Thursday, 14 July 2011
NZ pt II : The Kiwi Experience – North Island by Bus02/01/11 – 02/02/11
So, we made it to 2011. Happy New Year. With the new year came a new adventure; we were ready (but sad) to leave Nicole and have our Kiwi Experience.
It became quite clear soon into the trip that he must be getting freebies / backhanders all around the islands. Everywhere we stopped, he would point out ‘the best pie shop in NZ’ for example and everyone on the bus would pour in after him the only difference being that they had to pay for their pies. But hey, its no problem. In some cases, I think the constant flow of business from the KE bus is the only thing that keeps them going.
Anyway, the pies were invariably good and looking at the amount of money flowing around the bus, the tourists can afford it. During every journey, a clip-board of various activities would be passed around the bus (with Steve giving his ‘personal recommendations’), each one costing $100-200 a pop. This tourist thing is a goldmine!! If it doesn’t already exist, I cordially invite you to the inaugural voyage of the Brit Experience which I’ll be starting in a Comma mini-van when we get home.
Mercury Bay: we stopped off here but didn't take any photos, so i don't think it was all that memorable.
Rotorua (aka Roto-Vegas):
We continued on to Rotorua which was a much bigger town and stayed in the well appointed but rather expensive Base Hostel. The place itself is surrounded by sulphurous lakes and is consequently pretty stinky which is a shame as it is otherwise wuite nice.
Taupo: nice little town situated by a river and home to the biggest lake in Australasia (it says here, the lake is bigger than Singapore). We maintained our plan of not paying for anything we didn't have to and so chose a much cheaper hostel than the official choice, ending up somewhere much nicer, met some great people and it even had a gym to keep Katy quiet.
With a few hours to kill whilst we waited for others to finish their acivities (floating through glow-worm caves on rubber rings), the rest of us had a marathon volleyball session.
River Valley: We splurged again and went white water rafting here. Katy got bounced overboard in a big stopper-wave and sucked under the water(!), thankfully she was dragged out and thrown into another passing boat, a little shaken but still smiling. Otherwise, there's mnot much going on in the valley, but its a nice enough place and they can play the music as loud as they like 'cos there's noone else for miles around.
Finally we reach Wellington and the south of the North Island. Here we got to catch up with my friend Cara from back home in Welsh Wales but who subsequently broke free, found a Kiwi called Mike and settled in NZ, the proud mother of Caius and Maxus (and a new one on the way). It was so nice to be with ‘family’ however temporary (and be off the bus!). We were welcomed to a beautiful home, a delicious meal, a cold beer and a comfy bed.