|Lazy River Road
The Whanganui River Road to be exact. I landed in Wanganui (no h, the locals can't agree on spelling the river and the town the same way) after leaving Wellington. I wanted to get out on the river and do some exploring of the region. I booked a trip with Whanganui River Adventures for the following day. The drive from Wanganui to Pipiriki is about 2 hours along some paved and some unpaved road. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Like a trip back in time. Everything seems to have stood still along here. Amazing.
After checking in at Whanganui River Adventures we jumped on a Jet Boat for a history filled cruise up the river. The guides family has been living in the area for generations and he had heaps of information to share with us. The river was a important trade and transportation route for many years and was serviced by Riverboats. After WWI they offered returning service men plots to build farms on some of the most inhospitable land there is. Some of them made a good go at it only to have the government take it all away years later and turn the area into a National Park. During the depression they built a bridge and then they never got around to building the road so we hiked into the "Bridge To Nowhere" to have a look. The determination and persistence and true grit of early settlers leaves me in awe. After hiking back out we went for a more exciting Jet Boat ride doing the obligatory 360 degree spins. Some of us - the crazier ones - were dropped off on the side of the river at some kayaks and we spent the next 2 hours or so kayaking the river and its rapids while stopping to explore some caves and paddling up some side steams. The day ended with the drive back down the Whanganui River Road. All in all a fantastic journey along the Lazy River Road.
Since my time in New Zealand is rapidly running out, I settled down for a few days and tried to wrap my head around the Australia Lonely Planet Guide. Ouch! Australia is a big freaking country. So, after my eyes crossed and my head started to hurt, I decided to close the book and shoot from the hip. What I do know is that I arrive in Melbourne on February 27th and leave form Darwin May 22nd. In between?
I shook myself out of the guide book blues and drove up Surf Highway 45 to New Plymouth in the Taranaki Region. My friends Stacey with her children Sabine and Cooper and Bex with her fiance Craig and their flatmate Sabation had invited me to stay for a few days. Nothing like good people, good food, a real bed, a hot shower and some good old fashion hanging out to cheer up the soul. I had to pull myself away after 3 days or I might of had to start paying rent!
My latest adventure was the Waitomo Caves. I checked into a Holiday Park in Waitomo and booked the Black Abyss trip into the Ruakuri Cave with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company. The following day found me Abseiling (Rapelling) 37 meter into the earth down a tomo (hole in the ground), then shooting 50 meters through the pitch black darkness on a Flying Fox (zip line). Then the real fun begins with jumping backwards off a cliff into the underground river and paddling along on an inner tube through caverns covered in glowworms (small maggot like creatures that glow to catch prey on thin fishing line like threads), crawling over and through really tight spaces and waterfalls, navigating tunnels, and finally, 4 hours later, climbing up a series of waterfalls to reach the surface. Wow. Unforgettable. I must be crazy though because I don't like heights or tight spaces and I encountered both and concurred both. What an amazing day. I slept well after all of that.
Today I traveled to Hamilton. Mostly to find an Internet Shop and check e-mails and type this update. But as an added bonus I found out that Richard O'Brien - creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show conceived the whole thing right here while working as a Barber. I had to visit the site where The Embassy Theatre once stood - home of the " Late Night Double Feature Picture Show" and also where the Barber Shop was. Today there is a statue of Riff Raff at the site. Check it out at www.riffraffstatue.org if your lucky you'll catch someone doing the Time Warp. Oh, the little gems of travel.
So as my time here winds down I am off to visit my friend Mike and his wife Gaynor. Mike and I are going to try to get in in one more scuba dive and I hope to be able to take them out for a nice dinner. I have to get the Spaceship back to the Space Station by Thursday and I fly out to Oz on Saturday morning.
Until we meet again. Peace and love to all,