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New Zealand: Week 2
February 21, 2014
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New Zealand: Week 2

I’ve been with my tour bus for about a week and the hosteling is getting a bit easier. I’ve finally gotten my routine down; I sit at the front of the bus, I’m first in line for check-in, I pay and grab my room key and quickly grab a bottom bunk

when possible and seek out one of the two room plugs to charge my electronics. I have certain “go-to” pockets in my backpack where I keep my everyday items like shower products, flip-flops, PJ’s and (wet) towel. I’ve even started to make some friends so if there is availability for all of us to be in the same room, even better if not I try to seek out other girls that look like non-drinkers. I’m starting to get the hang of it! Definitely not enjoying it but it’s not so overwhelming and I”m not crying when I call my mom anymore-ha!

The past few days has been all about hiking! We stayed on a ranch one evening and we were told that there were some great hikes and that there was one that was really hard. Well, when someone says that, you know that I have to do it!! I’ve met two girls from Ireland on the bus that are also fit and we decided to do it together. At the last minute our bus driver joined us, with 4 beers and cigarette in hand…..not sure how he was going to pull this uphill climbing off. The hike was really hard and at times there was no path and we hoped we were going in the right direction. We had to use rocks and ropes to get up and around ridges at times and slide down in certain areas on our butts. The views were definitely worth the uphill climb. As for our driver, well he was a faster hiker than all of us!

Adrienne and Fiona enjoying the view from the top!

We recently worked our way down the North Island and arrived at Turangi, home of Tongariro National Park. This park, reputedly has the best one-day walk in New Zealand. The only catch? It’s 13 miles and the first 2 hours are uphill. The bus dropped us off and told us that he would meet us in 6 hours or in 7.5 hours at the other end of the park. He made it clear that we needed to make it to the end by that time because there would be no more buses to take us back. I partnered up with the Irish gals again, Fiona and Adrienne and we started on the famous “Tongariro Alpine Crossing”. For those of you familiar with Lord of the Rings, which is filmed in New Zealand (I haven’t seen a single one, I know it’s a sin that I’m here and haven’t seen them), this is home to “Mount Doom” in the film. Going up to Mount Doom would take an additional 2.5 hours and we were advised against it because it could be dangerous but we did decide to add on an extra summit that would take an additional hour and called for more uphill climbing. The walk was really tough because it is set amongst 3 active volcanos, and the terrain is rocky and desert-like. We were making pretty good time and had the “bright idea” that we should try to make the first bus. We had no business trying to do this. The walk alone takes a minimum of 6 hours at a decently fast pace and we were adding on an extra summit that would take an additional hour. Regardless we were determined to make that first bus. We were at a pretty fast pace but as the hours ticked on, my thighs and calves started burning. The sun was beating down on us and water was running out. At one point I kept tripping over rocks because I wasn’t lifting my feet high enough because I was getting tired and my toes were starting to sting and burn in my shoes. We looked at our watches and had an hour to make it to the base of the volcano and were still quite far. We were walking downhill and it was so steep that it was easier to run, in fact we soon realized that it was less painful than walking because we were using a whole new set of muscles. So we ran for the last 2 miles. We passed tons of people and they all looked at us like we were crazy but it was honestly less painful to do it this way. We made our bus and were all in bed by 8:30pm that night. I haven’t walked normally since but hopefully by tomorrow the soreness will ease up.

Just beginning-we were all smiles!

Getting there…..still not halfway yet!

Climbing the additional Summit! It was worth the pain!

We did it!!!

I’m currently on a 3-hour ferry to the South Island. We just left windy Wellington on the North Island and will spend the rest of the trip in the south. Everyone says that the South Island views put the North to shame….. and that I haven’t seen anything yet. I find this hard to believe since the scenery has been spectacular but I will let you know!

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