We arrived in Waitomo at about 4pm and set up camp at the nearby Top 10 Holiday Park, where we had dinner, watched a movie and headed to bed, ready for the exciting day that followed. The next morning we made our way to the Glowworm caves and went on a guided tour (and boat ride) through the caves, looking in up awe at all the little lights from the glowworms that covered the caves ceiling and walls.
After a quick coffee and wifi pit-stop we drove to Taupo and found somewhere to stay (the All Seasons Holiday Park), then just spent the evening relaxing and enjoying the benefits of the holiday park…it even had a thermal pool!
The next morning we headed to the airport and to Skydive Taupo, where I was supposed to be jumping out of a plane from 15,000ft. I say supposed to because unfortunately I wasn’t able to jump on this day due to bad and unpredictable weather. Bummer. So instead we went into town and had a wander around the shops, keeping our fingers crossed for better weather conditions the next day
And better weather it was. The sun was out and there were only a few clouds in the sky…a perfect day for some adrenaline madness. We arrived back at the airfield and before I knew it I was climbing aboard the plane, flying up to 15,000ft and then falling back down to earth. It was all over within minutes. It. Was. Amazing. Those are the only words I can use to describe it…there’s nothing quite like throwing yourself out of a plane into absolute nothingness (you can read more about my skydive here, on Gap Daemon).
Once my adrenaline had slowed and the excitement wore off a little, we made our way to Tongariro National Park (with a quick stop at the awesome Huka Falls) where we stayed at the DOC site in Whakapapa Village. Rachel wanted to walk the Alpine Crossing but unfortunately the weather was atrocious so this was a no go. Instead we did a few smaller walks in the surrounding area (in the rain) the next day, before driving south past a place called Bulls (where all the places of interest have the word ‘bull’ in their name in some way) to our camping spot for the night.
The next day we drove all the way to the south of the North Island to Wellington. After a bit of confusion over where to stay (and a quick stop at the I-Site), we eventually set up camp in maybe the strangest motor camp I’ve ever seen. It was on the waterfront by one of the ferry ports and right next to a main road…we were wandering around in our pyjamas as people walked by on the sidewalk. That night we wanted to treat ourselves so headed out for dinner…and what did we find about 100 metres from our van? Only a Wagamama’s restaurant…my favourite!
After an amazing dinner we decided to call it a night and pretty much went straight to bed, only to be woken up a few hours later by some crazy winds, blowing the van from left to right and back again. So, in the dead of night, we moved the van to a space that we hoped would be more shielded from the wind and went back to sleep.
We awoke the next morning, still alive, and with the van still upright. Rosa and I went for a wander around town and scoped out a few of the cafes that Jade (one of the other Gap Daemon interns) had recommended and ended up in Cafe Fidels, on Cuba Street, where we had some delicious food and drinks (Snickers milkshake…yum). Rachel came and found us and we spent the afternoon having a pretty chilled day, visiting the Te Papa Museum and soaking up all the city had to offer, as we were leaving the next day.
And so, at ridiculous o’clock the next morning, we headed to the inter-islander ferry port and soon enough we were on our way to the South Island.