Having worked for Base Auckland for just under 2 years, I am now very use to being surrounded by the hum of all different types of people, languages and accents.
Something I am not used to is seeing is the REAL New Zealand through tourist eyes.
Upon leaving Base Auckland , it was to the summit of Mount Eden for a photo stop and a quick overview of the city’s history by our wicked guide, Kerry. Being an Aucklander and eager to flee the city, I had to agree somewhat when Kerry came out with, 'Now we're on the best road in Auckland, and that's the road f****** outta' here!'
Our tour group was exposed to raw Maori culture like nowhere else on the small east coast town of Maketu. Here we slept inside the Marae, after having a powhiri. In the evening we all enjoyed authentic maori song and dance, including the haka. We were all impressed with the genuine power and passion shown by the performers. After that, it was our turn- us girls learnt how to handle a poi, and the boys the haka.
Another highlight was our stop in Waitomo. I put on a brave face and decided to go for the caving adventure called 'the haggus hoghole' the blurb on the brochure comparing it to the likes of Indiana Jones-SOLD! Abseiling and rock climbing about sharp, rocky walls in the dingy dark cave was terrifying at first and I started to ask myself- why am I PAYING to do this?!? The adrenalin soon kicked in and it was an awesome activity, highly recommended!
We made our way through smelly Rotorua, gawking at the explosive, gurgling mud pools and into Taupo, where we stayed at Base Taupo. It was ladies night at Element bar, free vodka punch for the ladies so I wasn't complaining!
When Stray boast getting further off the beaten track, they don't let you down. Next stop was Whakahoro. We stayed at the Blue Duck Lodge, which is 40km inland, and the most remote homestead known in New Zealand. It is here that is the Real New Zealand, peaceful and serene, with green rolling hills and scenery second to none. With loads of activities to choose from here including horse riding, goat hunting, and jet boating, I had a go at clay pigeon shooting.
After a hideously early departure, it was back on the coach and en route to Wellington. We stopped off at National Park where we watched the All Blacks give the Aussies a good old fashioned hiding.
In Wellington we said goodbye to our new Facebook friends met aboard Stray, and stayed in Base Wellington. With all the things to do in this windy city, this is a definite recommend stopover for at least a couple of nights.
Base Wellington has a great central location and we were lucky enough to enjoy a shared balcony. It was here that the inner J.A.F.A came out in me, feeling spoilt for choice with all the quirky cafes in which to consume my weight in espresso coffee!
As well as visiting the national museum Te Papa, walking up Mount Victoria for the most beautiful view, we also watched the Wellington Lions top Northland in the famous 'caketin' stadium. Trying hard not to laugh at the politicians scrapping it out as we watched them debate bills in parliament was another highlight while visiting the capital.
I believe it is important to travel and know your country of origin. Already having a strong sense of patriotism, the sights seen on this stray famil have only encouraged this and in the future I will be convincing more kiwis to get out there and explore this beautiful country of ours.