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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island
April 27th 2010
Published: April 30th 2010
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Our flight to New Zealand was a little cramped but luckily very short! Our hostel was a little out of the city centre near Mt Eden, but it was perfect. Got a decent room, big CLEAN kitchen and a nice garden. To be honest, we did hardly anything while we were there, after such a busy week in Sydney we just wanted to sit about and do nothing for a day or two! We did however take a few short bus rides into the city centre to see what it had to offer, which turned out to be pretty much nothing unfortunately, and ended up getting a FhiNZ (Farm Help in New Zealand) booklet. This was basically a list of people who owned a farm in New Zealand and were happy to have travellers come to stay with them to help on the farm. So we sent out a few emails to the best sounding ones (all with horses!!) and waited to hear back. One night in our hostel we had a few drinks with two English guys who were speakng about very random things and at one point one of them started talking about midgets falling out of robots, although nobody could figure out why! Since there was nothing to do in Auckland we decided to move on to Rotorua which is only about 3-4 hours away by bus.

Our hostel in Rotorua was tiny, but it had everything we needed so it was fine. On the day we got there we just walked around and figured out where everything was. Theres a main street with pubs and restaurants leading up to the lake and a big supermarket nearby. We walked near the lake to a little graveyard place a lady at our hostel said was cool. It was really grey and raining, and the thermal pools and streams were sending up loads of steam so it looked quite creepy! Soaked, we headed back to the hostel for a shower and to chill out, only to find out that a school trip was staying there too. Not as relaxing an evening as we'd hoped, with the kids screaming in the corridors and sneaking into each others rooms! The next day we were hoping to go mountain biking but it was pouring with rain still so we went out for lunch instead. We found a stonegrill restaurant and had an amazing steak!! They bring it out on a 400 degree slab of lava rock and you can cook it how you want yourself, so it was pretty tasty! At night we went to one of the thermal pools and got our own little room with a pool looking out over the lake. The water was about 35 degrees so it was nice being in it in the rain! Thankfully the skies cleared the next day and we could get the bikes out. There was a redwood forest about 5ks away so we headed there to see what tracks they had. Turns out we are ridiculously unfit after lying on beaches for a month so it was a bit of a struggle and we were exhausted when we got back but it was worth it! On the way to the forest you go past a river which was steaming and stank of eggs, but it looked pretty cool, so long as you could hold your nose!

By this time a few farms had got back to us so we picked the friendliest sounding one and headed back an hour North of Auckland to stay with them. When we got off the bus we were pretty confused, the lady said her daughter would pick us up but didn't tell us her name and obviously we had no idea what she looked like. But luckily she found us within a few minutes and then we were on our way. Joanna told us a bit about the farm and asked about our travelling and was really open and friendly, a bit confusing after we met the rest of the family but I'll get to that in a minute! The farm is set in amongst a load of big hills well out in the country and looks lovely, it had horses, cows, sheep, ducks which sounding like they were laughing, 4 dogs and some cats so we were pretty pleased with it! Joanna showed us our room and we dumped our stuff and went to meet the dogs! Joanna's parents came back a little later, it was their house we would be staying in. David barely even acknowledged us and sat down to watch the football, and Christine gave us the third degree, implying that our parents must be disappointed that we weren't in school and also expressed her hatred for christianity before saying "oh..i hope you're not religious are you?", maybe not the most appropriate thing to say to someone you don't know.. It was wierd that Joanna was so nice when they were so plain odd and stand-offish. But we thought, oh well, its the first day, lets just see how we get on. We made sandwiches for dinner and headed up to our room to get everything sorted. This is when we first noticed the spiders...hundreds of spiders...all over the roof, the walls, the windows, the doors...Jason had to go round our room killing them all and yet we woke up in the middle of the night with a big daddy long legs spider hanging a few inches from our faces!!

After a restless sleep we went to help Joanna and her husband Mark put up spurs at another farm. A lot of people take their horses out on hunts with dogs and we were putting wood over the fences so that the horses could better judge the distance to jump. It was quite nice being out in the hills and pottering about, even if we were pretty rubbish at hammering the pins in straight and were probably little to no help! In the afternoon David and Christine were at work so we found a hoover and got to work. It took us hours just to do the living room, bathroom and our rooms but we felt much better once most of the spiders were gone! We didn't have time to do the kitchen though, which had a slop bucket in it with a hundred flies around it but we figured we had time to do that another day! That night we all went up to Joannas house for a barbeque which was nice and since we were out in the country the stars looked amazing!

The next day was Sunday and the family were going to a horse show. We were asked to be up at six to have breakfast before the 2 hour journey South of Auckland. Everyone got into the horse trailer and we got the absolute joy of sitting on a ledge in the back of the cab behind David and Christine. The next two hours were filled with a lecture; Apparently in New Zealand you can see the horizon clearer and further away than in Scotland and, our favourite quote of the trip: "There is an infinate amount of coal in New Zealand", bearing in mind that Christine is a Geography teacher i nearly laughed out loud when she said this! At the horse show we stood outside like spare wheels until we were asked to shovel all the horse poo out of the trailer. Now, usually this wouldn't bother me at all as it obviously has to be done, however David had specifically told us that morning not to take our wellies with us, so we were mucking out in pumps and trainers..which Christine found funny...We spent the rest of the day sitting around watching the clock. David was a judge and was walking around with an air of importance more suited to a king! Eventually we caught a break when their other daughter, Renee, told us there was a shop nearby and we could go get some lunch. We got back about an hour later with some magazines, crisps and Fanta and were feeling a little bit better. But as soon as our backs were turned for two minutes Christine nicked our Fanta!!! Such a tiny thing that it seems stupid to be annoyed about but she'd got our backs up so much by this point that we were raging! Especially when she later mentioned that all the juice they'd taken with them had been finished and gave us a look as if we had taken it. A full 8 hours after we arrived we packed up and headed home. By the time we were back we were dead set on leaving the next day, but we decided that since Christine and David would be at work that we'd give it a go and see what happened.

Thankfully we were helping Renee all day on Monday which turned out to be great fun! First off we got on her quad bike and went to feed the cows. It had been a really dry summer so we had to feed them bailage which was more fun than it sounds! After a little lunch and some Jeremy Kyle back at the house we went out for a horse ride! Jason had a huge 16.2 old horse called T-Rex and i got a 14.2 bay called Mary. After tacking up we took them out towards the fields and went for a massive ride around the farm land and hills. Jason did really well considering he'd never really ridden before but we stuck to walking and small trots up hill so he could get used to it. When we got back to the stables we had to muck them out, it took us about 2 hours altogether but it was good excercise! Christine and David were being wierd again at night but we just ignored them!

The next day we helped Renee herd the cows and separate them out for another farmer. Then we went on another big ride around the hills on the farm, this time with a tiny canter! When we got back we got the beautiful job of weeding, which was really hard when you don't know anything about plants so we may have accidentally ripped out a few potatoes..never mind! The day after we didn't get to go riding because we were asked to move a load of old tin over a fence. It was from an old roof and had been lying there for over 15 years. After we got started we realised it was going to be alot more complicated than we had originally thought, there was loads of spiders under each layer so you had to kick each bit over it and jump on it a bunch of times to try and get them off. As we got down to the bottom layers there was millipedes and HUGE spiders, you could see all the hair on their legs when you were standing up and they had fangs! So we had to be really careful we didnt touch any of them by accident and get a big bite! Eventually we got it done and were completely knackered. We decided that we should leave the next day and get on with seeing the rest of the country. We had hoped to head to the South Island to visit Louise but it was turning out to be really expensive and already we were running out of money fast so we decided to stay in the North instead.

We had to wait until the afternoon when David got home to get a lift out to the bus station so we still managed to get in another horse ride on our last day. This time we galloped along a hilltop which was really good fun, and Jason managed to hold on too! Then we got our lift back to Warkworth and got on the bus to Auckland. We were there for another 2 days or so and the only thing worth mentioning was that we saw a girl shoplifting haha!

We went back to Rotorua again because we felt we hadn't had enough time to see everything the first time. But...the first day it rained again so we just had a steak and played cards all day again! The next day was lovely though so we got out the bikes and went back to the forest to try some of the mountain trails again. And then went to the spa at night again too! So i guess we didn't see anymore than the time before but it was good fun anyway!

Next up we went to Taupo which is a pretty little town with a huge lake in front of it. We had 8 days here but were getting pretty concerned about our money by this point so we didn't do a whole lot. On one day we took a boat trip to the Huka Falls and got to see the dam opening into the river which was pretty cool. On another we got bikes out and cycled to the falls through a scary and steep track in the woods! And..most importantly...we did a skydive! It took a few days beofre we felt like we could actually do it and there was the money situation to think of, but we thought we'd avoided doing a lot of cool things in New Zealand and if there is one thing that would be the most worth it then this would be it! So we went with a company called Taupo Tandem Skydives and booked in for the midday jump. When we got there a lady sat us down and explained all the different options; height and video cameras/photographs. We thought we would be as well going for the highest jump (15,000 feet) but left the camera work out so we didn't spend more than we needed to. Then we got the jumpsuits and straps put on us and got ready to get in the plane, which was tiny! There was enough room for two little benches which 8 of us sat on in a row and then 4 people had to sit on the floor near the door. Once we got to 7,500 ft the instructors got us all strapped onto them and told us how long we had left. When we reached 15,000 they opened the door to go but it was too cloudy so we had to head back down to the airport for a little while til it cleared up. Just 5 minutes after getting down we were getting kitted up to go again! This time they managed to find a clear patch that we could jump through and let 2 people out at 12,000ft, and then i was first in line for the 15,000! So we shuffled forward to the door and i had to hang my legs out and put my head back and then we were out! The feeling isn't something i would do any justice to describe and the 60 seconds of freefall go past unbelieveably quick! It takes almost as long to figure out whats going on so all i remember is getting a high five and wondering how you are meant to breath when you're falling at 200kph. Then the parachute went up at 5,000 ft and i could get a breather and figure out what i could see a little bit better. This part was much the same as paragliding so i got to fly it and we did some tricks and wide spins which was fun! We were first to land and i was waiting to see how Jason had coped after the Turkey incident! But when he got down a minute later he was fine and enjoyed it as much as i had. We got back into the warehouse bit to get off our suits and got shown a picture that gets taken of you the second before you leave the plane. It's a shame that we couldn't afford them because i look ridiculous in the little hat and goggles and Jason looks terrified and confused! My instructor told us there was a pub quiz on in town that night so we decided to head down for a bit and reward ourselves with a little drinky! We met two American girls who had jumped with us earlier and made a team with them and three Germans, we didn't exactly come close to winning but we were far from last so that's ok! We then had one more night in Auckland before our flight out to Fiji!

And that's pretty much it for New Zealand, we feel like there was so much more for us to see there but at least we got a few really good days in to make up for it and we'll just need to come back and do the rest some other time!




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