“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
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!
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.
‘”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!
Cathedral cove. It was more than a little daunting getting onto a bus full of strangers to travel with for the next 10 days but, so far, all’s well. I’m actually surprised by how unadventurous some of the people here … Continue reading →
Touchdown in Auckland, New Zealand, with a strange sense of déjà-vu from the British “summer”. Sounds like I’ve missed the worst of the weather, though. There was a tornado here around an hour before I arrived which actually killed a few people, according to the bus driver. I found my way to the ‘Nomads Fat Camel’ hostel; I’m sharing a dorm with around 16 girls. It’s like university halls but with each small room having two bunk beds! I’m debating whether to go on the hostel’s bar crawl tonight. It’s tempting, but after waking up successively at 04:00 and 04:30 over the last two mornings my energy levels are pretty depleted. I’ve got another early start tomorrow so I’ll most likely just be anti-social this evening. I’m going to book to stay here for my last night when I return to Auckland, as it’s incredibly cheap, so that would be a better time to go out.
After wandering about for a couple of hours I’m getting a flavour of the ‘hobbit’ fever that’s gripping the nation, with the film being released on the 12th. I think it will be unavoidable to make a trip to the cinema next week – it would almost be rude not to!
So my time in Papua New Guinea is finally over. Phase one complete. I’m currently in Brisbane preparing for my flight to Auckland tomorrow…re-shuffling my bags with completely different clothes suitable for ‘normal’ civilisation. I had a look in the … Continue reading →