The day started out on a good note when we arrived at our pick up location. We both had a good night stay away from the rest of the group. I spoke with some German girls that we had befriended along the way. They told me that the Hostel was pretty loud and they wish they got more sleep. It was pretty much what I had expected to hear thus solidifying our notion that all Base Hostels were awful for anyone that wanted to get a good nights sleep. Ideal if you want to get drunk and party all night long.
The driver for this bus was in good spirits. Her name was Lauren and she had an awesome personality. She filled us in on the itinerary for the day. She seemed to make friends with everyone on the bus and called them by their first names. Here Sister, a Kiwi, and brother in law from England joined her on her bus.
We had a few options for the day; the first was to take a two hour hike thru the Tongariro National Park; the second was to take a 10 minute hike to a 17 meter water fall.
Lauren let it be known that you could jump off the water fall if you chose to do so but it was not officially recommended by the company. The waterfall was also a shooting location for one of the scenes in the Lord of the Rings. It sounded cool but we chose to go on the hike.
Most everyone spends a few days in Taupo to hike the Taupo Crossing. It is an 8 to 10 hour hike that takes you high up onto a mountain. The same mountain featured in the Lord of the Rings movie known as Mt Doom. It apparently ranks among one of the best day hikes in the world. Elyse and I would get to experience some of the forests by taking the much shorter 2 hour trek. The bus stopped by a small town where most loaded up on supplies for lunch or the evening meal.
The middle of the hike had a pretty cool waterfall. We sat ate our lunch and relaxed on a bench facing the falls. We took the lower path back to the area where we were to meet the bus. There were eight of us in all
that selected the hike. Most others opted for the falls since they hiked the Taupo Pass the day before. We waited for the bus but it never showed.
About 45 minutes after we were scheduled to be picked we had a feeling that someone got hurt jumping off the waterfall. We were right when 5 minutes later we saw another Kiwi passenger hiking up the road towards us. He said that some one got hurt pretty badly and had to get carted away by an ambulance. It was going to be awhile and if we wanted we could hike down to where the bus was parked. It was a good 45 minute walk down the road. We made it half way when we saw the bus approaching.
When we entered the bus Lauren looked very distressed and it was evident that she had been crying. The bus had a pretty somber mood. The seats that were previously occupied by her sister and brother in law were now vacant. This explained why she seemed so upset. Throughout the bus ride to River Valley she received phone calls from her sister letting her know of her brother in laws condition.
She let us know that they suspected that he broke a vertebrae in his back. He was going to be transported to a better hospital in a bigger city. That evening Lauren seemed to regain her composure and actually bought the group several pitchers of beer. We drank to a speedy recovery of her brother in law.
For dinner we ate lamb with gravy, Yorkshire Pudding which tasted like a biscuit, potatoes, broccoli and green beans with peas. It was fantastic and plentiful. I had two servings of everything. It reminded me of a thanks giving feast.
After dinner Elyse and I got another pitcher of beer since it was Happy Hour and watched some other members play games that Lauren organized. The first was contestants had to pick up a cereal box with their mouth without touching the ground with anything but their feet. Each round more and more box was torn away and eventually leading to a scrap of paper laying on the floor.
The next two games I actually participated. One is where a match book was placed next to the back right leg of a chair and the objective was to balance your
body and wrap yourself around the left side of the chair, without touching the ground, and pick up the match book with your teeth. I ended up picking up the match book but failed to return to the seated position.
The last game was also a strange one. The table which everyone ate at was huge. It was an old tree that had been planed and finished to create a table top. The goal of this game was to sit on the table and somehow manage to climb under and end on the side atop of the table. It was like a rock climbing challenge. After a few guys tried and failed even to grasp the other side of the table I thought that I would give it a try. I was the first to grab the other side of the table but ended up failing to transition from the left side of the table to the right side without my feet falling to the ground.
We went to bed before anyone had successfully completed the challenge. I ended up with some bruises on my arms and leg as a result of the game. It’s a good thing
that we were going white water rafting the next day.
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