It was an early start of 5am to get everyone ready for the drive to the airport. Aunty Lorraine drew the short straw and we all set off in a somber mood.
We were soon checked in and we had a very tearful farewell as goodbye would mean we would not see Aotoea again. The land of the long white cloud had been very kind to us but when such a fantastic trip comes to an end it will always end in tears. One last wave and we were through security and on our long return leg.
The 3 hour flight to Sydney was easy compared to the second leg of 14 hours.
Next was a 10 hour wait in Abu Dhabi, luckily we had a room at the Premier Inn so we could freshen up before our 7 hour flight to Manchester.
The Mitai family are a real Maori tribe that live in Rotarua on there land they have decided to share with people the pride they have in thier culture and history.
We were welcomed onto thier land by the chief of the tribe, we spent some time discovering where all the travellers had come from. People with us who had travelled on the 4 winds came from 20 different lands. Our host addressed everyone in thire native tongue, quite a feat and well appreciated.
We then went to see the unveiling of the Hangi a traditional feast cooked on hot stones underground.
Then we experienced the Maori cultural show which showed how the Moari came to New Zealand and how the rituals are still part of everyday life.
We then celebrated by eating together before a trip to the Glow Worms and sacred spring.
Hells Gate geothermal attraction is Rotorua’s most active geothermal park and is known as the “AWESOME BEAST” of New Zealand Geothermal attractions. Hells Gate geothermal attraction features boiling hot pools and erupting waters with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Celsius; steaming fumaroles; hot water lakes; sulphur crystals and deposits; New Zealand’s largest active mud volcano; Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot water fall and even examples of land coral.
George Bernard Shaw as he gazed upon the the pools named them Hells Gate and the name stuck.
It truly was impressive and very hot but worthwhile trip.
Rees & Keli also got to try carving using Maori techniques.
After Shantytown we took a 6 hour drive to Picton to board the ferry back ( Arahura ) to the North Island and arrival in Wellington, the night ferry docked at 1.40am so we took a short trip to ngio before freedom camping down by the water front, Keli who was in the front navigating fell asleep before we got out of Wellington. lol.
By this time it was going on for 2am so we just secured the camper & went to bed.
Today we went to Shantytown which is NZ’s version of Beamish in the north east of England.
As well as the historic buildings we got to ride on a steam train and pan for gold. We struck gold but not enough to retire on. After looking round the old colonial style buildings we went for lunch in King Dicks Cafe.
We visited the Barbours, church,hospital, fire station and the jail.
Early start this morning again as we have to be at the helicopter booking office by 0845. The early rise was worth it as even before we left for our flight Mt Cook made a brief appearance before being shrouded in mist.
The minibus driver gives us our safety brief before we board & take the short journey down to the helipad.
Rees & Keli get put in the front beside the pilot (Brayden) mum & dad are in the back seat!! We are all belted in & headsets on so we can hear the pilot talking to us as well as the air control.
We took off and were soon above the low cloud and the amazing sight of Mt Cook could be seen, we climbed slowly and soon Fox Glacier came into view. It was truly breathtaking a shimmering ice blue and impressive contours.
After touring the length of the Glacier we travelled higher up to the snow fields at about 6000mtrs we landed on the snow for a photo opportunity and a brief time to take in the natural beauty of the mountains.
All to soon our time on the snow was up and we took off again following the alpine ridge to Frans Josef Glacier to again look in wonder at this natural creation.
We circled the glacier 1 last time before taking a loop of Fox Township and landing back at base.
We returned to the motorhome and got ready to move on but only down to Frans Josef so we could see the glacier from a different perspective.