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ScouseLeeM on Tour
19th Jan 2017 - 26th Jan 2017
New Zealand Chapter 1: North Island

Nineteen years in the making...some time after my backpacking year in Australia, I finally get the chance to tick New Zealand off the bucket list. Having somehow bypassed this wonderous land all that time ago, key objectives for this trip were the Waitomo glow worm caves, Milford sound, and a chance to get up close and personal to the glaciers...

To start the trip, a few days gently meandering around Auckland soaking up a very British style mix of sun and downpours, taking a harbour cruise, and then a full day out to visit the Hobbiton movie set/hobbit holes plus the Waitomo caves. Hobbiton was fun, but the Waitomo caves were truly wonderous - sat in silence on our little boat, staring up in awe at what appeared to be the most star-filled sky you could ever wish to see...also an unscheduled stop at an Antarctic experience/aquarium, when it pissed down rain during a hike along the coast. At least it was a chance to see some penguins ahead of my intended Antarctic expedition (whenever I find a buyer for my kidney).

Following this, it was time for our pack to assemble for 15 days touring North and South Islands. And what a pack of amazing individuals it was, would truly put the Avengers to shame:

Chief Bravefart - Andrew, our Scottish trumping and snoring champion

Catwoman - Catrin the Welsh Ironwoman

Juliet Bravo - Sarah, the (former) long arm of the law

Possum Peter and Adrenaline Junkie Norann, the dynamic Anglo-Irish duo

Lady of the Rings - Elizabeth, our human dictionary and resident J R R Tolkien fanatic

Co Captain America/MC Star Spangled banner - Meredith, our all American gal, thankfully not living up to all American stereotypes

FBI's Most Wanted  - aka 'Bessie' amongst many names and aliases we discovered later. Allegedly a Canadian teacher..

Speedy Gonzalez - Veronika, Lithuanian greased lightening. Wind her up and watch her go..

The German Smoke Machine and Swiss Miss - Nina and Hannah, our font of foreign swear word entertainment

The Pocket Rocket - Marie, our trusty Kiwi 'Gandalf' leader and entertainment coordinator supreme

After a fairly civilized meal on our first night together, little could I imagine what was to follow over the coming weeks. A very harmonious, chilled out group with at times a rather risque  British style 'Carry On Kiwi' sense of humor, made for a very memorable trip..

North island highlights started with the Coromandel Peninsula. Trying in vain to dig a  'jacuzzi' at Hot Water Beach, before simply stealing someone elses, we stayed at gorgeous lodgings in Hahei, taking an afternoon hike to the beautiful Cathedral Cove.

Following this it was off to Rotorua, stopping for a team photo at a ruddy big bottle of L&P soft drink in Paeroa (as you do). A variety of activities ensued, I took the chance to visit the rather stinky Hells Gate geothermal park, and take a head to toe dip in volcanic mud and sulphur pools. Having been advised not to wear my own swimming shorts due to the lingering sulphur smells, ended up hiring a pair that proved to be a size too small so left me looking like some dodgy budie smuggling twerp. Key fun fact of the trip: a human body can be fully disolved in Hells Gate mudpools in 3 days, including teeth and bones! Others in the group went white water rafting, zorbing down a hill, having relaxing massages or just chilling in town.

We spent the night at the Tamaki Maori Village, living in a traditioanl communal hut, where the group got to experience Chief Bravefarts tuneful snoring all night long. Before thtat delight, we were ritually humiliated with a group rendition of 'I would walk 500 miles' to introduce us to the locals, taught a local Maori song to perform that eveing before a large crowd of tourists. Additionally the blokes in our group were 'taught' (I use the term loosely) the Haka - apparently my tongue action was quite good... The girls were taught other dances/games to ensure humiliation was evenly spread. Following a feast of a dinner, it was time for a hot tub soak in what felt like liquid magma with Catwoman and the German Smoke Machine, a few drinks in front of a roaring fire then a sleepless night near a Scottish bulldozer.

More geothermal visits at Wai-O-Tapu including a visit to Lady Know Geyser, followed - much team debate on pronunciation of 'geyser' took up most of the morning. Cockney 'geezer' was popular, but ultimately over ruled...after a stop at Mt Ruapehu, it was on to the remark - a - bull -y entertaining town of Bulls en route to Wellington.

After a quick tour of Wellington with the pocket rocket, some of us went on the cable car and took a surprisingly entertaining tour of the botanical gardens, normally not my destination of choice. I'm sure this should have actually taken about 30 minutes, but felt like decades as we wandered in what seemed liked circles aimlessly and took comedy gold photos. After this I took a trip to the Zeatopia nature reserve to take in some bird and lizard wildlife plus spectacular scenery, and a visit to the Te Papa museum (with an amzing Gallipoli exhibit created by Peter Jackson), before an untimely migraine attack curtailed my North Island experience...

South Island here we come...



Next: New Zealand Chaper 2: South Island pt I
Previous: Salt Lake City


Diary Photos
19th Jan 2017  Auckland Skytower

19th Jan 2017  Auckland Tourist Board honesty
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19th Jan 2017  Penguins
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19th Jan 2017  Manky penguin
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19th Jan 2017  A very happy ray!
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20th Jan 2017  Shark bus
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21st Jan 2017  Hobbiton
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21st Jan 2017  Hanging with the Hobbits
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21st Jan 2017  Bilbo Baggins pad
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21st Jan 2017  Waitomo glow worm caves
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21st Jan 2017  Waitomo 2
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21st Jan 2017  Auckland
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22nd Jan 2017  Auckland panorama
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22nd Jan 2017  Hot water beach
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23rd Jan 2017  Cathedral Cove
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23rd Jan 2017  Coromandel Peninsula
Coromandel Peninsula

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24th Jan 2017  Hells Gate
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24th Jan 2017  Maori living
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24th Jan 2017  Chief Bravefart meets Maori Chief
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24th Jan 2017  Swing it, shake it, move it, make it..
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24th Jan 2017  Paeroa
Paeroa

24th Jan 2017  Haka
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24th Jan 2017  Tamaki Maori Village
Tamaki Maori Village

24th Jan 2017  Bloody warm
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24th Jan 2017  Wai-O-Tapu
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24th Jan 2017  Lady Know geyser - going...
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24th Jan 2017  Going...
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24th Jan 2017  Gone!
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25th Jan 2017  Bulls humor
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25th Jan 2017  Wai O Tapu mudpools
Wai O Tapu mudpools

25th Jan 2017  Wellington
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25th Jan 2017  Wellington parliament
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25th Jan 2017  Sundial running slow?
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25th Jan 2017  Combined IQ needed to read a sundial?
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25th Jan 2017  Artistic shot for this trip...
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26th Jan 2017  Zealandia - Takahe
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26th Jan 2017  Eel
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26th Jan 2017  Tuatara
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26th Jan 2017  Wellington skyline
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26th Jan 2017  Gallipoli exhibit Wellington
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26th Jan 2017  Wellington
Wellington

26th Jan 2017  Lost in Botanical gardens...
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26th Jan 2017  Peek a boo
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26th Jan 2017  Cook Straight
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