A Travellerspoint blog

Land of the Long White Cloud.

New Zealand. (2004).

sunny

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Roses in Christchurch Botanical Gardens.

We had wanted to go to New Zealand for a long time, but could never find a good deal on the airfare. When to my surprise, my husband suddenly announced he had found a good deal on Air New Zealand, we had to go. We flew to Auckland, transited the airport and flew on to Christchurch. We wandered around Christchurch, investigated the area with the cable car and did a train trip to Arthur's Pass.

Then we took the train to Picton and the ferry across to Wellington. We arrived in Wellington on Boxing Day, only to find it was closed!!!! That is, we wandered for hours trying to find an open restaurant willing to serve us some food. After a short stay in Wellington, we took a bus to Rotarua.

This was a wonderful experience of Maori culture and geothermal activity, but my goodness, it is an expensive place. We moved on from Rotarua to Auckland where we met up with one of my husband's friends- a fellow obsessive Walsall fan. Our stay in Auckland was all too brief and then it was back to Hong Kong.

Shock News:

When we arrived in Wellington on Boxing Day we switched on the TV in our hotel room, largely just to see if it worked, we were eager to get out and about. I cannot remember the programme that was on, but teletext messages kept crossing the bottom of the screen. Things like 100 dead in Thailand, 200 dead in Indonesia and so on. There were so many of them, we had to wait for the news report to find out what was going on. That was how we learnt of the massive tsunami that struck down so many people and destroyed so much property. I remember a feeling of terrible shock.

New Zealand was one of the friendliest, most relaxing places we have ever been. And the people were incredibly kind, hospitable and welcoming. Examples of this include coming back from the cable car in Christchurch and trying to buy a ticket on the bus. The driver said, "You don't need a ticket. You can come back on the same one you bought earlier." "It's over its time limit and I've lost it," I told him. "No problem, I remember selling it to you, " says he. Walking along the main street of Rotarua carrying our luggage when a car travelling the opposite direction stopped and the lady driver asked us if we needed a lift. She very kindly dropped us off right at the door of our hotel. Attending a Maori feast in Rotarua and being asked to sing a song from our home countries. Being quite a shy person, such a request would normally horrify me, but the atmosphere at the dinner with the lovely, warm, friendly Maori people led even me to being totally comfortable and willing to stand up and sing. My husband was well away rendering about 16 verses of Swing Low Sweet Chariots with actions!

We visited Christchurch in 2004. In 2011 it was hit by a massive earthquake; I do not know if the beautiful Christchurch Botanical Gardens were affected. Our hotel was a bit away from the centre of Christchurch and our most direct way into the centre was to stroll through the botanic gardens, thus we were lucky enough to walk through these gardens repeatedly. Parts of them are by the banks of the river. They were stunningly beautiful gardens with the most wonderful rose garden I have ever seen. From time to time we would see people punting on the river. It felt like we had been suddenly transported to Oxford or Cambridge.

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Christmas decorations, Christchurch.

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Roses Christchurch Botanical Gardens.

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Christchurch.

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Christchurch.

I do know Christchurch Cable Car is up and running again as I checked it out on line. We went here by bus from the centre of Christchurch. The cable car takes you up to the top of an extinct volcano. It last exploded 6 million years ago. There are fantastic mountain and sea views from this point

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Christchurch Cable Car.

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Christchurch Cable Car.

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Christchurch Cable Car.

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Christchurch Cable Car.

We took a train trip to Arthur's Pass as we wanted to enjoy some of New Zealand's spectacular mountain scenery. We had a couple of hours there before we had to catch the train back so went for a quick stroll, visited the waterfall and made use of one of the cafes.

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Arthur's Pass.

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Arthur's Pass.

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Arthur's Pass.

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Waterfall, Arthur's Pass.

We arrived in Wellington on Boxing Day. It was, at least on a public holiday, an incredibly quiet place. Most restaurants were closed. One thing still open was the funicular which took us up to the top of the hill. From where we enjoyed great views over Wellington and had a lovely wander round the botanical gardens.

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Wellington Botanical Gardens.

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Wellington Cable Car.

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View over Wellington.

We paid a visit to St Paul's Cathedral. This is a beautiful old wooden building. One of my New Zealand friends tells me she got married here, what a lovely setting for a wedding. This building used to be the cathedral in Wellington, but that role has now been taken by a bigger, more modern building ­ also called St Paul's Cathedral. The church was consecrated by Bishop Abraham on 6 June 1866. It is located at 34 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon.

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Old Saint Paul's Cathedral.

We travelled by bus from Wellington to Rotarua. Our hotel in Rotorua overlooked the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. At night we could hear the boiling mud bubbling away outside our window. We visited Whakarewarewa Thermal Village twice. First, we went during the day and were escorted round by a very friendly Maori guide who showed us all the geothermal activity ­steaming pools, geysers, bubbling mud. We also visited the Maori cultural centre and saw traditional crafts and learned more about the Maoris' traditional way of life. Then we saw a Maori dance display, including the famous haka. We returned at night for a hangi ­- a traditional Maori feast cooked in the ground, more entertainment and a very relaxed fun evening. I would strongly recommend a visit here. The Maori people who live here are incredibly hospitable and friendly. It was fascinating to see their buildings with the lovely wooden carvings and to see their traditional dancing.

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Friendly Maoris, Rotarua.

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Friendly Maoris, Rotarua.

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Maori Craft.

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Whakarewarewa Thermal Village.

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Whakarewarewa Thermal Village.

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Whakarewarewa Thermal Village.

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Maori Buildings.

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Maori Craft.

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Traditional Maori Greetings.

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Traditional Maori Greetings.

We treated ourselves to a wonderful relaxing soak in the geothermal pools at the Polynesian Spa in Rotarua. This was a splendid way to ease all your aches and pains. it was also very therapeutic for eczyma sufferers like me. The pools overlook the beautiful Rotorua Lake.

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View over Rotarua Lake.

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View over Rotarua Lake.

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Polynesian Spa.

After Rotarua we travelled to Auckland by bus. One of the great things to do in Auckland is to go to the old ferry building and go on a boat trip. Had we had time, we would have tried them all. As it was we chose the trip to Devonport. This was a beautiful place and it had great views back towards Auckland and great views of the volcanic island of Rangitoto.

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Devonport.

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Devonport.

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Devonport.

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Devonport.

We also visited the Domain ­which is Aukland's oldest park. It occupies the site of a former volcano. Despite rainy weather we had pleasant stroll here. It is home to The Auckland War Memorial Museum. We also found a statue of Rabbie Burns here, ­ just to make me a little bit homesick.

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The Auckland Domain.

My husband has a friend who lives in Auckland. Like my husband he is an obsessive follower of Walsall F.C. Sad, I know. He introduced us to the Shakespeare Hotel and Brewery. This is New Zealand's first Brewpub situated on the corner of Wyndam and Albert Street in Central Auckland. It is also a ten bedroom hotel. This old English style pub is around a hundred years old. It serves good food and home brewed beers with a Shakespearean twist ­ for example, Banquo's bitter was on offer during our visit.

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The only two Walsall supporters in New Zealand.

Posted by irenevt 21:21 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland christchurch maori rotarua

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