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Karangahake Scenic Reserve and Luging – Rotorua, New Zealand (Day 6)

A long day on the bus today. We stopped at the Karangahake Scenic Reserve and had a nice hike through an old gold mining area which included tunnels and swing bridges. Should have brought a flashlight.

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Looking for a handout.

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When we got to the hostel we noticed that we had been blessed with a swimming pool that was actually a massive hot tub. After doing some unpacking we played some water basketball.

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Around 3 pm we went luging. Definitely get in some luging if you have the opportunity.

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After getting back to town, we searched for some cheap grub and ended up settling for the bar next to the hostel, Lava Bar. For a hostel bar, the selection and quality was pretty good. Wasn’t feeling it at dinner, but 7 dollar pitchers got the night going. The All Blacks played Australia and Chris won an All Blacks jersey.

Chris sporting his new jersey with Stefanie.

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New Zealand barely won and the party went way into the morning.

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Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove – Whitianga, New Zealand (Day 5)

Today began with a short tour of Auckland that included going to Mt. Eden (one of many dormant volcanoes in Auckland).

Auckland CBD from Mt. Eden

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Afterwards we made our way to the Coromandel Peninsula, stopping at Thames for lunch and then heading to Hot Water Beach. If you get out this way, definitely check out Hot Water Beach, but before going make sure to check the tides. You can only make your own personal free hot pool during low tides. If you don’t want to dig your own hole, why not invade someone elses?

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Hot Water Beach was followed by a nice hike to Cathedral Cove. Another must do if you get to the Coromandel.

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A pretty full day ending with a nice spaghetti dinner cooked up and served by the hostel. And guess what else? We found some more Jenga! Beautiful. We ventured out to see what Whitiangi night life had to offer, but were pretty disappointed and returned home to get a good nights rest.

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Back to Auckland – Auckland, New Zealand (Day 4)

It was a pretty heavy morning after trivia night, beer jenga, and killing a bottle of rum and half a bottle of tequila as a night cap. Most everyone was torn up. Took a solo walk to the Treaty of Waitangi signing grounds. Walking around Paihia is even more enjoyable because you can walk along the beach to get from most accommodation to the various sites and trails. Had some leftover spaghetti for breakfast and nap while waiting for the bus heading back to Auckland. Mark, Errik, Chris, Craig, and I also played some basketball while waiting for the bus. We played some England vs. USA 2 on 2 and The States dominated.

Mark showing off (Chris in the background smoking a cigarette as usual):

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Slept almost the entire bus ride back. After checking in, Mark, Stef, and I got some Burger Fuel . Following dinner, Mark, Mikey, and I watched Tropic of Thunder and then crashed out.

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Waterfall Trail and Crazy Trivia/Beer Jenga Night- Paihia, New Zealand (Day 3)

Day 3 was pretty relaxed. Mark and I took a hike up to the top of a hill that overlooks part of the city and the water, snagged some groceries, and I think I took a soak in the hot tub.

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Stefanie went on a dolphin cruise and when she came back we decided to take another hike on a trail that went to a waterfall. The waterfall was nothing special, but we did see a pretty good variety of birds and vegetation while on the trail.

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Following the hike, we assembled another team and headed out to another trivia night and got second again.

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Someone found a Jenga game and Beer Jenga was created. The person to knock it down had to skull their drink.

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Any attempts to shake the table or sabotage another also resulted in a drink. Mark and Stef both had to down a few penalty drinks…

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The bar owner kept the place open after hours for us, but eventually kicked us out. Mikey had a bottle of rum and tequila and somehow talked us into heading to his place for a nightcap.

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Cape Reinga Trip and Quiz Night – Paihia, New Zealand (Day 2)

The second day in Paihia was one of my favorites of the tour. We took a bus tour up Ninety Mile Beach, went body boarding down sand dunes, and up to Cape Reinga. The bus is designed to drive in water and the driver is mad fun taking people into the ocean and up a creek.

Ninety Mile Beach

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Sand Boarding

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Cape Reigna

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On the way back towards Paihia we stopped at a place that makes items out of Kauri wood.

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Check out this staircase made inside a Kauri tree.

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On the way back we also stopped to take the Manginangina Kauri Walk.

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Scored some great fish and chips for about 6 NZD on the way back and then went to Trivia night at the Pipi Patch backpacker bar. Got second place to some locals who were most likely colluding with the Trivia leader. That night Errik, Chris, Mikey, Craig, Andy, and others would join the team. The day before Katharina, Mark, and Stefanie started the fire. All the named peeps would provide good company throughout the journey.

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The Kiwi Experience – Paihia, New Zealand (Day 1)

I didn’t have/make enough time on tour to keep the site updated with travels, but I would like to document some of the experience here. To do that, I am going to update the site retrospectively. The goal is to update the site each day for a day that I was on tour. Today, starts with the first day.

Leaving on August 17, 2009, we headed to the Bay of Islands.

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We stayed in a small resort town called Paihia. A beach runs along the entire town and an abundance of shells can be found along the beach. Anyone coming to New Zealand, I would highly recommend making your way up to Paihia. It is a great place to relax. If you are on a budget, there are many places where you can work part-time for your accommodation and possibly some food thrown in too.

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Some of the group went on a dolphin watching cruise and to see the Hole in the Rock. I decided to stay back in town and do some grocery shopping and walk along the beach. I have seen dolphins before and sometimes it’s hard for me to get g’d up about geological formations.

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