Oct. 10 - I'm in Auckland. I got here at 3:30. NZ airports have like no security. The bus into the city took awhile. I ate dinner at BurgerFuel. My left foot hurts. Also, I'm very tired. Ah well! I will have an early night tonight because I have to get up early!
Oct. 11 - I am at Hahei Holiday Park in Hahei. I have been to Mt. Eden to see Auckland City, Thames for the Pak n Save, and Hot Water Beach where I stood on some REALLY hot sand. Apparently according to the driver's sheet thing I am not booked through to Wellington, but really I am! Argh. I should be doing a walk to Cathedral Cove soon and also there is a barbecue tonight.
Oct. 12 - Today we went to Raglan. Stopped at Paeroa along the way where L&P was born. Greg got lost... we ended up in Matamata but got to Raglan eventually. The lodge is amazing. There's a ropes course, and a flying fox (aka zipline). It's very secluded in the bush on the slopes of Mt. Karioi. I didn't do the surf school because well, I couldn't afford it. Walked around in downtown Raglan, went to the beach and watched some surfers, played on the ropes course, watched the sun set (we're on the west coast). Tomorrow is Waitomo! I've decided I'm totally going for it and doing the Haggis Honking Holes, one of the more extreme options. Sweet as. Next day is whitewater rafting, then Tongariro Crossing, which I may be doing alone (but apparently everyone has to go with a guide anyway). Other people are definitely caving and rafting with me. I'm having so much fun! Oh, also, I am the only American on the bus! In addition to that, everyone at first guesses I'm Canadian because apparently I don't have an American accent, nor do I act especially American. I can totally pass as Canadian! I like that everyone's foreign. It's interesting, most of them are still excited by sheep. haha. There are a bunch of Germans, a bunch of British people, an Irish girl, a couple Dutch girls, a Swedish couple, and a few Canadians. Interestingly, I find the British accent harder to understand than the Kiwi accent. Oh yeah and today is pretty warm, yeah. Yesterday, not so much. The sand was hot because there's a hot spring running underneath it, not because of the weather :P at low tide you can dig natural hot pools in the sand!!!
Oct. 14 - Yesterday I did the Haggis Honking Holes which was BRILLIANT! so amazing! Then we stayed on a marae and learned poi (for girls) and haka (for guys) and all slept on mattresses in the wharenui. Like a big sleepover. I was surprised at how well I slept. Today I did whitewater rafting in Rotorua - exciting!!! Now I"m in "sunny" Taupo where it's raining. I'm doing the Tongariro Crossing tomorrow despite shite Stray politics! Too complicated to explain at the moment. Sorry I have such limited time to write but am keeping a detailed journal so I will tell you EVERYTHING when I get back. It will take hours probably.
Oct. 17 - I just walked through a street carnival. It was mostly for little kids. Okay, just for little kids. There were rides (ferris wheel, carousel), a moon bounce, balloon animals, etc. I got silly string all over my shoes. It was fun just to watch. There was a young band playing carnival music. I think Nelson would be a nice place to spend a few more days (that's where I am now). The Festival of the Arts is on now. Other than that today I have gone to the grocery store and eaten in the little garden at the YHA. This YHA is really nice. The nicest one (of the YHAs) I think I've stayed at so far. It has a ping pong table and some guy watching this week's Heroes on his laptop in the lounge (I'm jealous). There's a table and couches and a sink in my room which is a 6-bed dorm. My bed isn't bunked. There's a grill and a hammock... etc. Really awesome.
Earlier I walked to the train station in Welly with Ally and caught the shuttle to the InterIslander ferry terminal where I waited a few minutes then got on the ferry then it left late. It had a movie theatre, food court, play place, arcade... I got a NZ hot dog and chips (NZ hot dog is a batter covered sausage but not like corndog batter, I quite like them actually).
Yesterday I traveled to Wellington via Ohakune (which has a giant carrot that I didn't get my camera out in time for), Taihape (gumboot capital of the world), and Bulls (a terribly pun-filled town). Got into Welly about 3~ish and went and met Ally and Kailah. Threw my stuff down in Ally's flat then we walked around town. They got tickets to a Tiki Taane concert and then we went to Te Papa, a really awesome museum. It's so overwhelmingly large and had a Bourne Identity-like wall. Sweet as.
Then it was raining so couldn't do much else so we went to Hell Pizza which they had never been too. It was attached to Syn Bar and we stayed for their quiz night and failed miserably in every round except the last, a picture round where you had to identify martial artists and the movies the picture was from. I knew quite a few of those. Then we basically went to bed (Ally and I) and Kailah went out to a gay bar. I was able to procure a mattress, sheets, and a blanket, and Ally's floor was quiet and dark. Yay.
So I am having a grand old time! Tomorrow I join the Magic Bus (which I could have done today, if I had only realised that of course they would change the departure time if the ferry was delayed...) Anyway, I leapt onto the Intercity which was about to leave and paid an extra $25 not to stand around in Picton for 4 hours. Because of the opportunity costs, it was well worth it.
Oct. 18 - Today I got on the Magic Bus and traveled to Greymouth, stopping at a cafe in Murchison, for lunch in Westport, at a place overlooking the Buller River, to walk the Truman Track, and at the Pancake Rocks. All pretty sweet as. We just got into Greymouth and when we got to the YHA the desk was temporarily closed. It's in this big old house and has a chapel. The keys are the old fashioned kind! I found a terry pratchett book in the book exchange and promptly ditched the book I picked up at the last hostel which was some shit. It's not a discworld novel, it's called "The Dark Side of the Sun" I hope it's alright. Well I'm going to be picked up for a brewery tour soon.
Oct. 19 - [A kayak trip I had put my name down for had seemed to be rained out.] It cleared up but the kayak trip didn't go because of not enough numbers. bleargh. So I was like. huh. what now? I saw there was a shuttle out to the glacier so I booked that for 4:45 (only $12). I was left with over an hour to kill... I just sort of read and stuff. Then got on the shuttle which was full of old British people. Couldn't really see much out there because of clouds and mist. I'm hoping it clears up for tomorrow or else my only option will be some indoor ice climbing. Well I did a few nice walks and took some pictures and came back and made my unsatisfying dinner. Victor and Mike are going out at 8 or 8:30 for dinner and drinks so I think I will join them and get a snack to supplement the crap I've been eating, blah. Let's just say I'm beginning to eye actual cheese with major envy.
You know how you start rock climbing and you use your arms way too much because you don't know what you're doing then you can't use your arms anymore? that's exactly what's happening to me right now. ice climbing was fun fun fun! you can throw your axes in just about anywhere and shove in your feet where you please. There is a technique to it which I learned pretty quickly. Apparently I was doing quite well but my arms were tiring out quickly. Also it was about -2 degrees in the climbing room.
Oct. 20 - Tonight I went to make dinner. I walked in the lounge and who should I see but Dave, a guy who was on my Stray bus the whole 6 days! It turns out he is on Magic Bus now too so I will traveling again with him tomorrow. It is so weird! Pretty much everyone in this hostel is on the Magic Bus and is leaving tomorrow. It is a nice hostel. They put the fire on!
Oct. 21 - I am in Queenstown after a LONG day on the bus. I think I will eat in tonight, and do Fergburger tomorrow night (though I'm tempted to just go now... and not have to worry about cooking. There was some major beauty going on today. I don't know what tonight will bring... but tomorrow, at 11 am, I will be canyoning! Supposedly, according to my guidebook, it is "the harrowing adventure to your hardcore prayer." So let's hope so.
Oct. 22 - OMG CANYONING JSDKALDJSKLDFJO!!!!
For instance I jumped into a pool of water from a height of 6 or 7 meters. Went down a waterfall slide, scrambled over rocks, went down some rapids headfirst, through a chute, abseiled, ziplining, ziplined to when you stop then abseiling down from there and then when I wasn't too high up let go and fell in the water! OMGOMOGOGMOGMGOGM
Yep. One of the best things I have done, no question. That and caving were the HIGHLIGHTS of this little trip here. Those two things are indeed pretty similar! When I was faced with a 6 or 7 m jump... I had to get the guy to count me down just like in bungy. And for another jump as well. Works every time! I knew I HAD to do them of course (well obviously you didn't have to, there were other options but I would regret it if I didn't) but my brain was like NO NO NO NO JESUS CHRIST NO. But then it was AMAZING. On one of my jumps, you had to jump out pretty far and try to land on your butt, the guy before me didn't do it very well but I was rated 9/10 HIGH SCORE! lol. We absolutely MUST go canyoning or caving or BOTH!!! MUST!!!
WEEEE ADRENALIN HIGH!
Now I think I'll go get some well-deserved Ferg burger fries.
Oct. 23 - [got back to Dunners] Today I was busy with laundry, napping, hanging out with Amy, and with my Magic Bus friends. It is pretty sad that I will probably never see them again. I've found you make friends really fast when you're traveling because you know if you can enjoy traveling with them, you must really like them quite a lot. And so you can know someone for a week, and really know pretty much nothing about them, except that they're a really cool person who you have shared a great experience with. And where they're from and maybe what they do. Perhaps you can get a free place to stay in the Canary Islands, or Wales, or Germany, one day. You never know!
Anyway. So that's that. It feels cool to know that I know people all over the world now. Not just people from interesting places in the world like in college that live in the US but people who actually live all the time in those interesting places.
So tonight, I went to eat at Velvet Burger because Mike texted me saying that he and Victor weren't going to be back from a wildlife tour until 9. I tried e-mailing Dave to tell him about that but he didn't check it I guess and right after I went to Circadian Rhythm with Amy and played Guess Who, he texted me about dinner. So I went with him to the other Velvet Burger and we chatted. He had done the Cadbury and Speight's tours and didn't really want to go out later. Then I got another text from Mike around 9 saying they weren't going to be back until 9:30. So around that time I tried to find On Top Backpackers but it turned out to not be where I thought it was. But I saw the wildlife tour bus and followed it, and found the backpackers. I sat in the lounge to wait for Mike to change and Victor to get there and I saw and talked to the Dutch guy from my canyoning trip. Weird.
Then Mike, Victor, and a Korean guy, and I tried to find a place that was still open to eat - and ended up going to Velvet Burger. Hey I only actually ate there once. Though I stole some fries. After that we sat at Robbie Burns and listened to the live jazz and talked about Scottish man purses. Eventually Amy and Hannah joined us, followed by the really drunk Toroa girls. We played some telephone, and then decided to go to Stock Exchange because Robbie Burns was closing (around midnight). So we went there and danced, and it was good fun. We sang on the way, and wished there was karaoke. The Magic Bus guys left around 1 because they had to be on the bus in the morning, and Amy, Michelle, and I went to Monkey Bar (Hannah left and Michelle was at Stock Exchange). Oh I almost forgot about the pink-shirt guys, who came in and danced all around us. I was like 'is this suddenly a gay bar?' (not the first time I've wondered that about Stock Exchange, mind you?). So the Monkey Bar was pretty much dead and we only stayed so that Amy could finish her drink, then tried to leave but Amy decided to stay so Michelle and I left anyway.