Second week

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Kia Ora everyone! It has been a couple of days since our last update, so it’s about time to tell you what happened the last few days.

As mentioned in our previous update, we went to “The Rock”, which is an overnight boat tour including “heeps” and “sweet as” day and night activities. In the morning of the 6th of September, we moved from our hostel in Pahia towards the warf of that same little town. As we were a little early, we killed some time teaching the waitress of a bar how to pronounce “Grolsch” in Dutch. We didn’t even bother the “Achtentachtig prachtige grachten”.

In the early afternoon we – together with 6 other people from the US and UK – were picked up by the crew of “The Rock”. Once all of the safety and convenience announcements were made and we introduced ourselves to each other, we took off to find a good place to stay overnight.

In the meantime, we did some duck-hunting with paintball guns (and no real ducks, else it would have been more cruel than just killing them with real guns) which Hasan managed to win by hitting it twice in a row; resulting in a free shot of whisky for Hasan. The tour starts well!!

After some more relaxing and chatting with each other, we grabbed the rods and went to the back of the boat for some fishing. Unfortunately no heroic stories how Bassie hooked a marlin and had to fight for hours and hours to get the big fish in: nobody was able to get any fish. There fish did nibble the baits away, but none did take the big bite. Fortunately for us, the crew members set up the BBQ and the sweet smell of grilled beef (and cold hands and feet) made us to put away the rods and head back in to enjoy dinner without fish.

Once we finished our meals we put on our wetsuit for a session of night-kayaking. The night was chrystal clear and the moon did lit up everything quite nicely. It was even so bright that one of the crew members was able to catch a decent-sized (the shell as large as the palm of your hands) crab from the rocks with his bare hands. The crab appeared to be quite flexible as it was able to reach the fingers of the people trying to hold the crab from the back and of its shell. The only way to be able to hold the flexible bugger was to hold the thumb and pointing finger on the sides – where the legs come out.

After the kayaking session we got changed and headed back down to the bar where we learned some nice dice-tricks and some more mind games, while we actually cooked our shelled friend we caught earlier that evening (and yes, it actually tasted quite good!).

Around midnight we went to bed and the next morning we did take a tour passing all kinds of islands and bays (check out the photos!). Finally we arrived at one bay where we took the kayak out again to get to the shore and where we went onto the peak to take some more stunning photos. When we were back at the bay again, we got our wetsuits and snorkling gear on and got into the (cold, and make that with a capital C!) water, to dive up some “Kenna” (spiky sea creatures). At that particular bay we found a couple of stingrays, who apparently were trying to stay away from killer whales.

Back onto the boat we cracked a couple of these catched Kenna’s open to eat the eggs of it, and one even tried the whole mixture of eggs, seawater and guts mixed all together. It probably tasted worse than it looked!!

With this last culinary session, we were brought back to the warf where we had parked our car. Apparently, it was a 60-minute parking area, whereas we parked our car overnight. Result: a NZ$ 30 fine. Well, at least we did not find our car back standing on a couple of bricks or with the windows smashed, so it could have been worse.

We took our car and headed towards the south of the Northern Island, as we needed to go towards Auckland for the opening of the reason why we’re here in New Zealand: The Rugby World Cup!

We decided to make a stop on Pakiri Beach to stay overnight. It took us a while to get there due to odd signs and directions, and even gravel roads. The cabin we were staying in was right at the beach which gave us once again a beautiful view in the evening and early next morning.

On the 8th of September we headed from Pakiri Beach to Auckland, where we arrived early afternoon. We checked into our hostel and walked towards the waterfront where the good stuff was going to happen. We sat down at a decent restaurant; had proper lunch; went to the RCW Store to buy ourselves an AllBlacks shirt after lunch; and found ourselves in a newly opened sports bar – where it was already getting packed – to have a few (…) pints.

Before we were going full retard (“You should never go full retard”) we quickly walked back to our hostel to drop our stuff and get changed for the night before the World Cup starts.

When back into town we hopped into a bar (forgot the name) with a couple of live bands and quite a number of people. It was obvious that we had some catching up to do in terms of drinking so we did what we could: drink and talk to others just to see whether we were already on the same level. As that appeared to be a little bit more difficult than initially thought (and it was not because of us), we decided to move on to the next bar. We did notice however that a lot of other bars had more personnel than visitors, which seemed quite odd to us; a day before the World Cup starts. Luckily the Irish Pub with a pretty good cover band was packed, so we went into that one.

We continued our sessions over there, but with midnight approaching, and thus Hasan’s birthday, we thought that it might have been a better idea to go to a different place as we still had hopes of a crazy night. We ended up in a place called Lenin, where the music did sound OK, and from as distance it looked as if there were enough people inside to give it a shot. Unfortunately, it was like a lot of other places: OK, but with a little bit of a disappointment… Simply not what we expected. With the clocks pointing midnight, we had the barmaid’s special cocktail to celebrate Hasan’s 28th birthday, after which we went back to the Irish pub to get some shots and sing along the songs we knew.

On Friday the 9th of September we started our day – as we skipped breakfast for the obvious reasons – at a Sushi bar, without the sake. When we finished our portions of raw fish wrapped with white rice, we moved to the waterfront where the opening ceremonies would start with the arrivals of the wakas and the traditional Haka. While walking we walked into the player’s bus of the AllBlacks who apparently just got out of their hotel.

Finally we arrived at the Waterfront where the opening ceremonies were about to begin. Apparently the organization was not well prepared for the huge amount of people going down for the ceremonies: we were not able to find a good spot to see the happenings. So after about an hour of watching people in fancy-dresses walking by, we decided to beat the crowd and to take a taxi towards the Eden Park stadium.

It took us a little walk around the stadium to reach our entrance, during which we could really get into the vibe and be filled with excitement. As we did beat the majority of the crowd, the lines to get into the stadium was short, so we were in Eden Park within no time.

At 19:30 the opening ceremony at the stadium started. Not sure who were able to watch it happening live via TV, but it was simply impressive! A big applause for the organizers and the ones who participated in the opening ceremony. We’re not sure if we will be able to upload videos, but we will de as soon as we can.

After the ceremony, it was time for the opening game between Tonga and The AllBlacks, which started with the Sipi Tao (?) from the Tongans, followed by the well-known Haka of the AllBlacks. Again, simply impressive stuff!

Nearly as impressive was the game itself, with good actions, massive tackles and sweet tries. Especially the Tongan try after hard work of the forwards deserved a round of applause from everyone in the stadium.

After the final whistle, we moved out of the stadium. Here we found out that we actually have not thought about our way back, and decided that following the crowd would be the best option. We were wrong… It seemed that all of a sudden “the crowd” disappeared, and we couldn’t get a taxi. After a long wait (and it was getting really cold), we were told that walking down to the city center was about a 20-minute walk. As waiting was no longer an option, we walked. And walked. And walked again. Obviously, it was not a 20-minute walk, but then again, we’re pretty sure that we still would’ve been waiting for a taxi to pick us up.

Finally we arrived at our hostel to drop our stuff. The walk apparently has taken its toll on Bas, and young and energetic Hasan is, he went out to the city on his own where both the opening of the RWC2011 as well as his birthday were fully celebrated. By the time Hasan got back, about 8AM (sorry folks! What happened in Auckland, stays in Auckland ;-)), it was time for Hasan to pass out and time for Bas to explore the other cultural side of Auckland, by visiting historic places.

In the late afternoon, when Hasan was alive and kicking again, we did meet up at the SkyTower where we went up 200meters. We both did flirt with the idea of jumping of (kind of bungee jumping, but without a bungee (instead some cable construction that slows you down before you hit the ground)) the tower, but decided that we could do this probably later. By the way, does anyone know if the Pearl Tower in Shanghai is higher than the SkyTower in Auckland?

In the evening we went to a restaurant/bar to have a proper dinner (prepare your own steak!) and watch the France beat Japan and England beat Argentina. Both were pleasant games to watch, especially the fact that we’re no longer seeing extreme scores (anyone remember the AllBlacks beating Japan?). We ended our night with visiting some bars Auckland had to offer. Not sure why or how, but like the Thursday night, it seemed to be a little bit quiet. Perhaps everyone had a massive night on Friday night…

On Sunday we took our car and drove further south towards Rotorua, where we arrived in the afternoon. Rotorua is known for its thermal waters (at some places it was literally boiling!), and the smell of sulfur – read: rotten eggs – as the city was built upon an active (!) volcano. On Sunday we relaxed and watched some games in a bar again.

On Monday it was time for some action, so we pumped ourselves up; got the adrenaline rushing though our vains; and got mentally prepared for… A nice relaxing day at the Polynesian Spa! Yep, we deserved it. Different mineral pools with different heats, some smoothies, some more pools, and topping off with a proper massage!

During the evening we found ourselves an Indian restaurant where we had a very nice meal and did get into the famous “Pigs & Whistles” bar. We were actually surprised with the amount of people on a Monday evening, but we believe we found out the reason why (read: Vanessa, the barmaid).

OK, so on Tuesday we _really_ thought it was time for some action, so went on rafting that includes the largest commercially used waterfall in the world, which was a free fall of seven (SEVEN!) meters. Before we headed down through the big waterfall we had first some minor (…) ones to get used to the idea. We even got to go through one hanging outside onto the raft. But event that could not prepare you for the big splash. We were in the last raft (we were in a group of four rafts) to go down. No other raft did flip over, but we weren’t quite sure if that was supposed to be reassuring, as on average one out of three does flip over. In other words, we were pushing our luck, obviously. After one big yell, and a short Maori prayer we went down. As you should be able to see on the photos, it went completely under. By the time we came back on top, Hasan has lost his helmet and his nasal area was nicely flushed and cleansed.

After we were brought back to our hostel, we were picked up again a couple of hours later for the next activity: a visit to a Maori Village to learn more about their history and rituals. It was nicely set up, and the welcoming rituals were impressive to see as well. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal so we went quickly inside where we listened to a number of Maori songs and Hakas, before went to the dining room where we had dinner prepared with the traditional “Hanghi” (some sort of way to steam foot under ground topped off with leaves), where we met a couple of Americans and talked to throughout dinner. It keeps amazing us the amount of PTO (Personal Time Off) days US citizens get a year. Of course, being able to take five weeks off in a row is exceptional, but having only two weeks for the entire year goes quite well to the other extreme. Our tour guide / bus driver named Nata has – by far – been the most funny tour guide we’ve ever had in our lives! That man has an answer for everything, knows songs in all languages (OK, almost all…), and remembered everyone’s name in the bus. Such man deserves everything he longs for!

Anyway, by the time we are writing this, it is already Wednesday the 14th of September – two weeks since our departure from The Netherlands. As the weather seems to be sunny today, we plan to go to the Samoa – Namibia game here in Rotorua. Tomorrow we are leaving this place to go towards the Waitomo Caves.

So see you next update… Cheers!


Posted: September 14, 2011

Author: Bas

Category: Blog

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