New Zealand Post Card – 2/23/03

New Zealand Post Card 2/23/03

G’Day Mates,

I was not able to send this from Hotmail so if you respond, please still respond to [email protected]. Thank you.

Thanks to all of you that sent me letters after my last postcard. I always love hearing from everyone even if I don’t write back right away. This took over 3 hours to write and is filled with my greatest adventures yet. I know it won’t take that long to read so I hope you enjoy it. Well, what has been happening here? Let me tell you.

Friday, October 19 – Waitomo Caves

I went cave tubing. It was pitch black with glowworm lights above us. It was amazing. I floated in the freezing water in a black innertube and wet suit. It was a kick. The two best parts were putting your “bum” in the tube standing up and jumping backwards over a small waterfall. You really sink underwater. It was scary and fun. I was the first to go after the guide. The next best part was sitting in the tube and sliding down a slide. That was just the beginning.

We continued on to Rotorua. There are naturally hot thermal springs all over and it just smells of sulphur. It reminded me so much of Iceland. That evening we saw a fantastic Maori dance performance and Hangi. The Hangi is the oven in the dirt they cooked the dinner in. We had lamb and chicken.

Saturday, October 20 – Rotorua

This is where the adventure starts. I went to the Agrodome to see a sheep shearing show and it was really great. No, that is not the excitement. Then I went Zorbing. Zorbing? I never heard of it either. I jumped into a huge, blow-up plastic bubble of a ball and was harnessed in as they rolled me down a mountain in it. I laughed all the way down. There was the little hole I jumped through that allowed me to see out as the world continuously turned upside down. I was hysterical. How do I get into these predicaments. I thought it was so much fun, I had to do it again. It was a bit different the second time. They loaded me and the ball into the truck and drove us up the hill. This time they had me change into shorts and a t-shirt. They through a couple of buckets of really hot water into the ball, had me jump through the opening again, hosed me down with freezing water, (just a little) and plugged up the opening and had me stand up and start walking the ball over the hill. I got about 4 steps before falling into the water and rolling and sliding and swishing about in the water as it splashed my face. I tried so hard to stand up and just couldn’t do it. I had a blast. When I finally stopped at the bottom, they let me try walking it around from the inside. I could do that longer than rolling down the hill. So, that my friends is Zorbing and I think everyone should try it.

That wasn’t enough for the day though. I just had to try rafting down the highest comercially rafted waterfall in the world on the Kaituna River. It stands at 23 feet. It is a class 5+ rapid and if it were any higher it would not be attempted. So, I put on another wetsuit with my new friends Karin and Martin and guides Bev and Travis and we did it. We did it with style and out of 4 rafts, we were the only ones that flipped, adding even more to the craziness of it all. It was superb!!! It was much more dramatic than the two times I flipped on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. We felt it going over, we knew our fate just as we went over the waterfall.

As my body thrashed about under the water, my head finally found the surface of the water and I could finally breathe as I realized I was in a pocket underneath the raft. I was still holding my paddle as instructed and couldn’t believe I made it again. That was a great day. We celebrated our accomplishments at the Pig & Whistle that night with some caramel slushy things which were quite good actually. What was going to be next?

Sunday, October 21 – Rotorua to Taupo

We watched Lady Knox Geyser spout at precisely 10:15am as she does everyday. It is quite a phenomenon. We then went to Waitapo to see mud pools and hot springs and to really see it, I took a helicopter ride over it and flew to a volcano. There were amazing mountains, gorges and mudpools to be seen from the sky. Truly beautiful.

Then it was on to the gorgeous Huka Falls that stands at the same height as the waterfall I rafted. The difference being that it is so ferocious, it has clamed several lives. It is not allowed to be rafted by any means. Looking at it, it was hard to believe I rafted the same height. It was really scary looking. But this was still not enough to end the day on. Not even close…

Taupo’s Rock’n Ropes probably gave me my scariest adventure moment I have ever had in my life! (and I’ve had a few). I was supposed to skydive but it was cancelled because clouds were coming in. So instead, I was harnessed and attached to a rope that a man was holding as he stood on the solid ground. I started my climb up a 43 foot telephone pole. At the top, I had to put all of my weight on my right foot that was resting on a small metal ring and raise my left foot up to the top of the telephone pole and then, without holding anything but my breath, raise my right foot off of the only support I had known to bring it together with my left foot on the top and stand myself up. I get tears in my eyes now as I remember the fear I felt in my throat. I was sure I would fall off before standing up as one girl had done earlier. Of course I kept looking down as I was being told not to do so. I made eye contact with Dave who was holding the rope and said do you see my legs shaking? He said I see your legs shaking. My legs have never shaked like that. I NEVER, NEVER felt that before in my life. I’ll never be able to express that fully. I was completely freaked out that I was up there. I kept saying what are you doing? I’m really tearing right now as I am typing. I was TERRIFIED. I tried so hard to tighten my legs but then I thought I’d break them. I thought just go for it. I had already made it so much further than I thought I would. I know you are asking why was I there in the first place. In front of me and above me maybe 6 feet or so was a trapeze bar waiting for me to jump out at. I scooted my feet forward just a bit so my toes were just over the edge, counted to 3 with long pauses and jumped!…

Drats, I missed it. The trauma was over though. So I hung in the air and they lowered me down and I was wired for quite a while. I needed to calm down  but not yet as I had one more to go.

What now you ask? Well back to climbing another telephone pole, but this time I really had to work at not talking myself out of it. My hands were sweating and I was asking myself on the way up, why are you doing this. I know many others do it but I don’t think they have the same intense fear of heights that I have. I even hate ladders that are stable. I only am not afraid if I am in a plane. I love that and I don’t mind jumping out of one either. that dosn’t scare me. I’ll get to that in a bit though. So, I’m at the top near hyperventilating convincing Warren I was ok to have my turn next. Once again, I was harnessed up to a rope and told to put my feet together and scoot sideways to the edge of the platform. It was so hard to do. I was still on the adrenalin rush from the climb less than a half hour before. So, here I was rubbing my wet hands on Warren’s jeans cause I was so afraid I’d let go of the rope. I was most afraid that I would just not be able to hold on. So, I’m 50 feet in the air and Warren is counting to three at which time I take a small leap sideways off my safety platform. Like a pro, I clenched my eyes tight and did my hop. I opened my eyes right away while screaming bloody murder as my body came closer to the ground and just when I thought I would hit, I swung back into the air on the other side so the same height I started at. But now, it was fun. I did it!! So I am swinging and I see Karin with my camera and I yell out without thinking at all, Take The F—— Picture!!! I really yelled it loud. It just came out. I was going to leave that part out of this story but Karin is on my list now and I know she would expect that to be in cause I was unable to live the moment down by everyone on the bus. It was kind of a highlight for everyone. Just as I said it, I heard everyone laughing. I thought, what did I just yell out? They were hysterical and Karin was great about it. Hi Karin, hope you are doing great. Let me know how your bungy goes. I’m still planning on trying it. Now that was enough for 1 day.

Monday, October 22 – Taupo – Flat Hills – Wellington

Flat hills was a small place with a very cool 5 minute Jet Sprint. It reached 35 miles per hour in 2 seconds and hit G forces of a Formula One Racing Car. I’m not sure how fast we ended up going. It was cool. We made such tight turns in corners you were sure were impossible to make. You just felt like you’d crash into the small islands we were maneuvering around. At the Wellington museum which was fantastic, we went on a bungy jump simulator. It was not very real but I screamed anyway. We also did this 3 part futuristic ride. Starts with a sound and light show, then you are in a room that is interactive. You see yourself across from you on a screen and can make yourself fly, dance and more. It was cool. Then there was the space simulator. The real adventure of the day was at night at the toga party at our hostel. Our bus really got involved and had a blast. I loved the giant, table size Jenga that we played. It was like roaring thunder when it fell to the floor. All night, you never knew when it would happen next and everyone would just jump. What a fun night!

Tuesday, October 23 Wellington – Ferry Crossing to the South Island –

Picton – Nelson

Karin and I saw Bridget Jones Diary on the ship crossing. I couldn’t wait to start my next adventure as soon as we arrived in Nelson. So, I didn’t even go to the hostel. A bus picked Rudi, Martin, Kate and I up and took us to our jump site. Up we climbed, two at a time in a Cessna to 12,000 feet and jumped. It was beautiful seeing Abel Tasman from the sky. Our freefall was just under 50 seconds and it was like falling and watching the earth in slow motion as we fell about 125 miles per hour. I forgot what it was like from my last jump which was with Don so many years ago. It was better this time. I hope I never forget how it felt. This time though it hurt my sinuses. The air went from my nose through my sinuses and out my throat. When I landed I felt like I had a cold for days. It is better now. That was 2 days ago. It was amazing and I can’t wait for my next jump next week in Queenstown. I am going to send you a pic after I send this which was taken from the wing-tip as I jumped out. It was fun. I have bruises between my legs already from when the parachute opened and the ropes pull up with quite a force. I forgot how painful it was. So, while we were in the air, I stood on Dave’s feet and he let a bit of slack in our attachment rope. It felt better and gave me a jolt of adrenalin as I felt like I was slipping away for just a second. It was cool.

Wednesday, October 24 Nelson

I was supposed to take a 1 hour bus ride to the scenic Able Tasman and then a one hour or 1 1/2 hour boat ride and then walk for 4 or 6 hours back to the bus to bring us back to Nelson. I really wanted to go. I woke up at 5:45am and it was raining pretty hard. We all geared up and I walked to the bus in my Teva’s and decided my feet would freeze and fall off so I ran back to the hostel for my hiking boots, ran back to the bus around the corner and decided that I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t feel well. My sinuses were still hurting from the skydive. My body needed an adrenalin break. I really did. I went along for the 1 hour coach ride and saw some beautiful spots. When we got back, I walked around Nelson and went and saw Jurassic Park 3. It was good to take a break. In the evening at the hostel I finally finished seeing Sixth Sense which brings me to today. Today I saw What’s the Worst that Could Happen? Now, I’m writing to all of my friends. Hope it didn’t take that long to read and I hope it was worth reading.

A couple of different things here that I took note to:  All the toilets have two buttons to flush. A 1/2 flush or a full flush.

Tuna fish can be bought in packets like we now have at home but in flavors like tomato basil, herb & garlic, lemon & cracked pepper and sweet thai chili.

Just wanted to share that. Tomorrow, I take a bus to Greymouth. I’ll be in Queenstown on Oct. 30 for 6 days. I’m not sure what that will have in store, but I have a feeling it will make my last week look like a lazy day in the park.

Till then…

Always in my thoughts and prayers.