A Travellerspoint blog

Day 140 Rotorua-Taupo, New Zealand

Wednesday 26th October 2005

sunny 20 °C

It was only a short drive to the next destination although we got up fairly early so we could get to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in time to see the Lady Knox Geyser go off. At 10.15am every day somebody pours soap crystals in the geyser and within usually a few minutes it the spouts water up to 20 metres into the air. After watching this we then walked around seeing the many pools and craters before finally heading over to the mud pools.
Just before we got to Taupo we stopped off at Huka Falls which is very spectacular and the water here is a fabulous colour.
We got to the hostel around 3pm and as soon as we got there I got the impression it was nowhere near as nice as the ones we had stayed in before, especially the hostel in Rotorua. People here just didn’t seem as friendly and the whole hostel set up seemed a complete mess and here we were for the next 5 nights. Luckily though later that night 3 people from the hostel in Rotorua turned up and one of these was Adam the guy from Yugoslavia so things were certainly looking better. It wasn’t long though before the owner had upset Adam and he and a german girl had decided they would only be spending one night here. So to try and forget about that the 3 others from the last hostel (Adam,Chris and the german girl whos name ive forgotten) and myself all went out on the town for a few beers while Jill and Simon stayed in. We soon forgot about the hostel we were in and had a great laugh playing pool,drinking and then heading over to the karaoke bar to try and get Adam to sing.

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Lady Knox Geyser

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Lady Knox Geyser

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Wai-O-Tapu Boiling Mud Pools

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Wai-O-Tapu Boiling Mud Pools

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Huka Falls

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Huka Falls

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:18 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 139 Rotorua, New Zealand

Tuesday 25th October 2005

sunny 18 °C

A relaxing day spent looking for places to visit when we get to Taupo and then an hour or so at the golf driving range.

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:16 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 138 Rotorua, New Zealand

Monday 24th October 2005

sunny 18 °C

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Kuirau Park

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Kuirau Park

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St Faiths Anglican Maori Church

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Maori Carvings

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Maori Building

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Government Gardens

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Rotorua Museum of Art & History

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Statue in Government Gardens

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Blue Pool Rooms

With the others not bothering to get out of bed till the afternoon I went off for a pleasant and peaceful walk on my own. After walking through the Kuirau
Park again I then made my way down to St Faiths Anglican Church which is covered in traditional Maori emblems and situated in a quiet peaceful area right beside Lake Rotorua. After looking around the small church I then made my way along the lake front and Memorial Park and down to the Princes Gate Arches where you can then enter the Government Gardens. The sun was still shining and I enjoyed a few hours walking around the gardens and past the Rotorua Museum of Art and History and the Blue Pool which is a refurbished 1930’s swimming pool complex. While standing outside I then noticed several people playing bowls so spent some time seeing if they were any good. Even though it was around 15 years ago since I last played the competition looked pretty poor but unfortunately I wasn’t offered the chance to pit my skills against them.
After the walk I drove over to Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) and Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake) and past Whakarewarewa Forest before heading back to the hostel.

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:15 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 137 Rotorua, New Zealand

Sunday 23rd October 2005

sunny 20 °C

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Kuirau Park

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Kuirau Park

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Kuirau Park
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Luge Track

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Cable Cars

At last the sun was shining and the forecast was the next 3 days were going to be fairly warm and sunny. Most of the day was spent at Skyline Skyrides where a gondola or cable car takes you up at mountain and here we had a great laugh racing down the 3 luge tracks they have on 3 wheeled carts. After 5 runs down the luge tracks and then the cable car back to the car park we went for a walk around Kuirau Park which is an area of volcanic activity. The most recent eruption here was in 2003 and hot mud covered most of the park and trees. It has a crater lake, pools of boiling mud, steam and mineral baths and also the rotten egg smells that go with it.

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 136 Whitianga-Rotorua, New Zealand

Saturday 22nd October 2005

sunny 18 °C

Rotorua was next on the list of places to stay or Sulphur City as it could be called with its volcanic landscape of thermal springs, geysers, bubbling mud pools, lakes and the smell that goes with it. Once there every so often you get a smell of rotten eggs that after awhile hits the back of your throat and makes you feel like you want to vomit. How anyone would want to live here is beyond me and if people ever get used to the smell I know I certainly couldn’t.
The hostel we were staying in was called The Funky Green Voyager and if you ever want a peaceful and relaxing place to stay in Rotorua then I recommend this is the place to stay. Its definitely in the Top 5 of all the hostels ive stayed in so far and it was all the more enjoyable with all the friendly people who were staying there to. Here I met Adam a guy from Yugoslavia who on arrival in New Zealand wasn’t sure what he wanted to do so came up with the idea he would buy a bike a cycle around from place to place. It amazed me how little luggage he was carrying on his trip. I swear he had less than half the amount of luggage compared to what I was carrying. He would only ever book one night at a time and then either move on or if he liked the place he would just book another night. There was us arranging accommodation nearly a week in advance thinking places may be completely booked and he didn’t have a care in the world.
There was also a lot of Germans in the hostel including 2 who turned up and after one noticed I was reading a Lance Armstrong book turned out to be a cycling fanatic as well. Oh what fun I had laughing and joking with them about the German cyclist Jan (fat boy) Ullrich. I think they were quite possibly the 2 crazyiest Germans ive ever met. I asked them why they had come to New Zealand and their reason was to meet a friend for a cup of coffee. After laughing for several minutes wondering whether these guys were insane they told me it was true. Apparently an ex work collegue of theirs had left Germany for New Zealand to open a coffee shop and they had said the day it opens they would come over and visit him. So here they were in New Zealand to meet a friend just for a cup of coffee.

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:12 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 135 Whitianga, New Zealand

Friday 21st October 2005

rain 14 °C

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach

Simon and Me

Simon and Me

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Cathedral Cove

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Cathedral Cove

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Cathedral Cove

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Cathedral Cove

Though the rain was still coming down it had eased off by the time we decided to go out.
We drove over to Hahei first and had a 15 minute walk down to Cathedral Cove which is famous for its giant limestone arch and was well worth taking a look at.
After this was a short drive to Hot Water Beach where thermal waters brew just below the sand in front of some rocks. All you have to do is wait 2 hours either side of low tide and then start digging a hole where you then sit it in and relax in the hot thermal water. Well it sounds fairly easy but with the weather being as bad as it was it turned into a serious onslaught to try and dig a hole before the sea kept on crashing in and freezing everyone to death. Eventually after persuading a few people to join us we planned on making a barrier of sand around the hole we had dug to stop the cold sea water from entering the whole we had dug. By this time we had a crowd of people around us of which most preferred to stand and watch as we dug like crazy in the rain. Even though most people doubted whether we could do it we did in the end succeed in digging the hole and barricading the sea. Typically then everyone who seemed to be standing around watching then wanted to join us in our own little natural pool.
The funny thing was the area of sand in front of the barricade we had made was absolutely boiling hot when the tide went out and all these people were jumping about like lunatics wondering why it was so hot, didn’t they actually realize this place was called Hot Water Beach.
Some 60 minutes later it was then starting to get very cold so with a few thank you’s from people for digging the hole for them we headed back to the car, and not bothering to dry off to much we just sat on our towels and had the heaters on full blast all the way back.

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:10 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 134 Whitianga, New Zealand

Thursday 20th October 2005

rain 14 °C

Today I didn’t really feel like going out and within 20 minutes of Simon and Jill going out the rain started pouring so I was glad I didn’t join them. Instead I just relaxed by putting my feet up and read a few magazines to pass the time, wondering if the rain would ever stop.

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:09 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 133 Pahia-Whitianga, New Zealand

Wednesday 19th October 2005

rain 14 °C

We were heading back down south today and going through Auckland again so on the way we swopped the car over hoping this time we would get one that wouldn’t break down within the first day. Although they gave us a newer car this one had no air con and it was about as powerful as a 50cc moped, anyway at least this one looks like it will last us till the end of the trip.
When the car eventually managed to pull itself up the small hills we finally made it to Whitianga and then bang on cue the rain started and it wouldn’t stop for the whole time we were staying here. The hostel we were staying in had around 4 separate buildings and each had 2 floors which meant that there would only ever be a maximum of 8 people in each building which made it feel less cramped and more like your own home, although the owners when we saw them were nowhere near as nice as the guy from Pahia.

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 132 Pahia, New Zealand

Tuesday 18th October 2005

overcast 16 °C

Didn’t do to much today except take Simon out on the bike ride I went out on Sunday and laughed as he struggled up the small hills knowing full well that there were even bigger hills to come. Apart from that the only other thing I did was play him again at tennis and spent the rest of the day doing nothing.

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:05 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 131 Pahia, New Zealand

Monday 17th October 2005

sunny 22 °C

Today turned into probably one of the best days so far. If not on the whole trip but definitely in New Zealand. We were heading out on a boat trip to hopefully swim with some dolphins if we could find some but also it was going to be a great day to kick back and relax for the day.
We walked down to the harbour and caught the boat at 9.15am and luckily there was only going to be 5 of us on the boat so it wasn’t going to be crowded and full of idiots making loads of noise. We picked the other couple up from the next island who were an elderly couple and very nice and then headed off to find some dolphins. We came across 2 boats who had crowds of mainly kids swimming around with about 6 dolphins so we waited around about 10 minutes and luckily for us they all disappeared so it was our chance to hopefully swim with them. Three of us (Simon, myself and this older guy) all got some wetsuits on and got into the water. Dolphins are the type of animals that one minute they will happily swim with you and the next minute swim off and disappear. The idea is to talk to them and actually swim towards them rather than just float in the water. The hard part though is swimming with flippers on and a snorkel for the first time and also in the sea when your not really a strong swimmer. Trying to swim after the dolphins then nearly killed me and after a few minutes I was shattered although I did manage to get very close to the dolphins and got a chance to get some fantastic views of them under the water.
After that we got back onto the boat we headed over to one of the islands and swim from the boat to the beach where we went for a short walk while the hosts got the barbecue fired up. An hour later we got back onto the boat and had some food and relaxed with a well earned beer before starting the journey back to our hostel.
The bonus was on the way back first we managed to spot about another 8 dolphins swimming around and further along we saw 2 seals which is pretty rare to see swimming out in the sea.
Anyway eventually we made it back to the harbour around 4pm and it was a fantastic day and even better thanks to the 2 people who were in charge of the boat.

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Bay of Islands

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Bay of Islands

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Bay of Islands

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People swimming with dolphins

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The boat we sailed on

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Bay of Islands

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Me enjoying a beer or two

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Me relaxing

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A Dolphin

Me swimming with dolphins

Me swimming with dolphins

Me and Simon

Simon and Me

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:04 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 130 Pahia, New Zealand

Sunday 16th October 2005

sunny 18 °C

There were 3 other people staying in my room, 2 Argentinian guys and 1 Irish female who luckily for me said she was getting up around 6.30am and I asked her the night before if she would give me a nudge before she left in the morning. However I heard her alarm go off and by 7.20am I was up and dressed and ready to grab a bike and thanks to Simon he mentioned a track where I could ride and it took me past Haruru Falls which was somewhere I wanted to see.
Not sure on what the Kiwi weather was planning to do this morning I packed my fleece and waterproofs just in case although as it turned out the weather was pretty good until I got back. The bike ride was great and even though I was only out for 2 hours the hills enroute certainly made it a very good workout and the falls even though they weren’t that big were still very nice to look at.
By the time I got back and got showered and changed the others had woke up and we jumped in the car to get some food from the supermarket to cook later. Well that’s when the pile of shite car we were given decided it was going to start being basically a big pile of shite. It refused to start 3 times in the space of a few hours and it came down to me calling the AA out to look at it. They couldn’t find anything wrong so I told the car rental firm on the way back to Auckland in a few days time that I wanted it replaced presuming it would get that far.
Not to be to bothered about the car Simon and I enjoyed a few games of tennis in the afternoon followed by table tennis that night and also in the bar later a few games of pool. So all in all for me it turned out to be a very sporty day and by the end of it I was feeling pretty tired. We had also spoken to Simon at the hostel about whether there were any trips worth going on while we were here and he mentioned a trip on a boat where we could get the chance to swim with dolphins and he always had a great time when he went on the trip and said it was the best thing he had done since he had worked here, so seeings he seemed like such a trustworthy guy we decided to book it for tomorrow and boy was he spot on as we found out tomorrow.

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Haruru Falls

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The bike i hired

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Haruru Falls

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Haruru Falls

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:02 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 129 Auckland-Pahia, New Zealand

Saturday 15th October 2005

sunny 16 °C

Time to move on and also time to pick up the car although at this time we still weren’t sure what we were getting as it was going to be 1 of 3. Simon and I walked to the car hire place while Jill waited with the bags and once there I was curious to see what we were being given. At first as they were moving cars around I thought it was going to be this brand new silver shiny car although im not sure what it was at the time, however to my dismay we were getting the one behind yep the grotty looking bashed up black piece of shit that looked like it was worth about 50 quid. Still it was cheap to hire and it only had to get us around for 53 days. After checking the car for damage, scratches and dents yes it had plenty of them I signed the paperwork and off we went to pick Jill up. Within a mile it was already making strange knocking noises from the rear suspension so already I was concerned although not as concerned as later.
On the way to our next destination which was Paihia Simon looked at the map and found out we were near some huge boulder so he suggested we go and take at look at it. Well after driving 3 miles basically down a gravel track road we came to a dead end and got out of the car to see erm absolutely nothing in site at all. After closer inspection of the map this boulder was actually spelt bolder so whatever a bolder is in New Zealand its certainly not a huge stone spelt boulder as it is in England.
Anyway after driving back down the gravel track the next site we headed to was a lot more interesting to see and this was Pakiri Beach. The water here was so clean and clear and you could see all these weird and wonderfully coloured fish swimming around. Loads of people were snorkeling and scuba diving and there is also a glass bottomed boat you can go out on although unfortunately we didn’t have time to do any of these.
Then we had a look at another place to see on my list which was Whangerei Falls where we had a short walk around and take some photos before moving on.
We made it to Paihia around 4pm and were welcomed by Simon the guy in charge who turned out to be a fantastic guy who made our stay at Peppertree Lodge all the more enjoyable. The hostel is also a very nice place to stay with free kayaks, mountain bikes, tennis and table tennis to enjoy. My first thought was to get up early the following morning so I could go out and enjoy a few hours on one of the bikes and as Simon said i could have one from 7.30am that was my plan of action for tomorrow.
After throwing my bags in the room we then had a walk around the small town before retiring for a fairly early night.

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Pakiri Beach

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Pakiri Beach

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Whangerei Falls

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Whangerei Falls

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Whangerei Falls

Posted by Reece Sanford 20:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 128 Auckland, New Zealand

Friday 14th October 2005

sunny 20 °C

I wasn’t to sure what to do today when I woke up. If I had the hiking trousers I was hoping to buy the previous day I was contemplating walking to Mt Eden and One Tree Hill so I could get a better view from them during the day. Instead as Fiona had mentioned that Newmarket was a nice place to visit for shopping I spent most of the day here and in the end bought some trousers and tried not to worry too much about the price.
Tonight was my last in Auckland and I have to say it was the most enjoyable. Luckily Fiona wasn’t to bored of my company just yet and we headed to a bar in Newmarket for a beer while watching the rugby which even though I haven’t a clue of the rules looked like a fantastic game (even though I have to say a certain someone predicted the wrong team to win hahaha!!!!!) Then I enjoyed one of the best steaks ive ever had in a restaurant just around the corner washed down with another couple of beers. All in all it was a lovely night and enjoyed with the company of a gorgeous albeit slightly crazy kiwi woman (good job im at least a 3 hour drive from her now or I would of probably felt a swift slap to the back of the head by now).
Anyway thanks again Fi for showing me around and it was a pleasure to meet you and hopefully I will see you soon

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Posted by Reece Sanford 19:58 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 127 Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday 13th October 2005

sunny 19 °C

Woke up thankful I had my camera back in my possession again although luckily I had managed to save all my photos on my laptop so I wouldn’t of really lost anything, well except for several hundred pounds buying a new one.
It was a fairly nice day weather wise and we went for a walk down to the Victoria Market although there wasn’t much to see there in the way of people selling things except fake football shirts and a few other clothing and food stalls. After that we walked along the harbour where theres some very nice flats looking out over the water and onto Princes Wharf where the buildings including the Hilton Hotel are in the shape of a cruise ship.
By then it was around 2pm and as the others decided they were heading back to the hostel to relax I had a walk around the shops to see if I could find some hiking trousers although everywhere I looked seemed to be expensive so I headed back as well and looked forward to going out later that night.
That night Fiona came and picked me up and she took me to Mt Eden first then followed by One Tree Hill. Both of these places I really wanted to see while I was here and as we didn’t have a car yet I have to thank her for taking me to see these places. You get fantastic views of Auckland from Mt Eden and even though by the time we got to One Tree Hill it was nearly dark it looks like a great place to visit during the summer so hopefully she will invite back here one day hahaha!!!!!
Food was next on the menu and as a romantic gesture Fiona took me out for fish and chips and apple pie, what more could any man ask for although truthfully it was my suggestion to go there and even though I wasn’t sure what sort of fish I was eating it turned out to be very very nice indeed.

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Auckland from Mount Eden

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One Tree Hill from Mount Eden

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One Tree Hill from Mount Eden

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Auckland Harbour Bridge

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Sky Tower and Harbour

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Sky Tower

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Sky Tower

Posted by Reece Sanford 19:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Day 126 Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday 12th October 2005

overcast 16 °C

Luckily I had researched my New Zealand book and had written down all the places I was hoping to visit. I was actually surprised when I woke up as I wasn’t feeling jetlagged at all and managed to make it downstairs in time for breakfast.
First we all decided to head over and have a look at the Auckland Museum and had a nice walk through Parnell on the way. After looking around the museum though I was a little bit disappointed as there wasn’t really that much of interest worth seeing and it wasn’t the type of place where I would go back again and again unlike the museums ive been to in London. Still the whole area where the museum stands is very nice and you get a good view from here of the sea and other areas around Auckland. We then walked back along the university grounds and over to Albert Park which I imagine on a summers day is a lovely place to sit and relax in. By then the sun was out and as we had already seen in the short space of time we had been here the weather can change so quick so we thought it would be a good idea to go to the top of the Sky Tower now. Of all the tall buildings we had been up on the trip so far this one was by far the cheapest and once the lift had took us to the top I have to say the views totally blew me away. They were far superior to any of the others I had seen in Canada and America and with no other tall buildings around unlike America especially it made it all the more spectacular as you seemed head and shoulders above everything else. I was now starting to like this place even more and wondering whether 53 days was actually going to be long enough even though it’s a small country.
That evening Jill, Simon and I headed back over to Mission Bay where Fiona had taken me the night before and I enjoyed yet another nice Indian meal, although truth be told the reason we went back here was because me being a muppet I had left my camera in there the night before.

View from Sky Tower

View from Sky Tower

View from Sky Tower

View from Sky Tower

Grounds near University

Church near University

Auckland Museum Gardens

Auckland Museum Gardens

Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum

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Auckland Museum

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Auckland Museum Memorial

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Auckland Museum Gardens

Parnell Village

Posted by Reece Sanford 19:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

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