And with our final intercity bus trip, we ended our time in New Zealand in Auckland!!!!
However, our first day staying in Auckland was not actually spent there, but in Waitomo, at the glowworm caves!!!! It was a three hour bus ride to the caves, where we had a 45 minute guided tour of the cave on foot, seeing stalactites, stalagmites and columns formed by hundreds of years of dripping water. Then we ventured into another part of the cave which had a small jetty, in complete darkness, and got into small rowing boats. Our guide led the boat through the cave by pulling on a network of overhead cables, and as we went under an arch the most magical sight greeted us: glowworms. Thousands of glowworms hung from the ceiling, their threads lit up light blue at the ends to attract insects. It looks like the most beautiful night sky full of stars in another galaxy, and the sound of gently dripping water and lapping against the side of the boat helps makes the whole experience almost hypnotic, other-worldly. Photograpy was not allowed in the cave for obvious reasons (try telling the French guy in our tour group that) so no pictures for the blog, but this is from the tour company’s website, just to give you an idea:
After re-emerging above ground and into daylight, we got a bus back to Auckland, tucking into our packed lunch on the way. Back in the city, we headed straight to the famous sky tower, the iconic needle-shaped sky scraper that overlooks the whole of Auckland. We were worried that the view may be less than great as it was raining on and off all day, but as we reached the top deck, we couldn’t have wished for a better one:
Rain on one side of the city, sunshine on the other, creating a huge, bright rainbow arched over the whole city. It was the perfect view, and lasted for just a few minutes as we circled the tower. We also stopped for a coffee and ice cream at the sky high cafe before heading back down to ground level. It was a chilled evening and early night, ready for the next day’s sightseeing.
After a relaxed morning we strolled through town, eventually reaching the docks and harbour side. We ate sandwiches at the end of the pier and sheltered from a temporary shower, then walked back towards the shopping district. It was a really vibrant and cool few streets, with plenty of high street shops, restaurants and cafes frequented by tourists and city workers alike.
We spent part of the afternoon purchasing much-needed clothing replacements and coffee, before going back to the hostel to cook an early meal. Then it was back out to watch the rugby, a tense match between the Lions and Auckland Blues. The Lions lost, but our entertainment was found in the woman sat behind us at the pub, who had the dirtiest mouth, and I suspect the most-shrivelled liver, in the whole of Auckland. The city had been full of rugby supporters during the day, but as we walked home late that night, it felt oddly deserted and peaceful. We did not stay out to see the fans’ return, local or otherwise.