I've had a tough time keeping up on frequently updating my blog since I've left Auckland. This entry covers from Auckland down to Waitomo. I'll try to get to the rest of my activities on the North Island in another blog entry in a short matter of time. No promises though.
I knew I shouldn’t have had that last drink. Or maybe I shouldn’t have had the two that preceded the last drink, really. These thoughts groggily floated through my head at 7:45 a.m. as I boarded the tour bus that was going to be taking me the distance of the North Island from Auckland down to Wellington. Tour buses don’t usually give in depth views of a country, but they do offer a quick highlight package of sites for travelers that either don’t have an abundance of time to check out the local points of interest or who are interested in meeting like minded travelers to possible travel with. I had a good experience using the same company for my trip to the Bay of Islands, so I was looking forward to the trek south. Despite the late night out, I was actually feeling pretty good as the bus started out of town.
The first day was fairly uneventful. We did stop at Cathedral Cove, which is a small, secluded beach tucked into the rock cliffs on the northeast side of the North Island. After that, the bus continued on to somewhere and we did something while we were there. I know there are a few details of our activities missing from the last sentence, but honestly, so much has transpired in the weeks since the first leg of the trip out of Auckland that I can't remember exactly when we did what. I know there were a few walks through the bush, some supension bridge walking (with at least one casualty), a few tramps through some caves, a wine tasting, and then we made it to Rotorua. The predominant activity I kept hearing that I had to take part in when I made it to Rotorua was the mountainside luge. My friends from Montana that had spent some time in New Zealand a few years back made sure to tell me to try the luge when I arrived in Rotorua. The luge activity consists of sitting on a small scooter-like object that has a pair of handlebars on the front end. The handlebars afford the driver steering 'control' and even allow him to brake when they are pulled backwards towards the driver. As I looked through the group of people on the tour bus that wanted to do the luge racing I quickly surmised that the brake would most likely not be used too much during our afternoon on the luge track. And (surprise, surprise) it seemed that with each of the five races we took part in, the brake was used less and less. The result was an excess of wrecks, injuries, and brilliantly performed passes which insured that it was another fun afternoon at the luge track. The evening started off slowly, with me going to a local bar to watch the Grand Final of a rugby league match with a friend from Australia. Rhys' team was playing in the final, after underachieving the year before. Hmmm....sounds like a couple sports teams of mine back in the States. To make a long story about a long night short; Rhys' team won, most of the tour group ended up showing up to hang out for the night, and things got a little crazy. Good times in Rotorua.
After Rotorua, we headed to Waitomo to take part in some cave exploring. There were two options for us to choose from as far as how we wanted to explore the caves. Option one was floating on a tube through the watery caves and looking at all the 'glow worms' on the cave ceiling. While option two involved abseiling into the cave, trapsing around through confined areas, zip lining through pitch black nothingness, jumping off of waterfalls, and finally, climbing up a few waterfalls. Obviously, I had no choice at all. Option two was chosen by five other wise individuals, as well as myself. I can honestly say that after spending hours taking part in the afore mentioned caving activities, I was direly disappointed when I emerged from the adrenaline inducing excitement of the caves into the humdrum tediousness of the daylight covered outside world. If you can't tell, I was extremely impressed with option two of the cave tours.