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Rich’s Travel Diary

Monday, 30 Jan 2006

Location: The North - Part 2, New Zealand

MapWe arrived in Lake Taupo to a torrential storm that bucketed down for 2 entire days. Luckily the 3rd day cleared up, allowing us to go jet boating on the rapids jet. This involved bombing it up and down a river in an aluminium boat, doing 180 degrees spins, getting very close to various obstacles in the water and flying over rapids so the boat almost left the water. In the process we got absolutely soaked but it was a really fun experience.
Following this, we decided to make the most of the good weather and booked ourselves on a tandem skydive that evening. It was one of the most amazing experiences we have ever had, although it did get the nerves jangling, especially when they open the door of the plane and you have to shuffle up to the edge before jumping out. This is then followed by 5 seconds of sheer terror as your body/mind tries to fathom what you are doing to it, but once you are levelled out with your arms out to balance, the next 40 seconds of freefall are absolutely fantastic. Then your instructor pulls the parachute and its a leisurely 4 minutes drifting to the ground with great views over the lakes and mountains. Superb.
The next day we did the Tongariro crossing, which is reckoned as one of the best day walks in New Zealand. This goes over a really barren landscape of volcanoes, lava fields and craters, and was used as the backdrop for Mordor in Lord of the Rings.
We then left the lake Taupo area to head up to visit Sheenas relative Jim via a stop over at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua for some rest and relaxation. Jim owns a Kiwi farm so we got a guided tour of his place and a very welcome bed for the night (after almost a month of sleeping in a tent). Finally we headed back to Auckland to catch our flight over to Santiago in Chile - better get practicing our Spanish! Adios Amigos.