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Day 226 Sunday December 2, 2007 – Taupo to Palmerston North, New Zealand
This morning began with a lot up in the air. The first thing we had to settle was whether or not to book transport to the Tangariro National Park to complete the 16KM crossing. After calling the local company in Taupo, we decided that $49 per person was way too much and considered driving to a town closer to the National Park to get a shuttle from there. With that in mind, we called a couple of holiday parks closer in and got some more information. We still weren’t sure of the plan but agreed that we were going to move on from the All Seasons Holiday Park.
I have to be honest that I laid in bed for quite a while last night contemplating whether or not to do the bungee jump this morning. We found a coupon yesterday that discounted the jump to $79 before 11am so I didn’t have much time to decide. The last thing I told Jasmine before we went to bed last night was that I wasn’t going to jump because of my neck, but to be honest my nerves played a large part in that decision. I also thought that I would have more time to decide because we were going to be in Taupo another couple of days, but with our decision to move on made, this was to be the day. I finally decided that I wasn’t going to chicken out.
The bungee site that hangs 154 feet over the Waikoto River was only 2 blocks from the holiday park. This unfortunate fact once again left me with only moments to make my mind up. Immediately when we arrived I headed over to the viewing area and watched two people jump before deciding that I was going to do it. In what seemed like a flash I paid my money and was out on the platform. The two men hooking me up to the bungee cord could sense my nervousness and asked me if this was my first time. I told them yes and that I was SCARED!
It didn’t take more than a minute for them to tie my feet up and tell me to go ahead. They helped me walk over to the edge where two outlines of feet were drawn so that I knew where to put mine. After I hesitated for a second they both said go ahead and I took a deep breath. I then continued to stall and for a split second told myself that I couldn’t go through with it. As soon as that thought came into my head, I pushed it back down and jumped. During the six seconds of freefall I screamed a few explicatives before suddenly being snapped back up. After bobbing up and down for a few more moments, a boat picked me up and it was all over. My heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest so I took it easy on the hike back up and Shawn Reece ran down and met me half way. I had done it! I had bungee jumped in New Zealand!
After leaving Taupo Bungee we headed to a popular waterfall outside of town. Upon pulling into the carpark, a campervan that was driving in front of me stopped and began to backup, finally hitting my bumper with force. When I exited the car, the man in the campervan immediately tried to blame it on me and I got upset. After checking out the damage, I decided to let him go as I was just a bit of paint transfer and to be honest the bumper is really messed up anyway.
Huka Falls lies at a point when the mighty Waikato River is forced to squeeze it’s way through a narrow gorge. The result is a powerful rapid stream that is more impressive than its 10m drop height would suggest. Apparently every once and awhile a kayaker decides to jump over the falls, but we weren’t so lucky as to see one. After ten minutes we headed back to the car to go to our next destination.
On the way into town yesterday we passed a place called Puzzleworld with a big maze out back. I am starting to love it here in New Zealand because I get to play in mazes all day. It had always been a dream of mine to complete a maze and for some reason I got to do two in two days! This maze was a bit different in that we had to find all four corners, but we also had to find five questions and five separate answers spread throughout the structure. Jasmine decided not to participate and it took Shawn Reece and I about forty frustrating minutes to complete.
After leaving Puzzleworld we stopped at a honey store where they have bee hives on display and free honey tasting. That shop didn’t contain us for long and within minutes we were headed to our next stop, Craters of the Moon Thermal Park. Before heading into the park, we decided to eat our packed lunch to refuel.
Craters of the Moon Thermal Park is what the name suggests. It is home to geothermal activity and a couple of large craters. The 2km walk took us around 50 minutes including a steep climb to the top a hill for a scenic view of Taupo. While most of the park consists of craters with only steam coming up, the Mud Crater puts on a rather impressive show of boiling mud. This, our fifth activity of the day left us a bit tired. It was at this point that we decided to forego the crossing and head south a couple of hours in order to get some extra time in Wellington.
From Craters of the Moon we filled up the gas tank and headed south towards Palmerston North a mid sized college town a couple hours away from Wellington. On the way, we passed Lake Taupo on our way through Tongariro National Park. In the National Park we took in some incredible views of it’s snow capped volcanoes. We also passed through New Zealand’s closest thing to a desert, an area that gets plenty of rain, but is left desolate because of the ash the volcanoes once rained down on it.
Without many problems we arrived in Palmerston and settled in for the night. Tomorrow we are heading down to Wellington to fill out our time on the north island. We are going to book passage on the ferry for December 5th to the south island, giving us some 19 days there. Everyone we have talked to has said that the south island is even more beautiful than the north and I have to say the north has not disappointed us. Talk to you soon!
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The Coomer Family
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