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As you may have guessed from the title of this post I'm travelling again, having spent the last two months working for the Department of Internal Affairs (sort of like the New Zealand version of the Home Office), first doing some boring data entry and then rewriting their website. Wellington's been great and it feels odd to be on the move again but I'm due back in England on the 31st of August (scarily soon) and there's so much more I want to see.
So anyway, I left Wellington last Monday and went to Napier for a few days. The weather was dreadful and I think this may have coloured my opinion somewhat; it was a pretty dull place with a very English looking beach (cold grey sea and pebbles instead of sand). It's main attraction is the Art Deco architecture, which can be seen on one or two buildings once it's actually pointed out to you.
From Napier I moved on to Taupo and while I left in miserable rain I arrived in glorius sunshine, a sign of what was to come I'm sure. The next morning I went for a beautiful scenic flight in a plane whose occupants seemed to like playing sardines. This was rudely ended when at 12,000ft some idiot decided to open the door and push me out of it; I didn't even have a parachute on! Luckily, I was firmly strapped to someone who did have such an item and also didn't seem to have 'Go splat' on his todo list for today; mind you it took him 45 seconds to find the right cord to pull, by which time the ground was approaching at a speed somewhat over 200km/h. Given that the ground is not all it's cracked up to be I then went and walzed along some poles and ropes suspended 40ft up in the air, otherwise known as a high ropes course.
The Tongariro Crossing is supposedly the finest day walk in New Zealand and never being one to miss out on a good stroll, I naturally signed up to do this the following day. Of course, when most people walk the trail it's not knee deep in snow but not to worry, I was prepared: I had my shorts and gaiters with me. We climbed the saddle in some low lying cloud, at times surrounded completely by white, which is really weird — it makes you think you're in a simulation or something rather than the real world. Luckily, the cloud cleared as we stopped for lunch on the edge of an (inactive) volcanic crater and the picturesque views for which the walk is famed came in to view. We may have climbed slower than in summer but we certainly went down quicker; who wants to walk when you can don a pair of fleecy snow-proof overtrousers and slide down on your arse?!
So what's next in the great adventure? Well I'm off to Mt Ruapehu tomorrow, New Zealand's largest ski-field, to spend a couple of days whizzing around the slopes with Katharina, a German girl I met here in Taupo. Then we're going up to Rotorua to meet up with a Dutch brother and sister we made friends with; we're all going to squash in their car for a big road trip up to the Bay of Islands. Should be fun!