Finally left Aukland on my Magic bus! (It really wasnt so magic - just a very normal bus with blond canadians! Uggghhh)
We headed out of Aukland early in the morning through rain and grey clouds south arriving about midday at a place called Waitomo. Heading into town we stopped at an Angola rabbit shearing barn. These rabbits look like cotton balls (BIG cotton balls) and have to be sheared twice a year otherwise they dehydrate. I have never seen anything so funny - nature can be really cruel! After this we headed to the world famous Waitomo caves. Famous for their glow worms. I tried my hand at Black water rafting (Which is essentially floating in pitch darkness through an underground river system in a rubber tyre - over 2 waterfalls). It was actually more fun than it sounds.
After re-emerging above ground we headed on to Rotoro - the most visited place in New Zealand and the source of some of the most incredible geothermal activity in the world. There are bubbling lakes and pools everywhere (Even in folks back gardens). Ofcourse some clever people found that these thermal spring have wonderful health giving properties and built Spas here. Well infact it was realised long before this in the form of 2 huge Mauri triobes locating here - and subsequently fighting with one another other the land. This evening I actually got to visit the Tagata tribes village and was treated to a Concert and Hangi (Kinda superviolent welcoming ceremony). The Mauri ofcourse are originally polynesians who traveled here in canoes. The concert and showcase was great - really beautiful culture! I saw some Mauri carvings in Aukland Museum but to have recreations of the ceremonies as well was lovely. After that was an all you can eat buffet Mauri style (Where the food is cooked underground for up to 3 hours).
Today I woke up early and headed into town stopping off at a nice market on route and buying some apples. (Thats what fruit looks like - I had forgotten) - rented a bike and went trail biking in the redwood forests. I was amazed at my fitness. I thought I WAS fit but I was exhausted just getting to the forest. I tried their easiest trail and was suitably humbled. Back to town to nurse my swollan baboon bottom and over to the lake (The size of Signapore) to try my hand at fishing. nfoprtunately the wind was up and they weren't letting anything out on the water today - so insetead I chose to sooth my aching muscles in the Polynesian Spa pools.
last night in Rotoro met up with some of the group I went black water rafting and we jumped into the thermal hotpool the Hostel had in the back garden. It was a pretty big pool and there were 6 in our group and a bunch of kiwis from Aukland and Hamilton so at 8pm we kicked off an impromptu pool party theat extended to about 2am with random people stripping off and jumping in. Was great - ONLY IN NEW ZEALAND! Can tell you after 6 hours in a hot tub my hands were pretty wrinkly!
Actually the alcohol ran out pretty early - my new german friend had supplied whisky and that was supplemented by canadian club and dry brought in by the wierdest group. 2 Skin head tattooed Kiwi guys on drugs with their 2 foster children and a pyscho women. Apparently they were in Rotoro for graffiti art championships and skate boarding. Very wierd having a 12 year old kid as if I want some whisky!
I ended up pretty sober and rolled off to bed - able to rise and shine for 8am the next morning to catch the bus out of town. German guy was pretty hung over and the rest of the crew pretty craggy!