After a long journey back to Rotorua on Saturday, i ended up going on the luge again, for the third time. This was because a girl i met on my bus was a bit obsessed by it and wanted to go on it again for her third time too. I decided that it would be more fun than sitting around at a hostel that I've already statyed in before, waiting for the next day to come, so I went with her.
Sunday morning saw the start of my East Escape tour. It was a much smaller bus (van really) than the main Magic buses, and there was only 5 of us doing the tour: two Canadian guys - Tyler and Ryan, a French girl named Emilie, Robert the really tall Austrian guy, and me. Our guide was Leigh, who immediately told us that we were going to be part of a family for the next few days cos there was only a few of us. She was lovely and it makes her sound much more interesting if I say that she's a born again Christian and an ex-trucker!
We started out from Rotorua and headed for the North East Coast. The first stop was at Wainui beach for a tea break, and we then headed back inland, towards Gisborne. We stopped a couple of times along the way, at Tauranga Bridge and Cascade falls. We then stopped again, unexpectedly, just outside a place called Matawai because the bus broke down! We just happened to be out of mobile phone reception, so we had to wait for someone to drive by to get us some help. Where we stopped was next to a stream/river, so Leigh told us to get off the bus and go cool down in the shade. A few mins later we were called back to the bus, because a guy had offered to give us a lift into the nearest town. So while Leigh waited at the bus, the Canadian guys and I sat in a pub in the tiny little town.
Eventually we got on our way again and made it to Gisborne. By the time we arrived, there wasn't much going on because it was Sunday and it was about 6pm. So we headed on to Tatapouri, which is a little bay just outside of Gisborne. We were staying at Dive Tatapouri - a company that arranges shark cage diving, stingray feeding and other activities. They cooked a BBQ for us which we ate in their little common room area and then sat outside looking at the stars and chatting the night away. Because the bus had completely broken down, Leigh asked us if we'd mind staying on at Tatapouri for an extra night, so that it could go to the mechanics on Monday. I didn't mind this at all because I would much rather have had and extra night by the beach than two nights in Rotorua again which is what I was going to have to do.
The next day we all got up at 6am so that we would be up in time to watch the sun rise. Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun. There are two things that I would say about this. One is that it's not really a city or at least I don't think it's big enough to be classed as one - it's population is 34,000 which is not much considering Northampton is like 190,000 (yes I looked this up!). The other is that there are actually a few other places in the world that saw the sun before we did that day e.g Fiji. Still, we got up to be the first 'city' to see the sun rise and it was pretty enough. A couple of hours later we went stingray feeding. This was really cool. We had to wear waders (although they don't have teeth the stingrays can nip at you with their 'gums') and carry sticks so that when we all stood in a row and stuck our sticks into the ground it made a 'stingray fence'. We were each given some pieces of fish and held them under the water, and the rays came and took the food from your hands. There were two types - the Eagle ray (stereotypical picture of a stingray) and Short tail ray (much bigger and kinda intimidating). We also had to watch out for King fish, which are pretty big fish that kept trying to steal the bait from our hands. One succeeded with Emilie and bit her hand quite badly. After that I only had my hand in the water for as short a time as possible cos these fish are really quick, I was pretty scared they were gonna get me too!
After all that excitement, I spent the rest of the day chilling out on the beach, until a few of us got a lift into Gisborne with one of the staff to get some alcohol for that night. A Kiwi Experience bus of about 20 people was sharing the place with us that night and we spent the night playing lots of different drinking games!