Monday, 8 June 2009

New Zealand - North Island

Kia Ora,

Well it has been an actioned packed couple of weeks and to our disappointment it has only got colder than Argentina!

We arrived in Auckland being very confused by the time difference and the 2 days that we seemed to lose on the aeroplane! We arrived at our hostel at 6am and luckily the door was open so we were able to sit in the common room where I soon had my first cup of decent tea!! That day we headed into the city and went up the cities stand out feature the Skytower ( the tallest building in the southern hemisphere!) it was sunset and was quite spectacular especially when we got it at a student rate!! Later that night due to the severe jetlag we were in bed at 8pm which only resulted in a vicous cycle of waking up at 6:30am!!

The following day we got a boat over to a suburb of Auckland called Devonport. We thought it was only our luck when it started bucketing down once we started walking up a hill! Luckily once we reached the top we had fantastic views of the city including a rainbow across the skline! Further wandering around the city and again another early night due to the early start!

The next day was the day we would start our campervan adventure! Following a lot of papers whereby we signed our lives away we were off to get our supplies!! After a few little arguments due to nic's map reading around Auckland we were onto the road and heading north of Auckland! We stayed a couple nights up the coast and went for walks on some stunning beaches! One night we even managed to watch a super 14 game in a bar! We did find some caves which were even better once we found out they were free!! We passed a guy coming out of the caves ( he was by himself crazy!) who said that we would definately need a torch and that he had turned back because he saw a huge spider there was also apparently eels in the water!! At this point i was thinking no way am i going in those caves but once we got to the opening nic wadded through the water until the point it was pitch black and there was hundreds of gloworms so i thought this was an opportunity i couldn't give up. Luckily we didn't see any spiders or eels!!

The following day we headed to the Bay of islands, which is a holiday destination for kiwis surprisingly it was quite good weather! We headed to a bar that night and being Saturday night it was quite happening! We were soon handed out raffle tickets and to our surprise they were giving out prizes!! The ticket to be pulled out first was nic's number!! Couldn't believe it! There was a catch though because you had to play a game of play your cards right to win the prizes! It was all nic's luck the first card drawn was a 7 and when he said lower and the next card was a jack saying i was disappointed was an understatement!!

Luckily there was a group of people next to us that won and because they were heading back to Auckland the next day they couldn't use any of the vouchers so they gave them to us!!! So after using our 2 4 1 drinks vouchers we headed back to our very cold campervan! ( I'm starting to realise there is an underlying theme of freebies in this part of the blog!)

The next day we used one of the vouchers to go on THE MACK ATTACK! The fastest boat in the bay of islands! It travelled up to 70 kmph and on some of the waves let just say we got a spraying!! I was a bright sunny day and we headed out to what was a literal description of a "hole in the rock"! The most annoying thing about the trip was that our guide decided to rub it in saying that the week before they had seen killer whales in the bay and they would often see dolphins but the days before they hadn't seen anything and on this occasion we didnt :(

The next day we headed north to the northest point of New Zealand, however the only problem was that you had to drive on 20 km of unsealed road and because we didn't take the extra windscreen insurance out we were very worried! (I was even more worried than nic because i was in the passenger seat!!) We finally got there and it was tipping down with rain so instead of seeing the views in the rain we camped there for the night hoping the weather would get better in the morning! We reached the camp site which was a government run one which meant it only consisted of cold showers and a long drop! We parked in the field designated for campervans. We soon realised another campervan drove in and drove straight back out and we saw that the entrance was becoming very muddy so we decided to follow them and make a quick exit! I think i spoke too soon when i said quick as I managed get the campervan stuck!! The wheels were skidding and at this point we thought we were stranded with no one around! Nic got out and tried to push but soon became covered in mud! After a short while of continuing to try luckily a kiwi guy came to help us dressed in the appropriate attaire of wellies compared to nic's flip flops!! He managed to work out how to get us out and we were very thankful!!

The following morning was a sunny day and we headed to the lighthouse on Cape Reinga which symbolised the Northest point of New Zealand and where also the Tasman and Pacific ocean met!! We were really pleased with the weather as the views were spectacular and even more happy when we got in the car and it started to rain again!

We took a couple more days to meander back to Auckland along the west coast and it is certainly true there are a lot of sheep in New Zealand!! We arrived back in Auckland where we met two of my friends Charlotte and Laura and headed on a night out!! I managed to barter in one bar for 4 drinks for 20 dollars the equivalent of 2 pound a drink which for a sat night wasn't too bad!! we ended up in a club which sold cocktails in teapots which was pretty cool!!!

We got back on the road and headed to a place called Rotoura (Maori capital). We arrived late afternoon and headed to our first adventure activity Zorbing!! For anyone who doesn't know what zorbing is it is getting in an inflatable ball and rolling down a hill and in our case it was also filled with water!! We were still with my friend Laura and we managed to blag half price!! We were travelling up in the van to get to the top of the hill and the guide (who was a maori) was asking us what we were doing the next day. Laura's response was that we were going to an aboriginal village!! (bearing in mind kiwi's hate Australien's) i think it was a massive insult and couldn't believe she said it but they took it in good spirits! (probably because they knew they were about to throw us down a hill!) Anyway the zorbing was so much fun and we could not stop laughing all the way down!! Almost to the point I nearly wet myself!! That night we met two guys from leeds who shared travel stories and turned out were heading in the same direction as me and nic.

The following day we were feeling cultural and headed to a geothermal maori village! We had a tour and it is very difficult to describe the smell because it absolutly stank due to the sulphur from the ground! The tour ended with a maori cultural performance which consisted of the HAKA!! I was very dissappointed with nic though because they were calling the men in the audience to come up and learn the haka but nic didn't go but then again it is meant to scare people and the only person nic would probably scare is himself!! Following the tour we parted ways with Laura and headed South with our newly found Northern friends.

We reached Lake Taupo where the lake is bigger than singapore! There was a few ideas going around that we all wanted to do a sky dive and that nic and another guy wanted to do a bungy jump!! It was soon thought why not do both in one day!! ( i know what you are thinking thats bloody crazy!!) I was thinking the same thing! We had KFC to give us all the needed energy!!haha and after some cards had an early night!!

It was the start to the adrenaline day!! We headed very early to the bungy place and after looking over the edge i was having second thoughts!! Nic went first and following his analysis of the jump there was now no turning back for me!! You sat down on a little bench where they straped you in and stood towards the edge and all the said was 1 2 3 bungy and you jumped off all very quick and easy but also very scary yet amazing!! After the adrenaline had calmed down it was difficult to believe that that afternoon were were also going to be jumping out a plane at 12,000 ft!! We had our lunch then headed to Taupo airport!!

We were shown a dvd of a skydive which only got us more and more scared but also excited!! we met our instructors which one of their response was "don't worry I'm only really hungover" at this point I wasn't finding anything funny!! We started to get all the gear on but I soon realised that I was missing a piece of equipment that everyone else had!! Since my instructor had disappeared I asked someone else and it turned out he had forgotton to give me a Lifejacket and considering we were skydiving over a massive lake I thought that it would have been a vital piece of equipment!! Anyway after a couple of photos we were all couped inside a tiny plane! At this point we still had no instruction of what to do!! After being in the air for about 5 mins my instructor decided to tell me some very vague instructions in my ear! All i could really hear was something about making the shape of a banana!! Before we knew it the two guys before were falling out the plane and it was my turn!! It is very difficult to describe the sensation of falling out of a plane but it was AMAZING! My instructor decided to spin us round and go upside down so I could see the plane we'd just fallen out of!! After 45 seconds he opened the shoot and on the clear day we had fantastic views of the lake! Sadly before we knew it were on the ground :( But we can safely say it was the best thing we had ever done!!

That night we had received vouchers from the skydive place for drinks in the pubs in town so we thought it was rude not to head out!! It turned out it was quiz night in the irish pub so we soon signed up!! Unfortunately it turned out to be the hardest quiz ever!! However we came 10th out of about 20 which wasn't bad!! We then hit Element a bar/club where we took part in some very strange dancing with our adrenaline junky northern friends!!

The next day a little hungover we found out about some free thermal springs which sounded like a good idea when we probably hadn't showered in about 3 days due to saving on campsite costs!! The thermal pools were like a warm bath but we were probably sweating due to the high temperature!! We then parted ways with our northern friends and had an early night!!

The following day we headed to Napier which is on the East coast! In lonely planet it kept describing it as an art deco capital! If i'm honest I have no idea about Art deco but Napier was also described as a british seaside town and that I could see!! We went to the National Aquarium which was pretty cool!!

The folowing day we headed further South to a spot of luxury by staying at Nic's friend's house in Wellington! We have currently been here for 4 days because there's so much comfort such as showers everyday that we don't want to leave!! We are planning to head to the South Island soon but the thought of sleeping in minus temperatures when hearing the weather is so good back home is somewhat putting us off!!

Lots of Love

Nic and Jen


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