“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.
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!