We’re back, and the adventures and thrills have not stopped since we last wrote!
Our final day in Rotorua started with rafting the Kaituna river. This world famous river is known for the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world! With a 22 foot drop, this is one of the greatest natural thrill rides on the planet. As we navigated the winding upper part, our guides intertwined our paddling with stories from Maori legends. All this built up to the fantastic finale and the waterfall is something that all three of the boats that our group was in, will never forget, especially the third boat of Zac, Hannah, Morgan, Maria, and myself, as we screamed and hollered the
entire way down!
After such an adrenaline rushed morning, what better way is there to relax than at a spa? We enjoyed traditional mud baths which helps the body heel naturally, and then soaked and relaxed in a sulfur pool. Serenity never felt so good! After lunch, we went to Rainbow Springs to visit some animals and enjoy a more leisurely activity before heading back
to the lodge to prepare for our authentic Tamaki experience – a Maori village where we get to experience first hand their culture and way of life. We learned about their “jobs” for the village and all the things that keep it running. Matt, Ben, Noah, Jake and Justin participated in some of the games and activities that keep the Maori people in shape and that, in the past, bred them for life on the battlefield.
After an authentic Maori meal, in which all the food was cooked underground, we all did one last “Haka” and said goodbye to the Maori people. As we departed Rotorua, we continued on our journey to Taupo, a beautiful lakeside
town where we grabbed lunch. We were blessed with a beautiful lakeside view for our picnic, while Justin, Hannah, Andy, Matt, and Zac shot some pool and grabbed lunch, while the others sampled some local cuisine. After driving
up to one of the ski hills, we took some incredible scenic photos and built a snowman and tossed around some snowballs over the mountains.
We arrived at blue duck station later that evening, and were greeted by Dan (the Man) Steele, proud owner of this 1000+ acre Eco-Paradise. We awoke in the morning to the sounds of the various farm animals and their
morning prattlings, such as dogs, alpaca, sheep, cows and pigs.
Dan took the group out for some good ole sheep herding and shearing. Chad and Noah got to actually shear the sheep and removed a total of 12-15 pounds of wool. It was a bit of old fashioned rough and tumble farm labor, but the NZ1 crew were pros by mid-afternoon. We kayaked through gorges that are too beautiful to describe and Dan got us all up to what he likes to call “The Top of the World” with his four- wheel drive (accompanied by his dogs Kahu and Bub, naturally). We marveled at the views and Jordanna and Maria lead the group through some yoga flows to stretch out our sore muscles while Zac graced us with mad parkour skills. We capped off the day with a hearty meal and got some shut-eye in preparation for our early start to do the Tongariro Crossing.
The day started at the break of dawn as we departed Blue Duck all geared up for our big hike. As the sun rose above the mountains we hiked upward towards the mountain more famously known as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. We peeled off layers of fleece as we climbed higher and higher, making sure to bring lots of snacks. By lunchtime we arrived at the bowl and did some tabbogganing down the mountain using our pick axes as brakes! Once we arrived at 1,750 feet above sea level we commenced our descent back down to civilization. After a long day on the mountain, (we hiked about 11 miles) we arrived at our cozy lodge for the evening and before prepping for dinner, hopped in the hot tub to rest our muscles.
Now we say goodbye to the Whakahoro region and we continue our journey to Wellington and then the rugged South island. We cant wait to tell you all about it!
Until next time!
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