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Kia Ora Tatou!

Pack those bags we're travelers on the move! YES, day 3 and we are checked out of our hotel and saying goodbye to Auckland!

Today we travel south down the middle of the North Island, and we stop off for a beer excursion and lunch at GOOD GEORGE BREWERY in Cambridge which lies at the southern tip of the Waikato District. From Auckland the 2 hour bus ride to Cambridge is glorious, our route is straight south through the middle of the North Island.

We will explore the beauty of the North Island as we follow the Waikato River and it's meander through the middle of the Island. The caves, rolling farmland, and glistening lakes will be only some of the beauty that we will encounter, and as we enjoy the scenery we will stop along the way for sight seeing, our brew excursion and delicious lunch.

Haere mai ki te Wao Tapu nui ? Tane, Nau mai haere mai.

After lunch the excellent experience of the Whakarewarewa Forest will be the highlight of the day along with our Cultural Performance and Hangi Meal at the Māori Village. The forest is filled with giant Redwood Trees and the beautiful energy of the trees is highlighted by the Māori Village nearby, now we are in Rotorua!

Rotorua is filled with geo-thermal energy, Māori traditions, a small village of cultural Māori activities and our travelers on this day. Māori traditional cooking uses a technique called ‘hangi’, loosely translated means ‘earth oven’. In traditional hangi cooking methods a hole is dug in the ground, and hot stones are placed at the bottom of the hole. The food is then placed on top – usually meat and root vegetables – before being covered with a cloth and a mound of earth, trapping the heat within the hole. Whakarewarewa Māori Village is unique to the traditional methods used for hangi. They don’t need to rely on hot stones, but instead can utilize Mother Nature’s hot steam from our geothermal steam boxes, as well as the mineral pools to cook their kai (food in Māori).

Their mineral pool, Parekohuru, is the largest hot spring in the village, and is used for cooking leaf and root vegetables, seafood and the beloved corn on the cob. We can also purchase delicious Geothermal Hangi Meals that are available in their café.

To cook in their mineral pools, the food is placed in a muslin cloth, or a flax basket that is lowered into the pool for a desired amount of time. Can you imagine food that has been cooked within a natural hot pool?! Traci tried to climb in while the food was being prepared, luckily the Hangi Head Cook saw her in time and stopped her from bathing with our food!

We enjoy the day, each other and realize our connection to all people, the earth and the Maori traditions. Our stay at Rydges Rotorua is only a 20 minute walk from the village, so the energy and experience will carry you through the evening and through a restful sleep as we listen to the sounds of the forest drifting off to a meditative sleep.

See you tomorrow morning my travelers!

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Ata Mārie Travelers!

Good Morning Travelers!

It's our first day of touring and we're excited to learn about and taste the wines of the Waiheke Island just off Mission Bay. We take the ferry, a Catamaran, and depart from the Auckland Ferry terminal on Quay Street, in downtown Auckland to Matiatia Bay, Waiheke Island. We cruise past Devonport wharf on the northern side of the harbor across from Auckland downtown as we enjoy the beauty of the sea before docking. Hauraki Gulf is large and tucked into the northwest corner of New Zealand's north Island. Waiheke is a long Island within the Hauraki Gulf that spans from east to west and lies directly west of Auckland.

The nameWaiheke means'cascading waters', it was given to the island due to the stream found at Onetangi, the northern beach and famous coastline of Waiheke. The original Maori name of the island was 'Te Motu Arai Roa', or 'long sheltering island'.

Oneroa is the main town on Waiheke Island, and as we tour the town and the island we find 30 boutique wineries to explore with vineyards everywhere. The island has around 25 miles of beaches and we notice that eastern part of the island has predominantly farmland, vineyards and a regional park. The northern part contains the lovely beaches. We have time to swim and enjoy the beach, bike the island on our own or in groups and go wine tasting via bus, bike, taxi or scooter if you're adventurous! Lunch is on your own this day as there are so many restaurants and cafes to explore. In and around Oneroa are a scattering of wineries and vineyards, almost every one of them has a cafe or eatery. You pick one of them and enjoy a lovely sunny day with cool breezes but enough warmth to feel comfortable outside on their porch to enjoy a seafood salad at Mudbrick Restaurant and Vineyards or maybe it's a grilled panini at Poderi Crisci Vineyards and don't miss the fish and chips at Vino Vino! Whatever you decide it's easy to find a zesty Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris from the island to pair with that meal, or if it's a red wine that you crave, try the lovely Bordeaux Blends that contain delicious Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Peitit Verdot grapes that grow on this beautiful island. Whatever you eat and drink this day it's combined with the relaxed atmosphere of the island and the sunshiny beaches, lush vineyards and blue skies of the Southern Hemisphere energy!

Enjoy this touring day and I'll see you back on the ferry to meet up for dinner in Auckland.

When we get back to the Grand Millennium Hotel we find time for a nap and refresh for dinner. Our meal is within walking distance to Aria Restaurant and Bar. It's a lively spot where we can enjoy a diverse meal with local seafood, meats and salads the Auckland way! We are so excited to have spent an action packed day on Waiheke and talk about our favorite wines, beach and the scooter experience that Fernando had with Denise!

Pō Mārie Travelers, sleep like angels!

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KIA ORA Travelers!

New Zealand

Volcanic activity deep in the ocean’s southern hemisphere floor created one long island as the tectonic plate activity pushed up magma from the sea. Active seas splashing and tearing at the center of the island eventually split the long land in two, this is New Zealand!

Maori people came in the 12th century (more about them in later episodes) and settled throughout both islands, farming, hunting and fishing and creating tribal communities throughout the coastal regions and within the valleys and hillside areas of the Southern Alps.

In the middle of the 19th century Dutch, British and French colonization of NZ began with Auckland, (Maori name for Auckland is Tāmaki Makaurau – meaning “Tamaki is desired by many”)

This area was known for its beauty, diverse geography and geology; plentiful in natural resources. The northern location at the mouth Mission Bay in North Island was ideal for international commerce routes and trade. The sub-tropical climate allowed for a mix of weather with flash floods, humidity and breezy days year-round. Summer temperatures barely rise above 80 degrees, and winter rarely falls below 40.

Auckland has become a technologically advanced metropolis with an island-feel of relaxed and slow-paced lifestyle. Auckland is considered one of the world’s most liveable cities, ranking third in the 2019 Quality of Living survey. This is the land of food with trendy cafes, ethnic dining spots and award-winning restaurants all due to the diversity of the people. The location between two harbors, makes the fresh seafood an Auckland speciality, and regionally we will find vineyards and olive groves, and of course, sheep. Over a third of New Zealand’s population live in Auckland, more than 1.7 million people.

It is a paradise of sailing, fishing and boating with the most recreational boats per capita in the world, Auckland is also know as the "City of Sails". Sky Tower is the "Space Needle" of Auckland and stands at 1,076 feet as the tallest building in Auckland. Sky Tower is part of the Sky City Complex that is loaded with restaurants, casino, and bars. Visitors can also opt to purchase a pass to free fall from the 630 foot altitude. We WON'T be doing this!

The sub-tropical climate spawned a thriving brewing industry in Auckland and the internal demand for beer is high. We can drink a brew or two while visiting Auckland for sure, and enjoy their olives and wine combinations too! But think about the lovely seafood that we can enjoy with their amazing white wines. The combination of salty with all that bright acidity to wash the salinity will enhance your experience during each meal. But don't worry, if you're not a seafood lover New Zealand is known for their amazing Lamb, and NZ Lamb is unlike any other meat globally.

All this talk of wine and food is making me hungry and thirsty! Let's try some NZ wine before we venture through the vineyards and explore the cafes and eateries of Auckland. Meet you there!

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