Things always happen for a reason
Alicia and I planned to leave Rotorua and head straight to Wellington, being there by Friday. Besides, this direct trip was cheaper on the naked bus then it was to stop anywhere else and then go to Wellington.
We met Marissa and Victoria, 2 girls from San Fransico when we got off the bus from the cultural show. I really liked the girls & thought they'd be fun to hang out with. They mentioned they had a car and were headed to Wellington as well but after a stop in Taupo. So we asked if we could leave with them the next day and pitch in for gas.
The naked bus was cheaper going straight from Rotorua to Wellington but Alicia and I liked them and didn't mind seeing Taupo. So after our work at the hostel was finished we headed out with the girls stopping once at a natural hot springs pool.
This was shockingly hot water! Hot tub or possibly hotter, I'd guess. With cool water coming in from a stream off to the side. It was like Oregon lake water as far as the merky-ness level goes.
We arrived in Taupo not long after and we were greeted with iron man banners hanging from almost every light post! This is where the New Zealand iron man will be the first weekend of March 2014! Pretty cool!
We drove straight to the enormous... lake Taupo and crashed in the rocky sand for a bit. Fish and chips was on the agenda for dinner that evening so we decided to ask a local where they recommended. Then we asked another for a 2nd opinion and that's when we met Mike! A very happy go lucky kiwi ready to help! He gave us his recommendation and when he found out that we had no where to stay that night and places were all pretty booked he offered the 4 of us his flat for the night, or 2 if we wanted to stay longer.
After dinner we all headed to mikes flat. It was a free place to sleep & he was extremely nice but I couldn't get over the situation we had gotten ourselves in and when it came time for Alicia and I to go to our room to sleep I couldn't stop laughing! Alicia couldn't even get words out of my mouth to figure out what I was laughing at. Our room just fit the bed and it was 3 mattresses thick, no box spring which meant when A. and I laid down we rolled into each other... cuddling the whole night thru!
We had plans to do the 8 hr trek of the tongarirro crossing the next day so we woke up at 4:45am to call the shuttle service that picks hikers up at 5:15 & 5:45am. Technically we should have planned this better and booked the shuttle a day or more in advance, but we didn't.
Alicia could barely function enough to talk to me when she woke. What we realized was that we didn't have the code to mikes wifi and so we had no way to get on the internet or use Skype to call out. In other words we couldn't take the shuttle to the crossing, pretty much our only way to get out there and the only day we could do it.
We woke back up around 7:30 to the other girls leaving the flat. Alicia caught sight of them and asked if they could drop us off at a hostel/ backpackers so we could see if catching a ride with someone there who might be driving themselves to the crossing was possible.
We left mikes and arrived to a closed hostel - until 9:30am -
long story shortened a bit, after putting in a lot of effort trying to get to the crossing (even considered renting a car for the day) we were directed by a hostel manager to hike out to the Waikato river to see the falls and told that on the way we would come across hot springs. The falls is apparently New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. The river itself is New Zealand's longest.
We passed the hot springs and as much as we wanted to stop right then and there we continued to the falls which was a pretty incredible sight!
It wasn't a water fall like we are used to in the US it was more of water being funneled into a smaller canal of the river and then watching it GUSH out as the canal opens back up! It's moving so fast and powerful that its eroding away the bottom of the river bed and so it's created a small drop or falls, if you will.
tongarirro crossing worth missing. Well until next time I visit New Zealand.
We spent several hours here soaking in very hot mineral water and then cooling off by swimming out into the river just a little bit. I met a couple from Italy who were very sweet and kindly invited me to come visit them when ever I'd like. I offered the favor back to them as well. Alicia made a mayalsian contact for us that should be helpful when we arrive there. We showered ourselves under a hot waterfall and ate our packed lunch on the large rocks next to the rivers edge.
Later, on our walk back into town Alicia dropped her shorts and they were rescued and returned to us by a guy on a bike behind us. CJ was his name and after returning the shorts to us he just decided he'd tag along with us for the rest of the day. He was a nice kid who grew up a kiwi but had recently moved back from Australia. He had some life problems he was working out with himself but he was very kind and helped us out with some local knowledge.
We ended up back at lake Taupo where we just happened to run into the San Fran girls. I had, had a feeling that the girls wouldn't want us ridding with them into Wellington all day & it turned out to be reality as I asked Marissa when I saw her what time they were wanting to leave in the morningvand if they were still okay with us ridding along.
Ill admit I was bummed when she said they wanted to ride solo but things happen for a reason.
They left and I immediately turned to Alicia with CJ by her side and said, we need to get to Wellington tonight! She agreed and our search for transportation began in a hurry!
The Naked Bus was not within the price we wanted to pay and more importantly it didn't leave until 1pm the next day, basically wasting our day on a bus since it's a 4 to 5 hr drive from Taupo to Wellington.
CJ suggested a cardboard sign that said Wellington on it and that we just start walking in that direction. We were highly considering it when we walked into the Urban Retreat hostel from earlier that morning and asked if anyone from their place was headed there that day. That's when Adam walked in and overheard us.
The time was about 5:30pm and he was going to check in for the night with plans to head to Wellington in the next few days. He said for gas money he'd take us there tonight! He was a life saver! I really didn't want to stay at Mikes another night I just wanted to get to Nicole & Mike's flat.
Adam asked if we could drive and Alicia quickly responded, yes! Which made me a little nervous as driving here is still very confusing to me with everything so backwards. Heck, even being a passenger in a car and walking on the streets is scary. I feel like I'm constantly in the wrong lane and I look the wrong way before I cross streets! But if that's what was going to get us to Wellington I was going to be up for driving as well!
We hit the road at 7:50 after going to mikes for our packs and the market for road snacks. We didn't actually start driving out of a Taupo until 8pm due to the road signs that wouldn't point us in the right direction to Wellington. We kept driving around the lake in this direction and that, turning around 3 times before we finally decided that Palmerston North must be the name of a town and not the direction we might be driving.
We didn't see a lot of cars that night and we watched a beautiful sunset happen as we drove along the enormous lake Taupo. The sky was filled with stars and as I was soaking in the beauty of our trip and reflecting on the events of the past few days, "we live in a beautiful world" by Coldplay came thru the speakers. I can clearly remember one other time listening to that song and feeling the same way I did that night. It was in Maupin, Oregon laying on a deck in sleeping bags listening to the song on outdoor house speakers as a group of friends laid quietly watching the night sky and listening to the sound of the river below us.
Both that night and the night we drove to Wellington were perfect nights to listen to such a true song. We really DO live in a beautiful world. Yes, we do, yes we do!
We didn't actually see a sign TO Wellington until over half way there. At that point Alicia was in the back sleeping and woke up to Adam and I celebrating at the sight of the 1st sign!
Adam was a very attractive guy from England who has been traveling for the last 3 years. Incredibly kind and the 3 of us considered each other friends quickly as we were sharing food and letting him charge a ferry ride to the South Island on my credit card in return for NZ cash (which kept me from getting another $5 withdrawal fee).
He was headed to queenstown to work for 3 months before traveling again. He said to contact him once we arrived in Queenstown and we could hang out a bit and maybe he'd run into us in Asia later and of course we are invited to visit him in Englsnd anytime he is there.
We arrived in Wellington just after 1am to meet Nicole for the first time, Mike & the flat mates the next morning when they woke up. It was good to finally be there! Thanks again, Adam!
** Adam left after dropping us off and drove to the ferry to sleep in his car or a couch until his ferry left at 7am.