Back in Auckland, had a great time in the north and chuffed I didn't go south straight away. I still had a little time in Auckland so a few of us; Jasmine, Faye, James, Sean and me caught a ferry across the lake to Mount Rangitito; an island created only by volcanic activity. Pretty cool to think that the only reason why that land existed was because of a volcano. The Island had a nice long walk to the top of the volcano, getting pretty steep towards the top. The views were great, you could see the whole of Auckland and it was wicked to see all the other volcanoes in the city. There are I think 48 volcanoes in Auckland and each was easily visible from my bird's eye view!
From Auckland we got on the bus heading for the hot water beach, a beach where at low tide you can dig your own bath. Can't do that in Blackpool haha! Before we got there we stopped off at Cathedral Cove (where they filmed the Narnia films) which was a nice beach. A swim in the sea which was absolutely freezing, saving Sean from drowning lol and jumping in the water from rocks were the things we all got up to...Except James because he didn't want to get wet haha!
From Hot water beach we caught the bus to Waitomo; famous for the large populations of glow worms in the caves. Again it was an easy sign up on the bus to get involved with the caving and I paid to do the Black Abyss activity which included black water rafting (turned out to be just rubber rings in the dark) zip wiring (one wire in the dark) caving (which was actually my favourite bit climbing up two waterfalls and wading through the absolutely freezing water of the caves. The glow worms were cool, in the dark areas of the cave the worms were like little green stars in the black canvass of the ceiling. They were actually not worms at all but maggots that hung from above, the thing that made the maggots glow was their faeces haha...not too tempting to see now right?! I guess they couldn't advertise the caves with "Hey come and see the maggots where their poo glows!" Probably wouldn't get too many people.
From Waitomo we made our way to the culture capital of New Zealand; Rotorua. Here I did Zorbing, which is getting in a big ball and rolling down the hill, I think I took a knee to the head from George ha! Luging, this was absolutely brilliant! Tobogganing down a hill track while racing each other...such good fun, definitely the best racer but by far the most competitive; crashed a few times too haha! And then in the evening we went to a Maori evening where we met a local tribe. It was nice to listen to their everyday habits and get involved in warrior training and the Haka! An unbelievable all you can eat dinner followed by a show I had a really good time. It was a little touristy for my liking but it was still a great experience especially with the tribes welcome party which seemed more threatening and challenging than a welcome to my village!
After Rotorua I was meant to travel to the east of New Zealand to see a real traditional Maori existence and to maybe check out the first place in the world to receive sunlight! Unfortunately for me the route was closed due to a land slide that wiped out an entire road...completely inaccessible I was gutted to miss out on those experiences.
Well anyway at least I got to stick with my original bus as they made their way to Taupo. Here it was all about the Sky Dive and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing; a 23km walk which included a climb up the Ngauruhoe Summit, Mount Doom to you Lord of the Rings fans. I booked my Skydive with TTS, they picked us up at around 5pm and we did our jump a half hour later. Awesome! It was a tandem jump and I'm not going to lie I was a little nervous. Every one of my friends had a person who had done at least 10,000 jumps! I happened to have a lady who had only done 1000...I know that is an incredible amount of jumps but still...didn't seem like a lot in comparison to the others!
We got on a tiny yellow plane and flew up to 15,000 feet! I was first on the plane so I was last to jump out. George kept looking at me telling me how nervous he was and I have never seen someone so white, I thought he was going to be sick! One by one we jumped out of the plane, first Luke, and then Nick, then George (after some encouragement) and then me. If I'm honest I wasn't really bothered, maybe reassuring George helped me to keep my cool but I was actually looking forward to it. I looked down, posed for the camera and then fell out the plane!
The free fall was 75 seconds! I had a camera man in front of me the whole time taking pictures and a video of my jump. It was weird, the ground didn't seem to come closer despite us falling so fast and it felt like a long time to free fall; I even got a little bit of cramp holding the freefall position the whole time! The wind was strong and cold, my feet were like ice and my red overalls started to come half way up my leg; I looked like a kid with trousers too short! After we past a certain height Kirsty (my jump partner) pulled on the parachute, with a jolt we were slowly gliding through the air...pretty awesome! Falling in tight circles made my stomach lurch and doing it through the clouds to then see the ground closer than it was before made my head spin...vertigo!
It was awesome and I am chuffed that I got to go it! 15,000ft skydive-DONE! Next has to be a Bungy jump...Oh yeah!
The one thing that I heard was a must do in New Zealand was the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is closed 2 out of 3 days because of weather so if you get the chance to do it you are very lucky. It turned out that I was one of those very lucky people because the next day I was up at 5am to catch a bus to the start of the trek. Sean, George, Elly, Rikke, Charlotte and I were the only ones to get up early. It was still dark on the bus but on arrival the sky had a beautiful orange glow around the mountains. We set off on our epic walk across the marsh and up and over rocky hills. Mount Doom looked awesome but imposed a great shadow across the valley.
It was actually the most challenging experience I have done as of yet. The walk itself was pretty long up and over long winding cliff ledges, then there was the Devils staircase...it ruined my legs! Then there was Mount Doom!!! Now I know how Frodo felt haha! It was very steep covered with loose rocks which made it almost impossible to climb. For one step up you almost fell two steps back sliding back down to where you started. It took us near 2 hours to climb to the top! After lunch and some brilliant photo's we made our way back down. Right left, right left we almost ran down, unable to slow because of all the shingle at our feet. In no time at all we got to the bottom and we were exhausted! Legs aching, covered with dust I was shattered but so chuffed that I did it! We had another short break before carrying on...gutted that we still had another 11km to go!
Toward the end I was tired, thirsty, and pretty cranky haha...with the last 3km taking forever to walk! I was relieved to find the bus at the end but absolutely chuffed that I did it. Incredible views, above the clouds above an air plane at one point, and one of the best things I have done! Definitely recommend it to everyone but it's not for the weak hearted that's for sure!
I will definitely sleep tonight!!