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South Island Trip: Auckland to Wellington

Written by Cathy Siegismund
March 2002

As fall is approaching in New Zealand, Ken and I decided it was to time to explore the South Island. We had three planned events, my horse trek, a rented house in Queenstown, and a wedding in Sydney, that would dictate places and dates, but other than those we no specific plans. We set out to explore the South Island!

Route from Auckland to Wellington

As usual we got a late start out of Auckland, so we decided to make our first stop Tauranga. Ed and Rachel on Horai, had moved the boat from Bayswater to Tauranga for haul out and boat work. We had dinner with them that night in Tauranga. The next day Ed and Rachel decided to take a break from boat work, and join us for a day of sightseeing in Rotorua.

Ken was excited to start his extreme sport sampling of New Zealand, and Rotorua had a few adventure sports to try. Our first stop was the luge. New Zealand doesn't have a frozen luge track, but it has at least two concrete ones that seem to be crowded with tourists and Kiwis. The luge itself and riding position is bit different from what you've seen in the Olympics as well. It is a molded plastic board on wheels, in which you sit and hold a set of handlebars that you use for steering and braking.

To get to the luge track, you take a Gondola, which offers a great view of Rotorua and the nearby lake.


Ed and Rachel

Ed warming up on the first luge run of the day

Ken sporting his stylish luge helmet

After a morning of luge, we headed to the nearby Agrodome. This is a tour bus depot, but did have a good, thorough touristy, sheep show. It also met Ken's requirement of being next to another Kiwi extreme adventure -- zorbing.

You wonder who thinks these things up.

To zorb, one is strapped into a large plastic beach ball looking thing and rolled down a hill. Though we had all participated in luge, Ken was the only taker on zorbing. I figure I can get nauseous for free on any offshore passage, so I didn't need to do it in a big plastic ball.

The zorb

The interior of the zorb

Ken and the zorb hill, track, slope...whatever the proper zorb term is

Ken and zorb making their way to the top

Ken zorbing, trust me he's in there

Ken, the great zorb conqueror

Ken, of course, did not feel any zorb-sickness, and thought the ride was OK, but a little short and slow. This still did not generate any interest from Ed, Rachel, or me.

Post zorbing, we hurried over for the afternoon sheep show at the Agrodome. As there are far more sheep in New Zealand than pretty much anything else, what would a stay in be without going to a sheep show. During the hour or so show, we were shown a number of different varieties of sheep, shown how a sheep is shorn, and given a sheep dog demonstration.

Before the show starts, you can wader around and meet the sheep.

Ken and one of the sheep show stars

Ken and Rasta sheep, that's our name

The black sheep

Our host introducing us to each breed of sheep

The sheep stars of the Agrodome

The biggest and most valuable Merino sheep

We then also got a sheep shearing demonstration. Shearers are paid by the sheep, and the world record is one sheep in 19 seconds.

They then brought out the sheep dogs, a New Zealand breed of Boarder Collie, and gave a great demonstration of how the dogs interact with the sheep, and then let the tourists have a chance for some photos.

The show finished up outside, where they demonstrated how the dogs work the sheep and had one dog herd three sheep through an obstacle course.

Despite the hordes of people disgorged from tourist buses, the show was very well done and entertaining.

After a late lunch with Ed and Rachel in Rotorua, they returned to Tauranga and we continued our trip south toward Wellington. We spent the night in Palmerston North and then continued on to Wellington the next day.

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and a very pretty city on a bay. We arrived in the late afternoon. We didn't have time do much touring, but we did go to the Te Papa museum. We saw a Henry Moore exhibit and enjoyed their excellent Maori exhibits

Te Papa Museum

Maori exhibit

Corned beef can cow sculpture

After the museum, we enjoyed a stroll down Cuba street, a walking street lined with shops and restaurants.

Pub in Wellington

We then had dinner at Kopi, a great Malaysian restaurant. After dinner, we turned in early as we had to catch the morning ferry that would take us to the South Island.

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