Photo Roundup: North Island Side Trips

Our first time on the North Island was last year, just after we'd landed in the country. This past June, just before we left the country entirely, we took another peek around at some favorite spots and a few things we'd missed before.

Weta Workshops, Cuba Street, Brews, and the City Gallery in Wellington

On this, our second visit to Wellington, we got to do quite a bit over just one full day. (That is, since we'd already seen the magnificent Te Papa museum last time around).  First thing in the morning, we toured Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's Weta Workshops where props & special effects for the films were designed. Next, we walked around Cuba Street to grab some gelato, peep cool graffiti, and peruse used record and book stores. In the afternoon, we swung by Aro Street to check out the taproom of Garage Project brewery, where they were debuting a Silk Road-inspired line of brews. Lastly, we ended the day at the free City Gallery Wellington, where we saw pretty neat exhibitions by Petra Cortright and Martino Gamper.

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A Visit to Napier: Art Deco Wonderland

We spent an entire day exploring the city of Napier on the North Island's East Coast, just taking in all of the art deco architecture and checking out the exhibits at MTG Hawke's Bay. Interestingly, the reason the city has so many art deco buildings is because the whole place was rebuilt in the early 1930s after a massive earthquake.

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Bridal Veil Falls

On our way to Raglan Beach (see below), we saw a signpost near a country road indicating a place called Bridal Veil Falls. Never ones to turn down a short hike to a waterfall, we went to check it out. Little did we know that it would turn out to be our favorite fall that we saw in all of New Zealand. Bridal Veil makes a stunning 55 meter (180 ft) drop over basalt cliffs into a pool below. Perhaps the best part of visiting the falls is the fact that you get three different views. Your hike starts right above the falls, then you climb steps that afford some side views, and finally end across from the base of the falls. It was lovely. Arriving on an early winter morning, we had virtually the entire place to ourselves.

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Raglan Beach

Raglan is one of the North Island's surfing towns and it was easy to see why: there are some pretty consistent big waves hitting the Waikato coast. When we visited the main beach, Ngaruini, we were kicking ourselves for not having more time so that we could have a chance to try out one of the area's surf schools. Instead, we enjoyed strolling the black sand beach, beachcombing, and even saw a baby seal who wage accidentally scared awake from his sun nap... just thought he was another stone on the beach until we were too close for his comfort! He quickly waddled off into the surf.

 Check out the surf, brah!

Check out the surf, brah!

 Whoops, sorry little dude!

Whoops, sorry little dude!

Geothermal Side Trips with CJ - Taupo & Rotorua

After the three of us did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Emmett, CJ, and I took in some free attractions around the Taupo/Rotorua corridor. The first thing on our agenda was Otumuheke Stream, a geothermal stream that empties into the Waikato River. It was the perfect place to soothe our achy muscles post-hike. Not to mention the fact that it's really awesome to relax in a natural hot tub stream. Later, we visited ice-blue Huka Falls before making our way to Rotorua. There we walked through stinky, bubbly, & very steamy Kuirau Park before trying some delicious lentil soup at a night market in the city's center.

 CJ maxed out relaxin'.

CJ maxed out relaxin'.

 A jetboat in the churning waters below Huka Falls.

A jetboat in the churning waters below Huka Falls.

 Walking above a thermal pool in Kuirau Park, Rotorua.

Walking above a thermal pool in Kuirau Park, Rotorua.

 See what I mean? You can barely see CJ & I through the steam. The steam smells like stinky eggs, btw.

See what I mean? You can barely see CJ & I through the steam. The steam smells like stinky eggs, btw.

Last Week in New Zealand: Auckland

Ok, technically this wasn't a side trip. We were actually in Auckland crashing on the floor of CJ's student flat for nearly a week while we wrapped up our NZ-based lives. We donated things we didn't have use for anymore, threw a few other things away, recycled a lot, and then spent a stressful weekend sorting out how to fix & sell our car. When we weren't prepping to leave our home-country-away-from-home, we spent most of our time trying tasty food around the city as a trio. I honestly could highly recommend everywhere that we went! We had dessert waffles at OKO, super fancy ice cream at Giapo, and gelato at Milse Dessert Bar. We also had excellent vegetarian fast food at Lord of the Fries, scrumptious brunch at Albert Park Cafe, and a super fancy treat-ourselves Italian meal at AMANO.

 Me, Emmett, & CJ at AMANO

Me, Emmett, & CJ at AMANO

Oh yeah, and on July 1st Emmett & I got to see Dame Jane Goodall speak to a sold out audience about her life's work and conservation in general. That was pretty rad. She is seriously one of the most charismatic and intelligent people I've ever heard speak.

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