Sunday, 3 October 2010

Beach picnic, river hopping and waterfalls

3rd October 2010

MP3 track of the day: Disturbia - Rhianna

Weather: Quite hot ... but nothing like Fiji

Okay so let's go back to last night; I finished on the internet at around 11:30pm and was ready for good nights sleep. I was meeting Alex and Sarah at 11:00am the following day so ten hours of sleep sounded more than welcome ... until I got into my dorm.

Apparently my face was quite a picture when I opened the door to my dorm and found (a slight exaggeration coming up) half the population of South America drinking beer and listening to music. Having no choice I joined them and we chatted until 2am! One interesting point was that some Argentinians brought up the Falklands War (you know, the one were we destroyed the Argentinean army in weeks) which, if I'm honest, I wasn't expecting. The bit I didn't know is that the Argentinians are thankful to the British for beating them during the Falklands War because, during this period of history, Argentina was under military rule and after the defeat the general was removed and free and fair elections took place.

After chatting I went to sleep at around 2am, to get up at 9am. I had breakfast and got ready to meet Alex and Sarah. We were heading into the Waitakere Ranges, a huge rain forest national park just to the west of Auckland. Our first stop was the visitors centre where I talked to this random bloke thinking it was Alex (o dear) and just had a look at all the information about the animals and plants located within the park. One interesting thing to note is just the huge amount of birds within this rain forest.

After looking around the visitors centre we went to Piha where we walked along the beach and saw 'lions rock', and the lesser know 'great tortoise rock', both of which were pointing out into sea. At one point we had to cross a small stream of water to get to the other side of the beach. Being used to this from Fiji I took my boots and socks off, rolled up my trousers and crossed. Unlike Fiji the water was bibically cold, luckily it only took four steps to cross and then I was walking through hot sand and so I recovered the feeling in my feet quite soon after crossing.

We walked along the beach for a little more before returning (crossing the stream of ice again) to the car to get a picnic that Alex and Sarah had prepared. I added my small token of a packed of 'crunchie rocks' and we sat on the beach eating sandwiches, crisps and chocolate ... bliss. The beach is very pretty, with the 'Lion rock' in the center it adds a kind of focal point and Alex and Sarah told me that, at Christmas, they would come over here and have a Christmas picnic (or possibly a BBQ) on the beach with other Kiwi's who had the same idea. This sounded brilliant; Christmas was not just a family event, it was a community event too and I reckon spending Christmas in New Zealand would be a lot of fun.

After the picnic we packed up and headed back into the park. Alex and Sarah wanted to show me a waterfall, which was about a 30 minutes walk from the car park we had just pulled into. Before entering the park we had to wash our boots to make sure we didn't bring any parasites into the rain forest that might damage the wildlife. Sure enough after 30 minutes I saw this stunning waterfall and spent a little time taking photos. To complete the walk we had to go quite close to the waterfall (great) however, just before reaching the waterfall, I was met by a small stream of flowing water. The only way across was a log (that moved around) and two small stones. I was bricking it and my confidence wasn't lifted when Sarah fell into the water (lower leg only); it took me a little while to pluck up the courage but, in the end, I passed my camera to Alex (who made it across with no problems), made my piece with the world, and went for it. I don't know how but I made it across totally dry.

After thanking the ground for a little while I took my camera back from Alex and started to photograph this stunning waterfall which was in front of me. Before leaving the area Alex helped another couple across the 'log of doom' and then we got back on the track.

Before going back to the car, Alex and I, headed to the summit of the waterfall; now I had survived the 'log of doom' however a step with a small puddle, was obviously too much for me and for some reason I tripped and put my boot straight into it ... how embarrassing.

Once at the top of the waterfall another leap of faith was required (again I unbelievably made it across with no problems) and we had a look over the edge of this, very very tall waterfall, before coming down and meeting Sarah who had stayed at the bottom.

On the way back to the car we had yet another river hopping exercise (Hadn't New Zealand ever herd of bridges) before reaching the car. It had been a great hike and the waterfall was certainly worth it. Now we headed back to Alex and Sarah's house for tea (pork chop ... yum) and to watch the Shawshank Redemption (good film) before me sister and my brother in-law called from the UK using skype.

It was nice to speak to my sister (aka Moose) and my brother in-law as they had just returned from their honeymoon so it was good to hear what had happened.

After this Alex took me back to my hostel where we said goodbye; I had a great time with Alex and Sarah and was sad to say goodbye, however I will be meeting up with them again at the end of my New Zealand trip where I will spend another few nights there concentrating on the city itself.

Oh final gift from Alex was some information on where I could go within the city to get some good night photographs; before going into the hostel I went to where he said and got some photos of part of Auckland's harbor with the sky tower in the background.

I got back to my hostel around 10:30ish and was a little apprehensive whether I would have (another slight exaggeration coming up) the population of Argentina within my dorm. But first I had to find my key card ... I couldn't believe it; I had lost it and I had put a $20 deposit down for it. I searched everywhere but alas I couldn't find it. I usually don't loose anything but I lost my key card the second day in Auckland and my nail clippers the second day in Fiji ... somethings not right. Anyway I went up to reception to report the bad news and they just gave me a new card, no problems ... umm maybe I will get my $20 deposit back when I leave.

I got back to my dorm to, thankfully, find no party going on. I settled down straight to sleep as I had to get up early tomorrow for my bus to Taupo.

Toodle Pip!

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