There are lots of inspirational travel quotes- the one listed right above me in this hostel reads… “Traveling isn’t about finding yourself it’s about learning and listening to yourself. Then happily, very happily being yourself” -Keren Smail…beautiful, lovely, inspiring, etc. However, there are also the less lofty and wildly practical things you encounter while traveling. For example, many Kiwis are on vacation, so we were forced to go to Dunkin Donuts one morning for coffee. The following conversation ensued:
Jason: Can I please have a cup of regular coffee?
Dunkin Donuts lady: Do you mean a cappuccino?
Jason: No, just a regular cup of coffee, like the one being poured in that video above the menu.
Dunkin Donuts lady: So, do you want a shot of coffee in hot water?
Jason: (*sigh, look of utter defeat) Um, how about a cappuccino?
Dunkin Donuts lady: Ok, perfect.
Turns out, there are no coffee pots around. The Kiwis take their coffee very seriously, and there aren’t just brewed pots of coffee waiting to be poured and enjoyed- they actually make the coffee for you and you can’t just order a regular cup of coffee. Lesson learned.
Jason and I are now happily sitting on the South Island of New Zealand with lots of great memories from the North Island. Since Hobbiton, we toured a town called Rotorua. It is an area with lots of geothermal activity and, being that I have a nose that is easily offended, the sulfur smell in the area wasn’t something to which I ever really became accustomed. We did manage to escape the smell with a hike through the redwoods (yes, I am hiking). Turns out, I really didn’t prepare myself all that well to be doing things like hiking. I also am not sure exactly what kind of trip I was expecting to take, but at the outset, I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t ever wear the hiking shoes that Jason insisted I bring. He insisted, I resisted, citing the fact that they take up too much (precious) room in my tiny bag. Turns out, there is not a museum in every city, nor are there lots of indoor activities for me to do, so I have been rocking the hiking boots for pretty much the entire trip. My hair looks bad, I’m pretty dusty, and also really loving it (well, not the bad hair, but the experiences in general). We found a great cover band in Rotorua called Grand Theft Audio after the hiking adventures and we stayed out until late in the night, made some new friends, and were generally merry. The next day, we went to the Polynesian Spa and got into the thermal baths- they pipe in the water from the geothermal springs and the waters are supposed to have healing properties. Though I didn’t feel healed, I did smell really weird for a while.
The next morning (see video below), we went on a Skyline Luge ride on these little carts. Jason wore the GoPro on his head and he happily strung together a Linsey’s Greatest Hits video that documents my general reticence to go fast down the track. There was a lot more head shaking that he edited out. He likes to live on the edge and I much prefer the middle, thank you very much.
From the luge, we drove down to Lake Taupo. Again, at the risk of being repetitive, we had another coffee experience. We both ordered iced coffee, and as we are walking down the street, we notice that neither one of us has ice in the coffee. It is just a big hunk of ice cream in the middle of the cup. That was a win. We had to walk all that ice cream off on our trip to Huka Falls, which are BEAUTIFUL and the color of the water doesn't even seem real. We went swimming along the shores of the Waikato River (see video).
On Lake Taupo, we also went sailing on a little ship called the Barbary, where we saw ancient Maori rock carvings (we were then informed that they were carved in the 1980s). Jason jumped into the water off of the sailboat (see video).
The next day, we were due in Wellington, but Jason wanted to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is the home of “Mount Doom” from the Lord of the Rings movies. It is supposed to take about 7-9 hours and it took him 4.5. I decided to wait in the car, as it would’ve taken me 10-14 hours and I would’ve likely slipped down the mountain and a helicopter would’ve had to come rescue me. However, I did bravely drive alone from the drop off point to the pickup point alone AND I drove to Wellington. Basically I’m so proud of myself for not crashing. Once we got to Wellington, we stayed with a FANTASTIC couple through Airbnb, who shared their wine, their travels, and their home with us. We went to the Te Papa museum, explored the city, caught an outdoor concert, and we caught the ferry from the North Island to the South Island of New Zealand. We’ve already been wowed by the South Island and are looking forward to our upcoming adventures. Below are some pictures of some of the things we did on the North Island.