After 1.5 weeks driving around the beautiful South Island of New Zealand, Sean and I ditched the rental car and hopped aboard the Blue Bridge ferry bound for the North Island. I’ll write more about our last few days on the South Island later – suffice it to say, we spent two days winery hopping in Marlborough and it was glorious.
We arrived in Wellington quite late so we didn’t do any exploring on the first night. Plus we were caught in a torrential downpour and were soaked by the time we reached the hotel. The next morning the rain had let up slightly so we set out to explore New Zealand’s capitol city.
We didn’t have a ton of time here since we needed to make the 2 hour drive to River Valley Lodge in time for dinner. We did manage to explore the botanical gardens, waterfront area, and eat at The Chippery, a fish and chips hole in the wall where you can choose your fish, choose your breading, choose your sauce, and choose your kind of chips. After 18 months in Tajikistan with very little choices, you had me at choose your fish. It was delicious.
As we left Wellington, we experienced traffic for the first time since arriving to New Zealand. The North Island is much more densely populated than the South, and it was rush hour the day before Christmas Eve so probably even worse than normal. We made it to River Valley Lodge just in time for dinner.
The next morning we awoke bright and early for wet suit adventure number two. This time we would be tackling Grade V white water rapids. I was more than a little terrified.
Apparently, I’m an adrenaline junkie. Once we made it through the first few easy rapids and Sean and I got the hang of the very strange “back-paddling” we had a blast. Our boat was definitely the fun boat of the two since our guide let us jump out and swim one of the easy patches. Here are some more pictures of our funny faces for your enjoyment.
After lunch with some of our boat-mates we set out for Taupo, a neat little town situated on another beautiful lake.
We took a 15 minute drive up to the lookout and Huka Falls, then decided to spend the last of our downtime that day at the geothermal hot springs before calling it an early night.
We had a volcano to tackle the next day.
- Where We Stayed: Ibis, Wellington; River Valley Lodge; Lakeland Resort, Taupo
- Where We Ate: The Chippery, Wellington; Hell Pizza, Taupo
- White Water Rafting: River Valley
- Wairakei Terraces Thermal Health Spa
- Be ready to experience traffic around major cities on the North Island. We were surprised when that happened to us.