The only decent view we got!
The only time we actually got to see Mount Tongaririo was as we were leaving...typical!
Quite a few days have passed now and what with a lack of computers or the travelblog website crashing and losing all my entries, (huge thank you to Mike for finding my entries and fixing them for me) i now find myself in the South Island. So what you're getting now is a not very brief run down of the rest of the North Island! Which pretty much entails a lot of getting wet, cold and muddy.
In Rotorua we took to the Kaituna river for some white water rafting, i think i may have broken my thumb when trying to manoeuver my paddle whilst traversing a rapid (Can you traverse a rapid?) but it was the biggest adrenaline rush of the trip so far and I loved going completely underwater on the last waterfall which was about 6 metres. People who know me well understand that i'm not at my best underwater and have a habit of breathing. On this occasion, however, i managed to hold onto my paddle and the handgrip in the raft and also managed to remain inside the raft once we came to the surface again!
Taupo was very pleasant from what i could
The Welsh Flag in the Welsh Pub
I signed this (Yn Cymraeg)between the legs if you look close enough!
see through the cloud, I took myself off for an early morning walk down to the lake. We were supposed to be skydiving here but there was way too much cloud. Gutted was not the word. Mind you there's still Sydney or Queenstown!
Tongariro was also incredibly wet and cloudy and it was virtually impossible to see Mount Tongariro or Mount Ruapehu (Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings!) Once we'd arrived in the hostel, we decided to go for a walk, bear in mind that it was raining very heavily and the clouds were virtually bouncing off the floor. Staying indoors was not an option so Maxine, Miranda, Katherine and I got suitably attired and set off for the Fischers track a 3 hour round trip. The boys on the other hand decided to run the route, they said something about getting less wet if they moved faster. Joe was very sensible and wore waterproofs (he's a lawyer) Gareth decided that a surf vest and shorts would be more than enough, we figured they'd stick it out for 20 minutes, as it was they managed a whole hour. The walk was nice enough, although we were a little
Jurassic Park is in Wellington
This was the only daylight photo I could take. We hoped the inhabitants in here wouldn't actually eat or maim us.
concerned when we came across an ominous sign declaring the area a death trap for possums. In the small print it advised us not to touch, eat or drink anything in the area, it also said that we should not touch any possums we might find as they would be dying a slow and agonising death. (i joke not...about 40 hours according to the sign) As it was, the weather got too bad and route too muddy even for such intrepid explorers as us and we turned back, we didnt spot any agonising possums either. The walk was followed by a 2 hour rest in the wonderfully hot spa pool, 2 hours because it was far too cold to get out. It was decided that strenuous activity should be rewarded with a good meal and we had a stunning one in a local pub where 3 of us were required to wear some bizarre headgear, the landlord said it was so that he'd know who had ordered what, this seemed a little odd at the time as it was only us and two locals in there and the order could hardly get muddled but even so Gareth sat with his
I'm not a LOTR geek!
Apparently this is the bit where they all tumble down a hill and hide from the Black Rider under a tree.
bunny ears, Joe with a witchs hat and I with a sparkling gold bowler hat. It's funny how self-consciousness seems to melt away after a drink or two.
Wellington was to be the last stop for us as a group on the Stray bus. Katherine and I made the most of the night by going on a night time tour at the Kariori Sanctuary. Once again it was tipping down but we didn't care, we were on a mission to see a real live Kiwi in the wild! We heard and saw a lots of birds, including Kakas, Wekas, Grey Warblers, Brown teals, New Zealand Scaup, Tuis and Fantails. One of my highlights was going into an old gold mine, bear in mind that it was pitch black, once in we were told to look up at the ceiling and as the guide turned on her torch the entire ceiling and walls of the cave were covered in thousands of Cave Wetas. Think of very large crickets and you're there....it could have been a scene form Indiana Jones. I kept my mouth shut, just in case they jumped, it was truely an awesome sight. The Tree Wetas were even
The Cause of Ted's broken wrist
They look so harmless just resting on the rocks.
better, we only saw a few but they were twice the size and resembled wasps with incredibly long legs, strangely i didnt want to touch these ones. We walked for an hour or so and heard the elusive Kiwi several times, the guide warned us that hidden in the woods were some Kiwi spotters, men who literally just stand and listen for Kiwis making notes on how long they sing for and where they are. The guide also mentioned that these men would not speak to us as they were busy doing a job and so we walked on, one of these kiwi men made Katherine scream which in turn made me jump out of my skin and then had us in giggles as we walked past the 6ft man dressed entirely in black, with only his eyes visible through his balaclava, we practically stood on him and yet he didnt make a move or sound....very freaky. Very quickly we were rewarded with a sighting of the Lesser Spotted Kiwi, she was about the size of a football with an incredibly long beak. She wandered about for a bit and then legged it off in the direction of another Kiwi
we could hear in the distance. Excited doen't even begin to cover it, before you ask of course i didnt take a picture of it, it was way too dark and they're very shy! As we wandered back to the visitor centre still deliriously happy about our Kiwi sighting we spotted another rare creature, a Tuatara, the best way to describe these is kind of like a lizard only definitely not a lizard they have an order all of their own! It was a superb night all round.
Once everyone else had departed from Wellington i stayed a few days and did a few obviously touristy things like the Te Papa Museum (a bit like the Natural history museum - i like the earthquake exhibit best!) and a Lord of the Rings Tour, before anyone starts accusing me of being a geek, i was going for the scenery! It was mildly amusing as the South Americans really got into the spirit of it posing for pictures in the style of Frodo and Sam. I point blank refused to pose with a broken carrot or pretend to be a black rider. things got a bit interesting when our guide (Ted) pretty much dived off a rock whilst trying to point out a seal and then promptly broke his wrist. Now being a sturdy Kiwi and made of strong stuff, he carried on with the last hour of the tour, with his obviously broken wrist while knocking back disprin. True dedication to his job I thought!
On my last night I was directed to a Welsh Bar (possibly the only Welsh bar in the Southern Hemisphere) I'd managed to walk past this bar about 10 times without actually seeing it but once inside it was a haven to all things Welsh. As i looked through the guest book, which all Welsh people had to sign I saw many familiar places and even someone from Llandaff, I signed the book! (Yes, i know i'm not technically Welsh but i've lived there half my life and speak the language...kind of) I even signed a flag, in Welsh of course! I confessed my white lie straight away to Mike and all was well again with my soul.
My heart stopping moment of the day was whilst sat at the computer, i began to feel a slight trembling in my elbows as i leaned on the table, the trembling got stronger and i could feel the earth moving so to speak. I began to get a little excited, surely this was the beginning of an earthquake, fuelled by my time in the earthquake exhibit in the museum and my geography degree, the excitement began to build and i had a huge grin on my face. A dream come true, i was experiencing an earthquake. I wondered what to do, should i warn the man sat next to me? I didn't want to be appear overly excited in what could potentially be a major disaster. (although i am excellent in a crisis!) No-one else appeared to have noticed, perhaps i was just very in tune with the Earth's rhythms? It was only when the Rolling Stones Honky Tonk Women changed to a Blur song did I realise that the Earth tremors were in fact coming from the huge speaker sat right next to me on the table! To say i was disappointed would be an understatement but i was quite relieved that i didn't start rescuing people.
Here ends my time on the North Island and a fantastic time it was too, only the South Island and Australia to go...wooo! (If i could choose somewhere to live on the North Island it would be the Coromandel Peninsula, where i could Kayak to my hearts content...but there's still the South Island to go!) XX
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