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Published: January 16th 2009
No sooner had we checked in we were heading down to the lake in our bathers with a few of the boys off the bus. We had a dip. The water was very cool, very very cool, almost freezing! But we swam for half an hour and had a race round a bouy, 200 metres out and back. I came in a respectible joint first. We cleaned up and headed to a pizza place for a cheap meal. Ten bucks bought us a large pizza and wedges, that was more than enough for the two of us.
We headed to the Irish Bar, Mulligans, which was highly recommended by Lauren, our driver, for evident reasons. They gave us money off for being kiwi expereince travellers. They also sold full pint, not poxy schooners or whatever everyone else sells alcohol in! AND, there was folk music a-plenty. It was fantastic. We had a few ciders there before heading over to the hostel bar, to join the rest of the bus during happy hour and two for one. We entered a pool killer tournie, I put my name, Robs name and Sebs name down, but despite starting well and leading for a
few rounds, it all went to 'pot' and i didn't pot three balls in a row and was eliminated.
By this point those pesky guys that have been following us ever since Oz and miandered into the bar, so I had a few drinks with them before decided I was too tired and needed sleep! More fool me. One of the girls off the bus pulled me in for a dance, and that was it, we couldn't leave. I danced with the girl, Rob danced with another girl, we all danced in the group that were left. We had no money, but didn't need any, some generous people were plying everyone with shots and mixers.
For reasons known only to me, Rob and the girl i will refer to her as...Frankie.
At 2am, we all were pretty knackered so decided to head to the hostel. Rob said good night but we declared we were heading to the sun deck (we knew it was the middle of the night, but that was irrelevent) and he should join us. He did, only the sun deck was locked. We sat on the landing chatting and one by one the other
three people with us fell asleep leaving Rob, Frankie and I. It was 4am, too late to go to be now! Besides the people going on the Tongario Crossing would be up in an hour and a hald, the kitchen would be open in an hour and we could get coffee in two. So thats what we did, stayed up. Had chocolate cake at 5am, greeted those bleary eyed people going on the hike at 5.30am with cheerful smiles and grabbed a coffee at 6am from dirty old maccie dees and watched the sun rise from behind the mountains, painting the cloudy sky red.
After all this though, the majority of people still wouldn't be up for hours. We watched Cool Runnings, had breakfast and went window shopping. By this point there was movement and people were gathered in the foyer, as arranged, to go to the lake. We wandered down to the grass beach and people set their towels and sun bathered. Bugger that! It was the heat of the day, i needed to cool off so i ran into the cold water without a care, joined by a few, Rob, Frankie, her two friends, and Neil. We
swam and dived off a pontoon before getting out and drying off in the sun. But the fidget that i am i couldn;t sit in the sun for more than five minutes and would keep getting up and doing handstands, cartwheels or going for more swims! As more people turned up, i encourage them to jump in. Seb and I went for a particularly long swim, and even tried to catch a duck, but to no luck! After getting everyone to dive in the lake once more, we got out and some went back to the hostel while the three of us, the americans and Seb and Sommer went for some crazy golf. I'll save the boring stuff...i came last!
I cooked steak for dinner. By this point we were hanging. So bloody tired. Frankie had slipped off for a snooze but i was determined not to! What should we do then...go to the pub! Always a plan. Had a cider and played some pool. Then everyone started to turn up for the pub quiz so i had another cider and that nearly knocked me out. On my team was Rob, Frankie, Sommer, Seb, Julian and Sarah. It was
a tough quiz. At about 11 Frankie turned in. The rest of our team shorly followed, leaving us Marathoners to get the answers and score! We came in with half marks, but 50% is a pass according to Lauren, so i'll settle for that!
I went to say goodnight to Frankie, as promised, and Rob hit the pillow and was asleep straight away at about half eleven. We spent about an hour chatting before we both were too tired and I back to my room and had a disjointed sleep. No matter how tired i felt, my body decided it would be a good idea to not sleep...hmm!
I haven't already mentioned it, i will now. We weren't both booked on the bus to River Valley, just me, not Rob. So we had to take a shuttle bus, paid for, but nonetheless a hassle. Lauren took us to the bus station in time for the bus, but the bus wasn't on time. It was an hour and a half late. We went for a coffee. Eventually we got on the bus, and really there is nothing to tell. It was straight through. No stops except at the prescribed
bus stops. We got a distant view of Mt Doom, but that was it. Not even any explanation from the driver.
We were, however, greeted by a bloody friendly gal in Taihape to take us to the River Valley lodge. It was a half hour drive down a windy dirt track and she handles the minibus like a Subaru rally car. I couldn't take my eyes off the windows, or more what was out of the windows. The view was stunning, breathtaking, amazing! The drive took us down the side of the valley and into the basin, where the lodge is. It is how i imagine heaven and my future home. The valley could be no mroe than a hundred yards wide, a river runs through with small rapids and deep pools and various ledges to jump and dive off. There are a few scattered wooden buildings and chalet and then one main hall type of a building.
The rooms were multi share for twenty people. The beds were wooden shelves, each sleeping five people with matresses. It was amazing. I had a feeling i would love that night! Still, there was no one around, so we explored
and went for a dive and swim. The rocks were about four metres out of the water and the water another four metres deep. I dived off many times! Once the others arrived, we were offically welcomed by the staff and quickly whisked away for our horseriding. We found out that the bus had gone to the waterfalls where they had filmed a sequence with Gollum in Lord of the Rings and some fo the guys had a swim! This annoyed me greatly!
As a slightly more expereinced rider than others i was given a young stallion called Wairoa, meaning Spirit. He was a bastard. As a stallion, he wanted to be at the head of the pack, but apparently i wasn;t allowed to let him, so i didn't but then when we could get up to a canter, he just slowed down...the horses were a little drilled and i didn't feel like we really were in control of the animals and they were jsut going through the motions, but the views were breathtaking nonetheless, and watching the sunset from horseback across the mountains was amazing!
We were a little late for dinner and happy hour but they had set aside some roast and some beer for us, so we feasted. I shocked a few people again with the amount i consumed. Easily the skinniest guy on the bus, with an appetite fo a small civilisation.
After dinner there were a number of little games that Lauren got started. Eddie and i teamed up to do some sort of balance game, but that was pointless, he couldn;t hold my weight and my balance after a jug of beer leaves much to be imagined! I did do particularly well in the table game, where one had to rotate themselves through 360 round the bottom of the table without touching the floor. I made it nearly all the way round, but my body denied my of that last ounce of might. I tried five times and every time it was the aslt second!
The sky was stunning. So many stars. We were no where near a town or city. The sky was full of so many constellations. We even saw some shooting stars and satellites.
That night Frankie and I cwtched up and slept, she was getting off the bus tomorrow a little earlier than we were which is a little annoying. A whirlwind of such.
That morning we were free to do as we will, so after breakfast I started the first of many dives and swims in the river, played a little badminton, but generally chilled out with everyone. Later we would head to Wellington for out last night as a group as people were leaving over the next 4 days across the water and we wouldn't be together...
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