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Published: March 13th 2010
WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2010 - WAITOMO TO ROTORUA
Woke up really early for the drive to Waitomo where we were going on a caving expedition with the Black Water Rafting Co.
First we stopped in the Kiwiana Town of Otorohanga.........Kiwis are very proud of their "Kiwiana" which consists of such exciting things like kiwifruits (actually from China) and Pavlova (they Aussies also lay claim to this), sheep (found widely around the world) and a little wooden toy that they are all crazy for (Prince Wills had one when he was a baby. Apparently.) called Buzzy Bee. Weird. Nuff said.
Continued our drive through Kings Country until we arrived in Waitomo and promptly got handed our oh so flattering wetsuits and helmets before getting a crash course on abseiling - thats how we entered the limestone caves - by a 100 metre abseil into the pitch black through a pretty small hole in the site of a hill. I off course made Gary go first just to make sure it was safe 😊
The next few hours were absolutely amazing and Gary and I had the experience of a lifetime
involving squeezing our way along tight passages, whizzing down a flying fox in darkness (there may have been a few screams) to jumping from heights into freezing cold underground rivers.....brilliant!!! It was so surreal to be drifting down the water in pitch black gazing up at millions of beautiful glowworms -stunning, until our lovely guide told us that what we were actually looking at was millions of glowing maggot poo. NICE. Still managed some lunch before heading to Rotorua for some Sulphur and Zorbing action.
Took Gary to try out Zorbing as its one of my favourite weird kiwi inventions - getting thrown around in a giant hamster wheel whilst hurtling down zig zagging hills at high speed.
Gary was hilarious - I could hear him laugh (and maybe just a few screams) the whole way down!!Its so much fun! If everyone got to do this once a day - the world would be a happier place!!
Next was a stop off to the Park in Rotorua to check out what that eggy smell was all about - bubbling sulphur pools right there in the middle of town - tomorrow we
go to Wai O Tapu to see the really impressive stuff. First to the campsite where Gary enjoyed a soak in the natural hot pools to be followed with our usual, beers, pasta, cards and Flight of the Conchords in the Van.
THURSDAY 5TH NOVEMBER - ROTORUA TO TAUPO/TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK
Up early and off to Wai O Tapu to see the Champagne Pools, Devils Bath and Lady Knox Geyser. I had been before but its so impressive that I enjoyed seeing it all again.
Once we had enough of the smell we took Willie off another 80k down to Taupo - the largest lake in NZ. It was created by a volcanic eruption that people saw red skies from as far away as Europe!! Its quite big.
Stopped off at the impressive Huka falls then went to the pub for lunch. We decided to go jet boating which was brilliant (although wished hadnt had such a big lunch). We got to sit right up the front with the driver 😊 We were like a couple of kids grinning away!! We also got very wet but were just relieved at
the end of it to be alive - they go so close to the rock faces and into the shallows you dont quite believe they know what they're doing until you get off the boat at the end in one piece. Jet boating - another great kiwi invention!
On the way back to town I suggested we go watch some people bungy and it ended up with Gary jumping !!! I was so impressed with me wee bro. He did it with much less fuss than I had done a few years ago - was hilarious when he got dunked in the water and his top came off - tee hee.
Got him a beer and drove the rest of the way to Whakapapa - if you are not too sure how to pronounce it then I will say only this - Wh sounds "f" & it sounds very rude!!!
We stayed the night at a campsite in Whakapapa in the Tongariro National Park under Mount Ruapehu (where I ski in winter) and for the first time we were cold over night!!!
FRIDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2010 - TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING
Up very early for our day tramp this morning and it was FREEZING - hats skarfs, gloves the lot!!! Caught the bus to the crossing start point and were were quite excited as the clouds cleared and we got a good view of Mount Nguarahoe (Mount Doom, LOTR) - we would be climbing that today. We hoped the snow at the top wouldn't make things too difficult.
As it turned out it was bloody hard. We were lucky to escape serious injury or deah actually. The smoke billowing out the top didn't give us much confidence either (as its an active volcano) The Rough Guide, in my mind, had underplayed the difficulty in climbing that thing BUT the amazingly stunning views from the top made it SO worth it!! It took about 2.5 hours up and less than half hour down - we basically slid down the whole way on out butts!!!
The rest of the walk was beautiful. The crater lakes were lovely and our only down point was we ran out of water way before the one stop where there was a tap. There was a few slips and falls too.
One giant leap for man
We even passed a snowman. BUT the sun came out and we had a beautiful blue sky day. I think we both may agree this was our best day 😊
Very sore after our 8.5 hour tramp we drove to Ohakune (still in the National Park but on the road to Wellington) and went out for dinner and a beer to the PowderHorn Chateau and slept in the van under snow capped Turoa Ski field. legendary day.
SATURDAY 7TH NOVEMBER - OHAKUNE TO WELLY
Challenge today was to drive from Tongariro N.P to Wellington right down the South of the North island - a long day ahead!!
After checking out Ohakune's giant carrot (?) we set off to Welly via Wanganui which was nice with Art Deco buildings and caught the Sat markets so had coffee and cake down at the Wanganui river. Drove down West Coast along the Kapiti Coast. Stopped at beautiful Foxton beach for lunch.
Got to Welly late in the day. Its known as the windy city but the weather was behaving itself for us. Had nice walk around the city, saw the parliament buildings,
got a bit lost and ended up in the MACS bar at the waterfront for a few. Oh dear how did that happen.............
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