Ok so that night in Taupo, in typical Dan and J fashing, we managed to find a kareoke bar, busting classics such as '500 miles' by the Proclaimers and 'Summer of 69'. We then went on to another Irish Pub (they are everywhere!) and had a few drinks and games of pool before heading to Holy Cow nightclub, getting thrown out at closing time. On Friday 6th July we had a great lie in until 1pm - much needed! Went down the road in icy-cold conditions with Jamie, Luke and Welsh Matt to play mini-golf and then cotched the afternoon away in the TV room before going to the supermarket to buy our pasta and tomato sauce for dinner. Post dinner was a few drinks with the legends on our bus before pissing people off with our telepathy game... still no-one knows the rule!
Saturday morning, sky clear and the sun shining, we headed off to Tongario National park and went on an amazing walk, through the shadow of Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings movies. This was an awesome walk thorugh the snow-capped mountains and gushing winterly waterfalls. We grabbed a well-deserved pie for lunch and then stopped at another LOTR site, a waterfall from the second movie where Golum tried to kill Frodo and grab back the ring (fans will know what I mean...!), before jetting off to River Valley, our unique stop for the evening. This is a really amazing place, a chalet-type house in the middle of a valley. The room had only one bunk-bed for 32 people, 16 on the bottom and 16 on the top! Also staying at the lodge were an international rugby academy and this meant only one thing - beer! They ordered about 50jugs and set them along the table before commencing in several drinking games. Jamie, a little worse for ware later that evening began to panic that he had lost his wallet, waking Dan up, walking back to the bar in merely his boxers and a coat in a frantic search for the lost item. On returning to the room, he soon discovered the wallet on the floor by his bed... Idiot!
Sunday morning, ice and frost on the ground and even more worse for ware, we got up to go White Water Rafting! We got kitted up in the freezing cold before driving 40minutes down the river to get to our starting point. The water level on this day was very high, perfect conditions for rafting and so we were warned that we could be in for an extreme ride! They didn't lie. This was a grade 5 course, the highest commercially rafted grade and it did not disappoint. We followed beaded Darren's precise instructions of "lean in", "jump right" and "get (the f***) down!" and on even the smaller rapids we were chucked about and soaked with water. Therefore, when we hit a grade 5 rapid, the inevitable happended. The force of the water (and a bit of poor steering on Darren's part) tipped up the boat, causing everyone to plunge into the cold, flowing water. Girls cired and boys were shaken around anxiously as we were forced downstream underwater by the current, losing our boat. This was pretty scary at the time as the water gave you no choice where to go, hitting into rocks and moving futher from the boat. We heard the screams and whistles of the otehr boat which was calling us to swim towards them and evenutally we were hoisted aboard and 11 of us crammed into their raft before going down the remainder of that rapid. Once reunited with Darren we carried on, regaining our composure until we reached a grade 6 rapid which, it was decided, was too dangerous to raft. We left the boat and walked along the landslide-threatened bank. Unfortunately, Darren f***ed up again, getting our raft stuck on a rock, being impounded by fast-flowing water. This took 30mins and 20 people to tug the raft away from the boat - effort! Finally, we were back in the raft again and sailed our way through the gorge and back to the lodge for a nice hot shower. Another microwave cottage pie for lunch before boarding the bus for the 5hr trip to NZ's capital city, Wellington. We arrived at 7pm, checked into Base and had a few drinks in another Irish pub, where we bode farewell to a number of people from the bus who were staying an extra night or two in Welligton. Hopefully, we will see the likes of Peachy, Dan and Maud a little further down the coast.
Monday 9th July morning was a seriously early one as we caught the 8.45am ferry across to the South Island, arriving in Picton at 12pm. We jumped onto our new bus, sticking however with the legend that is Guido. We stopped at Blenheim for a short wine-tasting before continuing onto our overnight stop, Nelson. After checking into Prince Albert's hostel, J had a walk round the town with Welsh Matt and Dan had his haircut by some English fella from Stoke. As you do. Later, at the pub/hostel we had a free beer tasting, sampling traditional NZ beers from around the country. Beautiful roast chicken dinner with apple crumble for desert before watching "America's got (no) talent" and "Extras" (Daniel Radcliffe/mongloid episode) on Prime. We all went out with legends from the bus to the only bar open in Nelson (a supposedly big city). As the night wore on and the crowd began to thin, the bar decided to give us all free shots to end our night - result!
Tuesday was another typical Kiwi Experience day! We left at 8.30am, eating our daily supply of bread and nutella and/or peanut butter. We stopped at Lake Potoiti and went for a nice scenic walk around the lake, Henry opting for a seafood cocktail. We arrived in Westport at Bazil's hostel and watched the "Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring" on video, eager to see the sights that we had already passed on the trip. We went out for dinner to a pizza/pool joint; Dan winning 7 games of pool on the bounce with newfound fellow Deloitte Consulting empolyee Neil. Wednesday we woke up early again (suprise suprise) and drove to Tauranga Bay for a beautiful walk along NZ's most westerly point. We saw seals and heard distant penguins with a backdrop of blue sea and green mountains. We stopped at Greymouth to pick up a costume for that evening's fancy dress party and a handful of Irish fellas who joined the bus. We stopped for lunch at Punakaiki (Pancake rocks) and went for another nice walk along the coastline. We then continued over goldmine country to the Poo Pub at Lake Mahinapua where we were met by the legendary Les, who gave us the spiel about the night's activity. We immediately went down to the beach for a great game of footy as the sun set, before heading back for a slap-up BBQ of steak and venison, cooked by Guido and Les. After dinner, we all got dressed up; J as pornstar, Dan as Phantom of the Opera. J borrowed a pair of shorts from our next-door neighbour (a girl) in order to achieve complete t*** status. The party was fun; we played drinking games and had a laugh for Luke's birthday, although J tells me that he was glad to ditch the shorts at the end of the night and head for a warm bed!
Thursday we left early from Les' place and headed 10mins down the road to a local deer hunting museum... random! We were shown how deer were hunted by jumping out of helicpoters and rugby tackling them before Jamie was forced to risk his life and feed the giant pig. We had a nice full english breakfast despite the offer of a tempting Possum Pie before getting back on the bus on our way to Franz Joseph, where we were picked up for our skydive!! We got to Fox glacier airstrip to find 3 caravans, 2 huts and a shabby plane, yet too excited to even care! After a few minutes of basic training on the ground, we were shoved into the 2 seater plane and headed up towards the mountains. The view was nothing short of sensational (if you have seen LOTR... it's where in the 3rd film they light the beacons of fire over the mountains (ask Michael to explain!); seeing glaciers, sea, rainforest and Mt Tasman and Mt Cook. After around 20mins, we arrived at 12,000ft where the door was abruptly opended. Dan was first and J very much enjoyed watching him plummet out of a plane! We don't really know how to describe the feeling of freefalling for 45seconds but it was absoultely f***ing awsesome - the ultimate rush! We landed after around 10mins of floating after the parachute came up, in amazement of what we had just done! We headed back to Franz with huge smiles on our faces, cooked dinner and looked forward to our 8hour glacier walk the next day!!!