A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: kendrick

Westport to Wanaka

The kiwi bus trip down the west coast

sunny 17 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 84 (Mon 16/01/2012)

The bus journey from Kaiteriteri to Westport took about 4 hours. This was the bus I’d be staying on now until Queenstown, my only option is to stay an extra night in Franz Joseph but I want to get to QT as soon as possible to meet Jan and Extreme and hopefully head off on a road trip.

The bus is quite average, seems to be a trend in NZ. I wish I had a time machine and could go back and change my plans for NZ and how I did it all. I can’t do that so anyone reading this; I hope I can make a difference to your trip.

I’ve had quite a bad experience in NZ for a number of reasons but before I continue I have to say I have met some cool people and had some fun times with what I did, Jan, Fredrick, Extreme, Jenna.

Firstly, the weather has been awful; rained so much, when it is sunny it burns very quickly so you have to wear sun screen all the time, and even if it’s sunny it’s not actually been that hot here and the evenings are always cold; it’s midsummer and it’s pretty dam cold in the evening now.

Secondly, NZ is generally a massive rip off for any activity you want to do or hostel you want to stay in. The place is so small and remote, there is no competition anywhere and people charge stupid prices for everything. This isn’t helped by the Kiwi Experience bus, they try to rip you off at every turn, most of the people on the bus are so dumb they don’t even realise it. I can’t stand the Kiwi bus now and would not recommend it to anyone. There are far better ways of getting around and meeting people. Most of the best people I’ve met have been randoms in hostels. You can take the naked bus or hitchhike easily to get around.

If you are coming to NZ alone, you don’t need a bus tour to meet people. It’s so easy. The worst mistake I made was committing to a rigidly set bus trip; you have no freedom and are always at the mercy of the bus.

Thirdly, the people you meet make the trip and in NZ I’ve met a lot of people but very few good people. I’m really hoping my time in Asia will more than make up for NZ. It’s safe to say I’m counting down the days before I leave and it’s unlikely I’ll be coming back. I keep imagining myself on the plane out of Christchurch and how happy I’ll be. I can’t wait for my week in Sydney with Harry and Emma and I can’t wait for Singapore and the gateway to Asia.

In Westport we only had an evening, yet again the hostel was a rip off and like every hostel the kiwi bus takes you to it doesn’t have internet. I hate the kiwi bus. Any other hostel you book with separately all include wifi, not the kiwi hostels. It’s all part of the big rip off scam, once you’re on the bus you can’t break the circle and book your own cheaper hostels. I have to find a way of booking a different hostel in Queenstown. I’ve now just resigned myself that I just have to suck it up, stay at the rip off kiwi hostels until I get to QT, then I can break all ties with the kiwi bus and just take it for one more journey to Christchurch.

So that evening mainly consisted of socialising at the hostel and eating dinner. That night was my first experience so far in 3 months of travelling of rude people coming back into the dorm late shouting and making loads of noise. I feel the blog may be down as it gets more depressing for a few days now until I arrive in QT.

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Day 85 (Tue 17/01/2012)

We left Westport at 09:00 heading to lake Mahinapua. The journey pretty much took all day because we took 3 long stops and a coastal walk. The coastal walk was really impressive scenery along the cliffs of the west coast. We did another similar walk at lunchtime to see the pancake rocks and blowholes, where the waves rush into holes and force the water vertically upwards shooting it high out the top. It’s actually quite a scenic drive along the coast and through the rainforest; it does seem to be true the landscape is more impressive in the south island.

We didn’t get into lake Mahinapua until after 17:30 which was a bit of a shame because the area was pretty cool. We were staying in a random pub / lodge in the middle of nowhere. In one direction you had a really nice lake and in the other you had the huge awesome west coast beach. The lodge was owned by a whacky 82 year old man who had been running a fancy dress party here for kiwi experience every day for like more than 20 years. The walls of the pub were covered in Polaroid’s of previous nights parties dating back for years, pretty impressive really.

Most people headed to the lake, when I arrived the boys were just starting a game of football. I forgot how much fun it was to play football. Playing barefoot I eventually smashed my big toe and had to stop.

I took a walk down to the ‘swimmers beach’ at the lake. This was probably the smallest most disappointing beach ever, the water was a bit red from all the stuff at the bottom but I still went swimming. When I arrived there I met 2 randoms who were camping nearby. I got chatting to them and lost track of time; this meant I was 25 minutes late for dinner, for which I was specifically told to be on time for. Luckily there was some left so it was all OK. At dinner I met a guy called simon which it turned out was on my 1st bus in the north island. He’d just got back on the bus after randomly meeting a family here who invited him to stay with them for a month and even go on holiday with them. It turns out he has a very similar time schedule to me so it’s likely we’ll travel the rest of the way together until I leave.

After dinner 4 of us headed straight down to the beach and threw a ball around for a bit, again something I’ve not done for ages, good fun. The beach had millions of perfect skimming stones which we did for a while; I wanted to get some pictures but my camera run out of battery.

As usual I had to brave the sea so just before the sun set I went in. The beach was pretty stoney and there were big dumping waves. It was quite difficult to even get out to the break and when I did I realised that there was quite a strong rip pulling out so I stayed in the shallows being smashed by stone filled waves. We stayed to watch the sun set over the ocean.

That evening was a fancy dress party and the theme was pyjamas which was pretty easy. I stayed out for a bit chatting in the bar to some decent people I’d met. Again the same rude people coming into the dorm room late making loads of noise whilst other people are sleeping.

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Day 86 (Wed 18/01/2012)

We had to leave lake Mahinapua at 09:30 to head to Franz Joseph. On the way we stopped at a place called the bushman centre. This is another part of the big kiwi bus rip off. They leave really early in the morning so you can’t make breakfast then head to a specific cafe they have a deal with and take a cut of the really expensive prices charged there.

Outside the bushman centre I got to stroke a baby goat which was cute; I wanted to steal it. When we arrived at Franz Josep we took a quick walk to a look out over the glacier before heading back to the hostel we’d stay at for 2 nights.

This hostel, the rainforest retreat was actually pretty decent. The rooms and facilities were nice, it had a big kitchen area and most importantly had a huge 20 person hot tub which was really hot and really good. The reason for staying here for 2 nights is to have a full day to do a glacier activity, one of the main activities in NZ.

That evening I just ate some food and went to bed, we had an early 06:30 start for the next 2 mornings.

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Day 87 (Thu 19/01/2012)

Today was the Franz Josep glacier day and the weather forecast wasn’t very good. I’d chosen to do a more expensive activity than the usual full day hike; I was going to do the ice climbing activity. This had the appeal that you were still heading to the glacier, you would be the first group up on the glacier, there was only 4 people to 1 guide instead of 13 and you get to do probably a once in a life time experience of climbing up constantly changing ice walls including a new climb that no one had ever done before. All in all it was worth paying extra for.

The morning started early at 06:30 to prepare food and breakfast for a 07:30 meet. The first part was getting kitted up with all the right equipment (which was actually very good equipment), packing up a rucksack and jumping on a bus that took us up towards the glacier. It was about an hour hike from the car park up on to the glacier. Just before getting onto the glacier we changed into our ice climbing boots, harness, helmet, waterproof clothing and crampons. Walking with crampons on is amazing, walking over any terrain including sheets of ice with no worries at all.

We didn’t go to far onto the glacier because we spent a lot of time climbing. The first climb we did was very basic and everyone managed it without too much difficulty. I was with a German girl and 2 Irish guys. At the top of the climb you have to abseil back down, this involves leaning back and walking backwards down the ice wall however one of the Irish guys leant back too far and ended up upside down stuck with his back on the wall; it was so funny.

The guide was pretty impressed with us so he put us straight onto the hardest climb there was, it was mostly an overhang, which is so much more difficult than vertical. I got up to the top but it was pretty difficult, at the end my hands were stuck in the position I’d been gripping so tightly onto the ice picks. The second time we did this climb found it a lot easier and got up much faster as my technique got better. One of the Irish guys was also very good and flew up the ice.

We decided to go for a walk further onto the glacier and look for another climb. We found a new face to climb that hadn’t been done before. This wasn’t as hard as the previous one and whilst I was climbing I had a bigger audience from other hiking groups passing by and stopping to watch. Some people that saw it said they were gutted they didn’t do it instead.

Ice climbing is pretty awesome and quite different from normal climbing because the grip is so good but you are relying on the ice holding firm. Occasionally as you put more weight into your ice picks or take 1 out to move it higher, the ice they’re stuck into gives way and you instantly fall from the ice. It’s weird not knowing when you’re suddenly going to drop off the face.

The weather got progressively worse over the day, by the time we were hiking back to the car park the rain was very heavy and everything was completely soaked. It felt good to sit in the hot tub for hours that evening.

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Day 88 (Fri 20/01/2012)

Today we had a very early start, the bus was leaving at 07:30 as we had a long drive to Wanaka and made a long stop at a place called Lake Matheson. The lake is perfectly still and creates amazing reflections of the surround mountains. Luckily the weather was very sunny so we had some great views. I’ve become very good at walking in flip flops and an hour hike over a gravel path in flip flops doesn’t phase me any more.

There was another scenic drive for the south NZ countryside before arriving in the beautiful Wanaka, a small lake township fairly close to Queenstown.

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Day 89 (Sat 21/01/2012)

Posted by kendrick 08:18 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wellington to Kaiteriteri

The 12 days I spent in the north of the south island

sunny 24 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 70 (Mon 02/01/2012)

I arrived in Wellington at 07:45, headed straight to the nearest McD’s which wasn’t very far away. Got some food and used the free wifi to book a night at Nomads hostel which was just down the road. I then headed to Nomads, dumped my stuff there, purchased 24 hours wifi access and sat on the computer all day.

There was a few hours sun which finished the minute I stepped outside to get some food from the supermarket; another downpour which lasted the rest of the day. I actually hate New Zealand now and have made up my mind never to come back. The weather this past month has been worse than a bad English summer, the population is so small there is barely anything here, they are about 10 years behind with technology and infrastructure and it’s too multi cultural. I think I’ve made my mind up not to come back and just make the most of the remaining month I have here as best I can. I’ll go out if it’s sunny otherwise I’ll stay on the computer.

I got my free meal which was pretty good then continued working on the computer. I now have a decent plan arranged for the next week.

That night I was down in reception on the computer and the night shift staff pretty much play guitar and sing all night. One of the guys was so good on guitar and had such a good voice, he could do like any song I requested. I ended up staying down there with them for ages.

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Day 71 (Tue 03/01/2012)

Fredrick was now in Wellington so I met up with him, the Swedish girls and a few new friends he had made. We were going to hike up Mt Victoria but took a detour to the beach to meet Laura and 2 of her friends. We then changed our minds and stayed at the beach, making good use of the rare sunshine. The sea here was icy cold, well about 14 degrees but it still took your breath away. As usual I went in.

Cloud soon covered the sky again and the wind took over so we quickly headed back to the hostel. Lawrence and Oliver had got to Wellington a day early so came to stay at the hostel that evening. They turned up in time for the free dinner than we headed out to go bowling. This was closed so we went next door to the cinema and saw a new film called Tower Heist.

I stayed up most of the night on the computer, who needs sleep anyway.

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Day 72 (Wed 04/01/2012)

I was getting the KiwiEx bus to do the Wellington to Kaiteriteri journey. Most people do this part of the journey in 1 night, skipping Picton and Nelson along the way. I took 12 nights and this is what I did.

The bus picks up in Wellington at 07:15 and takes a short drive to the ferry port where we have to unload all our stuff, check it into the ferry, get it off the other side and load it into a south island bus.

The ferry journey is pretty cool, it takes about 3-4 hours but spends the last hour going through the amazing scenery of the Marlborough sounds. The main reason New Zealand is pretty shit in comparison to Australia is that it’s a massive rip off. Tourism is big in both countries but in Aus they have developed something called competition. In NZ, this doesn’t exist through some massive scam. If only one company exists in each area offering a certain service they can charge what they want and if you want to do it you have to pay a stupid price, the ferry was no exception. Aus was so much better value for money. It’s turning into the big NZ rip off. The weather is shit, when the sun comes out, it burns you instantly, the activities are a rip off and once you’ve seen one mountain, one lake and one river you’ve seen what NZ has to offer.

Once I got off the ferry I found the hostel shuttle bus which took me to the hostel where I was staying in Picton. The hostel was pretty cool, friendly, open and had a hot tub which is always good. Once I was organised I headed to the beach, sunbathed and took a quick dip in quite a cold sea.

That evening I went in the hot tub then ate a lot of the hot chocolate pudding the hostel served up free every night at 20:00. It was so awesome. I met my new German roommates and we arranged to go on a hike the following day.

I sat on the computer that evening with a load of other people from the hostel and met a Swiss girl who was also heading to Nelson next.

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Day 73 (Thu 05/01/2012)

After sleeping in and eating a leisurely breakfast we left the hostel at about 11:30 joined by another German girl. The hike took us most of the day and included walking around the sounds and coastal tracks. We spent a lot of time on a beach we walked to.

When we got back to the hostel I pretty much repeated the previous evening’s activities, hot tub, pudding, internet. I love the hostel, would of been cool to stay longer but I had the next hostel booked in Nelson.

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Day 74 (Fri 06/01/2012)

The bus from Picton was leaving at about 12:30 so I hung around the hostel in the morning then got a lift down to the ferry port. Whilst waiting here for the bus I got chatting to another German girl who randomly was going to the same hostel in Nelson as me. She was meeting her friend there and staying for a week (which became a lot longer like everyone else who stays there).

The bus driver dropped us off at the hostel which was cool, then we checked in to the most bizarre placed I’ve stayed so far (apart from Asylum of course). The hostel is priced like a normal hostel but offers a weekly rate of $110 (that’s less than £8 a night). I initially booked for 3 nights but decided to stay another 3 nights and then again on the morning I was supposed to be leaving, stayed for another 2, it really was that good there.

The hostel is situated right in the port, half way between the town and the beach, you pretty much have to cycle everywhere otherwise it takes ages, luckily the hostel had free use of bikes. It’s pretty small, an old pub, has about 12 rooms above the pub and a couple of shacks out the back.

The hostel has a very large social area down stairs in the old bar which has free pool, xbox and 64” tv hooked up to 900 films. There is also free internet and free laundry and the beds are very comfortable. It’s no surprise that most of the people ‘living’ there are long termers, people staying for weeks / months at a time and this makes it socially amazing. Everyone is so friendly, knows everyone else and every Friday and Saturday night there is a big party.

The hostel is run by 1 guy called Marcus and his son, Tayler. He works around the clock doing everything and is like a father figure to all the people staying there. He has a really relaxed attitude and people don’t pay rent for weeks at a time. Once you’re there he finds room for you to stay in and manages to fit everyone in, one night it was so crammed! Marcus lives in a cupboard in one of the dorm rooms (an actual cupboard with a small mattress on the floor), his son lives in another dorm on an actual bed.

The beach is about 3km down the coast and is pretty awesome; it has a huge tidal area, nice sand and a fairly warm sea. I spent the first afternoon at the beach.

That night I was sitting downstairs and Extreme walks in the door. I was amazed she just appeared there. I’d told her where I was staying but had no Idea she would randomly turn up. It was pretty cool, we swapped photos from our previous adventures, I gave her back her had I’d kept from before and we made plans for more 6.extreme adventures in the south island.

  • * Note: From Australia we had a saying that we used all the time, ‘too easy’ and another one which I picked up from the extreme rafting trip, ‘Extreme!’. When we were on one of our road trips we found a mountain bike sign showing different tracks of varying difficulty. We found this amusing because there was no number 1, it started at 2, 2. Easy and the last one was 6. Extreme hence why everything is now 2.easy or 6.extreme.

The first plan I made with Extreme was to meet the following morning at the hostel to run and swim. We’d run to the beach, do some sea swimming then run back.

  • * Note: One of my first communications with Extreme by text message was when I was trying to find out if she was coming on the road trip with us and I sent her a message asking simply, ‘Are you coming on the road trip tomorrow?’. The reply I got was this: ‘’Yes, I will swim or run closed lake we could to meet in library? At what time?”. When I got to Nelson I text her to ask her if she was there and this is the reply I got, “Yes swim and run ? I hav nrj”. After this, all activities always had to include that you will swim and run.

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Day 75 (Sat 07/01/2012)

I woke up not very keen to swim and run but after a barrage of txts from Extreme I got out of bed (07:45) and met her downstairs. Unsurprisingly we had to run at quite a pace to the beach. When we got there she said we were swimming out to a boi so far away I could barely see it, I thought she was joking; she wasn’t. Bare in mind I’m not the best swimmer in the world and hadn’t been out of my depth in the sea yet this trip. I start swimming whilst she fafs around on the beach for ages so I’m already quite far ahead then she starts swimming towards me and eventually catches up and butterflies past me and asks why I’m not doing front crawl, I responded that I have enough trouble staying afloat let alone going forwards as well. She makes it to the boi and I turn around when she gets there and I was so far out from the shore. I slowly made my way back in. We then ran back to the hostel.

Later on I took one of the hostel bikes, cycled through town to the river that has a cycle path all the way down it. I followed the river until I got to a point I couldn’t pass due to a recent landslide that had destroyed a section of the path (Nelson had recently experienced huge floods and a lot of landslide damage).

On the way back down the river I stopped off and went for a swim, it was so cold my skin went red but it was pretty fast flowing so it was cool sitting on the rocks with the powerful water going past trying to push you downstream. I just back on the bike and headed back to the hostel.

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Day 76 (Sun 08/01/2012)

I can’t remember what I did today, possibly nothing but I may have gone to the beach. In the evening I took a bike and cycled into town to visit the Swiss girl I met in Picton at her hostel. We chatted for ages and made plans to go to the beach the following day. At midnight we visited the cathedral that was next door to the hostel. I cycled home through the deserted town centre.

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Day 77 (Mon 09/01/2012)

As I was about to leave to meet the Swiss girl at the beach a guy from the hostel said that he’d just bought a slackline and was heading out to try it out. I convinced him that it would be a good idea to do it at the beach so we could meet the Swiss girl as well. 3 of us headed down in his car.
I knew what slacklining was because Laurence from had got into it after his kite phase. Slacklining is where you have a thick bit of flat rope, fasten it around 2 trees that are less than 20m apart about 1m off the gound. One then attempts to balance / walk along it and as you get better, do some tricks. It was very difficult but I improved pretty quick.

Just as we packed up Laura called to say she had arrived so we headed back to the hostel to meet her and have lunch. Seeing as we hadn’t really been on the beach yet, Laura, the Swiss girl and I all cycled back there to sunbath and swim. It was a very nice day and there was a lot of people at the beach.

On the way back we said goodbye to the Swiss girl who went her separate way, she was leaving in the morning so we probably wouldn’t see her again.

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Day 78 (Tue 10/01/2012)

Today was the day Fredrick was arriving. Laura and I headed to the beach for our standard sunbathing session. Fredrick arrived off the KiwiEx bus later that afternoon and met us at the beach. There was a really low tide that afternoon revealing a huge tidal area where you could walk out to sea knee deep for miles. Myself and Fredrick went so far out, running through the shallow waters.

We all returned to the hostel for dinner but realised it was cheap dominos pizza night so we quickly changed our plans and cycled into town to collect some £2.50 pizza (enough for that night and breakfast the next morning). We played cards for the rest of the night until shut down.

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Day 79 (Wed 11/01/2012)

Fredrick had a problem booking on the bus we were on so had to make a last minute decision and leave early today. At breakfast I met an American girl called Jenna, she was very sporty, in really good shape and an ex-cheerleader so we got on pretty well.

Laura and I went to the beach all afternoon. I finally did some more tumbling on the sand; it’s so hard on the feet so decided from now on I’d only do it in trainers. The beach is awesome, today there were tons of kite surfers out, one day I’d love to try it.

That evening I played cards with Jenna, Laura and James (another English guy I’d met at the hostel). We followed this up watching a film in the TV room into the early hours of the morning.

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Day 80 (Thu 12/01/2012)

The weather had taken a turn for the worse and we were supposed to be leaving for Kaiteriteri. We were having so much fun at the custom house we didn’t want to leave anyway so we decided to hang tight in the hostel, wait for the weather to clear then head to Kaiteriteri where we needed good weather for kayaking.

In the afternoon the weather in Nelson was actually OK so Laura, Jenna and I hiked to ‘the center of NZ’. When I asked whether it was the center of NZ by area or volume I got a puzzled look, and a response of “How could it be the center by volume” which I responded to by saying if one area has higher mountains it might have more volume which would change where the center is. I don’t think they got it but they explained it was the center if you draw a circle around the country it would be the center point of the circle. I said that was a stupid way of doing it. It turned out they were wrong as well and it was even more ridiculous than that; apparently the Nelson district is the central district in NZ and that was the point at the center of the Nelson district and just so happened to be at the peak of the nearest hill to the town. All in all it wasn’t actually the center of NZ but it still had a good view over Nelson and got us out of the hostel for a while.

For the third night in a row we played cards and it had now generated more interest with 7 people joining in. The ended with a game of the nut game with slightly different rules which weren’t as good as the original I was used to. Again we played until shut down which we followed up by another film in the TV room.

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Day 81 (Fri 13/01/2012)

I stayed in all day until the evening when I had to pop out and get some drinks from the supermarket. Today was Friday and it was our last night and party night at the hostel. The whole hostel get together, play games in the social area until chuck out time then walk into town to go to a club. It was a pretty good night, we even stopped to go on some swings on the way home.

I carried Jenna over a mile back to the hostel without putting her down. This is by far the furthest I’ve ever carried anyone, my training is obviously paying off!

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Day 82 (Sat 14/01/2012)

Today we were finally leaving Nelson and getting back on the bus, I spent the morning on the internet, packed up my stuff and had lunch. At 14:00 we got a lift with Marcus to the KiwiEx bus pickup point. The bus was a standard 2 hours late, I already hated the KiwiEx but this just made it worse.

I slept the whole bus journey before arriving in Kaiteriteri at about 18:00 and checked out our camping options. I wanted to camp wild on the beach but after a quick investigation, realised it wasn’t possible and had to go in the campsite which luckily had a couple of spaces left. Kaiteriteri is pretty much just this campsite situated right on the beach and is very family oriented. We got a pitch near the back of this huge site, put the tent up then went for a walk. We walked around the beach and rocky areas that divided the individual coves. On one rock formation we found a seagull nest with 2 eggs in it. I love jumping and climbing over all the rocks; it’s amazing how good you get at it with a bit of practice.

When we got back we had dinner and made friends with our neighbours who invited us to their pitch for drinks which is where we spent the rest of the evening.

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Day 83 (Sun 15/01/2012)

Laura and I woke up in tent, it wasn’t as uncomfortable as I’d imagined it’d be, we decided to stay on the camp site another night but unfortunately there wasn’t any space so we packed up our stuff and left everything with our neighbours so we could spend the day kayaking. The weather was pretty good now so we’d made a good decision to wait a couple of days.

After arranging the kayaking we had to wait an hour before the briefing so we met Fredrick on the beach. He was still in Kaiteriteri after leaving us in Nelson but unfortunately he was leaving today which meant he was going to be 1 day ahead of us for a while. He was with another Swedish guy I’d met back up in Paihia 6 weeks ago.

We went Kayaking for 4 hours around the bays of Kaiteriteri, covering the full area that was allowed. We timed it just right to explore a lagoon that was only accessible at high tide; it was only a few cms deep so it was pretty amazing we could kayak over it. It was actually possible to row pretty fast in the kayak and I loved being able to get to beaches and areas only accessible by boat. Unfortunately you quickly learn that doing any kind of activity with a girl puts a massive downer on the whole thing because they are so scared of everything, so annoying.

When we got back to camp site we were told there was still no space despite loads of pitches being empty. We decided to take matters into our own hands and sub-let a plot from a couple who were packing up and leaving early. After re-setting up the tent, we went back for more beach time to make the most of the good weather.

At the beach I went for a swim in the sea to the diving platform, it was so shallow I could walk the whole way and touch the bottom when I was at the platform, wasn’t too good for diving. As it got colder we headed back to the camp site for dinner. We then went for a hike up in the hills overlooking the campsite; it was surprising how many paths there were going everywhere. We played cards in the tent until it got dark and went to bed.

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Day 84 (Mon 16/01/2012)

Today was the last morning in the north of the south island. We woke up in the tent, packed up our stuff and headed to the beach for the morning. The bus left at 12:30 and we were heading to Westport.

Posted by kendrick 08:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Auckland and the northlands road trip

The adventures with the Rutt brothers

storm 20 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 62 (Sun 25/12/2011)

Lawrence picked me up from the city and we headed back to his house and had Christmas dinner. After chilling out for a bit we walked to his friends house for an evening party. There were about 20 guys there and I was the only one who was straight.

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Day 63 (Mon 26/12/2011)

Lawrence picked Oliver (his brother) up from the airport at about 08:30. When they got back to the house we went out for a canyoning adventure gorge run. We drove out to the coast and parked the car. From here it was a 20 minute run to the beach, up and down a mountain track, the terrain was pretty tough so great for adventure running. 40 minutes later we arrived at the beach with Lawrence realising that we’d taken a wrong turn; we now had a long run up the beach to the start of the river. During this time Oliver’s sandal strap broke (he was running in sandals because he didn’t want to ruin his new trainers) so we fastened it back together using a combination of sea kelp and flax leaf.

We had gone the long route from the beach to get to the start of the river so now had to cross through about 500m of overgrown stinking swamp that was at times, waist deep. It was like tough guy all over again. Eventually we made it to the start of the river and the canyoning part was incredible. We had to make our way up this beautiful rocky river with crystal clear water through an impressive gorge. At some points we were wading up stream, at others we were hoping along rocks, others we were swimming through calm pools with steep cliffs on either edge and other parts involved semi-technical free rock climbing up waterfalls.

It ended up taking most of the day so we headed back, Oliver was pretty jetlagged so he fell asleep whilst Lawrence and I went out to get takeaway.

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Day 64 (Tue 27/12/2011)

We got up early to leave for our northlands road trip. We first stopped off at Lawrence’s office to see where he worked, this was followed by a short visit to see a small Auckland train station he had designed.

We were heading north from Auckland and stopping off at various points of interest along the way. We climbed a small mountain peak, I did this one in bare feet; some pretty awesome views from the top. We saw the largest Kauri tree, possible 2000 years old and it really was massive.

In the evening we found a really cool camp site to stay at called Ngawha springs; it was situated in a geothermal area. It had some makeshift hot springs next to it. Pretty much just holes dug in the ground, held open by old bits of wood. The many small pools were varying temperatures with varying amounts of heat bubbling out of the ground. The bottom was just natural mud and sand; the bottom of one of the pools was so hot you couldn’t touch it. The water was about 45 degrees and you could only stay in for a bit. Another pool was the perfect temperature to laze in for ages.

After putting up the tent and eating we stayed in the hot springs for ages. Lawrence and Oliver got out before me to have a shower, once they were done I went. The toilet and shower were located in the darkest and scariest place ever, there were no lights, the wind was howling; it was just like a scene from a horror movie, I thought I was going to be murdered with an axe at any moment. I had a quick, cold shower in the dark and swiftly made my way back to the tent across the ghostly looking field.

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Day 65 (Wed 28/12/2011)

As soon as we woke up we went back into the hot springs – so good! Then we had breakfast and packed away the tent. From here we drove to a place called Ahipara, we were going to do an activity like blow karting, the kart thing with a sail that you drive along the beach. Unfortunately the wind was too strong so we decided to carry on up to the far north of the country.

On the way we stopped at an amazing place with huge sand dunes that you could climb and then sand board down them. The wind was getting stronger and we were being sand blasted on the top of the dunes.

We carried on to cape reiang and the most northerly point of New Zealand. The weather was getting worse; the winds were now stronger and it was lashing it down with rain (This was the start of 48 hours of very heavy rain). We walked out onto the cliffs, I was being blown around by the wind, parents were holding onto their kids. The interesting thing about this part of the coast is that it’s the point where the pacific ocean meets the tasman sea. You can actually see the line where the waves from the 2 seas are hitting each other causing an extremely rough sea with waves going in all different directions, very cool to watch. Some of the waves crashing in were huge.

That night we found a packed holiday camp site place, we got our own plot, set up the tent in a brief break from the rain then had dinner. That night there was some serious rain. Lawrence and Oliver didn’t want to go outside in the night to go to the toilet so they pissed in a 3L bottle which they filled up then carried on in an empty port bottle with no lid, this later fell over spilling on the ground sheet.

Lawrence owes an old ‘long wheel base model’, ‘Sherwood forest green’ Jaguar car. He is very proud of this car and likes it to be kept spotless. The thought of going away camping with it for a week makes his blood boil, especially when car bloopers occur. That day Oliver managed to rip the passenger side handle clean out of its socket as Lawrence was driving round a corner too fast. I was attempting to throw an apple core out of the window when I missed, hit the side of the passenger head rest which then ricochet off hitting the roof, spraying small bits of apple over me and the car. To top it all off, Lawrence had started filling up the car with petrol when a random attendant comes over to ‘help’, accidentally pulls the nossle out, spraying petrol all over him and down the side of his car.

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Day 66 (Thu 29/12/2011)

The weather was still dreadful so when we got up we packed the tent up wet and headed south towards our next destination. On the way we stopped at a few places. Firstly in Paihia at the bay of islands; the weather was too bad to do jet skiing so we carried on.

Next we stopped at some 27m waterfalls, got absolutely soaked in the torrential rain. With the weather being so bad, we changed our plans and instead of going to the camp site, we visited a friend of Lawrence’s who happened to live just down the road.

When we arrived, Neil wasn’t home but instead we were greeted by another guy called Mark. Mark was a German guy, our age, wwoofing at Neil’s house. Wwoofing is where backpackers work for food and accommodation. Mark was pretty cool and ended up hanging out with us for the next couple of days.

Neil is a private GP and is pretty wealthy, he owns a very nice mountainside house near the coast. His house has very nice grounds with an outdoor spa pool. That evening the 5 of us went for food in the local town of Waipu at a pub. The food was pretty good but in the words of Lawrence, “It looked like something out of a crocodile Dundee movie”. We stayed for a few drinks there then chilled back at the house.

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Day 67 (Fri 30/12/2011)

The weather was horrendous and I had access to the internet so I pretty much stayed indoors all day on the computer. I helped Neil improve his home entertainment system by connecting up a few devices to it.

In the evening Neil cooked dinner for everyone and then we had a spa party in the rain, entertained by an awesome thunderstorm during the continuing bad weather.

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Day 68 (Sat 31/12/2011)

We had to get to the camp site at Eurtiti pretty early so in the morning we packed up the car and drove down in convoy with Mark. As we arrived the weather got a lot better and we actually had a decent sunny afternoon. Once we got to the camp site we quickly set up the tent then headed straight down to the beach.

The campsite was run by the department of conservation, it was pretty big and open, you could choose where you wanted to pitch. It was situated just behind the sand dunes of a huge beautiful beach with a long and clear shallow sea that was great for surfing.

We went in the sea then did some exercise on the beach. The sea was so good so we went back in. When the others went back I stayed for ages body boarding in the waves then managed to get in a bit of sunbathing.

We had dinner, then went to a small cocktail party at a neighbouring tent for some pina coladas. We then got a tour of 2 peoples converted bus mobile homes. It seemed to be the trend there to buy an old bus then kit it out with everything and travel round. The buses were incredible; imagine an old bus having everything ripped out then packed with a double bed in the rear, shower, kitchen, washing machine, living area, external cooking area, 500L water tank and 30 batteries providing enough power to last 17 days. We stayed at the party outside one of the buses before we had to escape back to the tent after I was molested by a world famous in New Zealand TV weather man. As we got back to the tent there was a down pore so we stayed in there and played cards until just before midnight.

We headed down to the beach party but we were a bit late so midnight struck as we were walking down the beach, it was pretty cool as we got a good fireworks display in the distance. We stayed around the bonfire for a while and then headed to bed.

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Day 69 (Sun 01/01/2012)

As none of us were that drunk the previous night and we didn’t really get to bed too late, we got up fairly early and went to the beach. The waves were amazing, consistent rolling and dumping. They were massive. I’ve not been on the pacific coast much before so I’ve never really seen big waves; it was pretty scary seeing them building up right in front of you. At least if they were too big you could just duck under the water and you wouldn’t be completely wiped out. I played in waves for ages, body surfing and body boarded.

We headed back to the tent and quickly packed up. We then drove back to Neil’s house but he was still out surfing so we met him for lunch in Waipu.

On our way back to Auckland we stopped at another beach to take a quick walk, this beach has a river flowing down the sand into it which was pretty cool.

When I got back to Lawrence’s house, we didn’t have much time before my flight so I quickly packed up my stuff and we headed to the airport. I was flying to Christchurch to start my tour of the south island. – That was what was supposed to happen.

What actually happened was: I got back to Lawrence’s house, checked my flight time to find out it had been book for a month early. There was no way I could get a flight down now at such short notice. I even had accommodation booked in Christchurch. The next best option was to book a coach; luckily there was availability on a coach in an hours time. I quickly booked it online, threw all my stuff in my bag and headed into the city to catch the bus to Wellington... again. I wasn’t prepared for a bus journey and had no accommodation sorted out the following day. It was a 11 hour overnight bus and it wasn’t actually too bad; before I knew it, it was the next day and I was in Wellington.

Posted by kendrick 07:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches Comments (0)

Wellington and the swift return to Auckland

Lots of buses

sunny 23 °C
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Day 59 (Thu 22/12/2011)

We arrived in Wellington before 18:00 and got a shitty free meal with the hostel room. I took the time to get sorted out after the previous 6 nights in the wild. Later in the evening we met up with a girl from our first bus who is staying in Wellington for a while. As far as I know everyone else had already moved onto the south island.

We kinda arranged sometime after 20:00 to meet, this turned out to be 22:45. We’d got some drinks and started some games in the hostel room where we involved 2 other randoms that were staying in the room. By the time we left it was already 01:30, we met Laura’s friends in a bar and stayed out partying until 04:30.

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Day 60 (Fri 23/12/2011)

I felt awful this morning, forced myself to get out of by just after 11:00 as this was my only day in Wellington. I got some food and headed to the Museum; Jan had got up earlier to go on the internet so I had no idea where he was but he knew the plan was to go to the museum. Laura met me at the museum shortly followed by Jan. Laura, who is hating staying in Wellington is even more keen to leave NZ early and join in on the Asia trip.

After looking round the museum for a while we walked round the shops in town and didn’t buy anything apart from a cookie each. We headed back to get our free meal and then chilled at the hostel that evening.

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Day 61 (Sat 24/12/2011)

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Mount doom from the desert side

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The awesome river we swam down

The KiwiEx bus left at 08:00 to head back to Taupo, making a few stops on the way. I knew the library was open until 16:00 today so made the most of the free internet. Armed with my tent etc, I headed up to Spa park to find a place to camp near the hot springs; I don’t know if you’ve realised it yet but I love the hot springs. Spa park is really nice, very big and overlooks the huge river. I found an awesome spot to put up the tent then went to the hot springs about 20:30. Later I was joined by 6 mauri lads, they were pretty funny and started doing crazy jumps off the bridge into the water; the bridge isn’t that high but the water is only about 1m deep so they were pretty much doing high belly flops!

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The stream at the hot springs

The weather was pretty good so the night was quite warm. It was the first time I’d stayed in the tent on my own and it’s a pretty good size for me and my bags.

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Looking up the river with the water level being high

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Day 62 (Sun 25/12/2011)

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I camped just up from here in the park

It was Christmas morning and I woke up in a tent on my own in the middle of a park. I had to get the bus the Auckland so needed to get back to the pickup point in town. I walked the 3km back to town carrying all my stuff. I got to the bus on time and we headed off to Auckland making a couple of stops on the way.

Posted by kendrick 14:15 Archived in New Zealand Tagged geothermal Comments (0)

River valley - the sandfly infested hell hole

Paradise mixed with hell

semi-overcast 20 °C
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Day 58 (Wed 21/12/2011)

We got on kiwi bus and drove out to national park where we stopped for a 2 hour hike to see some waterfalls. When we got to the waterfalls a random guy propositioned me to go under the waterfall. I’d already felt the water and knew it was about 10 degrees (being snow melt off the mountain) but I took up the challenge anyway. The water was so cold and powerful, it hurt my head so much standing under it; it was definitely the coldest water I’d been in so far.

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In the freezing waterfall

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Check out how big it is

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View of the mountain

After I finished playing we headed back to the bus and were on our way on the fairly long trip to river valley. By now we were so sick of the overpriced hostels the kiwiEx takes us to, we take whatever option we can to do something else. Now we had a tent and a load of sleeping stuff this was pretty easy; we planned just to hike off for a bit and set up our own camp carrying all the provisions we needed.

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The plan didn’t quite work because the hostel people weren’t happy about people going off wild camping (it goes against their business plan of making as much money as possible). We ended up camping on site near the river.

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River valley (Rivendale) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen so far. The hostel is situated at the bottom of a huge scenic valley with an incredible river flowing through it; the river is so clear and fresh. It’s like paradise mixed with hell because it’s infested with millions of sand flies, these tiny black flies that relentlessly swamp around you and give you a nasty bite. They are particularly nasty because they are so small you often can’t feel them on you.

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We had to camp in the middle of this but once in the tent (having killed all the flies that got in) it was actually fine; going back outside was the biggest nightmare.

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Day 59 (Thu 22/12/2011)

In the morning we had until midday so we slept in, ate and then went on a short gorge walk up the river.

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The river was really fast flowing and was impossible to cross at some points but further up the river was an incredible waterfall coming straight down the cliff into the water. From here I floated back down the river in the rapids, hitting many rocks on the way down. Once back at the hostel site I swam for a while in the river (it was the only safe place to escape the sand flies); one of the nicest rivers I’ve ever been in.

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I was happy to leave this place as the sand flies spoil everything, you literally can’t do anything outside unless you are completely under the water which is too cold to stay in. We were away on the bus before 13:00 heading down to Wellington.

Posted by kendrick 20:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged river Comments (0)

Taupo and the 2nd road trip around central north island

6 days in Taupo and then a long way south

rain 17 °C
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Day 52 (Thu 15/12/2011)

On the way into Taupo we stopped at Huka falls.

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Huka falls from bridge

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End of Huka falls

We arrived in Taupo and first thing on the agenda was to find a rental car for the next 5 days. A hostel night is around $25 -30, car rental which gives you the freedom to go anywhere is $57.50 a day split 3 ways, much cheaper.

We arranged the car for the following morning then spent the rest of the day in the library, a great find, the best free internet I’d found on my trip so far. After food that evening I did some exercises in the corridor, the only place in the whole hostel big enough. Towards the end of my workout, a French woman called Estelle started a conversation telling me she is into exercising, running, swimming, hiking and literally anything outdoors and active. She told me she was going on a training run at 06:00 the following morning, I changed the time to 06:30 and agreed to go with her.

Let me try to describe Estelle, she is 34 and French (although at first she lied and said she was 30). She’s completely ripped with an 8 pack and had recently won the Wellington 5km in 18:30, significantly faster than anything I’ve ever achieved. The clothes she was travelling with were pretty much what she was wearing. Her bag was huge and weighed 40kg, it was full of equipment for a range of outdoor sports revolving around, running, hiking and swimming. She had cooking equipment, food and drink, a tent and sleeping bag and even hiking poles attached to her bag.

She found out about our road trip and plans to do the Tongariro crossing and wanted in although she didn’t just want to do the crossing, she also wanted to climb the 2 peaks along the hike as well and had plans for scrabbling up the side of a volcano. She later earned the name Extreme Estelle or Extreme for short.

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Day 53 (Fri 16/12/2011)

So I kept my word and got up at 06:15 to meet Extreme for our run. I’d previously told her she’d have to go at my pace so I could keep up. She said she wanted to run to Huka falls and then onto craters of the moon if we still had time. This sounded OK so we headed off on our adventure. The pace was pretty good and the track was extremely hilly. Now I’m pretty out of shape for running and I’ve not been going that much since I’ve been away; until then the most I’d ever really run was 10km on a continuous flat course and perhaps 16km in the tough guy races but that involves a lot of stop start and other activities. By the time we’d got to craters of the moon, our furthest point, we’d been running for 70 minutes. By this point I was flagging and not able to keep up with Extreme but that was ok because every now and then she’d stop to take pictures, yes she was carrying a camera as well.

Our run was scheduled to end at spa park hot springs, a point where a 50 degree geothermal river flows over a waterfall through some pools into the large cold crystal clear river. When we arrived here, we’d been running for 100 minutes totalling 15km over what felt like mountains; getting in the hot springs felt amazing. We stayed there for a while but were limited for time because we both had to check out at 10:00.

As we left, Extreme started to run up the hill towards the road, I was like, you have to be kidding me; I hobbled / run for another km up hill to the road where we hitchhiked a lift back into town. I went straight to the rental station where I collected our car for the next 5 days and drove it back to the hostel. I parked it outside for a few hours longer than I should have done and got a parking ticket.

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The raincoat people wanted me to buy from the red cross

We spent a couple of hours in the library before a quick trip to the red cross (our new favourite shop) where we bought 2 duvets, a pillow, a roll mat and a 2 man tent for $16 / £8. We stopped at McDs to use the toilet where we met the 2 German girls from KiwiEx who were still randomly hanging around. We pretty much kidnapped them and took them with us to the hot springs, it was a bit cold so we gave them our jumpers to wear whilst they waited in the rain for us to swim in the hot springs. They were already a bit miserable but decided they’d had enough and started to walk the 3km back into town. We didn’t really want to leave so let them go off with our jumpers, thinking they were bluffing.

That day in the hot springs we met 2 Isralie guys and a French Candian hitchhiker they’d picked up who was now travelling with them in their 2 person camper. They were very laid back guys so we made plans with them to do the crossing together and park a vehicle at both ends.

The girls had disappeared so we went on a mission to find them, luckily we spotted them in town and got our jumpers back. They wanted to come with us on our road trip, we told them we’d let them know the following morning if we had space for them even though I had no intention of taking them anywhere nor had their phone numbers to contact them. They realised we didn’t have their numbers so took it to humour them.

We stocked up on supplies from pack n save and headed out of town to find somewhere to stay. We were going to climb the fence of craters of the moon, the place myself and Extreme had already jumped the fence of that morning. When we arrived the gate to the road was closed and there was no way I was walking another 2km up a mountain to get there. We decided to stay in the lower car park which luckily had a small shelter, just big enough to park our car under (it was still raining).

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The bed in the boot of the car

This was our first night sleeping 3 people in a car, we had Jan and I on the front seats and Freddy in the boot. This night was a bit cold but it all worked out OK. That evening I was trying to find out if Extreme was coming on the road trip with us. I set her a txt saying “Are you coming in the car tomorrow?” – This is the unedited response I got: “Yes, i will swim or run closed lake we could try to meet in library? At what time?”. Still none the wiser we took this to mean she was coming and told her we’d pick her up at midday.

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6.Extreme!

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Day 54 (Sat 17/12/2011)

After waking up in our car park shelter, I dropped Jan and Freddy off at the top of a hike that I had run the previous day; this came out at the hot springs so I drove there, got in and waited for them. The hot springs are so good! About 15m out into the river from where the hot stream meets it, the river gets deeper, colder and flows really fast, I tried wading up it but when you lose your grip on the bottom, it washes you away and smashes your feet on all the rocks as you’re trying to re-grip.

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The road trip crew

When the guys got back to the hot springs, myself, Freddy and 2 other randoms I met there went for a swim downstream. We held our flipflops in our hands and floated down the river to another exit point we knew of that has a path next to it heading back to the hot springs. Swimming down the river was amazing (pretty cold though, about 14 degrees).

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The river at the hot springs in spa park

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Me in the hot springs

From here we headed straight back to the library where we met up with extreme Estelle to start our drive to the Tongariro national park. It’s 100km to national park and the first section winds around the huge lake Taupo. The weather was dreadful, cold and raining but the suggestion of a lake swim became reality when we stopped at a lake access point. Extreme, Freddy and I braved the 15 degree lake in the rain and as usual it was awesome. Extreme went for a swim whilst Freddy and I kinda just waded around, it didn’t seem to matter how far out we went; the lake was always waist deep. Before getting out, we found a load of big floating rocks which were pretty cool.

Our only other stop on the way to national park was a high security prison which we found after taking a wrong turn. Because the weather was so bad we couldn’t really do anything so decided to check out the end of the crossing. When we arrived at the car park at the end of the gravel track we found a soaking wet Belgium couple stranded because they had no phone reception to call the shuttle service.

We thought their hostel was a few km’s away so we offered to drop them there however this meant leaving Jan and Freddy there whilst we drove them up the road. It turned out their hostel was 25km away, the couple were so grateful for the lift they paid for 2 huts for the 4 of us that night in the place they were staying.

Due to the weather we swiftly went to pick up the others and head to accommodation, when we arrived the guys had met a Swiss girl in the same situation so we offered her a lift. She was staying at the YHA, 5km further than where we were staying. I was sure this was where the 2 Dutch girls from the kiwiEx were staying so I asked reception and sure enough they were there.

After telling them our plans, they wanted to join in a do the crossing with us the following day so we hung out there for a bit and made plans. We headed back to the hostel and played around in the common room for a bit.

The huts were about a 2m cube made from a material that was probably closer to paper than wood. They contained bunk bed and a single plug socket. Outside the ground was completely flooded and it was still raining, the wind was blowing through the hut and it was freezing. Luckily the room had a tiny electric heater that had to share the socket with my GPS charger.

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Day 55 (Sun 18/12/2011)

We woke up at 04:50 in our freezing huts to hailing wind. After a short discussion we postponed the crossing for 2 hours to re-check the weather, informed the Dutch girls and the Isralie guys and went back to sleep. At 06:50 we took a chance and went for it.

We had to leave a vehicle at both ends of the crossing, this involved precision organisation in an area with no phone reception. Firstly I had to pick up 2 Dutch girls from 10km away in the wrong direction then come back to pick up the other 3 from where we were staying. There were now 6 of us in the car and we had to head up a 7km gravel track to the start of the crossing. The 4 others had to wait at the start whilst I drove Fredrik 25km to the start where we would meet the 2 Isralie guys and a French Canadian hitch hiker girl they had picked up. When we arrived we found out the plan had changed and we were now leaving our car at the end and we would drive to the start in their camper van with the 3 of them in the front, Fredrick and I in the back with another 3 Australian mountain bikers who they had met the previous day. 90 minutes later after stopping to refill the other guys water bottles in a random stream (any water is better than no water) we were back at the start and the group was now 12.

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We were all travelling in this bus

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The start of the Tongariro crossing

Myself and Extreme Estelle set the pace, the 4 members of team extreme had kept up by the start of mount doom so we continued up to the 2300m summit from our current 1600m elevation. The other 8 people carried on along the crossing.

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Mount doom in the background

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Near the top of mount doom on the ice

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The ridge around mount doom

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Fredrick at the top, above the clouds

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Part of the extreme team

The total length of the crossing is 19.7km across a mountain range. This wasn’t enough for team extreme so we added on the summit climb of 700m up a steep rock and gravel race and a 700m slide down. This equated to an extra 5km and the hardest mountain climb of my life. The views at the top and the gravelsand sliding decent were well worth it. The volcano is still active and although there was no lava in the crater, the rocks at the top were very hot and steaming. I found out how hot the hard way by sitting on one of the vents.

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Just before the end of the crossing

Having got down and back on the crossing we were all pretty knackered and had quite a long walk ahead of us, luckily it was pretty tame compared to what we had just climbed. The last 7km was mostly downhill which we jogged, we were only an hour behind the others at the end but by this point they had already hitchhiked back so we didn’t need to give anyone a lift. Extreme Estelle also hitchhiked a lift back to Taupo so the 3 of us headed back to the hostel to get our stuff, eat and shower.

That night we went to watch Lord of the rings at the Dutch girls hostel and feel asleep after about 5 minutes. At about 01:00 we sorted out the car so we could all sleep in it, Jan and I in the front and Freddy in the boot. Freddy went straight to sleep whilst we drove to a good location off the main road.

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Day 56 (Mon 19/12/2011)

Now we had completed the crossing we had loads of time so decided to keep heading south to the next national park that contained the impressive Wanganero river that has carved out a massive valley.

The valley contains a gravel track river road with awesome scenery. We headed down it slowly and it went on for a very long time. Part of the way down we stopped to climb a big sheep covered mountain, we sat on the mountainside for a while and then what seemed to be the owner of the land turned up. He asked us if we’d seen anyone suspicious hanging around and then told us the mayors husband lived across the other side of the river and we should go visit him. We didn’t believe him but sure enough a closed gate led us down a steep path to a big gong and a make shift cable car across the river.

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Jan ringing the gong

We banged the gong and a man appeared far away on the other side of the river; we couldn’t hear anything he was saying but climbed in the tiny open cable car and he pulled us across, high above the river. When we got to the other side I explained the situation; it turned out he thought we were his next guests arriving to stay in his guest house. Since we were already over there he decided to show us round his sustainable organic farm / hotel. This place was only accessible from the cable car across the river or by boat, it required external electricity but had its own water supply from the mountain stream and bio toilets. They were growing loads of different organic veg, fruits and nuts. The guy was really nice and I love the set up he’d put together; virtually everything there had been built from scratch by him including the make shift cable car (I worryingly found out after I was already across). We headed back to the other side of the river and went on our way heading to the coastal town of Wanganero, where the river meets the sea.

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About to get in the flying fox

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The organic farm and the guy who runs it

We stocked up at a supermarket in town before heading 14km down the road to Kai Iwi beach which was recommended in the guide book. The beach was made up of nice black sand and huge amounts of driftwood. The sea had fairly big waves which I had to go and play in. Apparently the water was too cold so I was the only one extreme enough to go in. We then took some food and drink to the beach and watched the sun set over the water (I’ve seen so many sun sets now I don’t bother taking pictures anymore).

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Kai Iwi beach

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Just after my swim in the sea

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The sunset over the west coast

We noticed another car in the beach car park with 2 girls in that clearly looked like backpackers doing the same thing as us. After a long discussion about what nationality they were, predicting German we had to go ask. Shock they were German and also sleeping in the car so we went off together to find a place to set up camp. It turns out they had done this a lot and it was common place for them to park outside peoples houses and just ask them if it’s ok. Without fail, the first house they knocked at the whole family came out to greet them and told them the best spot to put the car. Apparently they regularly get offered food, drink and showers.

I decided it would be better to take the tent down to the beach about 100m away and camp there instead of in the car. Freddy and I camped on the beach and Jan stayed in the car. The stars were so clear this night we could see the milky way and other galaxy clusters. We lay with our heads out of the tent and saw some shooting stars and the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in the night sky, a sharp orange flash. The night was pretty cold.

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Day 57 (Tue 20/12/2011)

Waking up on the beach was amazing, I love the beach, especially deserted ones with big waves. I took this opportunity to do some exercises on the beach whilst Jan went running. We then went and played in some awesome waves.

We were going to head straight back to Taupo but the weather was so good for the first time on our trip we had to stay and sunbath at the beach. I actually got a bit sunburnt in a few small areas where I missed putting suncream.

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The road trip crew with the car

We drove the 240km back to Taupo and chilled in a hostel to recharge some stuff before heading to the spa area to find somewhere to stay overnight.

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Day 58 (Wed 21/12/2011)

Unknown to us we had stopped the car next to a geothermal stream, having woken up early we headed down to the point where the stream meets the bigger river in spa park, the location of the hot and cold pools. We stayed under the hot waterfall for about an hour before heading into town.

We were hoping to get to the library before the bus left so we quickly filled up the car, met Freddy to drop our stuff with him and then took the car back to the rental station. Annoyingly the rental station office was closed so we returned the key in the key deposit along with the $300 cash payment; a bit risky but we had no choice.

Posted by kendrick 18:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains Comments (0)

Rotarua and the first road trip

What we did during our first road trip around central north island

rain 18 °C
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Day 49 (Mon 12/12/2011)

Today we were moving to our next stop following our short stay at Waitomo. We were heading for Rotorua, the country’s geothermic and cultural centre. The bus was pretty much driving straight there with a few small stops along the way.

The first stop was a short walk over the cave system we went down the previous day. The weather was pretty awful, raining a fair bit and forecast to continue for a few days, not shaping up too good for the main part of the north island circuit.

When we arrived in Rotarua I sat down with Jan and we made a complete plan for the rest of the north island tour including how many days we were staying in each place, hiring cars etc. We booked all our buses with KiwiEx then headed into town to rent a car which we arranged to pick up the following morning.

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Random shooting range

After a random stop at a shooting range we spent the rest of the afternoon doing a walk around lake Rotarua and some of the towns thermally active parks. We saw a lot of bubbling mud, steaming pits and endured a continuous stench of the towns sulphurous eggy smell.

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So much geothermic energy

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Lake Rotarua

That evening a group of us cooked a pasta feast followed by a swim in the hostels geothermically heated pool; it was about 35 degrees. Later that night the hostel hosted their weekly quiz; our team from Paihia reformed. This was the worst organised quiz I’ve ever had the misfortune of being involved in; it started 3 hours late and the host was a total idiot.

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The shittest quiz ever

After the quiz I made some rough plans with a party girl called Laura from the KiwiEx to join our group in the south island and then come onto Asia with me. Whether this will actually happen is another matter.

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Day 50 (Tue 13/12/2011)

We had to watch the big group of about 20 people we’d made good friends with over the past week leave. I was actually pretty sad, you make good friends pretty quick when you are spending 24 hours a day with everyone. We were alone again, checked out of the hostel and picked up car. We only had 2 days so we headed straight out of Rotarua on our first road trip in NZ.

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Our car

Our first main stop was a huge 100 year old redwood grove; here we did a 12km hike around the park with views over Rotarua and the thermal park of Te Puia. We continued on to the blue and green lakes, walking 4km around the blue lake.

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A big redwood

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Weird coloured swamp

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Looks like a tall tree...

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...and that's only half of it

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Te Puia geothermal park from a scenic lookout on our redwoods walk

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Someone water skiing on the blue lake

After seeing some more breathtaking scenery we carried on, stopping at a tourist attraction called Buried Village. It was 19:00 and the placed was closed with no one about. After a short investigation I climbed the fence and opened the gate from the inside to let Jan in. We headed down a short track to see some beautiful waterfalls in the forest valley. Seeing the attractions after closing time was so much better and more exciting; it became a theme of the rest of the trip.

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Peeing into the lake, the weather was so bad

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Amazing scenery

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The entrance to the closed burried village tourist attraction

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The waterfalls at buried village

The previous night, I’d had a tip off about a place south of Rotarua near some geothermal parks. It was a hot stream that met a cold stream to make a shallow pool, hot on 1 side and cold on the other so you could adjust your temperature. This was in the middle of nowhere and seemed like a good place to camp that night.

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A huge hot lake

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This stream coming out of the lake was really hot

We took the scenic route, passing one of the best geothermic parks in the area, Volcano Valley. It was now 20:30 and this was also completely closed. It was an easy gate climb to get in, leading onto a 3km track down the valley through some amazing sights. We didn’t have much light left so we had to run the whole way, it was so amazing in there, even better having it all to ourselves; we even saw 2 kiwis!

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A small geyser thing

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This lake ranged in size and temperature over a 25 day cycle

From here we carried on to ‘hot n cold’. My instructions were to drive down this tiny road until you come the a wooden bridge, the pool is just under the bridge. It was 22:00 now and pitch black but Sure enough we found the bridge, a car load of locals had just turned up; we joined them and they showed us the way down, put on a light from a phone, some music and lit a load of candles around the lake. You couldn’t see what you were walking into but it was so nice and hot.

We stayed in the hot pool for ages, it was so surreal and had been one of the best evenings ever, Once we got out we found a lay by to sleep in which happened to be a bubbling mud pool tourist attraction; you could hear it from the car.

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The mud pool we camped by

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Day 51 (Wed 14/12/2011)

It wasn’t too cold in the geothermic area and we actually slept in, when we woke up there were loads of tourists that had turned up in coaches to look at the mud pools. We wanted to see the big geyser at Wai-o-tapu at 10:15 but we didn’t want to pay; we tried to get in for free but it didn’t work so went to ‘hot n cold’ again to see it in the light. On the way we found another hot pool with a waterfall flowing into it; these natural hot springs are so good.

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The hot waterfall into the spring

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'Hot n cold' bathing area - so good

We didn’t really know what to do with the day so we drove north through the middle of nowhere, some sort of massive logging area following a river valley that included a pretty impressive dam; apparently NZ get 50% of their power from hydro.

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A random river in the middle of nowhere

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The backside of a dam we drove over

The road headed out to the north coast, we picked up some cheap food on the way and eventually made it to a huge, very windy beach where we played in the decent sized waves. We headed most of the way back to Rotarua that evening via another geothermal spa park. We climbed the fence and looked round, we could have gone in the spa pools if we wanted but security looked a bit tighter here so we didn’t stay long.

We found a decent place to stay at the side of a dead end road in the middle of nowhere; the weather was still dreadful and it rained all night.

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Day 52 (Thu 15/12/2011)

We got up early in the morning and it was still raining, we drove back to rental place via a covered petrol station to sort out our stuff and clean up the car in the dry. We made it back to the pick up point, got on the bus onward to Taupo.

Just outside Rotarua we stopped to look round the Te Puia geothermic park where the main attraction was a continuously erupting geyser.

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The geyser continuously erupting

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The guide at Te Puia cooking eggs in a boiling hot pool

Posted by kendrick 15:21 Archived in New Zealand Tagged geothermal Comments (0)

Across to hot water beach then down to Waitomo

The start of the main KiwiEx route

semi-overcast 21 °C
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Day 47 (Sat 10/12/2011)

Today was the main start of the Kiwi experience trip, most people get on at Auckland to start their tour of the North island. The first day and night trip was to hot water beach. The bus was pretty much full which was good.

Hot water beach is a special area with geothermic activity under the sand on a beach. The idea is that at low tide you can take a spade and dig a small hole in the sand. The boiling hot water bubbles up from limited points on the beach and fills up the holes. As the waves wash in, the cool water mixes with the hot water to form a more comfortable temperature.

From Auckland we were rushing to get to hot water beach to make it in time for the low tide period. By the time we’d sorted everything out in the hostel, we were towards the end of the best time to be there and with it being a Saturday during the summer holidays it was so crowded you could barely move let alone get close to the areas where the hot water was originating from.

Due to us being a large group of men and the people already there being families with small children, it wasn’t difficult to muscle our way in to other peoples pre-built holes. We made quite a large extension for everyone but the tide soon came in and washed away the large sand barricade we’d built.

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Self dug hot pools at hot water beach

A group of us then set up a game of quick cricket on the beach which we played until it was time to head back for a hike to a place called Cathedral cove. It was about a 30 minute walk down to the beach where erosion had formed a huge hole in the rock.

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Cathedral cove

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Massive rock at Cathedral cove

After a while I managed to persuade about 7 people to go in to the sea and play in the big waves even though no one had any swimming stuff or a towel. It was so worth it though; the waves were pretty big and really good for body surfing. We stayed in for a while before we had to walk back; everyone loved it.

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The sea we swam in

In the evening, a group, now of about 12 people ate food and played drinking games together at the hostel. We were staying in a really nice place, we had newly built lodges on a camp site near the beach; one of the nicest places I’d stayed in so far.

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Drinking games

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Day 48 (Sun 11/12/2011)

Today was another early start, the bus was leaving at 07:30. We were heading for our next location, Waitoma. This is the location of the famous black water tubing; floating down an underground river through caves in our own individual tyre tubes. It’s supposed to be one of the things to do in NZ.

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Steep gorge

On the bus journey between locations we stopped at a gorge, home to a former gold mine. We did a 45 minute hike here which took you through tunnels running through the mountains either side of the gorge.

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Cave walk

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Old train tracks going around the old gold mine

When we arrived at the hostel we chilled out for a bit before being picked up for our black water trip. We got taken to the centre where we got kitted up with a wetsuit and caving gear. The first stop was to collect a tube and learn how to jump in to the water on it from height. The water was pretty cold, not unbearable, apparently it was 12 / 13 degrees but I’d say it was more like 15 / 16.

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Waitomo caves

Having all been in the river we got back in the mini bus with our tubes and headed to the cave entrance. Once in the cave we had a bit of a talk about cave wildlife and then trekked through the wet darkness for a while.

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Our black water tubing gang

We did a few jumps off small waterfalls and floated down the underground river in a line in total darkness admiring the thousands of glow worms on the cave roof. Towards the end we were making our own way through by pushing off the cave walls.

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Practising my backward jump into the freezing river

The reason the trip is good is because it’s quite a unique experience combining caving, underground rivers, waterfalls, tubing and glow worms.

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The gang in the cave

After food that evening we ended up having a pretty funny night playing games until about 3am.

Posted by kendrick 15:05 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The start of the Kiwi Experience, heading north to Paihia

The 4 days I spent in the northlands

semi-overcast 23 °C
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Day 43 (Tue 06/12/2011)

Having been dropped off in the Jag at the Kiwi experience pick up point, I got on the bus which took us straight to a town called Paihia. This left at 7am so we were there by midday. Paihia is a small tourist town and gateway to the bay of islands. It sits just across the water, a short 10 minute ferry ride from Russell, a former NZ capital (now home to only 700 permanent residents).

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The KiwiEx bus

After check-in, I went for a walk around the town with my new roommate, an animated Dutch girl. Having got some supplies and our bearings around town we headed back with the plan of going in the hot tub. Unfortunately this had just been cleaned and would take a few hours to heat up. During this time I hung around the hostel where I met the first of our new gang; a guy and a girl, Hayden and Brooke, respectively. They were both NZ locals exploring their own country. We made plans to form a team for the quiz later that evening.

I went in the hot tub which was gradually getting hotter then followed this up with my new found cheap and favourite meal, Fusian noodles. These are like super noodles but about 10x nicer.

The quiz team had now grown to include a leary Australian girl, 2 German guys, 1 0f which, Jan would make up part of the gang that would travel on further along with an animated Swedish guy who had previously been a high level tumbler.

We did ok in the quiz but didn’t win however we did win the best team name which got us a jug of some random liquid. Brooke also managed to win a separate game; the prize for this was a boat trip around the bay of islands. It turned out that she didn’t want to go on the trip so I offered to buy it off her. After some terrible bartering on her part I’d got the $95 trip for $20 dollars, I gave her $50 for it.

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Day 44 (Wed 07/12/2011)

Alex had gone away on a trip for the day but the other 6 of us from the quiz the previous night took the ferry to Russell. When we arrived we pretty much walked straight across the peninsular to a nice beach on the other side.

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On the boat to Russel

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The beach at Russel

We played around on the beach for a while before heading into the sea. The waves weren’t too big but they were rolling waves, really good for body surfing. We swan quite far out and played in the waves before doing some sunbathing and gymnastics on the beach.

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A classic group jumping picture

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A seagull up close

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Gymnastics on the beach

We walked back to the ferry, getting some ice cream on the way. When we got back to the hostel we still had loads of time left in the day, the group split with Jan and I choosing to go on a hike.

We had the shittest paper map in the world with a couple of poorly detailed hikes drawn on them. The map didn’t even show the complete route so we were only guessing at where we had to go. We started off walking around the coast until we were out of Paihia, we then followed the coastal walk path further along until it brought us out at a main road with no footpath. From here we continued down another path into the forest, this eventually led us out further down the same road.

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During our hike we went on a random walkway through some mangroves

By this point we’d been walking for quite a while, just up the road we saw some shops and thought we’d ask people directions for the hike. No one seemed to have a clue about this mapped hike or could even tell us which was to go. One guy offered to drive us back in his van to look for the path; whilst we were waiting we popped into a bottle shop a few doors down and each bought a 1.25L bottle of 8.2% cider. When we returned, the guy had already left so we decided to walk back down the main road to look for the path into the mountains.

We pretty much got all the way back to the edge of Paihia and hadn’t found anything. It wasn’t all bad because we had our bottles which were now half drunk, with us also being about half drunk. As we walked back down the beach we met some local Mauri girls who were sitting on the beach drinking. We got chatting to them for a while before we continued on our way.

The tide had come in now so walking back around the coast was a lot more tricky. As we got nearer to the hostel we met 2 more German guys on the beach including 1 of the funniest people I’d met so far, Vladamere (he didn’t mean to be funny, he just was funny, probably exaggerated by me now being very drunk). This guy was stereotypically German, he had short spiky almost white blonde hair, wore some interesting clothes and a bum bag. He had just bought a fishing rod and was teaching himself how to fish. He ended up joining us for the evenings activities.

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The German guy fishing

We were now on our way back to meet the others for fish and chips at 19:00, by now there was at least 8 of us in the group. We walked into town and all got food where we were joined by hundreds of seagulls; I thought it was hilarious to get them to come as close as possible by feeding them small portions of my chips.

We went back to the hostel to spend an hour in the hot tub which was now unbearably hot before heading out to rocks on the beach with a load of drinks. We’d now managed to build up a group of about 12 people heading down to the beach to play games. All in all it was a pretty funny evening ending in a game of 1-up-1-down with only 1 person getting what was going on.

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Day 45 (Thu 08/12/2011)

It was another early start for the boat trip; I got to the boat and sat in a corner under my towel. The trip had 2 main purposes, seeing the bay of islands from the water and looking for Dolphins.

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Some dolphins next to the boat

We saw quite a lot of Dolphins swimming along with the boat and jumping out of the water. They are so interested in humans, one day it would be good to get a chance to swim with them.

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A dolphin jumping

After a trip out to the furthest island and through what it called ‘the hole in the rock’ we headed back for a short stop on one of the other islands. Here I walked around the coast for a bit on the rocks and went for a swim in the sea. I wanted to swim across to another island but once I was in the water I chickened out.

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'Hole in the rock'

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The cove I walked to

I got back on the boat where we headed back to Paihia. I got off at Russell to spend the afternoon on the beach again (I was pretty tired and fell asleep here) before taking the ferry back; I was the only person on the ferry on the way home.

By the time I got back to the hostel, Brooke and Hayden had already left back for Auckland, they were staying there 2 nights so I would meet up with them and a load of others to start the main part of the trip.

That evening I made some food (noodles) and watched the film, ‘kick ass’ in the common room before going in the hot tub again (which was now only luke warm) and then bed to get an early night.

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Day 46 (Fri 09/12/2011)

Today was skydive day. The bus was leaving at 8am to take me to the air field. Before I left I had to check out and put my bags in the luggage storage. On the way to the airfield, shock horror, we stopped to pick up a group of 6 German girls. I’d say 50% of all the tourists in Aus and NZ are German; it’s actually pretty good because they are all really nice people.

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The aeroplane I was going to jump out of

When we got to the airfield we had quick instruction of what to do as we left the aircraft. The total instruction went something like this: ‘As you get to the edge, cross your arms and wrap your legs under the plane, as we jump out, bend your legs back as much as you can and put your head back, then when we tap you on the shoulder, put your arms out and hold the position’. Training complete. I was probably expecting a bit more instruction for jumping out of a plane at over 3 miles above the earth but I guess I was strapped to the instructor so he pretty much controlled everything anyway.

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Ready to jump

So today I was jumping from 16000ft, which is almost 5km above the ground. When you jump above 13000ft you have to use an oxygen mask to breath in the plane on the way up. I was going up with 2 other Dutch girls who were doing a 12000ft jump; it was pretty cool getting to sit in this tiny plane (1 seat in the front and just enough floor space in the back to tightly squash in 6 people) and watch the 2 girls disappear out the side. I then had to climb higher for a few more minutes before we were good to go; you could feel this tiny plane chugging away trying to gain height at this altitude.

The view on the way up was amazing, being able to see the area around the bay of islands. We broke through the clouds, flying above a huge white wonderland. When it was time to jump, we rolled up the plastic side shutter and awkwardly shuffled towards the edge; this was the weirdest part of the experience because you’re dangling out the side of a plane hurtling along with the air rushing past your body, not quite knowing when the instructor is going to push us out of the plane. At that height above the clouds you have no perception of actually how high you are or how long it’ll take to reach them; I soon found out, pretty dam quick.

The first 5 seconds is the most amazing part of the jump; you’ve just launched out of the plane and you’re flipping over until you get steady. You’re accelerating for about the first 10 seconds to about 200km/hr, however with the combined weight of me and my instructor at around 200kg we were apparently going a bit faster. During the acceleration and freefall at terminal velocity you don’t really feel like you’re falling because the perception of how high you are doesn’t really change, all you can feel is wind rushing past you’re face as you struggle to breath. Because we’d been flipping over and my mind is so used to always seeing the clouds above, I actually thought we we’re falling backwards.

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Coming down in the parachute

Once we were steady, the instructor moved my arm position which made us spin sideways in the air and change direction. Falling straight into the clouds was so cool; it looked like a big cushion. We deployed the parachute about 5 seconds into the thick cloud, I got to take hold of the controls and was able to make us spiral round. Floating down in the parachute is so gentle; it doesn’t even feel like you’re moving. The freefall was about 65 seconds and the parachute ride was probably a couple of minutes but the whole experience felt like no time at all.

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My tandem instructor

I’d watched one of the German girls land pretty hard but our landing was really smooth as we glided in. The only downside to the whole experience was how quickly the descent went. I’d definitely do it again but I want to go higher.

We got dropped back at the supermarket to get some supplies including the standard 2L carton of chocolate milk for the day. I had just enough time back at the hostel for some food and a dip in the pool before getting back on the kiwi experience bus for the 4 hour drive back to Auckland.

In Auckland I took the easy option of staying in the Base hostel which I got for $18 (this is about as cheap as you’ll get in NZ). The reason it was cheap was because it was actually the shittest hostel I’ve stayed in so far. The location is great, right in the centre of the city but everything else is shocking. The only access to the different floors is via 3 lifts which don’t really work. At one point it took me 10 minutes to go up 1 floor after 6 journeys up and down the building without the door opening at the right floor. The rooms are small and have no windows, my room was about 50m away from the nearest toilet or sink. The mattress was awful, I woke up in the morning laying on the metal bunk bed support with the mattress folded up around me.

That night I went for food in one of Auckland’s quality food courts. These are standalone food courts with loads of different stores offering good food from all over the world for about $10 a meal. I followed this up with a shake from McDs so I could use their free wifi.

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Bench pressing a random girl in the hostel

6 of us met up that night for a quick drink at the local bar. The bar was hosting a jelly wrestling competition; not quite as good as it sounds because the competition had been entered by a load of fat blonde Viking girls, the kind you laugh at whilst people watching at the students union.

Being a bit of a loser I went to bed before midnight so I could get up the following morning at 6am to sit in McDs on the internet until the bus left at 08:20.

Posted by kendrick 14:47 Archived in New Zealand Tagged paihia Comments (0)

Auckland with Lawrence

The first 3 days in New Zealand before getting on the Kiwi Experience

sunny 24 °C
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I arrived to Auckland international airport at about 23:30. NZ customs confiscated my 3 cheese rolls I'd hand made. I was meeting Lawrence Rutt, an old friend I lived with when we were at Warwick Uni studying civil engineering together. He was collecting me from the airport. As I walk out of arrivals I scan my eyes across the crowd of people waiting to collect the passengers, Lawrence is nowhere to be seen. I start walking out, playing it cool, not to draw attention to myself that the person collecting me hasn't come when I see Lawrence, this 6'4" guy storming towards me at twice the speed a normal person moves wearing the shortest pair of shorts I'd ever seen (until I bought a shorter pair the following day, having been told it's fashion in NZ) shouting 'come along, this parking is costing me 20c/min'.

As we drove back to his house he pointed out a few areas of interest. We stopped at the base of a volcano intending to drive to the top for a good lookout point over Auckland. Unfortunately the gate to the road up was locked so we decided to walk to the top. This is when I first realised that Lawrence doesn't just walk at twice the pace of a normal human being but also has a disjointed perception of what's a long way. His legs are so long everywhere he goes by foot is only half the distance for anyone else. I just jogged along side him.

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Lawrence

The views at the top of the volcano were worth it. 360 degree night-time view of the city including the views of many other dormant volcanos dispersed amongst the city. We headed down and back to his house.

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Day 40 (Sat 03/12/2011)

We woke up and headed out for brunch with his house mates and a number of other associates. From here we walked into town via his gym where we fit in a quick workout. After leaving the gym we got sent to a sports clear out sale just round the corner. Having joked about our motive for going there being to buy me some tiny 'fashionable' shorts; we actually found some smaller than any Lawrence owned. I also obtained a free t-shirt from their prize bucket.

We got some food and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Auckland. I realised that Lawrence's walking style the previous night had not been a 1 off. We walked so far and so fast but I'm not complaining. We did end up seeing quite a lot including some very expensive boats in the docks and the main part of the CBD.

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Boats stacked so high

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Huge private boat in the marina

We walked back to the house where I begun modifying the free t-shirt I had gained. My plan was to make it into a stylish vest; doing a little more than just cutting the sleeves off. I measured it up, cut of what I needed to, leaving enough material to turn the edges over. I've never sewn in my life but I decided to give it ago on my own accord without looking up how to do it. The sewing started off pretty messy and slow but I soon got the hang of it and improved. I was pretty happy at the end that I'd learnt a new skill.

Later that night we walked to the supermarket that was 'just around the corner'; this turned out to be the corner past the christmas lights that we 30 minute walk away...and carried all the shopping home.

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Day 41 (Sun 04/12/2011)

Lawrence's work had chartered a train that goes up a mountain through a rainforest to visit a large dam providing some of the drinking water to Auckland. The train ride was extremely scenic, going through tunnels and over bridges through thick rainforest. The final stretch had to be walked; this was 153 steps up the face of the dam which was pretty cool. The views of the reservoir at the top and the dam below were breathtaking.

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The train in the torrential rain

The whole day we had torrential rain which kind of added to the rainforest experience. What better to do in torrential rain than go to some outside natural hot baths. We drove about 30 minutes north to an area that has natural hot springs, the water was so nice and it was amazing having the heavy rain pouring down whilst you were in the steaming baths.

This place has been owned by a Korean couple for the past 30 years. In the past 30 years the baths haven't seen 1 day of maintenance (or cleaning for that matter). There were 3 large square baths and 3 small hot tubs, the place was pretty much empty so we often had the pools to ourselves. I thought the basicness of it added to the character and like pretty much everything I do, I thought it was amazing and could have stayed there all day.

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One of the pools at the hot springs

In the evening we went to a local food court and were joined by 4 of Lawrence's friends where we got a relatively cheap meal.

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Day 42 (Mon 05/12/2011)

After a lay in we cooked up a big breakfast using the eggs from the chickens in the garden. We then went to Lawrence's gym to work through his new training program I prepared; best workout I've done in ages. Did a quick walk to the shops then headed home to get a few things done ready for leaving in the morning.

I finished sewing the rest of my vest and Lawrence's landlord cooked dinner for everyone.

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It was good hanging out with Lawrence, I forgot how entertaining he was. Tomorrow I have to be at a central Auckland backpackers to get collected for my first kiwi experience bus. After an early start I plan to get dropped off at the pick up point in Lawrence's jaguar, newly fitted with sheepskin drapes.

Posted by kendrick 14:42 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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