Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 393: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Otorohanga, Kihikihi, Te Awamulu and back to Auckland

Pic taken along the rotary walk in Otorohanga
Day #393 * Hike #440 * New Track #420
Monday December 12, 2011 (New Zealand)
Otorohanga Kiwi House & Rotary Park - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 1 Hour * 1.25 Miles * +50 Feet

Monday morning back on the road.  Destination, the Waitomo Caves.  Along the way we passed the town of Otorohanga.  Of course, we saw another brown sign so we were drawn in:
Our third encounter of a Kiwi zoo like park

Once again, a small dinky park which reminded me of the aviary in Santa Paula.  Hmm, wonder if that place is still up and running or if all the birds have finally been sold???  To keep the tradition, we did not pay to see the kiwi.  However, we walked across the road and discovered a hiking trail which becomes new track #420, hike #440, since starting this crazy adventure.


only about 3 miles of hiking back here

Free bird aviary at trailhead

Pond with lilly pads; didn't see any frogs

The sky had been overcast and finally along our hike it broke open.  We trotted back to the car to cut this adventure short. 

Day #393 * Hike #441 * New Track #421
Monday December 12, 2011 (New Zealand)
Waitomo Caves (Glowworms) and Hiking Trail - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 2 Hours * 1.25 Miles * +50 Feet

The Club; Car I parked next to - (Haven't seen one of those in years)

Entrance to the Waitomo Caves

Only point along the tour that we could take photos

The snow like effect is from the rain drops

Oh, this was also the end of our tour :(

Thirsty anyone?  Pay Up!

Actually, the price for a 20 ounce Coke in New Zealand averages between $3.50 to $4.00 a bottle!  Are you kidding me!!!  The Kiwis refer to Pepsi as the generick version of coke so their fizzy is only $2.50.  Fizzy- the term used for Soda, or in Ohio, Pop.  New Zealanders have a very limited section of Fizzy.  They do not carry Rootbeer, instead, Ginger Beer.  They are quite fond of giner appearantly.  Also, they have never heard of Dr. Pepper.  One lady asked what was in it.  Ha, told her 23 mysterious flavors.  I don't think she believed me.


The Caves

These pictures were taken off the sign at the entrance to the caves.  The glowworm tour was sort of a gimmick but we did see many glowworms.  It was sort of cool, unique for sure.  There are many other options down here including black water rafting and abseiling to the bottom of the caves.  There are also several other longer and deeper cave tours.  The glowworm tour only takes you down 30 feet or so.  Our tour guide did mention that there are over 300 caves in the area.  Hmm, I suspect that the locals know of some hiking places that have not been sectioned off for financial gain.
Hiking Tracks outside the caves.

The rain continued but after driving an hour to reach the caves...

Not much of a hike...

Day #393 * Hike #442 * New Track #422
Monday December 12, 2011 (New Zealand)
Otorohanga, Kihikihi, Te Awamulu & Huntly - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 5 Hours * 3.25 Miles * +25 Feet

Streets of Otorohanga

We were in search for some good food after a mediocre day, so far.  We walked in and out of many, dumps!  We also did some shopping at the local consignment stores.  I made one lucky find here; a travel size chess set with two books.  They were asking five and I jewed them down to $4.00.  The books were basic and worthless.  I wrote a novel many years ago and my novel would definitely help the novice chess play moreover than these ancient findings.  The deal was still worth it though for the travel size set that I utilized during our 7 hour layover in Fiji.   

Ate Lunch in Kihikihi

We believe that the owner of this establishment is the son of another hamburger joint in Otorohanga.  Jess refused to eat there, but I ordered a burger.  Um, don't think this was meat from a cow?  Good Food; Not!  After I ordered, we walked into the book store next door.  The lady said that she has never eaten there; the food never appealed to her.  --Hey, it filled my belly and I didn't get sick so, it's all good.

Town of Te Awamulu


Much larger town than the others.  We walked the streets, bought souvenigers and snacked on some desserts.  The drive back from here to Auckland seemed especially long.  The rain probably didn't help, nor did turning the wrong way for 10 miles.  If we had just done some wine tasting then heck, no big deal.  Probably would have turned out to be the best 10 minute ride of my life...  We insterected the town of Huntly and walked along the wide riverbed.  I took photos but they were just blah...

Day #393 * Hike #443 * New Track #423
Monday December 12, 2011 (New Zealand)
Auckland, at Night - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 4 Hours * 2.25 Miles * +150 Feet
Crown Plaza Hotel TV welcomed me personally :)

Walking the otherside of downtown Auckland that we had not hit yet

Decent Beer, John's was better

Walked around aimlessly in search for something Jessi would eat

A Chess Game

The Clock Tower?

The Stratosphere, I mean, Sky Tower at night!

When in doubt, eat at the Mexican Restaraunt

Here's a business opportunity for you Southern Californians.  Mexican food is available at just about every shopping center and hole in the wall out here.  Well, in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, there is only one that we found.  It's tucked away and upstairs.  To our surprise, when we got up there, the place was packed; and it was Monday!!!  The food here was not that good, not authentic at all.  The Chinese owned and operated it.  In fact, nearly half the downtown shops were owned by Asian, not that I have a problem with that, but I have a problem with them serving Mexican food...

Sky Town from our Hotel Room

Day #394 * Hike #444 * New Track #424
Tuesday December 13, 2011 (New Zealand)
New Market and Auckland Airport - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 2 Hours * 1.25 Miles * +25 Feet

This would begin the longest day of my life.  We awoke early to ensure to not miss our flight.  Also, breakfast is the most important meal of the deal and there was one section of town that some Kiwi's told us about that we hadn't checked out yet; New Market. 

We drove and parked at the parking garage in the New Market district.  It looked like a dump.  There was a large "Westfield" sign on the building.  Great, another mall!  There was a Westfield mall downtown Auckland and many Westfield Malls in the LA area.  I think somebody needs to start an Occupy Westfield movement.

After an hour of pacing around, we decided not to eat breakfast here.  We raced back by the airport and ate at Dunkin Donuts.  Hey, what are you going to do.  The other choice near the airport was McDonalds.  Outside our hotel room was a Dennys.  Just no escaping these Great Americans companies...


UP UP and Away...
A small island of Fiji
These are bonus pictures, not a hike...


And this concludes our New Zealand vacation.

How's That?!  ~The phrase used by Kiwis when the ball in a cricket game hits the batter, but only if the ball had the trajectory to hit the stick.  If the ref doesn't call interferance, the opposing team chants out, "How's That?!".  I suppose this is the equivelant of a ref in NFL football blowing a call and the fans shout out, "Bull Shit".  The only difference is, in Cricket, the ref could change the call if he feels the ball would have hit the stick.

I've taken away many decent mannerisms from New Zealand.  Nine days was enough time to feel the experience and refresh myself but to explore the entire nation, we would have needed months.  I hope to revisit and conquer the more fabulous South Island next.  Down there you will see snow cap mountains year round, glaciers, waterfalls and who knows???

**I did want to make one correction.  In a previous post, I mentioned that the Marlborough wine country was nearby Wellington.  Although this statement would be true in comparisson to Auckland, Wellington is still on the North Island whereas Marlborough is on the South.  Marlborough is actually closest to Christchurch; the place where are the recent earthquakes in New Zealand have been epicentered.

My hikes in New Zealand are complete, but I have continued hiking every day in Cali since my return.  I will get to those next...

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