After 5 weeks on the South Island, I made it back to the North Island. I stayed in Wellington for another 3 nights. I thought about staying longer but the city lacks any good hostels – in fact, they are downright disgusting.
I opted to stop in Taupo a second time. Unfortunately, the Tongariro crossing was closed due to poor weather conditions. What did I do instead? I went skydiving! It’s the thing to do in New Zealand, and Taupo is supposedly the cheapest place in the world to do it. I had thought about doing it the day prior but, since I didn’t have too much time to think about it (I jumped about 2 hours after making the decision to do it), I wasn’t very nervous until just before the jump. The ascent to 12,000 feet took about 20 minutes and I, being prone to motion-sickness, felt nauseous. My instructor strapped me to his body and I could feel his body breathing which was a bit of relief because it meant I was tightly strapped. My instructor opened the door to the plane, and we dangled our feet out the doorway. I looked down and all I could see was the open air and the land below rendered like a great big canvas of green. I was terrified. I said, “Oh my gosh. What the fuck am I thinking?”. My instructor tapped me on the shoulder to signify that we were going to jump. I breathed in and before you know it, I was falling in the air at 250 km/h. My heart felt like it stopped, my face was cold and my first thought was â€œI hope I’m properly strapped to my instructor or I’m going to dieâ€. But still, it was awesome. I’m glad I didn’t have any photos taken since my facial expression was probably that of bewilderment. After the parachute opened, I felt really nauseous and this was excaberated by the spinning and manoeuvring needed for us to land in the right place. By the time we landed, I felt downright sick. So while everyone in my group was euphoric, I felt like vomiting. Despite this, I don’t regret doing it and I would do it again if I didn’t have motion sickness problems.
I stopped in Rotorua again. I decided that I should do something Maori-related while in NZ. I booked a hangi concert amid worried that it was going to be really touristy and contrived. My fears were correct. The thing is the tour lacked authenticity because the Maori do not live their lives the way it was portrayed in the performance. They are living modern lives and perhaps are struggling to adapt to modern society more than the white Kiwi, but they are not living like their ancestors. The production was a bit too glossy. The food was prepared in the traditional hangi style: cooked in an underground oven. But was served in buffet warming trays. The food was okay but it was no comparison to food cooked in a similar fashion I had in Peru. The best part of the tour was my bus driver who was hilarious and could translate the Maori phrase â€œKia Oraâ€ into 56 different languages. He also knew the British, Canadian and American anthems by heart!
Mount Maunganui was a mandatory stop on the Magic Bus itinerary. It’s known for being a great surfer’s town which would be great in the summer but not in the winter. I decided to skip the city and took an Intercity coach to Auckland instead. It worked out cheaper than continuing on with Magic because the stupid bus does not run everyday in the winter. If I went with Magic that would have meant spending another day in Rotorua and then one in Mount Maunganui. On the coach ride over, I sat next to a girl who turned out to be about 16 years old although I thought she was 23. She had an interesting backstory: she lives with grandparents in Auckland, her mom lives in Rotorua and the rest of her family lives in Wellington. She has 8 brothers and sisters, most of which are half-siblings. Her sister is 18 and pregnant, so she had to move out of her grandparents house. Boy, what a complicated life.
Last stop was Auckland. I wasn’t too impressed with the city the first time, and I wasn’t too impressed the second time either. The city lacks character. I still had fun since I caught up with my friend from Akaroa and we hung out for a few days. We went to Devonport where we had nice views of the city and Rangotito Island.
When my friend and I first met in Akaroa, we were both hesitant about going to Australia. But when we met up this time, she had decided to go. She tried to convince me to go too. Apparenty she did a good job because later I booked a flight that was scheduled to depart for Sydney via Christchurch the next day. I had a mini panic-attack (why was I departing so soon?) and I called the airline to change the date to two days later. I boarded a plane early the next morning for Christchurch. I’d never expected to be there again but it was great because I got to see Mutsumi again. We had some tea and I spent the rest of the evening on the internet. I ended up sleeping at the airport because the flight was scheduled to depart at 6:30 am. I got a very bad sleep since it was really cold and I had no sleeping bag. Sooner or later, I was boarded onto a plane headed for Sydney. My Australian adventures beginâ€¦
More photos from the North Island