Trip Start Sep 12, 2005
Trip End Sep 11, 2006

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Fri (6th) Phoned the bank early that morning in case any staff had arrived early, but to no avail and so said farewell to Liz and headed back to Taupo. Once there I called again only to be told that I couldn't get my card back unless I went into the branch in person with phot id. After much debate, I told her I wanted to talk to the manager (I knew those days at Playstation would help me out someday) and was told she's call me back. Half an hour later an I had the manager grovelling and promising the card would be in Taupo by Monday. Anyway, I managed to hook up with Dunca, Chris and Ben again in Taupo and even ended up staying in the same sorm. Duncan and Chris were both keen on going to Rock 'n' Ropes - a kind of small adventure park that would be good for team building excersises. We had the best day out there - it was certainly the best activity I've done value for money-wise. It was basically a series of wooden telegraph poles with various things stretching between them such as wire, swinging bridges, logs etc. The idea was to climb up and across them whilst your partner took control of your safety rope (and therefore your life!). It was great fun if a little scary at first to be putting so much trust in the other person. I was surprised how quickly the instructors left us to our own devices. Chris had a real fear of heights which he certainly managed to control that day. The worst one was climbing up a pole that stood by itself, clambering up onto the top of it as it swayed in the wind and then trying to jump for a trapize. Needless to say I missed it, but so did about 70% of people that day, so I wasn't too ashamed. Had a good night out that night in the local bars.

Sat (7th) I finally got to do my skydive today. The weather had finally cleared up and we had near perfect conditions. That afternoon we (Duncan, Chris, Ben and myself) went out to the airstrip where unfortunately we were told that we couldn't all go up in the plane together. I was a bit miffed at this as it would've been great to all do it at the same time, but in retrospect at least we could take photos of each other. So Duncan and Chris went up first, wanting to get it over with and came back down pumped. Then I got kitted up in my rather fetching jumpsuit and was introduced to the guy I was to be strapped to. A really nice guy, but he picked his nose a lot on the way up which was rather off-putting. Climbing to 12,000 ft took quite a while, I'd say 15minutes and I could see Ben was pretty nervous, but I honestly wasn't that bothered. There's not a lot to a tandem sky-dive really, you just hang out of the plane while your guy is sitting on the edge waiting fo the all-clear and then you fall out. I'd asked him to tumble me a few times which he did, and it was really weird seeing the aeroplane above me. Then he switched his camera on which was strapped to his arm - I'd opted for this rather than pay for another guy to jump with us and film me. It's quite a funny video, as the camera's so close to my face the entire picture is taken up with my ugy mug getting blown about all over the shot. It was good fun though. The 45 sec free-fall seemed to be over far too quickly but it was great shooting through the clouds and then seeing the whole of Lake Taupo beneath us (it's the largest lake in NZ, and could fit Singapore in it, both in terms of area and height/depth). Once the shoot was pulled it was just a leisurely fall to the gruond, with him doing a few spins for me. Landed on the ground with a huge smile on my face, but didn't get the huge adrenaline rush I was hoping for. Bungy jumping is definitely far more scary than that, but I had a great time. That evening we went out and got a tad tipsy as we had restrained ourselves the previous night in preparation for the jump. (See the pics)

Sun (8th) Suffering greatly from a hangover (didn't get in till 6:30am), we didn't do a great deal today. Chris had a go at getting a hole in one in a pontoon out on the lake and then we attempted a round of mini golf, but gave up at hole 9! That evening we were so bored we went to the cinema to see Rumour Has It. Oh dear, possibly the worst film I've seen all year, and usually I'm not that fussy when it comes to romantic comedies.

Mon (9th) Today we got up early for our shuttle bus that was to take us to the Tongariro National Park to do the Tongoriro Crossing, a 7-8 hour hike that is reputed to be the best one day hike in New Zealand. The bus drops you off at the start of the 17km walk and then picks you up again at the end, it's really convenient. In my mind it was perhaps the highlight of my trip in New Zealand scenery-wise. Absolutely breathtaking and there seemed to be something new at every turn. To begin, we walked through ancient lava flows, then up a really steep slope at the side of a volcano onto a plateau where the clouds completely rolled in and surrounded us for a few mnutes and we felt like we were in a scene from a war movie. Climbing the second ascent the cloud cleared to reveal the magnificent 'Mt Doom' (as in Lord of the Rings, I'm ashamed to say I can't remember it's real name) which is completely conical shaped. We then walked along the top of another volcano and down a very slippery slope to the three 'emerald lakes' which were turquoise/greeny colour due to the sulphur. Here we stopped for lunch, then continued on, this time down the side of a rolling green hill with a view of Lake Taupo ahead of us. Then it was one last push through forest before we reached the pick-up point. Fantastic. When we got home, we treated ourselves to a well-earned pizza hut all-you-can-eat buffet. Oh yeah! That was my last night with the blokes and it was rather a quiet one as everyone had to pack and get up early the next morning, but I had a fantastic time throughout New Zeland thanks to them.
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