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Published: February 4th 2009
Nearly 3 months after arriving back in Australia, it feels like we've never been away. I finished up my project in the lab, and started back doing clinical work - this time a neonatal intensive care job. A couple of weeks of night shifts was enough to get me over my initial thoughts of 'oh holy crap, they're so tiny and so sick and I haven't done any med for a year!!' and just leave me pretty exhausted and ready for a holiday! Yes, I know after the year we've just had that it'll be a fair while before we actually deserve another holiday, but night shift turns you bonkers and so I was glad to have 2 weeks off work.
Justin and I headed over to the North Island of New Zealand to catch up with Whitley and get out and about. Travelling in New Zealand is a world apart from travelling in Africa, what with no language barrier, minimal cultural barrier (although some would debate that!) and ease of getting from place to place (Yay for cheap hire cars!). Most would expect it to be safer, but we did have the windows of our hire car smashed one
night, which ended up adding a fair bit to the cost of the car one insurance bits and bobs were sorted out. Bugger. And, with Justin intent on greeting all the Maori blokes we met in his best NZ accent with a 'hey, bro', it was maybe surprising we didn't get a belting for being cheeky.
We had a fantastic couple of weeks of road trip plus hiking the Tongariro Northern Circuit (that bit in the next blog). Time in the car was spent marvelling at the beautiful hills and coastline, debating the merits of taking directions from a GPS when there were road signs to point the way and plotting our next stop for a meal and a ginger beer (or a real beer come the end of the day).
Main stops/highlights included:
- flying in to Auckland to stay with Whitley, catching up over beer and prawns at the waterfront.
- heading to Thames, from where we took a day frip out to the Kauaeranga Valley to hike the Pinnacles trail - an old circuit used by those logging the Kauri trees. Very pretty despite the fact that there are not many Kauris left,
but got slightly lost and thorougly soaked in the heavy rain that didn't let up all day. And busted my overpants, which made for an even more thorough soaking (and the need to buy new ones before the Tongariro walk!)...
-a drive round the beautiful coastline of the Coromandel Peninsula, stopping at Cathedral Cove to go sea kayaking in lovely blue-green water in and around some interesting archway rock formations
-a day at the Waitomo Caves. These are massive underground caves discovered on a property not that long ago (within the last 30 years, I think), which you can go abseiling, caving and blackwater rafting. The caves have quite an otherworldly feel, with changing light, interesting plants and strange creatures like a very large eel that we saw in the river system. We went on a 4 hour caving trip, which began with a 100m abseil. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed take any photos down there (safety reasons carrying things when you're abseiling/climbing) as it's was a spectacular trip and well worth the cuts and scrapes we got on the climb out. Here is the link to the trip we did, which has some photos to show you what
it was like: Waitomo Caves Lost World
-a trip to Rotorua (which wasn't quite as smelly as it's made out to be) with a visit to the thermal areas at Wai-o-Tapu, home of the Champagne pool and other geysers, mud pools and thermal lakes naturally laced with chemicals that the water very toxic but brilliantly coloured.
-ending up in Taupo where we met up with Whitley and Gord in preparation for our hike.
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