From the Lowest of Lows to the Highest of Highs...

Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
Trip End Jul 24, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, June 23, 2010



When we last left you, we were headed to the famous Waitomo and its caves. Well, on the morning bus journey there, we sleepily signed our names onto the "Black Abyss" - the ultimate caving experience in New Zealand. We had little idea of what we'd pledged $193 dollars for but we were not to be disappointed!

We arrived at the Waitomo centre at around 14:00, and signed in for our 5-hour trip. We were soon whisked out to a changing area where we were kitted up with some fairly snazzy (and soaking/freezing) wetsuits, wellies, helmets and harnesses! Our caving troupe was led by Jed and Vee, who next took us to an abseiling practice rig for us to hone our techniques. Before long, we were lowering ourselves into the depths of the earth (a 40m descent underground) through a tiny hole which could only just fit one person. Pretty hairy, but a brilliant feeling. On the bottom, we regrouped and set off into the murky depths of Waitomo. On reaching a bit of a clearing, we clipped one by one into a 'flying fox' (zipwire) harness and threw ourselves through this now totally dark cave at speed, having no idea whether rocks were flying past us as we hurtled down. We safely grounded and paused for hot chocolate and flapjack. Gorgeous.

We then started the black water rafting, and dutifully jumped into the river supported only with a small black inner tube.  It was freezing. Now, I'm not talking just a bit of chilly water, this was absurdly cold.  We decided it would help to shout, scream, and sing our way through the cold so there we were, 8 guys chanting and singing and filling the caves with the sound of MEN! With testosterone alone propelling us down the rapids, we made our way swiftly up and down waterfalls, jumping and sliding, to a muddy path through which we crawled - this was no outing for the claustrophobe. An amazing feature of these caves was the light given from the thousands of glowworms lining the caves we were inside. One highlight of our caving mission was filing into a smallish cave towards the end (just big enough for the 4 of us to fit in) which was at the foot of an incredibly powerful waterfall. Amazing! And loud. All in all a fantastic adventure and worth every penny!


The next day we upped and left for Taupo. At the forefront of our minds was undoubtedly the imminent skydive we'd signed up for - the day had finally arrived... En route we stopped at a rabbit-shearing show, where Ollie picked up some German Angorra rabbit wool with some adventurous future knitting projects in mind!

Before we knew it, we were in Taupo, and Stef and Dan had been taken by bus for their skydive, with Ollie and Tim left waiting nervously in anticipation of theirs. During the course of the afternoon, each of us were to jump (or rather get pushed) from a jet at 15000 feet. It is difficult to describe the sensation of being sucked down from the open plane door by gravity and freefalling for over 60 seconds towards the earth! When the parachutes opened (phew!) we were able to further enjoy the stunning views over Lake Taupo, which was bathed majestically in the late afternoon sun. Noticeable on the horizon was the imposing Mount Doom (one for you Lord of the Rings fans) which only added to the experience.

We landed in disbelief at what had just happened and its fair to say our minds are still processing the physics of it all. It was an incredibly surreal and amazing feeling and something we are all hoping to do again in the future!

The evening was spent in Mulligans Irish Bar (around the corner from our hostel) where we played our part in the Pub Quiz - the Kiwi Experience teams put on a good show but unfortunately fell short of the prizes. We were not to be discouraged though, and enjoyed a great evening with everyone, playing games, singing songs and dare I say it having a good ole boogie into the early hours.


After a healthy lie in we awoke and had breakfast before heading to the local geothermal pools, about half an hour's walk from our hostel. By this time it was about 4pm, so we soaked up the last of the afternoon's sun sitting in a steaming hot stream which fed into an impressive river. The dense forest surrounding us made for stunning views as we pampered ourselves in an authentic spa pool which was entirely natural and entirely free (no need for Esporta memberships here!)

Tonight has begun well, with Ollie winning us all a $50 bar tab after coming runner up in the hostel bar's killer pool comp - top lad! We plan to see England make amends for their disastrous start as they take on Slovenia at 2am our time. Lets hope its worth staying up for!

That's all for now - we travel to River Valley first thing tomorrow, and the day after hit Wellington for our final night on the North Island!

Much love - as always it'd be great to hear from y'all!


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harry on

Ollie, I hope one of those knitting projects you have in mind is my scarf...yeah!?

Sounds incredible. What a world we live in eh? Encompassing 2 of my top things. Geothermal activity, and caves. How'd you guys see anything down there? Although I do worry this has blown our cornish waterfall experience out of the water (pun?) somewhat.

Stay safe.

Harry x

harry on

Also, are you going to Queenstown? My brother could sort you out some free accommodation there, and maybe some free climbing with the owners of that accommodation. Let me know!

Ursula on

Talk about extremes - deep underground one day and sky high the next - how do you follow that?! Wonderful photos and there's no doubt how much fun you're having, your expressions say it all. I think, Harry, you might have to fight Frankie for that Angorra scarf though! Stay safe.....glad I didn't know about the sky dive 'til you were all safely back on dry land. xxxx

Sue on

Stunning beauty - and you got to see it and experience it from all angles! No wonder your brains are taking time to process it all!!! So glad you all got to skydive but even more glad that you are all down safely. Lovely hot springs spa - no doubt your skin is all lovely and smooth now! Loved the birthday Skyoe Dan - made my day perfect (and well done Ollie on Pool Comp!). xxxxx

nick, ewa and christian on

what will you four get up to next???

Nick, ewa and christian

Amy on

Excellent read guys. Very funny!! Where's my mention as the only person that could name every person on the bus!? Have an awesome trip in the South Island, hopefully see you there! x

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