Where I’ve Been: Auckland, Paihia and Rotorua – New Zealand
Where I’ve Stayed: Bond Street Lodge and Jucy Hotel in Auckland, Saltwater Lodge in Paihia and Funky Green Voyager in Rotorua
So finally after almost 18 months I saw my dad again and it was great! We are now currently together travelling down to the South Island for my friend’s wedding. It is nice to be backpacking again after being static for so long in Sydney and Auckland.
Seeing my dad again after so long was slightly surreal. He and his partner Sanchia arrived on Saturday (5 February). I got up and got the bus over to Auckland airport, arriving around 3pm and then wandered over to the arrivals gate, where they were due to arrive about 4pm.
I could feel the excitement building as it got closer to the time they were due through the gate and sure enough at about 4.15pm my dad and Sanchia wandered through. It was wonderful to see them both, but in particular my dad, and it seemed strange seeing him on the other side of the world.
We embraced and then jumped into a taxi back to the hotel they were staying at in the centre of Auckland. When we got back there we went for a few drinks and some food around Viaduct Harbour – and caught up on everything that had happened over the past 18 months. I think that moment, being sat there in the sunshine, seeing my dad for the first time in so long and chatting is something that will live long in my memory.
Visiting Mission Bay
The next day I met up with my dad and Sanchia again and we went to Mission Bay with Sanchia’s friends Brett and Tammy who live in Auckland.
Mission Bay is a seaside suburb about 20 minutes from Auckland, it has a little promenade with some lovely bars and cafes on it and the beach is lovely. So we all had a chat and relax on the beach as the weather was gorgeous.
Then over the past few days me, Matt and my dad and Sanchia have been springing back and forth from Auckland like an elastic band.
The Bay of Islands
First of all we went up to the Bay of Islands for a couple of nights. My dad and Sanchia are on an organised bus tour, but Matt and I got the Naked Bus up there, and it cost us $2 return for what is a three hour journey each way! The drive was, in common with most drives in New Zealand, incredibly beautiful.
We had two nights in Paihia in the Bay of Islands, and it might just be my favourite place on the North Island! As was expected it was very pretty, it is a tiny town of around 2,000 people, it has a fabulous climate, where even in the winter the temperature hovers around the 16 degree mark and a totally laid back pace of life.
My dad had a friend in Paihia whom he had not seen for 40 years, so he caught up with him, and Matt and I just explored the town and socialised with some people in the hostel we were in.
On our second day in Paihia we went on a half day dolphin cruise around the Bay of Islands. It was great fun, the tour guide was informative and we saw some dolphins. We all learnt more about the history of the Bay of Islands as well.
Funniest moment for me of our trip, was on the second day when I bumped into a girl from our hostel in the town. We’d been drinking with her the night before, and for some reason when I saw her the next day we got talking about how old we were. She was 19 and when I told her I was 30 she said: ‘wow, I hope I am still doing what you are doing when I am your age’ as if I’ve just told her I was 80!
Back to Rotorua
We headed back to Auckland for one night before we then moved onto Rotorua. I’d been to Rotorua before, but it is an interesting town and it was where my dad and Sanchia were headed on their guided tour and Matt hadn’t been there either.
We stayed in the Funky Green Voyager hostel – which I’d highly recommend – it is really sociable, clean and the rooms are great and very comfortable. We were only there two nights and on the first night I wandered up to the ibis where my Dad and Sanchia was staying to meet them for a drink and by the time I got back to the hostel literally everyone was sat around in the communal area chatting and drinking together.
Yesterday we went on a trip to the Geothermal Park. I mentioned in my blog the last time I was in Rotorua that the town smells of sulphur/rotten eggs as it is built on thermal springs that emite hydrogen sulphide. Anyway I’d seen a lot of it before, but wandering around the thermal springs and taking in the sights, colours and smells of the place was equally interesting the second time! There is no doubt about it Rotorua is a unique place.
This morning we left Rotorua and are now back in Auckland. This will be my last day in Auckland as tomorrow we fly to Queenstown and I feel quite sad about it. The city has grown on me like no other.
When I first arrived here, and spent a couple of days here before going on the Kiwi Experience, I really wasn’t impressed, but the longer I spend here the more I have liked it. It has a wonderful mix of neighbourhoods, all quite different, beaches, parks, lots of things to do. I can see why it is regularly voted one of the most liveable cities in the World.
Rather aptly we walked up to the summit of Mount Eden this evening where we watched the sunset and, even though it might sound cliched, it was emblematic of the sun setting on my time in Auckland. Tomorrow we are off to another one of my favourite places – Queenstown!