From QT to Dunedin, to Lake Tekapo, Christchurch, and back up through North Island
Kia Ora my friends!
Apologies for the very late journal update but to be honest, I'm getting a bit fed up of writing them when the sun is shining outside, and I'm stuck in an internet cafe indoors!
Anyway, how are you all?? I'm SWEET AS!!! (my new saying btw!) Just had a great couple of days doing a sky dive over beautiful Lake Taupo (which was definitely the highlight of my trip so far) and before that, a 7 hour epic caving adventure in Waitomo, starting with a 100m vertical abseil into 'The Lost World' caves, followed by a pretty challenging 4 hour cave climb/hike through waterfalls and all sorts - pretty cool stuff!
So, last time I wrote I was in Queenstown (which feels like a lifetime ago now). Since then spent a week or so getting back to North Island (via Dunedin - bagpipe competition, Lake Tekapo - star gazing and BBQs, Mt Cook - hike, Christchurch - cool trams and punting on the river, and then flight back to meet Mary again in Wellington). T hat was obviously a pretty condensed version of things but some of the photos should help get the drift!
So I then had the pleasure of accompanying Mary and Tristan to Tris's parents house in Martinborough for the weekend. WOWWEE!!!! To set the scene, I should let you know that Tris's dad is a famous winemaker in NZ and makes the most premium wines here - wines only sold in Harrods and Fortnum and Mason in UK. Their house was INCREDIBLE!!! Set on the Martinborough hills overlooking wineries and beautiful countryside with patios/BBQ areas off every part of the house, a great pool, and generally just luxury all round - took some photos but they didnt do it justice!
We spent the weekend eating amazing food and visiting their wineries. And it would have been rude not to sample all his wines during our 3 course dinner, wouldnt it?! And I even baked!!! Chocolate fondant, mmmmm! Overall, a really lovely and welcoming family and a very chillaxed weekend with Mary and her in-laws - heaven!
Then I was back on my own again and back to reality - up to Hawkes Bay/Napier and back in a hostel! :( Spent the day on the beach, then up to Rotorua and onto my East Cape connection for a few days. This involved a separate tour in a minibus with 5 other absolute nutcases....seriously!!! A 71-year-old man from Canada who could have been Peter Poors twin (for those of you who know Peter from work). God, could that man talk!??! He really knew how to cut a short story long, and he droned on and on and on for our 13 hour drive on the first day telling boring stories about his life etc - BORING! And then there was a 50 y.o. German gypsy woman who literally walked off on her own at EVERY stop wanting to be at one with nature - I think she was going for a secret joint or something, she really was crazy and away with the fairies, and unfortunately, being the only German speaker on the trip, I had to translate exactly what crazy stuff she wanted to do next. We ended up dropping her off in the middle of nowhere as she decided she wanted to say there for a few days, thank god! Then there were 2 other girls, both with issues, but wont go into too much detail. And then there was the driver......a complete mentalist, 45 y.o. Kiwi woman, covered head-to-toe in tattoos and piercings, who told us within an hour of being in the bus her life story which included 6 kids, a psycho husband, a son that tried to kill her, her 14y.o. pregnant daughter etc etc - pretty scary stuff.....and I was stuck with this lot for 3 whole (LONG!) days and nights - HELP!!!
Anyway, wont go into all the detail of the actual trip - except we went to the most Easterly point in NZ (see lighthouse photos), and on the second night, I went stingray feeding (and I mean MASSIVE sting rays, see the photos!), and then we had a great evening, eating amazing fresh seafood, including crayfish, sashimi, smoked marlin etc etc (absolutely delish), and drinking lots of wine, having a singsong around a camp fire as we watched the sun go down, then I gave them a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody (standard!), and then we danced into the early hours of the morning - a cracking night!
Made it back from trip alive, which was worth a celebration in itself, and spent the rest of my time in Rotorua in hot pools, going up the gondola, lugeing again, and chilling out.
That brings me to Waitomo Caves.....didnt really have any expectations of this place, but it exceeded all of them! Unfortunately wasnt allowed to take any photos (think it was a sales ploy to get us to buy their photos at the end which were way too overpriced so didnt get them, and kinda regretting that decision now). Anyway, the day started with a terrifying 100m abseil vertically downwards into the caves - I had a mini panic attack as there was literally nothing but a bit of rope hanging from a cable car - think back to the bungy jump and you'll understand my fear! Anyway, got that done before lunch, and the rest was pretty incredible - had to climb over and up rocks, under rocks that I never though I'd fit through, and through waterfalls, in the dark with just a head torch. Saw amazing glow worms all over the caves. It was a pretty physical and challenging day, but really good fun. Finished with a BBQ with the group. Really good day.
Okay, I'm running out of internet time, so I'm gonna leave my time in Taupo and the infamous sky dive for my next update as dont want to rush it - quite simply, it was AWESOME!!!!
So, I'll leave it there - I am trying to upload my bungy DVD as its pretty funny to watch if you have a spare minute (or 16!) in your day!
Until next time then, keep in touch with your news - I'll be home in less than 3 weeks now - how scary is that??!!
Love you all,