The Taupo of Dean

Sunday, January 21, 2007

We woke up early in the morning in Waitomo and after cleaning the Marai we took off for more fun and adventure. Our first thrilling stop? The Waitomo Cave Museum. I suppose this qualifies as the educational portion of the tour, but aside from a video on glowworms, was sort of useless. Some of us tried our hand at a little mock-cave which was neat, I guess, and there were the odd interesting exhibits to be fair, but it was still missable. Then we went to Rotarura and looked around a bit, though I mostly took the time to grab my emails and update my stuff. Didn’t see a lot here, but I had a delicious lamb gyro and ran back to the vans 5 minutes late.

From there, it was a short trip to the Kaituna Cascades, where we went white water rafting. Now I don’t usually find this all that exciting, so I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but man was I wrong! The rafting I did in Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia were like moving a rubber dinghy in the water compared to what we saw today. We went on a Category 5 rapids, taking our raft over three large waterfalls (the largest of which was 7m, although there were two smaller ones that probably added up to 10m). It was a short ride but great fun and genuinely thrilling. They would submerge the front of the raft and whoever was in it (me) in the base of smaller waterfalls, it would actually sink before the buoyancy of the raft shot it back out. And I got pulled out of our raft and into another one, where I got to do it all over again.

Then we went for a pretty decent double scoop of ice cream nearby, after I snapped the handle off our trailer. Yup. These trailers where we have all our gear are really in need of repairs. Twice the ‘locked’ doors have flown open while driving and now the locks snap when you turn them. They’re supposed to be getting them repaired soon, though. Anyway, from there we went to the beach even though it was a little chilly, did a bit of diving off the dock, and then had a traditional dinner. Anthony was our chief and represented us in a traditional meeting of tribes. Dinner was cooked in the earth and tasted like it (in a good way – like stones in a pizza oven). Their chief was really soft-spoken and entertaining, and we had a little bit of a musical performance, too. We left after dinner and took off for a Saturday night out in Taupo, which was busier than usual because there is a big race tomorrow. We did a bit of pub hopping, dancing, and mostly stayed together, which somewhat impressed me. Though we did, apparently, leave Lana, Amanda, and Rachel behind, which is less impressive, but they were still sleeping by the time most of us headed out on our next free day, so it couldn’t have been too bad. Though I do feel horrible.

The next day was a free day, and we caught up on laundry (already!) walked around, visited, hung out at the lakeside, and I had a great chat with Katie and Norm over some wine and smoked cheese. I had made a trip to a wine store where they have a machine that lets you sample different wines by using a prepaid card and I tried a few. They have a wine that tastes like a shiraz is supposed to (I think the name is something very similar to Shiraz as well) – the wines are really quite spicy. It tastes like pepper almost. My mom would love it, she’s a pepper nut. We went out for a bit of hot chocolate later that evening in a lakeside cafĂ© and called it a night.

Our last day in Taupo involved a trip to a natural hot spring, which was just perfect for these aching muscles of mine. And the water from the falls was really quite warm and mixed nicely with the icy glacier water flowing down the river. Speaking of which, en route we stopped at a bungee place just to get excited. I’m on the fence about trying it or not. The place where we go bungee jumping is the second highest in the world and I’m pretty sure I’ll chicken out, but it would certainly be a rush. Anyway, after the hot springs and some lounging around on the rocks, we took off to see Hooka falls, which is a pretty small but very fast and powerful waterfall. It’s quite pretty and was a nice stop. I went off the main path to the water’s edge to get some pictures of a smaller waterfall at the beginning of the rapids, but Dustin, I later learned, found the same place and put a foot in the waterfall. I was scared to be on a dividing rock. The guy’s crazy. We did a few other assorted things like stopping at a shrimp farm/power boat place, but I was more interested in the geothermal plant nearby.

I must not be enjoying this trip on some weird subconscious level, because I cut myself six times today. In the spring, I stepped on a bit of broken glass which luckily didn’t cut my toe too badly – Kristen cut her toe pretty good. I also backed into a big rock underwater and scraped my Achilles, which is nothing but it’ll be a nuisance on tomorrow’s hike and camping – and I got a pebble into the arch of my foot which is in the same category. And then, in the shower I was reaching for my shampoo and somehow hit my razor at the right angle that I sliced my skin three times and started bleeding all over. Not too deep, obviously, but a pain in the butt… or at least the finger. If I keep injuring myself at this rate, they’re going to start calling me Katie (our guide), who has an unprecedented record for minor scrapes, cuts, bruises, and stubs.

Taupo Photos

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