This is going to be a lot shorter blog than it would have been originally, cos I already wrote it once, then the computer crashed and I lost it all!
Anyway, it's been all go since I joined the Stray Bus...and I'm loving it! I have met some really cool people, and 4 of us have decided to do the rest of New Zealand together, so we have arranged our stops on the same days, which is great.
Our 1st day we travelled to Cathedral Cove which is a beautiful beach, and we stayed in some little rooms at a campsite right next to the beach. That night we had a great barbeque and then later went to Hot Water Beach where we dug our own natural hot spa! When you dig down into the sand the hole fills with water from the natural thermal spa...and it's really hot. It was really great laying in our big spa pool on the beach in the dark, looking up at the stars with a beer in your hand....it doesn't get better than that!
The next day we travelled onto another little beachside town called Raglan, which is famous for it's surfing. A few of the guys had a surfing lesson, but I went for a walk along the beach with a couple of the girls and ended up in one of the local pubs for a couple of drinks...we had decided it was far too cold to be in the sea, and a local pub sounded much more appealing! The hostel we stayed in at Raglan was really nice, the rooms were wooden lodges, and the communal area was really relaxed, with a pool table and big sofas, so we just stayed in for a chilled evening.
On Monday we travelled onto Waitomo Caves, which is famous for it's Glow Worms. i decided to do the Tumo Tumo Tubing, which was great fun!...and if you know me, you will know I was also conquering my fear of caves and being underground head on!! Even getting to the caves was an experience...we were dressed in a full wet suit, Caving helmets and white Wellies (very attactive!!) and walked through a hilly field full of sheep...it must have looked like a bizarre episode of the Teletubbies!!! Once we got into the caves we we doing a mixture of caving; which involved navigating over rocks, through small gaps, and wading through water which was up to our chests at some points, and even swimming a small distance; and then riding on a rubber ring in the pitch black (we turned our helmet lights off) linked to each other by putting our feet under the arms of the person in front of you. When we turned our lights off the Glow Worms were beautiful, they looked like thousands of bright stars, and the more your eyes adjusted to the dark, the brighter they appeared. It was a lovely experience. Later we travelled onto Maketu where we went to 'Uncle Boys' for a Maori cultural evening. A Maori family put on a show of traditional Songs and Dances for us, and then we joined in and learnt some of them ourselves. It was a great evening.
The next day was an addrenelin packed one for me...it was the best so far!!! First we travelled to Rotorua where I did White water rafting again...this time it included a grade 5, 7 metre Waterfall!! It was great...and the instructor was really hot, so that made it even better! It was quite scary leading up to the waterfall, but you fall down it sooo fast you don't really have time to think about what you are doing. The raft goes completely under the water at the bottom, and apparently capsizes quite often, but we were ok and stayed the right way up, so that was good! Afterwards we watched some other rafts go down the fall, and it was good to see what we had just rafted down.
After lunch we travelled onto Lake Taupo...and that is where I did my Skydive...it was absolutely awesome!!! Lake Taupo is beautiful...it is said to be one of the best places in the world to do a Skydive, and I can see why. I chose the 15,000 feet jump, which meant I got 60 seconds of freefall...which is brilliant. Also, I had the perfect day for it, it was a gorgeous sunny day, with blue skies and little white fluffly clouds. I can't really describe what it is like to fall from a plane at 15,000 feet...but I will give it a go! When you first get pushed out by the instructor you immediately do a back flip and it takes a few seconds to get the right way up before he tells you it is ok to put your arms out....and that is when you can start taking in where you are and what you are doing...and start enjoying it. The feeling and the noise of the wind rushing against you is immense, and it felt like my googles were going to fly off any second, but is just an amazing feeling. Before you know it the parachute goes up....you hear the sound of the canopy opening, and then everything goes blissfully quiet. This was the most enjoyable part for me...floating in the sky and looking around me, with nothing obstructing the breathtaking view of the Lake Taupo, and the volcano and mountains surrounding it...it was gorgeous. Once we settled into the parachute fall the instructor let me take control of the parachute, it was really cool turning it round. But then the instructor wanted to have some fun so he took control and made up spiral round and round, and then made us spin really fast...which made me feel very sick! It was excellent fun though!!! Anyway, I could talk about this forever, but I had better stop now! Oh yeah, and to top off an awesome day, we went to a local pub quiz that night and our team of 4 won $150 in the famous faces round!!!
The next day we travelled onto the National Park, which is really beautiful, and we stayed in a lovely little hostel lodge in the park. There are great walks around the park, but unfortunately the weather was pretty rubbish so we didn't do that much.
We then moved onto Wellington, which is where I am now. We have got 3 nights here, which is great because it is a brilliant place. It reminds me a bit of San Francisco, it is quite hilly, and has cable cars, and although it is a city it doesn't really feel like you are in a big city. It is much friendlier and has a great atmosphere, especially down by the harbour. Art is also pretty popular here, so there are some great sculptures dotted around the city. We went on the cable car to the botanic gardens today, which are really pretty, then we had a tour of the Parliament building, which was actually a lot more interesting than it sounds! And there is a cool bar opposite the Parliament building called the backbencher and it has loads of spitting image puppets on the walls, and a really cool, buzzing atmosphere. I hope to get to do some shopping tomorrow, as it looks pretty good!
Take Care, speak soon.
Love Gem xx