As I sit on the Californian Zephyr in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, I am going to apologise for not blogging these past couple of weeks. I’ve been stuck on sleeper trains, over night buses, and of course, doing lots of awesome things, so I just haven’t had the time to blog. But now as I am on a 53h+ train ride, I have no excuse!
New Zealand, just wow. There are not enough superlatives to describe how much I loved our time there, or how much I want to go back. If it weren’t for the Malaysian GP, I think it would have gone straight in at number 1 for countries we have visited.
It started on our flight there. Our Emirates (despite my reservations about going with Arsenal’s kit sponsor they were the cheapest) A380 double decker flight was the best sardine class flight I have ever been on, The food was good, I managed to sleep, and the selection of films I had to choose from was huge.
Our first day in New Zealand was spent going to get food from the local supermarket, obtaining local currency, and planning how to maximise our time in NZ. With so much to do and so little time, I am definitely going to have to come back one day! The hostel we were in was much nicer than the last in Australia, and was very much set up like a uni halls of residence.
Our first full day didn’t give us any form of lie in as we were off to the Alexander farm in Mata Mata. I had lost all hope of visiting any Lord of the Rings related locations during our time after some poor research, but Jade soon told me I was wrong, and a tour of Hobbiton was soon booked. It did mean we had the get the naked bus for 3 hours very early in the morning, but it was definitely worth it.
The location looked like it was sprung form the pages of the novel; the set locater certainly had a good eye. The sets were all made from resilient, permanent materials, as per the family’s request once they realised the potential revenue stream they had on their property. It was an amazing place and made me feel like I was in middle Earth, the guide really knew her stuff, and it was just good to see the quirks from the movie, and the different sized holes that granted the perspectives needed. The drink in the Green Dragon was just the icing on the cake.
When we returned to Mata Mata, we had hours to burn before out return bus journey, so we set ourselves up in the Dew Drop Inn. It as a little Christian cafe that specialised in Hobbit dress up, so we bought a snack and made the most of it. The pictures may be embarrassing, but we went for it, ears and all. It was a long and tiring day but it was awesome!
Unfortunately, we slept through multiple alarms on our second and final full day in Auckland. This meant we couldn’t do the 16km coast-to-coast walk as planned, so instead, we checked our what Auckland had to offer, including the sky tower where we watched someone jump off (I wish we had the money to do it!). I like Auckland, even though it is quite small.
That night, we met up with my University friend Chloe. Considering how many of my friends have moved to New Zealand in the past few years, it was really nice to be able to meet up with at least one of them. I certainly would consider moving there myself to get a decent job on my CV.
The final day in New Zealand was spent hiking 16km, coast-to-coast, including three volcano summits. Not bad for a few hours, and certainly a good thing to do before going back in time in LA! The walk was wet and windy, and occasionally cold, and the views weren’t always great thanks to the fog and cloud around, but it was well worth doing. We made it with little time to spare to the airport ahead of our monster 12 hour flight to LA.
I may have had a great experience there, but boy oh boy do they have a strict immigration border. Fair play, it’s their country and I don’t disagree with it, but it was unnerving to have your bag searched because you declared walking boots, and then your passport and boarding card siezed because the label for your bag was misprinted in your friends name!
New Zealand is definitely a place that everyone should visit if they can do, and a place that I definitely have to go back to.