We Came, We Fell, We Conquered

Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
Trip End Jul 30, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ski Haus

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Well to say the least we have done a huge amount since our last post.

We actually signed an agreement not to disclose any "secrets" about Hobbiton but we can safely say that it was SO worth it and we truly felt like Lord of The Rings geeks bashing out the quotes as we went round!

Later that day we found ourselves in smelly, cloudy Rotorua where for some reason still unknown to us, we decided to stay for 3 nights and do absolutely nothing.... and even more puzzling is why someone decided to settle here in the first place on bubbling, steaming sulpher ridden mud planes. Clearly the residents of Rotorua have serious nasal congestion.

To make up for our extreme lack of oomph, as we left Rotorua we experienced the most action I think is possible in one day- from a scenic thermal wonderland of hot springs and steaming sulpher lakes, to extreme jetboating at the Huka waterfalls (meaning foam in Maori). Then, after the adrenaline had really kicked in, we all felt the urge to go ahead and hurl ourselves out of a plane over the beautiful Lake Taupo... YES WE SKYDIVED- two weeks in!! And this is where we try and describe how amazing it is... it truly is an inexplicable feeling, but all three of us were cacking it before hand in the plane (especially when watching each other 'plop' out in front of us) and there was a mutual screaming/jumping sensation 5 minutes later on the ground. Luckily, as we made our way to 15,000 ft we were all constantly reassured we weren't going to die by our charismatic skydive instructors; Albert, Darcy and Brad (who thought the best way to calm us down was through an endless stream of sexual innuendos- needless to say, we thought he was an absolute legend.)

After another classic night out in Base (a hostel that also doubles as the only place to go out in and NZ town), we headed off to Tongariro National Park to embrace our hikers within... and obviously so Jen could put her Merrells to the ultimate test.

However, before we got there, still on our 'we are invincible' adrenaline high, we decided to tackle some Black Water rafting at Waitomo Caves. From jumpsuits to wetsuits we were ready to embrace some serious thrills along with seeing the caves' other attraction: glowworms. Glowworms we got, thrills we did not as we fell headfirst into our first tourist trap... a considerable amount of money was paid to look stupid in wetsuits and wade knee deep in dirty cave water with a rubber ring which we occasionally got to use on two "slides". Consensus was the glowworms were cool but rafting definitely wasn't. Impulsive activity lesson learnt.

Next stop was National Park, yes it is just called that, where the notorious Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand's best one day hike awaited us. A casual stroll in the park it was not and after our briefing we were rather freaked out that the 'you must give yourself 8 hours' trek could be too much for us flashpackers. However, the temptation to climb the actual Mount Doom proved too irresistible and with a day's worth of food and an oasis of water at our disposal we managed the truly epic hike in 5 hours 20 and to quote Jen "was the best decision we've made yet!" The terrain varied from lunar landscape to desert planes to lush forest with the challenges of ascending the Devil's Stairs for an hour followed by practically skiing down volcanic shingle at the other side; an awesome experience.

So now we are writing this post after enjoying a well deserved dip in our hostel's hot tub, happy in conquering a 20K hike... and not a blister in sight!!!

Lots of Love George, Jen and Wells!
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