Hey hey. . . . Well we got to Rotorua and all I can say is that I thought Xanthe had farted. . . . But due to the thermal activity in the area it was actually the smell of Sulphur! But it did Smell really bad. . . . . ! After getting over the smell we found the hostel and got checked in. The people there recommended that we should go to Zippy's for great a breaky and coffee and they were right, it was nice!
Later we went for a walk around the town park and lake for a few hours to see the thermal pools and springs. . . . Again it really smelt, but we had somehow got used to it. . . . The mud pools were pretty cool bubbling away. . . . It was all a bit surreal though. . . ! The lake was weird as there was loads of bird life. . . I think I thought there wouldn't be, due to all the Sulphur content, etc. . . . After the walk we hit CafÃ© Zippy's for another coffee and some cake. . .
Later that evening we just chilled out for a bit and I made some dinner. We then went for a night-time dip in the local thermal Polynesian Spa pools until around 10.30pm, which was a really nice way to spend an evening!
The next morning we got up and had breaky then headed to Kaitiaki Adventures to do white water stuff. . . . Yeah baby, not only white water rafting, but also white water sledging. . . Check it out:
It was awesome fun. . . First of all after getting kitted up and the usual stuff we did the white water rafting down the Kaituna river, Grade 5. . . . It's big selling point is the 7 meter waterfall that you do actually go down. . . . . Awesome!
Later on after getting some lunch we got all kitted up again for the white water sledging. . . . . We went down the same river, but got in just after the waterfall. . . . It was great to do the same bit of river as you see it from a completely different perspective! White water sledging is great but it is so so so tiring, your brain is telling your legs to kick, but you are so physically exhausted that your legs don't seem to work after a bit. . . . . I was so impressed with Xanthe though, because she did it all and loved it, even though she has a fear of drowning. . . . How cool is that?!?
Needless to say after all that excitement we were pretty knackered, so headed towards Taupo, but stopped for a short walk at Huka falls on the way. . . Awesome expanse of water rushing down. . . . !
At Taupo we got checked into Burkes Backpackers and chilled out for the evening after making some food. . . In the morning we did a bit of shopping and Xanthe being a girl, she had to buy some shoes. . . . ! We then went for some food at a CafÃ© called 'Fine Fettle'. The food was all organic and really tasted great. . . their homemade hash browns were something else!
We then chilled round town and went to the info site to looked into doing a bike ride called the 42nd Traverse that looked really cool! Turns out you would have to be pretty nuts to do it at this time of the year (Maybe me and Phil would have done it a few years back, Hey? Had a bang on the head since though!). So anyway, for me and Xanthe it wasn't really an option. . . So instead we decide to do the Tongiriro Crossing walk. . . . Tell you about that later!
After doing all that we had a bit of a walk at the lake and took a drive to see where the airport was, as we were planning on doing a Sky Dive! Will get to that later too. . . . . Later we went to Taupo's thermal pools. . . they were pretty nice and anyway Xanthe seemed to like it. . . . ! After that we got back and changed before heading out for Thai food. . . . hhhmmm yum yum!
Got up and headed to airport, oh yeah, did I mention we booked to do the jump. . . . ?!?! And yeah, Xanthe wanted to also. . . . ! I planned to do the highest 15000 feet and Xanthe opted for the 12000 feet, she thought that was far enough! So, within 10 or so minutes of arriving we were getting kitted up for the next jump, 2nd of the day! So no hanging around to think about it hey? It was awesome, the whole experience, I loved it. . . . . Getting kitted up and into the plane. . . . . It was obviously a tandem jump, so you are attached to someone and they obviously don't want to die, so you feel pretty coolio!
The plane seemed to climb and climb and I didn't feel nervous at all. . . . The only strange feeling I got was at 12000 feet and seeing some guy and Xanthe jump out and the door shut behind them . . . . . Yeah, that felt a little strange. . . . And you know I told you Xanthe had a fear of drowning and did the white water stuff, well she also has a fear of small planes and heights. . . . !?!? I must bring out the best or worst in her?!?
Anyway, after that we climbed some more, Brad, my guy did the finally checks and pulled me even closer to him, a little too close for my liking, but if it meant I was safe, then I suppose it's all good?!?!
So, at 15000 feet the door opens again and three people in front of me go and then it me, the last to go. . . . . . Wow, what a rush, the day was beautiful, hardly a cloud in the sky and you could see forever! So, there we are sat on the edge, he pulls my head back followed by one final shuffle and we're off. . . . . . . Wow! After a split second of weightlessness we have the best part of a minute freefall. . . . . We fall for 10000 feet and all I can do is shout Wow, this is awesome! And maybe a few obscenities?!? But yeah, awesome. . . . . ! So, at around 5000 feet he pulls the shoot and we are ripped upwards, which if I am being honest isn't the most comfortable of moves!
Once settled, Brad loosened the harnesses and I was able to get in a move comfortable seated position and take in the view while we took a steady swoop down towards the ground. . . . . After a perfect landing, that was it. . . All over. . . ! AWESOME!
So, even though I nearly lost a testicle and my face almost froze on the way down, I would so recommend that to anyone. . . . ! We didn't pay the extra for a fall DVD, but did buy the land footage DVD, which showe us getting ready, sitting in the plane on the way up and the landing and celebrations afterwards and it was only $20, plus it has all the other guys jumps on it, so shows exactly what I did anyway! So, after all that we then found out it was actually Friday 13th. . . . How coolio is that?!?!
So after all that, we were a little hungry so went for some food and had some awesome fish and chips! We then chilled for the rest of the afternoon. . . Made some food. . . And in the evening we went to see the new Harry Potter movie!
Got up and checked the weather to see whether we could go kayaking and although there was a heavy mist, it was burning off pretty quick. So after helping the old guy called Ron get the kayaks and kit together, he took us out on Lake Taupo. . . The weather was awesome and the lake was really still and calm so this made the kayaking very easy. . . . It was quite a steady pace as we didn't want to kill old Ron, all he kept saying was how he had retired and wanted to finish these kind of trips. . . . A really nice guy, but a bit tired of it all, I think. . . ?!?!
After the kayaking in the afternoon we headed to Turangi and got checked in at Extreme Backpackers and straight away booked to do the Tongiriro Crossing, an 18.5km trek over mountains, etc. . . . We were due to leave at around 7.30am, so we just got some food and chilled out for evening and watch the rugby, this time New Zealand's All Blacks beating South Africa's Springboks. . . . !
Up bright and early and raring to go. . . . Well I was, Xanthe had started with a bit of a cold over the previous few days and it didn't seem to want to go away, but being a nut case, she said "Let's go"! We had already been set up with some better walking boots and crampons, so jumped on the minibus and we were away. . . . There were 5 of us and we picked up 3 more on the way making it 9 including the guide. . . Well, I say guide, they are not really guides, more there for safety really and general point you in the right direction. . . . You do the walk at your own pace, but throughout the day, we all seemed to stick reasonably close. . . . !
The walk was out of this world, like nothing I had ever done. . . . Claire and Nick had recommended we do it, but they did it in the summer and I think the winter is a completely different ball game. . . . . It was awesome, the snow on the top of the mountains, was great. . . Check out the pictures. . . . However I fear that they really don't do it the justice it deserves. . . . ?!?!
One the highlights for me was once we were at the top, there were some bits going down that you could do on your bum and it was great fun. . . My so called waterproof trousers didn't do so good, but it was still great fun sliding down the side of a mountain on ya ass! Weeeeeeee. . . . . . . I was like a little kid again. . . !
The walk was reasonably tough, but I found it quite easy going, but at the end we all felt it. . . . I really felt for Xanthe at times, as she struggled a bit due to have a chest cold. . . . But bless her, she pulled through and managed it all. . . . She really like the last part as it was a nice steady downhill stretch to the car park! Later that evening we headed to the local hot spa to soak out weary bones, then made some food and chilled out in front of the TV and watched a movie. . . .
The next day we decided to leave Turangi and head towards Waitomo and day earlier than planned to do the caving and climbing stuff, the only problem was that I think the walk may have killed Xanthe off. . . . . Her cold really kicked in and she was feeling pretty rough. . . . We took a steady drive over to Waitomo and got checked in at the hostel where we had booked the caving trip from. . . We then planned to see how Xanthe felt in the morning. . . . We stayed in most of the afternoon and I caught up on some of my journal while Xanthe crashed out. . . . I chatted to an English couple who had just arrived in NZ and gave them a few pointers on what to do. . . . We also put an old 'Carry-On' film on, which I ended up glued to the TV watching as I laughed in hysterics at the old style sexual innuendo. . . . ! That evening we made some food and watched another film before having an early night, I think the walk had caught up on both of us. . . .
In the morning Xanthe wasn't feeling much better but insisted that I did the caving trip, so after ensuring she could stay at the place and keep warm, I headed off with the 2 guys I had met with Guide Paul to do the caving trip. . . . We got to a farm track and a couple of sheds and got kitted up with wetsuits, helmets and climbing harnesses, etc, then jumped back in the van and headed off down this dirt track to the top of the caves, or hole in the ground. . . !
After a few safety checks and Paul making sure we had some common sense, we headed to the first part of the trip a 27 meter abseil down into the cave. . . Great start, which I really enjoyed. . . Then we spent about 3 hours roaming around in the dark through caves and caverns, looking at Glow-worms and stuff. . . . It was great fun in the water which sometimes came up to and over your head! We also did some kind of black water rafting, well not quite, you basically sit on an inflated inner tube and go with the flow of the water, it got reasonably quick at times, but I would really call them rapids?!?! Because we were all happy in the dark, we did quite a lot this way, which made it more fun and interesting, as your eyes do get used to the zero light. . . The glow worms were coolio too. . . . ! We ended the trip by climbing back out the caves near the 27 meter drop point, using the harness as safety of course, but the climb was pretty easy. . . . !
We headed back for hot soup after dumping all the stuff and getting quick showers and I found Xanthe sat on the couch back at the place looking a lot better. . . . We got finished off there and then headed off towards Auckland way. . . . After driving for several hours we found a really nice little town on the west coast called Raglan and got checked into a rather cosy backpackers. . . . As it was still light we took a bit of a walk up the estuary and into the town. . . There wasn't much to see, so we headed back and chilled out for a bit. That evening we went out for pizza at a rather basic Italian restaurant. . . . I think the word restaurant is over doing it for this place, but the people were really friendly and the food was nice. . . . . We crashed out for the evening after taking the slightly longer walk back, 10 minutes instead of 5. . . . . Got up earlyish and pack our things up, but chilled around the place til around 11am before heading off again towards Auckland. . . . We stopped off at few places on the way, a rather strange little town was one place. . . Xanthe bought some chocolates from this little shop and the woman proceeded to give us (what felt like) her life story. . . Bless her, don't think she gets out much?!?!? I also took the opportunity to post some more of my stuff back to the UK, as tomorrow I am off to South East Asia and I hear it is a little warmer there. . . . hmmm, don't think I'll be needing my ski jacket and thermals there?!?!
So, here I am now, sat in a nice hotel room near to the airport all packed and ready to go. . . . Gonna upload this and some photos and then we'll go out for some dinner. . . . . Hope you are all well. . . . Thanks again for all the messages and emails. . . . I had a really big smile on my face earlier as I checked some mails, etc. . . . All my best friends have things happening and my sister is happy. . . . You know who you are. . . David - Keep smiling mate, see ya soon! Em - Well done, speak soon! The boys at home - Matt / Butch, nothing changes, hey? Phil - Get some sleep dude! And Sofie - What can I say. . . ? I so wish I could be there on Saturday for your Wedding to Joachim. . . . I wish you both all the very best for your special day! And hey, don't forget to enjoy it! Love you all very much. . . . I'll update again soon, wish me luck. . . . . !