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Des & Tom´s Latino Adventures!
|Wednesday 17th May//
So... am no longer in latin america :..( but can't really be sad I'm in frickin New Zealand!! Wahey hehe:)
Tom and I arrived mega early into Auckland this morning at about 4:00am local time... eww gross! Anyhoo, we both hung out at the airport until it turned into a reasonable hour to get into town for me and for him to call his auntie.
So very tired and kind of smelly from having travelled for over 24 hours and unfortunately not being able to find a shower (nice...) I left my travel friend Mr.Tom and headed into town. Was very sad to leave him as I had been attached to him for almost 4 months solid! Very strange going around alone! hehe:)
Anyhoo, in town I got picked up by the tour bus with Kiwi Experience at about 8:40am. My bus driver/tour guide at the moment is called Jaime. Nice dude, can get quite mardy at times but he means well hehe:) As for the dude on the bus, they are all very nice too! Surprisingly not alcoholics wanting to go out every night as I was told was typical of a Kiwi Experience passenger. There are only 10 of us altogether which is a small group considering the buses can sometimes be fully booked and they can hold up to 49 peeps!! But yes a quick run over who is on the bus:
*2 girls Paula and Julia - Travelling together, going uni when they get back. Very nice and friendly from England near Oxford.
*2 girls Simone and Cristal - One is German and the other is Dutch respectively. Really sweet, kind of funny because Simone keeps saying awesome with her very strong German accent.
*Gemma - Lovely girlie, really pretty and nice from England as well but from Londres.
*3 boyz Mark, Mark and David - Very funny lads, won't stop talking about football!!
*Sophie - Really lovely chica, very funny. Finished uni last year like moi!
So, onto what we actally did! First interesting stop was at the top of Mt. Eden! A dormant volcano with an absolutely stunning view of Auckland. You could see the whole of the city all the way around was amazing. At the top there was also this compass type thing that indicated in which direction lots of different cities are and how far they are! Hong Kong is only.. something around 9000km away! Heheh I say only..
Next we headed off in the direction of the Coromandel Peninsula. On our way we made a quick stop in a little town called Thames for some luncheon. Found it very strange as when I went to purchase some goods from the supermarche they didn't have any bags ANYWHERE... So I ended up holding yoghurt, a magazing chocolate etc.. all just loose in my hands hehe:)
Anyhoo, after luncheon we continued on crossing the Kopu ranges. New Zealand is absolutely beautiful! Reminds me of Ireland but with gorgeous weather and I dunno something extra.. sounds cheesy but it is very enchanting:) With its views of undulating hills, glistening waters... so pretty.. I love it already and its only my first day!! hehe:)
Continuing on we past Tairua where we saw on our wasy a mountain called Mount Paku, the reminiscents of a Maori Pa or a fortified village. Reminded me of the Inca ruins we visited with their tiered hills except without the stone work.
We then properly stopped to take a walk down to Cathedral cove. Lovely shortish walk down to a very cute little beach that had a natural formed arch connecting the whole thing. The view of the sea was nice from there but even better from above where we had parked and you could see the water literally glistening with the light. Beautiful! Kind of what I actually expected of Lake Titicaca.
Back on the bus we visited a the nearby aptly named Hot Water beach. Was really fun as at first we had to cross a section of absolutely freezing cold water to get to where if you dug a hole in the ground you would release loads of hot water!! It's because the area is abundant in volcanic activity aparently. Dug a hole and yea the water was hot! I mean mega hot! Really hurt my feet a couple of times hehe:)
After that fun, we proceeded to wash off our feet and then continued on to our final destination in Mercury Bay called Whitianga (pronounced Fitianga strangely enough). It's a gorgeous little town with a lovely beach at one end. Unfortuately didn't have a god look around because I had laundry etc.. to do.
In the evening all the girls apart from me left for bone carving so went about my business doing what I needed to do. Then when they came back we had a lovely home cooked meal, complements of the hostel owners mummio hehe:) so sweet! Had spag bol and yummy ass garlic bread!! To end the night, in my attempt to get over my jetlag decided I would join the others and watch a movie called 'Radio' with Cuba Gooding Junior in it. Really good! Plopped into bed straight after that couldn't handle anymore hehe:)
Thursday 18th May//
So today we departed from Whitianga very very early in the morning at 7:30!! Gross! Heading towards the lovely but not so lovely smelling town of Rotorua. More about that later!
So, en-route to Rotorua we stopped off first at Whangamata to get some brekkie. Went on a hunt for a spoon to eat my yoghurt with hehe:) ended up buying a proper one hehe.
Next stop was at Waihi where we had a lovely walk at the Karangahake scenic reserve. Basically it is a bush-clad gorge which we crossed using these swing bridges which some people decided it would be a good idea to jump on them hehe:) was quite funny, made you feel drunk as they swayed back and forth. Along the way we had fun going through 1km of long railway tunnel used in the old goldmining days. It was so dark inside we could literally see nothing!! Kept smacking into Mark's back.
After that we passed Paeroa where this aparently famous drink called Lemon and Paeroa is made (so famous that coca cola bought it). Also passed Te Aroha a bubble island formed in the water from the last few spurts of lava that a volcano let out before it died out. Te Aroha means the mountain of love:) theres a Romeo and Juliet type story that explains its name.. something about a Maori Princess swimming across to shore to see her lover etc etc... hehe lovely really but can't completely remember it.
Stopped off one more time at Matamata (wasn't on the websites database) the home of Hobbiton! hehe:) yes the one from Lord of the Rings. Yea the actual set for Hobbiton is nearby this cute little town on a farm. Main reason for our stop was lunch so after that we continued on to our final stop of the day Rotorua. Oh also before getting to Rotorua we got to watch two of the boys Mark (blond)and David do some zorbing:) It's where you get the chance to be a hamster for a brief few seconds hehe:) They were placed into an inflatable ball with water and shortly after by their own force the ball was let loose down a hill.. hehe:) was hilarious as you could see them scrambling about inside hehe their legs flailing up in the air hehe:)
Before dropping us off at the hostel Jaime our driver left us in the hands of the Tamaki tour people. This very camp but sweet big boy called Dean (wouldn't be able to tell you his ridiculously long Maori name..) gave us a quick introduction to this Maori culture experience thing that we could do in the evening. Tasted some of the traditional chutneys and teas that they have and yea was kidn of weird as it all tasted like Indian food hehe:)
Anyhoo, Rotorua also sometimes known as Rottenrua sits on a lot of geothermal activity thus giving it its nickname as when you wander around you frequently get whiffs of skanky sulphur hehe:) Was kind of gross when our hostel room filled up with the smell you'd think all of us 5 girls sharing the room had bad stomachs or something...
But lets not linger on that.. hehe:) Went for a towel hunt in the afternoon as I realised I had left my towel back at the other hostel.. great.. as if losing my whole bag wasn't enough!! Aiya!! Most of the rest of the dudes headed off for their luging activity where you race down a track on a steep slope on a tobogan type thing.
Later in the evening the three boys, Cristal and Simone, Gemma and I were picked up by this hilarious Maori dude who was also our driver to where we would be having our Maori experience. As we got on the bus he introduced us one by one to the whole bus and proceeded to introduce all the people on the bus to us! Don't know how me managed to learn 30 peoples names in such a short period of time! During the bus journey we had to pick a chief for our 'tribe' and obviously the three dudes put their hands up to volunteer hehe:) Mark with blond hair got picked in the end.
At the Tamaki Maori village we were lead into an open area where we would be greeted by Maori warriors. Mark and the chiefs of the other buses had to stand up front to see who would be chosen to accept the peace offering that the warriors would place down. Sounds kind of weird recounting it on this hehe:) But yea they came out in proper Maori gear doing all that bulging eye and flicking out tongue stuff you see when the Kiwis do the Hakka hehe:) Was really cool. Mark didn't get chosen unfortunately, instead this really old dude did and yea.. was kind of worried he wouldn't be able to pick up the offering he was so fragile! Bless!
Anyhoo, once the offering was accepted we were all welcomed into the main village area. By the way this wasn't a proper village no one lives there its just for educational purposes. But yes inside we got to have a taste of how the Maori's would have lived back in the days of old. Was really cool as the ladies demostrated how they do Poi, i.e. the dance with balls on the end of strings that get swung about.. does that make sense? There was a whole load of other cool stuff goign on inside.
After that we were then lead into a Maori meeting place or Waiata where we were given an awesome show of songs, Poi dance, weaponry and the Haka. Was amazing!:)
We were then treated to a lovely Hangi a meal steamed in the ground on hot rocks. Was a buffet so very exciting for us backpackers hehe:) Sooo good!!!
At the end of the night we saw Dean our tour guide at the Tamaki office doing this really girly dance for us hehe:) so sweet but weirdly followed by the Haka which he managed to perform in a very manly manner. He loved it when we said goodbye soo sweet!:) This random group of Tourism students from the University fo Wellington did a quick perfomance for us singing.. was a bit crap really.. couldnt hear them sing and they were really embarrassed whilst doing the whole thing hehe:) OH well!
On the bus back to our hostel our driver continued to entertain us by going round the bus trying to get us all to sing songs according to where we were from hehe:) I ended up singing a Filipino song obviously hehe as I know no Irish songs apart from the beginning of the anthem and yea.. don't know any cantonese ones either!
Back at the hostel Gemma and I went to the bar to have a couple of drinks with the girls who were already in there. Got a bit confused as I handed over my money and the bar man proceeded to return all of it back to me.. he just said he couldn't count.. hehe:) so I got my drink free wahey!!:) We all headed up after to visit the boys who were hiding in their room for fear of finding out by accident the score for the Premiership final between Barcelona and Arsenal hehe:) They'd managed the whole day not to find out. Had a nice chat and was forced by the boys to sing for the girls who didn't get to hear me. Aparently I have a voice of an angel hehe:) Sorry sounding very big headed right now..
So yes headed to bed after but got rudely awakened by David coming in to tell us that when they went to watch the game which was meant to be at 12 for some reason the game came up in its 84th minute!! So their whole quest not to find out the score was for nada! Oh well felt very sorry for them.
Friday 19th May//
So today we left behind three of the girls who were with us as they wanted to explore Rotorua more.
First stop having left Rotorua was at the Te Puia geothermal reserve. Was awesome! Gemma, David and Mark (blond) went off by themselves to explore whilst the two girls, Mark (dark) and I decided to take the guided tour. Happy I did it as our guide was lovely and she showed us how to make the local dancing skirts with flax, as well as how to make rope with it. Yea flax is abundant in NZ and so the maori used it for loads of stuff. We were also taken to see a real live Kiwi!!:) Unfortunately they get scared easily so we weren't able to take photos but yea was awesome as one of them was awake; a female called Kenny:) Aparently they thought she was a boy at first hehe:) But yea she stuck her head up at one point so we got a good view of her with her fat bottom and small head with a very very long thin beak:)
Next on the tour we were taken down to see some bubbling mud then we were left on our own to take a look at the magnificent geysers!! There were two major ones spurting steam seriously high! Tried to get a photo with it but it went mental and wouldn't show up on the camera hehe:)
After that headed back up towards the entrance with Mark where we took a look at these amazing carvings in the carving center. We asked one of the people doing the carvings in there how long one of their huge carvings took and they said about 5 months but the expert dudes could do it in 1 month if need be! We then headed to the gift shop where Mark purchased a lovely grey coloured mud soap hehe:) cause aparently he has run out, should be good for his skin anyways!
Back on the bus the other dudes said they didn't really see anything because they didn't know where to go hehe, happy I did the tour! Anyways, after Te Puia we made our way to Waitomo making a supermarket stop on our way. Yea Waitomo is soo small, it has nothing there really just a couple of hostels if that.. and some offices where you can book yourself in for some coolio activities i.e. like the Blackwater rafting I booked myself in for!!:)
After settling into my room with Gemma and a couple from Denmark, I headed back on the bus to be taken out by Jaime to see a waterfall and a natural bridge. The waterfall was awesome, very big! Biggest I've seen this holiday. The walk to the natural bridge was even better tho as I felt like a hobbit walking in an amazing place hehe:) Was beautiful. The bridge was cool too! A coolio natural rock formation.
Back at Waitomo had a very embarrassing moment at dinner time as I accidentally stole someones cutlery and plates!! Yea I was meant to go to the front desk to pay a deposit for a tray of my own cutlery hehe:) Luckily the ladies didn't mind and let me use theirs.
Later in the evening all of us headed out to the bar nearby to watch the Super 14s semi-final between the Aussie Waratahs and the Kiwi Hurricanes. Was really fun! Everybody was getting into it in the bar and by our third glasses of wine me and Gemma were happily chatting away hehe:) This maori dude with his friends came and sat down with us for a bit which was funny. Aparently I look like a maori hehe:) yea right! Must be the tan:) Had a game of pool against Gemma after which was fun and I was totally winning until she shot in these two amazing shots right at the end and potted the black!! Aiya! hehe:) was fun tho:)
Locations Visited: Auckland, Thames, Whitianga, Whangamata, Waihi, Paeroa, Te Aroha West, Rotorua
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