The beginning of our Kiwi Experience!
Trip Start Oct 14, 2010
18Trip End Mar 10, 2011
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Where I stayed
Turtle Cove, Base, Kiwi Paka.
We woke up at 6:30 am, got ready and headed to Rotorua. The weather was dry so it was an improvement :) We stopped off in Hobbiton village for some lunch and a picture with the famous 'Harry Potter' sign!! We arrived at Rotorua at 2pm and got dropped off at Te Puia, a maori village.A tour guide showed us around the village explaining the Maori culture about their tattoos and their meaning, and we were taken to see the geysers and mud pools which were really impressive
After their performance we were lead by the chiefs into the dining room for our 'HANGI,' (feast.) At our table was everyone from our bus and we met a lovely couple from Manchester (Cat and Rich) who were on the Magic Bus. The buffet was incredible, they had chicken, beef, fish, mussels, pork, salad, vegetables, pasta and for dessert Kiwi Pavlova, fruit Salad and Toffee pudding and custard!!After living on noodles...it was such a treat to have a proper meal!After the 'hangi' all the chosen chiefs were taken to the stage to perfom the 'Haka' with the staff!It was brilliant and hugely entertaining!. We all had a brilliant night, and even on the bus home Florence finished the night off as she sang 'we'll be coming around the mountain when she comes' as she drove the bus around the roundabout 20 times!!She also asked us all to sing a song from our nationality, so us welshies sang 'Sosban fach.' When we got back to the hostel we ended the night with a quiz in the bar and a few drinks
We all got up early, showered and headed to the Big green bus ready for day 3 of our roadtrip. On our way to Waitomo our bus driver informed us of our plans for the day. One of the activities that the Kiwi bus organises is the Agro Farm show, where you watch sheep being herded by a dog and see some pigs...to me this didn't seem worth $12, but to our amusement the bus driver seemed very keen on the show, and kept reasuring us how it was well worth the money and was really entertaining. In my opinion, we have plenty of sheep in Wales and I could go and watch sheep being herded in my friends farm, so we declined our drivers kind offer and headed to the agro-adventures center, much more likely to appeal to our youthful requirements!! There was a choice of 4 of the adventures, one was 'Sweeb' where you cycle around a race track in a tube; the other was 'Swoop’ a bit like Vertigo in Oakwood where your lifted to a height and then dropped; the other was a simulated sky dive experience, where a hover system lifts you in the air making you float for 10 seconds...and the last one was the Agro-Jet. Alix and I decided to do the agrojet, it was a small speedy jet that reached speeds of 100kph in 5 seconds!!We had a good discount with the Kiwi bus, it was usually $45 but we had it for $25! It was definitely a good choice, as we sped around the man-made track at really high speed 3 times. As we approached all the corners it seemed impossible to make the turn at such high speeds...but the driver somehow managed it! 10 minutes later, we were both smiling at the rush we had in the jet!!
When everyone was finished at the center we got back on the bus and made our way to Waitomo
After we settled in, Bron and I got ready to go to the Ruakuri Caves. A lovely friendly Maori picked us up and took us to the caves, we walked around for 2 hours as our guide pointed out all the different shapes and formations and told us all about the history. There were thousands of glow worms that lit up the caves, he told us how they were actually maggots but that no-one would be as excited about seeing the ‘MAGGOT caves! So that’s why they called them worms!! We were taken back to the hostels, showered and then headed down to the bar to meet everyone for a few drinks, was a really nice day and night.
After a good nights sleep, we got ready and set off to Lake Taupo. Catrin, one of our fellow travellers was the only one doing a Sky-dive so we all shared her excitement as time came closer to her jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet!!It took a while to get to Taupo, but the scenery on the way was beautiful, there were rivers, mountains, blue skies and when we arrived at Taupo a huge blue lake
Our alarms went off at 5:00 AM, we rolled out of bed, quickly got our bags packed and went to our bus that was waiting for us outside the hostel. It took an hour to get to the walk, but we were all really excited about doing the 8 hour walk and about all the lovely views we would see and the pictures we would have at the end of it. Our walk started from Mangatepopo car park where we had a relatively easy hike up to the valley to ‘Soda Springs,’ it took us an hour to get here. Between ‘Soda Springs’ and the ‘South Crater’ the walk began to get more difficult as we were faced with some very steep inclines, we had heard about the ‘Devil’s Staircase,’ and as soon as we saw the stairs we understood why they’d acquired this title!!!There were hundreds of stairs, all really steep and extremely tiring. It took us around 45 minutes to reach the top of the stairs
The sandals I chose to wear (bought for me by my mum,) were slightly geeky but had done their job so far on the walk and didn’t cause too much pain...until that point. The steep decline consisted of thousands of rocks all shapes and sizes all of which ended up in my sandals and directly under my feet!! It was extremely painful and I felt as though I may aswell have been barefoot! Nevertheless I trudged through ignoring the pain I was experiencing and eventually got to the bottom where a beautiful natural hot pool and ham sandwich awaited me!! We all sat for 20 minutes and chatted about how proud we all were that we’d got this far, 4 hours down, 4 to go! After our lunch break we followed the track down to Emerald Lake, despite its very appealing title we were advised not to swim in it! When we arrived at the bottom we were inside the central Crater which was flat and an easy walk through to Blue Lake (we weren’t allowed to swim here either.) From here we followed the track down the Rotopaunga valley and down the northface to the ‘Ketetahi hut.’ The time flew as we all had girly chats all the way down the windy path!We filled our water bottles up here, hat a quick sit down and then headed off for the last stretch of our walk. It took us 2 hours to get to the end of our walk through a very scenic stretch of rainforest and rivers. We arrived at the car park just in time to catch the bus back to Taupo.
We were all exhausted but very proud of ourselves for finishing the walk. A few people had blisters and had sunburnt...luckily I wasn’t one of them as I wore suncream and my trusty sexy sandles!Everyone fell asleep on the bus on the way back to Taupo, which was surprising as the bus (or maybe it was the lady driving) was swaying from side to side and jerking all over the place!!) But everyone must have been so exhausted from the walk that they were able to sleep even through the horrendous bumpy journey back! We got back to the hostel, rushed to have a lovely warm shower, had noodles and walked down to the Lake just in time for the Sunset. Was a great day,very rewarding but exhausting :)