26.10.2009 - 03.11.2009
Back to NZ, much less trouble at the airport.
How to get around here?
New Zealand's specialty are backpackers' buses. This is like a regular bus line crossed with a tour. You travel on a minibus with a certain route and schedule, but this bus does not take you only from A to B. There's also some Cs, Ds and Es on the way in-between. These are lookouts, short mountain walks, activities (from abseiling to zorbing), beaches... The bus driver is expected to take you around NZ and show its best. But you may also hop off at any point on the route and continue few days later on another bus which is going this way. Classic Down Under travel experiences - meeting new people, etc... - are included in the scheme.
I travelled through the North Island very quickly, without any stopovers. In short:
Close to Hahei, on the Coromandel Peninsula, you may find a hot water beach. Do not go to the beach without a shovel! After arriving to the shore, dig a mini pool for you and your mates - 30 cm is enough - and enjoy hot water raising from the deep. The last report of cannibalism at Hot Water Beach (the bodies of killed enemies were buried on the beach for few hours, which was enough for cooking time) is dated at 1902.
In Waitomo Caves, you may go underground to admire glowworms, or explore the caves in several ways - abseiling, tubing, rafting.
In Maketu, you learn a haka dance from the Maori.
Rotorua and Taupo are known center for any kind of adrenaline sport. I played it safe And cheap! This is also a volcanic region with hot springs, hot mud and smell of sulfur in the air.
In Tongariro Park, a few hour walk will take you around Mt Doom. It doesn't look that spectacular as in the movie, though - where are all the flames and lava gone????
Ohakune, on the way to Wellington is a home of Giant Carrot Statue. Care to comment, anyone?
A few miles further, in Taihape, you'll find yourself in the Gumboot Capital of the World. Gumboots are popular around whole NZ, as far as I can see, but only in Taihape they are an object of some cult. The culmination point is Gumboot Throwing Competition. We also arranged a small tournament for our bus For all of those, who love the idea, here's the Gumboot song (turn on the sound).
And of course, at the end comes Wellywood, the capital of their film industry. The Weta studio, where the most of the LOTR was created, works now on a new project, called Avatar.