our transfer to the north island started somewhat hectically:
we were woken up 15 minutes before the ferry was supposed to depart, had to leave behind a wonderful breakfast that was prepared for us by the friendly hosts of forget me not b&b, and rushed over to the ferry area — where we waited in line for just as long as the breakfast might have taken…
the ferry took us through part of the marlborough sounds, turned back south, and continued on its s-shaped route to wellington [G].
we spent most of the day in wellington itself, and then drove to palmerston for the night.
our next stop was taupo, right in the center of new zealand’s north island [G]. a lot of people say that lake taupo (the giant volcanic crater lake) is best viewed from above… so of course we wanted to see for ourselves. :-)
there was only one question i had to ask before booking our skydive with freefall:
- me: if my parachute doesn’t inflate, will i get my money back?
ticketing lady: don’t worry – you’re paying afterwards.
from her reaction, i’d guess that she gets that question about 15 times a day…
i didn’t tell my family about it until i got home, then just told them i wanted to show them something, and played the video. the looks on their faces were priceless!
soon after we landed, we headed on to rotorua and visited wai-o-tapu thermal wonderland (which matthias and emilie had recommended to me).
to be honest, i didn’t expect something so beautifu to be so …stinky ;-)
that same evening, we went to see a maori folklore show – sort of like a new zealandish tyrolean evening.
it had a very touristy feeling, but it was nevertheless interesting to see some maori traditions and hear their songs – even at the risk of seeing just a commercialized version of the original.
the maori people – new zealand’s natives – have come from polynesia not too long ago (~1000 years or so), so their music still has a lot of the polynesian style that i love to listen to:
[download] (mp3, 1,2MB)
there’s a lot of coverage on youtube, including dances and more music.
next, we went on a tour with spellbound (nice tour, small group!) to see the infamous “glowworm caves” near waitomo.
their name couldn’t be more misleading: new zealand’s “glowworms” are actually the larval stadium of a fungus gnat called arachnocampa luminosa. these larvae live on the ceilings of caves and grottos and catch their prey using sticky threads and biolumiscence (wikipedia: [de] [en]).
before driving on to auckland, we went to see some things in the area around kawhia: a postvolcanic dark-gray beach with hot springs right in the intertidal zone (locals like to dig holes and create hotwater pools) and some more natural sights.
and finally, we got to my last destination in new zealand: beautiful auckland.