north island

Day 8 - 11 - Wellington to Nelson

We Stayed in a hotel in Lower Hutt, and took a drive down to Wellington. Wellington was a pleasant surprise, I got great vibes from this city - reminded me a bit of Portland - Quirky, with lots of beer, and coffee. We got lots of recommendations to go to the Te Anau museum, downtown, so we went and was pleasantly surprised that it was free! They put on a super realistic WWII exhibit while we were there:

After the museum, we walked around a bit, and checked out some viewpoints, and the city gardens (below).

I found out my cousin's friend moved to Wellington area from Philly earlier in 2017, so I met up with him, and he took us to a Korean restaurant, and a brewery (Garage Project). 

We then went over to Zealandia. "Zealandia is the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. The 225 hectare ecosanctuary is a groundbreaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, 6 of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years."

All the birds were not held in captivity, and were free to roam

We headed down south to our Airbnb in Houghton Bay and caught another great sunset

We went back downtown to see a few more things before our Ferry departed at 2P.

The Ferry was incredibly scenic! We saw some distant dolphins, and even some baby whales!

After the 3.5 hour ferry ride from the north island to the south island, we landed in Picton. We still had a 3 hour drive to windy mountain roads until we got to Nelson. Our airbnb host was great, she took us swimming in the beautiful Tasman Bay at sunset! The next morning she took us to a yoga class on the beach. 2 things I've never done before! We also got our first taste of sandflies. During the next dozen blogs, you'll hear me complain about these things. They are about the size of a fruitfly, and 1000 times more annoying. They crawl down your socks and bite until you smack em. They come out right at sunset and sunrise and attack in droves. I've learned to cover up after they started drawing blood. You don't usually feel them until it's too late! 

Nelson was kind of a boring town. It's too bad we were tight on time, as Abel Tasman National park is just an hour away. Lots of kayaking, tramping, and biking inside that park - with the teal beautiful beaches.

New Zealand Day 3 and 4 - Rotorua

Day 3 I took the 4.5 hour Intercity bus ride from Auckland to Rotorua. When I arrived, I immediately went to the Mountain Bike Shot (what else would you do when you're injured and cant ride bikes?) I chatted one of the mechanics at the shop (Sebastian I believe his name was.) Well, small world! We got to talking, and he lived in Portland as well, 12-15 years ago. So I bring up MBO (mountain bike Oregon) and it turns out, he helped create MBO, and some of the local trails, as well! Some of the trails were even named after him and his then gf. 

After chatting for about an hour, I headed over to my airbnb to check in. I was greeted with the sweetest boxer. Within minutes, I was giving him belly rubs, and became best mates. Steve's airbnb was conveniently located right next to the Redwoods! What a pleasant odd surprise to see California Redwoods in New Zealand, of all places. Apparently they were brought over and planted in the early 1900s.   Bonus: there are lots of tramping and mountain bike trails weaved into this beautiful forest.

I did two trails. Today I did the overlook trail, which was a nice, quiet trail that took you through the redwoods and to a viewpoint to look above the trees. The next day I did there red loop with Julian.

Above: some up close shots of the ferns and the overlook at the top.

Above: more shots through the beautiful forest.

Above: One of the longest, straightest, flattest trails I've ever been on. There was a walk in the treetops that I did not do ($25).

Now is where things start to get interesting. Rotorua has a lot of geothermic activity (I call it the yellowstone of NZ) with lots of boiling mud pools, geysirs, hot springs and hot pools.

Above: great sunset with the steam from a hot spring (too hot to get into)

Above: Lake Rotorua

Above: miscellaneous pictures around town

above: My buddy Julian joined me (living near Buffalo, NY - my hometown) on Day 4 

On the way to Taupo we stopped at Rainbow mountain (beautiful teal water). The boiling mud pools were in Te puia. The last picture was Lady Knox. We missed lady Knox erupting by a couple hours :(. Not pictured was one of the highlights of my trip. This was Kerosene Creek. It's a creek flowing with hot water! There was a mini waterfall flowing with ~110-120F water that you could stand under and felt incredible on my sprained neck! Thats all for now! Next up will be Taupo, Plimerton, and Upper Hutt. Stay tuned. If you want to stay up to date, please subscribe, and you'll be informed everytime there is a new post!