Camping at Karakiriki Bible Camp!

Trip Start Nov 22, 2010
Trip End May 20, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, March 13, 2011

I supposed this would be a great time to apologize to everybody for our lack of update for weeks! We have lost high speed internet except for once a week and have been talking to family and friends with what time we do get online! That being said, wait no longer, a new blog is here!

We arrived at Karakirki on February 25th after staying a night at a holiday park inside of Hamilton. Yes, there is more then one Hamilton in the world, and no we have not made our way to Ontario! We met the camp director and were shown were we will sleep for a month. Yay! A bed, a tv, and a bathroom! This is luxury to us! The camp is a smallish camp with the average group being around 80 people. For the most part Kaitlyn has been helping in the kitchen and sometimes being head Chef! She always finishes the day smelling like onions! Derek has been working on some of the activities such as sighting in new pellet guns, fixing bmx bikes, and fixing chainsaws and tractors.

Holiday camps don't start up again until the end of April but school groups quite often come and stay for a few days at a time. Unfortunately, 2 of these groups have been choral groups and have heard way too much harmonizing of Baa Baa Black sheep, Mary had a little lamb, Don't stop believing, and We will rock you. Rarely will we hear the whole song but maybe 10 words repeated 40 times!

On our days off we have done quite a few exciting things! For one day, we traveled 20 minutes west towards Raglan where Derek rented a surfboard and hit the waves for the first time in New Zealand! The first hour was ridiculously tiring! Paddling out from the beach diving through wave after wave to get out far enough to catch a wave only to turn around, paddle, stand up, and bite it in the classiest way possible...such grace right? After that hour things turned around and started to stand on the board and ride a wave in! There was a moment when all was silent, only me and the ocean. Looking up at the green rolling hills, cliffs, golden beach, it was pretty surreal until you finally bite it and snort a pile of salt water! It was a really amazing experience overall! I'd like to do a trip to fully geared to learning how surf some day! Kaitlyn manned the body board and showed everyone in the water how its done! Tons of fun!

Later on in the week we got a chance to go caving with the camp director and one of his cave guiding assistants. Kaitlyn was slightly nervous as she has dealt with claustrophobia at times. She did very well and no one would have ever known! The cave was around 3km in length. Sometimes walking fully upright and sometimes down crawling on your elbows army style through water up to your neck with extremely slimy mud! Crawling through an area called "The Keyhole" was quite challenging. It required climbing straight down and squeezing in between rocks you would never guess you could fit through! There were a number of rooms to discover along the way. Most had many formations of limestone along the roof and floor of the room. At one point we both had to crawl sideways through 2 of these formations, both nearing panic as we got stuck! Definitely an experience to remember! Unfortunately a camera would have aided in the getting stuck process so we will have to snag some photos from the director sometime to share the experience with you!

We also managed to go on a bit of a hike out in the Pirongia Forest. We got a map of the forest at the camp and decided to hike to Nz's tallest native tree! Along the drive, we accidentally found a landmark that Kate's brother told us to find... the Toothbrush Fence (as made famous by Flight of the Conchords). After a few pics with the fence, we finally started the hike in a prairie setting and slowly made our way into dense, rain forest bush. It was a hot day when we started but once we were in the canopy forest, we were "good as gold". We discovered a small cave along the way, and continued on to find the beastly tree. As we came along a swing bridge, we got fairly excited to cross it (we love swing bridges), and continued on our hike which had, by now turned out to be a very steep grade. The hike to the large tree was only supposed to take 4 hours return, and we were quickly realizing that we had hiked for 5 hours one way, it was 6:00pm (and the sun would be setting shortly), and that we had no food with us (brilliant, eh?). We decided to turn around and admit defeat that we hadn't found the "tallest tree". As we crossed the swing bridge that we had seen at the beginning of the hike... long and behold, was a sign pointing the to 65.5meter tree!!! We had hiked nearly 2 hours passed it! We were a little too tired and hungry at this point to appreciate the humour at that time, but we now chuckle at our lack of observance! 

We look forward to exploring more of the Waikato countryside, and serving at the camp! God has stretched us in so many ways and we look forward to learning and exploring even more in our last 2 months!!

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