Rotorua, Taupo, and Retaruke Day.

Trip Start Mar 12, 2012
Trip End Jul 10, 2012

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Where I stayed
Blue Duck Station

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Friday, April 6, 2012

OK, well, after Uncle Boy's we headed of to Rotorua to see the Geothermal activity there. Myself and 3 of my friends went for a guided walk around 'Hell's Gate'. It was so fantastic, with all these boiling pools spewing steam, and the stench of rotten egg! We even got to take some mud from the pools and have a free mud facial! Our skin was so soft afterwards. The place looked like some weird planet, but it was so cool. I even got to walk up a mud volcano! 

 After that we went to Taupo, where everybody did skydiving. We also stopped to see this river, but I can't remember its name! It was really cool though, so fast and so blue! In the evening, I went on yacht cruise on Lake Taupo. It was one of the most amazing evenings I've ever had. We sailed out on this vintage yacht, and they gave us big blankets and ponchos to keep warm. Then we drank beer and chilled as we sailed out on the lake. The sun was setting as we went, and I swear it was one of the most beauitful sunsets I've ever seen. There was no where else I'd rather have been. We  cruised out on the lake, stopping to see some cliff carvings on the way, before having a BBQ dinner on the yacht. They did a little competition to see who could do the best Titanic impression at the bow of the boat, so I dragged the boys with me to have a go, and won myself a free beer! Sweet! Then we sailed back when it was dark, with all the lights shining out on the lake, another beautiful sight. It was so amazing, and the couple who own the boat are so friendly and welcoming, it was like sailing with your own family or friends. Absolutely brilliant.

 The next day we headed to National Park, and were greeted by some amazing scenery. We then drove deep into the countryside, to go to Retaruke Day, which just happened to be on the day we arrived. It's a tiny little country festival thing, for the local communtiy. We turned up in our big bus, and the first thing I heard when we got out was these children going, "Look at all those tourists!" Felt a little alienated, but it was fine as everyone was so friendly. We were the first international and non-local people to attend it! So we were quite a spectical. They had wood-chopping competitions, horse-racing, showjumping, a baking compeition, cheap beer, and that's about it! But it was so sweet. It reminded me of our English country shows, but a million times smaller! 

 At the end of the afternoon, they had the annual race up this big hill. There's no real prize apart from some beer, but it's a matter of pride for the locals. They told us all the Stray people had to run it, so a few of us agreed, and went for it. The race started and all the locals raced off, but me and a few of the Stray girls were unfit and lagged behind, so we decided to just stick together. We got to the bottom of the hill, and had started going up, when we found this little girl sitting on the ground. She was quite distressed, and said she couldn't breathe. Everyone ran past her, so us girls sat with her, and got her to calm down, and breathe slowly. She was ok, just out of breathe and panicked. Once she had got her breathe back, she wanted to carry on, so we all went up the hill together, taking our time. By the time we got to the top, most people had already finished (our driver Horse came 4th!), but we carried on slowly. We got to the bottom and jogged over the finish line hand in hand. It was so sweet. We got the biggest cheer from everyone, and the locals seemed impressed with our effort, and that we helped one of their own! And they gave all us girls free beer anyway for being good sports. 

 After that, we headed to our accomodation, Blue Duck Station. It was an amazing spot, with a super comfy bed! We got settled in, then went to party with the locals! We had dinner with them, including a spit roasted local lamb, and lots of beer! And they had a local band playing, called Spiderpig, who were surprisingly good, and all us Strays had a good party! But it was an early bed time, as we had a big day the next day - the Tongarairo Crossing! 
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