afterwards, it was off to Wellington I went, taking a pit stop at Palmerston North first to crash for the night. My good friend, Jackie, hooked me up with a friend of hers who took me in. :)

When I arrived in Wellington, I went straight to Weta Cave for the full behind the scenes experience of movies like LOTR, Narnia, District 9 and Avatar. (Watch out for a separate post on this as well!)

Gollum and I
I've got his precious...
I am staying at my old college bud, Mikey's house for the duration of my trip (Hi Federico!!). I arrived last night, will be here for a few more days, and on Sunday I fly to Japan.

And that... ladies and gentlemen, is what I have been up to for the past 10 days.


I would like to point out that this is just a summary post. I fully intend to go into intimate details regarding my different journeys and destinations throughout the next few months! This is merely a preview of what's coming. :)

In case you guys haven't noticed, I post once a week, every Thursday... but because I am bursting with so many stories, I'm going to start doing a bonus post every Sunday as well, temporarily, just so I can catch you guys up on the stuff that's been happening. Too many photos (of cows), too little time.

Obviously, based on my constant raves above, I am completely loving New Zealand. I feel really sad that I couldn't stay any longer, but I'm definitely coming back. The next time I do, I'm staying longer, AND I'm going down South... see what everyone is raving about.

All that's left for me to do now is try to enjoy my last couple days in Wellington as much as I can. Let's cross our fingers I bump into a celebrity here in Wellywood... :)

E noho ra for now, New Zealand! I'll be back!

Japan -- Konnichiwaaaa to you soon!!!

Beautiful New Zealand Landscape

** Watch out for a special post on Sunday about Hobbiton: My Expected Journey :)

Hi There! Have we met before? You look familiar! Those shoes look great on you, by the way! I’m Eartha and I recently decided to quit my job to travel the worrrrld! Join me in my adventures by checking back on my blog, and leaving me a comment or two!
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