On my last day in Auckland I had to try out one of my birthday gifts – a day of surfing. Kevin, who already joined in for the bungee jumping earlier, was up for trying it as well. We spend the whole morning and afternoon at Piha Beach, where we got private lessons on how to ride on a surf board (up to eight people are in these lessons, but this day there was no one else).
Then, once again I got a very cool (early) Christmas present – Marielle arrived in Auckland on the 23rd of December. Instead of showing her Auckland and its surroundings we went straight to the Coromandel peninsula. It’s a nice area to the east of Auckland and supposedly all the people from Auckland go there over Christmas and New Year’s. Luckily that was not the case, or at least it didn’t feel like it.
After three days we went to Taupo, a city in the centre of the north island. It’s one of the extreme sports capitals in New Zealand, but we didn’t come for that. On the contrary, we took a relaxing (electro-powered) sailing boat trip to the not-so-ancient Maori carvings. They are still very impressive, but not as much as they would be if they were a few hundred years old. The carvings, more than 10m in height, were made by local artists in the late 1970s.
Then we wanted to tackle New Zealands most famous day hike, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We met two more Germans, Rainer and Karin, and set out for the hike. It’s quite a long hike, but it’s very nice if you try to blend out the hundreds of people that are doing the hike with you. Actually, we found out that if you start around 10am, most of the tourists will be ahead of you, so it’s much better to go a little later. The only problem is the parking situation at the start and finish of the trail. I expected a parking lot similar to those at ski resorts, but these ones had only enough lots for about 20 cars… All the 150 other cars parked in places where it was not allowed to park.