We had gotten up at 5am to get to the ferry in Picton by 7am. I had driven and we were all still tired so Justin got a cabin on the ferry and all I remember of the ferry ride was crashing in a bed with Joel cuddled up to me and waking up feeling so much better. Boy getting the cabin was so worth it. Once we arrived in Wellington we grabbed a bite to eat and started on our 6 hour drive to Waitomo. So all together we drove for 8 hours and had a 3 hour ferry ride, it was definitely a long day but got to see some nice countryside and a waterfall along the way.
Once in Waitomo we headed to our farm stay. We met our friendly host Narita and settled in. The following day the kids explored the farm. They have goats, ponies, horses, pigs, sheep, bunnies, chickens, ducks, an alpaca and doves. This is more of a hobby farm versus a working farm. The following day Narita and her adorable kids, Fletcher and Kaitlyn, gave us a complete farm tour. The kids got to feed the sheep milk from a bottle, the goats bread and leftovers, feed the bunnies and chickens, and watched the pigs and cows get feed. We got to meet all of the animals and Narita told us each of their stories of how she acquired them. Most of them she got as babies that were abandoned or removed from their mother as newborns and she needed to hand feed them from day 1 or were older and needed a great place to live a happy life. Needless to say, these animals were not thought of as food. She did shear the sheep for their wool. We all had a great time exploring and learning about the animals.
|Danielle feeding a lamb some milk|
|Eden feeding a bunny|
After our tour we headed out to do a couple of hikes. Our first stop was to the Ruakuri walk. It had a couple of limestone caves that you could go into. The area was abundant in vegetation and very scenic. In some places the vegetation was so thick that there was barely any daylight streaming through. The kids had a ton of fun exploring the caves. It was pretty cool with the river running right through it.
|On the way to Ruakuri Cave|
|Ruakuri cave. Yes it was dark in there!|
|Ruakuri scenic walk|
Our next stop was a hike to Marakopa Falls. These are falls that are about 35 meters high and are called a fan fall due to its width. It was a rather impressive sight. After getting back we headed to Piripiri cave, which is a very large cave. Our last stop was to the Mangapohua Natural Limestone Bridge Walkway which was once a huge cave but has deteriorated until only a natural bridge remained. We also got to see fossilized oysters. The place was amazing and we had a wonderful time hiking at each place. All of these sites are located along the same road within a 20 kilometer stretch.
|Mangapohua Natural Limestone Bridge Walkway|
The following day each of the kids got to ride a horse. Eden was first on a pony named Alaska. She had a fantastic time riding along and did a fabulous job holding on. Justin, on the other hand, did not like Alaska because the pony stepped on his foot 2 times while he was leading Eden around. Next was Danielle and she got to ride the horse named Prince. Danielle was in heaven and loved riding around the paddock. Caleb and Joel also got a turn on Prince and Justin and I loved seeing all of the smiles on each of the kids' faces. Since we had gotten to the farm both Danielle and Eden could not wait for the horse ride and they were not disappointed. That night we had dinner in Waitomo at the Thirsty Weta. A weta is a large bug like a grasshopper that is found only in New Zealand. Our dinner was great.
|Eden on a pony named Alaska|
|Danielle on Prince|
|Caleb's turn on Prince|
|Joel got to ride Prince too|
The following day we headed back for our second visit to Rotorua. Luckily, this drive was only one and a half hours long. Rotorua is an area in New Zealand with lots of fun outdoor activities and the kids had wanted to check out a few of them. We had also wanted to connect with a friend of Justin's parents, Norma and Bob, whom they had meet while living in Wellington. We meet John and Joan Lafferty and John's daughter Beverly with her husband Craig for a picnic in a nice area called Whataroa. We had a fantastic time socializing with everyone and the kids had a ball running around the forest. Eden had a dried fern frond that she carried around the whole time and came home with a pocket full of rocks. Another day Justin took all of the kids for a nice walk to and around the redwood forest in Rotorua. I stayed back for a bit of a mommy break. They were all amazed by the trees with Caleb saying, "I have never seen trees that size!"
The following day we all headed over to the Zorb. The Zorb is a large inflatable ball that you climb into and they give you a shove and you roll down a hill. For some reason Danielle thought this looked super fun and wanted to do it. She chose to do the zigzag track first and climbed in and off she went. Once out she had the biggest smile on her face and told us just how fun it was. She had 2 more rides but the Zorbalator (escalator for the Zorb) broke and we needed to come back a different day. We ended up coming back on the day we left New Zealand and she was able to do her 2 rides. For these she did the straight track. I could not believe how fast it went. She emerged from the Zorb each time with the biggest smile. Man is that girl gutsy.
|At the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest|
|Danielle coming down the hill in the Zorb ball|
Justin also took Caleb, Joel and Danielle to the Adrenaline Forest. This is a ropes course situated in the Whataroa forest with each of the 6 courses getting higher and more difficult as you progressed. Since heights are not my thing I sat this one out with Eden. Danielle impressed all of us with making it to course 5 with Justin following close behind. Caleb and Joel got to course 4. The only reason they did not get further was that Caleb got stuck in the middle of the zip line hanging by a rope and needed to get a worker to push him the rest of the way since Caleb could not reach the cable himself. (Caleb wanted me to pass this bit of information along) Course 5 was a whopping 20 meters high. I was grateful that I was not there to watch.
|Getting out at the bottom of the hill|
|Ready for the Adrenaline Forest|
I took Eden, Caleb and Joel up the Skyline to do the luge. Eden had such a great time at the luge in Queenstown that when she saw that they had one in Rotorua that was all she asked about. She had such an awesome time on each of her rides. They even had a scenic track that took you through a forest and had these huge dinosaur statues. They had a cut off that we took where you could stop to look at them more closely. She loved the dinosaurs. We got to do this in the evening and it was fun going for night rides. Everyone had a great time. By the way, Eden had really wanted to do the Zorb but she needed to be 6. Now she says, "When I'm 6 I'm going to ride the Zorb down the mountain like Danielle." She also wanted to do the Adrenaline Forest but she was too short. She was very disappointed and is trying her best to grow quickly. That kid is BOLD.
|Caleb up in the trees|
|View of Lake Rotorua from the top of the Luge Track|
A couple of days later, we had the great fortune of catching the Broncos versus Steelers game. We were super happy to catch a playoff game and even more excited when they won. Later that day, we meet with the Lafferty's again for dinner at a nice restaurant called Capers. We had a really nice time together. The following day we headed up to Auckland for our flight to Peru. We dropped of Lord Alphard and got to the airport with lots of appreciation for such a wonderful country.
|Someone can't get enough of the Luge|
|Dinner with the Laffertys in Rotorua|