We were so excited to touch down in Auckland and were met by our bus driver, Lego, who welcomed us with a warm “Kia Ora!” which is Maori for “Hello”. Next, we got to know each other at a nearby park in Mission Bay. Everyone was chuckling as Sam helped to break the ice by leading our inaugural game of ninja. Laughing and basking in the beautiful southern New Zealand sun, by the picturesque Hauraki Gulf, was the perfect start to our trip!
The next day was quite literally breathtaking as we rafted down the stunning Kaituna River, which features a 22-foot vertical drop over a waterfall! As we approached the drop, anticipation ran high. Paddles were tightly clenched, knuckles were white, and one by one, the rafts disappeared over the falls. After an incredible morning, the only thing larger that the waterfall was the grin on everybody’s face.
Celebrations were in order, so we headed to the local bowling lanes where Ethan and Mia proceeded to shine with scores in the 100s! Finally back at our cozy lodge in Rotorua, Jared and Max relaxed over a friendly game of pool, all the while being serenaded by one of our trip leaders, Marc, on the piano.
We woke up the next day and headed to the dinning hall where we were to be greeted by the smell of a nice home-cooked breakfast, with freshly roasted pancakes, courtesy of Avery B., Ashley, Sam and Matt. It was a delicious start to the day before we rolled along in our big orange bus to the uniquely New Zealand sport of Zorbing. Zorbing is quite simple. Get a giant plastic ball. Bring it to the top of a hill. Fill it with some water, and an adventurous human, then go down the course smiling and laughing the whole way down. Yeah, just an ordinary day in New Zealand!
Then we headed over to the sulfur and mud baths for a relaxing spa treatment. The water was perfect and the mud spectacular, our pores couldn’t thank us enough. However, our heart rates would soon be racing again as we headed home to eat supper and then learned how to perform the traditional Maori war dance, the Haka! Our instructor Tiki had us wear traditional Maori garb with painted faces, and as required, had us screaming at the top of our lungs, tongues out and eyes bulging. Ben’s ferocity and fierce warrior stance caught Tiki’s eye and he was duly promoted to the front row to act as a tribal leader!
As the night quieted down, we slowly drifted off to sleep in our two floor bungalows, eagerly anticipating another fantastic day in New Zealand…stay tuned!
The Westcoast Blogger
Do you want to raft, zorb and dance in New Zealand? Check out our full 23-day New Zealand and Australia Adventure itinerary to learn more!