Finally back from my two week vacation!
We started with a flight to Auckland where we spent only one night. We didn't have much time but we went up the sky tower to get expansive views of the city as well as going to the Auckland War Memorial and Museum. After Auckland we took a bus to Hamilton where we went to the zoo and explored the city. We weren't sure what to expect from Hamilton but it turned out being a cute, pretty little city. Next stop was Rotorua!
First off, we stayed at this awesome hostel called Crank. The hostel overlooked an indoor climbing wall next door, had a free gym, affordable wi-fi and a great atmosphere. Rotorua is an active geothermal area and therefore smells like sulphur... which you only kind of get used to. Our first day there we went to Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park which allows you to pet lions!! They were actually pretty coarse to the touch.
While in Rotorua we also stumbled upon a life size chess board set up in the grass and played two games. The pieces were made of wood and pretty heavy.
Lastly we spent a few hours at Hell's Gate geothermal park and mud spa. We got a tour of the park and some of its geothermal features, mostly hot sulphur or mud pools. Afterwards we got a mud bath followed by a sulphur bath. They were really fun! But little did we know the water would tarnish our jewelry and cause us (and our clothes) to smell like sulphur for the rest of the trip.
Wellington was my favorite stop of the North Island trip and is the capital of New Zealand. Wellington is a big city with more character than Auckland and had a lot of free things to do. As far as activities go, I only spent $2.00 in Wellington. First we toured the New Zealand parliament buildings. The big "beehive" on the left are the executive offices and the stone building on the right is the parliament house. To the right of that, out of sight, is the parliament library. The debate room in the parliament house is modeled almost exactly to the house of commons in England. What was really interesting is that New Zealand only has a house of representatives, as they abolished their senate years ago.
Views of Wellington after a trip on the cable car.
We also went to New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, which was free and a really, really neat museum! It was a great trip. I'm certainly glad to be back in Lincoln where I can relax for a while.