Monday, February 05, 2007

New Zealand: Auckland - Bay of Islands - Rotorua

Photo gallery: Auckland - Bay of Islands - Rotorua

Our fourth night trip to New Zealand started on the North island.

We arrived to Auckland (from Sydney) in the evening having time just to visit the Sky Tower with spectacular 360 degree view from a staggering 220 metres above the city. Next morning we hired a car and drove several hundreds kms to the north.

Bay of Islands is one of NZ's most worthy attraction, punctuated by dozens of coves and filled with clear waters ranging in hue from turquoise to deep blue. There is an enormous historical heritage there as it was the first place of English settlement. This region has a long and proud Maori history and today has one of the country's highest percentage of Maori. It was the most northern place we have been to.

We visited Waitangi Treaty Ground with many features of Maori culture. It was there in 1840, that the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed between Maori and the British Crown. We spent a night in Paihia, the hub of the Bay of Islands.

Next day we moved to the south, to 500 km distant Rotorua. Here we got a taste of NZ's most dynamic thermal area with spurting geysers, steaming hot springs and exploding mug pools all together with the strong impact of Maori culture.

We couldn't resist to visit one of several local spas, so finally we spent a great evening in Polynesian Spa including twenty seven hot mineral pools (this spa was voted as one of the top ten spas in the world in 2004, 2005 and 2006). The outside 39 - 42 degrees Celsius hot mineral pools are just on the shore of the Lake Rotorua - it was simply fascinating!

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