Soooooo Ive not really written one of these for a while, mainly beacause Ive been having far too much of an AWESOME time!
I missed out the last couple of weeks in Australia from my last blog, but right now im going to skip ahead to New Zealand, as I loved it that much!
So I arrived in Auckland at like midnight. Now being the experienced (and poor) travelled that I now am I decided to spend the first night in the airport so that I saved on a nights accomidation and so that I could catch the free bus in the morning. Pretty smart huh. In the morning I got my bus to the city, where I found out that the city was in the middle of a 2weeks arts festival. So I spent the day walking around the city, checking out the sights and all the free bands that were playing. Some were ok, most were s*** but oh well the price was right. That evening I decided to splash out a bit and watch Tron 3D in the Auckland IMAX. I have to say that IMAX cinemas do make all the other cinemas look like 9" TV sets. Shame the movie was crap. The next day I thought I should do something more active, so I took a ferry to Ragitoto Island, which happens to be one of the many volcanoes which are around Auckland Harbour. I thought this might be pushing my luck considering the track record that Ive had with near misses to natural disasters on this trip. Im still alive though so it was alright. So a bit of knowledge for you now: Ragitoto Island has only been around for 900years (which is the same amount of time that humans have been in New Zealand) and it only stopped erupting 250years ago. This meant that the whole of the island was made from lava rather than rock. Pretty cool huh? Anyway I spent the day walking around the island, checking out some underground lava caves and eventually climing upto the summit where you can get a 360degree view of Auckland. By the time i got back to the hostel I was dead.
March 15th Auckland - Paihia (Bay of Islands)
This day began the second best decision that Ive made on this trip: I started the Kiwi Experience. A horribly early morning (7.30am!!), which was the first of many on the Kiwi bus, meant that we got to Paihia around midday day. seeing as im now a professionaly hiker I decieded to explore Paihia, and check out the Bay of Islands. The Bay of Islands is a massive bay which is full of like 150islands (just incase you couldnt guess), and is home to the first capital city of New Zealand; a place called Russell. If you cant tell already I learnt alot of amazing....ly useless facts whilst in New Zealand. The Bay of Islands is possibly the most stunning place that ive ever been. Its even better than Ham Hill! I went on a little walk though the mangroves, hopeing to spot a Kiwi bird. I didnt, but the Haruru waterfall was pretty cool. On the way back I took a wrong turning on the track and instead of walking down a nice scenic route through the wood, I ended up walking in a drainage ditch, down the side of a busy 120kph road. Not so nice.
March 16th Cape Reinga
Another discustingly early start (7am!) was the beginning of the longest, and one of the best kiwi experience days I had: It was a round trip from Paihia to Cape Reinga (the most northen point of mainland New Zealand). Our driver, Craig, was a mental. He literally did not stop telling us stories and facts about the surroundings all 12hours of our trip. So on the way up we took State Highway 1A north. This is a special road seeing as its actually better known as 90mile beach (even though its more like 60 miles long) and it is only open when the tide is out. It was pretty cool driving in a 50 seater bus along the beach, through the surf. On the way along we stopped so that we could all have a swim in the Tasmin Sea. It.Was.Cold. Although we did spot a penguin in the surf. After this we took the exit "road", better known as a river, off the beach. We stopped at some sanddunes and grabbed some body boards and went sand boarding. You can really pick up some speed on those things. After surviving that experience we carried on north, where we stopped for a swim at probably the nicest beach ive EVER been to. This beach happened to be on the other side of the country, so we were actually swimming in the Pacific Ocean this time. Pretty cool. SO on again to Cape Reinga, where you can see the currents of the Tasmin Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide. The sceneary was stunning, but then this is the case with the whole of New Zealand. We then headed back to Paihia, back along 90 mile beach, as it happened to be a rare day where the tide was out on both legs of the journey. Back in Paihia that night it was the birthday of 2 people on the bus so we had a bit of a party until the early hours.
March 17th Paihia - Auckland
7.45am. Far too early after the night before but I had to be up early so that I could go swimming with some dolphins. It was worth getting up for. The dolphins were completely wild and unlike places like America and Australia they didnt feed the dolphins to keep them interested. Instead we had to guess the direction that the pod was travelling and jump out of the boat in front of them. We then had to entertain them by playing around in the water and singing into our snorkels to keep them around. After a couple of attemps we were successful and they played around with us for like 15mins. Two were even play fighting right under me. After they dolphins left we went looking for some whales which a fisherman had spotted in the morning but our luck wasnt in there. After this I got the afternoon bus back to Auckland so that I could start my main Kiwi Experience in the morning. Shockingly although this night was St Paddies day, I stayed in so that I could recover from the night before! SHOCK!
March 18th Auckland - Mercury Bay
8.20am. The early night the night before was a good idea, although it looked like none of the other 50 people of tthe bus had the same idea. UNLUCKY! Anyway our first stop of the day was at Hot Water Beach. A place where you can dig a hole in the sand and it will fill up with water heated by the geothermal vents underground....apparently. According to our driver, a Mauri looking guy called Mar, we got there too late and the tide was too high. We could bury our feet in the sand though and get them burnt off, so it wasnt a waste of a trip. Our next stop after that was a place called Cathedral Cove, a beach were a big hole had been eroded into the rocks. Nice. By the time we had got to Mercury Bay it was like 6pm so we had to begin to celebrate another birthday. What a shame.
March 19th Mercury Bay - Rotorua
Today we headed to the smelliest place on the route. Rotorua was a town FULL or geothermal vents and hot springs, so pretty much the whole place smelled like rotten eggs. Lovely. Anyway on the way there we stopped at a town known as Hobbition. The home to all the hobbits in Lord of The Rings. Unfortunalty as the Hobbit is now being filmed we could go and see the set, but on the plus side I did get given a million dollar note from the guy who then began to preach to a group of us for around half an hour. I didnt mind though beacuse he had given me a million dollars. He was telling us all the things which could end us up in hell; which, quite ironically, included lying. This was ironinc beacause when I went into a shop and tryed to buy something with my brand new 1 million dollar note it turned out it wasnt real. That preacher is going straight to hell! Anyway once we arrived in Rotorua a few of us headed over to a geothermal place which had a name which I cant pronounce: it was called Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao (good luck). It was pretty cool there, I saw loads of mud pools and giesers and stuff. That evening we all went to a Mauri cultural evening, where the chief of our tribe(bus), a Welsh guy called Barry (LEGEND), had a traditional Mauri welcome. If I was in his place I think I might have s*** myself. It consisted of a massive mauri guy, covered in tattoos coming at him waving a huge stick around and shouting in his face in another language. Scary. After that we were let into their village to check out their culture and traditions. We had a tradtional Mauri feast, where everything is cooked underground by the thermal vents. To be honest it all tasted like mud but the pavlova was good.
March 20th Rotorua - Waitomo
When we left Rotorua in the morning we had a choice of 2 activities: either we could go zorbing (where you sit in a massive ball and fling yourself down a hill) or you could watch a sheep show. Natually I went to the sheep show and it was hilarious. They showed us all the different types of sheep they had in New Zealand, then they sheared a sheep and after that the brought out the 2 different types of sheep dog. The dogs then started running across the backs of all the sheep. Cool beans. Anyway after that excitement we headed to Waitomo. There is pretty much nothing in Waitomo, except for a hostel, a pub and some caves. The caves is where I spent the next 5hours of the day. Frist thing we did we absail 37m into the caves through a tiny hole and then a 50m zipline in the pitch black. From there we rode big rubber rings through the caves, checking out the glow worms. To get out to the caves at the end we had to climb up some underground waterfalls, with only the lights on our helmets lighting the way. It was pretty intense but I loved it. Naturally that night we hit up the pub, but only for a quiet one as the following night was Daves birthday.......
To Be Continued....