When it comes down to it, going to Fiji before New Zealand was a relaxed paradise that was appreciated, and I’m very grateful that it happened, but the excitement that happened in Auckland was the entire reason that I wanted to come to New Zealand. It was 5 days of trying new things, meeting new people, and going on as many adventures as you can fit in 24 hours.
We took a tour of Auckland, with our first stop being Mt. Eden.
It’s one of the many inactive volcanoes that make up the ‘ring of fire’ in Auckland. The large crater in the center is no longer allowed to be inhabited.
From the top you are able to see most of Auckland, from the harbor, all the way to the forests.
Where we took a few pictures.
After the nature center we made our way to Lion’s rock, which is located along a black beach. The sand is black because of volcanic rock which also gives the sand magnetic properties.
After the beach we took a walk a mile from the beach and ended up on a hike in the middle of the woods.
We learned about a few different native plants, and saw the silver fern, which is the symbol of the ‘All Blacks’ and New Zealand
The 45 minute hike lead us to a beautiful waterfall.
Friday was our busiest day, with a lot of walking, but it was amazing to see so many different environments in and around Wellington.
Saturday was slightly more laid back. We stayed in the City of Auckland and walked around all morning long. In the early afternoon we headed over to the sky tower.
In groups of 6, we were put into jumpsuits and given a harness for the 45 minutes skywalk. With no handrails and only 2 ropes attached to our harness, we walked 360 degrees around the top of the sky tower on a 2 foot wide walkway 192 meters above the ground. It was an amazing fear to overcome, just stepping out onto the platform was an action your body refused to take, and in the end all of us had leaned over, looked down, walked backwards, and hung off of the tower.
Later that day we walked over to Auckland University to learn a little bit about safety and traveling throughout New Zealand. Surprising to us, TEAN had set up a little surprise with a local Maori High school.
High-schoolers, who have learned the Maori traditions, preformed a few song and dances for us. They even tried teaching us a few of the simpler songs.
Sunday we left Auckland early in the morning and made a 3 hour bus ride south to Rotorua. Rotorua is famous for smelling lot rotten eggs, due to the thermal mud pools caused from the areas geothermal activity.
We stopped and looked at a few of the hot mud pools, and unfortunately, no matter how many times signs told us not to touch the water, curiosity got the best of us.
We ate lunch in town and did a little “owl-ing” down by the bay before getting back on the bus to go white water rafting.
So if anyone is hugely into white water rafting, Rotorua is the place to go. It has the largest commercially used waterfall in the world. Its over 7 meters (around 21 feet) and you have a 50-50 chance of flipping the entire raft or falling out.
They split us into 2 groups, the first group fit into 4 rafts and went to the river. The second group went on a hike to watch everyone come down the falls.
The company we went with was very nice and extremely helpful. Id like to thank them for taking these amazing pictures
When coming down the falls, if the raft didn’t go completely underwater, it would have flipped. Of the 7 rafts that went over the falls, only one flipped and only 2 people fell out while coming over the falls. (with no injuries)
Although only 2 people actually fell out of the raft, there was at least another 10 (including me) that willingly jumped out of the raft during calmer points along the river in 10 degree Celsius water (which is around 50 degrees fahrenheit and COLD.) Whether you jumped out or not, everyone got soaked by the end of the trip and was eager to head back and get into dry clothes.
That night we also made our way to the Rotorua thermal baths. They are hot pools of water that are heated thermally from the geothermal activity. They are meant to have soothing and healing capabilities.
The next day we made our way back to Auckland and to the airport. We each split up and headed to our distinctive universities, with promises to visit each other soon. Auckland orientation was full of adventures, fun, laughs, and a lot of wonderful friends. I can’t wait to travel and meet up with everyone again.