We left Seattle Wednesday night at 7:00 pm and arrived in Auckland Friday morning at 7:00 am. Although undeniably long, the flights really were not that bad. The Alaska Airlines flight had decent legroom and the Qantas flight had great amenities.
Upon arrival we rented a car and headed south. Jet lag hit in about two hours and we stopped in a lovely resort area - Mt. Maunganui. We really lucked out. The tourist information center set us up with a great apartment one block from the beach. Everything was within easy walking distance. We hiked to the top of Mt. Maunganui, saw heaps of animals, spent one whole day on the beach, and visited many of the nearby restaurants and parks.
Next we headed up to Hot Water Beach on the Cormandel Peninsula. Geothermal activity here creates hot water which bubbles up out of the sand. Tourists flock from far and wide to dig their own personally designed hot pools. It was quite fascinating.
This morning we awoke to news reports of a Tsunami Warning. We were originally planning to visit Cathedral Cove, a really cool beach where the second Narnia movie was filmed, but due to the possibility of a one meter tsunami wave we changed our plans and headed inland to Rotorua. Rotorua is one of the main adventure activity centers in New Zealand, so we're anticipating much fun and excitement.