New Zealand was a country we’d heard a lot about, mainly its beauty, and it didn’t disappoint. We flew from Perth to Christchurch to start our tour of New Zealand.
Christchurch was okay, but basically a normal city, rather than the beautiful countryside we were looking forward to seeing, so we were a little impatient to go. Our AirBnB left something to be desired as well (like an up-to-date kitchen and any place in the house that a curious one-year-old could explore). So we wandered around a lot, partially completed a free walking tour, and watched a remote control boat club sail tiny yachts around a small lake.
RV relocation, Take 2
After our first RV relocation in Australia, we decided to try another one to help us see a bit of NZ, and we found a Christchurch to Auckland one that fit our time-frame, so we settled into another moving house and drove north, taking a ferry between the islands and exploring some of the beauty of New Zealand.
And dang, New Zealand is beautiful. We took way too many pictures of pretty water, pretty hills, pretty landscapes. We cruised along roads where every turn took our breath away, and we were constantly amazed at what we were seeing. The country is jaw-dropping.
Along the way, we of course stopped at Lord of the Rings sites, including Rivendell and Hobbiton (Matamata in real life) and enjoyed the nerdy hobbit-hole houses. (The free ones. If you think we were going to pay those kinds of prices for a tour of a movie set, you are sadly mistaken.)
The big highlight of the drive, though, was Hot Tub Beach. There’s a beach way north in New Zealand where you go so you can dig a big hole and then you sit in it. It’s okay, you don’t feel weird; everybody’s digging holes and sitting in them. So you dig your hole and you sit in it, and hot water seeps in from below to create your own personal hot tub in the sand! Ideally, you dig your hole just close enough to the ocean that the waves occasionally splash into your hot tub to cool it down, because that water is hot. Sitting in the beach, in a giant tub of warm water, with the ocean lapping the edge of it… bliss.
All the volcanic activity underneath the islands creates several crazy thermal spots, but this was by far the most awesome. There was plenty of other cool ones too though, like these sulfur springs.
After the RV relocation, which flew by way too quickly, we hunkered down in Auckland for a three-week stay. During that time, we met up with my aunt and uncle who happened to be traveling in the area, did lots of wandering and play time with the kiddo, and survived an enormous rainstorm that almost flooded the trailer thing we were staying in. The area was lovely, the people were pleasant, and we had a relaxing time before leaving for Japan.
To sum up New Zealand: the major cities are cities, which is just fine, but to really experience the awesomeness of the country, you have to get out of the cities and drive a bit. There are tons of beautiful, fascinating natural wonders all over if you go out and look around. We loved it.