Hi there everyone and greetings from Wellington, capital of New Zealand.
Apologies to everyone who has impatiently awaited the next installment. I have been pretty much without internet or phone signal for the last week because I have been touring round the eastern cape of the North Island.
We were picked up on Monday by our bus driver who whilst reasonably attractive was also a pretty useless dickhead. When the bus arrived the back door was open and someone's bag was hanging out. We drove to a place called Te Kaha which was a homestead right on the coast. The Maori family who live there were very welcoming and sung us a song when we arrived. We spent the evening sea-kayaking, eating the delicious meal they cooked us and chilling out in the hot tub with a sea view. It was really nice to get to know the group, there were only 20 of us so it was a lot easier to chat to people.
On the second day we drove to the Eastenders farmstay. It was really windy driving round the headland because a cyclone was just off the coast (Which consequently made it freezing cold). We saw the church from the Guns n Roses video for November Rain (see photos). I really liked the church, it was in an idyllic position.
When we got to the farmstay there was a howling gale but I went ahead wih my plan to go horseriding. Bearing in mind that I haven't ridden horses in about a decade and am a bit scared of them this may not have been an amazing plan but it was really beautiful. We rode on the beach through the surf and the breakers were massive because of the wind, it was like something from a horror story. When I got back I carved a bone into a maori symbol so I now have my own bone carving necklace which I am very proud of because it took bloody ages!
On the 3rd day we got up at 6am to be the first in the world to see the dawn of the new day. Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy so we didn't get much chance to see the sun but it was still very beautiful. We then went back to bed until it was time to leave. Our last homestay was a little further down the coast near Gisbon. We had a really nice evening drinking and chatting and eating the amazing barbecue they cooked us. We then stayed up till 4.30 playing charades.
On day 4 we got up and waded out into the sea to feed stingrays. Cue another ridiculous outfit (see me in waders in the photo). I was the only one who managed to fall over in the sea but luckily my waders didn't fill up too much with water or perhaps I would have sunk. I've seen stingrays in aquariums before but it was so cool to have them swimming up to you and flapping all around you in the water. Following that we had a 7 hour journey back to Taupo. The sunset on the way back was incredible, really cool sillhouettes because the landscape is so volatile and volcanic. No pictures unfortunately because we didn't stop. It was a shame to say goodbye to all of the group because we'd all just started to get on really well but hopefully we can meet up with some of them further down the route.
On the way to the next place we passed through a town which deals with making all the stuff for the NZ army. As you can imagine NZ has very little need to defend itself and for this reason, if NZ was attacked from overseas, the army would have enough ammunition to defend itself for exactly nine minutes.
Last night we spent in River Valley which is an adventure sport centre about a million miles from anywhere in the country where there is a grade 5 river rapid (which had no water in it due to droughts so we couldn't do it). The others had to stay in a 32 bed dorm which was basically just a load of mattresses next to each other. (Rory Matt and I managed to fluke a 3 bed dorm) There was also a group of rugby lads who were playing drinking games all and banging the tabls so hard that the bedrooms shook. They all had mullets (this is an alarming fashion statement in NZ) some of which had bad dye jobs. I think I might have accurately conveyed to you that I didn't like River Valley. Oh yeah, and the people on our bus generally looked like they'd flown over for a Barbie convention. How they managed to cram quite so many designed handbags and pashminas into their rucksacks I'm not quite sure. A lot of the men looked like they spent their mornings masturbating in the mirror. So glad those people weren't on my first bus or I'd probably have flown home. My worst nightmare was getting here and feeling like I was on an 18-30s holiday and that seems to have been realised on that particular bus.
But no matter because today we are in Wellington and we have caught up with our friends who didn't do the trip round the eastern cape. We are in the YHA here because we were told that the Base is the AIDS of the hostel world. This hostel is really lovely. My personal favourite feature is the hairdryers in the bathrooms. I have washed all my clothes and myself and feel right back to normal.
So the plan for the next few days is to see the sights around the capital before progressing to the south island. I shall keep you updated on my progress as I go and please continue to keep me updated via my wall because it is entertaining me muchly!