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Reisverslag Lord of the Rings, Christmas and Happy New Year
2 januari 2016
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Lord of the Rings, Christmas and Happy New Year
First let me talk about what I’ve been doing the weeks before the holidays. I already mentioned it quickly in my last blog, but I had two great weekends that both involved Lord of the Rings. The first weekend of December I went with Student Trips to Tongariro National Park to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This is a 19,4 km hike through the mountains that were the movie set of Lord of the Ring’s Mordor. In good weather you can also see the mountain that is used as Mount Doom in the movie. Unfortunately for us the weather wasn’t really great that day with a lot of clouds and fog, but it did clear up sometimes. Luckily for me and some others it also cleared up a short while at the point where you could see a part of Mount Doom. At that time I didn’t even know it was Mount Doom that I was taking photos of but I’m glad I did.
Totally unprepared with nothing more than shorts, a T-shirt and a vest I walked, climbed and sled through this amazing trail through the mountains. The hike started at a height of 1100 metres and from this point we had to hike for about 7 or 8 km to reach the top at 2100 metres. After the top it was mostly going downhill before we would eventually finish at 800 metres. Before we started the hike it was advised not to follow the extra side track all the way to the summit because of the cold temperature, the hard wind and the fog that would make it quite tricky to reach. After about two hours of hiking my way up on some steep paths on the mountain I reached the point where you could go to the summit or continue the path. Because I reached that point alone knowing I was one of the persons up front I decided to wait a while hoping some others of our group would arrive. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the temperature felt like a few degrees below zero, but other than my hands and my face I didn’t feel cold at all.
After a few minutes some others of the group reached the top as well and after some thinking we decided to hike the extra 3 km to the summit and back knowing that we probably wouldn’t see that much, but we had that feeling that we had to do it anyway. After hiking through some tough terrain with a lot of wind we reached a point that was covered with snow and ice and it didn’t look like we could go any further. So apparently we made it to the summit and we decided to have our lunch here before we would go back to the trail to continue the rest of the crossing. With my hands being ice cold it was quite a challenge to actually eat my lunch and I bet it must have looked funny, but at the end I managed to restore my energy level and was all ready to hike some more.
With a nice group of some familiar and some new faces we continued the crossing, stopping every now and then to take photos of the amazing sceneries. Especially the Emerald lakes with their beautiful colours were worth to take a bit of extra time to practice my photography skills. Just looking at these photos again makes me glad that I did this awesome crossing. After another 2 to 3 hours of hiking we finally completed the crossing and we had some time to eat and rest before we got picked up by the bus. Back in our hostel there were two hot tubs waiting for us to jump in to give our muscles a nice and warm treatment and to just relax a little while before dinner was served. Now a Student Trips trip isn’t complete with a night out so we went to the bar that was just around the corner of our hostel. There wasn’t really much going on in the bar so we decided to make the best out of it ourselves. Some playing cards others, including myself, playing pool and later on we did a sand bagger competition which was won by yours truly :)
The next day we went to Taupo where some brave ones amongst us (not me) would do a bungee jump. After the adrenaline junkies had their kick we went to the nearby hot pools for some more relaxing in the naturally warm water of these geothermal mineral pools. You really have to experience it yourself, but sitting in these hot pools is so relaxing. All nice and warm it was time to go to our last stop, the Huka Falls, before we would head back to Auckland. Apparently the Huka Falls is one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand and while seeing the immense power and beauty of these waterfalls I understand why.
Yet again I had an awesome trip this weekend and I was already looking forward to the next one to Hobbiton Movie Set. Luckily for me I only had to wait for one week for our visit to the Hobbits. Now this was a one day trip and would be my last one with Student Trips. On our way to Hobbiton the weather wasn’t really good but by the time we actually visited the Movie Set the sun was shining bright and the sky was clear blue. Even though I’m not the biggest Lord of the Rings or Hobbit fan it was pretty cool to walk around in Hobbiton and to see the Hobbit holes you know from the movies.
Now believe me I’ve been knocking on doors, went in to one of the holes and called for them a couple of times, but there weren’t any Hobbits at home. I guess they must have heard us coming and decided to go on an adventure, because there were tables set with food, laundry was drying outside and it was pretty clear that one of them had been doing some wood chopping not that long ago. We even checked the Green Dragon to see if they maybe were having a drink, but even in this bar there were no Hobbits to be seen. Oh well than just have us real Hobbit ale, before we go back to Auckland again. As I already said the weather was pretty good that day and it was getting pretty warm in the bus, especially when the air conditioner stopped working. The scheduled stop at Hunua Falls was first cancelled, because a few people had to be somewhere, but luckily for us we did get to stop to take a refreshing dive and swim a while by the waterfall. After we had a good chance to cool of it was time to continue our ride to Auckland. This was the end of the trip but not the end of the day, because that night it was Coca Cola’s Christmas at the Park at the Auckland Domain, a big and free family festival with live music to get into the Christmas spirit. Because we arrived pretty late back in Auckland and I first wanted to eat something I only got to see the last part of the festival and the fireworks which was pretty awesome. After that a couple of us decided to go out in the city and have us a couple of drinks and it turned out to be a good and fun night.
The next week was the week before Christmas and over here a lot of companies have these 12 days of Christmas sales or promotions were you can win some great prizes. Now I didn’t mind if I would win something so I decided to join a couple of promotions on Facebook and it turned out to be worth the small effort. On Friday I first received a message from Maloney’s Barber Shop that I had won a $ 50 gift voucher and a couple of hours later I also won with the promotion of Base Backpackers. This prize turned out to be a bit bigger, a 15000 ft. Skydive at Lake Taupo, whoooo!!! So I have something to look forward to in 2016.
Now Christmas was coming up and like I already told I didn’t really had that Christmas feeling plus it also made me a little bit sad knowing that I won’t be celebrating it with my family. But the fact that I would celebrate it with some amazing friends made me feel pretty good and also the little surprise I received from my sister by mail would help me get through the days if needed (thank you sis). The day before Christmas I went to some friends in Albany where I would stay the next couple of days. After doing some Christmas grocery shopping it was time to celebrate Christmas Eve with pizza, some drinks, beer pong and a lot of fun. Even though it wasn’t very sunny at the beginning, on Christmas day we decided to go to the beach at Long Bay to have a Kiwi style Christmas and just after arriving on the beach the sky cleared up and it turned out to be a very sunny day after all. A few hours later it was time to go back to the house so we could make ourselves a well-deserved Christmas dinner which turned out to be very delicious. The rest of the evening we drank some, danced and sang some and had a lot of fun. The second day of Christmas is known over here as Boxing Day and we decided to go to the Ellerslie’s Boxing Day Races, a traditional event with horse races, drinks, food, music and most people all dressed up nice. This was really fun to experience and some of the friends I was with even managed to win some money by bedding on the horse races. I can really say I had an awesome Christmas this year thanks to my amazing friends Liese, Marijn, Joost and Daniel. Christmas was good, but a couple of the days after Christmas were probably even better having some really wonderful days on the beach.
And then it was New Year’s Eve which I celebrated with some other friends at a party in the city. This also turned out to be a fun night, even though we missed the fireworks at midnight.
So I think I have told you more than enough about the last couple of weeks Down Under and I want to finish with wishing everybody all the best for 2016. May it be a year with a lot more amazing adventures, friendships, happiness and wonderful times!
Foto's bij verslag (11)
3 januari 2016 21:10 | Door: Mariette Aalders
Happy New Year to you also. Hope it will be as good as the last months in 2015 with more nice stories and pictures as before. Keep enjoying your stay and hope you're keep doing fine.
Lots of kisses and best wishes. Mom