So, to compensate my lack of blogging these past few weeks, this post is going to be a very, very, very, very long post. It took me a few days to crop and resize photos, upload video into my youtube account and I think I've already squeezed out all my brain juice just thinking on what to write. Procrastinating does lead to writer's block. So here goes..
I went to Auckland 2 weeks ago. (Ya I know!! I should have updated this blog like two weeks ago and now my New Zealand story is so old!!) Let me tell you..It was winter then, cool air, many sunny days and New Zealand is as beautiful as I imagined it since watching the Lord of the Ring trilogy movies a few years back.
This holiday was like a breath of fresh air. Like light at the end of a long winding tunnel. After starting work, I didn't realize I needed a holiday. I was so used to my routines that I never thought of going off somewhere to rejuvenate myself. I loved it! I enjoyed every minute of it..I even enjoyed the constant bickering we had when we got lost while driving down to Rotorua. The view along the way was breathtaking.
The first few days was spent in Auckland City Center. We went to the Sky Tower, did a little bit of shopping and during the night, we had a fantastic view of the Sky Tower from our hotel room. I was feeling a bit giddy when I stepped on the glass floor. I saw a few brave souls doing the sky jump. I was tempted but in the end I didn't have the guts to try it.
We also went to the Victoria Market which is more or less like Central Market in Kuala Lumpur where they sell lots of souvenirs. We bought a few t-shirts and two winter jackets for a bargain.
My eyes bulge when I saw them selling kiwi fruits, 5 for only $1. So cheap!!
On our third day, we made our way to Rotorua, which is a 5 hours drive from Auckland. We didn't straightaway drove into Rotorua as my parent planned to visit their friends who lives in Ngongotaha, which is about 6km from Rotorua. We arrived there around 7pm and checked into a motel near the lake called Jack & Di's Waiteti Lakefront Motel. The next morning, I woke up early to catch the sunrise. The view was so unbelievably beautiful.
I feel at peace watching the sun rise, listening to the gentle sound of the waves and just because, I willingly endured the freezing frosty morning. So I thought, if my life in Brunei doesn't work out, migrating to New Zealand is a tempting option.
The motel even got a big tree with a swing. I've always dream of having a house with a big tall tree in the back yard with swings on it. I shrieked when I saw the swing. The tree was exactly like the one I imagined.
Rotorua is nicknamed The Sulphur City because of its distinct smell. I don't really know how to describe the smell. The sulphur does sometimes smell like rotten eggs. It took me quite a while to get used to the smell. But with a view like this, the smell was soon enough forgotten.
This is the gorgeous view on top of Rotorua Museum.
We went on a riverjet through the magnificent Tutukau Gorge and explored the Orakei Karako Thermal Geopark. The park has safe walkways that lead past spectacular silica terraces, boiling mud pools, geysers and geothermal cave.
On our last night in Rotorua, we went to visit Mitai Maori Village. It was freezing cold that night and I was shocked to see the Maori warriors in their war canoe wearing ONLY their traditional costumes. It was mind-boggling to see them looking so relaxed. I mean, we were the ones wearing layers of clothing and we still can feel the cold. Burrrr...
We were also given a guide through their sacred land and visit to sacred Fairy Spring. I just couldn't believe how clear the water is.
The tour through this Maori Village was such a unique experience. It felt spiritual somehow.
The next day, we went to another Thermal Geopark called Hell's Gate. It is Rotorua's most active thermal park. The park is set in 50 acres with a large variety of thermal features such as steaming sulphur lake,hot pools of boiling mud and the Kakahi Falls which is the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. The smell of sulphur was very overpowering here so I was breathing through my mouth the whole time. The smell was like a combination of rotten eggs and smelly feet.
We also tried wood carving there. It was a nice feeling to be able to make our own souvenirs.
Before we head back to Auckland, we stopped at Manukau and since I haven't been on a roller coaster since forever, we went to Rainbow's End Theme Park. It was so much fun except that it rained not long after we got there. But my sister and I managed to ride on the roller coaster twice.
We spent the last 2 days in Auckland City. I bought some shoes. We went to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World and get to see the stars of Happy Feet in flesh. Cuteness overload!
From the underwater world, we took a walk along Auckland Harbour waterfront. The scenery was breathtakingly gorgeous. I love the fact that winter in New Zealand is not grey and gloomy. It was a perfect sunny day.
I was actually pleasantly surprised the Halal food is so easy to find there. There's a couple of Malaysian restaurants (though I thought why come this far to eat Malaysian food?), a lot of middle eastern food and also vegetarian Indian food. Kebab stalls were everywhere. No kebab photos here..I forgot to take any.
Drinking yummy cappuccino and hot chocolate at the Sky Tower Cafe.The fern design is so pretty.
Eating fish and chips at Victoria Market for lunch. Even though fish and chips originated from UK, the dish is very popular in New Zealand. So eating Fish and chips is on my must-eat list.
At the Maori Village, we were served with Hangi cooked food. Hangi is an ancient New Zealand Maori method of cooking food using super heated rocks buried in the ground in a pit oven (Source: Wikipedia).
There was no halal restaurant in Rotorua. Before we arrived at the village, I already felt a bit down because I assumed the food is not halal. I was already imagining the torture of watching the others eating the yummy buffet. So when we were told that the buffet is halal, I nearly jumped with joy there and then.The buffet was a welcomed treat since we have been eating only eggs and toast for the past couple of days.
The hangi cooked food had a distinct earthy flavour to it and smells earthy too. Like fragrant wood. The potatoes were sweet and soft. And the chicken and lamb were tender and juicy. It was our first proper meal in Rotorua and we savoured every moment.
The fish burger at the food court in Manukau Shopping Complex was scrumptious.
The kiwi fruits I bought in Victoria Market did not have the normal green coloured flesh. Instead, it was golden in colour. Very sweet and yummy..
Alas, all good things must come to an end. After 8 glorious days in New Zealand, we went back to Brunei with happy memories and a h**l of a jetlag. We had a wonderful time there and I’ve decided that we will go there again, next time during the summer season. Can’t wait!!