I got my arse out of bed last and finally booked out of the hostel at about 10.30. Everyone else had put their bags into the baggage room and as I went to do the same, I was told to speak to some random bloke in the foyer, who had the key for the baggage room. I was asked questions about whether I was going north or south! It didn’t have any relevance as I just wanted to put my bag into the baggage room, so I took the key and dropped them off. It was only a couple of hours later when we boarded the new bus that I saw that the bloke asking the questions was 'Matty' – the Flying Kiwi guide for the day! He hadn’t told me he was from the bus company -I just thought he was some random bloke being nosey!!
I spent the next hour wandering around town, picked up a bit of lunch and then went back to the Hostel, where I met up with everyone else and led them towards the bus, that was parked next to the railway station. We met Matty and Jimmy, who is the bus driver for the week. There is only one new person on the bus -Lesley from London. She isn’t actually a new person as she’s completing the north island and has been on the bus for a week or 2, but she is the only person who isn’t part of our group.
On the way North Buffy, Todd and Aidan were busy completing their Flying Kiwi tour song that they started on the ferry yesterday. When we arrived at the camp site for the night. We had already arranged to sort out 6 tents for the girls while they cooked dinner for us. It worked really well, apart from the overly toasted Garlic bread! But dinner was great and along with a bottle of wine, it went down really well. After a bit more practice Noeleen and the Noels, as Todd, Buffy and Aidan had called themselves, sat around and gave the first public performance of Roll Flying Kiwi, which went down a treat with everyone on the bus. There was even a Chinese family who were cooking sea urchins in the kitchen who were heard to sing along and hum the tune for the rest of the evening.
We all piled to bed reasonably early as we had a 6am wake up in the morning and a 7am departure.
I slept quite well, but when I woke in the morning I felt like shit. I didn’t have a hangover, but felt nauseous and by back and legs were aching, plus I was getting hot and cold flushes. We managed to get the tents pack away on time, except for Mike and Jocelyn who had took a walk to take in the views of the mountain, so they were late getting packed up. But it didn’t matter and we were all away soon after 7am. It was mainly a driving day today, with just one main stop – Black-water Rafting. This is basically climbing into a cave system, dressed in wetsuits, wellies and a helmet carrying a rubber ring and then floating, jumping and sliding down until you reach an opening in the ground about a mile away.
Our guide was a nutter called Adam. He obviously loves his job as he spent most of the 2 hours underground trying to scare us, singing stupid songs and generally being a Muppet. It was a great couple of hours though, even though it was bloody freezing towards the end. We jumped backwards down waterfalls, landing on the inner-tubes and also there is a slide down a 6 metre high waterfall, which was fun. Adam also spent time banging the ring on the water which made a loud bang and woke up the glow-worms (or glow maggots as Adam called them!) so that they lit up on the roof and enabled us to see where we were going easier.
It was all over too soon and we climbed the 105 stairs up to the light of day and warmth!
I started to feel ill again soon after and so when we got back onto the bus I climbed under Buffys sleeping bag and slept most of the way to Auckland, where we arrived just after 6pm. We are staying in the Nomads hostel, just down the road from the hostel I stayed in a month ago and as there are a few people leaving tonight we are having a last night out together. I will go along, but I suspect that as I feel like shite, I will be home in my bed quite early!
As it turned out I was quite wrong about the night out! We all headed out about 8pm and met up in the wharf area of Auckland. We couldn’t make a decision as to where we were going to eat so we decided to meet up later on when we had a;l had scoff at the Irish bar where me and Lisa had had such a good night on our first day in Auckland last month. I headed off with Buffy to grab a quick sandwich – I wasn’t too hungry as I was still feeling ill. So after a sandwich we met up with Dan and Sarah, who had been to Subway and then we went to the Irish bar. We ran into Fiona, Aidan and Ben who had gone straight there to eat, ordered a couple of beers and started what turned out to be yet another good night out. Eventually, everyone else turned up and we all got a few drinks down us, while chatting about the last few weeks and taking photos of our bus buddies who were leaving us. It was really nice that everyone was going to miss everyone else – Everybody has brought something good to the group on the bus and it wouldn’t have been the same if just one person had been missing, so there were a few sad faces that, for them, the trip was over. I will especially miss Becky, Michelle, Waheed, Miranda and Heather – all for quite different reasons!
I was still feeling a bit ill and so headed off to bed earlyish at about half midnight, whilst most of the rest continued on for a couple of hours. They all made it home before 3am though and god a good nights sleep.
In the morning we all packed and headed down to the bus pick up point for 10am. We were joined by Becky, Todd, Fiona, Michelle and Miranda who hugged us all and waved us off as we set off north towards the bay of Islands for our last 3 days of the trip. We have been joined by a few new bus buddies, most of them who I don’t yet know, but I have met another Rick, Todd and a couple of the new girls. In all there are 14 of us veterans left and 11 newbies, so there are 25 in all.
The morning was spent chatting as normal until we stopped for lunch at Uretiti beach,where we made sandwiches and then spent an hour messing about in the ocean with boogie boards and generally fooking about. It was a lovely hot, sunny day and this was a great way to get to know the new bus people. We continued on northwards for a couple of hours before a booze stop and then towards our camp for the next 2 nights.
Thje first night in the camp went along the usual lines -tents up , dinner and then a few drinks before a night in the tents. It was a late start too as we werent getting picked up till 9.30 to go sailing, so we had a lie in till 8.30, when we got pancake breakfast and then got our pick up.
The sailing day was really good – even though there were a few grey clouds, we spent the day sailing to9 a small island where we had a good walk, a snorkel in the clear waters, a bit of a kayak around the bay and some sunbathing before a good lunch and chasing the dolphins on the way back to the mainland. It was a lovely day out on the sea and gave us a chance to get to know the newbies a bit better.
After an hours siesta it was them time for dinner again and a night in the tv room and down by the river just mellowing out!!