Hi there. Terrible connection in Wellington New Zealand. It's Monday 29th April 96.
Fiji: spent 6 days there. 4 days living in the mountains in a hut by a village. No electricity. Experienced a bit of the local culture which was good but hadn't time to get to any of the small islands.
NZ: flew into Christchurch on April 14th. ChCh is a very nice city. From there went to Dunedin and climbed the workld's steepest street andd had a couple of shots at the world's southernmost distillery (wow!). From there went to Queenstown, self proclaimed adrenalin capitla of the world and I'd believe it too. Town is in a very scenic setting by a lake and some mountains. Went jetboating, took a tour out to "world-famous" Milford Sound (a fiord) and jumped the world's highest bungy bridge, 340 feet! Great fun once I jumped. Tooka 6 -day bus trip up the west coast (really nicxe), went for a hike of a glacier and did some river kayaking. Flew to Wellington last nnight. Went to get an Australian visa today, got to the consulate at 12:30, it closed at 12:15 (bollox). Dunno if I can make it there tomorrow morning as I have to go to a place called Taupo (hoping to do a skydve with 7 others I met on the tour bus).
13-May-1996, Sydney Australia.
Well, I've now finished with New Zealand. After Wellington eight of us (who met on a 6 day bus trip of the west coast of the south island) rented a van and drove 250 miles north to Taupo by a large lake and volcanic park where we all were psyched up to do a skydive (cheapest place to do it in NZ). Well the weather the next day looked great but it was too windy to dive so we headed further north to Rotorua (which is NZ's best "thermal area") and tried to do the skydive there the next day. Again we were foiled, weather wasn't up to it.
Half the group headed up to Auckland as they had to leave NZ in a couple of days and the rest of us headed south to Turangi to hike the Tongariro Crossing, "NZ's finest one day hike". We split into twos and attempted to hitchhike it there. I was hitching with Bart, the Canadian guy I had hooked up with the first night I arrived in NZ. 5 hours, 2 lifts and 55 miles later we had only got as far as Taupo! So we stayed there overnight and tried the skydiving the next day. Success!! Weather was perfect. We dived from 9,000 feet (tandem dive with an instructor) and had 30 seconds of freefall. Views were great over the lake and Tongariro volcanic park. All for only NZ$165 (US$120). Wasn't as good fun as the bungy though.
Did the Tongariro crossing the next day. Weather was great. Pretty tough 9 hour hike through volcanic craters. Climbed Mt. Ngauruhoe, 7,500 feet. Could see another volcano 80 miles in the distance. Some beautiful crater lakes here also. Great hike but tough.
Wanted to go to Waitomo Caves and do "blackwater rafting" next but it was booked up for the day I wanted to do it so I booked it for the next day and hitched it back to Rotorua (Bart hitched to Waitomo and I was to meet him there). Checked out a nice thermal area called Wai-o-tapu, which had a geyser, boiling pools, bubbling mud etc.
Made it to Waitomo and met up with Bart again. Did the BWR-II adventure there which incorporated the following: abseiling 115 feet down into the cave system, hooking on to a rope system ("flying fox") and swinging through the pitch dark across a chasm, picking up an inflated car inner tube and jumping 10 feet into the water with the tube below me bum (I was the only one who couldn't swim but I landed okay with the tube below me and I floated - phew), going down the cave river either sitting on the tube, or lying on it paddling or just plain walking through the water, then sitting on the tube and hooking up in a train with each person grabbing the feet of the person behind and then heading back down the caves in the dark so that we could see all the glow-worms on the ceiling giving out pinpricks of green light, getting rid of the tubes and then getting up and out of the caves by climbing up the sides of the cave over a few waterfalls! All in all a really unusual and worthwhile "adventure" (NZ$110).
From there we bussed it to Auckland. The interesting thing I did there was to spend a day carving bone! The Maoris carve lots of different pendants out of bone in various symbolic styles and a woman who ran a hostel north of Auckland showed you how to do it. So I headed out there, came up with my own original design (based on a typical Maori fishhook emblem) and cut out a hunk of cow bone and using special drills and files and sandpaper fashioned the pendant over a gruelling 7 hours or so. Came out pretty good and I finished it off by inlaying a bit of colourful "paua" sea-shell into it. A good memento of New Zealand.
Nothing much to report after that except that I'm now here in Sydney, got in yesterday. Will probably tour around here for 7 weeks or so. I am alone again as Bart is now in Fiji (most people I meet are going the opposite direction around the world to me).
Till next time ...