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Published: January 22nd 2012
So here I am, two weeks into my travel adventures and I have already seen and done so many exciting things that it is hard to believe it was all possible in such a short time. I met up with my travel partner, Michelle, and we both decided to participate in the Kiwi Experience which is a hop on-hop off bus. Basically the bus drops you off wherever you want on a predetermined route and each individual gets to decide how long they want to stay in each place before arranging to hop back on the bus. Because it is high season, Michelle and I have booked our entire schedule all the way to Christchurch (where our flights depart) in order to ensure that there is room for us on all the buses when we need/want them. However, we did have to do a bit of guessing as to where we wanted to stay extra nights which isn't easy when you aren't entirely surewhat each place has to offer. So here is a summary of the last two weeks:
January 9/12- Auckland
Michelle and I did a tour of Auckland which included a walk under the Harbour Bridge (where
we witnessed some bungy jumping), eating fish n'chips at Mt Victoria, and a walk down some sunny beaches.
January 10/12- Head North to Paihia-Bay of Islands
This is the place where I decide, quite randomly, to go skydiving. Why not "jump" right into 2012- my year of adventure! I signed my name on a list to go skydiving and everything happened so quickly after that I didn't have a chance to reconsider. I didn't even have time to check into the hostel before the skydive bus picked me up, a waiver was signed, I got suited up (looking sexy in the goggles and cap might I say), and was in the sky with an oxygen mask on, shivering from the cold thin air at the high altitude of 16,000 ft. Really? How did I get here? You want me to hang out the side of the plane? Ahhhhh!! But really, it was over before I knew it and I spent the rest of the day trying to process what had just happened. Would I do it again? Probably! Thanks Michelle for taking the leap with me!
January 11/12- Return to Auckland
Michelle and I spent the morning checking out an outdoor circus in Paihia before spending the afternoon on the bus back to Auckland. We spent the evening hanging out with our Canadian friends, Chris and Eric (the ones that I had met at the hostel the first night I arrived in New Zealand).
January 12/12- Hot Water Beach
The hot water beach is located just above a thermal outlet and can only by accessed at low tide which we were fortunate enough to see. People go there and dig themselves a hot pool to sit in. The water can be really hot and needs to be mixed with some sea water so that you aren't burned. When the tide washes over the beach you can see it boiling and steaming. Awesome!
January 13/12- Waitomo
Waitomo is popular for the glow worm caves and the legendary black water rafting. The caves are made out of limestone and are hidden under the hills. I chose to participate in the "Black Abyss" which consisted of abseiling 35 metres into a cave, whizzing down a zipline, tubing in the dark with only the glow worms to light our way, and climbing up and out against the flow of waterfalls. Crazy! Within the five hours spent together we offered support to eachother as we all faced some fear ie: confined spaces, water, heights, the dark. This shared experience created a special bond with those of us that participated! Another high light for sure! Thanks Stephanie (England), Smita (England), Charlvynn (Spain), Sam (Aus), Lauren (Aus), Josephine (Holland), Lae (Holland).
January 14 & 15/12- Rotorua
I decided to try Zorbing which is a sport that was invented in New Zealand that consists of rolling down a hill in a rubber ball. I chose the wet ride so it felt similar to a water slide and my new mate, Stephanie, joined me. They put warm water in the ball before zipping it up which made it seem like a sauna inside. And to make matters worse we couldn't see out of the ball so we had no idea where the end of the hill was. Basically the perfect recipe for some motion sickness.... but that didn't stop us from going again.
In the evening I attended a Maori cultural show and hangi (traditional feast prepared underground on hot stones). The Maori tribe members sang and danced and taught us about their history.
The rest of the time was spent hanging in a pool and exploring the geothermal activity which included bubbling mud pools, geysers, and hot pools that can hard boil eggs after being dipped for only 3 seconds.
January 16 & 17- Taupo
On day one I walked to a natural hot spring where hot water poured from two separate water falls and mixed with the cool river. If you found the right spot it felt like a nice hot tub. If you get too close you could burn yourself, too far away and you can feel the hot water on top but cold water on the bottom.
On day two I completed the Tongariro Trek which was 19 km long and took 8 hrs to complete. The second hour of the trek was called the Devil's Stair Case and was definately the worst part; hence the name I guess. It was 10 X harder than a Saturday morning spent running stairs at Mosaic Place- although I did appreciate the advanced training (thanks Cathy and Cortanie for helping me prepare for this trek). When I took a look back down the mountain at where we had started I couldn't believe that it was humanly possible to travel such a long distance! But again, with the support and encouragement of Michelle and my fellow Kiwi travellers, anything is possible.
January 18- River Valley
This was place was an isolated resort with a 32 bed dorm room (which wasn't as bad as I would have thought). I didn't do too much at this place except play some beach volleyball and catch up on some reading and writing. Many others went white water rafting and horse back riding.
January 19- Wellington
Our last stop on the North Island before catching the ferry to the South. Our bus got in late so we didn't get much of a chance to explore this city.
So there it is! You may need to take a breath and read it all again so that you can let it all sink in! That's what I have to do! Overall, I have met so many great people from all over the world on the Kiwi Experience bus and some that I hope to meet up with again when I visit their home countries on my future travels. I love this country!
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