New Zealand Day 3

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I apologise that these are out of order. And they may be revised later, when I discover further back-references. In hindsight I wrote quite a lot, and I’m too lazy and pressed for time currently to properly sort it all out by day. Deciding to present it this way was probably a dumb idea to begin with, but, I’ve done it now…

23rd of March, 2007
[written two days later]

I commented previously that Skye probably wouldn’t have cared or even noticed me with my shirt off in the strip musical chairs, but she made some comment about it today, acknowledging it explicitly, so I guess at least she noticed.

So, yesterday in my writings I caught up to Thursday – my second – night. Friday morning we were all up reasonably early to head off to Wat Waitora Waitomo, via Auckland to drop off the old crew group (16 or so of them) and pick up the newbies.

The trip to Auckland was fairly uneventful, from memory. I think I wrote in my diary for a bit of it, and hung about the front with Kate, Danny & Country Dave, whom was DJing from his laptop. He had something like 15,000 th songs, I noticed. That’s nuts! I thought I was doing pretty well with 3,500 or so.

We were a little late – Amanda & _______ [[ Joe? – girl ]] failed in both their attempts to set an alarm, and ended up waking up about 2 minutes before we were supposed to leave. So we left late, which meant we didn’t have a whole lot of time to grab lunch in Auckland.

I said goodbye to a few people, but most were more interested in their original tour group, so I didn’t actually get a proper goodbye from many of them. 🙁

I went off to grab lunch, and ended up in the foodcourt in the Westfields shopping centre with about a block from the Mercure. I set down for lunch there with Andy, Helen I think, and a few others – their names [[ & faces [[ (I think the two Irish girls were there) [[ – Sabrina & Suzanne (Sue) ]] ]] ]] escape me now. That was cool, and there was a table of the old group there two too, whom I said goodbye to on the way out.

The new people we picked up seemed to be more male than female, and the girls weren’t especially stunning physically, but as it turns out they’re all pretty cool.

Conceding that someone’s good by all meaningful measures completely negates opening shallowness. Yep.

From there we headed to Waitomo.

I should also note that Carl [[ guy with annoying girlfriend [[ albeit hot ]] ]] threw up several times on the bus, both in a plastic bag and in the toilet, which didn’t especially please Danny, although it could have been worse. He was the one whom at the very start of the trip had been separated from sitting next to his girlfriend (by Andy, it turns out), and who’s girlfriend had made quite a scene about it. Apparently they weren’t particularly liked, but I never actually met them.

The plan at Waitomo was to do the black water rafting. It took my interest to start with, but also the old group strongly recommended it. Unfortunately there was a screw up with the booking – 26 people signed up for it on the activity sheet, but then when it came time to pick which of the two trips to go in, 31 people wanted in.

Kate was cool about it though – despite impossibly bad mobile reception, us running late and the last minute realisation of the problem, she managed to book a third tour, with the extra five of us. There was myself, Joe & Chris, Alan and Wayne.

It turned out to be a fantastic turn of events. Our guide was ______, in his late thirties [[ early 40’s? ]], and really easy-going. He studied to be a geologist, but found it wasn’t really what he wanted, and became a cave guide instead – his first job, in fact.

Because we were a small group and all guys, we were changed into the wetsuits (a 5mm body suit with 5mm jacket, plus booties, gumboots and shorts) in about 10 minutes, a good 20 faster than average. In fact we were so quick that in the haste our guide forgot his waterproof camera.

The wetsuits really weren’t all that flattering, and pretty restrictive, but they proved – thankfully – to be quite effective.

We got to the cave entrance – taking a bus ride there and walking up from the river, just as our previous group had gone in – we could hear their voices from just inside.

Picking & testing tyres was fun – once you’d chosen one, you went down to a little platform on the side of the river and jumped backwards with the tube in place around your bum. The initial rush of water all over you is quite cold, but very refreshing.

I thought we were going to float down into the caves, but where we were was downstream of them – thus the short bushwalk up to the entrance.

By the time we entered – after waiting for Chris & Joe to go to the toilet, the other group had moved on. That was fine though, because our guide suggested that since we were quicker we should take a detour. This detour is part of the big five-hour trip, and takes you in a loop. It was awesome – lots of tight crawl spaces, climbing up a small (but surprisingly strong-flowing) waterfall. It was just the best thrill & challenge I’ve had in a long time.

After that we followed the usual route. But our detour had also shown us even bigger versions – up to 20cm in leg-length – of the cricket-like insects [[ Weta ]] which live in the caves. They were kind of scary, in an amusing way, simply because they were so big although they shied away from me and my headlight. They are of course not at all dangerous.

The glow worms themselves were not what I expected, but exceedingly beautiful. I had kind of pictured them as like glowing maggots, whereas they are of course little worms [[ 5-8cm long, 3mm thick ]] who’s very tips of their tales glow.

They looked like little sparkling diamonds, each one of them. There were thousands, in various caverns and corridors through-out the caves. Really amazing.

For one part you hook together in a line, and the guide pulls everyone through in the darkness, so you can admire the glowworms. You had to be careful though – there were a lot of protruding walls and similar obstructions. I was fine, although many others apparently got some good scrapes & bruises.

We ended up catching the other group just at the end, where you climb out of the caves. That was handy, as we were then able to join their group picture. So although we didn’t get photos of ourselves inside the caves, we at least have a group picture (albeit blurry).

Man, what I wouldn’t give for a water-proof D3…

Also, this reminds me that there was a point in the normal portion tour where there was a separate little ledge/waterfall thing, which you had to jump down. It was a prime spot for photos – there were some great ones taken of people in the other group. From memory it was Albert, as always, stealing the show with funniest expression. 😀

We also got back to the base (via bus again) before the other group. And changed faster. And ate faster (tomato soup & bagels). They just took forever, all in all. I hung about, nonetheless, and caught the last bus back to the motel, simply because I was enjoying hanging out & chatting with people (and yes, Skye was there).

Ahahahahaha. Substitute ‘Erin’ for ‘Skye’ and you get the next twelve months of journal entries too. I suck. 🙂

It was in all respects a fantastic event.

We arrived back in time to catch dinner – pizza, followed by ice cream – and then head out th to the pub. We went to the pub right in front of our motel, where they had two pool tables that they opened up for us so we could play for free. That sold me – I started playing and spent half the night at the pool tables.

It was a good night – much more my style, a pub with pool and music – but not so loud you can’t actually carry out a conversation.

I got to know Teagan, Leah & Shaun a fair bit better by playing pool with them.

There was also an amusing but slightly scary guy with dreadlocks & a top hat that queued up only Guns ‘n’ Roses on the jukebox, and sang very loudly to them. I managed to avoid his boistrous attentions for the most part, although Maureen wasn’t quite as lucky – she spent much of the time talking to the locals, most of the middle-aged.

I ended up heading back to the motel fairly late, but quite happy. I was feeling dehydrated, though, which came around to bite me the next day.

I’ve realised in re-reading this that my writing style has apparently changed… when I play back this as I’m reading it in my head, it doesn’t work. My use of hyphens and abrupt context changes throw me right off. I can still remember how it’s meant to flow, though, when I take the moment to recall… kinda weird.

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