Published: January 9th 2009January 9th 2009
I guess I'd better start with Happy New Year everyone, I hope you have all had a fantastic Christmas & New Year and are enjoying being back at work!
Sorry it has been a while since the last blog but to be honest it has been nonstop over here. Since my last blog on Christmas eve I have opened a few presents, thanks Mum & Dad, Alex & Woody, Colin & Jenny and Andrew and Kimbers, but I’m now struggling for room in the bag ;-) ( no honestly thank you all very much). So apart from the presents I spent Christmas with the entire Wood family in Hamilton and had a fantastic time. The sun was beating down and it was tough to know when to go for a run and when to chill and read my book, but I managed it!
Whilst in Hamilton with Brian and Chris (Woody's parents) I took a day trip to the Waitomo Caves. Here I got dressed in a wet suit & speedo's, helmet boots and a harness then we were ready to hit the caves. We 1st had to abseil into the cave then zip line along, followed by jumping into
the freezing water to then go black water rafting (Tubing) followed up with some tea & cookies before tackling climbing up some small waterfalls.
After catching a ride back to Hamilton with some Welsh doctors I settled down to a nice evening with Brian & Chris. The following Day I went for a run before Brian and I went with a few beers in the cool bag to watch New Zealand take on the West Indies at 20/20 which NZ came out comfortable winners in the gorgeous sun.
Unfortunately I had to leave the wonderful hospitality & double bed I had been enjoying and head further down south to a dorm bed in the stunningly beautiful Taupo where I was staying for new year.
Taupo is a fantastic place, its lake was once the crater to one of the biggest volcanic explosions. The lake can fit the Island of Singapore in it, so as you can imagine there is plenty of activities you can do on it. Taupo is also where you can do what some rate as the best one day hike in NZ: The Tongariro Crossing. It took me and a few friends 6 hours but unfortunately
the weather was wet and cloudy in the mountains so we were unable to see the fantastic views. It was however still worth doing for the experience and seeing the volcanic structures and lakes. As you can see in the evening we made it down to the lake for a fabulous sunset with the snowy mountains as the perfect back drop. We all took it fairly easy that evening after the days hiking and with new years eve only hours away.
On New year’s eve I decided to walk again but this time to Huka Falls (a short walk from town) along the Waikato River. The river has such a beauty and it's waters are so clear, however I did cheat and managed to blag a lift back into town as I managed to get blisters and didn't want to miss the off license closing!
The evening was great, we spent it on the decking overlooking the lake ( a bit of the lake!) playing games etc and before we knew it it was 11.45 so we headed up to park where the free concert was on, we sung and saw in the new year with fireworks. It was then
time to hit the clubs and after that my memory gets a little hazy! However it was not all fun as I had to be up early to catch the bus down to River Valley. The bus driver Rich had a plan though, so he took us to Tawhai falls on the way south, after talking it up and saying how all the volcanic geothermal activity makes the water warm, John (a friend on the bus) and I decided we would jump in after Rich, however we soon discovered the falls were fed by the snowy mountains! The hangover was gone in a split second though. From here on we took the day pretty steady making our way to River Valley.
This was such a good surprise and just what we all needed, it was very peaceful with the river Rangitikei running past the door and an isolated lodge set in the trees. I just relaxed finished my book before a good traditional roast lamb to start the new year as in the morning there was rafting to be done! So up early and on to the river we get, this river is supposed to be one of the
best to do in NZ and after doing it I can't see how many can beat it. It's got several big rapids and lots of medium ones. The guides were great and at times we jumped in to float down, other times we got pulled in by the rapids and sometimes we jumped in off big ledges, but it was great fun from start to finish (which happened to be at the door of the lodge). So after lunch at the lodge it was time to head to Wellington.
Due to time restraints I was only able to spend one very windy night in Wellington before jumping on the ferry to cross the Cook Straight to Picton. Once at Picton we were in the South Island and caught a new bus to take us to Nelson. Nelson was a nice small city/ town and happened to have its annual Jazz festival on , so after some free beer tasting and a live band in the garden we hit the town. Unfortunately I wasn't able to stay in Nelson any longer or go to the Abel Tasman National Park as the buses behind mine were fully booked and I didn't
fancy being stranded up there. So i missed out on a 2 day kayaking trip I 'd planned to do but the journey south continued to Westport. Once again to refresh us Rich took us to Nelson NP and to Lake Rotoiti for a swim & lunch. Let’s just say once bitten twice shy, so I had the lunch and watched the swimming. The back drop of the lake was once again fabulous and with wildlife all around. From here we carried on to Westport which is a bit of a ghost town. Not a lot to do there but chill or go for a run, so I decided to jog to the point and saw the beach (not great) and came back to join Rich and a few others at his place for a BBQ. From here we'll head to Lake Mahinapua for a big fancy dress party and the theme is Any Thing But Clothes. I'll let you know see how I get on next time!!
Happy New Year once again everyone hope it's a good one for you all,
Stay safe lots of love Tom
There are more photos below