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Published: December 7th 2009
OK, so I've finally succumbed to using the crap internet here long enough to write a blog. I've been in Thames for 3 weeks now and it's definitely time to move on!
Not a lot has really happened here to mention, but I did get to see a Santa Parade, which appears to be a national thing whereby at Christmas every town has a little parade of various local businesses and such and then at the end someone is dressed as Santa. It was alright, quite nice to see a little town being all community spirited and that.
What else? Well, one of the reasons I wanted to stay in one spot for a while was to really get in with the locals and not feel like such a tourist, which I achieved pretty well - had some good friday night buddies in the pub the last couple of weeks and got greeted by my first name in one of the smaller bars in town too so all good. What's also good is that I managed to sneak a quick live performance in too.
The small bar had an acoustic jam night last week so I went along and luckily was able to borrow someone's guitar but it was a 12 string which is quite different to play and I hadn't before, then to make it worse the guitar wasn't even miked up so I opted to just to do 2 songs for damage limitation (I did Chasing Cars and Rocking in the Free World), but it was cool, like my first New Zealand concert ha ha...Everyone was really nice afterwards, which was good because I haven't been that nervous since the first gig I did with Drop the Fish at the beginning of the year...
On a more travel related topic I did get in a car which I hired for the cost of 2 extra hours work (and cleaning it) and headed north to Coromandel Town (which was pretty dull), then drove the 309 Road which goes right through the valley with some breathtaking views and ended up in Whitianaga (pretty dull - what's with the coastal towns in this country? gimme Southsea any day...), then headed south to Hot Water Beach. Unfortunately the tide was coming in and I beleive it needs to be going out for you to dig a hole for your own little spa pool, but nevermind it was a lovely sandy beach all the same.
Now the reason for my current state of pain is that yesterday I undertook my first ever hike up to The Pinnacles, which at 759m is the highest peak in the valley. And is approx 7 hour round trip hike. Well I'd probably have been OK were it not for my trainers instead of boots and the fact I did it in 5 and a half hours. Including stoppages.
Quite an interesting little walk though, with swing bridges and sections were you have to hop across a river and oodles and oodles of lovely steep calf muscle destroying steps. I made it to the top though and believe me it's no easy feat - as you will see from a couple of photos once you've successfully completed the steps, there are 2 LADDERS, followed by sections of short iron rungs to use because you're basically rock climbing to reach the peak. I finally make the platform only to see that everyone else has bunked the railing to climb up the extra 10 feet or whatever it is to actually sit at the very peak.
So of course I copied them.
Going down wasn't a lot easier as we were told to take a different route down (I assume to enable you to see more) which unfortunately for the old legs meant going down down down only to then go up up and up again. Quite the endurance test. Anyway, next trek will be the Tongariro Crossing which is basically Mordor. And goes up to 1889m or something. I've got to actually get some proper boots for that one but I hope to do it...once the chafing from yesterday goes away.....
I won't tell you where I'm going next as I intend to hitchike there on Wednesday (day of lounging and laundry tomorrow) and I may only make it to my second choice of destination so I will update you upon arrival.
Unfortunately, due to previously mentioned crap internet you've gotta wait for photos too.
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