The past five days have been a blur and before anyone starts saying anything, I can honestly say I only drank for one night during those. The thing I have been finding with Stray though is they go go go, leaving little room for rest and relaxation (and that little room is usually spent drinking by most people.) So now I’m at the fourth stop and I’m glad that I’ve decided to stay in the Tongariro National Park for two extra nights, especially since the river was too low to go rafting in Rotorua and the rain and clouds were too low to go skydiving in Taupo (more on that place later L.) When we got to Taupo, they told us the weather was forecasted to be terrible in the park the next day and we would not be able to do the 19.4 km crossing. After a little hemming and hawing, I called Stray and asked to stay a few extra nights in the park. I had to do that crossing.
When I left Raglan, we went to Maketu, another small costal village with deep Maori roots. Our bus driver, Brent, explained to us that the area was where the Maori people first came ashore in New Zealand. It is a very sacred and special place where cultural rules are still enforced and violators can be punished. While there we were treated to a Hangi with a traditional dinner cooked in the earth on hot rocks (of course, we didn’t see this part because we were on a bus going over the windies) with a dance and show afterwards. I have seen photos from some of the other people I made friends with who made it to this stop before I, and I have to say I was not fully impressed. The performers were the grandchildren of the curator and it was obvious they were not into being there. I have to give them credit for taking us through the ropes and teaching us a little about their culture, but for $75 we got a dinner I could hardly say was that amazing (I mean – stuffing?) a cultural show by some children who were about as happy to be there as most kids are into going to mass, super thin mattresses to sleep on in one big room all together (and we had to strip and put away all our beds in the morning) and a breakfast of toast, cereal and tea. Enough about that, because I could go on. Did I say I wasn’t impressed?
Our journey to Rotorua was more or less the same, but it was very disheartening to learn the river was too low to raft. So we left and made our way into Taupo, our overnight stop. It was raining and windy and I knew no one was going to get to skydive. I called up Skydive Taupo, one of three operations there and they politely told me that without a New Zealand license or affiliate I would not be able to skydive there and what’s more, it could take me weeks to get that. I was also told it was brand new law that just came in this week. I kept calm (believe it or not) and explained that I found that very unfriendly and asked what they did with their imported tandem masters during those weeks. Quite matter of factly I was told that those are ratings, not licenses. I’m really glad someone cleared that up for me. Then I was told that a lot of phones were ringing and they couldn’t spend the time on the phone to explain this to me and they’d have to let me go. Click. I called another DZ and they told me they never heard of any law from the NZIP being brought forth that week, but they were fairly certain CSPA was affiliated. Basically I was just given the run-around and told to go fuck myself. I’m still checking into this law, so more on that to come.
That night is the night I drank. And I met a Swiss tandem master who told me the law was real, but that they didn’t fully understand it yet. Whatever.
We got to sleep in at Taupo on account of the bad weather and not being able to do the crossing, which was quite awesome. When we got to Tongariro we found out the weather was going to be great the next day and if we wanted to do the crossing we would be leaving at 6:30 a.m. So, once again, I was in bed by 9 p.m. Not that it helped. When you’re constantly sharing rooms with people there’s bound to be someone who snores so loud the roof breaks free of the foundations. I was just glad I had earplugs I remembered to bring that I had bought to sleep in the bunkhouse in Ireland.
The crossing, well … I’ll leave that story for tomorrow. But I will say I am so tired right now and we never actually did the real crossing. Our guide took us off the beaten path and it was amazing. Until then, I’m spent.