(also the coromandels)
28.10.2011 - 31.10.2011 27 °C
JAYNE HERE !!
Hoorah - i managed to steel the laptop off Chris for a couple of days!! I thought i would sum up my thoughts so far before telling you about the last couple of days involving the 'crazy tree lady', racing the Auckland 10k and dragging Chris kicking and screaming up all 60 floors of the Sky Tower.
My favourite things about travelling so far:
- Turning up to new places - some great, some rustic (read: shithole)
- No 'Design Schedule' - I get to fill my own 30 min slots.
- Spending time with Chris - even if I never realised exactly how much his feet smell. GAAHH
- Living out of a rucksack - strangly comforting only having 20 items of clothing (including pants)
- the most we have to worry about is where/when to wash said 20 items of clothing
- Meeting people - travellers are really friendly and we met some amazing locals in Fiji, and some barking mad ones in NZ!
My least favourite things:
- Having my finances managed by Chris (sob) no 'accidently' buying wine/shoes/make-up/chocolate. GODDAMNIT!
- Yeah - thats about it really!
My favourite sign posts so far:
DAY 7 - Return from Hokianga
After a very 'rustic' (see above) night in a farmhouse tin out-building, we where dropped of at the end of the road to catch the bus which was to take us back to Auckland. Our Maori lady driver (Sue) welcomed us with a grunt and we were on our way. We stopped of at Waipoua Forest which is famous for its Kauri trees (protected now but were felled for their poker straight hard wood with no knots) - one in particular called Tanu Mahuta which is the second biggest tree in the world and the God of the forest. It did indeed have an impressive girth:
Sue also informed us that the Maoris believe he is the God of the forest, but sadly, the day we were visiting happened to be the day he was to depart this realm never to return. She also informed us that she herself was the portal for him to leave this world and even had to hand us the bus keys as he was calling her back. STREWTH, I'm glad she ran back into the forest as I was choking on my budget nut mix by then.
Back in Auckland for early and back in the same tidy hostel.
NZ DAY 8 - Swimming & Sky Tower
I got up early and walked to Auckland's Olympic sized swimming pool I had heard about online. £3.50 brought me a fantastic long, uninterupted swim in a 50m pool followed by a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi - Jayne heaven! The afternoon saw Chris's most dreaded activity so far, the lift up to the top of the Sky Tower (the tallest structure in the Southern hemisphere). After much whimpering, I got him in the lift which turns out has a glass floor and walls - LOL!! The viewing room is amazing and we even got to see someone jump of the building (for fun - not suicide). Chris calmed down after seeing the cake options in the cafe at the top where we spent an hour or so watching the sun go down over the harbour.
We went back to the hostel with Chris slightly less scared of heights, for an early night ready for the race the next day (Sun).
NZ DAY 9 - Auckland 10k
The alarm went of at 5am ERGGH and we had breakfast downstairs with a couple of girls who just got in from their night out (sigh). It was a pretty good 10.5k race - fast, flat and along the harbour front. Not many spectators apart from drunk clubbers. The atmosphere was noticably nowhere near as good as races in the UK, but probably due to people being more interested in watching the marathon runners later on. Chris clocked a great time of 1:03 and i felt much fitter then i was expecting and did it in 45min and came (3rd/4th) lady. We made sure we got our monies worth from the stalls afterwards, grabbing a few free beers and about 20 Compeed plasters when the promo lady's weren't looking ;-) We had to return to checkout of the hostel and be on the bus for 1.15pm for a 2 hour trip to our next stop - Thames, an old gold mining town on the outskirts of the Coramadel ranges.
We felt quite sad to leave Auckland as it is a very welcoming city as well as being amazingly clean and tidy (we used some public toilets on our way to race start and they were spotless except for an empty beer bottle placed nxt to the bin, dispite being next to all the bars, free to use and having not been cleaned since the day before) NEVER in the UK!! There is very little crime in the city and we always felt very safe.
Anyway, I am typing this sat in the best hostel yet, in Thames.
It has a garden, hammocks, balcony's, sea views, beautiful interior and lovely spacious dorms full of uber friendly Germans. We have just arranged a ride at 8am tomorrow to take us to the start of the Coromandel Pinnacles for a 6 hours trek to the top and back.
NZ day 10 - Pinnacles
We dragged our sore legs out of bed at 7am ready for our lift to the base of the Coromandel Pinnacles along with Ben, a French guy staying at our lodge. We were dropped off with a small map, pointed across a rope bridge and told to back by 4pm. It soon became obvious that a 'moderate' walk in New Zealand is more of an 'extreme hike' by UK standards!
It was beautiful though and an amazing walk with some really impressive views on the way up.
We walked for 2 hours up stone steps carved into the mountain side and through rainforest to reach the hut at the foot of the Pinnacles were we stopped to eat our packed lunch before continuing up the last 625 steps to the top of the mountain and the highest peak in the Coramandels at 2000ft - this also invloved a bit of clambering up some very dubious looking step ladders bolted to the shear rock sides.
The view from the top was - errrrr - unimpressive since a huge cloud had rolled in around us and it started to rain. Nevermind though we had a lot of fun getting there.
The clamber back down was hilarious - I shouted for help once, stuck on a muddy rock and Ben came over - to take a photo - then disapeared off again GREAT!! and I fell for Chris's 'shower vine suprise' about 4 times which involved him shaking a tree/vine and drenching me. We had a good laugh! It took more then 3 hours to get back down via a different route - we saw an old wooden dam used to control the flow of water allowing logs to be sent downstream in the Kauri logging days and crossing an old railway line which was used to get the logs down in carriages lowered from the mountain top by a winch.
We also saw some great - plants (not sure what they are exactly)!
We got to the bottom exactly at 4pm and jumped back into the waiting Range Rover. A hair raising 20min journey out of the national park resulted in a very flat tyre on the edge of town. I took the opportunty to have a quick picnic and watched the men sort out the car issues and we were soon on our way again.
(Hope you enjoyed Jayne's part of the blog. I say Jayne's loosely as I'm currently sat at 1 am in the morning putting all the pictures on it as she got bored and went to bed early!! Also sorry for some of the pictures being sideways but I have just discovered that due to the size of them there is a restriction on the blog and that is the only way to show those photo's. I'll try and sort it out for next time!! - Chris)