Posts Tagged ‘Wellington’

Wellington was barely a few hours stay. Reached there in the night, slept the night over, and early next morning, headed for the ferry that was to take us over to the South Island, and to Picton, to be precise. The ferry was an amazing experience, large, several hundred people, and the very large number of vehicles on board, and the many views one could get by walking to different sides of the ferry. And the restaurants and the coffee shops on board. On reaching Picton, we did not stop, but rather, carried on straight away, to our first stop in South Island, which was Kaikoura. Some pics from the ferry ride, and till the point that we reached Kaikoura..

 

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Kaikoura is a small town (one of the many that we visited), best known for the whale watching opportunities that it provides. We reached by afternoon, and it was supposed to be well in time, for the afternoon whale watching trip. However, as luck would have it, due to the weather conditions in the Ocean, they were not taking out any trips that day. And we had half a day in town, with nothing major to do. We did drive around town, and did a few things like seeing a sheep shearing show, watching seals, and hanging out at a pub in town, and drinking Guinness beer there. In short, it was an easy going afternoon. Our hope was that the next morning opened a little brighter, and we got the chance to do the whale watching trip. And that was exactly how it turned out. We went on the whale watching trip in a catamaran, and managed to see two sperm whales from real close. We got even more lucky to spot a whole pod of Orca Dolphins, also known as killer whales. It was an awesome experience to spot them from real close. The catamaran journey, at high speed with huge waves, was a rocking one, and nearly 50% of the 48 persons tour party, threw up on board. But apparently, this was quite usual to happen, as per the organisers, who had ensured the necessary facilities to handle these situations! Here are some photos from Kaikoura..

 

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Next up, we would be criss-crossing the country. From being on the East Coast, we will drive across the breadth of New Zealand, to go to the west coast, with our next stop being Greymouth.

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auckland sky towerWe were to take the evening flight from Sydney, and would get into Auckland, close to midnight. Bear in mind, this would have been about 36 hours since we left home in Mumbai, and would have spent all that time, either in flights on at airport terminals or on the road in Sydney! And after such a long flight, we were entering a new country, close to midnight, and we needed to get to a hotel at that time! Originally, I had booked a hotel in the city, but with the late night arrival into Auckland, I chose to find out if the hotel will have someone to receive us at that time, and whether it would be comfortable to get into the room so late! Ordinarily, you don’t even need to check these things as they would be assumed to be obvious. But I am glad that I thought of checking. For what I was informed was that there would be no one from the hotel at the reception, at that late hour, and that a key would have been left for us, and we’d be able to find our room and get into it. I visualised a midnight arrival, getting bags and getting out of the airport by half-past midnight, then getting a cab, driving into the city to the motel, removing the bags and letting the cab go, then heading to the reception to find our keys kept somewhere, and then trying to find and reach the room. With no human to help. After nearly 36 hours of travel time! What if the keys were not there or they didn’t work? At that time, with all those bags and stuff, what would we do? Maybe there would be no taxis to find easily, even if we needed to go somewhere else.. All of this was kind of a scary thought, so I looked out for options. And found an IBIS Budget hotel, located close to the airport, and where they confirmed availability of people, all 24 hours! The change was made, and we reached that hotel, after landing at midnight. We took our time to get started next day morning, and after breakfast, we went and rented out our car, from Apex Car Rental Services. That same day, we were to drive down to Rotorua, a roughly 2.5 hour drive. So we had just 3-4 hours to drive around Auckland and see what we could see of the city. We went and saw some parts of Auckland Central area, then an area referred to as One Tree Hill, Davenport and Mission Bay. We got a good quick view of Auckland city, before heading out to Rotorua.

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We headed off to Rotorua, our first city-to-city drive, in New Zealand. There was some rain in the course of the drive, and we got the first taste of driving at speed, with rain splattering on the windshield. We quickly realised how useful the GPS unit was, as we could reach our motel in Rotorua, precisely, with the voice commands of the GPS unit. It was evening by the time we reached the motel, and when we enquired about the Maori dance programs, we found that the shows were already under way, and we would not be able to catch them. As we needed to leave in the morning the next day, we resigned to our fate that maybe, we would not be able to catch the Maori dance. We did head out to the other big attraction in Rotorua, which was the Polynesian Spa. And enjoyed the hot spring waters’ spa, under the moonlit sky. The spa was full of Japanese people – I guess, they like spas more than others?! While this was a fancy and very busy spa, what took me by a little surprise (shock?) was the large changing room (and showers) for men, where folks were comfortably walking around in full monty! Honestly, I was a little taken aback, as I had never had the need to see 10-15 males walking around without clothes, quite comfortably! That apart, the spa was an enjoyable experience. One bit of a worry hit us that evening. The GPS unit stopped functioning – it had frozen! And it was too late to contact anyone and get help. Considering that this was the first day of a long trip, I was worried about having the same challenge later on as well. After returning to the room, I managed to look up the Internet to troubleshoot and luckily managed to find the solution. Went and checked the same, and was happy to find the GPS unit start working fine. It was good to have gone through this experience so that we knew how to manage the GPS unit little better. Next day morning, as we left Rotorua with the intent of heading off to Wellington, we managed to catch Te Puia in Rotorua, and which was alive and active early in the morning. Here we were then able to do the Maori dance event, and also see the amazing thermal geysers, sulphur and mud pools. Some pictures of our Rotorua stay…

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We headed out from Rotorua, and after a stop at Huka Falls, went ahead towards Taupo. Some photos from Huka Falls and Lake Taupo are as below:

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Finally we made it to Wellington, late in the evening, with really no time to see the city, except for admiring the sunset and the beautiful skies, as we entered the city. The next day morning, we needed to leave by ferry, with our car, to get to the South Island.

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Ahh..so that was a quick couple of days in North Island, and we were all set to head to the South Island, which was supposed to be far more beautiful and enchanting..

 

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