So we arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on the 9th of December. While it has everything you need in a city (including a whole bunch of volcanoes) there was not much for us to do there so we jumped on out Magic Bus (tour bus) bound for Rotaroua.
The Magic Bus is actually quite good fun. Certainly more sociable than the camper van. Our driver Thumper on the first day (and again a week and a bit later) was good at getting everyone up and going.
Rotaroua is built on more volcanoes. More active ones this time so everything smells of sulphur and hot streams bubble up everywhere.
It kind of smells like a giant egg sandwich.
Or farts. You could describe it as smelling of farts too.
We did a little organised white water rafting while we were there which was a lot of fun.
Fortunately the overdue massive Rotaroua volcanic eruption did not occur while we were there so on to Taupo further south where Jess decided to jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane tied to some long suffering skydiving instructor.
She decided against the skydiving school's offer of sending someone else out of the plane with them to video document her terror so no pictures i'm afraid.
In Taupo we hired a car for a few days and drove up to some very good climbing near Te Awamatu an hour north.
I broke out the trad rack for the first time since the Alps for some very good Australian grade 18s and 19s.
There was also lots of very good bolted rock, notably at Waipapa and Froggat Edge. (Not the Froggat in the Peaks, England...)
If anyone's climbing on North Island NZ i'd definitely recommend a day or two's cragging round this area.
After our 3 days climbing we dropped the car back and headed south.
Wellington was nice. Good town for easing and drinking but funds are getting too low for that sort of thing...
The Te Pappa Museum in Wellington is very good and worth a visit. It also contains largest preserved giant squid at 11meters long and eyes the size of basket balls. Can anyone say "giant calamari"?
From Wellington we went north to Napier to admire the architecture.
The whole town was flattened by an earthquake in 1931 so it was all rebuilt in the Art Deco style and hasn't changed much since. It's a bit of a time capsule and very interesting if you like that sort of thing.
Then back down to Wellington today to catch the ferry to the South Island for Christmas in Nelson. More on that later...