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The Big Trip. Stephen, Laura, James and Sinead head for an epic adventure: 17 weeks in South America 8 weeks in New Zealand 2 weeks in Fiji 11 weeks in Australia 14 weeks in South East Asia.

The Kiwi Experence... North Island

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 17 September 2009 | Views [1708] | Comments [1]

We arrived in New Zealand after a long flight from Chile where we not only lost a day due to crossing the international time line but Stephen also lost his birthday…! After catching up on some much needed sleep we spent a couple of days seeing a few sights and doing a bit of shopping (esp. the girls). After four months in South America it was so strange to hear everyone speaking English… We actually spent the first day or two like fools saying things like ‘gracious’ and ‘café con leche’ to every one. We got some weird looks.  Auckland is a nice city and it also has a very large Chinese population at times it felt like we were in Honk Kong instead of New Zealand. We’d been told by so many people not to stay for to long in Auckland as its not great and even though its as nice city we found this to be true. We went up the tallest building in the southern hemisphere the sky tower for the views, walked the harbour and best of all found an Irish Pub which sold large Bulmer’s…!

After a couple of days in Auckland we collected our rental car. The car is an automatic Mazda station wagon, bit of a heap really, but cheap. None of us had ever driven an automatic car so we pretty much had no idea what we were doing so we were pretty much just winging it and after a few dodgy moments we started to get the hang of it.

We set off north in the direction of Bay of Islands. We spent a couple of days doing some sightseeing round the coast and visiting some cool Maori reserves and monuments. We didn’t expect New Zealand to have such amazing beaches and it was a pity it wasn’t quite warm enough to enjoy them as its only early spring here. Next we made our way up to the far north to visit Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of NZ where the Pacific and Tasman sea meet. We stayed in a little town close to the start of Ninety mile beach called Kaitaia in a pretty shitty hotel/backpacker place. What made this one night in this hostel interesting was the guy in the room next to us. This weirdo appeared to be living in the hostel, he spent the entire night making the strangest noises…. Use your imagination and you’ll get the idea…! He would knock on our door and run away, stand in the hall making noises like he was pretending to shoot a gun, shouting ‘Pow Pow Destroy’ singing, talking to himself and more random strange things… we spent most of the night slightly scared and in the stitches laughing. We got out of there first thing the next morning. After a trip to ninety mile beach and Cape Reina, where it was so foggy we couldn’t even see the water, we set off back south.

Our next stop was Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach is a beach over some hot springs and you go there around the time of low tide everyday dig yourself a hole in the sand and wait for it to fill with natural hot spring water. We rented a couple of shovels from the hostel and set off at 5.30pm for the beach. It was pretty cold and windy but there was plenty of people there. We started to dig a hole but sure enough we were only getting cold water so when we got the chance we jumped into a hole that a couple of other girls had dug. The water was so hot and we had to be careful where we sat so we didn’t burn the arses off ourselves… it was that hot. It was a very strange experience but fun.

The other highlight of this area was Cathedral cove. We did a 7km walk along the costal cliffs to Cathedral cove passing some of the mosr beautiful coves and inlets where the water is pure blue and crystal clear and the sand is white and soft.

Next it was on to Routarua. Routarua stinks… It is surrounded by geysers which cause the constant sulphur stink in the town, like rotten eggs, not very pleasant. We spent the weekend here and in addition to a bit of drinking we tried out some of the many adventure activities on offer. First we did a zorb. Zorbing in case you don’t know is where you get into a huge rubber ball along with a bit of water and roll down a hill along a zig zag track.Sounds bit crazy dosnt it..? But it was great fun, much better than expected.

We also did a sky swing, kind of like a bungy but your strapped into a seat, real adrenalin rush. The surprise highlight was the Luge. This is a small go-kart which you race down a really fast down hill track with lots of sharp turns and bumps. It was loads of fun and we could have spent all day doing it. Routarua has the largest Maori population in NZ so James also decide to get a Te Moko (Maori tattoo)done while here. Each Moko is designed for each individual and has symbols which represent family and their life. James Moko has his family members and the swirl design represents travel, which is fitting considering were on a world trip.

The sky dive was the next thing on the agenda so we headed for Lake Taupo. Taupo is apparently sky dive capital of the world. More people jump from planes here than anywhere else in the world. We were all really up for it and not feeling quite as scared and nervous as we thought we would be when we headed off. Once we got to the airport everything happened so quickly we didn’t have time to think to much about it, before we knew it our feet were dangling from the door at 15,000 feet. The dive was amazing but the 60 second freefall felt so short. Apparently when you jump out you go through what’s called sensory overload, where your body and brain go into shock so they say you loose the first 15 seconds of the fall. The experience of free falling at 200kmph through the air is amazing. It was so cold, -15 degrees, and hard to breath. Each of us had our own camera man jump with us to take a video and lots of pictures on the way down. Later that day we walked a few miles to some waterfalls to try work through the adrenaline we all still had pumping through us. After the sky dive we decided to head to Wellington.

Wellington is a lovely city like Auckland set on a harbour but much nicer. We spent a couple of chilled out days, site seeing, shopping and of course tested the extremely lively night life which was right outside our hostel. Sunday was the All Ireland hurling final. After asking around in the Irish bars we heard of an Irish Society that would be showing the game. We turned up there at 1:00am to find thirty odd eager hurling fans. Kilkenny beat Tipp and a great night was had.

After the weekend we put in a long days driving to get to Waitomo. Waitomo is famous for black water rafting in the glow worm caves. The trip we did involved a 35meter abseil down a tunnel into underground caves, a zip line through the pitch dark, jumping into underground rivers, climbing and jumping off of water falls, crawling through caves and floating round in some tubes looking at glow worms. Lots of fun.

Then it was off to Raglan on the west coast, the surfing capital of NZ. We stayed in a hostel on the beach unfortunately it rained for the two days we were there. The lads did some kayaking but me and Sinead, still sore from the caving, spent the days relaxing. Our last night on the North Island we went to see the All Blacks play the Springboks in a Tri Nations test match in Hamilton. Before the match there was an amazing fireworks display and dance performance. The match itself was very exciting but South Africa lead throughout and won by 3 points in the end. While the lads concentrated on the rugby myself and Sinead were kept entertained by the very ‘fit’ players. The next morning we headed for our ferry to the South Island.

(Writin by Laura)

Tags: all blacks..., caving, new zealand, north island, sky dive, zorb




Hey, great blog, ye are doin so much.It all seems like great fun.Love the picturs. Chat soon,

  Brian Sep 20, 2009 6:13 AM



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