Apologies for the lack of updates people - it's been one crazy week and a half! So much has gone on, I don't have time to write about it all, but hopefully this will be a brief update!
After arriving in Auckland and having less than 3 hours sleep before I boarded the big green Kiwi Experience bus, we headed for the Bay of Islands. Randomly, the first person I met was from 20mins away from home...very small world! I've since met 4 more people who live within half an hour of home. Random.
Bay of Islands is simply stunning. Despite the cloudy weather (and sometimes monsoon rain!), it was still impressive. The Bay of Islands brought pink sheep (marketing by local farmer), sand boarding down giant sand dunes, standing on the northern most tip of NZ, seeing dolphins, and a trip around some of the 144 islands in the area.
From the Bay of Islands, we travelled to Auckland and then onto Mercury Bay, where we took advantage of geo-thermal spa pools in the rain - it wouldn't have been the same if it was sunny whilst lying in 40 degree spa pools!
Onwards from Mercury Bay to Rotorua, where luging was the activity of the afternoon (awesome fun, even if some of my racing lines were more like a 2009 McLaren rather than a Brawn GP car at times!!). A lot of racing and close encounters with the side of the cliff! A cultured evening followed at a traditional Maori Village, learning about the traditions of the tribes and then a massive feast cooked in their traditional way - all you can eat...yes please!
Finally some blue sky appeared on the way from Rotorua to Waitamo. Ironically we spent the afternoon underground in Glow-worm caves. Floating down underwater streams and rapids in a rubber ring...very surreal especially when the lights were turned off! Freezing cold though!!
The latest destination is Taupo, which boasts one of the largest lakes in the world (Singapore would fit in the middle and still have space around the outside to drive an ocean liner around!). Taupo is also known as the adventure capital of the North Island...so I signed up for a skydive. It didn't really sink in until I was in the plane and they opened the door at 15,000feet. Bloody scary! We had the best weather for it though (best day for the last month) and the views across the lake and mountains (inc. Mount Doom for any Lord of the Rings fans) were just amazing - after I'd run out of expletives to use during the freefall and started looking at what was around me! Incredible experience.
That's about it so far...apart from the nights out, drinking games, chillaxing and of course banter! Heading for a place called River Valley tomorrow and then onto Wellington and down to the South Island for more fun and games.