We dropped Alex off in the city and after a few navigational difficulties we got back on Highway 1 southbound. We arrived in Taupo around tea time and went and had a look at the Huka Falls which is New Zealands best known and most photographed Falls. Did you know that here almost 250,000 litres (2 olympic sized pools) of water from the Waikato River flows over the Falls per second?!
Taupo is a lovely town that is placed alongside Australasia's largest lake, Lake Taupo, and surrounded by volcanoes and mountanous native forest. On the lake (which is the size of Singapore) you can also do loads of watersports including parasailing and jet boating, which looked really fun. Unfortunately we didnt do this but we did get to experience the native forest.....on a quad bike! Dani was a bit unsure about it, but those doubts were soon gone as we got suited and booted. We had a few laps on a practice course so we could get to grips with changing gears then we were off! We drove over a load of hills that had amazing views before being taken through the forest. This is where we realised the reason we were in overalls, we were riding through big mud puddles and winding round wet forest. We both had a few wobbly bits but it was brilliant. Once out of the forest we reached some big hills, so we hung back from each other so we could floor it! Our guides told us at the beginning that they dont set rules (other than stick to the track) because we are adults and its our experience so we are able to go as slow or as fast as we want. This was good for us as we were the only two in our group so didnt have anyone else to worry about. Dani did manage to (somehow) come of the track and go straight downhill into a ditch, being the second person ever to do this in the 6 years the company has been operating! Luckily for her it had been good weather as the last person to have done it ended up in water!
We stayed in Taupo for two nights, the first in a holiday park and the second alongside the river in a free campsite. The second night, we snook into the other holiday park to use their facilities to get ready as we were going out, hehe! We left Taupo for our journey to Taihape but just as we left we saw a hitchhiker so decided once again to be nice and pick him up, this turned out to be very good. His name was Beau and he was an 18year lad who would go away at weekends as he lived in a little town about 45 minutes from Taupo. He shears sheep for a job and offered us a days work sheep rousing on the way back up north. At first we weren't too sure about this but we've decided that it would be an experience and the money could come in extremely useful, so we're going to give him a call in a week or two.
We got to Taihape late afternoon and went to Gravity Canyon to check out the Flying Fox that Sam's Mum and Mickey told her about. On the way back into the town we called into Ron and Ali's, a couple who used to live in the Isle of Man, but unfortunately they weren't in so we just headed back to set up camp for the night. We did go and check out a campsite but after the scary lady freaking us out we decided not to stay and parked up on the road.
The next morning we went to the local swimming pool to get showered, a bargain at only $1 each! There was a school swimming session on so we were trying to be quick but we weren't quick enough because suddenly aload of small girls came running into the changing rooms and looked really confused as to why we were there. After a million and one questions they seemed happy enough and one girl, who we think was the leader, took a lot of pleasure in proudly telling the other girls and her teacher all about us, how we were travelling the world and live in a campervan, she was ace! That afternoon we went back to Gravity Canyon and did the flying fox. Sam was cacking herself (as you can tell by the video) but it was sooo much fun! Afterwards Sam talked Dani into doing a bungy (not that she needed much persuasion), again photos and DVD are on facebook.
We set off from Taihape on our way to Wellington ready to get the ferry to the south island the following day. We saw some lovely sites on the way, ice topped mountains which looked really pretty. When we got to Wellington we parked up and went to the TE Papa Museum which amongst other things tells you about New Zealand's history and is the home of the colossal squid! After the museum we went for a skeet around the town and then snook into the YHA to do our washing and make tea, he he! We then went back to the camper and got ready before going out for a few drinks. We went to one of the only bars that seemed to have anything going on but didn't stay long as it was full of students and we actually felt old, yes us at 22!! So after gaining a new friend (a middle aged guy who clearly felt more uncomfortable than us) we went to another bar for a few drinks before going back to the camper. Now, technically we weren't allowed to camp in the car park but you were allowed to park overnight so we decided that because we would be getting up early we'd get away with it so chanced it, and we did =)
The next morning we were up super early and were super cold ready for the ferry. Whilst Sam was trying to sleep on the seats, Dani got talking to a truck driver who told her that the boat has cabins. Because we were really tired he said he'd show us where they were, he showed us the ones that the truck drivers get which were really nice, then the public ones which were extremely plain and simple. Our cabins had a sink and two beds (with no blankets and plastic mattresses) and no door, whilst his had big duvets and private bathroom, hmmm we were gutted! But bless him, cos we were cold he gave us his and his friends spare blankets =) So after having a nice little sleep we were ready for the drive to Christchurch to visit Jan and Pete a couple Sam's Mum and Mickey know. On the way we saw seals (which Dani became very excited about) and stopped in Kaikoura, which was gorgeous, for some food. When we arrived in Christchurch we went round to Jan and Pete's where we had a BBQ for tea and stayed the night =) Sam's Mum and Mickey know them and suggested we get in touch but neither of us had ever met them but we instantly felt so welcome. Jan and Pete traveled years ago so it was really good swapping stories. They are a lovely family and the kids, Fin (14), Joey (11) and Maggie (8) are brilliant!!
We spent the following morning in Christchurch having a look around then went to the airport where we were collecting the lovely Miss Hadden who we have adopted for the remainder of New Zealand =)