Day 2 in Taupo.
Taupo provided our first two night stop off as we made our way down from Auckland to Wellington. After a great night out of foosball (Maisey & I were the champs) and Irish antics (our own paddy, Joe, was getting a little worked up about being told how to properly poor a Guinness by an inept barman) we took a long time to do anything that morning, enjoying our first lie-in on tour.
Recovery food was a must and Scott, Josh & I went for a full English breakfast at the cafe across the street. After some indecision we got together and decided that a therapeutic visit to the hot pools nearby (FREE!) was necessary. However, we made the mistake of chatting to one of the girls behind the desk who suggested that we should buy some lilos and float down the river in order to get there, meaning that we would avoid a forty minute walk. What she failed to mention was that this was something she would usually do in the summer! She was, at least, kind enough to warn us that a wrong turn would lead us to the Huka falls and certain death, and that we should avoid there at all costs. A little worried by the potential consequences of actually doing any of this, with typical idiocy we decided that lilos were a must...
It turned into a comedy of errors pretty damn quickly. Firstly, we took forever to find the Warehouse where we then bought our lilos (4 neon pink, 1 yellow and a baby blue). Manly to the core, as always. These lilos then proved very difficult to inflate and the 5 of us (Joe, Scott, Rich, Shil, Josh & I) were quite a picture strolling down the road puffing air into our new purchases! Josh had an epic fail which resulted in me having to blow up his as well, so before we were even close to the riverbank we were all out of breath. Finally, as we got to a point where we could enter the river (surely at least an hour after leaving the hostel!), we stripped down to our trunks, giving our clothes & shoes to Jaimie & Hannah who had decided to join us in our adventure to the hot pools (yet they were clever enough to take the more traditional option of walking).
Shil jumped in the water first and pretended to the rest of us that the water was just lukewarm. However once we were all in we quickly realised that these waters were probably considerably cooler than the 7 degrees temperature of the black water rafting pools we had experienced just a few days before. Add to that the fact that we were in swimmers and tshirts (not wetsuits!) and we were just freezing. I was lucky enough to have a pretty decent lilo, but most of the lads' lilos were quickly taking on water, ensuring that we really got to experience the cold properly. After about 5 minutes of splashing about and shivering, Josh & Jo were forced out of the water, their lilos retiring hurt and Shil and I gave up pretty soon because it was just too cold. The two manc lads, in true northern style, managed another 10 minutes and we caught up with them just as they got out of the water further along the river. We had sprinted for 5 minutes to get to this point and luckily we found the girls there and grabbed our clothes off them. We figured that we should keep on running to stop ourselves from shivering, and as true gents we shamelessly left the girls walking behind us and legged it toward the hot pools. We got there after about 20 minutes running in flip-flops (some of the others had trainers, lucky sods), and it was an incredible moment. I can't remember ever being so happy to get in the water.
We spent ages at the hot pools warming back up, and our masterplan continued to fall apart once we got out and found that there was no bus running back to town. And, of course, Shil, Josh & I had decided not to bring towels with us. It was getting dark and we resigned ourselves to a 45 minute walk back to the hostel. We were in pretty good spirits by then, just laughing at the ridiculous nature of what we had just done and looking forward to hot showers and some beers back in the hostel.
It was a couple of the girls' last night with us, so we had some drinks in the room before heading downstairs to an empty bar and dancing to a stunning playlist which alternated with great variety from Tinie Tempah to Jason Derulo and back again. It was no surprise that the night was pretty chilled out considering how knackered we were, and the fact that by choosing not to watch a film with them, we had lost the lads. However, uneventful as it was, I had a good giggle at Hadas, an Israeli girl on our bus, telling me that I look like Elvis Costello when I wear my glasses! It was also refreshing to be dancing upright again, after my horizontal, half-asleep antics in Rotorua.
Next up was River Valley, our last stop before Wellington and the promise of a massive reunion with Katz
Dan / Burge