3rd Jan 2009
New Zealand Adventure
The next morning we boarded our Kiwi Experience tour bus. Our first stop was a coastal walk to Cathedral Cove, a beautiful area of beach with rock formations that can only be reached by foot or boat. It was a hike and a half to get there, but well worth it. Next we made a stop at Hot Water Beach. The beach is located above a thermal outlet, so you can use shovels to dig holes in the sand to create your own personal hot pool. It was cool to see it and dip your toes in, but there were way too many people and Aoife and I didn’t feel like digging.
After spending the night in Mercury Bay, we headed to Karangakake Scenic Reserve to check out the swing bridges and old railway tunnel. We head to Rotorua and finally get a chance for a bit of the adventure that New Zealand is known for – Sky Line Rides – home of the world’s first luge. After pulling on a helmet that didn’t fit properly, me and my partner in crime sped down 5 kilometers of winding tracks. Despite the rain that was spitting down and having to dodge Asian children, we had a blast. Afterwards, we spend a cheesy evening at a Maori Hangi and concert. The ‘authentic’ cultural experience was ruined when one of the traditional Maori men in the show later served us dinner sans face tattoos and wearing an Adidas shirt. Luckily the food was good and the bottle of wine that was required to get us through the night was cheap.
After getting a little taste of the adventure that NZ is known for, we go zorbing the next morning. Word of advice – you have not lived life to it’s fullest until you have squeezed yourself into a huge ‘beach’ ball, watch your best friend plop in beside you, have a little water poured in to lube it up and get pushed down a hill. I giggled like a school girl the whole way down and could have done it over and over again.
In celebration of my 28th birthday, I thought it would be a good idea to jump 154 feet from a platform. And because she is the bestest friend in the world, and just couldn’t say no to the birthday girl, Aoife got strapped on the rubber cord beside of me. There we stood in our black hoodies, in the bungy waltz position, feet slightly over the edge, arms around each other, hearts pounding…waiting for the cue to leap. I kept worrying that we wouldn’t lean (an easier transition than jumping) at the same time or that one of us would be in the middle of chickening out while the other already jumped. What would happen?? What if we accidently changed positions half way down and our heads crashed into each other?? What if one of us peed our pants?! Somehow, it just happened…we took the plunge. It felt different than skydiving. Midair, two seconds into it, it is the weirdest feeling. You are just free and falling and surrounded by nothing but air. Your body feels amazing but your mind is telling you that this is not normal. I don’t remember if we screamed, but I think I did hear something along the lines of ‘Happy F-ing Birthday, Bitch’ when we were dangling upside down waiting for the boat to pull us in and take us to land. So…I’d like to thank Ms. Aoife Duffin for making my 28th birthday one of the best. I don’t think that I could have done it without her; I honestly don’t know if I could have jumped alone. To be on the platform and have someone push me – yes. But, to throw myself off completely alone – I’m not so sure.
The evening of my birthday we had a nice Italian dinner (well, as nice as you can get in bumble fuck NZ). We refrained from drinking too much in preparation for our hard core hike at Tongariro Crossing early the next morning. We dragged our asses out of bed, boarded the bus to the Tongariro Crossing half regretting our decision, and partly excited to do one of the top 10 day walks in the world. We even shopped the night before at a ‘department store’ that no New Yorker should be caught dead in for extra thick socks to wear with our rental hiking boots and long sleeved shirts since we were warned to dress in layers. Well, about 30 minutes into the bus ride, the driver informs us that due to weather conditions, the hike is canceled. I know I should have been more disappointed to miss out on such a cool opportunity, but I felt nothing but happiness when we crawled back into our beds and were back asleep by 7:30. We ended up spending the day lounging on a sailboat, enjoying beautiful Lake Taupo, being guided by a skipper who looked exactly like you would picture one to look.
At some point during our time in New Zealand, we took a trip with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. in Waitomo. The Black Labyrinth is a 3 hour long trip, including 1 hour underground, where you float through a river canyon, jump off a waterfall and glide through caverns lit up by thousands of glow worms after you stick your ass in a large inner tube. We got to wear sexy wet suits and an even cooler caving helmet with head flashlight. A week is definitely not enough in NZ, but we made the most of the time we had. Next stop – Port Douglas, Queensland.