Although I haven’t done much of note over the past few months, I have been on two trips recently (over a month ago).
First off, I went over to Tasmania for a few days, starting in Launceston for a day and then driving down to Hobart for a few days. Not sure if I missed something while I was in Tasmania, but there’s not much there. It was pretty uneventful and apart from seeing loads of road-kill on the road and being asked to leave a pub for apparently being drunk…after 6 drinks (I wasn’t), there’s not a lot to say about the place. Maybe I went at the wrong time of year.
Next up was New Zealand.
I went over to Auckland to visit some mates from back home, so it was good to see some familiar faces. But whilst they were in work during the week I decided to do a little solo driving tour around some of the north island.
My first stop was a place called Matamata. Matamata is the place where they filmed Hobbiton for Lord of the Rings, it’s on farmland in the middle of nowhere. Hobbiton looked just like it did in the films (and they’ve just rebuilt it all as they’ve recorded the Hobbit film there again) so it was looking especially ‘new’. Didn’t see any hobbits. Disappointed.
My next stop was Rotorua to see all the volcanic geothermal stuff there. By the end of the day I was all geothermalled out, but the best I place I went to was Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland (who knew there was a wonderland of thermal?). I thought I’d be a bit more impressed than I was, but it was pretty good seeing different landscapes and shite things.
Taupo was next and a 20km hike to do the Tongariro Crossing. The hike goes across two volcanoes: Mount Ngauruhoe (aka Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings) and Mount Tongariro (which erupted in August), and I’d been looking forward to this for months and it didn’t disappoint. Some of the views were amazing and it was like being on a different planet at times. Even though it was a 20km hike (and I’m not the fittest person ever), it was still harder than I thought it would be. Part of the crossing is an active volcano which had a big eruption in August and actually erupted again a week after I got back. So I missed all the action. Although I would’ve pooed my pants, I did want to see it erupt whilst I was close to it.
After a day of wondering why I thought hiking 20km up a volcano was a good idea, I headed back towards Auckland, stopping at Waitomo Glow Worm Caves.
It was a 2.5 hour drive from Taupo, but it was the best drive I’ve ever done. It was that good I thought I was in a car advert – I hardly seen any cars and virtually every bend I went around was a bit of brilliant scenery. It sounds stupid, but apart from having rolling hills everywhere, the grass is greener over there than I’ve seen anywhere else (and I wasn’t even on drugs).
Rather than just do a normal run of the mill tour in Waitomo Caves, for some reason I thought it’d be a good idea to have a bit of an adventure and opted for a 5 hour “Black Abyss” caving tour.
Clad in a wetsuit and helmet (complete with little light); it started with a 35 meter abseil into the cave, zip lines in the pitch black, climbing waterfalls, jumping off 10 feet ledges into water, floating along on black rubber tubes in the dark staring at the glow warms (which looked like staring at stars in the sky). At one point I somehow managed to not be able to move myself in the tube, my arms and legs flapping and not moving…if you picture a stranded tortoise on its shell? That was me. The tour guide told me to just stand up as the water wasn’t deep but either she hated me or I was in the only part of the cave that was deep water so I flopped out of the ring and sank. It was a great tour, and I’d recommend it to anyone but after 4 hours underground I was glad to get back above ground.
A week(ish) ago, it was my 2 year anniversary of landing in Australia. Time really does fly when you’re having fun.