Published: March 7th 2008March 8th 2008
Janine holds her nose just about long enough for this shot next to the so called Champagne pool
As we write this blog not only are we half way around the world (geographically speaking) but we're also exactly 100 days into our 200 day trip - and as coincidence would have it we're heading back towards Halifax today as our ever eastwards direction of travel starts to bring us home!
We left the delights of Napier on the east coast of the north island and headed into the mountainous interior by way of lake Taupo (the biggest lake in Australasia) finally arriving in Whakapapa. Our main reason in being there was to tackle New Zealands so called bestest one day walk, the Tongariro Crossing, an 18km point to point walk taking in super views across the north island - volcanic scenery and emerald lakes and what not. Unfortunately for us the weather was officially pants so we didn't see very much of anything all day (grrrr) but it was good tackle for stretching the legs.
From the cloudy interior we travelled north back past lake Taupo and into geothermal country. There we had a good look at all things geothermal i.e. boiling mud pools (we like them), geysers, steam vents etc etc. We found it to be
Steven spits his dummy out....
.....on a bad weather day whilst on the 'bestest one day walk in New Zealand'. Just give him a little bit of time he'll be right........
a bit smelly around there but at least that meant we couldn't smell Steve for a while ;-) and of course we had a grand old time checking out all of the wierd and wonderful geothermal phenomena. During our time checking out geezers and geysers the weather got reeeeally rainy - now that's not a problem for us as we're well used to that - we've got two rain coats, plastic pants and even goretex in our shoes. However, in missing a British winter we've got soft and so we headed to the nearest town (Rotorua) and took cover for a couple of days - cinema, mcdonalds, dominos, pub, cinema again....
After the rain blew over we headed west to the Waitomo caves, stopping off on the way for another jet boating trip (on the Rapids Jet) - this time on the Waikato river. The Rapids Jet people are the only company in New Zealand to do jet boating on rapids - they've actually managed to sink several of their boats! We had a good ride, it didn't sink. There's loads of limestone in the Waitomo area and what with river erosion and movements of the earth over the
Dummy back in
Oh well at least he cheered up a bit later on :-)
years there's well over a hundred caves to explore. We explored three caves in a full on action packed day. All three caves were brill, two of them had walkways and installed lights to allow for the easy passage of tourists - they were nice caves all the same. The best cave we did though was down a proper cave with no tourist-friendly excavation in sight. For this hard core trip we had to suit up in full wetsuits, wellingtons and a hard hat (including a lamp). It was absolutely fantastic (Steve's words, haha) - we had to squeeze and crawl through all sorts of tight gaps - very exciting. Sometimes we walked on a damp 'surface' but most of the time we waded through water that generally ranged from between our knees and our waists in depth. The really good bits were in the deep underground river bits where we had to swim through. It's really good fun swimming through an underground river, a bit chilly maybe and you can't kick with your legs either because your wellies fall off so you do breast stroke arms and if you go fast enough then your sort of buoyant wet suit
The cloud cleered for a few seconds which just gave us chance to take this shot of an Emerald Lake
keeps your legs from sinking! It was kind of groovey being part of a 6 man group swimming down a river deep under ground with our liitle LED headlamps lighting the way. We also did some cave tubing (also known as blackwater rafting) where we floating down sections of the underground river on large innertubes. On one occassion we all turned out of headlamps to have a good look at some glowworms - after a while we found that our eyes adjusted and we were able to walk through the cave (for a short distance) using the light given off by the many glowworms - groovy. The acoustics are pretty good down there too so we sang the Trio song...Steve's suggestion of course ;-) ...along with Mud Mud Glorious Mud and Walking In the Air whilst floating along in the dark - yep, pretty surreal!
After the caves we headed north past Aukland and up to the Bay of Islands for a day cruise. The Bay of Islands were ace with loads of green islands, sandy beaches and blue/green sea - we even got to spend some more time with dolphins as a pod of the bottlenose variety came
Some groovy rising steam at the Craters of the Moon site
to our boat for a play.
We parted company with Colin the campervan yesterday which after 31 days was a very sad occassion indeed. One shouldn't really let ones self become attached to an inanimate object but nonetheless attached we had become! Colin has taken us 5000km around New Zealand and we've had a right old adventure of it too. It just didn't feel right right walking away from Colin, leaving him there in the campervan car park waiting for someone else to come along and hire him out for another adventure around NZ. We turned back as we walked away (big mistake, never turn back...) and did we see a tear running down his left handlamp? Maybe it was just a bit of condensation running off the radiator. Maybe. After 30 nights in a small campervan it was a bit weird staying in a proper room last night, no physical and mental challenge of making our bed, a bathroom all of our own - sure we'll get used to it. :-)
New Zealand has been absolutely amazing but we're not getting sentimental about leaving as we're both ready for something a bit different now and of course
Steve has a think about things at one of our camp sites.
we're very excited about going to South America!............speaking of which, we've got a plane to catch...................
There are more photos below