A Helluva Trip!

New Zealand is known for its outdoor adventures and picturesque scene. Combining the both, I was able to enjoy scenic views when my adrenaline was pumping!

Weather is volatile in Auckland during autumn. I got to experience all the seasons in one day as the sun will shine as bright is it can at one moment and it rains in the other. Centred between two harbours, it gets windy too. That’s why it’s also known as the City of Sail, where there are more boats than people. After all, at 1.5 million people, Auckland is the most populated city in New Zealand, where the country’s total population stands at about 4 million.

There she stands – the tallest building in the country

In the heart of Auckland stands the tallest building in the country — Sky Tower. At 328 metres, visitors can try out the Sky Jump, which is a 192-metre jump at the speed of 85km per hour. The idea of taking the jump wasn’t scary. Changing into the suit provided and keeping my belongings in the locker wasn’t too. I chose to go second in a group of four. I didn’t want to be the first nor the last because it felt like the stress level was higher.

So I was at the waiting area for my turn as I saw my first teammate going to the deck. The friendly staff will talk to you and ensure you’re properly equipped and prepared before they let you go.  Time and time again, you’ll be reminded that it’s really safe.

My friend looked calm after they took a picture of him at the deck. He also held a GoPro to film the whole process. Smile at the camera, they’ll say. After that, at the count of three, let go of the handle and “dive in”.

It seemed pretty easy to say than to be done. Some of my friends hesitated longer than they initially expected. Your emotions might play tricks with you even though you are usually braver. For others, it was pure fun.

As for myself, I psyched myself before my turn to go. That’s after seeing my friend’s hesitation before the jump and the loud sound of the pulley after unloading him after his landing.

Now, that sound, as loud as thunder, freaked me out. I panicked inside. But I tried to look cool and tell jokes before my turn.

Does my hair look good?

“Does my hair look good?” I asked before they told me to smile at the camera. Then, they attached the GoPro to my wrist and asked about my feelings. I was almost in denial. All I could hear was my heartbeat.

So as I edged out of the platform, heard, 3, 2, 1… Go… My mind was pretty much…blank. Well, I just gotta trust the system, I told myself.

Off I went and I shouted: Ahhh… ahh…ahh… oh wow, this is beautiful!

The first few seconds, it was too hard for me to handle. I was shocked by the speed I was going. After that, I held my head and looked around me and saw how amazing and beautiful Auckland is.

It was about 4pm that day. Weather was just nice.

By the time I knew, I already landed.

It surprised me that walking on the glass panel at the observatory was even scarier than the jump! You see cars moving and people moving beneath your feet. I went there at night and I totally enjoyed the night view of Auckland.

For those who appreciate a 360 degree view from the tower, there is SkyWalk where you can walk at the edge at 192m above land around the 1.2-metre wide platform.

Like a Movie

For a tour in the northern island of New Zealand, Hobbiton Movie Set is one of the attractions not to be missed especially for anyone who’d like to experience the Middle-earth and see the Hobbit holes as seen in Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.

Hobbits not included. Sorry, Tolkien fans.

Located out of Matamata, the 1,250-acre farm is owned by the Alexander family. Peter Jackson, the director of the blockbusters, discovered the site in 1998 when he was looking for a suitable set for the movies.

Mind your head!

A two-hour guided tour brings you to the magical land of the Hobbit. And you also get to eat at the Green Dragon Inn! I shall not describe much here and let you experience the movie set yourself. If you intend to visit, it is advised that you book your tour in advance. The peak is during summer when the sky is clear and you’ll get photos just like those stumbled upon in the Internet.

As I travel further south, I arrived at a place that smelled like rotten eggs, a place known as the sulphur city. At Rotorua, I visited geothermal sites Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu.

Nothing complements a stroll around geothermal sites like the smell of rotten eggs

A friend and I started our day in the morning. First, we went to see Lady Knox Geyser at Wai-O-Tapu (which starts at 10.15am), followed by a walk through the geothermal site. I was simply mesmerised by the colours I saw.

Your feet will thank you if you opt for a comfortable pair of shoes especially if you intend to visit more than one site in a day.

You can opt for a fully-guided tour, or you can be a bit more adventurous and explore the area yourself.

At Waimangu, my friend and I walked and hiked for 4km. The easier walking trail is 1.5km but if you’re up to see views from a higher spot, it’s worth the effort! We saw Mt Tarawera that erupted in 1886. The self-guided tour was an enjoyable one with clear signs and information at each point of interest. Tentatively, you can opt for a boat tour.

After so much walking, we went for the mud spa at Hell’s Gate. It was an absolute enjoyment in a cold weather. Over there, there are different types of pool, all of which with their respective beautifying properties. (My skin felt softer after!)

The same sulphur that gives Rotorua its scent is also great for skincare

Besides the thermal sites, we visited Skyline Rotorua that oversees the city and the beautiful lake of Rotorua. We bought tickets to “luge” for seven times but didn’t have enough time to do the rounds due to the long queue that we didn’t expect. So if you do plan for a trip there, make sure you have enough time before you buy the tickets.

Take some time to enjoy what nature has to offer.

Essentially, a luge is a three wheel cart that you’ll take downhill with a simple steering and braking mechanism. There were three tracks with various levels of difficulties. It’s fun and suitable for families. Again, I was blown away by the beauty of Rotorua as I luged through the forests that oversee the lake and the city.

Other than the views and adventures, don’t miss out on the food, dairy products and wine. More importantly, the unique Maori culture is not to be missed.

That’ll complete your trip! ◆

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