Friday a few of us rented a car for a weekend of exploring some of the North Island with little planned. Driving on the other side of the road as you know takes a little getting used to. I was the primary driver for the weekend and I was up to the challenge. It took about 45 min to really feel comfortable and not swerve to the left for no reason. The others were a bit sceptical of my abilities at first. Starting off in the city with heavy Friday traffic makes it that much harder.
Our first destination was the Coromandel Peninsual. The first thing we noticed as we left Auckland was that NZ is empty. I sort of knew this, but wow. Rolling hills, sheep, cows,… and that’s it. As far as the eye can see. Once we got closer to Coromandel we noticed the mountains rising and the roads becoming curvy. Hairpin narrow turns every 200 yards with cliffs on the side is what the road consisted of. The dense forests were like none I have ever seen. Vegetation is incredibly thick lively. Our destination was a hot sping beach where you could dig in the sand and make yourself a natural hot spring to sit in. Unfortunately we got there at high tide and were unable to do this. So we just played around on the beach for a bit. Katie found us a ‘short cut’ back to the main road on the map. It was about 30+ km of dirt road slalom track. Cliff side, fast, steep, narrow, dirt. It looked like a dirt bike track. It was fun to drive on, but I think my passengers were a little scared.
We landed in Raglan that evening. It’s a small surf community south west of Auckland. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate, so we didn’t do much beaching there. We had some dinner and crashed at the local hostel up in the mountains. The locals are a little odd. Every one there seemed like the typical burnt out surfer dude. Katie and I found a cool look out that night and were able to see some stars.
The next morning we set out for Bridal Vell Falls. The view was amazing. We managed to get there just before the tourist rush, so we had it all to ourselfs. The rest of that day took us cross island towards Rotorua (or Roto Vegas as the locals call it). We stopped in a small town called Matamata for some uber tourism. This is where the shire scenes from the Lord of the Rings were filmed. Some of the set still remains. It was a little lengthy, but cool none the less. I speak for myself of course. It was over run by sheep which provided much entertainment. The tour also brought us to a sheep shearing demo where we got to feed some baby lambs by hand. I managed to get sheep milk all over my pants. Them lambs were pretty grabby.
That night we had a great dinner in Rotorua witch was followed by some tomfoolery. The next morning was a little painful for all of us, but we still managed to go zorbing at about 9:00 am. For those who don’t know, you pretty much climb into a giant hamster ball and roll down a hill. We then headed up to the Auckland area to finish off the day with some 4 wheeling. This was the highlight of my weekend. We got to ride around in the woods and on a beautiful beach for 2+ hours.
photos will be in the gallery shortly