Moving On

“The most beautiful moments always seemed to accelerate and slip beyond one’s grasp just when you want to hold onto them for as long as possible.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri

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Yes, sadly all good things do reach their inevitable conclusion. My last days in Auckland slid by pretty quickly. I’d definitely recommend the art gallery to anybody passing through the area. The museum is also fantastic – a long walk but definitely worth it if you’re at all interested in Maori culture. I’m now reunited with Kieran , Melissa, Anna and Hannah back in Brisbane. Anna and Hannah have been doing their medical elective in a southern, coastal region of PNG so it will be fascinating to learn about their escapades of the last six weeks; it sounds like they were pretty much up to their necks in the religious fanaticism! It seems like months since I left Papua New Guinea now. New Zealand has been such a whirlwind! Despite my initial complaints (mostly concerning the ominous feeling that I was stepping back into the English “summer” climate), I can see myself living in New Zealand. The juxtaposition with my time in PNG has probably contributed largely to this secure, ‘homely’ sentiment! In fact out of all of the places I’ve visited It’s probably the country I’d most like to return to, excluding visiting relatives in South Africa/Zimbabwe of course! A trip to the south Island will have to be incorporated into my travels at some point in the future. But enough of that for now…bring on Australia!

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So Lonely Was The Ballard

It’s strange how much you can miss people that you’ve only known for a week. The others left in Wellington to carry on down to the south Island. I’m so frustrated that I’m not going to get a chance to see the south Island – If I was reorganising the trip I would have arranged to go down, but you can’t do everything, I guess! I’m now back in Taupo, alone again. I should really make an effort with the people in my hostel but I just can’t see the point; I’m leaving early in the morning. The ‘nomads’ hostel I’m staying at is slightly cheaper than the ‘base’ hostel from the last stay in Taupo but not quite as central which is irritating. I miss friends from home, I miss the family (who I haven’t spoken to in weeks now) and I miss my travelling companions of the past week. Taupo seems a little empty without them!

Instead of moping about I decided to do a three hour hike to ‘Haku’ waterfalls and I stopped off at the hot springs on the way back for a quick dip. The springs are also a pretty laid back way of meeting new people…I got chatting to a Dutch group and a raging hippy from Colorado took us to a more secluded hot waterfall just up the river.

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The blur is actually steam coming off the water! As hot as a sauna!

Concerning Hobbits

Concerning Hobbits

It was so bizarre watching Martin Freeman wandering about on the set we’d visited a couple of days previously. The Hobbit was brilliant. Three hours well spent! Such a fantastic new soundtrack as well. I didn’t realise that they were … Continue reading

Maybe There’s A Road

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” – Audrey Hepburn

We (rather begrudgingly) trekked out to Taranaki falls this morning. I seem to have got off pretty lightly on the sunburn front – the group pretty much constitutes fifty shades of lobster. Three hours or so later we stumbled across the fall where they film the ‘fishing pool’ scene with Gollum in ‘The Return Of The King’! Looks pretty different though; Peter Jackson certainly didn’t hold back on the special effects.

Our base for the night is River Valley. Hilariously the ‘dorm’ amounts to one giant bed which thirty or so people are to share. Before we arrived, too many of us had put our names down for a space in the dorm so the driver randomly picked out one girl to pay extra for the ‘bunk room’. She was not happy in the slightest so I volunteered myself. Having arrived I am so grateful. It is bad enough putting up with a symphony of six people’s snores let alone a full orchestra of thirty.

There’s a little pulley contraption here which takes a couple of people over the river: It’s basically a small wooden platform that you sit on and pull yourself over to the other side. A few of us went over and climbed up the mountain. We’d been warned by the driver that it is strictly forbidden to go past a certain point as there is no official path. Somebody got lost for three days last time they tried. However, I’m with Audrey on this one. A few stopped there to drink their beer at the ‘Warning’ sign but I soldiered on and a couple of them ended up following. We eventually reached the top of the mountain. The view was definitely worth the hard work. We cooled down later by leaving the wooden platform suspended in the middle of the river, around 3 metres from the surface and diving in. The water is so incredibly deep that even diving straight down it’s impossible to reach the bottom! Freezing cold as you could imagine, though.

 

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A Rush Of Blood To The Head

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Yesterday I woke up bright and early to do my bungy jump. I wanted to get dunked in the water at the bottom but annoyingly I wasn’t heavy enough 😦 After the skydive I strangely wasn’t even remotely phased by it – I was actually pretty keen to jump off! I definitely prefer the bungy to skydiving – It’s a lot more liberating just jumping off on your own terms and it also doesn’t make you feel ill! Bonus! 

I was also chatting to the parasailing guys in the pub last night and they offered me a free go if I could bring a couple of friends over. It wasn’t very difficult to persuade a couple of people, so I got another free parasail! 

A couple of us then walked up to this natural hot water stream. It wasn’t just hot – it was boiling! It must have been around 60 C or so. We followed it down to where it met the cold water river and that was just perfect. I can see where they got the idea for jacuzzis from! The hot water fell over into the river in waterfalls – free back massage from the hot mineral water. Ideal.

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Wow. Lots to fit in. Firstly we stopped off to see the kiwi birds at a sanctuary. They are the cutest little things I’ve ever seen. I want one! We quickly headed over to see the geisers which were, of course, incredible – we popped a bag full of eggs into one of them and they were boiled in 3 minutes!

After arriving in Taupo I had to sprint over to the marina to head off on my parasailing. It was incredibly relaxing bobbing about in the air above Lake Taupo with Mount Doom in the background. Absolutely incredible. Without having a moment to settle I whisked myself straight off to Taupo Tandem Skydiving. Yes, don’t worry Mum, It’s over now. A fall of 15000 feet – free fall for a minute. My heart was inevitably banging in protest against my ribcage and I felt pretty nausious. The fall itself felt a little like being slapped in the face by the wind. Pretty bloody terrifying. Once the shoot was up we spiralled down slowly, churning my stomach to the point that I thought I was embarassingly going to throw up mid-air – particularly as I was still pretty hung over from the night in Rotorua the night before. Skydiving: not a great thing to do hungover. We eventually bumped down, bums first onto solid ground, thank god.

I decided to check my email in the free wifi whilst waiting for my video to be edited and discovered that I’ve got an unconditional offer from UCL, despite my bizarre interview. Right now life is pretty damn good.

Better photos will follow but in the mean time here’s one I took whilst parasailing

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Take Me To The River

‘”I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”
“I should think so – in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” ‘

J.R.R Tolkein – The Hobbit

This morning we set off to Waitomo. The large majority had booked to take part in one of the ‘black water’ excursions through the underground caves on little rubber rings. Sounds fun, but it was extremely expensive. I’m also not a massive fan of large, organised group activities! A small group of us opted to just go for a walk instead and save around $200. The Irish guys and I noticed the area where they test the rubber rings out for size in the river…we walked down the track for around 20 minutes, hid our clothes and stuff then snuck back, nicked a few rubber rings and floated down the river – it was hilarious. Really beautiful as well. However we did keep coming across obstacles like large fallen trees across the river which were fairly challenging. I’ve come out the other side with a nice pattern of scratches over my legs and arms. We found an old overgrown track on the other side of the river and decided to go and investigate – we came across a tiny entrance to the underground cave which, clearly, people had crawled through. We didn’t have a torch unfortunately, well,  I’m pretty glad we didn’t, as we later found out that it was in fact an ancient burial ground in the Cliffside! We eventually got back to the hostel around two hours after the rest of the group had returned.

We decided, after supper, to go back to try and get a glimpse of the glow worms. We walked back through the limestone countryside in the dusk and then branched out onto a different path. By this time it was dark and the dense foliage overhead meant that without the torch it was pitch black. Very soon we started to notice the little glow worms and before long we were surrounded by them. It was absolutely incredible – like we were in a huge auditorium and the walls around us were maps of stars. At one point we were admiring a particularly beautiful patch of glow worms on the roof above us, but when we turned on the torch we noticed an enormous cave below us, larger than your average cathedral and we were right at the top. It was incredible that this was right before us and we had no idea at all! It just demonstrates how dangerous pot-holing can be. We meandered our way back along the road (by this point it was around 11 at night and the stars in the sky were, again, spectacular). A quad bike with a large lamp and a threateningly large gun strapped to the front approached us. That was fairly terrifying. Turns out they’re hunting. I’m not sure what exactly! We eventually reached the ‘kiwi paka’ hostel at around 11:30. I’m exhausted!

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