Published: December 10th 2006December 9th 2006
how wrong is that!
So off we go on our Kiwi Experience bus trip that we had booked in Oz. This is the only way to get around NZ if you want to take advantage of all the free stuff & have a guide telling you about the activities that are on offer each place you stop off.
First of all I'll introduce you to 'the crew'. LJ is our driver, he is about 5' 1" and is completely mental. Wants everyone to participate, and clearly loves his country. Forces us to walk at every given opportunity, and has no concept of time! If he says 25 mins you can guarantee it's 45! But we love him, so I wont harp on. The back seat crew (whom of course we were part of) James P, James H, Mark (Moses), John, Fiona, Lisa, Lisa, Either, me and Wade. We basically didn't like anyone else on the bus, bought us all together. Especially one English guy who wore his England socks with his flip-flops (see pic) and would tell anyone who listened that England is cr@p and we should all be embarrassed to be from there... What ever. He therefore became the brunt of many a
In a NZ accent - Flat Out; Get Amongst It; Sweet As; Extreme (which is said whilst holding your arms in an X)
In a northern accent - Oh, no, no it's not for me....
M-I-N-E this word is never to be spoken or spelt and you should actively encourage anyone from the bus to say it. Once the word has left your mouth, your punishment is 10 press-ups. For every min that you don't carry out your punishment you have to do an additional 10 press ups. This game is played by all (apart from the boring) inc the driver, who repeatedly pulls over and carries out his punishment. Totally mental.
Auckland to Mercury Bay
We get on the bus and head up 1 of the volcanos that are plotted around Auckland. There is a pretty good view over the city from up there. Then off to Cathedral Cove, which we are told is a short walk down to the beach. Of course this is a lie. Off we go, bikini on, even though we've been freezing in jeans and a jumper all day. It's not what we're used to all
So much fun
this cold weather! The water is so cold I lost all feeling in my arms and legs. Never mind, I'll live.
Mercury Bay to Rotorua
A quick stop off in Hobbiton where they filmed some of Lord of the Rings. Just a photo opportunity, and then on to Rotorua which stinks of sulpha due to the geothermal activity in the area. Zorbing... this is hilarious. Three of us in a giant balloon filled with water, rolling down a hill. I haven't laughed that much in a long time! You just slosh around and bang into each other constantly. Just a shame it doesn't last so long.
Then the Luge, this is a course at the top of a hill. The little carts are a bit speedy, and it did make me nearly wet my pants as we flew round the tight corners, and I could see the drop. I think it all got a bit competitive and even the driver came up to race the boys. Of course he won, but not by much.
For the evening we had a Maori cultural night booked. LJ had told us that this was 1 of 2 things that is a must
So much fun...
do in NZ, so we all bought into it and paid the $80 for the meal. Basically they just took us to a village and put on a bit of a show, with some dancing and info on the history of the Maori culture. Followed by a Hangi, a traditional meal cooked in the ground.
Rotorua to Waitomo Caves
With all the activity sheets being passed down the bus it was hard to decide what to book. So we just book everything. 2 hours quad biking around a course on a farm in the local area was wicked. They were so fast and the whole course was hills and dips which freaked me out a bit. The added obstacle of sheep running all over the show didn't help, but I just got on with it.... once you get a hang of the gears your away. Fiona had trouble steering to start with and just kept going in a straight line. I think it was just a ploy to get they young lad to mount the quad with her, which worked!! Then when she kept trying to go up the hills in the wrong gear, just sat there and yelled
'someone's just going to have to come and help me aren't they....' she's so funny!
As we are going further south the weather is getting colder & wetter. In true NZ style, LJ insists that he is going to do a BBQ, regardless. We cook up a feast and sit out in the rain eating and drinking. When all of a sudden a guy comes over to accuses us of stealing his beer (3 bottles), bread & tomatoes. What the hay ?! Why the hell would we, when we clearly have just cooked masses of food. Needless to say, he was promptly told to do one, and we spend the next half hour slating him. What a jerk off.
Waitomo Caves to Taupo
A 7am start to get ourselves down the caves for the black abyss. This is 5 hrs of black water rafting, and is the highlight of all my travels. It is physically demanding, but so rewarding when you get out with your body in tact. They took us to the centre and dressed us up in God knows what. Wetsuit, jacket, gumboots, shorts a helmet and then of course our abseiling gear. We look hilarious. Then
they take us up to a cave in the middle of a field and get us to abseil down 30 meters, which is free fall into the darkness. Pretty cool, the last time I abseiled was when I was 11, and nothing as extreme as this. Followed by a death slide in the dark, dropping around 20 meters. If that wasn't enough, they get us to jump off a ledge backwards, with a rubber ring round our butts to pull ourselves down the water. My hands hurt like hell but at least they were numb when we had to crawl on all fours to get through most of the caves, with water covering your face. This water is freezing. Then just to top it off they send you on a rock climb, not up 1 but 2 waterfalls to get out. 5 hrs is extreame, but I loved every second of it.
Of course we are now half way into our trip and a big night out on the town is on the cards. A quick scrub up and after demolishing a bottle of vodka, we are off to Mulligan's (Irish Bar). LJ had given us tons of $1 off
vouchers, which were used speedily. Then you move on to playing scissors/paper/rock with the bar staff to get further discounts. We did attempt to take part in the pub quiz, but I really don't think anyone was in a fit state to take it seriously! Then after getting whipped at Foosball by some locals, we took ourselves upstairs to the Holly Cow. Once again there is always a way to get money off your drinks, and this place gave you a stamp. Guys on their foreheads & girls on their boobs. I really don't know if this helped me get any money off the drinks, because I was battered by then! I think a good night was had by all though !?
Didn't manage to get myself up to early in the morning, due to the stinking hangover that had taken over my world by then. But we did get the bus over to the natural hot spa. This is the strangest sensation ever, the lake is freezing cold and the springs are roasting. You get the 2 currents meeting and touching different parts of your body. Your brain just can't handle it. It helped relax the mussels after all
the recent extreme activities though.
Taupo to River Valley
En route to River Valley we stop off at Tongairo National Park, to see, oh yes another waterfall. The walk takes us a while but we'd taken stuff to have a picnic, and the extreme of the group even took wine & beer. LJ informs me this is a first on one of his tours. So guys, I'm proud of you.
Whilst we are waiting for everyone to get back to the bus, LJ comments on a local waterfall that has a jump of about 6 meters that we can stop off. He seems a bit reluctant to do it, but after saying that we wanted to he caved.
We get there and only a few of the guys jump, me being the only nut bag girl, stood up to the challenge and got my ass up there. It really makes your stomach churn when you are just standing there, but with everyone watching I couldn't turn back. I leap into the water, which is running off an ice cap, it pushes me straight into the rocks at the far end. Which is not where I want to be. After
banging my knee and ankle on the rocks, I finally get myself over to the correct side of the river to get out. Once we are all out, LJ informs us that he has never done the jump before!! I can't believe that he let me jump in, the crazy fool. But it was wicked and I loved it. So I think it will be a stop off on the rest of his trips.
River Valley to Wellington
Wellington is the capital, and cultural centre of NZ, so I'm told. I really couldn't comment as we arrived at 7.30pm and left at 7.50am. Being our last night with the gang, we went out for a few drinks and even treated ourselves to an Indian. Of course there is always the Irish bar that you can find in any city in the world. Followed by an extremely late night, and early start. I think I managed to squeeze in 1 hrs sleep before getting on the bus back up to Taupo. Madness, but I was guessing that the journey back up North would be a quiet one. Thank the lord I was right.
There are more photos below