New Zealand: Wet, Wild & Wonderful…
New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world. It may be the overshadowed little brother of Australia but New Zealand can hold its own when it comes to natural beauty and adrenaline activities. Everything from bungee jumping, zorbing and jet boating have originated in New Zealand. If you want to get a rush out of nature, go to New Zealand. You can see why I had to make a pilgrimage to New Zealand. I was super excited to try bungee jumping for the first time as well as visit the set where they filmed “Lord of the Rings.” Unfortunately, the closest I got to Middle-earth was watching the newly released Hobbit movie at the cineplex in downtown Auckland. There was one little miscalculation I made; I forgot that everything closes over the Christmas break. In retrospect it seems commonsense that businesses would be closed for a few days around Christmas, but I had been lulled into complacency by my previous travel escapades around Asia where Christmas has no special significance. My week in New Zealand was essentially reduced to three usable days. Whitewater rafting in Rotorua, Hobbiton in Matamata and black sand beaches of Piha all had to get shelved because business owners and their staffs wanted to spend the holidays with their families. The nerve of New Zealanders to prioritize their family over my entertainment, Humph! And not only did the Christmas holidays disrupt my adventure activities, it also made me go on an involuntary diet. Let me just take this opportunity real quick to thank the staff of Burger King, because had it not been for you guys working every day, I would have surely starved on Christmas. I’m not the biggest fan of hamburgers but three days straight of Burger King was better than not having food.
The one activity that I refused to miss out on was Waitomo Glowworms Cave. I was determined to make my way down towards the town of Waitomo to visit the caves and do some tubing in its subterranean rivers. Life is funny sometimes; I distinctly remember flipping through a National Geographic magazine at the library when I was in sixth form and being amazed by Waitomo Glowworms Cave. Who would have thought that I would have gotten a chance to visit a decade later? Back then it was merely a distant dream that felt improbable. In the Glowworm Caves, bio-luminescent larvae illuminate the cave giving it speckled appearance similar to stars in the desert sky. Visitors have the option of either taking a boat tour along the subterranean rivers that flow under Waitomo or opt for a more adrenaline tour. Why take a simple boat tour when you can rappel into the caverns, crawl through the tunnels on your stomach, and egress from the cave network tubing on the rapids of its subterranean rivers? All this is done in complete darkness by the way? It was a lot of fun, but be warned; it can get really cold underground which is evidenced by the 5 mm wet-suit you must wear prior to commencing the tour. By the end of our caving adventure, I barely had feelings in my fingers. Spelunking in Waitomo is definitely worth it for those with a daring personality.
Truthfully, I really like New Zealand. The weather may be iffy, but New Zealand makes up for it in other areas. Just imagine that over the course of the week I was there, I saw the sun exactly once and very briefly too. I can see why the indigenous Maori call the country Aotearoa, which literally translates to “land of the long white cloud.” New Zealand is definitely not the place you should go if you want to get a decent tan. The warmth of Kiwis make up for its bad weather seven fold. Kiwis are mad friendly. They are some of the most gregarious people I have met. They top my list of polite people. I definitely need to revisit New Zealand again. This time, I have to do it properly and explore both the North and South Island. Although I felt that North Island was stunning, from all accounts, it pales in comparison to South Island. If my one-sided relationship with Trinidad and Tobago turns sour, best believe that New Zealand is on the short list of rebound countries I will be courting. My only issue is that one week was way too short of a time to really explore such a beautiful country. The lakes, mountains and countryside demand more appreciation. Until next time New Zealand.