New Zealand Day 2

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22nd of March, 2007
[continued from previous entry]

At some point I also met Marie? [[Moreen [[Maureen]]]], who’s name frustratingly escapes me all the time. She’s from just south of L.A., and at 35 is just pushing the Contiki age limits (18-35). She doesn’t look too bad for her age, though, although she’s a fairly tall girl, and fairly stocky. [in hindsight it’s come to my attention that I use the word “stocky” to describe anyone who can’t fit through a keyhole] She’s an attorney, who’s had been working on workplace safety stuff, but is sick of her job and 3 weeks ago decided to go on this trip, at 2am in the morning.

I spent a lot of today talking to her, on the bus as we did our full-day “Awesome Adventure”.

I got up at 6am this morning, as our tour left at 7:15am & all three of us in this room – Albert, Marcin & myself – were doing it, so I figured I’d need to allow a fair bit of time for showers and all that.

I showered first, so I was ready for breakfast by 6:30am. Unfortunately breakfast didn’t start ’till 7am, so I went for a quick wander down to the beach, and checked out the rocks for rockpools and whatnot. They were pretty lifeless though, other than the odd bit of seaweed. The water was a little murky, but mainly soapy… there’s not much in the way of beach sand or anything near where we’re staying, although just round the corner I think there is. I wandered back up at about 7 and had breakfast. I sat with Amy, Kirsty’s sister, who’s quite attractive and seems quite nice. Kirsty joined us, as did a few others – including the cats. (Albert & Marcin were also there, and I think Jade and someone else; at our table, that is – there were others of course).

These cats appeared at dinner last night – a stripped ginger one + a black & white one. They’re quite large cats – I gather they get fed rather a lot by all the tourists in the hotel motel. They’re quite used to people, and reasonably friendly, although if you don’t have any food they quickly lose interest.

I need some sleep tonight – we have to be out of here by 7:30am, and have plenty of time on the road writing, so I’ll continue this then.

22nd of March, 2007
[written the day after]

We’re on the bus on the way back to Auckland, so things could get messy from this point on.

So we headed off at about 7:25am yesterday morning, when the bus finally turned up. I hadn’t really paid much attention to what the “Awesome Adventure” entailed – I hadn’t realised we’d spend most of our time on a coach. But then we travel very far north, to 90 Mile beach & [[Cape Reinga]].

Our first stop, however, was Manginangina where there’s a few young (300-400 years) Kauri. We did a quick walk there. I thought it was quite beautiful, but a lot of people were saying along the lines of “not another Kauri”. The tour we were on also had a whole bunch of other people on it, many from a Kiwi Experience, and many of them Poms – of the whinging variety. They were nice enough, I guess, but they just complained about everything.

Many people seem impatient with the long hours of travel, and the regular scenery. I’m not sure what they expected – I certainly thought this is what it would be like, more or less. I really enjoy the long relaxing drives. The scenery is by and large not “spectacular”, but it’s certainly pretty. “Serene” is probably a good word for it.

We then went to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. Unfortunately a cold front swept in the night before, so there was a lot of low cloud in the morning, which at Cape Reinga turned into thick, sea-level (and up) fog. We walked out to the lighthouse, but couldn’t see much – you could just make out the whitewash from the breakers on the rocks far below.

More people took photos of the signpost – showing distance to various places around the world – than the lighthouse itself.

From there we went down to a beach, which looked a lot like Norman Bay & Tidal River at the prom, in miniature. It was quite nice. We stopped only for a short while. I wandered down to the river at met Ella (I think), from Germany although she’s lived in New Zealand for a while, and is now touring with her mum who’s come to visit. She was really nice – friendly and smiling. She was taking the Dune Rider [[naked chick painted on the side of the bus]] trip, or whatever it’s called, and we’d first seen her at the lighthouse, where we’d shared a passing smile.

[Sick bags will be replenished at regular intervals. Please hold.]

We were under to fog at the beach, luckily. I hadn’t brought anything other than my sunnies, wallet & camera, although I had the foresight to wear Speedo’s & boardies. So I went back to the bus and asked if anyone would me a towel. Roxanne did, a nice pink floral job. 🙂

So I went for a quick swim. It wasn’t that cool – it’s roughly the same latitude as Sydney, so I think if anything it was slightly warmer in the water there than in Melbourne. And while it was a bit foggy and wet in the air, it was still warm – “subtropical” as they call it.

The swim was great – really refreshing, washing away the remaining sleep from me. From there we headed to the sand dunes just behind the north end of 90 Mile beach. They’re about 80 metres high, which is [emph]really[/emph] high when you have to cary a boogie-board, and yourself, up them.

I had three runs down the dune. It was really exciting – not quite scary, but you certainly get up a bit of speed – about 50kph they say on average, with some people in past clocked at 80 or 90.

At the bottom of the dune was the river, which was wide, flat and had only a few inches of water at the deepest. But it was enough to get you quite muddy – on the last run I went almost full out the entire way, hoping to make it all the way into the scrub on the opposite side of the river like the driver on one of the other tours – a rather heavy guy that took a run-up.

Unfortunately I went too far across to one side, down the hill, and there was quite a sharp dip down to the river, so of course I dropped into it and ended up eating a bit of mud. Hilarious, though, and great fun.

I just stood up a minute ago (2:10m) and hit my head on the overhead rack, biting the tip of my tongue, which then bled a bit. Great fun. Stupidly enough it only really hurts that now my hopes of kissing Skye have been dashed by it. However, last night she was getting pretty friendly with Mitch (?) anyway, and while I was looking forward to him leaving us in Auckland anyway, Skye gave him several full kisses and jumped on him, wrapping her legs around him, so I think she’s both made her own decision and now no longer that “suitable” – I’m not sure I’d be happy if she turned around now and had interest in anyone else anyway.

Anyway, after the sand [[I saw Ella there again]] dunes we drove out onto 90 Mile beach. I was a little surprised that we were allowed out onto the beach, but apparently it’s actually an official road.

Also, at the sand dunes, Skye lost her board to the wind while standing up the top. it blew half way down, where some random guy went a fetched it. In the meantime I offered her mine, since I’d only just reached the top and wanted a break anyway, plus I hoped to attract her positive attention. She initially declined the offer, but shortly changed her mind. In any case I don’t think she much noticed or cared for the gesture.

Anyway, 90 Mile Beach is long (64.5 miles, from memory), wide and with messy surf, although of course I’m sure it gets big (6 metres just recently, apparently) and there was at least one guy out there on a surfboard. It wasn’t a bad drive, and we stopped midwayish down at a little outcrop, for photos and whatnot. There was some big swell pushing up into the rocks, crashing into them and splashing up quite impressively. I took a fair few photos which seemed pretty good – hopefully they turn out well.

From there we headed back, stopping at two places. One was a small side-of-the-road fruit store, where I bought a kilo of Nashi’s – I ate one earlier, which while delicious was sticky… luckily when I eventually asked Danny & Kate for advice Danny provided some window cleaner, which in combination with the bottle of water I’d wisely packed this morning, cleaned up nicely.

After (or possibly before, can’t remember) we stopped for a while at the “Ancient Kauri Kingdom”, a sort of combined Kauri museum & woodshop, where you can buy all sorts of things made out of various prized New Zealand woods. I think most of the Kauri used is from dead trees found in a particular swamp. The centrepiece of the place is a section of a Kauri tree that has a spiral staircase carved out inside it. It’s really impressed. The section weighed 50 tons (prior to being carved).

22nd of March, 2007
[written two days later]

Well, we’re in Rotounga (?) [[Rotorua]] now. I just haven’t had much chance to write here, as the abrupt endings and lag indicate. I haven’t been feeling too well today – I got quite dehydrated last night, not much sleep (as usual) and while I’ve been better than I expected, I’ve been feeling a bit off all day. I was particularly slow at dinner tonight, although I still enjoyed it.

So, where did I leave off? Talking about Thursday, and the Awesome Adventure trip.

I was really enamored with the wood at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom. It’s something I’ve really noticed here – the way the tables and similar wooden items are really solid, textured, beautifully smooth & coloured. I’ve commented aloud a few times, and now people think I have a weird thing for wood. 😉

They had a nice double-seater lounge made from ancient Kauri, on sale for a mere NZ$40k or so. They had an even bigger one that you could sit on for photos, right in front of the staircase Kauri. I took two photos of Skye there, on her camera for her. She was nice enough about it, but nothing more came of it.

I did the good son/grandson thing there and bought some postcards, although even now I still haven’t even written on them yet. Maybe later tonight.

We don’t depart until 8:45am tomorrow, so I should get a reasonable amount of sleep.

I bought 30 minutes of net access here at the hotel/hostel, but of the 2 of 3 computers actually working, neither has been available the two times I’ve tried to use them. Hopefully I do actually get to; I don’t like paying by the minute for my net access, and at NZ$3 for the half hour it ain’t that cheap.

Anyway, we got back from the Awesome Adventure trip in the late afternoon sometime. People were milling about pretty aimlessly ’till a planned leave-for-dinner-at-7, so after chatting with I decided to go for a swim in the bay, just down the end of the road, to freshen up a bit, because I liked the idea, and to wash all the sand off me – out of my hair, my nose, my ears, etc.

Unfortunately the beach there isn’t much to write home about – sand, yes, but dirty and covered in little shells, which while pretty aren’t much for walking on. And the water itself is almost completely opaque. I walked in up to my waist, but then started stepping on slimey rocks, so I chickened out of going any further out. After much procrastination – the water felt much cooler than earlier in the day – I did sit down, and dunk my head as well. But just to get clean – once done, I left & returned to the motel.

There I killed time for a bit, chatting with Alan (the Giant) and Andy – a big tall English guy who’s voice apparently sounds like something from Thomas the Tank Engine – among a few others. After a while a fair group did actually gather in the carpark, but we were held up waiting for Kirsty, Amy & whoever else whom were really just doing their own thing, chatting with some guys in their room.

[emph]Eventually[/emph] we did actually get moving. There was apparently some pizza & pasta joint we were supposed to be heading to, but on the corner just before it the majority of our group (which was in total about twenty-strong) stopped, and seemed to just be chatting and not making any decisions. Eventually a few of us said stuff ’em and went upstairs to the pizza & pasta place without them. There we met Helen, Claira & [[Christina?]] They’d just ordered, but we joined them anyway – there we had Moreen [Maureen], Andy, Jade, Wayne?, and probably others whom I’ve forgotten.

I’ve just realised, scanning back, that I don’t seem to have introduced Jade properly. We first met in the Pipi Patch, where we chatted a little bit (where are you from, what do you do – all the usual stuff). She’s nice, but very shy much of the time. Or soft-spoken, anyway. She’s from near Perth somewhere, from memory.

So the place we went for dinner was Ruffino’s, a fairly upmarket little pizza & pasta place. It was nice – had giant raviolli, and they put up with our largish group and subsequent loudness. They were also more than happy to split the bill.

After dinner our little group hit the Cruza bar, which was occupied only by a few locals other than us, but had a pool table. We played a few games – I did pretty poorly – and killed a bit of time there. We decided to try somewhere else, and just as we were leaving the rest of the original group strolled past. We went with them to the Lighthouse bar, which was a relatively swanky place that had a DJ, dance floor, stage (complete with two stripper poles) and some [emph]really[/emph] hot staff. There were a fair few others in there, aside from Contiki guys, of which there were most of us.

Conversation was a little lacking in general, for me, so I probably wouldn’t have stayed that long if it weren’t for the DJ going around and asking for teams for “Bar Olympics”. I signed up into a team with Wayne & Country Dave.

I can’t recall introducing Wayne, but he’s been on the tour as long as I have I think – I’m pretty sure he wsa talking to Kaz for a bit as we walked along the path at the Kauri tree place on the first day.

Anyway, he’s short and pretty standard looking (not meant in a bad way), but he’s really nice – a real laugh, too; he seems to find himself the butt of a fair few jokes, but he always takes it on & even runs with it.

So, we learnt that there would be 4 rounds in the bar games, but didn’t know what they were. They dragged the whole thing way out, by putting a 15 minutes gap between each round. When they did finally start, Wayne went up for our team. The game was that the host would yell out something, which the contestants would have to grab & bring back to the stage. last one back was eliminated, ’till someone won.

The did things like a straw, something black, a belt, a shoe, a sock, and a t-shirt (not in that order though, I don’t think). The last thing the host asked for, when there was just two people left, was a “warm bra”. Kaz’s team won easily, because Kaz had guessed that would come up and had gotten one of hear teammates (or friends) to take theirs almost all the way off, just in case. Kaz’s experience as a barmaid clearly paid off.

Prior to these games, Skye & Mitch sat off on their own, talking & flirting. I was a bit jealous and disappointed, but tried not to think about it.

I heard last night from Teagan that they may have gone at it that night, after the Lighthouse; Skye was in the room next to Teagan, so I guess noises were heard.

The second bar game turned out to be limbo, and Country Dave had been sent up for it. He actually did pretty well, but it was clear from the start that a girl would win – Kaz & Melody were both in. So was Alan, which was quite amusing.

I missed the end as I was in the toilet, but Melody won, apparently by a clear margin, which was surprising because Kaz clearly had done it before, and had the right technique.

She also demonstrated a bit of pole dancing, twice that I saw, and had clearly done that a few times too.

I think it was somewhere around that point, or at least that night, that I started thinking about Kaz as actually being pretty hot.

[my journal is merely a record of my lustful interests; didn’t you know that already? :P]

The following is all in the present tense, which is two days after the bar games, and after Kaz had left the tour. I’ll leave it here because I do get back to the bar games in a minute…

I realised sometime in the last night or this morning, that I actually think Kaz was hotter & more attractive than Skye. She wasn’t as textbook pretty, of course, but really not bad either – I think she was happy not to dress up too much, but knew how to look nice, and act a bit sexy too.

She was fun, easy to talk to – I got on better with her than anyone else this trip thus far – and had morals – she got quite annoyed at Mitch when he said something a bit mean about someone that had been on the trip earlier.

She was just a good, down-to-Earth girl, in a nutshell, which I realise only now properly.

And Skye is apparently quite the dirty dancer, which is is fine in & of itself, but she also seems quite promiscuous too. Plus, she herself admits she has a boyfriend back home, which makes her behaviour here most disturbing – and that’s just considering what I’ve seen firsthand, let alone the rumours.

So suddenly I feel like I’ve been really shallow, and overlooked the clearly better girl. Still, hindsight’s 20/20.

The third bar game was a couples thing where two people from each team (preferrably girl & guy) had to walk in separate, enclosed circles, and assume one of three positions when commanded. Last pair into position were eliminated each time.

The hilarious thing was, we’d sent up Wayne for our team, and conscripted Moreen [[Maureen]] as well. Moreen [[Maureen]] is twice the size of Wayne – there’s no way he could manhandle her. The three positions were:

I drew pictures to explain this, which I can’t be bothered redrawing here – though it is motivation to buy a graphics tablet, which I like – so I’ll just describe them; there was knight, which was basically hugging, girl-wrapping-legs-around-guy, and mount, which was one or other sitting on the back of the other, and cavalier, which was your standard guy cradling girl.

Clearly Wayne and Moreen [[Maureen]] weren’t the ideal pairing, but they comically swapped roles for the positions requiring lifting. Everyone loved that. They were eliminated about halfway through, but it was hilarious ’till then.

At one point the host yelled out “69!”, as a bit of a joke, but not missing a beat Mitch (from memory) picked up Kaz and spun her around. That drew laughs, applause & appreciation, and earnt them bonus points. I think however it was they who came second – the Kiwi accent of the host made it very difficult to tell “Knight” and “Mount” apart, and they misheard the call.

The last game I was set to go into regardless, since I’d weaseled out of the others. The host adjusted the spotlights to all point at the stage, and I was almost certain it would be pole dancing. I was actually warming up to the idea, and thinking up a comical routine I could use, but as it turns out the final game was strip musical chairs. That is, if you lost out on a chair you could stay in by discarding an item of clothing.

The following paragraph has a noted beside it which reads “Emma read this and laughed, god how embarassing; I’d forgotten what I’d written“. Beats me why I’ve learnt nothing from this and am repeating it here. 😉

I was enjoying the night, so I was actually willing to strip a bit, but I was just wearing Speedo’s, boardies, t-shirt & thongs, so I didn’t have much to lose. I would have gone down to boxers if I’d had them, but I figured no-one wanted to see me in budgee smugglers, plus they’re a bit loose around the groin, so I was afraid of showing a bit too much.

They’re loose because they’ve stretched, in case you’re snickering and making mean assumptions. 😛

I did okay, I guess, but was knocked out midway after losing my thongs & shirt. I was secretly hoping Skye was watching with appreciation, but I really seriously doubt anyone was. [[photos were taken, & Skype apparently filmed some of it, but I think from after I was eliminated]]

Anyway, more or less straight after that I headed back to the motel, where I eventually went to bed.

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