14.08.2009 - 18.08.2009 15 °C
It was time to dig out our jumpers from the depths of our backpacks. On arriving in Auckland we were greeted with cold, drizzling rain. For a little while it even felt as if we had accidentally boarded a plane to Manchester! In fact as we rode the bus into town it felt really eerie, as the streets, buildings and weather did remarkably resemble a typical English city.
Unfortunately, the city of Auckland did not seem to have too much to offer a traveller on a budget, except the Auckland museum, which gave us our first fascinating insight into New Zealand's Maori culture and heritage. We daringly took on the 16km Coast to Coast Walkway, which took us up, over and around Auckland's surrounding volcanoes. The most impressive of these was Mount Maungawhau, which looms over the city and is crowned by a huge grassy crater. It was nice to get our of the city to see a glimpse of the green landscapes and hundreds of sheep that New Zealand is famed for. We even saw a ewe giving birth to a lamb!
Next, our flying visit through NZ's North Island took us to Waitomo. Waitomo is a tiny farming town, whose star tourist attractions are the many caves that are dotted around the area (although it did also have an Angora Rabbit 'Shearing Shed', which was quite entertaining). We chose to do a tour of Ruakuri Cave, the largest of the most accessible caves and a very spiritual and spooky place. Our tour took in the huge underground caverns and tunnels with all their beautiful limestone stalactites and stalagmites. We also saw glowworms lighting up the roof above us and dark black rushing streams below.