July 10, 2008

Back in Auckland

(I had typed this up in my laptop at the end of the day, but had no Internet access so could not upload it until July 21st because I had no time…)

We woke up a little later than usual… We rolled out of bed at 8am, and started packing up. Unfortunately my bag was too full and I yanked too hard… and broke the zip. As it was, the bag had already lost one side of the zip (it was supposed to be double zipper), and now that this zip broke, the bag was virtually useless 🙁

We went for breakfast, where Jin finished the last Indomie Goreng, and I had four pieces of toast with margarine and maple syrup. We then checked out, and Jin and I had to carry my luggage bag to the car.

We drove over to Hell’s Gate thermal park where we had a free entry voucher (free from yesterday’s Maori Village package), and walked through looking at the bubbling, boiling mud. It was really boring and smelled of sulphur, and I wished we had gone to Wai-O-Tapu instead.

Welcome to Hell's Gate
Welcome to Hell’s Gate
Hello from Hell's Gate
Hello from Hell’s Gate


Enjoying the waters at WaiOra Spa
Enjoying the waters at WaiOra Spa
The sulphur lake @ medicine lake at Hell's Gate
The sulphur lake @ medicine lake at Hell’s Gate

At the end of the walk, we came across a small workshop where people were carving into the wood. I felt a bit lazy and didn’t really feel like doing it, but we did anyway and I’m glad we did. I didn’t think I did well at all and the carvemaster, David, kept saying that I was only looking for compliments. But I told him that I was merely highly critical of what I do, and when he found out I used to be a teacher, he said, no wonder. He pointed out correctly that I didn’t need to fix my carving except for one tiny area to be rounder, compared to the others. He helped chisel my name into my piece of wood. We then soaked our wood carvings in lacquer, and left them to dry.

Jin chiseling away
Jin chiseling away
Me chiseling away!
Me chiseling away!


David, our chisel sifu
David, our chisel sifu

I decided to sign up for the mud bath and spa even though it was a bit expensive ($70) but I figured I might as well try it since I was already there. The mud bath and spa were mud and sulphur waters taken from the thermal park itself. It starts with a mud bath (even though it was in the open, I had sort of a private one. They were all enclosed by wooden fences) in a concrete tub, where the muddy water temperature was between 38 to 41 °C. I could only sit in there for about 20 minutes, and I rubbed mud all over my body to exfoliate. I was not allowed to dunk my head underwater nor rub mud on my forehead because the water was acidic and would sting the eyes badly, but was allowed to rub mud on my cheeks and chin.


Me enjoying a mud spa
Me enjoying a mud spa

After the mud bath, I had to take a super cold shower to balance my body (or something like that. I don’t know what it’s supposed to balance), then I was allowed to sit and soak in the public sulphur water pool for as long as I like. The temperatures of both pools were about 40 °C, I think, with one slightly hotter than the other.

I sat there for about half an hour (until 1.30pm) before taking a shower and rescuing poor bored Jin. We then hit the road onto Auckland, stopping by the Zorb on the way.

When we got to the Zorb, I was so calm and relaxed that I didn’t really feel like doing it. I found out that only the wet one was available, as there had been an incident that morning – the dry Zorb had rolled down, hit the fence and bounded in the air. So because of that, they had to stop the dry Zorbs for the day. The wet ones were still available because it was safer, as there was weight.

Bummer… I wanted to do the dry one because I didn’t want to get wet again, even though the dry one was more expensive. I know it’s a fun activity and ordinarily I would want to do it, but I just wasn’t in the mood.

I thought about it, and decided to do it, because I know that I would regret it if I didn’t. So I signed up, stripped down to my bikini (plus a sleeveless shirt so that I wouldn’t get too cold), and waited. A white van came down to get me and six Australian girls, and even though I had been there first and they had already gone down the Zorb, the girls were not considerate enough to let me go first. They quickly chatted up the guy and jumped in 3 at a time in the Zorb.

I wasn’t eager to get jumping though, so I patiently waited in the cold for my turn. Because I was solo, I had the option to choose the straight path down, or the zigzaggy. I chose the zigzag path because it was longer and looked way more fun.

I got in, had some warm water splashed in with me, and when given the signal, I got up and walked the ball into the zigzag path. And when I started slipping and sliding in an out-of-control ball, I screamed with delight. It was really super fun… I am so glad I did it; I had no regrets!

There was a photographer taking photos, and the photo CD cost $25. It was really expensive, but I bought it anyway because I figured that memories were more important than money. And the photographer did a good job.

Jin was feeling too queasy to drive, so I drove all the way to Auckland. We took longer than we anticipated, possibly because there were many vehicles on the motorway. By the way, the motorways are free (no toll) and most of the time are one-laned each side, although in some parts there are two lanes for overtaking.

We reached Auckland about 6pm, and Jin called Auntie Geok Hong to find out how to get to her house. Auntie Geok Hong said to turn off at Greenlane, head towards Newmarket and make our way to Dominion Road, but Jin was not familiar with the place and made me get back on the motorway and took a longer way that she was familiar with to Dominion Road. Better to be safe than sorry!

I managed to find the way to Hillsborough Road towards Lynfield, and I kept driving until I saw the Countdown supermarket I recognised!!

We reached the house about 7.30pm where everyone was patiently waiting for us, and I met Esther, my cousin for the first time.

Dinner was rice with Nando’s chicken, and we had the caramel mudcake which was Ben’s favourite. I even managed a bit of ice-cream.

Jin and Auntie dominated the dinner table conversation with talk of Asian foodstuff and spices which Jin was dying to get to take back to Dargaville with her. Esther found it hilarious. Esther left soon, and we hugged goodbye.

Uncle and Auntie lent me one of the luggage bags to replace my broken one. Thank goodness I have relatives here to lend me a bag!!! 🙂

I was quite sad to know that it was my last night here… I was reluctant to leave because I liked and enjoyed my stay in New Zealand. But I had to go back to Malaysia because I … have to save up for my next trip back here!