Alrighty then! A few days into the trip and I need to get a serious grip on this whole “budget” concept I hear people talkin about … But whatevs, I’ll get it down or … Run out of money? I need to find those trees that grow money, I think they’re near the fountain of youth.
There is so much to say, so I’m just gonna dive right in!
Jan 30, left SF at 7:00pm. Bitter sweet because I’ll miss everyone (esp my boo—143) but SOFA king excited! Landed in Auckland at 5:00am on Feb 1. Got my bags, went through customs, got my rental car, got in the car, realized there was no steering wheel, got in the right (literally and figuratively) side of the car, and off I went!
Driving on the left side of the road is trippy. I am so glad the first 2 hours I spent in the car were in the wee hours of the morning so there weren’t as many possible victims on the road. It’s not the actual driving, it’s the little things that successfully make you feel like a complete moron. For instance:
Blinker. Oops that’s the windshield wiper. Other side, oh, it’s opposite: flick up for left blinker, down for right.
Left hand turn. Staring into traffic. Realize you are turning with traffic instead of across it. Pull out like a moron who was holding up traffic for 3 minutes.
Rear view mirror. Oh that’s the door jam, the rest of the car is on the other side. Including the rear view.
Why is everyone going so slow (obviously I think this)?! Ohhh, the left hand lane is the SLOW lane.
Exits are on the left.
A roundabout going to the left …………….. WTFFFFF?!?!? …………………. Okay, just don’t die. Success.
You get it. Crossing the street as a pedestrian is also weird. Make sure you look both ways—8 times—to process what you’re seeing.
So I drove to Rotorua and went to the Polynesian Spa and checked out the town. The Polynesian Spa is one of the top 10 spas in the word and they have pools that they fill with water from the local hot springs that you soak in as you look out across the lake at the volcano. Absolutely amazing. I got a Manuka Honey Body Polish/Aix Combo massage … which means they basically scrub your entire body with this awesome smelling stuff, then give you a massage underneath a five-foot-long shower head. I want to go back already.
Then I drove down to Lake Taupo and went bungy jumping at Taupo Bungy!! (I am super excited that I can cross another thing off my Life List!) I could try to describe it … but here are a few pictures and you can watch the whole thing on video on the SanFranciscoSooner Facebook page:
It was so crazy. I signed up to go at 3:00pm and I was running late getting there and didn’t know how strict they were about schedule so I was stressing about being late all the way there, and since I had already pre-paid all I had to do when I got there was sign my life away and get weighed. Once that was over they told me to walk out to the platform, where I met a dude who put the harness on me and before I knew it I was shuffling up to the edge of the jump platform. I was seriously there for mayyyybe 10 minutes before I was jumping. So I didn’t really have any time to get super nervous before hand … that was probably a good thing. It was so awesome, and it’s seriously over like THAT! So much adrenaline after. I felt like boxing a grizzly bear in a rattlesnake pit after I was done. Challenge accepted!
After that, I wandered around Taupo for a little bit then drove on over to Waitomo and stayed at the Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge Bed & Breakfast. Super cute place, and the people were so nice. And the husband of the couple who ran it made homemade “biscuits” and they were SO good. Omg so good. I laid my tiny, tired baby head on the pillow at about 9:30pm and I was out like a light!
The next morning I woke up, ate breakfast with the other inhabitants of the B&B, and then ventured up the road to the Legendary Black Water Rafting Company to do some black water rafting. That was so much fun. They deck you out in wet suits, boots, and helmets, make you look like a royal douche, give you an inner-tube, show you how to jump off waterfalls, and then take you down into a cave filled with water and you climb/float along in the mostly dark. The roofs of the caves are covered with glow worms, so there is one part where all the members of the group form an “eel” (which means you put your feet under the armpits of someone and someone puts their feet under yours and form a line) and just float along with the helmet lights off, staring up at the glowing dots all over the top of the cave. Sooo pretty. The whole thing was so fun, minus the water being freezing balls, and the tour guides were legitimately funny. Always a plus. Love me some humor.
After the rafting adventure, I drove back up to Auckland and explored the city and found a hostel to stay at. Auckland is pretty cool, it’s compact and small and kinda reminds me of SF in that aspect. It’s kind of a quiet city … everything closes relatively early. It’s weird to be walking around a big city and half the stores are closed at 8pm. I walked up to the Sky Tower and checked out the siiiiiiick views of the city from up there, and had me a little glass of wine. Then I went down to the Viaduct District, which is where the harbor is and there are a lot of cool/nice restaurants and bars. I got myself some prawn and scallop fettuccine and some more wine, and then went around the corner to meet up with a friend of a friend who lives in Auckland for some drinks.
The next morning I awoke to my first international parking ticket! Woohoo! $65 … WTF! I wandered around the city some more and then headed north up the coast to get a little beach action. The weather was overcast and a little chilly but I wanted to see all that I could while I was there. I ended up at Goat Island which was so cool. The ocean’s expansiveness takes my breath away every time I look at it. That pretty much summed up my last day in New Zealand.
Next stop is Sydney, Australia! If you have any suggestions of things I can do while I’m there or things I absolutely have to do, PLEASE let me know in the comments!!