A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand, Australia and beyond

semi-overcast 15 °C

Wednesday 10th October
Woken up with such a sore throat today. Cocodamol and hot drinks should sort it out though. Cloud and drizzle at the moment…good thing I’m wearing shorts and flip flops. We went for a long walk through the Tangoriro National Park. It’s part of where I skydived over yesterday, so it’s great to see it from the ground as well as the sky. The views from the peaks are awesome, but standing behind a waterfall looking out was breathtaking. Two hours of walking later, lunchtime. We get to stop off at cafes a lot, as well as supermarkets, and all the hostels have good kitchens (and laundry rooms) so we get to cook and clean on a daily basis to help save money and stay clean.
Back onto the coach, and we are off to see the waterfall where Dobby was eating fish (another Lord of the Rings reference).
And off to River Valley. We are told about this “experience” on the coach there – to what they call the ‘orgy pit’. Effectively its 32 people sleeping in one massive room. Eight beds all touching in a row, eight beds above, and then repeated the other side of the partition. Good thing I now know everyone on the coach, and there were only about 20 of us sleeping in there so plenty of room. As this adventure centre was in the middle of a valley, plus the middle of nowhere, there wasn’t any reception! Knowing I couldn’t be in contact with the ‘outside world’ for over 24 hours was initially a bit of a weird thing, but then became strangely nice. No checking of phones, facebook or emails – just enjoying the country.
After finding a bed not too close to anyone else, we all crossed the river on a makeshift pulley, and head up to the top of a ridiculously high hill. Just as we were about to reach the summit, we came across a sign: Do not go any further. People hunt here. Danger. Time to turn around then. What took about 45 minutes to climb, took 10 minutes to get back down. Very thin, winding paths with loose mud and pebbles all the way down…still exciting going down as much as it was climbing. Dinner and Jenga rounded off an exhausting day. Rafting tomorrow!!!

Thursday 11th
So, today’s the day. White water rafting on a grade 5 river (the highest rating there is). Six of us were met by the four guides, and off we set in 2 tops, wet suit, jacket and 2 sets of boots. The water was 9 degrees! We were told the water was relatively warm compared to the winter?! After a fun safety talk with demonstrations from Spencer (the guide) and Anna (26 yr old teacher from the west country) on how to fall out of the boat and how to get back in, we were off. 12 rapids….argh! They started off nice and gentle, with small blips and minimal white water, everything seemed to be going well. We then hit a rock sideways just where I was sitting. I knew I was able to stay in the raft with my sense of balance. However, both guides in our boat leapt towards me thinking I was about to fall out, me being none the wiser and thinking they’d both just fallen into the boat. Cue everyone having a laugh at my expense. In between the rapids, we all had a good chat, talking about ‘tramp stamps’ and war faces. After a few bigger rapids, we then came to the Jump Rock. Unfortunately the name is in the title. “The jump isn’t compulsory but you have to do it”. BRILLIANT! Up we climb to the top of a 7m rock. As Anna goes to jump, the guide shouts “Not from there!”, watches her scared face as she flies off the edge of the rock. He was joking, and thankfully everyone took it in good jest. I was next to go but bottled, letting Amy (28 yr old teacher from the West Country) go in front of me. How could I sky dive but then be scared of a 7m jump?! So I literally ran off the edge. 7m of screaming later, my hands slapped the water flat. Ohhhhh that stung!! My hands felt like they had been hit by 1000 needles each, and I was being told to swim through the 9 degree water back to the dinghy. Yeah right! Back in the boat, we carry on down the river, each rapid getting bigger, longer and more dangerous. Final one, and we are done. It’s then that we get told we have two instructors in the boat, as Spencer was being tested for his licence, and the other instructor was the assessor. Brilliant! Thankfully he passed with flying colours, and he says we will go in his scrap book as his “graduating team!”. Last thing to finish of the trip – to flip to boat! We paddled towards a rocky outcrop, and bundled to the left, and flipped it over. Again, water was freezing (I’d forgotten about that in the excitement of flipping the boat) and I popped up in the space bubble between the raft seats so everything was eerie and red. I had to pop out to the outside of the boat, holding onto the rope edge, and then float feet first down the river whilst Spencer flipped the boat back over. Then to get back into the boat. Those reading this will know how unglamorous this can be. Thing is, on the rapids, you couldn’t even kick. You literally were hauled into the boat by the shoulder straps of your lifejacket, and pulled in, landing like a fish out of water, kicking your legs a little but not actually making much progress as you are stuck on top of someone, wearing heavy clothing, and squidged between two rubber seating parts. As I said, not very glamorous! Warm shower, lunch and back onto the coach. I would love to have stayed there for a while. They had the option of accommodation, three meals a day, internet and one activity a week free in return for a few hours of barwork/reception duty a week. Lovely people, stunning surroundings, no outgoings. Unfortunately I have a flight booked out to Sydney. This is why people say your plans never stay the same as you thought.
Off to Wellington, the windy capital. As part of the standard tour, you spend just one night here. However, there is so much to see that most of the coach are staying four nights until the next coach comes through. Unfortunately that means saying goodbye to most of the people I’ve met so far. As we came into Wellington, we were told the main thing to do was Te Papa museum, so that’s what Megan (over from US on work trip but extending it for two weeks to see NZ) and I did as soon as we arrived. Four floors of New Zealand history. It was great, So many different things in the museum, from geography, animals, culture, history and buildings. They even had the Colossal Squid. Absolutely disgusting! Like something from independence day. This 495kg squid, with eyes the size of footballs, lying in a tank of preservation fluid. Only one of it’s kind in a museum though, and very spectacular.
Tomorrow is a 7.15am on the coach start, ferry over the south island, then onto Picton. Going to be quite a busy day again. I’d love to go to bed right now (it’s 10pm) but have to go say goodbye to everyone. Hopefully I will see most of them in Australia once they are finished in NZ.

So I went to say goodbye to everyone and came across Ladies Night in the hostel bar. Ladies had free drinks from 8-10pm, so missed those. I turn up to lady boys, including three of our mates. Not the most pleasant of sights really, but hilarious. They had to act like women for 30 seconds to “Girls just wanna have fun”. Apparently girls shake their bottoms a lot and shove their fake boobs in people’s faces?! Tess from Manchester (aka Liam) won – two free nights at the hostel and $100 (£50) bar tab. That’s about 20 pints by hostel prices. Lucky thing! Saying goodbye wasn’t great as it’s been lovely meeting these new people. Lots are heading over to Sydney at some point though, and all slowly becoming ”facebook friends”. So off to the South Island with Megan (USA), Anna and Mette (Denmark), Deborah and Laura (France), plus a whole new coach load of people. Fingers crossed we meet some equally nice people.

Posted by Charlief 19:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hills rafting Comments (1)

New Zealand, Australia and beyond

Another crazy day

semi-overcast 13 °C

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So, continuing from yesterday afternoon. Chilled out in the afternoon, and went out to play bingo in the afternoon aka Inappropriate bingo which included calling out stupid phrases for different numbers to win drinks. A very late night, that ended in going to McDonalds for breakfast then heading off to bed.

I SPENT MY MORNING ON SKYPE TO MY WONDERFUL FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ...MINUS MY COOLEST BROTHER :(
It was lovely catching up with you all, and seeing your lovely faces :) Glad all is well.

Then someone came and said "I thought you were going sky diving today" to which I replied "Yes, they are calling the company at half 12 to check it's still on". THeir reply..."Did you not hear the tannoy? They've gone early because of the weateher. THe coach just left!". I'm still thinking their joking seeing as it's a running joke of how gullible I am. Unfortunately they weren't joking. I have never got ready so fast before....clothes, brushed teeth and I was down at reception with them on the phone to the company. Turns out they figured not everyone would have heard, and were coming back to pick me up in 20 mins...phew! So then the limo arrives....very swish!

I get to the sky diving centre, and there's nine of us going to jump today. I opt for 12000ft....about 40 seconds of freefalling then 5 minutes of floating down like a quaver. They put our flight off a couple of times for passing clouds, and 3 hours after arriving, we head up. This is on four hours sleep and feeling slightly worse for wear shall we say! The 20 minute flight up was great as the instructor Amos who I was diving with told me about the things I could see, what height we were at, what was going to happen and what to do. Suddenly at about 11,900ft, I felt horrifically sick (self inflicted) and was glad to be sitting on the edge of the plane. Ahhhhh, fresh air! And my gosh did I get fresh air. I was the last one to leave the "plane" (a tube more like), and was suddenly freefalling through clear cold New Zealand air. After about 5 seconds of screaming, I was enjoying a massive thrill. The instructor put my arms into a V above my head, then tilted my arms left, then right, making me dive through the air even faster and at an angle. Absolutely amazing. Once the parachute opened (to my relief), we were floating above Lake Taupo. Gorgeous views of the lake, and also a volcano. Amos had to loosen my harness a little and I was warned "you will drop a little. Just relax".....and there's me thinking "How the ... do I relax at 6000ft when you're about to loosen my harness?! All was safe though. He gave ,e the controls to the parachute and I dived left to right, round in circles, and had a great time. When I landed, it kind of felt like it hadn't even happened. All our legs were shaking, and the adrenalin rush was crazy. We then got to watch the videos of those who bought dvds. Hilarious to watch, and I'm so glad I didn't get one. I'd look like a right idiot! The nine of us who went skydiving then went for dinner together.

Tonight is pub quiz followed by kareoke. Fingers crossed for an early night after yesterday....I'm not expecting any miracle though.

Now to upload some photos for you! (none of sky diving though...forgot my camera in my haste) :(

Posted by Charlief 23:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sky diving Comments (0)

New Zealand, Australia and beyond

Days 4-5

all seasons in one day 15 °C

Saturday 6th October
Today has been crazy. This morning we went on a 45 minute walk up and through tunnels that were pitch black, The tunnels were originally used to mine gold and silver from the mountain sides, and sent down on rail tracks. Walking around in the pitch black was hilarious, although also scary seeing as my coordination isn’t that great to start off with. I’ve taken lots of photos of the floor, just to light the way up for myself and everyone else on the tour. If only I’d brought a torch (even though the tour guide also made a remark earlier about how horrifically heavy my bag was). The views once we came out into daylight again were absolutely stunning...the greenery on the mountain sides all the way down to the river tumbling over the large rocks.
After stopping off for food in a small town (everywhere seems to have McDs and Subway), we came to the hostel. Cute little place in Waitomo. It has one hostel, one bar, an adventure place and a haunted hotel…arghhhh! This afternoon, I went “Black Water Rafting”. It involved donning a wetsuit, wet boots, jacket and helmet with a light on it – super attractive! Thankfully no photos will ever make their way onto the internet! We jumped into our little tubes of rubber, feet and hands poking out, and floated through caves and tunnels, being careful not to hit the stalactites with our heads. There were a couple of waterfalls that we had to jump backwards off of in our tyres, and the caves were dark as anything. At one point, they made us all turn our headlights off and find our way through the cave tunnels using just the glow worms for reference, Interesting fact of the day: glow worms are actually glow maggots, and the glow comes from their poo being burnt off by oxygen as they don’t have bottoms, apparently making them the most efficient light source…who knew?! After six to nine months, they evolve into mini flies. Major flaw – these mini flies don’t have a mouth and so can’t eat or drink. Instead, over the next few days, they reproduce as much as possible, and then die! End of the sad life of a glow maggot. This lovely trip was finished off with a bagel and tomato soup to warm us back up. In store for this evening is a trip to the one bar in town, with some karaoke and a jukebox…oh dear! Think I will be listening rather than getting up in front of everyone, as I’m sure those reading will approve of!

Sunday 7th
So nice early start today....9am. We went on a possum hike - apparently they kill all the trees around here so it's a good thing to see them dead "a good possums a dead possum"?! Lovely views and got to take photos of the tubing tour we completed yesterday. We then head to Roturua on the coach. The hostel (Base hostel) is lively with a good bar. There are eight of us in the room today. Pretty much know all 30 odd people on the coach now so staying with eight people was great. Carried on talking until late into the morning after beer pong in the bar. It's a game that involves 10 lastic cups filled with a little beer at each end of a table, and two ping pongs balls. Effectively you have to throw the ping pong ball into the other person's cups without it bouncing. If it goes in the cup, you drink the beer. Sounds simple...but there's actually loads of rules.
In the afternoon, three of us went wet zorbing. Rolled down a massive hill in a giant plastic ball, quarter filled with water. Between the three of us, we laughed screamed and bashed into each other all the way down. As the ball was steamed up, we couldn't see where we were going, which was hilarious. Getting out of it feet first was the most unfeminine thing ever. Apparently it looked like a cow giving birth?! Nice! The hostel also had a hot pool, which was great. It was like getting into a massive warm bath. I shall upload some more pictures shortly but not sure how much wifi is left.
I'm booked to go sky diving tomorrow... sorry mum :/ Has to be done though.

Monday 8th
It's just gone half 2 in the afternoon and we keep finding McDonalds free wifi. We went to see the Haku Falls earlier. A ridiculously fast paced river with waterfalls to overlook. Breathtaking. As the weather is somewhat rank today, the sky dive has been cancelled. Hopefully we can still do it tomorrow. I'm not coming back until I've done a sky dive! So this afternoon is chilling out at the hostel, wandering around the town and walking around Lake Taupo, and tomorrow is back to more adventures. This evening bar activities have been named "inappropriate bingo" and tomorrow is either pub quiz in the Irish Bar, or kareoke.

Missing everyone from back home. Everything is so busy here, it's hard to keep track of what day it is. Lie in tomorrow though - yay!! I've heard everyone is well, and the weather is keeping you entertained with the rain.

Posted by Charlief 18:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls pub Comments (0)

New Zealand, Australia and beyond

Days 1-3

all seasons in one day 15 °C

So, this is the beginning of my adventure, and I have no idea where or when it will finish. Leaving England was hard, saying bye to so many people I love. Now, after two long flights, over 31 hours of being on the move and a quick stay at a hostel, I’m on the bus. Well, coach, to be more precise.
The Kiwi Experience starts here!

Friday 5th October
I’m doing the Sheepdog tour, plus Milford Sounds. A minimum 17 day tour, and I’ve given myself 18 days. Fingers crossed it works! We are on our way to Hot Water Beach from Auckland, stopping off at Thames and Cathedral Cove along the way. Hot water apparently comes through the sand and you can go kayaking…good thing my bikini and towel are in my massive rucksack…whoops!
Making friends already though, so it’s all good.

Friday evening
Today we saw some amazing landscapes. After the 30 minute trek to Cathedral Cove, we came to a stunning beach and gorgeous view. Clear water and soft sands. The trek back up…not so fun! Hot Water Beach lived up to its name. After trying to build a small pool whilst being blown by the wind and bashed by the sea, we hijacked somebody else’s pool for about 2 minutes, before being scalded and giving up. What we did experience was lovely though. There is the opportunity to try again at 6am tomorrow…..we will see!
The hostel is lovely, modern and clean. Shower was great. There are seven of us in this room tonight. I think it will be nice sharing a room tonight, having some company whilst settling in.

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Posted by Charlief 14:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes beaches Comments (0)

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