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Black Water Rafting, Huka Falls – Lake Taupo, New Zealand (Day 8)

The morning was a little disjointed after Curly’s beer challenge. Coffee and tea was what most were after. A Contiki tour that was staying in the same hostel had breakfast provided for them and plenty of coffee, tea, and juice was leftover. After scavenging some tea, we waited for the bus to pick us up to take us Black Water Rafting. The bus was late, but the awesomeness of the driver made up for it. At check-in, the receptionist made it a point to inform me that she was Curly’s daughter after hearing we had successfully completed the beer challenge.

Black Water Rafting hints that rafting is involved, but it is really inner tubing in a cave. It is sometimes uncomfortable, but an experience that I have not seen anywhere else on Earth. This is probably my favorite activity of the tour and I can’t recommend it enough. During the experience, you get to abseil 35 meters to an underwater river you can tube in, see hundreds of glowworms, climb up waterfalls, jump off waterfalls, and get on your hands and knees to explore parts of the underwater river system. All of this happens while being in good company and being entertained by some awesome guides. Not to mention, you get to wear the coolest outfits on the planet.

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Getting some

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At the end

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Glowworms are pretty fascintating creatures. If you have the time, read about their lifecycle(consists of mainly eating and sex). The glowworms in New Zealand are called Arachnocampa luminosa.

We also stopped at Huka falls. It’s not Niagara or Victoria, but still pretty impressive to see.

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Tonight was a pretty quiet night after the big night in Waitomo and Black Water Rafting. Errik came through like he always does and got some stuff to make tacos and burritos for dinner. Much love.

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Zorbing, Rabbit Shearing, Ruakuri Walk, Group Cookout, and Curly’s Bar – Waitomo, New Zealand (Day 7)

Leaving the hostel at around 8:30 was pretty hardcore given the nights festivities. Our first stop was to go Zorbing. Zorbing is around 50 dollars a pop, but you can get run over by the Zorb for free.

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After Zorbing, we went to Agroventures. No one wanted to do any of the activities and we left after using the restroom. A long bus ride followed and before getting to the hostel we stopped to see some rabbit shearing.

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Got to the hostel, took a shower, a short nap, and then headed off to the Ruakuri Walk.

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I don’t exactly remember how we acquired all of the food items for dinner, but we had our first group cook out in Waitomo. Steaks, potatoes, and veggies.

A happy cook is a good cook. Errik can cook.

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A beautiful evening.

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Waitomo Caves is a small village, but don’t get discouraged about night life. The local pub, Curly’s Bar, has pretty good night life and a drinking challenge that involves drinking twelve pints of beer from all over New Zealand. Errik, Michael, and I decided this was our time to shine.

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Michael, Errik, and I with Curly, the bar owner, near completion of the beer challenge.

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One last pic before bed. After the beer challenge, we would begin to receive congratulations and warm welcomes from people in other cities that we had no recollection of.

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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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It’s Been a While

Like Staind, It’s Been a While. 11 months out and this past weekend I put another country on the list by visiting Auckland, New Zealand. Monday I met with an Immigration Officer to review my documentation and verify that I had all of the required items to lodge an application. The meeting was very positive and the Immigration Officer told me that I might have a decision letter within a couple of weeks. After that, I would send my passport to New Zealand to have a permanent resident visa placed inside. 2That was good news. Unfortunately, when I got back to Australia I received an e-mail from the Immigration Officer saying that a decision would probably now take 6-8 weeks because I do not have a job lined up in New Zealand. No worries. Things will work out. It just might not be the prettiest transition because my current Australian Visa expires on August 14, 2009. If need be, I will try to get a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand as a tie-over.

Andrew and Tracy left a couple of weeks ago and now a friend from college, Mark, is now here. Parents coming in on Monday at 7 AM. Things are going to get a little crazy.

Recently, I have been taking the train to work. While I am a huge fan of public transport, I now have a desk job and don’t get as much activity in during the day. Lately, this has been doing my head in. This week I am planning on transitioning to riding to work. I am looking forward to having the mental state  that getting a good ride in before work gives.

Things at work are going well. This past week I have been providing some support to clients, writing up and reviewing reports for clients, and setting up a virtual lab of the major products.