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Adventures with John & Nina – The Land of Kiwis

by Nina Sabin - Travel

Our last blog continued with our third repat – The Deep Down Under. We finished exploring Australia and now it was time to move on to New Zealand. If you are like me, I didn’t really know the differences between a person from Australia or New Zealand. To me the accents sounded the same, until you actually meet an Aussie and New Zealander. You can hear the differences when they talk.

We boarded the plane in Cairns, Australia. As I mentioned in my last blog, we were all getting over the stomach flu. My father-in-law was the last to catch it and unfortunately was the one to travel with the flu as well. Good thing his seat was right next to the bathroom.

After spending three weeks in Australia, we arrived in Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland sits between two large harbors and therefore has the highest number of boats per capita in the World - it is not known as the 'City of Sails'. What is really cool about Auckland is you can take ferries to islands. We decided to take a ferry to one of the many islands.

We chose Devonport, because it was only a 10-minute ferry ride. Devonport is a quaint little island with shops, yacht club, and path to walk along the sea. The thing our girls liked the best was sliding down a grassy hill (actually a dormant volcano) on a piece of cardboard. This actually was a fun event for the whole family.

What was really exciting is we could see the Sky Tower from our hotel. This was one of the biggest highlights of our visit to Auckland. The Sky Tower is at 328 meters, the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere (taller than the Eiffel Tower). It is located in Sky City which is known as New Zealand's most popular entertainment and leisure destination and has been named 'A city within a City'. It was so cool to take the glass fronted elevator to the observation deck (traveling at thrilling 5 meters per second). We could barely feel the elevator moving. The views of Auckland city and surrounding areas are breathtaking. There are three levels to the observation deck at Sky Tower. On the first level we stood over glass floors and look down at the city beneath our feet. I can’t even begin to explain the incredible feeling of looking down at the city under our feet.

Our first night in Auckland our youngest daughter lost a tooth. She learned yes the tooth fairy does find teeth all over the world and she even pays for the tooth in the currency of that country.

Upon leaving Auckland we rented a minivan. If you have been following us, you know our minivans tend to be on the larger side, like the one we rented in Germany. This is because we are traveling six people with luggage for over a month. This minivan was not as big as the one we rented in Germany so it was pretty easy maneuver through the streets of Auckland and the next city, Rotorua.

Rotorua is only a three hour ride from Auckland. For world travelers three hours in a car is a piece of cake. Rotorua is in the heart of New Zealand's most active thermal region and sits on the Volcanic Plateau 300 meters above sea level. From the moment we arrived, we could smell sulphur in the air. Most attractions are based around its two greatest assets - geothermal features and the 16 lakes in the area. The main thing we remember is the sulfur smell coming from the bubbling mud. That was very entertaining to watch.

The last city we drove to on the North Island was Wellington. It was a six-hour ride. Along the way we drove through some amazing places - Wai-O-Tapu and Wairakei to Lake Taupo.

Wai-O-Tapu is known as New Zealand's most colorful and diverse geothermal sightseeing experience. The attractions include mud pools, mineral terraces, colorful hot and cold pools and steaming volcanic Lakes. The whole area is such a blessed site to see. You can really see God’s creation.

After getting settled at our hotel, we began to explore Wellington. As most cities there is so many things to see or do. Our favorite thing to do in Wellington was riding the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens. It is definitely worthwhile to go to the top and explore the beautiful gardens.

At this point, we hadn’t seen a kiwi yet. I really thought we would see many kiwis since we saw a good amount of kangaroos and koalas in Australia. Stay tuned for our next blog as we travel by ferry to the South Island and finally see some kiwis.

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