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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 233: On the road again!

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 25 June 2008 | Views [2987]

Poor rabbit....it's like the Spanish Inquisition!

Poor rabbit....it's like the Spanish Inquisition!

Wednesday 25th June

My alarm went off at 06.30 and I hopped out of bed, got some breakfast and gathered my food together, got a shower and packed my bags before heading out to wait for the bus across the road from the hostel. The Magic Bus picked me and another guy from the hostel up at 08.00, our bus for the day a guy called Dusty. He took us for a trip up to Mount Eden, my third visit there in a week, so I had really ripped the arse out of that one.

I couldn't help but compare Magic Bus with the Easy Rider crowd that I had travelled with in Western Australia. First of all, Magic had buses that were modern, full-sized coaches, and were as clean as you would expect of a bus company. The setup is very similar to the Easy Rider tour in that the driver also acts as a tour guide, and helps to book accommodation at the stops along the way. Dusty was a chipper bloke who seemed to be an uber-proud Kiwi, but not a fan of Auckland. He was excited at the prospect of us tourists getting out into 'Aotearoa' or 'Land of The Long White Cloud' as New Zealand is officially known as. He was also keen to communicate his Kiwi-ness by saying 'sweet as' at least once in every sentence that he uttered, sometimes in mid-sentence.

We drove in the direction of Waitomo and to the caves that it is famous for. On the way, we stopped at a small farm to see an Angora rabbit get shorn of his fur. This was quite a funny spectacle as a wee women strapped the poor rabbit into a contraption that appeared to take it's inspiration from the Spanish Inquisition.

We arrived at Waitomo Caves at 12.00 and some of the guys on the bus booked onto a black-water rafting trip down some of the labyrinthine caves (it's called black-water due to the lack of light in the underground caverns through which you crawl). It sounded like a very fun, unusual activity, and it's something unique in New Zealand, but I heeded the advice of the doctor and thought it might be a foolish move that would be put my arm at unnecessary risk.

Instead, we went to see the glow worms in another section of the cave network and that was cool as well. We learnt how the caves were discovered by a young boy who was out hunting with his dog – aren't they all? - and that the land still belongs to a local Maori family (and is leased to the company that takes the tours).

We got to take a very brief boat trip in an underground cavern to see the glow worms cling to the top of the ceiling of the cave. It was worth seeing the glow worms light up the darkness of the cave, and the dots of green about the cave resembled the night sky. They hang from the ceiling on threads, glow green with the aim of attracting some tasty insects, which they then eat as they pull themselves up, much like they were eating spaghetti (albeit one that had come out of its own arse – very weird!). After they eat all this up, their mouths disappear and they die. I struggled to find out what purpose the glow worm has in the greater scheme of things and I could only conclude that the glow worm is one of Gods little jokes, for the glow worm is a very silly little creature.

We waited about for a few hours while the guys who had been on the black-water rafting trip had finished before we set off in the direction of Rotorua, our destination for the night. Along the way, we stopped at the Arapuni Power Station, where we walked over the footbridge (built originally for the workers at the power plant to get there and from work everyday).

We finally arrived into Rotorua at 16.45, and one of the first things you notice is the smell of rotten eggs, caused by the sulphur gas produced by the thermal springs that the town is built upon and the primary reason for which it is famous. You can also see some of the steam escaping from the springs and rise from various spots around the town, including some in the gardens of ordinary residential houses.

Dusty dropped us off at the various hostels that we wanted to stay at (we had a choice which were then booked for us via the driver), and I got off at 'Treks', as it had been recommended to me by one of the girls who I had met in 'Bamber House' in Auckland. It was a much more modern affair than BH, but it was clean and had good facilities, so I was quite happy ($24 was also good value too). I made dinner and chatted to some of the guys that were also staying there, before I headed to bed for an early nights sleep at 22.00.


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