We are now in Taupo!
Unfortunately our last day in Rotorua absolutely hammered it down with rain so we were mostly stuck inside watching home makeover shows and America's Next Top Model. Just like home, really! We did manage to venture out late afternoon though, and finally see some of what Rotorua had to offer. It is famous for its geothermal activity, so you see lots of randomly smoking ground! We went to the geothermal park which was pretty awesome, it has all these fenced off areas with bubbling volcanic pools. Very weird to think about everything that's going on under the ground over there! Lovely smell of sulphur everywhere too, it's nice to finally get away from that.
The next day we got on the magic bus again and headed to Taupo. We stopped just short of the city to admire the Huka falls, which is pretty impressive and apparently 200,000 litres of water go over it each second. Nice little fact for you there. Pretty for pictures, also! Taupo is a cool little town, with a lake which looks like an ocean it's so massive. You can also see the mountains all around, so it's definitely the most picturesque place we've stayed in so far!
Yesterday the three of us and a guy called Guy(!), who we met on the magic bus, decided to do the Tongariro Trek. We thought it sounded fun and a pretty cheap day out as you only pay for your bus transfers. It was probably the most exhausting walk I have been on in my life! It is 19.4km in total, which for those of you who work in miles is 12 miles! Plenty of it was up hill, the highest altitude we were at being 1900 metres (6200ft). We passed through the active volcanos of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe, one of which is Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings but I can't remember which! We saw some awesome sights though. There were several enormous craters, green and blue lakes, hot springs and miles of rainforest-type land towards the end of our trip. We are quite achey today and were so exhausted yesterday we were in bed by 8, but I can see why it's named New Zealand's best one day walk! I wouldn't quite say I'd do it again, but it was great the once. It took us 8 hours in total, we got the bus transfer at 6am and started walking at about 7.30, meeting the bus again at half 3. Now at least I know if I run out of petrol, I can walk to Huw's no problem! Not quite such amazing scenery though...
Today, just because we thought we hadn't been adventurous enough, Gaelle and myself decided to go skydiving! You know, as you do. Noone at home knew about it except for Huw, thought it would be better to tell Mum after the event (yes Mum, I'm still alive!). We got picked up late morning, and went to Taupo airport. We were all set to do the 12,000ft dive, as you could choose between that and 15,000 and the 12 was about 50 quid cheaper! However, when we got there we let ourselves be convinced into doing the 15,000. We were sceptical at the time, as the only difference was that you get an extra 20 seconds or so freefall, when the parachute isn't open, but upon doing the dive I was really glad we made that choice. The freefall lasts around a minute but it feels like 10 seconds! So after we were convinced into parting with a large chunk of cash, we donned very fetching red boiler suits and had all our kit put on by our 'tandem masters'. I was with a scouser called Liam (you come all the way to NZ to skydive with a scouser, our bus driver was a brummie!!) and I was slighly scared he'd only done 2000 tandem dives and some of the others had done tens of thousands! But I figured that was enough... We stood around getting nervous and waiting for the teeny plane to come in, then we all got in and ready to go up. It's very cosy in their planes, it's tiny and you have to sit up close to the instructor so you can strap you on. Slightly uncomfortable! They also make plenty of jokes about how this is their first time but they're a very quick learner, hope you're good at swimming as we were flying over Lake Taupo, blah blah... The views were amazing from up in the plane! Once we hit 12,000ft a few of the learners did their own jumps, then a few minutes later it was our turn. I watched the other 3 go, then it seemed to happen in an instant. We got to the door of the plane, I managed to completely fail to look at the photographer (as you can see from the pic on facebook, but I still like it!) and we were off! I didn't feel nearly as scared as I would before we left the plane, I'm grinning in my picture! The freefall was over so quickly, it didn't feel as fast as we were obviously going and it was freezing cold and my ears weren't too impressed. It was so awesome though, amazing views of Taupo and the lake and I'm so glad I did it here. Once the parachute was opened, everything was completely calm and silent and the descent seemed to take ages. I can see why people do it as a hobby! All too soon, it was time to land, which was also surprisingly smooth, just ended up sat on my bum in a field!