Saturday, 30 April 2011

A day in Franz Josef

Well I am so glad I'm not in the Kiwi Experience bus. There two bus loads of them here and they are all 18/19 British rich kids (sort of people we were at boarding school with). Its the party bus. I heard one girl saying how here mum had put £400 in her bank account and was telling her friends they should all go shopping in Queenstown. Shopping while travelling is impractical when travelling for 2 reasons, 1. you have to carry all the stuff you by with you and 2. money you spend shopping is money you can't spend on a dorm bed, dinner, a few drinks, or an activity. Then again I suppose people like that just have to ask and they all the money they want. They are the sort of people who will party till the early hours then sleep in instead of getting up to do the glacier hike, or in my case, go to the wildlife sanctuary.

It was very small and only featured one sort of animal, the Rowi Kiwi, rarest of all the Kiwi birds. It is only found in the rainforests of the local area. Kiwi's are endangered, with introduced animals and loss of habitat their biggest threat. Stoats, cats and dogs, Possums and rats are their worst enemies. Their eggs get eaten, chicks crushed and habitats destroyed by these animals, as well as having to fight for food. The wild life centre goes out collects kiwi eggs, hatches then and raises the chicks at the centre then releases them into the wild when they are ready. They had two birds in the nocturnal room. it was a bit dark so they were hard to find. They are the most funny looking things with long narrow beaks, almost like a short chopstick. Their hair is spiky and they have an egg shaped body. They were just walking around not doing much, and they they started fighting, one was bugging the other one. It was pretty funny to watch.

They also had some information about the glacier and about the west coast region. The West Coast is isolated, with the Tasman Sea on one side and the Southern Alps on the other. As I said it was settled during the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century and has a rugged, pioneer feeling to it. The people are a little different here, friendly and hospitable but a bit crazy like the guy who jumped out of a helicopter into a deer. There is mostly Reinforest here, similar to that of South America. The only non-tropical species of parrot also lives here to as well as other exotic birds like the pukeko, pipiwharauroa, tui and waka. Its amazing out here on th West Coast, but very quite. I don't think I could stay here long!

Greymouth to Franz Josef

After I finished my last blog I of course watched the Royal Wedding. I stayed up to watch the whole thing and thought it was a really beautiful wedding. Then next morning we had time for brunch at a cafe, a little disappointing, Then left Greymouth.

We arrived at a small town famous for its Jade, or Pounamu, to give it the Maori name. It is very valuable, worth more than gold to the Maori and they used to make short clubs or bats with it to fight with in hand to hand combat. They also made Jewellery in specific designs, as different symbols have certain meanings. There is also a legend involving various gods and deities involving how jade and other rocks were formed around the whole of New Zealand but its long and I can't really remember that,

After that we continued down the West Coast to the Bushman's Centre. Back before tourism was the main industry men lived off the land, hunting trapping and logging were the main industries. We met Bushman Pete, and old man in his 70's now who told us about the Bushman Centre and Museum. He said out in the west coast there was none of this 'latte sipping, croissant sucking metro-sexual, Aucklander rubbish. It was real men living off the land. He told us how when they were starting u dear farms they used to fly helicopters to a dear, jump out on top of it and wrestle it to the ground. He said it made bungy jumping look like a sport for 'fairy boys.' There were pictures of it in the museum but the DVD was broken. Our driver says its totally true but I don't know if I really believe anyone would jump out of a helicopter onto a dear, it seems mad. He also hunts possums, they are a pest here and spread diseases and destroy the habitat for native birds. He sells possum pies but unfortunately there were none left, I would have liked to try one. Proceeds from the pie sales go to a campaign to stop the government killing them with poison, as it is dangerous for everything else, and use humane traps which electrocute them instead. There fur us also very valuable and one pelt in the shop, which is fairly small, is worth $50. Australian possums which we have here are different to the American opossums, they have furry tails and a very cute!

After that we Arrived in Franz Josef, a small tourist village named after the glacier on the mountain right behind it. Unfortunately I can't afford a helicopter ride and They won't let me hike with my broken tail bone So I am going to go the with wildlife sanctuary today, and maybe the spa pools.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Abel Tasman to Greymouth

We left out hostel in Abel Tasman today and went to the airfield to pick up the skydivers and hand gliders. On the spur of the moment I decided to go hand gliding, there went my plan to save a bit of money. It was such a beautiful day and hand gliding sounded like great fun. I asked about doing it further south but you get the longest flight here as another plane tows you up, rather than just jumping off a mountain. We got strapped underneath the giant kite hovering horizontally, me above the pilot (is he really a pilot if there is no engine?) and a long cord attached us to the little microlite plane (sort of an egg on wheels with a kite above it). He drove down the runway with us attached and we actually took off before him. He dragged us into the air 2,500 ft high and it was a really cool feeling, like water skiing or knee bearding but in the air. The views were amazing, best I've seen yet. You had vineyards and kiwi vines below, mountains on one side, the ocean and then more mountins from the opposite side of the bay on the other. Then the tow was dropped and we were gliding threw the air, it was a totally different feeling. Its the closest thing a human can get to being a bird, thats what the instructor said. It was absolutely incredible, one of the best things I've ever done. Its not like the skydive where its crazy mad adrenaline, its more calm and peaceful. Even when the parachute was pulled the feeling is different to gliding, I can't really describe it. We did a few turns and spirals, but nothing to crazy, I didn't want to lose my glasses. The landing was better to as the glider is on wheels and we just swooped in, it was so smooth. didn't break any bones this time either! I would say they were both amazing experiences but very different. I think hand gliding is better value for money, as it was a lot cheaper but still awesome and I'de love to do it again.

A little about Abel Tasman, who the park is named after. He was the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642, he was Dutch and when he saw the Maori he decided to try to land. The Maori sounded on the conch (a large shell that makes a horn sound) which is meant to ascertain whether those arriving are there for war or piece. The Dutch obviously didn't know this, blew on their horn and sent a few men in a little boat. The Maori expected a battle, killed the men and ate one of them and Abel Tasman sailed away. The area was called Murderers bay although now it is Golden Bay. It wasn't until 1769 that Captain Cook became the first European to set foot on New Zealand.

After that little adventure we left and headed south the the wild west coast. It was settled during the Gold Rush in the early 19th century. That was when the capital moved to Wellington as it was closer to the middle of the country. We stopped at the pancakes rocks, cliffs which are layers of sedimentary rocks and look like stacks of pancakes.

We arrived in Greymouth, a small mining town with a logging industry as well. Things havn't been greatest in Greymouth lately as in November there was an explosion at a coal mining killing 29 people. It was a terrible tragedy to hit such a small county and a small community like Greymouth. The mines were all shut down by the government for safety reviews and are only just getting re-opening. The hostel is amazing though, free internet, sky tv (to watch the royal wedding on), comfy sofas, pool, darts, and no bunk beds!!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Abel Tasman

It was great to wake up this morning knowing I didn't have to go anywhere. And sleeping in that room which was more like a corridor wasn't to bad. The weather was amazing today, I know I told you all yesterday that it was so bad the ferrys were delayed and the flight was rocky but today there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was a bit chilly, but not to bad in the sun. Most people on the bus had signed up to go sailing or kayaking but I'm trying to save money. The geography here is very strange. Abel Tasman is on the coast and there are loads of golden sandy beaches. Mountains (or maybe they are hills) rise up directly from the beaches and in some areas there are very steep cliffs. A path has been carved out which gradually ascends the side of one hill and then levels out and runs the length of the entire path, with only a few steep bits in places. There are also campsites to stay at along the way for people wanting to stay within the park. In an attempt to save money I decided to walk some of the track rather than sail, kayak or get a water taxi far out and walk back. (or walk out and have the water taxi pick me up).

So with a packed lunch in my bag (and a broken coxyx from skydiving to deal with) I decided to see how far I could get. It was a really nice walk, mostly in the shade so I was cold, and the path was surround by jungle and below there were beaches. I got as far as Apple Tree Bay, which is just over 5km along the track and had some lunch. I was thinking of going further as it was a fairly easy walk but after a trip that really jarred my coxyx and I decided 5k was all I was going to make. Its a shame as other then spending money on the internet there really isn't much to do at this hostel, so I would have like to be out longer. I saw lots of birds along the way and a few little reptiles, mostly typical things people normally see in the New Zealand Jungle. My legs ached by the time I got back, I've been resting for a week and a half since the sky diving so to do such a long walk took its toll by the end. I was determined to do something though as I missed out on the Tongariro crossing. I managed the whole trip, so that's a 10k walk and a lunch stop, in less than three hours and with a broken bone I don't think the was to bad of a time.

One thing I really wish I had here was my dad's camera. My mum gave me here old digital one which was really nice of her and is good for almost everything I need. But if my parents do manage to get out here then you guys will get much better photos. A nice wide-angle lens to really capture the stunning landscapes would have been great at nearly every place on this trip. It really amazing here, with the blue water, gold beach and green jungle. Even yesterday in the plane having the view of the vineyards with the Southern Alps in the background would have been a great photo, if I wasn't holding on for dear life! Actually the best thing to do would be for everyone to come over and see it for themselves :)

The South Island!!!!!!

Hello everyone, had a very eventful day today. I got up early to get to the Ferry terminal at 7am, only to find that due to the weather the ferry had been delayed. When it arrived there was a big hole in it so the trip got cancelled. As the other company, Interislander, had already sailed. So the option were hang around in Wellington, get the later ferry and hang around in Picton (small town nothing to do) for 2 days to get the next bus, or fly over. as the flight was only 30 mins and $35 more than the ferry would have been some of us flew over in a tiny 12 seater airplane. I mean this this thing was small, it was like the planes you go skydiving in. Due to the bad weather we couldn't even land in Picton (where the ferry docks) so we had to go the Blenhiem, a larger town about 1/2 hour away. So after getting the shuttle to the airport then the tiny airplane in we had pretty bad weather for landing. It is honestly the only time I have been scared in and airplane, we were getting tossed around like a kite in a thunder storm. The views over the mountains and the Cook Straight were stunning but I really couldnt appriciate them. We did manage to somehow land safely, and it was actually one of the smoothest landings ever!!!! We then got the shuttle back to Picton and found the big orange Stray bus.

The bus then stopped off at a vinyard and we got to taste some wines (i've had better although its the first time I ever had a Charrdonney I could drink, normally that stuff is horrible) and on to Able Tasman National Park. We have a whole day here tomorrow and its right on the coast so there is sailing, kayaking and water taxis to take you places. Unfortunaltey I am not made of money so I will be hiking tomorrow after a nice lie in. It was very dark when we arrived so I can't really tell you much about the scenery.

I got put in and 8 bed dorm to save money, buy Its very strange. Its like someone put 8 beds in a corridor cos you go in from the kitchen and outside to the bathrooms. There are also stairs to the private rooms in our dorm so I'm not sure how I'll sleep tonight, I'll put pictures up though, its very unique. And I'm very glad I got earplugs!!!

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Drive to Wellington

Got up at about 8 this morning and got ready to leave National Park. It was very cold and windy but clear skys so we got great views of Mt. Ngauruhoe, Mt. Doom from LOTR. On the way down we stopped in Ohakune, a town famous for carrots, and Taihepe which is famous for gumboot (wellingtons) throwing. We had a go at throwing some boots, there is an area of grass with some high fences around it. Imagine tax-payers money being spent on fences for boot throwing!

Then through to Wellington and I am now safely at my friends house! I'll be sad to leave the Stray bus though, since I got picked up in Rotorua I had an awesome driver and a great group on the bus. Lets just hope the next lot are just as nice!

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Hello everyone! The bus picked me up from Rotorua and I left the land of the smelly sulphur to head to Lake Taupo. It was (is) the second biggest super volcano in the world after Yellowstone National park and erupted about 2000 years ago. Apparently there were orange clouds in Rome for 3 weeks. It left a massive lake larger than Singapore which has amazing trout fishing apparently.

So I decided to do a skydive there! Its NZ's cheapest and I was told jump as soon as you get the opportunity, the weather changes to much. As it was a gorgeous day me and 9 others decided to do it. We got DVDs to where our instructor had a camera strapped to his hand. my guy was really nice made me feel really calm. So we get in this little pink plane, 5 of us strapped to 5 med and after some very thorough safety checks the plane took off. I was amazed at how slowly to took is to climb to 15,000 feet, I guess small planes are slower. They gave us oxygen masks as well, just as a precaution as there was no cabin pressure system. They opened the hatch and the people in front went. I was very nervous all the way up but everyone in the plane was joking around and talking so there wasn't much time to get worked up. Just before the jump I was hanging out of the plane terrified, but they didn't hang around or say much, they just went for it so you couldn't really have to much time to think. The first 20 seconds were the scariest of my life!!! I was screaming like a banshee! But suddenly it changed and felt amazing, the view was the best I've ever seen. It was exhilarating, very cold but the rush of air past you felt amazing! The freefall lasted about 60 seconds and  at about 5,000 feet the guy pulled the parachute and suddenly I was floating in mid-air. He steered it left and right and I could really appreciate the stunning views below me. This bit lasted roughly 4 minutes before we came into land. My instructor then said he was going to stop talking to focus on the landing after teaching me the landing position and we zig-zaged down to the landing strip. I glided to earth and seriously, the rush was so cool!!!

We then found out that due to the weather the Tongariro crossing was cancelled. So we slept in and got to National park at about 12:30. It was snowing!! SNOWING!! its only very early Autumn here and if we had snow t 780m above sea level then the Crossing at 2,000 would have been much worse. This hostel is amazing though, best I've stayed at. The rooms are hotel standard, the food is amazing and the bar looks pretty good as well. There is also a hot tub, so a soak in the tub in the snow seems like a good idea this afternoon. After we got here we went and had a snowball fight then walked to the place where they filmed Golum's pool, the place where he gets in the forbidden pool and Faramir wants to kill him. It was a very nice photo and I'm allowed to out it on Facebook! I'm not going to hang around and do the crossing, who knows when the weather will be good again I'm staying with friends which is free! So that will be the end of my adventures till next Wednesday when I get to finally cross over to the south island, so I'll keep you updated about that later!

Saturday, 16 April 2011


Hi everyone, still on Rotorua and leaving in a few hours. Yesterday (saterday) I went to Hobbiton and was very very lucky to go. First I got there and had to sign a confidentiality agreement saying I wouldn't put any photos online, or even email them to anyone. Apparently they can shut down your site or email within 12 hours and take you to court, two people tried before Christmas and lost their cases. Anyway sorry guys, if you want photos you'll have to watch the movie. Or just wait till I get home and have a look at my laptop.

The set is built on a sheep farm owned by the Alexander family and although other sets for Bag End and the Market had been found they needed a place for the party. So they were in helicopters looking for a big tree next to a lake in rolling hills, and saw the farm. When they saw it it was perfect for the whole of the outside of Hobbiton and they build 32 hobbit hole facades. The one thing that was missing was a big oak tree oabouve Bag End which Tolkein mentions and there was a bit of a swamp by the party tree so the built a fibre glass tree and suck oak leaves on it and stuck it on Bag End. The Army came in to clear the swamp. So a whole town which was going to be to together in the editing room was suddenly built in one place! All the inside scenes were filmed in Wellington so the whole set is the outdoor stuff. Its stunning, the level of detail is amazing. They bought English hedgerows and mature fruit trees from a local farmer, every hobbit hole as a different letter box and they mixed yoghurt, bacteria and paint to put on the fences, making moss and lichen just like on the surrounding trees.

Peter Jackson and the production team rented a house next to the Alexander families and the owners were give an 4 month all expenses paid holiday to anywhere in NZ during filming. Each night the films would be driven to Hamilton, the nearest big town, flown to Wellington, edited, and flown back by 7 in the morning when Peter would decide if they would re-shoot or move onto the next scene.

I was lucky because after filming was completed they had to destroy all outdoor sets and re-plant any damaged grass/plants. Any place you go anywhere in New Zealand all you will see in untouched land scape, and all the other tours can show you is where the filming took place. So they began with burning the Green Dragon and market, you can see it in the movie in the bit where Frodo and Galadriel look into the water and see the Shire burning, that really happened! They got about half way through demolition when the weather turned bad, and asked for 6 months grace as it was to dangerous to continue. The Alexander family allowed it, and after chatting with the neighbours someone came up with the idea of doing the tour. Then back in 2009 when they began preparing for the Hobbit they re-built the set exactly as it was and allowed the tours to continue but under the condition that all photos remain confidential. They have also added 5 new hobbit holes to the set and guess what... my battery died! i replaced and guess what... that one was flat!! I couldn't even ask someone to email me a photo as that wasn't allowed. It was only on the bus back that I thought of asking to put my memory card in someones camera but oh well, I'll see them in the new film, and probably won't know which one is which. Filming was supposed to start there on 14th of Feb but due to a few delays it won't happen till the end of the year. So I was lucky to see firstly the re-vamped set, as it was for the movie plus 5 new holes, and that filming hadn't started so I could see it this month!!!

After the tour we were taken the the sheep shed and watched a sheep getting shorn, then got to feed some lambs. Not a single lamb was in the movie as they are white with white faces. Instead they were all hidden and some Suffolk 'stunt sheep' with black faces were brought in as they looked more English. After all Hobbiton is supposed to be the English country side.

In the afternoon I went to the Rotorua museum, which was in Government House. It was build sometime in the 1900's as a spa to compete with the European bath houses and the architecture was Elizabethan style. They even got and Australian sculptor, educated in Italy, to do lots of Neo-Classical marble sculptures (like Michelangelo's David). However it didn't really attract that many tourists , it seemed along way to come from Europe just to have a bath. The spa was fed from two pools, Priest's water was Acidic and prescribed for certain ailments, and Rachel's water was alkali and prescribed for others. There were massive maintainance problems however. They hydrogen sulphide in the priest's water formed acid rain (sort of, just general acid in the air) and not only did the marble sculptures turn brown  but it caused all sorts of other problems. There was a lot of silica in Rachel's water and that would clog the pipes up. So in the 1960's the spa was shut down and after many years it re-opened as a museum.

Just had a lie in this morning, I feel I should have gone white water rafting but I'm not really to bother about that. I'm in McDonald's using the free wi-fi again and off to Taupo soon. So we'll see what happens there!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Stray part 3-Rotorua

We left Maketu yesterday (14th April) and Arrived in Rotorua 2 hours later. Those who wanted to go white water rafting got dropped off and the rest of us got drivin into town. Rotorua is built on a massive lake and home to about 60% of the Maori population. It is situated in the Bay of Plenty region, and there is a line of volcanoes along the widthe of the north island making this area around the Bay very fertile. The area between Maketu and Rotorua also is home to many Kiwifruit farms, 60% of the worlds supply is grown here.

So we arrived in Rotorua which has lots of geothermal activity as the earths crust is very thin here. There are lots of sulphur pools, hot springs and geysers and the whole town stinks of rotton eggs. Its a resonable sides town and we started off with a walk on a self guided tour from the government house, to the lake them back through a park full of geothermal pools and springs. The bubbling mud is quite fun to watch. This is where the rest of the bus left and I spent the afternoon walking around the town and chatting to people in the hostel. We went to the night market in the evening, my sort of thing. Lots of good food and AMAZING brownies!!!!!!!!!!! these things were so good, gooey on the inside with chocolate chips and a crunchy crust!! I jumped off as I wanted to do the Hobbiton tour, Hell's Gate mud spa and see the museum. And because of the buses I can't leave till Sunday lunchtime but I have plenty of time so I'd rather not rush.

So today and got up and got the shuttle bus to Hell's Gate mud spa. Its the only Maori owned mud spa and when I arrived they sent me on a walk of the grounds which smelled of sulphur and acid, even more acidic then the town. They looked pretty cool though. The Maori used to cook food in the water as it was so hot, and gave it a smokey flavour. You can go eat a meal like that here now, and see a show as Rotorua is the Maori cultural capital but its very expensive. We've already done our cultural stay in Maketu and I think to pay $80 to eat some food with a smoky flavour isn't worth it. I'd rather save my money for the south island. Anyway the spa. I walked trough the grounds and saw all the geothermal stuff which was pretty cool. There was a mud volcano and I tried to get pictures but there was to much steam everywhere, so they aren't very good. It was called Hell's Gate by George Bernard Shaw, and Irish playwrite and athiest who in a very toung in cheek way called it Hell's Gate, and various places within the park Inferno, Sodom and Gamorrah and other biblical names. Then I got changed and was led to a little pool of sulphur water with mud at the bottom and told I could only stay there for 20 mins cos of the heat and the sulphur dehydrating me. So I lay there rubbing myself in mud and After my skin felt so soft, the stuff really works. It opens up the pores and lifts out all the toxins. Then after a shower I went into the hot tub which contained sulphur water from the lakes and was heated by steam from the geysers being pumped trough some pipes. So no plumbing, it was all natural. It made me tired so I had a nap when I got back and am now using the free wi-fi in Macdonalds (all 50MB that I'm allowed, internet here is terrible, expensive and slow).

So tomorrow I have my hobbiton tour in the morning and the museum in the afternoon. I'm very excited, and as I'm not doing any of the Maori stuff here I feel I should go. I'm debating white water rafting on sunday morning, its more expensive on the south island but I don't want to just go throwing money away now that I'm not working. Plus Monday I'll have the Tongararo crossing if the weathers good so Sunday will be my last change to lie in, I dunno.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Stray Chronicles Part 2- Waitomo and Maketu

So far the trip was a bit a of a let down, the accommodation is Raglan was so far away, and our group had a few couples and a few non-English speakers so it didn't really click like it did on my Northland Trip. But Waitomo was coming up and I was excted as I wanted to do blackwater rafting since I arrived. We were taken to the Waitomo adventures company who do lots of caving and chose the trips we wanted to do. I chose the tubing trip as that included a little back water rafting. It was a 3 hour trip through a cave full of glow worms and it was so much fun. I've been in caves before, big one that ancient humans lived in but this was totally different. We crawled through narrow spaces, over jagged rocks, around pools of water and swam through streams. This was proper caving where you have to watch every step as you go. In the long deep bits we got into large inner tubes and floated down the river on our backs, looking at the roof which was full of glow worms. It was almost like looking at the stars and really was a fun experience. At one point they challenged us to crawl through a 30ft tunnel, which was very narrow, without our headlamps on. The blackwater rafting turned out to be a gentle tube trip down stream but it was still a lot of fun, I'm surprised i didn't break any bones though!!

They told us a little about the glow worms. The insects lay some eggs and the first to hatch eats the rest of them for its first meal. It then climbs up to the roof and stays there for the next 9 months with sticky mucus dangling from it. As glow worms, which are at this stage maggots, can't go to the toilet they burn the wast, making them glow. This attracts little insects that get swept in by the wind, who think the light is the exit, they get stuck in the mucus and get eaten. Then the worm can glow some more, to attract more food. After 3 months they go into a cocoon like a caterpillar and emerge as flying insects. they have no mouths so they can't eat or drink and spend 2-3 days mating and laying eggs before they die. some even fly into the mucus and get eaten, so they are cannibals. So, very nice life cycle there!

We then left to go to Maketu for the night, a Maori settlement where we got to see a cultural show. We were fed in a kitchen next to the Mori, or meeting house then the oldest man was made the chief of our tribe, Stray. We walked in, and were greeted by 4 worriers who started shouting, chanting and making scary faces to try to intimidate us, in case we were there for war. One placed a leaf on the ground for the chief and he had 3 options:
1. ignore the leaf. this was disrespectful and would lead to us being kicked off
2. step on or drop the leaf. this would mean we were here for war and we would be attacked
3. pick up the leaf. this was a sign of friendship and would mean we could be welcomed by the tribe.

We were welcomed by shaking hands and touching noses, so we were breathing in each others spirit and meant that we were all family. After that they preformed a few songs and a haka, or war dance. Then men were then taken and taught the All Blacks haka, and we were taught poi, or spinning a ball on a string and the girls preformed for the boys and the boys for the girls. It was a bit stupid but a good laugh. We headed down to the beach for a bonfire and then all slept in the Mori, or meeting house. Overall a much better day today and I really enjoyed it.

Just arrived in Rotarua today, a geothermal area that smells of sulphur and have 3 days here. So we'll see what happens!

The Stray Chronicles Part 1- Hahai and Raglan

Hello Everyone! I am offically and unemployed traveller again! I have a really nice leaving thing with another girl at work and then Sunday morning jumped on the Stray bus and had a 10 hour journey to Auckland. Noy much to say about that really. I'll really miss Wellington and All my friends, but I'll be back sometime at the beginning of next week so I'll get to catch up with everyone then.

On Monday we took the bus to Hahai beach in the Coromandel peninsular which was beautiful and kayaked to Cathedral Cove. Mercury Bay, where we were staying was the first place that Kupe, the legendry Maori explorer discovered. Legend has it he came from one of the Pacific islands, probably somewhere near Tahiti, and after observing migrating birds for a few years jumped in canoe and decided to follow them, discovering New Zealand. He somehow managed to return to tell people about it and a few years later, in around 1340, a man called Hai led a group who settled in Hahai, or nose of Hai as there is an island shaped like his nose. After the Kayak trip we went over to Hot Water Beach, and area where you dig in the sand and hot water springs up, making your own Jacuzzi. That was really fun, and a very different activity. After that we had a BBQ and got to know each other a bit.

Tuesday we set of for Raglan, stopping in Paeroa for a bit. The town is 'World famous in New Zealand' for the L&P or Lemon & Paeroa. Its a drink made from the naturally carbonated spring water, lemon and other herbs. Unfortunately it is now owned by Coke and no longer made in the town but they celebrate it. We got to Raglan, a surfer hippie town, in the afternoon which was a nice little village but the place we were staying was about 20 min drive away. It was also up in the bush so there was a 40 min walk to the beach adn unless you were surfing you had to walk. It was totally pointless,  nowhere near the town or the beach. The thing is Stray has prefered accommodation, and they operate their surf school out of there so unless you book yourself ahead of time, you tend to stay where they recommend. It also means the group stays together and you don't have to plan anything but in this case it would have been better to stay in town. I left the next day, but a few people stayed to surf and I'm glad I did.