Leaving Auckland 17th Jan
Woke up early for the Stray bus leaving base, after a great nights sleep a really comfy mattresses. Saw about 4 people I had already met from the previous trip, who were travelling southbound like me. Its strange because since being in NZ, I have met about 5 people who I already knew, some who I met in different places in Australia, and also a guy who I knew from ski season, who I randomly met on the dolphin boat.I didn't even know he was travelling, so most likely to see him on the way down. Anyway, I met a girl called Michelle from Brighton whilst waiting for the bus, and we got on straight away with similar sense of humour etc, and I introduced her to my other friend Will and the three of us really hit it off. We have now added quite a few others to our gang- we are the back seat crew. The first day was mostly just administration things, the bus driver giving us loads of sheets of paper which I probably should read, and driving around. We stopped at supermarket and he bought loads of BBQ food for us and we all chipped in for it. We stayed in the campgrounds in Hayhei, but we were told a cyclone was meant to be hitting, and sure enough there was a big storm so we all sat under cover chilling out , drinking and then had amazing BBQ. We then went to hot water beach at 11.30pm for low tide, where there is an area where there is geothermal activity, where the earths crust is apparently nearer to the surface, so there are areas where, when you dig, there is really hot water. So all the boys were digging into the sand with the shovels and we were watching the steam coming up. It was really interesting and amazing. Some parts were so hot, that they burnt your feet! We all sat in the pools in our swimming stuff and drank a few beers singing lion king! Haha was very bizarre but a lot of fun!
Raglan 18th Jan
The next day, we got up bright and early, and drove to the other side of the country called Raglan, a quaint surfing town- they say its similar to Byron bay, but I beg to differ. Its nice, but its not that nice. On route we stopped at a town called paeroa which is the smallest most indescript town ever, but its famous for making a kiwi drink called E&P, and because of this they have a huge bottle which looks like a HP bottle, and a shop where they sell tshirts.. Will wanted to buy one for banter. The bus journeys themselves are so funny because its jokes the whole way. The people on the back street are so funny and we all have a good time. But I found the rest of the people on the bus seemed a bit boring. When we arrived in Ragland, we stayed in a really nice surf camp backpackers, and hired some boogie boards to go surfing. The weather was still not great butMichelle, Will, Lizzie and I had loads of fun in the really big surf! We even saw some really big fish in the wave as it was curling, they were enjoying surfing with the humans! Another Irish guy from bus, Kevin, cooked us all amazing dinner of meatballs and cous cous and then we all sat around talking all night.
The next day we went black water rafting in Waitoma and we were all still quite drunk from the night before so it probably was a little dangerous to be walking around in the caves! But the darkness was definitely appreciated! Just what you need on a hangover, that and freezing cold water and mud all over our faces! It was a great trip though, and the guides Tony and Iain hated us to start with I think but by the end had warmed to our ridiculous crass British humour. The best part was lying in the tubes in the darkness and silence looking up at the millions of glow worms, then looked like a beautiful nights sky. I had not seen anything like it before! The guides kept jumping out at us from the water to try and scare us which was pretty funny, and we also learnt about the rock formations and some suggestive looking phalactites which caused much banter and childish innuendos.
Maketu 19th Jan
Uncle Boys cultural evening. This was a compulsory stop with our bus and I thought it was going to be a waste of money for $75 and I was pretty much right! I wanted to opt out but our bus driver said he would have to drop us somewhere random in the middle of knowhere and it was already quite late so didn't really feel like I had a choice. This is one thing which is bad with the trip. So I bought a bottle of wine and tried to get into it.Don't get me wrong, I am all for this type of thing and I really wanted to learn about the mauri culture but I didn't think it was worth the money to watch a show with some kids who obviously didn't want to be there- they were half asleep- in a gymnasium- where we all had to sleep on the floor that night- like some kind of refugee camp! The dinner was included which was probably the best bit. We did get taught the Hoi and traditional girls dance, and the boys were put in another room to learn the haka. This was pretty funny as we both had to perform it to eachother and the boys had to strip down to their underwear (an trust me there was some interesting budgie smugglers going on with the older men) they had some kindof straw skirt things on ontop. It was the kind of thing that was so cringe worthy it was hilarious! Our bus driver was also doing it, and he was trying so hard and really getting into it. Me and the girls were crying with laughter and we just couldn't stop.
I added a body roll to the end of the hoi because I was messing around and then Nanna Babs this cutest old lady called me up and gave me a prize for the most involvement!! Haha how ironic! In the show there was this really funny lady- who was clearly not mauri called carol and she thought she was the bees knees- we just couldn't stop laughing- she didn't even know the dance. So we did have a really good time, but for all the wrong reasons. The best part of the night was going down to the beach for a bonfire.
Rotorua 20-21st Jan
Myself and the two Canadian girls had decided to stop off in Rotorua to have a night out and have a bit of time away from the bus and to get a new crew. Its nice to mix it up a bit. The place was awesome! Was a small town that smells really bad of sulphur- raw eggs. But we stayed in a really random hostel called Cactus Jacks, it was only $17 and outside had the funniest graffiti of a Mexican man and a big cactus. I knew I was going to love it! The reception guy was really funny and we had some cool guys in our room, Kelsey made an amazing thai green curry for all of us, we drank lots of vodka and went to a bar to get our free drinks- we had a voucher. By this point we had all had a bit too much so we came home. We had such a laugh and had a bit of a party back at the hostel. Next day we did a bit of window shopping, and visited the hot pools of sulphur- this was really amazing like big mud pools that are bubbling and boiling and there is sulphur steam everywhere because its near to the earths crust which is pretty scary but also cool and great use of natural energy which the town makes great use of. We then caught the bus to Taupo.
Taupo 21st Jan
The next day we headed off to Lake Taupo, but the weather wasn't great again. We spent most of our time buying supplies in the supermarket and sitting on a bench near the lake talking to random people walking by! We met a random brazillian guy who just came up to us and started sambaring and baboombering at us. We seem to attract these type of people as it happens on a regular basis it seems! It was pretty funny- I wish I could just put a video camera permanently on my head when I am travelling- there is so much stuff that happens that I cant even write in this blog- as there is too much! We then stumbled across a random Mcdonalds plane- yes this is a plane stuck next to mcdonalds- so we bought a coffee and sat in the plane with loads of kids who were pretending to be our mini cabin crew. It was hilarious.
The lake was nice but the weather ruined it a bit for us so we got an early night that night.
National Park 22nd Jan
Leaving Taupo.. Python (bus driver) funniest character ever got keys stuck in the bus, I this is quite hard to do! So he was stood on top of the bus asking for a swiss army knife and was trying to prize the top window open. He then went in such a small gap I don't know how he fitted, could see his legs dangling down and his head just going back. I thought he was going to break his back!! So that was pretty funny, and then we reached the national park where I was going to do the tongaririo crossing- a big 9hour hike up to the mountain. But the weather was so bad, pouring rain and bad vis. I just couldn't see the point if you cant even see anything. So me and the girls, and quite a few other sane people stayed in this amazing lodge where were were staying. The was a hot tub and really nice kitchen area. So me and lizzie went for a long walk along a road to see what there was…nothing it seemed! But great views of the mountain. The weather didn't really improve much so I was really glad that I hadn't done the crossing. We then went to the shop and met some funny locals, and bought a box of red wine (yes I like it now!!) And drank a few glasses in the hot tub relaxing with some amazing views of the mountain...this was more like it!! That night we all got quite drunk, the people who came back from the hike all looked burnt and miserable which confirmed my original thoughts.It was Kelseys last night as she was going back up to Auckland. She got really drunk and was sat on Pythons lap and flirting outrageously, she then passed out in front of the fire and one of the boys drew and arrow on her butt which was quite comical. By the next day we were looking forward to getting to Wellington but really sad to say goodbye to Kelsey as she was going back to Auckland! L
Wellington 23rd-26th Jan
I really didn't want to stay at Base, as I really hate the chain hostels and they are always stupidly over priced. Stray always try to make us stay there, which makes me not want to more. There were also some annoying girls on our bus which we didn't want to share a room with. I found a hostel which had availability around the block, called wellywood and it had zebra print all over. Was pretty cool, 2$ cheaper per night and had free internet which is an added bonus! We walked in the pouring rain and checked in. There was a really funny French guy called Bastien, and he did the samba for us. I think he was mostly stoned most of the time but he was a lot of fun. Then met the people from the bus for a drink, but there were a couple of b****y girls on the bus who we weren't keen on so we didn't stay for long. Next day went round the city, it's a really great place. The harbour was amazing and views of the mountains were really cool. I discover a awesome place called cuba street which had lots of really interesting vintage shops and people playing in the streets. Most of the main streets didn't really have too much character though, apart from this one. Was a really nice place to stop by for a few days, and I met up with a girl I met in cape tribulation in Australia which was nice to catch up, she is working in welly. Spent lots of time walking around in the city and enjoying the harbour. Then met some cool people who gave me a lift to the ferry to catch to Picton in the South Island... See next post :)