29 April 2008

Hamilton and the North Island

We got back from the North Island on Saturday night, but I've been lazy about posting. Here's the rundown of the trip:

We traveled with Matthew and Makereta and their baby, William. We drove to Queenstown (about 3 1/2 hours) on Monday. We had a bit of time when we got to Queenstown so we went for a short walk along the lakeside. Then we flew to Auckland. I finally finished Emma while we were on the plane, and I'm glad to be finished with it. I liked it, but it took me a long time to get into it, which is why I hardly read it at all in the last two months. And thus have neglected reading almost altogether.

William was really good for most of the flight. At one point I was holding him, and the passenger in front of me turned and told me how good my baby was. I told the kind, "Oh, he's not mine, but he is really good. That's why we're willing to hang out with his parents."

We arrived in Auckland at nighttime and were greeted by Makereta's family. Makereta's sister, Junelle, and Junelle's boyfriend, Moo, drove us to the temple accommodations in Hamilton.

We were eager to go to the temple the next day, and somewhere in the middle of the session I realized that it was the anniversary of my own endowment three years before. We attended a few more sessions during the week. I wish we had attended more, but I don't know if there would ever be a time when I didn't wish that we had gone more often.

During the week we hung out a lot with Makereta's large, Maori family. It was a lot of fun. They made us feel so welcome and were so generous!

On Thursday we went to Rotorua with Matthew, Makereta, Junelle, and Moo. We drove past a city with lots of buildings made out of tin! Including a sheep building right next to a dog building. Plus, there was a statue of a shepherd outside. Pretty random. And pretty awesome! We couldn't resist stopping and taking photos. Because hello! Buildings of tin! Shaped into things! Like sheep! There was also a car... and some other things. In case you were wondering, the sheep building sold various wool products, and the dog building had tourist information. And right next to the shepherd was a little box of pamphlets about the Good Shepherd.

The drive to Rotorua was really pleasant. Nobody got carsick (unlike the drive to Queenstown when Eric and I both wanted to die. We are big weenies). We really enjoyed driving and seeing more of the North Island. It is really green and hilly. In fact, it's exceptionally green! We were so impressed!

There were lots of expensive things to do in Rotorua, but we didn't do them. We wandered around some mud pots, ate fish and chips, then ate ice cream, then went to the Polynesian Spa to sit around in naturally heated pools. Then we drove home and saw a great sunset!

We went to a placed called the Kiwi Experience. It is a place that preserves the kiwi bird and charges an arm and a leg. We didn't go to through the "experience" but we did hang out in the gift shop! So, the picture is a little deceptive. You might think we caught baby kiwis and were holding them in their very natural habitat. But we were actually in the gift shop holding stuffed kiwis, that were probably made with possum fur. And it took us about 5 times to get a picture that didn't make it obvious we were in a gift shop. And then I went and blew it by telling you the whole real story. Well, there you have it.

Outside the Kiwi Experience gift shop was a giant statue of a kiwi bird. Of course, Matthew had to climb it. Then Eric. Then me.

After the Kiwi Experience that we did not experience at all, we just drove around until we found a free park. Then we checked out some boiling mud and steam coming from the ground. It was pretty cool. It reminded us quite a bit of Yellowstone, only without the geysers. I think it wasn't quite as smelly, too.

Eventually we all settled on going to the spas for a few hours. It took us a while to decide what we were going to do because none of us wanted to spend an arm and a leg doing something that would only last a couple of minutes. The spas only cost $20, and we could spend all afternoon there. Unfortunately, since Makereta is pregnant, she could not join us in the spas. Hanging out at the spas was pretty much like hanging out in any hot tub, but it smelled like sulfur, what with the natural heating and all.

On Friday we went swimming at the indoor pools in Hamilton. We took turns running on "The Rocket" which was an inflated cylinder floating on the water. The goal was to run to the end without falling off. I only ever made it a little more than half-way across. But, everyone said I had the most entertaining falls. Which explains why I was so sore the next day, I guess.

After the pools we went to the gardens in Hamilton. I have to say one of my favorite English traditions is free public gardens! The gardens were awesome. And FREE! Way better than Thanksgiving Point, and infinitely free-er!

Our camera broke the day of the pools and gardens. We are really upset about that since we bought that camera to replace the one that quit working the day we arrived in Dunedin! Fortunately, the store where we bought it is working with us to get it replaced. Unfortunately, we have no pictures of the gardens.


Science Teacher Mommy said...

What a great post. What a great place. Thanks for the "trip."

Kristy said...

Looks SO fun! What an adventure you guys are having! Hey I know some couple missionaries who are serving there and they were in Hamilton last week, too, which is what reminded me that you're both there. So if you run into the Wilkinsons from Bountiful, say hi for me!

Kere said...

Actually I remember now that I had seen this post. Hehe!