Round The World Trip – Part 4

We flew out of New Zealand to the Cook Islands on New Year’s Day but because you cross the international date line we landed on New Year’s Eve. So you yes we had two New Year’s Eve’s. Any excuse for a party!

 

We visited Rarotonga in the Cook Islands which is the largest of the islands. Born of volcanos and surrounded by shallow coral reefs, Rarotonga is both beautiful and dramatic.

We stayed at the Pacific Resort which is on the East Coast, pretty much exactly on the other side of the island to the airport. However, the journey only took about 25 minutes by taxi which gives you an idea as to the modest scale of the place.

The hotel is set within tropical gardens with pond and stream that winds its way around the resort. The fish and resident eel are always there next to the restaurant ready to pick up any accidental and not so accidental scraps that end up in the water.

There is a gorgeous white sandy beach that reaches out to the lagoon. The lagoon is sheltered by a coral and rock barrier which stops the waves and provides a fantastic environment for kids, snorkelers and young fish to thrive. If you don’t fancy snorkelling then there is also a glass-bottomed boat that allows you to see the coral and wildlife below without having to get your feet so much as damp, let alone wet.

When we were there the weather was pretty overcast and rainy at times. So we didn’t do as much swimming as we would have liked but instead, we took a jeep safari into the middle of the island. The jeep clambered up dirt roads into the mountains and along the way, our driver stopped to show us basically what a fruit basket the island is. Everywhere you looked there were pineapples, mangos, dragon fruits, chillies, avocados… you name it. If our driver was to be believed then no-one minded if you took and ate any. I wasn’t so sure!

   

After a few days of chilling and swimming we headed back to the airport and then to Auckland.

We jumped on a big red bus which took a tour of the city. We couldn’t resist a trip to the Zoo which was great. Our first chance to encounter a Kiwi was slightly hampered by the fact that they only come out at night and so the exhibit basically has to be kept in pitch black during the day!

Image result for kiwi animal

We also took the time to see the Auckland War Museum situated on the hill overlooking the city. While it’s called a war museum it’s actually much more with many exhibits about the history of the New Zealand, its culture and environment.

Also, in Auckland we took our obligatory visit to their sky tower and did the whole tourist “crazy” photograph in front of a green screen with a dramatic background inserted by computer.

 

We didn’t have time to hang around and so we got in our hire car took a trip to the incredible Redwood trees at Whakarewarewa forest. You get to walk through the tree canopy on wooden suspension bridges. You feel extremely high up when you walk across the bridges, only to look at the tops of these giant trees and realise how you are not even close to being tall.

After our treetop adventure we drove to the geysers and bubbling mud pools at Wai-o-Tapu. This is a pretty surreal landscape where the ground smokes, steams and bubbles and smell of sulphur hangs thick in the air. Water pools are infected with elements from deep within the earth which produce every colour of the rainbow. We walked round thinking that we were in the middle of some giant chemistry experiment.

 

Our visit to the North Island finished with an underground exploration of the glow worm caves at Waitomo. This was definitely a highlight (or a no-light?) of the trip. During the visit we went into pitch black caves lit only by the glow of thousands upon thousands of glow worms. As part of the visit you board an underground boat to navigate the water channels in the caverns. The only light to guide you is that of the glow worms. It was truly incredible. 

 

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