When I reached the North Island again, it hit me that my NZ tour would soon be over. There were still a few places left to see and a few surprises yet to come. The east coast of the North Island is beautiful and well known for it’s black sand. My stop in Raglan turned out better than I expected because I don’t know how anyone can expect a beautiful sight like this one…
Right in the middle of the North Island is the Tongariro National Park, home to Mount Ruapeho, also known as “Mount Doom” from the Lord of the Rings movies. I had planned to do the one day trek that takes you around the mountain and past some beautiful lakes and scenery. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and I didn’t get to go. I did, however, get a chance to get some pictures from the park the next day on my way out of town.
All that was missing were some dirty, dehydrated hobbits.
My next stop was the Wiatomo Glow Worm caves. Glow worms are found in caves and other dark places and use bioluminescence to draw insects up into their sticky strings hanging from the ceiling. When you find a high concentration of them it can be quite beautiful. I toured the famous glow worm cave and then explored another of the region’s caves that I found much more interesting. The formations inside were incredible!
At the very end of my trip I decided to treat myself and stay in a proper hotel room in the Bay of Islands. It was so nice to have my own room and bathroom! When I arrived I didn’t have anything planned and I decided on a whim to book the four hour boat tour around the bay. It ended up being a brilliant whim because on the trip I got to see Orca, Manta Rays, and Bottlenose Dolphins!
I wish I could say my amazing photography skills contributed to this picture, but it was completely by chance. There were three Orca in the bay, two adults and a baby. They only come in every 6 weeks or so, so we were very lucky to see them. The Manta Rays were almost impossible to photograph but they were enormous! The skipper said that he had only seen them one other time in his six years on the job. I’ve never seen dolphins in the wild and I’m amazed by how cheeky they are! They actually look at you whenever they pop out of the water.
My last stop before I headed back to Auckland was Cape Reinga, the spot at the very top of the country. I considered skipping it because it was going to be an eight hour drive, but I’m glad I went.
I’ve only got a few days left in NZ and for the past week I’ve been spending as much time as I can with my favorite people. Lots of pictures are being taken and lots of drinks are being drunk. This is so much different than last year when I left the states. I knew that I would be seeing my friends and family in a year. When I leave NZ, I don’t know when I’ll see everyone again. I’m so excited to see everyone at home, but at the same time I’m dreading leaving this place behind. Luckily, it’s very easy to stay in touch.
The end of my trip in NZ means that I won’t be posting on this blog for awhile. Perhaps when I travel again I’ll update it, but until then it will be on hiatus. Thanks, everyone, for following along. I hope you enjoyed it!