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Taupo (January 1st & 2nd 2012)
It was a beautiful morning. Blue sky, white clouds. Bunch of us hiked to a hot spring. Half way there, it started pouring. We kept on going since the rain was not that cold. And it was worth it! The girls did not bring bathing suits so they took some photos and turned back. Joao, Alex, and I chilled out in the springs. The hot running water was the perfect complement to the cold rain. Alex didn't have swimming shorts but he went in in his beige skivvies. He managed to look gay in every photo.
We cooked dinner at the hostel and took it easy the rest of the night.
Worked up my nerves and went sky diving with Sara, Jana, and Katie the next morning. I expected to be overtaken with fear and panic as we neared the jump height of 15,000 feet. But fear never came and panic set in for only a few seconds immediately after I jumped. Then my body felt steady and in control. I started to enjoy the free fall. Felt amazing flying through the air and dropping through the clouds. The tandem master pulled
the cord after a minute of free falling and I felt a sudden jerk as the parachute opened. We slowly floated through the air and landed five minutes later.
Boarded the bus to head to Green River, where they filmed Arwen's chase scene in Fellowship of the Rings.
Green River (January 2nd & 3rd 2012)
River Valley is a beautiful, secluded adventure lodge nestled next to a raging river in a lush, green valley. Our driver said that this is where they filmed the scene of Arwen calling on the river to wash away the Dark Riders to save Frodo. It was incredibly serene and tranquil. Some people went across the river on a trolly and hiked up the mountain on the other side. I played volleyball with some of the others with the peaceful sound of the flowing river in the background. We would run to grab a sip of our beers every time the ball is hit too far out of bounds. We cheered louder for these "beer breaks" than we did a winning point. I crossed the river and hiked up the mountain to take some photos after the volleyball
We washed up and had supper at 7:30pm. Floss, "the kitchen wench," served up an amazing feast of roast beef and five different kinds of salads. We were all famished and finished the food in no time. Clarissa, "the bar wench," poured the drinks. I switched to wine and drank about 2 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc that night. About 20 of us got together and played charade. I had to act out "dildo in the mouth." Gerhart, who barely speaks English, was the one who got it.
The next morning we got up and went rafting. The river was raging and the water level was a lot higher than normal. The rafting guide was iffy on whether it was safe to go. We eventually got the ok and jumped in the boats and rafted down class 5 rapids, bumping into rocks and almost flipping over a few times. We rafted down the "Lord of the Rings River" for about three hours. It was an incredible experience, a lot better than the rafting I did in Mendoza, Argentina.
My body was sore afterward and I fell asleep on the bus to Wellington.
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