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March 15, 2006

Bay of Plenty, East Coast, Napier & Tongariro

Well, everything has changed about here. Have seen loads more of the North Island since I last wrote but also have a new car and travlling mate!

So, it didn't work out travelling with Ian & Gemma. It's a long story so I'll cut it short. Ian wanted to work in Wellington for a couple of months and we didn't. After a few days of heated discussions, we all came to an agreement. Gemma went back to Auckland and working at the Occi - she will travel with another friend soon. Ian bought Tiago and I out of our share of the car plus reimbursed us for the insurance etc that we had paid for and we are now travelling with a friend of Tiago's. His name is Rafael and he is Tiago's neighbour in Brazil! He already had a car with some other friends who have returned to Brazil so we have bought out their share - confused yet! Anyway, things are all good so far. The three of us have been all over in our new car - a silver Nissan Cefiro, very nice and only cost us $200 each!

We stayed at Whakamaru for one more week painting some garages. When we finished the workshop, Mike gave us $50 each as a bonus and then another $50 between us when we left. The day before we left, the three of us went to Wai-O-Tapu thermal Wonderland - it was very cool - a walk round loads of volcanic craters, mud pools and coloured lakes - very beautiful.

Next we went to Mount Maunganui for the weekend, didn't do a great deal here, just chilled out and enjoyed the good weather. We climbed the mount which was bloody hard work - very steep but fantastic views from the top then we went to the movies and the next day we did lots of shopping! Also went to some hot salt water pools - they were very hot and all the salt hurt my mozzie bites of which I have a lot of!

On the Monday we drove round the East Cape. It's a 6 1/2 hour drive and not many people take this route as there is a more direct route, however it is very beautiful coastline and the scenery was fantastic. We saw the most beautiful sunset as we arrived in Gisborne. Gisborne is the first town in NZ to see the sunrise every day and also one of the first in the world. We didn't get up to see it but I'm sure it was beautiful! We were only stoppingover in Gisborne so didn't really get to see much of the place - it's a big surfers place and Rafael surfed for a couple of hours before we left for Napier. About 50 years ago most of the town of Napier was destroyed by an earthquake so the whole town has been rebuilt with an art deco theme. It's also where a large amount of orchards and vineyards are so they're are plenty of fruit picking jobs here- 80,000 in the season I believe. We didn't fruit pick nor visit a vineyard as we didn't make a booking in time. We'll probaly visit one on the South Island somewhere. Instead we just spent the day at some more hot pools - we love those hot pools. It was a fabulous day, very hot and we lazed about the outdoor pools for most of the day. The pools are right next to the promenade and there's fantastic views of the sea but the beach isn't suitable for swimming. We finished off our lazy day playing mini golf (after a quick downpour, the sun came back out) where Tiago lost again!

After Napier we moved back across into the centre of the island again to Tongariro National Park. This is NZ's 1st national park and a lot of it was used during Lord of the Rings - as Mordor and Mount Doom. There are 3 volcanic mountains in the park, 2 of which are still active, they last erupted in 1985 I think. We stayed in a small Mountain town called Ohakune where you can see the largest volcano (in NZ) Mount Ruapheu. It's a spectacular sight and the top of the mountain is covered in snow. Ohakune is pretty quiet right now but in ski season, which starts about June, the population of the town triples. We stayed at another help exchange - Mountain View Motel & Lodge we got free accommodation in exchange for 2 hours work a day. Dennis who owns the place was going to Auckland for the weekend when we arrived, so we didn't actually have to start work until he returned and then do all our hours over 2 days. Whilst we had our free time we did the Tongariro crossing. I will never know how I mananged to do this or even why I attempted it! It is a very famous walk in NZ - 17km, takes approx 6-8 hours. A lot of the walk is over very steep volcanic terrain - I thought I was going to die, it was possibly the hardest thing I've ever done! When you get o the top, it is absolutely freezing, the wind is biting and you just want to get off! It's a very varied walk and there are some beautiful sights, past craters (remember this is an active volcano) and through some never ending bush! There are some lakes that are 98% full near the top - they are stunning, so beautiful. Last time they burst, the water washed away a railway bridge and caused loads of deaths. As the lakes are so full, they will burst again soon but as no one knows when this will be there are loads of warning sensors all around. Can you believe they let you walk up here? Anyway, we took just over 7 hours to do the walk and I was totally elated - feel like I've really achieved something. After a day in a heated swimming pool to ease our aching muscles, we hit the adventure trail again. We drove over to Waitomo (which is actually back in Waikato region). There are hundreds of caves in Waitomo and as is the way in NZ, the kiwis decided to find thrilling ways to explore them. Enter black water rafting. You basically float down an underground river on a big inflatable tyre (tubing) but we did something a bit different. The company is called Rap, Raft 'n' Rock and for $99 we got to loads of things. We started off by abseiling into the cave - was totally shitting myself but was actually pretty easy. Then we waded through the water into a cave to see all the glow worms - it was amazing, like looking at the stars in the sky. Then we tubed down the river into another cave, we all fell in a few times and got very wet and very cold. Then we did a bit of caving, where we had to squeeze and climb through the tiniest holes and after all this we had to rcok climb out the cave again. It was as the americans say - totally awesome, the best activity we've done so far. If any of you come to NZ - you have to do this! So, we did a few days work at the Motel the boys built some bunkbeds and I painted them. We also put away all the logs that arrived in time for Winter - we get a bonus for this! It's been totally freezing in Tongariro - a real shock for all of us after all the good weather we've had, however today (which is our last day here) was very hot. We are off to Wellington tomorrow, which is the capital city of NZ. We want to be there in time for St Patricks day - this will be Tiago & Rafael's first St Paddy's day so we have to make it a good one. Take care everyone and would love to hear from you all. Another update soon xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Trish on March 15, 2006 01:35 AM
Category: New Zealand

Hey Tricia. Sounds like you guys are having so much fun, and I guess I went home a bit too early. Here in Denmark its been freezing cold since I got here in November, but springtime is on its way.
What about putting some pics on this site as well?? Would love to see some of the scenery and you of course.
Do you have Duncan and Elaines e-mail addresses??
Stay in touch.
XxxxxOOOOxxxx Martha

Posted by: Martha Poulsen, Denmark on March 18, 2006 02:28 PM


can't believe poor gemma went back to occi- but actually laughed out loud when i saw rafaels name (mr duncan!!!) there i go again giggling like a loon!! anyway i know this is trish's blog, but martha if you see this our address is
get in touch soon and trish could you please update us with some bad news/bad weather/ bad anything soon please as we are almost dying with our jealousy. love you and love to the braziliansxxxxxe&dxxxxx

Posted by: elaine and dunc on March 27, 2006 08:13 PM
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