We left Vancouver at 8:00 PM on November 10th and arrived in Auckland on November 12th at about 5:30 AM after an exhausting 14-hour flight from Vancouver.
Dead tired, we immediately rented a car so that I could try my luck driving on the left (or wrong) side of the road. It probably would have been a better idea to rent the car after a good night’s sleep, but we had to get around town so we drove away from the airport in our cute and functional Toyota Yaris Cross rental car.
After checking out All Trails for some nice walks nearby we drove to the Managere Mountain Loop which is on a very old, very green dormant volcano just outside of Auckland. It was a nice easy hike to get our legs moving and heart rates up a little bit after a very long plane ride.
We then drove downtown, parked at our hotel and walked around downtown Auckland. We went to the All Blacks Experience which was an interesting experience with a quirky tour guide. Shopped at the Weta Workshop store where they had loads of Lord of The Rings and Hobbit-related things to purchase.
We also checked out a Costco store which looks almost the same as North American Costcos (except that they had loads of summer-related items to purchase in preparation for the impending southern summer season). We returned to our downtown hotel and unsurprisingly slept very soundly.
The next morning we checked out and headed to the Hot water Beach on the Coromandel peninsula. On the bad advice of Apple Maps, we drove on a treacherous narrow gravel road as 25A was closed for repairs. There were tons of cows and sheep all along the three-hour drive.
When we arrived at our cozy hut at the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park we took a short meander down to the beach and tried to dig a hole in the sand to find some hot water to soak in, but unfortunately, the tide was too high to get the full hot water beach experience. That said, we did enjoy a lovely couple of hours on the beautifully warm beach soaking in the sun and beautiful scenery. On our first full day in New Zealand, we learned if you don’t know the speed limit on any given road, it’s probably 100km/hr no matter how windy and narrow the road, no matter how crazy it might seem!