May 2, 2015

Mid-Semester Break, Part 2

The morning after I landed in Auckland and completed the first week of mid-semester break my parents landed to visit for the second week!! While they were here we took a tour of the North Island hitting places close to Auckland, then flew to Wellington and drove back up the island to visit places along the way. Over the week we…

            …visited Shakespear Regional Park, the same park in which I had my orientation, for a picnic and a walk to help get over jet-lag. 

            …visited the Waitomo glowworm caves.
Outside the cave.
The tiny strings are the glowworms which, as it turns out, aren't
exaaactly worms....but I won't reveal any spoilers here for anyone
wanting to go on a glowworm tour in the future.
            …visited Port Waikato for the black sand beaches. The west coast of New Zealand is covered with these black sand beaches, while the beaches along the east coast are regular white sand.

Port Waikato beach.
            …flew to Wellington where we rode the cable car, explored the city, and ate at seemingly every café we could find.
At the Wellington airport! Sign reads "Middle of Middle-Earth"
Golem inside the airport!

Om nom nom, mocha.
…drove past Tongariro National Park where we saw the massive Mt. Ngauruhoe (aka Mt. Doom ;) ), Mt. Ruapehu, and Mt. Tongariro.

Tongariro National Park. 
Photographer Dad, in his natural habitat.
            …visited Taupo, where we hiked through a geothermal hot spring area, past Huka Falls, stopped for a coffee next to a helipad, and explored around Lake Taupo.

Lookout over Lake Taupo and Taupo.
Huka Falls.
            …visited Rotorua, where we were bussed to our Hobbiton tour (!) in Matamata, saw bubbling muds, geothermal vents and got a massive burger at the Fat Dog Café.

Frodo/Bilbo's House.

..."the only ale for the brave and true
is that from The Green Dragon!"
            …ended our tour back in Auckland and spent the last couple of days visiting the Auckland Zoo, Skytower, Auckland marinas, and, most importantly, the chocolate café. Om nom nom.
Auckland, from 186 meters up in the Skytower.

I was pretty bummed they had to leave so early, but one week was simply not enough time to see all there is to see here in NZ. I would’ve liked to bring them to the South Island as well, but there just wasn’t enough time. Speaking of time, I can’t believe it’s May already. This semester’s gone by too fast.

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