Andrew's Poorly Planned yet Phenomenal Peregrination in the Pacific, Part 1

Previous entry.'s been threatened for a while but people are still waiting... Kind of like the Second Coming that way...

This one, though, has arrived!  In 2 parts (cause all the pictures won't fit in one email...)!

So, basically, I did a lot of stuff in a week.  To give a sense of scale, I'll start in list form:

  • Arrived in Auckland.
  • Sampled some fine New Zealand beers (they do more than just good wine!).
  • Slept in a hostel.
  • Started driving, with numerous stops to try and take some photos.
  • Quickly realized that I would get nowhere if I kept stopping to take photos every time I saw something nice.
  • Drove to Goat Island Marine Reserve, utilizing the fun New Zealand back roads.
  • Took a glass bottomed boat ride.
  • Continued driving, stopping at a few waterfalls (like Whangarei Falls).  Sunset watching a waterfall.
  • Continued driving up to Whatuwhiwhi (wh = f in NZ, but the name was too unique to pass up mentioning).
  • Slept in the car.
  • Drove down to Waipoua Forest, again with a few stops (note the pattern?  I'll stop mentioning the small stops...).
  • Walked among the giant kauri trees.
  • Drove down to Waitomo.
  • Slept in the car.
  • Went abseiling/rappelling, zip lining, black water rafting, and climbing through the glow worm caves.
  • Drove over to Rotorua.
  • Watched the geysers at Te Puia.
  • Enjoyed a Māori feast and cultural experience.
  • Slept in the car.
  • Whitewater rafting.
  • Gondola ride.
  • Sky Swing.
  • Luging.
  • Ogo.
  • Drove up to Matamata in time to miss a tour.
  • Drove down to Whakapapa.
  • Slept in the car.
  • Attempted to go skiing.  Foiled by rain and fog (at the bottom), snow and wind (at the top).
  • Drove up to Matamata.
  • Assaulted by the Party Tree.
  • Drove back to Auckland.
  • Sampled more fine New Zealand beer.
  • Slept in the car (was quite comfortable by this point, especially with the beer).
  • Took the ferry to Rangitoto.  Wandered around.
  • Took the ferry to Devonport.  Wandered around.
  • Took the ferry to Auckland.  Had more beer.
  • Slept in the car.
  • Went up the sky tower.
  • Attempted to go America's Cup sailing.  Failed (for three days straight, too windy...).
  • Drove out to Hallertau.  Had more beer (look...a friend knows one of the best NZ brewers, who told me where I had to try the beer...I couldn't let him down!).
  • Drove out to Muriwai Beach.  Watched the birds, kiteboarder, and failing surfers.
  • Drove out to Bethells Beach.
  • Drove back to the airport.
  • Treated to one last fine NZ sunset before my flight.

I took a lot of photos until I realized that if I stopped at every picturesque location, I'd never get anywhere (and this only counts the places I actually could stop without blocking the road...).  This happened fairly early on the first day...  It also happened that many of the activities I partook in were not conducive to photography...  Sorry I can't show more, but I had things to do and places to see!  Also note that, while I like these pictures, I couldn't even catch the best parts:(.  C'est la vie.

As the title says Poorly Planned, I should probably explain.  At any given point, I had little idea of what I'd be doing after my currently planned exercise.  Sometimes I decided what to do from my list of options from a friend who used to live in New Zealand.  Sometimes I decided based on the advice of a random person I met at a previous activity.  Sometimes I looked in the guidebook or on a map and said "that sounds interesting".  Sometimes I saw a road sign and thought, "What is that?" and just turned off.  Sometimes I just asked the GPS, "What's nearby?".  Many of these side trips don't even make the list.  Google Maps tells me the suggested route hitting all these destinations in order would take 1957 km (and 26 hours)--my trip distance was closer to 2600 km.

Related to the above, I should mention the driving.  New Zealand roads are fun (dad would hate them).  Speed limits are generally 100 km/h (~60 mph).  Many of the turns (in a cheap rental car) require you to slow down closer to 30 km/h (~20 mph) to avoid slipping off a cliff.  They also drive on the left.  This would be an epic place to rent a motorcycle or sports car.  If you get a normal rental, expect the driving to take you significantly longer than what the distances and speed limits would suggest.

And now...*drum roll*...the story!

To be continued in part 2...

Comment here!

Airport Arrival Auckland Sky Tower Ginger Beer! New Zealand Brews Sky Tower at night
Some cool looking lights Funky tree trying to block my path! Mmmm, worms! Woof woof!