Taupo-Franz

My last entry concluded in Taupo, climbing huge mountains and breathing in the pungent sulfuric odour. From there, we journeyed down to River Valley – a tiny hostel situated in the middle of nowhere. We all stayed in 16 bed dorms and went to sleep quickly to prepare for a big day to follow.

We woke up bright and early for an incredible morning spent white water rafting. There were six people in each raft and we journeyed through numerous rapids (graded 3–5), which were each more challenging and seemingly dangerous than the last. We were guided through the immense Rangitikei River by a brilliant instructor called Derrick who, although at times was a bit politically incorrect, had top banter and really knew the geography of the area.

The whole experience was terrific but one moment stood out amongst the rest; we were supposed to glide through two boulders next to each other, but instead got stuck between them. We had to all climb into the middle of the raft so it sandwiched in half. Everyone was supposed to get cocooned by the raft as it bent in half, but I somehow ended up on the outside, clinging on for dear life. Eventually the raft sprang free and I flew back in as it regained shape. With sweat dripping from his forehead, Derrick reiterated words he had said at the beginning of the trip “No risk, no reward” as the adrenaline pumped through my veins, I realised the truth to his words.

From there, we traveled to Wellington where we were treated to a pie included in the accommodation price. Then we started a bar crawl earning a free shot at each location. My favourite bar was the second, which featured a Bucking Bongo – I hate to toot my own trumpet, but I left the bar as undefeated champion (a title I’m unsure of whether I’m proud of).

The following day we headed out of the North Island and into the South, the ferry ride was long and tedious but we passed the time by teasing our Welsh friend who lost her purse the night before, and I gave the notorious Lester Magic a huge comeback as I entertained our coach with a few tricks. Our first night in the South Island was an early one as we crashed in an overpriced hostel just outside of Abel Tasman National park.

The next morning we were greeted by two Canadian kayaking instructors called Marty and Mark who guided us through the gorgeous national park. We voyaged to Adele Island to see some stunning seals. Then we journeyed to a beautiful beach which only exists at low tide, here we chilled out for some tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Then we went slightly further through the park and hiked our way back to the hostel. The four hour trek was grueling and tiresome but well worth it for the magnificent vistas which were seen along the way.

Friday saw us journey to Westport. En route, we stopped off at Nelson Lake National Park to take in the view and capture the iconic jumping image. I know my sister Georgia loved her picture here, so I felt compelled to one up her (which is why I braved the freezing water and meter-long eels to capture this picture).

We arrived in Bazil’s Lodge, Westport, in late afternoon. We quickly got changed and journeyed to the beach to have a big BBQ Bomb-fire as the sun set on the east coast. RSY friends, you’ll be pleased to hear we spent the first forty five minutes of this excursion clearing up all the litter from the beach #tikkunolam. As we stuffed sausages wrapped in bread down our throats, we consumed plenty of booze and got very merry. At around 7.00 there were two parties leaving the beach, one was going back to the hostel to chill and sleep, the other to pick up more alcohol. I told the latter group that I planned to return to the hostel for the loo, then get them to pick me up as they returned to the beach. Unfortunately, they forgot me and I tragically waited on a hammock in the hostel courtyard for all my friends to return three hours later. It was a sad state of affairs but taught me an important life lesson; to never trust a drunk Kiwi.


Saturday morning and afternoon was largely uninteresting. We stopped off to see some awesome pancake rocks where water randomly shot out of blow holes.

Early evening, we arrived at lake Mahinapua for a huge fancy dress party. We had a delicious roast dinner with all the trimmings and then got changed into a tropical themed attire. It’s times like this I’m pleased I’m so far away from home because I can switch off my wifi and avoid the abuse which will inevitably follow the posting of this picture:

We departed Lake mahinapua with sore heads, but having been treated to a delicious pancake breakfast. From there, we started our journey to Franz Josef where New Zealand’s stunning glaciers can be found. The night we arrived, we all went out for an all you can eat pizza fest, I think I counted 19 slices go through my system, but that was nothing compared to my fiend Alex who managed to eat 27. Having eaten myself into a food coma, I decided to get an early night. The next morning came around very fast as I knew I had a very big day ahead; the Skydive. I chilled all morning — hyping myself up, and then at 2.30 my friends and I boarded a minibus to the takeoff spot.

I waited around for about an hour and a half because the small plane carrying passengers could only take three jumpers at a time. Eventually, a lovely South African man named Peter called out my name and told me to strap on my jumpsuit. In the distance I could see a tiny plane coming towards us, and soon myself, my instructor and two of my friends (and their two instructors)all boarded this minute aircraft. I was the last one on (which meant I’d be the first one off) the plane slowly climbed the skies, and peter kept on checking in on me — asking if I was OK, and pointing out interesting facts about the views. He showed me the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand Rain Forest, and of course the majestic Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Before I knew it, he was tapping me on the shoulder and my feet were out the plane. A few seconds later I was feeling the freezing air slapping every single inch of exposed skin as I stare at the orangey, pinky sun set over the Tasman Sea. Another few seconds pass and Peter is tapping my shoulder again (which is code for parachute notice). The parachute shot up and we both took in a deep breath and equalised. I briefly noticed the curve of the Earth in the distance — here is where I really appreciated the beauty of my views. Within what felt like a heart beat, I was back on the ground and then in the hostel wandering around with adrenaline pumping around my veins.

At around 8 O clock I realised I hadn’t eaten anything all day and needed some feed, so I gathered some friends and we went out for a semi-fancy dinner at a local sports bar. I had an ice-cold beer and Chicken Parmisano which was the perfect way to end the best day of my life.

For now, I’m signing off for a while — but my next entry will feature beautiful views on the way to Wanaka, and more exciting adventures in the infamous Queenstown.

Lots of love,

Gab

Tl;dr — I jumped out a plane coz y not

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