The Gods truly blessed our trip and we had terrific and mostly mild weather for the entire duration, all of our Airbnb accommodations were even better than we had anticipated them to be and we managed to fit in everything that we had planned to do (and then some) without a hitch or a glitch along the way. And trust me when I say that we did plenty whilst we were there.
We only spent one night in Auckland before hitting the road for the Waitomo Caves to do the 'Black Labyrinth' glow-worm cave tour. This tour required us to don a wetsuit and caving gear, carry a flotation tube into the depths of the earth and then navigate ourselves through the uneven and dark terrain to see the glow worms that line the roof and walls of the caves. No-one told me that this tour would require me to leap backwards off waterfalls into water of an unknown depth in the dark whilst we were in the caves, if they had've I probably would've chickened out and then missed out on what turned out to be three of the funnest and most exhilarating hours of our entire trip.
For all of the initial fear, there was a tonne of fun to be had in those caves, and our guides were really helpful and knowledgeable and certainly alleviated all of our concerns very quickly. The glow-worms are really dazzling and floating about in the dark water surrounded by their intense blue light is a pretty magical and once in a lifetime experience.
We spent the next few days indulging in all of the exciting opportunities that Rotorua and the surrounding areas had to offer us. Which included a tour of Hobbiton (which made us all gung-ho to re-watch the trilogy again), a ride on a skyline gondola, some downhill luging, ziplining through the forests, kayaking on Lake Rotorua, zorbing (not for me thanks!), a Maori interactive experience and hangi (cooked in coals under the earth) dinner, a trip to see the thermal geysers and hot pools, a visit to a wildlife park to see a kiwi up close and personal (turns out that they are nocturnal birds, which I did not realise until I went to see one) and we also celebrated Seth's 14th birthday as well!
For the five days that we spent in Rotorua we stayed on the lake in a home owned by a movie lover like myself, which meant unlimited access to thousands of DVD's and also included a hot-tub, a daily visit from the resident swans and around an acre of immaculately landscaped gardens to explore, tough going I know, but someone had to do it!
From Rotorua we headed to the largest lake in New Zealand, Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is large enough to fit Singapore inside of it! No shit, it's really that big! We went out on a yacht to take a look because there are some incredible Maori carvings out there that can only be reached by boat, and even though we sailed on the lake for the entire morning, we only saw around 6% of it. It has it's own horizon for goodness sake, it is absolutely massive! We had a lovely couple of days chilling out and enjoying our final days of lake life at Taupo.
From there we headed down to our final destination of the trip, Wellington. The home of the vampires from What We Do in the Shadows and the city that Wellington Paranormal (one of my personally favourite TV shows) is based on. We stayed on the edge of the North Island in a flashy modern beach house that shares its neighbourhood with Peter Jackson. We kept our eyes open for any sign of him, but sadly he wasn't anywhere to be seen.
However, we did get to see a seal which was lazily sunning itself and hopping into the sea for a cool down swim off the rocks just across the road from our accommodation, which absolutely chuffed me! I haven't observed a large wild animal (without a handler) doing whatever it likes that close up before, usually you have to pay for those kinds of experiences, it was a real treat. There were also penguin nesting boxes there as well, but I think that the seal may have scared them away, so we didn't get to see them in action, but apparently they do cross the road regularly in that area because our Airbnb host told us to watch out for them.
The coastline provided us with plenty of opportunities to collect abalone shells (paua shells), observe starfish and native sea life in the rock pools and also swim and snorkel. Our (I say our, but really it was mine) main priority whilst we were in Wellington was to visit the Weta Caves, which is a treasure trove of movie memorabilia and special effects information for movie geeks like me. I got a some great shots with the cave trolls from The Hobbit whilst I was there. And then in Wellington central we rode the city Cable Car to the peak of the city and strolled the botanical gardens taking in the incredible views and local flora.
Fair to say that we were kept pretty busy, but it was a joyful level of busy. There was still ample time for sleeping in, eating out, shopping, meandering, meditating, late night movies and generally lollygagging in an awe-struck fashion at the incredible mountainous and green landscapes that we constantly engaged as we traversed the island. I have some incredible photographs of the amazing and altering terrain, it was so lush and made Australia look even more flat, arid and dry than I remembered it being when we left ten days ago, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't glad to be home again, because we all know that there is no place like home.
Would I recommend a trip to the New Zealand North Island? Hell yes I would! Our family trip was worth every cent that we spent on it, we all had the best time in New Zealand and now we have a lifetime of memories of our time together to enjoy forever. It has been an unforgettable summer vacation for us all.
Release Date: 2010
Running Time: 87 mins
Written and directed by Taika Waititi, Boy is a New Zealand coming-of-age comedy-drama, nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, it went on to become the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time at the local box office. With it's quirky style of comedy and darling child actors, Boy is sure to win a place in your heart.
It's 1984 and eleven year old Boy, who is a devout Michael Jackson fan, is looking forward to the opportunity to get his know his estranged father. However, his father who has the parenting abilities of an unruly teenager, has only returned to searched for a bag of money that he buried on the home property some years ago.
This film has been cast brilliantly, James Rolleston is perfectly cast as the colourful and imaginative character Boy, and Waititi does a fabulous job of being an irresponsible and pathetic role model for his two adoring sons. As much as I laughed, I cringed, because this is not only funny, but also truly poignant, touching and deeply moving cinema, delivered in a refreshingly new and artistic way.
FINAL SAY: Wanna see some Michael Jackson dance moves?
3.5 Chilli Peppers