HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NORTH ISLAND
- BAY OF ISLANDS: If you can survive the 4 hour drive (which I rented a car for) I highly recommend checking out the Bay of Islands. I got some incredible weather and had the priviledge of working with R. Tucker Thompson and meeting some awesome people. Paihia is a great place to make your home base and you can check everything out in about 4 days. Kings Rd. has some cool bars and has several good backpacking hostels. If you have the time to kill, Russell is a cool town across the bay and the Waipo forest if you can survive the 2 hour drive west. Other than that I missed out on sand surfing, which I'm told was pretty cool, but its a 3 hour drive or so to the west. Activities range from hiking, boating, dolphin watching, and scuba. All are awesome if you have some spare change lying around.
- RIVER VALLEY: I wish I had more time here. One night was all I got. The lodge was great. The rooms were great. The people were great and the home-cooked food was frickin' awesome. Totally an awesome place to come and relax, enjoy nature, volleyball, cricket, and did I mention river raft? Ya, best activity for your buck. Or if rafting ain't your thing (and it totally should be) you can horse trek at sunset, which I'm told is amazing.
- MAORI CULTURAL NIGHT(Rotorua): Amazing to see, watch, and learn about the Maori people and their culture. Very eye opening. Really enjoyed their company, their games, and their food was great.
- GLOW WORM CAVES: Pretty cool to see. I'd definitely find some time to get into a cave in Waitomo to check out the glow worms. Really neat.
COOL FREE STUFF!
- Thermal Pool (Taupo): Don't walk...taxi. There's a great spot to unwind at the Spa Park in Taupo. Great to relax the bones in a man-made FREE thermal pool.
- Thermal pools (Rotorua): You can pay to see cool geysers exploding, but they are cool thermal pools at a park for free.
- Huka Falls (Taupo): Badass waterfall that makes you feel glad your on land. Its pretty freakin' intense and pretty freakin' cool.
- Lawn Bowling (Rotorua): For me, its called bocce. Had a nice lil sunday of watchin some old ladies duke it out over some lawn bowling. I found it quite entertaining. I woulda played but they totally woulda whooped my butt.
- Hot Rock Beach (Near Mercury Bay): Ya, stick you feet in some sand and let'em warm up. Bring a shovel, get some space, and enjoy you free thermal pool on the beach. Pretty sweet.
- Waipo Forest (somewhere west of Paihia): I mean, if you like trees its pretty cool. Its a bit of a drive, but its kinda cool. Don't stress yourself out if you miss it though.
- Auckland/Mercury Bay: This is kinda by default cause of rain. Couldn't walk around Auckland nor really enjoy the beach.
- Zorbing: I skipped it cause it was a little pricey for what it was. The few that did it seemed to have fun though.
- Water: Don't buy it. Tap water out here is fine.
- Black Water Cavin: I mean, it was cool but cold. It was really different, kinda exhilarating, kinda sucky, kinda pricey. I went at 8am in March, so it was a lil chillier than normal. Your call.
- Internet: Hostels make you pay out the ass. OUT THE ASS.
- Sleep: This bus picks you up like 8am everyday and sleeping on the bus is quite hard.
- BEST ACTIVITY: River rafting in River Valley.
- BEST DRINK: Hot coco. Anywhere.
- BEST HOSTEL: Urban Backpackers in Taupo. $4 beer. $5 dinner. Boom.
- WORST HOSTEL: Base.
- BEST/WORST HIKE: Tongarino Crossing (Mt. Doom)
- BIGGEST MISS: Raglan. (But, I'm getting there on my way back up. Told its a must go.)
- BEST HOSPITALITY: Waitomo. The desk girl Hayley (I think) helped me dry my drenched shoes in her commercial dryer. She will forever rock my world.
- BEST BEER: Tui. Good time. Kinda like newcastle.
- WORST IDEA: Ginger beer.
- BEST FOOD: River Valley Lodge. OMG.
- BEST IDEA: R. Tucker Thompson Boat Cruise. Great people, great times, great hospitality. Will always have great memories of working with them in the Bay of Islands.