It was a last minute decision to go to New Zealand for Christmas with my friend who had family to visit there. The chance to visit a new country was too hard to resist and I figured my family wouldn’t mind as I had been overseas for Christmas before.
We landed in Auckland on Christmas Eve and it was dead. I expected it to be one of the most happening nights of the year, but I was wrong. Auckland turned out to be a pretty harbour city like Sydney, but about 20 years behind!
I saw the town hall, went up the Sky Tower and went to Mission Bay. Viaduct harbour was definitely the highlight for me as it had lots of waterfront bars and restaurants to enjoy with a view of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
We drove to Rotorua which was smelly due to the thermal springs, but you got used to it after a while. We visited Whakarewarewa thermal village which had the Te Aronui a Rua Maori cultural centre. We saw the Nga Mokai Akoko mud pool and the beautifully blue coloured Waiparu hot pool. The best bit was when the Pohutu Geyser sprayed water high into the air.
The next day we went to Lake Rotowhero which is warmed by thermal activity and the enormous Lake Rotorua. We caught the Skyline Rotorua gondola to the top of a Mount Ngongotaha and had a scary luge ride back down.
There were lots of sheep in green fields to be seen on the drive back to Auckland to catch our flight home. On the way, I went clay bird shooting for the one and only time I have ever shot a gun. It was harder than I thought and I got a strange muscle injury in my right shoulder that served as a reminder of my trip until it was cured by an acupuncturist a few years later.