Wellington was up next and that meant a reunion with Katz and South Africa vs. The All Blacks to look forward to. The only shame was that our three night stopover meant that we would have to get on a new bus in a few days time and start over on getting a group of mates. Effort!
Waking up early after our group's antics should have been hard but after stubbornly refusing to rent a blanket for NZ$3 I was in and out of sleep from shivering. It definitely didn't help that I also slept by the window! I was also pretty psyched for rafting. We had a 5 man team of Josh, Felipe, Ben, Kirsten & I and after we were all suited and booted we had a short drive before getting to the river.
I've been White water rafting before in Washington state & in Chamonix but I can't remember too much else other than that it was a hell of a lot of fun. NZ white water did not disappoint. We were shown the ropes- basically to listen to orders of paddle left or right and the most important thing... To paddle harder if told. Simple enough. By that point the river had picked up pace and the proper rafting was underway. It was brilliant fun: the toughest rapids were graded 5- which realistically means very little to me- but in simple terms meant that it was awesome. The rapids were huge and we were constantly having to paddle to negotiate obstacles so there was a constant adrenaline rush. After a couple of hours on the water and 14 or so major rapids- a couple of which forced us to crouch down in the boat to avoid being thrown out! - we had the chance to get off the boat and do a 6m jump into the river which was pretty cool and gave you a real feel for the pace of the river.
What a start to the day! And luckily we only had another 5 minutes to shiver before we finished and got back to the warmth of the lodge, some pizza and the bus soon after.
Our journey involved quick stop offs in Bulls and Otaki on the way to Windy Welly/Wellywood/Wellington (call it what you will). It was a pretty chilled day and I picked up a Tui hoody (Tui being the beer of choice in NZ even though it's an East Indian beer) in Otaki but that was about as exciting as the journey got!
Arriving in Welly we were in a party mood, expecting to meet up with Katz and knowing that this would be our last night with a frankly awesome bus. Ever since our first night out in Rotorua the bus was up for anything and always a good laugh so it seemed a shame that we'd be leaving everyone behind. Apart from Steve! I was glad to see the back of him. Once we were checked in Josh contacted Katz and it must have been a picture when he walked into the hostel and we smothered him in a group hug. Nothing new there with rugby mates showing a little too much PDA!
Katz had been staying in Welly since February so he showed us around a little before we were all distracted by his suggestion to go to a noodle bar which made an excellent dinner. The food in Wellington was just awesome... More on that in other entries! Drinks in the rooms followed and before long we were down in the hostel's very own Basement bar having a blast with all the group. Sadly this was the last hurrah for a while, since when we strayed from the hostel bar all the group got separated and it was a bit of an anticlimax. The fact that we were staying less than 5 minutes from Courtenay Place: a street literally full of bars from end to end did compensate but it was a shame that we all lost each other!
Dan / Burge