A Travellerspoint blog

Christchurch

Queenstown to Christchurch and back to Auckland


View Backpacking in New Zealand on Prathyush's travel map.

It was a really long drive from Queenstown to Christchurch. We got a very good view of Mt. Cook and the neighboring mountains along the way.
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We reached at 6 PM and there was nothing much to do except to check out the nearby places. I called up Morwenna who was in Christchurch then and we decided to meet. She came down to meet me at Base and we went out to a couple of pubs. We had a great time talking about the good old times in Korea :)

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Arun and me planned to go to Kaikorua the next day but we had a tough time finding the transportation back to Christchurch. So finally we decided to skip it and chill out in Christchurch itself. There was a rugby match that evening and quite a few of us from the hostel decided to go for it. I called up Mo and we planned for go for the Crater walk - a small hike near the Christchurch Gondola.

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Luckily, Mo's sister had other plans so she was able to get the car. She picked me up at Base. Both of us were new to Christchurch so we had to navigate using a road map. We missed the turn and ended up driving through a really long tunnel to the neighboring town :) Finally, we reached the base of the Gondola.

We went up the Gondola and set out on the hike. Mo is a really fast hiker, something I never knew. So I had a tough time catching up to her :) We reached a military base on the top of the hill and got some amazing views from up there. We headed back and got back to Base just in time for the rugby match. It was a great hike and I'm really glad I ran into her in New Zealand

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The bus for the Rugby match set out at 4 and it was nearly full. Most of us in the bus had never seen a rugby match before so we were discussing the rules on the way. Sofia and Aksel also came along hoping to get tickets at the stadium. The Christchurch Crusaders were playing The Lions from South Africa.

The stadium was packed and we were all cheering loudly. The crusaders made quite an appearance. There were knights in armor going around on horses and there were flames shooting up into the air. All of us were given swords made of some kind of hard foam and we were waving them in the air :)

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The match itself was great. The crusaders finally beat the Lions by a huge margin and everybody were happy.

It was our last night in New Zealand. We chilled out in the pub for sometime and after that got back and finished packing. The next morning, we were up by 5 AM. We caught the flight at 6 30 and landed in Auckland by 9. After roaming around in Auckland for sometime, it was time to catch the flight to Hongkong.

Posted by Prathyush 23:14 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The Milford Disaster

Rain plays spoilsport :(


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It was so difficult to get up on the 18th after St. Patrick's party the previous night. But we dragged ourselves out of bed to get onto the Milford Explorer. There were a few more people who had planned the same trip with us. Many were still hung over and a few were sleeping standing up.

We got onto the bus and noticed big black clouds in the horizon and the worst came true. It started raining really heavily after a while.

We stopped for breakfast and had venison pies. Yummy. They were hot and spicy and full of venison stew. There were a few stops along the way and the weather was getting gloomier and gloomier.

Apparently Milford Sound was only 26Kms away from Queenstown but there was no direct route since it was on the other side of the huge range of mountains. So the actual drive was close to 600Kms.
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After a 4 Hr drive, we reached Milford. It was a really tiny place. We got onto the boat - The pride of Milford and sat down for lunch. It was a buffet but I wasn't really hungry so I just ate a bit. It was raining heavily outside. We still ventured onto the top of the boat for a few photographs but we could hardly see anything.
This was supposed to be the most amazing place in NZ and we couldn't see a thing. Such a disaster. As Lauren said, it was like going to visit the Pyramids in Egypt and then getting stuck in a sand storm.

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We started back and then weather started clearing up. Argh. It was just bad timing I guess. After we got back, I packed up my stuff and crashed into bed. Another long journey tomorrow.

Posted by Prathyush 22:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Queenstown - Canyon Swing

Even my shit got scared !!


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We reached Queenstown in good time and it was time for a group photograph.

And when I say group, I never thought it would be both Mangy's and Lauren's bus. So there were more than a 100 of us. And we decided to do the pyramid.

The biggest strongest of us were asked to take the bottom row. Well I didn't volunteer but Mangy picked me (thankfully towards the end so I was towards the edge of the pyramid).

The pyramid !!
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The making of the pyramid :)

We made our way to BASE Queenstown - our backpacking hostel. It was right in the middle of town, very close to Ferg Burgers which is an awesome place for burgers. (I ended up eating every meal there in those two days).

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We still had a bit of time, so we decided to take the Gondola to the peak of Queenstown. We got some fantastic views from there. There were quite a few paragliders who were gliding down to the base but unfortunately we didn't have enough time.

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We got back right in time for the most talked about adventure in Queenstown - The canyon swing.

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After a short drive, we reached the canyon and got briefed about the various types of jumps we could choose from. The jump as such is quite expensive but once we've done the first one, we could jump again for almost 1/10th the price.
The different types of jumps were categorized by the how much scary they are - from easy to very, very scary. Unlike other activities, they do not use "stars" but rather they use "undies" which was so funny.

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I, of course had to choose the very very scary one. The two guys who are at the jump are the most hilarious dudes you can ever meet. They screw with you, they encourage you and then they scare the shit out of you.

They suggested me to do a swing where I had to jump rather than be released by them. So I chose the "pin-drop".
I had to walk up to the edge, put my hands behind me and jump sideways. Sounds so easy huh? Well, its the scariest thing I have ever done in my life.

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I couldn't believe that I had actually done that. So well, I decided to do it again to actually experience it again. So I went back and this time decided to do "Gimp boy goes to hollywood" :) This was also rated 5 undies.

I was hung upside down and I could get a good view of the entire canyon in reverse and I was saying something when they released me in mid-sentence. All I could do was scream at the top of my voice and well, FALL and then SWING.

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There were some pretty funny road signs on the way which I had to click. Check them out.

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We got back to the hostel, all pumped up for the St. Patrick's Day bash and boy, it was quite a night. More on that later.

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Posted by Prathyush 20:18 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Queenstown - Kawarau Bridge Jump

The adventure capital of the world


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From Wanaka, we headed out to Queenstown on St. Patrick's day.

The route from Wanaka to Queenstown is just amazing. It follows the Kawarau river which looked perfect for Kayaking (Ah wish we had more time). After an hour or so, we reached the Kawarau bridge - The home of Bungee.

This is where A.J.Hackett started Bungee jumping commercially. There were three places to try Bungee jumping in Queenstown - The bridge, The Nevis and the Ledge. There was something different about each place.

The Bridge - Though its relatively a small jump (43M), its above a flowing river which is scary. People who jump have the option of choosing to touch the water or even take a proper dip in it.

The Nevis - 134M of pure terror. It has a freefall of close to 8 seconds and is supposed to be terrifying. It is a full 4 Hour trip to reach the Neves since most vehicles cannot reach that point. Again .. Wish we had more time in Queenstown.

The Ledge - Jumping off a ledge which is 400meters above Queenstown.

Since we were short on time, we decided to do the bridge jump since it was on the way to Queenstown. The entire bus got down at the bridge and we all got to watch a free video about bungee and A.J.Hackett (Free only coz we were with Kiwi Experience). It was a short clip of about 8 minutes and it was both encouraging and terrifying at the same time. A.J.Hackett jumped off the Eiffel tower and was imprisoned. But his story made headlines and thats when Bungee became famous across the whole world. Quite a story.

After the video, a few of us registered for the bungee and we made our way onto the bridge. There were about a hundred people watching us and cheering us on.
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Initially 43M didn't sound like a lot (Having jumped from 15000 feet :D) but as I made my way to the edge, it sure felt very high. I was made to put on a harness of some kind and then attached to the bungee cord. After that, I was good to go, just like that.

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As I made my way to the edge, I was quite nervous. The guy hooking me up asked me if I wanted to dive into the water and I told him I just wanted to touch the water. I inched my way to the edge - well, that was because my feet were tied together and I couldn't actually walk.

And well, I just jumped.

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Its amazing how fast the ground rushes at me (well technically, I was the one falling but still .. ). People asked me which one was scary, Sky diving or Bungee jumping and well, I have to go with Bungee. The ground rush is a LOT more and the other reason being, you have to do it ALONE.

I nearly reached the water, just enough to touch it and then bounced back up. I kept bouncing a couple of times before stopping. I was then lowered down onto a waiting raft. When I got off the raft, my heart was pounding so freaking hard and I was shaking from adrenalin.

I went back up to collect my photographs and watched a few other people jump before all of us headed off to Queenstown.

Posted by Prathyush 06:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wanaka

Puzzling town

From Franz Josef, we headed out to Wanaka. On the way we stopped at the mirror lakes but again, the rain played spoil sport and we couldn't find the mirror reflection in the lake for which it was so famous for. We could see the glaciers in the distance.
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Wanaka is a really nice town right beside a huge lake. Not a lot of activities to do so we ended up hanging out at the pub and playing pool. We did take a long walk beside the lake.

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The next morning, we went to the Puzzling world. A really cool place to check out. There were many amazing puzzles including a 3D maze where we had to find the way to the four different colored towers. Trust me, it wasn't easy. We kept going round and round in circles and it took us a good hour to find all the four towers and then to find the way out.

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There was a puzzle room where we get completely disoriented. It was lots of fun to stand in weird angles and watch water flow upwards. I bought a couple of mini rubix cubes keychains for me and JC and we were off.

Posted by Prathyush 06:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Franz Josef

Glacier Hike

semi-overcast
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Franz Josef is a really small place with just a couple of streets but it had literally everything anyone needs. One street with a gas station, a super market, the franz josef glacier guides and a couple of restaurants. The other street had a few motels and our backpacking hostel - The rain forest retreat.

You've gotta love the Kiwi sense of humor when it comes to funny ad lines.
"When it rains, we pour"

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The first night, I met a few locals who had come over to play pool at the pub. We ended up playing for nearly 4 hours and it was great fun. There was a french couple - Nicole and Francois who kept challenging us and losing literally every time.

The next day, we were up early and reached the glacier guides stop by 8 AM. We were given all the required gear - rain coats, water proof trousers, huge boots with crampons and woolen socks and a woolen cap. All of us dressed up and got into the bus, and after a 15 minute drive, we reached the base of the glacier.

After a 15 minute walk, we could see the huge glacier in the distance. We were then separated into various groups based on fitness. Arun n me decided to stick to the fastest group. Our group leader was a huge guy named 'Dan'.

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From where where we were standing, the glacier seemed to be just a few hundred meters away. But it was apparently an optical illusion and it was actually more than a couple of kilometers away. It took us nearly 45 minutes to get to the actual base of the glacier. There were quite a few waterfalls along the way.

At the base, Dan showed us how to put on our crampons and basic techniques for walking on the ice. And then we were off. It was initially difficult to walk with crampons on the rocks but once we got on the ice, they gave me amazing grip.

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Our group was the fastest and we stuck to a good pace and soon we were far away from the others. The first real adventure was going through a really narrow crevice. There were blue walls of ice on both sides and it was really beautiful.

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After a while, the crevice got narrower and narrower and our guide got stuck. He had to use his pick axe to make the opening a bit larger. While he was doing that, we were all huddled in the narrow crevice with nowhere to go. There was freezing cold water dripping down. After a while, it got really really cold and I was so glad I was wearing the waterproof trousers and jacket.

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I had to hold my bag in one hand because I couldn't slide through when I was wearing it. We started wondering what if the glacier shifted even by a few inches, all of us could have been squashed like bugs. Thank goodness, we were with a guide who knew the glaciers better than anybody else. Soon, we were able to slide through the crevice and climb out on the other side.

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After that we started climbing higher and higher. We had a stop for lunch on the ice and we ate our packed sandwiches. And the climbing resumed. The view got better and better and soon we could see the entire valley all the way to the sea on the west coast. And soon it was time to turn back.

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At the highest point, we all did a victory shout of "Sweet As" and we started climbing down. Climbing down as a lot harder and we had to make sure we found a good grip before stepping down.
We found this really beautiful ice cave on the way where we stopped for taking some photographs.

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And then, we had to slide down a narrow crevice.

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Once we got to the bottom, we took off our crampons and walked down to the huge ice cave at the base of the glacier. Different parts of the glacier are moving at different speeds so the glacier keeps changing everyday. New crevices and caves are formed and the guides have to select a different path everyday. The general public is not allowed onto the glaciers without a guide because it is way too dangerous.

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Posted by Prathyush 05:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Ferry crossing and the West Coast

Wellington to Pictun to Nelson to Westport to Mahinapua and onto Franz Josef


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We caught the overnight bus from Taupo and reached Wellington at 7 15 in the morning. From there, we boarded the interisland ferry to cross over to the South Island.

The ferry was huge with nearly 8 floors, an indoor movie theater and a huge restaurant in one of the floors. After a huge breakfast, we went up to the top deck and got a few glimpses of the Wellington coast.
The ride itself was quite boring so I settled down into a nice chair and dozed off and got up just before we reached Pictun on the South Island. Arun, on the other hand, was busy taking photographs of the Pictun harbor.

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We were picked up in Pictun by the Kiwi Experience buses. There were two buses and one of them was already full. There was a huge group waiting and we all got onto the second bus. Our bus driver was Lauren who spoke with a heavy Kiwi accent. She was hilarious, cracking jokes all the time and giving us the most idiotic trivia about NZ.

From pictun, we headed out to Nelson - a really small town quite close to the Abel Tasman national park. I really wanted to check out the park but we reached at 3PM in the afternoon and again, we were short on time. Kiwi experience suggests a minimum of 10 days for the south island but I think we needed around 15 days to see everything properly.

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Anyway, we checked into the hostel and set out for a small hike. There was a hill nearby which we started climbing. At the peak, we found a sign which said that we are at the 'center of New Zealand'.

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We had a beer tasting session that night at the pub, where we had to taste 5 different types of local beers. It was a fun session. At dinner, I met some of the members of the new bus, Eden, Rosey, David etc. This group was a lot more active than the north island bus and I knew right from the start that it was going to be a great trip.

The next morning, we headed out to the Nelson lake. The water was quite cold so I decided not to jump in but quite a few including Arun decided to take the plunge.
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On the way to Westport, we stopped on the Nelson river for Jet boating. This was quite a lot of fun. The jet boat could go insanely fast and turn at such speeds. The guy driving the boat made it turn 360 degrees and times and all of us were fully soaked by the time we got back. He drove so close the rocks that we thought we were going to crash but we swerve at the very last moment. After a while, it started raining and the rain drops hit our face so hard that we had to hide behind our rain coats. But thankfully it stopped soon enough.

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After that, we reached Westport, another tiny town on the west coast. On the way, we stopped to check out a few seal colonies. The weather worsened and it was raining almost all the time. The hostel was really nice. I was in a room with the three Danish dudes and we played cards till quite late in the night.

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The next day, the day of the Pub pub party, a party we aren't going to forget ever. The theme of the party was to get dressed in anything that starts with a P. I initially wanted to just go as a photographer and just wear my DSLR around my neck. But that was kinda boring so I finally dressed up as a pirate. It was one of the wildest parties I've ever been to.. and let me just leave it at that :) And of course, I am not going to post any pictures.

Posted by Prathyush 03:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Tongariro Crossing

Hiking up Mt. DOOM


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We were up early, like really early, to catch the bus which took us to the beginning of the crossing.
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The entire crossing was about 20Kms and I decided to hike up Mt. Ngauruhoe as well. This was a near perfect volcanic cone which was shown as Mt. DOOM in the Lord of the Rings.

We started off at a brisk pace, eager to be back by 4 so that we could take some rest before catching the overnight bus to wellington (Talk of a hectic schedule).

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The initial walk was quite easy and we got some amazing photographs of Mt. Doom on the way. The tough climb started when we got to the Devil's Staircase - an unending climb which went on and went on till the South crater.

We got the best view of Mt. DOOM before climbing it. Here's how it was depicted in the movie, Lord of the Rings.
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Here, we had to take a diversion to climb up Mt. Doom. Arun backed up at the last moment and we exchanged cameras to lighten my load. I set out with a couple of Israeli dudes and we were at the base of Mt. Doom in no time. After that the climb became really tough. The whole side of the volcano was a lava tube. So it was just volcanic sand and loose rocks. Anything we touched or stepped on would shift or slide down. Each step up was half a step down.

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It was slow going and I was in such bad shape that I couldn't keep up with the Israeli guys. But thankfully, another group of Australians came along and we started hiking up at an easier pace. The view got better and better and soon we were close to the huge cloud hovering over the peak of the crater.

I couldn't get any good pictures after that since we could hardly see anything in the cloud. So I turned back and started climbing down. I met another girl coming down and both of us started sliding and slipping down. It was so difficult to move even one meter without falling down. There were many rocks which kept sliding and we didn't want to start an avalanche or a major land slide so we tried to be as careful as possible.

After a while, we saw a guy literally dancing down the steepest part of the slope. We called out to him and he taught us a technique which was invaluable throughout the hike. We had to find a lava tube which did not have any rocks, and start running down but at each step, we had to dig our heels into the sand. It took us a while to get it right but then coming down was so easy. We were gliding down at a pretty good speed and we had to keep looking out for rocks or we could trip and go flying down. But we were back at the South crater in no time.

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I got into a conversation with the Australian girl. Her name was Rachel and she has just completed the Iron man competition in Taupo in a fantastic time of 12 Hrs. She was such an inspiration. She told me all about her training and her bike. She apparently used a road bike and not a triathlon bike. I told her about my running and biking in India and my full marathon in Mumbai. Its amazing how we get to meet the most extraordinary people at the most extraordinary locations.

We continued with the Tongariro crossing and reached the Red Crater. From here, we got a pretty good view of the volcano we just climbed and the clouds on the top.

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From the red crater, we could see the pearl lakes. These were fantastic blue lakes which were such a contrast to the surrounding black and red volcanic rocks.

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After another couple of kilometers we came to another huge circular lake. From here, the descent began. The landscape changed completely. There were rolling hills and we could see the huge Taupo lake in the distance.

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There was one spot where we could see white fumes coming out of the ground. People around assured me that it was a normal phenomenon and that the volcano was still dormant :)

I got back to the car park at around 3. Arun caught up with me by 3 30 and we got onto the bus and got back to the hostel. It was a fantastic hike and a must for anyone who's visiting NZ.

Posted by Prathyush 11:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Black water rafting

The caves of Waitomo


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We were up early at Rotorua and got onto the Kiwi bus for the first time. Our driver was a nice, fat lady named Relle. The bus wasn't fully packed so both Arun and me managed to window seats.

We heard so much about the legendary Kiwi bus drivers that I was eager to see what they have to offer. And I wasn't disappointed. They have a microphone just above their head at the driver's seat and they keep updating us with lots of information - facts, activities we can do, accommodation booking, and well, all kinds of trivia about new zealand. Relle was quite funny and I liked her immediately.

Our first stop was a sheep show. None of us were very enthusiastic about getting off till one of the show guys got onto the bus and made everything sound really exciting. So well, we decided to pay up and check it out.

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There were about 20 types of sheep and they formed a kind of pyramid on stage and we were told about where they are from and what they are famous for. Quite boring I gotta say.

The funny part of the show was the audience. There were about 50-60 Korean tourists - all of them above 50 surely and they were clapping and cheering and laughing out loud. Well, I wasn't sure if they were excited about seeing sheep or that they could listen to the Korean version of the show on the headphones they bought. One of the ajummas was called up on stage and she did the ever so familiar annonygaseyo on stage and we couldn't help but smile.

From here, we headed onto Waitomo which is famous for its glowworm caves and BLACK WATER RAFTING.

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We reached the hostel, Kiwipaka in Waitomo. It was a nice little place with trees all around and a small pub called the Curly's Bar. We dumped our stuff and were soon picked up by the black water rafting guys.

There were again plenty of options to choose from and we chose The Labyrinth which was a 3 hour black water rafting trip and we were warned that it was going to get COLD and WET. About 10 of us chose the Labyrinth. We were given our wet suits, shoes and helmets. It was so difficult to get into the wet suits. After struggling for a while, we managed to get into them and we got into the van and we were off to the caves. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take our own cameras with us since the wet suits had no pockets. But our guide had one and she assured us that there'll be plenty of photographs.

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Before entering the cave, we were given a small demonstration on how to jump over rapids. We basically had to turn around, put the tube to our butt and leap off backwards. We of course had to avoid hitting the cave ceiling or the in-numerous rocks around us. So this basically was Black water tubing rather than rafting. After a bit of practice, we got the technique and we entered the caves.

It was pitch dark inside and the water was FREEZING. But it was a lot of fun. We had to jump off plenty of small rapids in complete darkness, just guided by the small flashlights we had on our helmets which were basically useless.

And then there were the glowworms. There are a few sights you never forget in your life time and for me, this is one of them. We were gliding on freezing water in pitch darkness and there were thousands of glowworms on the ceiling showing us the way. It was a really beautiful sight.

We all stopped in one of the caves for a small snack. From there, we had to crawl our way through a very narrow cave, get onto our tube and start paddling with our hands to the exit without switching on our flash lights. We kept bumping into rocks and into each other and half of us nearly got lost at one turning. But finally all of us made our way out of the exit dragging our tubes behind us.

Then came the bad decision. We got back, changed into dry clothes and had some amazing hot soup. The photographs were available at a price of 20NZD per CD. We should have bought the damn CD. But one of the guys, Charles, bought it and we thought that we could just take the CD and copy the photographs.
But after we got back, we could never catch hold of Charles and now, we have absolutely no photographs of the craziest adventure we had.

Update:
We ran into a girl, Christina, in the south island we was a friend of Charles. Arun gave his email ID to her and she promised that she would add him so that we could catch hold of Charles. Well, we are still WAITING and hoping that someday she'll add him and we'll get to see our photographs. Let's see ......

There was nothing much to do at Waitomo. There was a nice pub with a couple of pool tables. And of course, the barbeque dinner. A huge steak, sausage and baked potatoes - YUMMY.

Next morning, we were off to Taupo. On the way we stopped by the caves again. But this time for a short hike over them.
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We saw the narrow cave opening and we couldn't believe it was the same cave where we had come out of the day before.
We got back to the bus and were off to Taupo.

Posted by Prathyush 02:56 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Kia Ora

Landing in Auckland

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After a really long 12 Hour flight, we landed in Auckland and our trip had officially begun.
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I had a great experience at the Immigration in Auckland. After the boring "I don't care" officers in India, the scary "What the hell are you doing here?" officers in Hongkong and the all so serious "I'm here to do my job" officers in Korea, this was such a welcome change. The cutest female officer asked me what I was going to do in NZ. I said I'm backpacking. She gave me a few tips on where to stay and what to visit, stamped my passport and waved me off with a smile. I started loving NZ immediately.

We just had a few hours in Auckland before our bus to Rotorua. So we took the bus to the city (Thanks to Kiwi Experience, we didn't have to pay for the ticket). We got off on Queen's street - The main street in Auckland and roamed around. We went to the sky tower.

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There were quite a few guys doing the sky jump - which is basically a guided bungee jump. Its guided because the jump is very close to the tower and you don't want to bump into it by accident. It didn't look so exciting so we decided to skip the jump and just visit the tower.

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The entrance was quite costly but there was a discounted price for backpackers. And we were still wearing our backpacks so we didn't even have to show any papers and paid the discounted price straight away. The view from the tower was pretty good with a 360 degree view of the entire city of Auckland and its harbor.

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The bus to Rotorua was right next to the sky tower so after a mini-meal, we loaded our bags onto the bus and we were off to Rotorua. It was a 3 hour journey and we reached around 11 30 in the night. Finding the backpacking hostel was quite an experience in the middle of the night.

Thankfully, New Zealand is one of the safest places to be in the whole world and after a bit of searching, we were able to locate the street and find the hostel. There was quite a party going on in the pub next door, but we decided to hit the sack early so that we could catch the Kiwi Experience bus in the morning.

Posted by Prathyush 01:39 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Skydiving @ Taupo

The most exhilarating minute of my life !

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From Waitomo, we reached Taupo in the North Island. Lake Taupo is the biggest lake in NZ and when I say its big, I mean its IMMENSE. It was created by a huge volcanic eruption which turned the sky red in China and Rome.

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We had two things planned for Taupo - Sky Diving and the Tongariro Crossing.
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We were picked up by the Tandem Sky diving guys around 1 PM. But the sky was overcast and the chances of sky diving that day seemed less but we were quite hopeful. We reached the hangar beside a small airfield and were briefed about the various options we could choose from. There was the option of diving from 12000 feet or15000 feet and also the option of diving with or without photographs and video. I was very doubtful whether I'll be doing this ever again in my life so I went for the best and most expensive - 15000 feet and with photographs.

We dressed up in our flight suits and were all set to go when the weather turned bad and we were asked to wait. Those two hours were the most restless I've been recently. All of us were so excited that we could barely sit still. We were of course taking lots of photographs in our flight suits.

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Finally the weather got better and we were good to go. 6 of us were in the first batch - Me, Arun, Emma, Leah, Aksle and Sophia. Each of us had a tandem sky-diver to whom we are attached to and a photographer who would jump along with us. My instructor was Cody who was a really cool chap.
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The plane turned out to be quite small and it was a very tight squeeze. There were totally 18 of us and also the pilot.

The plane took off and started climbing in a spiral making sure we would be jumping right above the airfield. We were given a life jacket in a small pouch just in case we managed to drift off over the Lake Taupo.

After a few minutes, we were quite high up and I asked Cody if we were at 15000 feet already. He showed me his altimeter which read just 4000 feet. Whew. We kept climbing and climbing and finally reached the clouds. At around 12000 feet, we were given oxygen masks. Apparently the altitude and the nervousness cause many people to start hallucinating. After a while, we broke through the clouds and reached clear skies. It was the most beautiful sight ever. Blue skies, bright sunshine and a sea of clouds.

Finally we reached 15000 feet and the plane door was opened. The wind was blowing so hard that we could hardly hear anything else. Arun was the first to jump out and then Leah and then it was my turn.

Cody pushed me to the edge and we put our feet over the edge. I tried to look down but all I could see were the clouds. Steve, my photographer hung outside the plane on a tiny ledge.

And then we jumped.

The first second, it felt like I was falling in slow motion. I could see Steve and the wings of the plane and the next second, gravity took over and we were falling and all I could do was .. well.. SCREAM. I couldn't even hear myself screaming. We were so far up that I could clearly make out the curvature of the earth.

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After a few seconds, Cody tapped me on the arm and I looked up and there was Steve pointing the camera at me. I started waving my arms around and started doing all kind of idiotic gestures. Steve was all around me. He would go up and then down and then circle around. I held onto his hand at one point and we twirled around in circles. After a while, we were falling at a speed of over 200 kmph. I was finding it difficult to even wave my arms. The skin on our faces started forming ripples.

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We were in free fall for just over a minute but it was the most amazing minute of my life. I was looking at Steve at around 4000 feet up when suddenly I stopped falling and I felt like I was suspended in mid air. I looked up to see the chute had opened and we started gently gliding down.
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I could see the whole of Lake Taupo and so many mountain ranges in the distance. It was the most amazing sight ever. Cody asked me how I felt and I remember what I said, "I can't believe that actually happened".

We were right over the airfield and paraglided to the ground in less than 5 minutes. Arun and Leah were already waiting for me. The others slowly glided down and we all did a victory jump before leaving the airfield.

That's one thing I've crossed of my TODO list.

Posted by Prathyush 03:52 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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