This week we had off from classes, so I went up to the north island with my friend Eric. We traveled the middle part of the island, going to Hamilton, Waitomo, Turangi, Tongariro National Park, and Rotorua.
Hamilton was uneventful, but it was the closest airport to the things we wanted to do. By chance, we ended up at the same airport at the same time as the royal family (William and Kate). I’m not one for standing around gawking at celebrities, but we were waiting for our shuttle anyway, so we went over to watch. It was pretty neat getting to see them land and disembark. After that, we ended up going to the zoo. I really liked the zoo because it was designed more for the animals than the people. The exhibits didn’t necessarily have the best views, but provided the animals with plenty of space to explore around and avoid being near people if they wanted to.
After Hamilton, we went to Waitomo. On the way there, we stopped at Kawhia hot beach. We couldn’t figure out where the “hot” came into the picture, so we just went swimming in the ocean. After awhile I got snapped by a crab and then got out to avoid getting snapped again. The water was pretty cold but felt really good. After swimming, we went for a walk along the beach. On the way back, we found a few people digging holes and sitting in the water that pooled in them. We asked them and apparently there are geothermal vents or something of the sort under the sand that heats the water in the sand. It was so hot it felt like a hot tub in some places and was too hot to touch in other places. The only downfall was it smelled faintly of sulfur.
After the beach, we headed to Waitomo to go caving. Caving was AMAZING. We went on a tour with the Black Water Rafting Company and it was awesome. We did the tour called Black Abyss. They suit you in wet suits and boots and a guide takes you down into the glow worm caves. We repelled/absailed down 25 meters, ziplined through a patch and then went tubing through the black waters to see the glow worms. It was beautiful and really fun. After the tubing was over, we walked through the rest of the cave and had to swim at parts when the water got too deep. We jumped off 1 waterfall and climbed up 2 others to get out at the other end of the cave. It was such a great experience and worth every penny.
After Waitomo, our adventures continued which I’ll write about in my next post…
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Katie Steike and I'm a junior at the University of Rochester, studying molecular genetics and music. I love reading, playing soccer, and going on hikes and adventures! I'm going to be studying in Christchurch New Zealand for spring 2014 and I'm excited to become immersed in the Kiwi culture and explore the beautiful country!</span></p>