Waitomo - Taupo - River Valley - Wellington - Nelson - Westport..., New Zealand
Monday 6th April was an adrenaline packed day!! We woke up nice and early and checked out from our chalet then were picked up to start our Black Abyss Caving Trip for the morning. We got into our really really thick wetsuits, helmets, socks, balaclavas and jumpers...the water under there was apparently at nearly its coldest for the year, we were going to freeeze! We walked up the hill and had some abseiling practice, then got straight into it and abseiled down a 35m hole into the darkness, there was a point where it was quite a squeeze to get down it was that narrow! But then it opened out into this huge cave and we sat at the bottom waiting for the others with our torches off so we could see all the glow worms above us in the distance, it was amazing. After we'd all got down we walked through the caves for a bit then again switched our torches off, got attached to a zipline and jumped into the unknown, green lights of the glowworms flashing by us as we went, it was so much fun, we were about 65m underground by this point, we sat down over a huge drop and had hot chocolate and flapjacks which were very welcomed!! Next comes the cold bit!!! We took off our harnesses, grabbed a big rubber ring, stood on the edge of a big cliff and with a deep breath jumped off into the ice cold water, it took me a good few seconds to catch my breath again, the severity of it completely winded me, but we jumped back into our rings and paddled down through the caves, taking in the masses around us, we all joined legs on the way back and the guide pulled us back as we leaned back, turned our torches off and watched the glow worms, i would have been very relaxed if Lee's legs hadn't been shaking vigorously behind me!! Next adventure was scrambling through tiny tunnel type things out to the other side where we had chocolate and hot orange this time! This was where we did the "Sweet Az" picture, we got our cups and put them over our helmet lights and then spelt out the letters with the camera on a slow shutter, surprised it worked so well!! The last bit of our adventure was climbing up about 3 waterfalls we had to balance ourselves and rock climb up with the water powerfully coming down on to us, i actually slipped and would have fallen about 4 metres if the guide hadn't grabbed me under the bum and pushed up! So that was good fun, after 5 hours underground we saw the light at the end of the tunnel and went back to get warm and dry, was an amazing activity, definitely the best in NZ so far and so worth the money, we had a great great time.
Then to add to the adrenaline, we made our way down to Taupo in the afternoon, we stopped off at the Huka Falls on the way, checked in to our hostel and then....went for a skydive! So i went from being 65m underground in the morning to 15000ft in the air in the afternoon! I wanted to do it in the group we'd kind of been travelling in, the five of us, but Greg, Mary and Lee went on the one before, so i went with Laura, trying to make her less nervous on the way.We got strapped in straight away, waited a little while hoping we'd have some kind of talk on what was going to happen and what not but it never came, the group before came whizzing into the ground, we said hello to our jumper and then were on the plane!!! It took us a while to get up to the height and i was still waiting for the nerves to kick in, (I think I'm a bit delayed with my reactions!).I managed to get a date with the pilot on the way up (sorry Al) and me and Laura were chatting away, then the door opened and the first 3 people disappeared!! I said to my instructor what do i do, he said just hold onto your harness and jump, so that was what i did!! It was amazing, we had 1 minute freefall, the ground plummeting towards us and Lake Taupo beneath us, we were supposed to be able to see from one side of the country to the other but I was too busy taking in the rest of it! The minute went quicker than i thought it would and before i knew it we were shooting up away from the photographer and floating down with our parachute, it was really good, we did a few spins in the air and then came into the landing site, my instructor actually messed up our landing, he came in too fast so 3m off the ground i was thinking oh dear god i haven't got insurance for this!! I landed right on my ankles with my instructor on top of me, took a minute, realised my legs were still attached and then hobbled over to the centre, it was amazing, such a good experience and not scary at all!! Would do it again straight away, just a very expensive 5 minutes :-P
We all chilled out in the bar that evening, pumped up from an action packed day and ready for the rest of it to come. But the next day we had a lazy one, caught up on washing and had a look around Taupo, having spent $700 the day before we were all quite conscious of not spending too much money for just one day at least. We went to the bar downstairs for free Dominos pizza which is always a bonus and then went to "Room 111" for some drinking games.We had an alternative to Cowboys by changing it into Maori Cowboys from the words we'd learnt from the culture night, then went next door and zinc ended up all over our faces!We went to the Element bar for the evening and had a really good night, we've been so lucky with our bus, everyone getting along brilliantly.
We woke up all feeling a little delicate and had to get on the bus; Lee topped it off by turning up in his boxers with his face paint still on looking a state! So you can imagine the reaction when Rich our bus driver pulled up and said we were going for a 2 hour walk in the freezing cold, it turned out a good hangover cure, we walked through the Tongariro National Park, up to the waterfall where the Gollum scene was filmed in Lord of the Rings. We continued on to River Valley Adventure Lodge after our blast of fresh air, it was chucking it down and we had to walk down a big hill to get to it in the middle of nowhere so dried off and I had a nap on the sofa for most of the afternoon as we couldn't go outside.It was a really nice place to be stuck indoors though, stone floors, sofas, and cosy lighting, we had a chilled out afternoon, reading, playing jenga and card games in the evening. Our beds for the evening were 4 bunk beds between about 40 of us; they had big long mattresses on so we got cosy and had pretty much a sleepover in the lodge that night, nice and relaxed.
We didn't leave the lodge till the afternoon so had another morning chilling out, we were driving to Wellington today, had a stop in Bulls, a town where everything has Bull in its shop name...trying to think of an example now but gone blank! Aanyway, we arrived in Wellington, checked into Base and cooked some tea, most of us went to the bottle shop as we were having a big night tonight- it was the last night we'd all be together as this was the first stop where people were staying for longer, including me. So we drank for a bit in Lucy's room then went to room "204" where the party was! We managed to fit 28 into one 6 bed dorm which was quite impressive and the face paints came out again! We went down to the Basement in the evening and "tasches" seemed to become a theme for the evening, so I had a nice white moustache for most of it. We sung songs after we were kicked out of the bar and did the congo up to the rooms, the rowdy bunch that we were, then i called it a night when the guys started playing rugby in the kitchen and smashed a light all over the floor :o/
The others left on the bus early in the morning, and me and Mary had a nice lie in till lunchtime, working up our energy for the south island. We took a wander to the Te Papa Museum and had a look around there, Mary very excited to find a Scots section! We had a lazy afternoon and then we all went to the cinema in the evening, Mary and Hannah went to see one and I went to see The Boat that Rocked with all the guys which was a really good night, nice to do something "normal" rather than all the activities for once.
We got the ferry over to the South Island the next day, we had to get on a different bus which was weird not being with all our friends from the last one but there's a good group of us, Me, Mary, 4 guys who have just finished uni and Paul (who's going to Oxford Brookes too this year). It took about 3 hours to get to the south island and it was a beautiful journey, the mountains were so green and the water so blue, really was amazing to just look all around you.
We arrived in Picton and had to wait for another bus to come as there were too many of us, so we all went to play some crazy golf which was great fun! I shocked the guys with my skills to start with but then it just kind of went downhill but it was so much fun and the sun was out! It was actually hot, beautiful. We had to wait for the bus for a couple of hours extra as it was delayed so just sat on the pavement and chatted with the other people, met a great couple who had rented a car and just decided to follow the Kiwi bus the way around so that they wouldn't have to navigate!! So they were our official stalkers for the trip. Eventually our driver came and we drove straight through to Nelson. We checked into Fearne Lodge which was a lovely little pub, me and Mary got to share a double bed too which was a nice change to bunk beds and we treated ourselves to some good pub food in the evening.
I had been planning on spending 3 days in Nelson but kind of wanted to stay with the group of 7 of us who wanted to move on the next day so we got up in the morning to see if we could jump on the bus we hadn't booked on and there was space so I got on reluctantly a little bit sad to leave such a beautiful place early but I think it's worth it as they're such a good group of people. We stopped off at Nelson Lakes National Park and took in the scenery which was yet again absolutely stunning, the guys played some rugby and we watched the brave ones jump in the icy water. After this we arrived in Westport in the afternoon, checked into Trippins Lodge (which Mary was convinced was haunted) and then went out in the evening for some food and played some cards again. It's been a right mix of relaxing days and high adrenaline activities this last week; I just can't believe it's only been 2 weeks I've been here and there's so much more to come! Can't wait! Xx