Farewell kiwis

Trip Start Jun 24, 2004
Trip End Jun 17, 2005

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, March 20, 2005

So here I am enjoying my last day in NZ, it's been a blast. From Wellington I headed up North to do the Tongariro Crossing (the most famous 1 day hike in NZ). It was a cruisey hike, not too difficult. I was extremely lucky with the weather, during the previous week the shuttles were only operating to the end points of the trails 1/7 days. For me the sky was clear blue, however at the highest point during the hike I was wearing my toque and gloves. This walk consisted of walking through craters, beside a volcano, passing by the Emerald lakes (beautiful volcanic lakes, incredible colours). However, since it was such a spectacular day, the herds of sheep (people) were almost unbearable. I have never been hiking with so many other people before. This was unfortunately my last hike in NZ.

Mum - you probably want to skip the next few sections even though I've already told you what I've recently been up to :)

I cruised up to Taupo, where the extreme adventures started. I did my very first tandem skydive at 12000 feet. I wasn't nervous for a second, I was overwhelmed with excitement. I think because you are so high above the ground that it almost seems "fake", and my body probably didn't connect the fact that I was high in a plane and leaping into thin air. I would have been nervous if I had been doing a solo jump. The only one problem that I experienced was feeling nauseous once the parachute opened, next time I would take some gravol prior to jumping.

If doing a skydive wasn't enough excitement for one day, I decided to do a bungy jump. For some reason bungy jumping had never appealed to me prior to wanting to do a parabungy in Queenstown, even after that I still wasn't overly interested in bungy jumping. Something sparked my interest a few days prior to the big jump. I jumped from 47m, not the highest by far in NZ, but a descent height. I love the feeling of free-falling. I had to do the rocket style jump since I was planning on getting wet to the waist. It took me 2 attempts to finally make the leap out into the open, but the same happens to me even if I'm jumping from a 5m cliff. It felt like an extremely long dive, however I didn't hit the water, it's not guaranteed that you will.

From Taupo I headed up to Rotorua where I did sledging. It's one of the best things that I have ever done in my entire life, it was incredible. Basically you hold onto a plastic floating board (somewhat similar to a boogie board) and head down class 2-4 rapids. There is a guide at the front, middle and end. You are suppose to go in a straight line down the rapids following the front guide. However during the intense stretches of class 3 and 4 rapids, you quickly lose the guide and are trying to find your own way down the river, quite the challenge since I don't know how to read rapids. It's always great smashing into rocks, and even being stuck on them with others pilling up on top of you. Luckily the guides will get you back on track. Sledging is a million times better than rafting. If you think rapids are intense in a raft, try being immersed in them yourself :) Our heads were protected with hockey helmets, and we had wet suits and flippers.

In Rotorua I also enjoyed a Maori (NZ natives) Hangi (food cooked underground with fire and steam) and concert. I finally saw a live kiwi, in a conservation centre, but at least I got to see them run around in a nocturnal setting. Rotorua is famous for its thermal areas, there are many sites where you can see random steam vents and boiling mud holes, they are seriously randomly throughout the city and parks, wherever nature decides.

From Rotorua I headed to Waitomo to do some caving. I've walked around caves before but never to this extent. We abseiled down waterfalls, crawled on our fronts army style through streams underneath rocks, squeezed through crevices and rock climbed.

After all this excitment I was exhausted, I had completely worn myself out. One thing about travelling by yourself and trying to fit everything in, is that you have to do all the organization. If I wasn't hiking, doing an activity, looking around town, doing errands, then I was planning or travelling. Allowing no time for breaks or rest. Since caving I have been doing a lot of vegetation and getting ready for my next adventures. I'm feeling so much better and more relaxed. I'm finding reading extremely relaxing. I haven't been watching any tv, reading the paper or listening to the radio, so I have no clue what's going on in the world. I get the snippets of the important events from others. However I've found that without being heavly exposed to marketing you really don't know what you are missing out. I walked by the cinema the other day and had only briefly heard of the Aviator, but had no interest in seeing a movie which I knew nothing of.

I'm off to Brunei tomorrow. It's going to be an adventure. I have no plans, no accommodation booked (I couldn't get through to the only hostel in all of Brunei and cheap accommodation does not exist in this country), and I have no Brunei dollars (hopefully the airport will carry some). I'm very curious about what I'm going to be writing about in my next entry.
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