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Emma: Hanging with the kiwis

March 23, 2010

I don’t even know where to begin with my New Zealand Adventures. It all started on Thursday night when I arrived at the airport and entered the Duty Free Shop in the international terminal. HEAVEN on EARTH. After my little bit of excitement over some of the cheapest things I have seen since coming here, my flight took off to Auckland, New Zealand—the City of Sails.

The weekend was off to a great start when we got on the ferry to Waiheke Island right off the coast of Auckland. When we arrived on the island, we hiked around for a few hours and saw some of the beautiful landscapes. We then rented a mini-bus and learned to drive on the “other side of the road.”

We made our way to U-Save Car and Truck rentals to pick up our 10 person mini-bus. The old man who gave us the keys warned us of people getting killed and bad car accidents and you know pretty much everything you ever wanted to hear before driving for the first time in a foreign country. He then ended with “make sure you put the club on the wheel whenever you leave the car.” HA! (One of the those red things you people used to lock their steering wheels with about 15 years ago in the States). We were then off taking “short lefts and wide rights.” For about the next 4 hours.

When we arrived in Turangi, we drove to the campsite, only to find the office closed… So what do we do!? Pitch our tents, stay the night, and head off in the morning without saying a word. Yes that meant free camping for night number 1. After finding out we missed the bus to Mt. Doom that day and also that there were 55 MPH winds at the top of the mountain we had a huge change of plans. We headed into Taupo and went on a hike to Huka Falls.

The next day, we caught a bus to Mount Nguaruhoe, AKA Mt. Doom (from Lord of the Rings) and started out on the most strenuous trek of my life. We hiked for about 5 K and then came upon the bottom of the mountain. Now as the bus driver said “Mount Doom…it’s between you and God,” we started up the mountain with no trail just rocks and sand everywhere. I was literally crawling on all fours up this thing with my limbs flailing in every direction. If this was not a sight for sore eyes I literally do not know what is. There were numerous times I was asking myself what the hell I was thinking but eventually I made it all the way to the summit of the volcano and looked straight into the crater. SO AMAZING and the view was not all that bad either—lakes, hot springs, mountains. Miles of the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen.

Finally after we made it down (we skied on the dirt the whole way) we continued our trek for another 15 K. All in all we hiked a total of 15 miles that day, and man was I tired. Most people train for things like this… New Zealand is gorgeous, and there is so so much more that I would love to see. I guess I will just have to go back some day.

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