G’day! Plenty of new adventures from this past week since it was our spring break. I spent the week in New Zealand with my friend Drew and we had a lot of fun.
Thursday, September 26th, we took the train up to Sydney early in the afternoon and hung around there for a while at the harbor before heading off to the airport. Our flight that was scheduled to leave at 7pm didn’t end up leaving until 9pm, so we just hung out at the airport trying to keep ourselves entertained.
A harbour in Sydney.
Friday we landed at about 2am NZ time in Auckland. We spent the night hanging out at the airport until at 6am we grabbed a bus to the center of Auckland. Turns out this bus only brought us to the domestic terminal so by 7 we had the right bus and were headed off to the city. This bus ride took an extra half an hour because of a major head on collision on the highway which looked pretty gruesome, but we got there eventually. After having some breakfast and touring the city our bus to Tongariro National Park left at 9am. This was not only a good way to see the North Island, but it was also an easy way to catch up on all the sleep we missed. Eight hours later, at 5pm, we were in our hostel at Tongariro. Our roommate Cheng, from Shanghai, China, was just getting there and told us a story. He explained how the Sunday before (5 days prior), he set out to hike and got lost in the woods until Wednesday. A search & rescue team found him then and he was hospitalized until Friday, which is when we met him. Hearing that was an interesting way to start off our break. At this time Friday was over.
Saturday, myself and Drew woke up and made some pretty pathetic pancakes. Since the mountain we wanted to hike was 10 miles away and a $30 bus ride, we decided we would try to hitch hike our way to the mountain since this is a common form of transportation in New Zealand, and particularly this area. This failed miserably and it was hailing on us so we packed it in. Later that afternoon we went to the mountain closer to our hostel which is the one Cheng was lost on, the Fisher Tracks. We hiked this for about two hours in the hail before calling it a day.
It was raining pretty hard.
Cheng and I at the entrance to the Fisher Tracks
We were soaked at the lookout point.
Sunday, we woke up and it was still raining so Drew and I went to the diner down the street for breakfast. By the time this was over it had lightened up, so we tried to hitch hike again with a new roommate, Alex from Florida. This failed hard once again so we went back to the Fisher Tracks and hiked 2 hours in to a huge waterfall. This was called the Tupapakurua falls and they were awesome. Out of the lookout you could see the falls and all of the mountain regions around the area. This is where we stopped for lunch, then finally headed back to the hostel. The whole trip took four and a half hours so we were all pretty tired by the time it was over so I just read my book and called it a day.
Panoramic view of the falls
Tupapakurua falls close-up.
Drew with the falls.
My pic with the waterfall.
Monday we finally decided we would pay for the bus to Mt. Ruapehu and hike the Whakapapa tracks, and it was totally worth it. Mt. Ruapehu is where some of the scenes from Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings were filmed. We (Alex, Cheng, Drew, and I) were at the mountain by 8:15am and hiked the Taranaki Falls track until about 10:30. It was another waterfall track, except this time we were really close and could even walk under it if we wanted to. The path then wound around so we could stand on top of the falls and look down over the whole village. When we got back to the main road, Cheng and I went to do another walk called the Ridge Tracks where you could see the whole town. This only took about 40 minutes, but you could see everything from on top. We made it back to the hostel at noon and packed up. By 1:30 we were back on the bus up to Auckland again. I managed to stay awake for the ride back up and I’m glad I did. Everything in New Zealand is really bright green with all sorts of animals grazing around like tons of sheep, cows, lamb, reindeer, alpacas, horses, donkeys, and miniature horses. It reminded me a lot of Vermont, except this seemed like it was more bright green and hilly as opposed to dark green and mountainous. Also, I noticed the names of towns vary from traditional Maori names like Tongariro, Whakapapa, and Turangi, to Cambridge and Hamilton, all in close proximity which I thought was pretty interesting. By 9pm we had checked into our next hostel in Auckland, had some dinner, then went to bed.
When Mt. Ruapehu erupts, watch out.
Mt Doom/ Mt Ruapehu
View from the Ridge track
Kiwi crossing sign
Tuesday, Drew and I got up at 8 to start the day. We began by hiking a ‘volcano’ called Mt. Eden that’s really more of a hill. It used to be a volcano but is dead now and isn’t really that hard to get up considering it’s paved. This did give us an awesome view of the whole city, however. We could see real far in every direction and it all looked over the Harbor. After being on the volcano for a while Drew wanted to skate since Auckland is famous for its skateboarding so we did that for about an hour. Around noon we headed off for a 5 mile walk to a memorial that ran along the harbor and from the top could look out over everything. We were there by 2pm and you could look right out over the harbor, the city, and even see Rangitoto island, which is not too far off the coast. Back in the hostel by 4:30 we rested for a while and went back out around 7pm. Walking around the streets we saw a group of street break dancers with whom Drew danced with and was invited to be a part of their crew so that was pretty interesting, it was too bad we were leaving the next day though. At 8 we met the same Alex from Tongariro for pizza at the place next to our hostel since she lives in Auckland temporarily. We hung out there until about 10 and headed in for the night.
Rangitoto Island from the Memorial
Auckland Bridge from Mt Eden
On the mouth of the volcano
Auckland Sky Tower
Wednesday, October 2nd was our last day in New Zealand. We had checked out of our hostel and walked to the harbor where we were to be picked up for bungy jumping. The bus picked us up at 10:30 and brought us to the site for the jump. After signing some papers and getting suited up, we walked out to the bridge. When it was time to jump the instructors sat you in a chair and harnessed your ankles in. They then led you to the edge of the platform where you hung your toes over the edge, looked into one camera, looked into the next, then your 3 second countdown began. Having to jump headfirst off of a bridge that is roughly 130 feet high towards water is terrifying to me but I had fun anyway. It was definitely a one and done. I thought it was a lot scarier than skydiving because you’re headed head first towards what could be your death with nothing to hold on to hoping a rope keeps you alive. Anyway, it was a good time. You can watch the video of my jump here, as filmed by Drew. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJBqo5mL7bQ After this, we hung around the city until about 2:30 when we caught the bus back to the airport. The plane left at 5:30pm and was back in Sydney by 6:30 because of the time difference. I hopped on board the train and was back in the Gong by 9:30 ready for bed after our long, wonderful adventure to New Zealand.
Drew’s ready to jump.