So short post because it is after midnight and we have an early start in the morning. I have spent the last 2 days hanging out in Auckland with Kayla and Mike (friend from college + husband) and it has been awesome. Yesterday involved an epic doughnut and a pair of cakes from "Little and Friday".
After said unhealthy breakfast we walked up one of the tiny volcanoes that make up New Zealand (there are about half a dozen of these small mountains in the city of Auckland). This one was called One Tree Hill though I did find more than one tree there was at least one climbable tree and Mike obliged me with a photograph. I did also include a 360 picture from the peak.
Today Mike and I went to Rangitoto which is really just a shortened name but the real name is so cool I'm including a wikipedia snippet:
from the full phrase Ngā Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua
('The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua')
This is an awesome island. First of all, it is one of the youngest islands I have ever heard of. It formed about 600 years ago and was the most recent volcanic activity in this area. For perspective there are castles in Europe that are more than twice this old. There were people living on the neighboring island that watched this island form. This piece of rock that just rose from the ocean a few hundred years ago proceeded to grow and grow and grow. I saw a fern that was like 20 feet tall, yes, a freaking fern. In fact here it is:
And no that isn't a palm tree... its a fern... this place felt prehistoric. Its actually one thing that has been astonishing to me here in New Zealand. There are very few mammals; all were introduced. Most of the native animals are birds as far as I can tell. It has just been such an isolated place for so long that it feels remarkably different from other parts of the world, at least with respect to evolution. I also confronted a local owl, he was adorable, and crawled through some lava tubes that smelled rather terrible (though I suppose most caves smell relatively damp). Since it turns out that taking a good picture of a cave is really hard I have a picture of said owl, he may have been a little angry at me for waking him up.
After that we slowly wound our way to the top of the volcano and were met with these spectacular views. The first is a full 360 view of the crater and the second is a 360 degree panorama from the peak.
After a full day of hiking in the abrasive New Zealand sun, we headed back to town to grab a couple drinks with Kayla and some dinner, turns out the ciders in New Zealand are an interesting departure from what I'm used to. Regardless it is now 1 and my short post has turned into an epic and we are leaving super early to head to the Bay of Islands, I'll catch up again soon.