Hey guys. I am presently in New Zealand having completed the North Island!
My journey started out on Friday from Auckland and out first stop was Hot Water Beach, which is a place where you can dig holes in the sand and you get to hot water. We dug a hole and made our own little pool- I was a wimp though and didn't get in! Was really nice just paddling in it though, as it was pretty chilly! We spent our first night in little place called Whitianga (Mercury Bay). Not a lot to do here, so we just went out to a local bar, which was full of weirdos! Was good to get know the people on the bus though.
Our second day was in Rotorua (or Rotten-rua as it is nick named due to the the stick of sulphur there). On the way there we stopped in a town called Matamata, which is where they filmed Hobbiton in Lord of the Rings! Once in Rotorua me and Serena went for a walk to look at all the bubbling and steaming hot pools everywhere - very strange; they are literally just everywher in the parks and stuff! This is all due to the geothermal activity in the area ( I won't go into too much detail about the science of it all!). That evening we went to Tamaki Maori Village, which was amazing. On the way there we had to choose a chief off our bus, who when we arrived had to stand at the front while the Maori warriors performed a "dance" at him. They then placed a twig in front of him and he had to pick it up to show we came in piece. No one was allowed to move or laugh, a few years ago they actually broke someones jaw because he laughed! After this we got to walk around a mock village and watch a show about how weapoms and play etc. They performed the Haka, which was a real experience. It was so different to just watching on the tv for the rugby! Then we had the most amazing meal ever! There was lamb, chicken, loads of veg, gravy...everything. It was all cooked in the traditional way (in the ground, can't remember what it was called) and it was absolutlely beautiful! For desert there was New Zealand pavlova, which was really good if you ever get to try it!
The next morning we headed off to a sheep show!! A very funny experience, which included sheep shearing, a demonstration of a sheep dog inaction...using ducks, and one of the guys off our bus trying to milk a cow!! After this we drove to Waitomo, where I stupidly decided to do Black Water Rafting. This involves gettign kitted up in a cold, wet wetsuit with a helmet, being given a rubber ring and then going down into caves!!! I started to regret this decision greatly when we had to do a practice jump into a river. For this I had to jump off a step backwards on to my rubber ring! I got a face full of water and nearly got washed downstream!! Onca down in the cave- where it was freezing- I had to do this numerous times as well crawl through very small gaps! At the end we had to float along in the pitch black. I had no idea if I was going the right way and it was terrifying! The aim off this trip - apart from to have fun (haha)- was to see the glow worms down, which, I will admit, were amazing. It was like looking at the sky on a very clear night - very impressive. It was also made worth while by the hot soup and bagels at the end of it! At least I can say I did it, but I will not be doing it again!
The next day was much more relaxed! We headed off to Taupo, which has a beautiful lake- Lake Taupo (surprise surprise). From here there are stunning views across to snow top mountains, which include Ngauruhoe - aka Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings! I was very excited about this! I was hoping to do the Tongarriro crossing (an amazing one day hike), but unfortuanetly it was closed due to the weather! We were also hoping to sky dive here. We spent a whole day sitting in waiting to see if we could and then got up at 6.30 the next day to do it. We got taken out to the place and one group even got kitted up, for them to turn around and say the weather wasn't clearing quick enough, so it was a no go! Very annoying. Oh well there are plenty more chances on the south island!
After 2 days in Taupo we headed off to River Valley- a rafting lodge in the middle of nowhere! It was so beautiful there - it sits right by the river that was River Aragon in Lord of the rings! Again I was very excited by this! It was so secluded that we had to get off the bus at the top off the hill and walk down a MASSIVE hill to get back to the lodge. (We then had to walk back up this hill and it nearly killed me!) There was no tv or anthing at the lodge so we just chilled out and played cards, sat by the fire and drank wine! We had a massive roast dinner, which was very much appreciated after all the pasta and noodles I have been eating! After dinner we played some very amusing games, that tested out flexibility! One included bending down to try and pick a cardboard box off the floor and trying climb under a table (I did not try this one, though it was funny watching all the boys get very competitive about it!).
And so to Wellington, my home for the next 4 nights! Yesterday we went to the Te Papa's museum, which is the national museam and is free! It has 6 levels and is just full of amazing stuff, like a collosal squid and cool 3-d shows! Today I have invested in a hat and thermals, as the south island is going to be mega freezing! Apart from that it has just been nice to be in one place for a while. We have cooked lots of nice food, like chille, omlettes, soup and bangers and mash! It's going to be a struggle to get back on the bus on Monday and have to go back to pasta and jacket potatoes!
Annoyingly I still can't get pics up, so will keep trying!