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Trip Report NZ ....3 weeks, 2400 miles, 14 hotels...and we loved it

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Cast of characters: my husband and I and another couple. We are in our 60’s and have traveled extensively with one another.
We in NZ just short of 3 weeks. We drove 2300 miles and stayed in 14 hotels. Not for everyone but we LOVED it and wouldn’t hve changed a thing. We don’t’ like to lie on a beach and relax. We like to drive and see things along the way. We didn’t have a set itinerary an except for the first night in Auckland , 2 nights in Mt. Cook and 2 nights in QT we didn’t have any reservations.
Sorry up front for any typos. I tried to clean everything up but might have missed some.
Bought tickets on Air New Zealand July 1, 2010 jumbo 747 12 hr. flight
$1056 for flight into Auckland and out of Christchurch
$70 for flight from Napier to Christchurch
Bought travel insurance for all 4 of us for $331.

Leave LAX Oct 24, at 11:45 p.m.
Arrive in Auckland at 8:40 a.m.
They fed us again on the plane at 2:00 a.m.

Interesting things about NZ:
They always give you milk for your coffee when you check into a motel/hotel
All the toilets are ½ flush full flush
Food is very expensive
Serve chutney will most meals
They don’t have splenda
Public bathrooms are plentiful…even in out of the way places

NORTH ISLAND:
OCT 26 Tuesday: AUCKLAND Stamford Plaza $127 all inclusive (SPEND FIRST NIGHT)
Walked around the city, parks and went up the sky tower, strolled the viaduct and had lunch at one of the city café’s and dinner at “The Waterfront” restaurant. They had a nice pool and Jacuzzi at the hotel on the 10th floor which we used. Went to sleep at 7:15 p.m. and woke up at 3:30 a.m.

OCT 27 Wednesday: Leave Auckland for WAITOMO 124 MILES 3 HRS Waitomo Caves Lodge Nice place with lovely hosts Colin and Janet. Very helpful. Their dog was Gypsy.
Saw something very funny on the way. Someone had written on their wood fence which ran along the main highway “Ken Greenwood owes me $300, STILL waiting Ken”.
Went on the Black Labyrinth Tour. Under water caves to see glowworms caves. You sit on an inner tube and float down these underground rivers. They supply you with a wetsuit, booties, helmet and a miners light so you can see. It was one of the highlights of our trip. Very exciting and the guides made it really interesting. If you wear glasses, and have the option of contacts…wear the contacts. I had my glasses on and it was OK but contacts would have been better. We had dinner fish and chips at Curleys bar. Fun place with locals and a pool table.

OCT 28 Thursday: Lake Taupo
Drove to Lake Taupo via the Tongariro National Park. It was cloudy so we were never able to see the peak of the volcano but its pretty country and there is a short hike that takes you to Tawhai falls which is really beautiful. Driving to Rotorua we stopped at Huka Falls and Craters of the Moon which are next to each other. Both worth seeing. Craters of the Moon is on a peninsula that is reached by boat and is not as spectacular as other thermal areas but still worth a visit. Lots of steaming mud pots….the sound is great.
No tour buses visit here that I could see. Huka falls is very cool. The electricity generated here supplies most of the island.
Took highway 1 from Taupo up to Rotorua. Visited the Museum (cool building but not much Maori stuff inside) and then went back to the hotel
Wai-o-tapu (20 min south of Rotorua) very compact and colorful.

to be continued.....

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