Well have we got an adventure packed blog for you guys!!
The Stray bus is basically a coach that we can hop on and off when we please that will take us down to Wellington, across to the south island, down the west coast and eventually end up in Christchurch where we fly out. Its a great way of meeting people, getting a guide to tell us all about places, get discounts and free stuff!
We first caught the bus at 8:00am on the Monday we had been left alone by Rich Cat and Chris (thanks guys). This firstly headed up the corromandel to Hahei (near Hot Water beach where we went with Rich) When we got there we had a chance to go kayaking to Cathedral Cove, however they wanted $75!! We thought that was alittle too much considering most places let you hire them for $20, so we did the walk there instead! This was an amazing walk up and down the sea cliffs leading to the bay! It was supposed to take 1:30 each way, but being the professional hikers we now are it only took about 40mins each way! Still there were a couple of unpleasant steps that we werent fond of and it was aboslutley boiling hot too! Just before we got down to the beach some fatty said "its well worth it" whislt sweating his fat face off, but he hadn't gone back up yet! He was right though, when we got down to the cove it was the most beautiful beach we'd ever seen, not that we had much to compare it too! The water looked SOO good but annoyingly we didnt have time for a swim! In the film 'Prince Caspian' This was the entrance to Narnia so you can imagine just how nice this place was!
After walking back we had a short drive back the great Hot Water Beach, this time with the intention of digging our own hot pools! This seemed like a great idea at first but once you'd actually done a couple of digs and the sides kept collapsing it seemed like too much hard work! (Turlough likes to think that he did all the digging but thats really selfish the whole group took part) After about an hour everyone was really hungry so we just jumped in there. It was weird how hot the water got if though it was just a puddle. If you let your foot sink too far it started to burn! I foolishly sat down in it for a while and got a bikini full of sand with no where to wash it... eugh.
When we got back to our hostel everyone was completley ravenous and we all chipped in and had a big BBQ. This was amazing, not like the sausage and burger BBQs we're used to but steaks and everything! (See picture of Turl taking over BBQ with all the meat) This was also a great way to get to know everyone else on the bus. Unfortunatley it was another early start the next day (8am again) for us to head to the West coast to a surfing town called Raglan. This day had clouded over slightly and so we didn't fancy surfing, well Turl was never going to as he has an issue with surfers. So we thought we'd kid ourselfs by 'reading' this turned to a 4 hours nap in a second. However when we woke up we went into town with some of the people of our bus and got some fish and chips as we were by the sea. We had options as to where to go but we thought it would be wise to follow our guide. She took us to this great little place by the water that was really cheap too. Turl and I both had fresh Gurnard and chips (well Turl obviously got an extra sausage) When we got back we had a few beers and then went on the hostels zip line (or flying fox) in the dark! This was a lot freakier than you would think because you had no idea where you were going or when you were going to stop! Stupidly Turl went first so everyone thought that it was super fast because of the noise of the strain it took with him on! haha! On our first go down everyone shone phone lights on us when we got to the end, but on the second run we kept it pitch black the entire way. Again Turl went first and took about 3 people out when he bounced back off the tires! We stayed up to have some more beers but i went to bed when Turl got political, putting the world to right with a Brazillian and a Dutchman.
The next morning, yes early start again.. we headed down to Waitomo which only took about an hour or so. Here we went CAVING. Due to my fear of heights i didnt want to rock climb out of the cave so Turl and I did a pansier one with a rambo rating of 6/10. This was also our choice because we got to do black water rafting on a tube in the cave! I was feeling pretty good about the caves as it was the pansier one i thought it wouldnt be so bad, and i'd heard that you dont have to squeeze through the little gaps if you dont want to. When we got there we had to get into our already wet wetsuits (eugh) wellington boots and helmet with light on. The lights on our heads were the only ones in the caves apart from the glow worms! They didn't really tell us much info about the cave, just showed us a really incorrect child like drawing of the inside. They warned us that the entrance was the worst bit so once you got through there you can do any part. When we arrived to the so called 'entrance' i couldnt believe my eyes. It looked like a pile of rocks with a TINY bit of ladder coming out of the top. I couldn't even SEE the hole! Their drawing had been grossly incorrect in the interpretation of the size of the entrance. Turlough was first to go down as ever, i thought if he could get down then surley i could, but watched as he got his arse stuck and had to twizzle on the ladder to get down. When down there he had to walk on his own through the cave "just follow the water" to a yellow marker. When i got down i had to walk on my own to despite freaking out but lukily could hear the others chatting ahead! Once we were all together we had to climb through the cave for a bit then had our first horrible tunnel thing to crawl through. I decided to give it ago as it was the first one and did it! Really not looking keen though (see photo) This turned out to be quite fun and i was really chuffed i'd done it without crying or getting stuck. From there we had more climbing to do and putting mud all over our faces. After this we got in the water for the first time! At first it was just waist height but then the guides made us all unzip our wetsuits, link arms and dunk into the freezing water! it really was cold too, you cold feel it trickle down through the horrible wet suits.
From here we had some more things to squeeze through, and had a look at some glow worms with the lights off! There was a horrible cavey bit that we had to get under the water and float with just our heads above fitting through a really small gap. Followed after was the aptly named "the squeeze" again you had to go under the water with just your head out, on your side and squeeze through a really tight gap. This was the start of many times of Turl shouting "Are you sure i'm going to fit through here?! I'm quite big!?" Shortley after this we had our first go in the tubes! We had to climb up on a ledge and jump backwards off into the water, it was great fun. When we were all lined up we turned all our lights off and floated along looking up at the millions of glow worms just above our heads. This was really relaxing until you thought about the eels in the dark water and not knowing what was beside you! The guides also slammed one the tubes down in the dark and scared the bejeebers out of us. After this we stopped for a little snack, a chocolate bar and some hot lemon and barley which was soo sugary and good. It was after this they made us go through the worst tunnel, named "the rebirth." We had to turn our lights off and do it in the dark. Turlough (as ever) went first and i went just behind him holding onto his welly. It was so small that my helmet and arms were touching the sides at all times. When Turl got to the end, which you couldnt see in the dark, the guides jumped out to scare him. This just sent a load of relief over me as i knew we were at the end. We had some more climbing to do and another horrific tunnel, this one was smaller than the "rebirth" so i bottled out of this one. Just aswell as Turl had to crawl along and push off from his toes to get through. After this we had another ride flaoting along the tubes and swimming through the freezing black water. Just as we were leaving the cave the guides showed us these horrible giant cave crickety things. Thank god we were on our way out. It was bright sunshine when we climbed out of the cave (why they dont make the entrance like the exit ill never know) and we all had showers (except the skank) to get rid of the repugnant cave smell.
That night we drove back across to the east to stay in a maori meeting house and have a cultural show/experience. When we got there we had a traditional hangi meal of fish, chicken, and lamb.. there wasn't much for the poor veggies. After eating we had to be officially welcomed by some natives. They then gave us a show of the female dance the poi and the male haka. After this we then had to learn and perform these dances individually (Turls personal hell, see pics) The whole point of the huka was to have huge scary eyes, but Turl missed this and shut his!! hahaha! After this we had some beers again and all had to stay in the same big room on mattresses.
ANOTHER early start of 7am, being woken up by Abba blasting out. we had a cereal breakfast (not so traditional) and headed off to Rotorua for the day! This was another action packed day as the majority of the group went white water rafting! This was grade 5 rapids the highest you can raft on. Including a 7m water fall, the highest commercial drop you can raft on in the world! Not bad for novices. Again it was a case of getting in the wet suits, these were dry at least. They didn't really tell us anything about it just got straight into our rafts and headed off. When we first got in we had a very small briefing on getting down into the raft on water falls but that was pretty much it and before we knew it we had 3m and 2m waterfalls to go down straight after the other! I couldn't belive how soon they were! We were also on the saftey boat that meant we had to do everything first and watch everyone else come down safely. We mangaged to survive the first drops but it was really weird when all the water gushed into the raft! It was pretty soon after this that we had the bad boy, the 7m. You have to row as hard as you can right to the edge then the captain has to shout get down so you put your oar to the side of the raft and pull yourself in holding on for dear life to the little ropes. On this fall there is a 50% chance of flipping the boat and as we went down the raft was completley submurged and turned on its side. When we were under the water i thought we'd definatley flipped as i got someone elses oar to the face. But was surprised to see when we came up that both Turl and I were still in the raft! Two others were not so lucky as they went flying into the water (hense the oar to the face I think) we have some great picks of them tumbling over the side though - we're just waiting for them to be emailed to show you!
After this the guides told us we could get in this part of the water for a swim if we fancied it. So not thinking about it we all jumped in only for the guides to drop the bomb about a waterfall ahead. Oh good. He said we could either get back in the boat, hold onto it, or go down on our own. However there was no time to even think about getting back in let alone doing it, so we all ended up holding on and going down. This was so much fun! We did all get a lung full of water and nearly drown but it felt great. I was then picked on to go kneel at the front of the raft while they manoevered it into a water fall filling the boat and my face with water again. This was sadly the end of the ride as the next water fall was grade 6 and unraftable as you get caught in the water and get sucked round and round, apaprently claiming 15lives. not somewhere we wanted to visit!
This was then a quick turnaround so we could drive on to Taupo - our current location. We were spending the night here, but as Turl and I needed a lye in and a rest we decided to spend the rest of the weekend here with one idea in mind. SkyDive. Taupos the cheapest place to do it in, and we wanted to do it while the weather was still nice. One problem was keeping us from this mad act, Turloughs weight. The maximum weight to do it is 100kgs and Turlough came in at 103 last time we checked at the bungy. (He would like to add that he came away at about 115kgs) So on Saturday morning he began a fast and started to go running. We had been told about people running outside the airport so they could do it and suceeding so he thought he'd give it a go. (you should feel more sorry for me having to put up with his 30hour hunger mood!)
So Sunday morning rolled around, Turlough went out for his 4th and final run while i booked the skydive for that afternoon, nearly vommiting on the poor hostel guy as he did it. Turl came back from his run wearing his fleece, wooly hat, hiking boots, and bag full of books on his back. Obviously sweating his mind off, we pottered around the hostel, Turl trying to take his mind off what we were about to do, and me freaking out ever 10mins or so. The owner of the hostel came up and asked us if we wanted to go early as they had a cancellation and before i could shout "No i haven't prepared enough" big mouth next to me piped up with "yeah we'd love to." git.
So we had to wait for our limo to pick us up this was me pacing up and down saying im not going to do it and Turl going "I'm definatley to fat." When he arrived we had to sign our lives away and before we knew it we had arrived insight if the tiny microscopic plane. When we were in it was make or break time for Turl. As he got on the scales he was pretty much dead on 100kg and able to jump! I was so relieved as the heaviest people have to go first and this was something I did NOT want to do. Then we were straight to it, picking songs for our DVD and watching someone elses jump. Straight after we met our guys and were quickly suited and booted. Turlough ended up with the nutcase thankgod and my guy was really friendly. He was telling Turl he was still in training, hadn't jumped with a big fella before, and everyone kept coming up to him asking if he was alright! Hahaha! I'd of gone mad if it was me but Turl took it pretty well. They pretty much told us we would have to sit on the edge of the plane, bend our legs under and put our heads back in the shape of a banana. That was pretty much it. (Turls guy didnt tell him until he was on the plane) So we had a short interview for the DVD then got onto the Ford Escort with wings (mum if you thought that plane you were on was bad you should have got in this thing) As we were going all out and doing the whopping 15,000ft we had two guys infront of us doing 12,000. In the plane i was actually feeling really relaxed. I thought i was going to be crying my eyes but really enjoyed the 15 minute plane ride. Until... The door opened and we watched the two guys at 12,000 just plop over the edge of the plane and they were gone! It makes us both feel sick now, thinking of them plopping over the edge. Then the door shut and we accended to 15,000ft. it was our turn.
Turl was first to go now after his guy had loosened his straps, didnt give him gloves or oxygen like everyone else, and finally briefed him on what to do! I had to follow as Turl went to the edge of the plane. The guy on my back had to take my arm of the side where i was holding and force me behind Turl. Turlough says that this was the scariest part, as you had to dangle your legs out of the plane and his guy was at an awkward angle behind him, and then he just flew off without warning. So then i had to be forced to the edge too. You have to hold on to your harness as you lean over the edge and see the ground SO far below. Luckily now you have to bend your head back so you can't see for a second until you are pushed forward. Then all that i can describe the first feeling of, is literally falling. It literally feels like you are plummiting to the ground. Then when you level out its just immense. You're travelling at 200kph but dont feel like your falling so much now, almost flying or floating. Whislt freefalling you get spun round really fast and try and take in the amazing view. I tried to look for Turl below but couldn't see him, i think he was further back. Then with a horrible pulling/weightlessness feeling the parachute gets deployed and your hanging on a little harness floating around. I found I had to catch my breath when we were in the parachute but Turl had no problem at all. He got to deploy his own parachute and steer it around. While we were floating down it was no easy ride as they made us spin round in it and do sudden drops too. When you go into land you have to put your feet right up so they dont touch the ground, and you still seem so high up before you start going down! Turl overstepped his landing as 'matey' was doing ridiculous manoevers. I thought that i would feel greatful for being back on the ground but as soon as i was there all i wanted to do was get straight back up in the plane and do it all again! Aside from getting my cats it was probably the best thing ive ever done!
So now here we are, back on the ground, not really believing that today we jumped (well fell) out of an aeroplane!! At least however, we are up to date with the blog. At last!! I know this has been a long one but we've been pretty busy! Check out the pics from the SkyDive, will be sending the DVDs home shortly! I expect some messages saying how amazing we are.
Love and miss you all!!
Fran and Turl xxxxxxxxxxx
p.s Turlough says Happy Mothers Day Mum, sorry i missed it, you are a wonderful mother who i love an extreeme amount! xxxx