Published: May 3rd 2012April 9th 2012
New Zealand – Taupo, Rotorua and Maketu - All of a sudden I had become chief Plunkett and to celebrate my achievement I rafted the world’s highest commercial white water rapids and then jumped from a plane , just like any normal day really!
I’m on the move again and heading to a sleepy little out crop called Maketu for Stray’s Cultural stop, as mentioned previously I’d been advised that this was a waste of time and money so after making numerous attempts at finding alternative accommodation and trying to seek help from Miss P who quite frankly couldn’t give a sh*t I had no choice but to head to Maketu. There is nothing to do there apart from this staged Cultural night and for the pleasure they hit you for $70 to watch it, bargain when it was free on the tour up North. However they did throw in sleeping on the floor in a room with forty other people for your money as well, what a result!
So after a quick intro from the Maori leader running the place a guy called Uncle Boi we were informed about the fun evening ahead. After this he asks for
the oldest male in the group to stand up, I guess that would be me then. Being one of the few people not wishing to be there I was handed the star role for the night, don’t you just love life’s little irony’s at times. I was going to be Chief Plunkett of the tribe called Stray, fantastic. I realise I sound like I should be in grumpy old men but I just didn’t want to be here, however I had also decided by this point to just forget about it and get on with it and try to enjoy the night. As you will see from the photos the guys all had to do the Haka to the girls and the girls all had to perform the Poi dance (ball on string) to the guys. We were also dressed in “traditional clothing” or lack of clothing for our performance, so be warmed the photos are rated at 18+ and ladies please form an orderly queue as I’m looking particularly hot!
The night was a comical one but one I could have easily missed out on, the so called Maori tribe is nothing more than a few kids who
just messed around and laughed all the way through their show, Uncle Boi was gone in a shot once he had his money and the food and accommodation was terrible. Stray should be ashamed of this outright day light robbery and farce of a show but like I said it was one of those moments where I just had to forget about it and just have a laugh, I’m only really writing this for the benefit of others doing the tour.
After a sleepless night full or snorers and ridiculously drunk roommates we all got up at 7am to head to Rotoaru for some rafting. So I’m lead to believe this is the highest commercially rafted section of grade five water in the world so I had to give it a go. The scenery along the way to every new destination is incredible, although the buses are not all that comfortable you never get bored of sitting there soaking up the views, New Zealand is blessed with some of the best natural beauty I’ve seen and I’m told it gets better the further South you go.
We all arrived at the rafting and got kitted out in wet
suits and life jackets and headed off to the start point. Before we enter the river and all say a Maori prayer and learn about the traditions of the tribes and the river we are about to embark on. This five minute speech from our local knowledgeable guide offered more cultural enlightenment than the previous night. I actually find the Maori Culture fascinating and the fact that so many locals are very proud of their history and culture and really want to share it with you is something very special. Basically the tribe who lived by this river used it as their main source of food, mainly the fish and eels they caught from it, but to ensure the life cycle of the river could continue they would make an offering of their deceased loved ones who would not be buried but positioned on the river banks to allow the fish to feed from the bodies and so replenish the stock of fish. Obviously this doesn’t take place anymore but I find such stories and methodology very interesting particularly when told by a passionate local. So with our prayer complete we jumped on board and went rafting. First we were
taught how to ride through a waterfall and got to practice on a one meter fall, it was fun but quite easy, so after a couple of kilometres of white water it was time to take on the seven meter fall, it’s very common for the rafts to flip so we all adopted the “get down” position and let the rapids carry us. It was bloody exhilarating and thankfully we didn’t flip but the raft goes completely under water at the point of landing so you get a very cold and refreshing wake up call. I have to say I found the rafting a little tame compared to rafting I’ve done elsewhere but the waterfall was crazy and well worth it. After a little more messing around in the rapids and a couple of stops for photos the rafting was over. It was all a bit quick but was good fun and a great way to start the morning and get my mind ready for the skydive in the afternoon.
After Rotoaru we headed of to our final stop that day, a placed called Taupo. On route to Taupo we also stopped at some hot mud/sulphur pools and also
a beautiful waterfall called Huka falls. I will keep the detail short as this blog is already going on a bit, but as you can see from the photos they are pretty cool places to visit.
Taupo is renowned for its lake and to say its big is an understatement, it’s the size of Singapore! After getting dropped at the hostel I had twenty minutes before I would be picked up for my skydive, I was buzzing and very excited and I’m pleased to say not all that nervous. As I’m waiting in reception I hear a horn beeping at the door of the hostel so I head outside to be greeted by a limo, which was a pretty cool touch. But equalled by the fact the plane they use is bright pink, it’s fair to say this company are making a bold statement.
After a quick safety briefing my name was on the board and I just had to wait for my slot, however it was getting late and light was fading quick so I was getting worried that it would be too dark to go up. As it turned out I struck gold, not only was
I informed by my instructor this was the best days weather they had seen in weeks he also told me this is one of the first sunset skydives they have been able to do for a long while and it was going to be incredible………and he was not wrong! I knew it must have been something special when all the spare instructors crammed into the plane to jump the final jump of the day. As we reached 12,000ft the door opened and at this point I have to confess the nerves kicked in and my head went to mush but I was up there and ready to go. I was last out of the plane and after hanging out of the door for a few seconds we jumped. I can’t get enough of the feeling of free fall, it’s like nothing else and to see Lake Taupo complete with the most incredible sun set and mountains flash by in the fifty seconds of free fall was simply out of this world. With the free fall over the chute was pulled and before I knew it we were floating back down to earth and I was given control and asked to
make the parachute do 360 degree spins just too fully ensure my head was all over the place. The landing was very smooth and by this time it was pretty much dark but I was like a child in a sweat shop, smiling from ear to ear, sweet as bro (to use some Kiwi lingo.)
All in all a bloody amazing day filled with non-stop activities, lakes, sunsets and incredible scenery. How could this get any better? The rest of the trip had a lot to live up to now but I’m reliably informed it will keep getting better so I was ready to move on the next day to Able Tasman and see just how this was possible. The only problem being sleep was proving difficult after such an exhilarating day so I guess it left just one thing, a pint or two at the bar.
There are more photos below