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Aussie Tales

7th April 2004


G’day Everyone,
I am still alive! Now I know I have been quiet recently so I thought (amongst many of you) it well overdue that I sit down and give you all an update. Firstly please accept my apologies if you haven't heard from me personally (not many have) or if I haven't replied to your emails, its not that I have forgotten you but rather just got so slack at emailing. So where do I start this one? Good question, sitting here now I am trying to piece the last few months together and figure out how I can write it all out. My typing ability ain’t what it used to be.... I should stop this mindless rambling and got on with the job in hand.

Christmas, New Year and the Zoo would be a good start (did I wish you all a Happy Easter? - If not Happy Easter).

After a very long and highly missed period of time, a long lost Nathan and I finally caught up for a couple of weeks in Sydney. The two weeks mainly consisted of, well drinking - No surprise's there then. Shortly after Nathan left Christmas was upon me. The house (otherwise known as the Zoo) I was sharing it with 12 others in Bondi, was suddenly updated with another 13 and to say it 'went off' would be an understatement. Xmas day was by far the hottest day I had had in Sydney, the drinking started at 11am, followed by a BBQ, more drinking, then off to a VERY VERY packed Bondi beach... to well drink. Having Christmas day on the beach was a different experience and certainly a far cry from the cold one of Canada the year before. Shortly after Christmas the lovely, gorgeous, Katoplatra (Formally known as Kat) came to join me for a few weeks. Apart from having problems staying in the 'Zoo' we had a great time. New Year was a great experience (and now so far away I won't drag this bit out) and the atmosphere around the opera house and Rocks was amazing. Katoplatra took us both off to the Whitsundays (South Molle Island) for a few days, which was a amazing break from the Zoo. Having a proper bed and not just a lumpy, back breaking mattress on the floor made it all the more special. The rest of our time was spent around Sydney doing various bits. Around the end of January packed my bags once again, bid farewell to the crew in Bondi and hit the road once again. (A day later than I should of done, due to a very late night drinking whisky with one of my house mates) I have stopped at so many little and not so little towns since I have left Bondi, some for a couple of days, some for only a few hours, so instead of going into each place and everything single thing I have done, I decided to save my little fingers and your eyes and just outline the major stops.
Bingara Byron Bay

My first destination was a little ghost town called Bingara, imagine a long open street with a few shops either side and add a bit of tumbleweed (well almost) blowing down and you have Bingara. There really wasn't much to do here, but I did take up the opportunity to do some horse riding for 4 hours. I cannot remember the last time I had sat on a horse, the pain afterwards lasted for 4 days! The trek took as through some fields, through some rivers and on a little gallop... I think I resembled a lump of jelly on bouncy castle. Halfway through the trip we dismounted (althoughI still felt like I had the horse between my legs) and got to have a swim in the stream, a couple of the horses followed us in, which we then rode bareback and did some water skiing with, the idea being you hold its tail, its gallops off and you are almost pulled up out of the water. After we had all arrived back at the ranch we headed back to shower and then make our onward trip. The onward journey stopped me off at a couple of national parks, where I stayed for a couple of days and had my first experience of the outback and did went for some treks, and I finally got to see my first wild Kangaroos, Wallabies and Koalas.

The next major stop was the insanely wonderful town of Byron Bay. Byron is the most easterly point of Australia and is so laid back, if it got any more laid back I swear it would fall back on itself and collapse. Byron is full of alternative cafes and shops - no McDonalds or big names have been allowed to set up and make the most of us tourists, so it has a real nice fresh feel to it. I took up the chance to do some Sea Kayaking, trying to get the bleeding kayak out past the shore and then myself and another into it, caused a bit of grief for a while. About 30 mins out to sea, we spotted Dolphins (closely followed by an American girls comment - "are they wild Dolphins?") and paddled out to get a closer look, at this point they started swimming under us and jumping out of the water following us as we paddled along. A little bit later we jumped out of the kayaks and swum along with them -
priceless moment, until we realised we had to get back into the Kayak. I also took up a 2hr Circus lesson which involved trying (huge emphasis on the word trying) to ride a unicycle, walking a tightrope and how to be the clown of all clowns - I pulled of none of them (no comments please). I took a slight detour whilst here and went inland to the strangest place around. Nimbin. Back in 1973 a little festival took place in this sleepy town and the hippys came... and never left. The town is now covered in a constant fog of weed smokers. Whilst walking down the main street you find yourself getting inundated with offers for weed, cookies or anything else connected with the smoking scene.

Next stop took me to the most over rated place on the East Coast - Surfers Paradise. Don't get me wrong the beach is nothing short of amazing (42km of white sandy beach) but as a whole Surfers is a Spain, Miami, and Orlando wannabe. The only good thing about it are the Meter maids - highly attractive girls who walk around in Bikinis checking the parking meters that line up the coast - perve heaven!

I stopped of in Brisbane, initially for a couple of days - 5 weeks later I left. Something about Brisbane I loved, it is a big small town that has the
atmosphere of a city and the laid back nature of a country town, I also experienced the hottest day I have had to date in Brisse - 45 degrees. I met a young local lass who kept me more then entertained for my stay and decided to top up the bank account and got
myself a job doing door to door sales of telephone systems - Tough going but a laugh was had, although I didn't quite make the fortune I was hoping to. I finally got my arse moving out of the city and headed onto Noosa, a nice little holiday resort with some serious money and property floating around. I stayed here for a couple of days before moving on to Rainbow Beach in order to do the highlight of Australia for me so far - Fraser Island.

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It is about 120km long and 15km wide and has vast rolling sand dunes, tropical rainforests and deep if not at times mysterious fresh water lakes. A group of people I met hired out a 4WD some camping gear and headed off into the unknown. The island has no roads so all the driving is definite off road and also dictated by the tide - which limits the amount of time you can drive down the beach and not have to use the inland tracks. Fraser is nothing short of stunning, the highlight having to be Lake McKenzie, which is a spectacularly clear fresh water lake, surrounded by bleached white sands that give the lake an amazing bright blue/turquoise look. Along with the beauty of the island, the camping, drinking and Dingo’s and laughs that continued to happen for the 3 days made the whole trip something I won’t forget in a while.

Well folks that’s all for now. Sorry that its not as detailed as some of my previous emails, but it should give you some idea on what I have been up to. I’ll fill you in on the rest another day. As for me, I’m going to enjoy this sunshine. I promise the next one won’t be so long in coming.

Love and smoothies


Whitsunday Islands

Sydney Fireworks New Years Eve 2003

G'Day all,
Well its that time of year again, hasn't it flown by, I must be getting old as the years seem to be going quicker and quicker, I can't imagine what it would be like if I had had a busy one! Things are heating up nicely here but I still can't get my head around the fact that its 30c plus and christmas is around the corner, a nice change to the chilly one I had last year. So what are my festive plans? Drink, be merry and build some sandmen on the beach, that about sums it up, if it changes than I will let you all know.
A young essex lass known from home is joining me shortly after xmas for about 3 weeks, so you don't

need to worry about me drinking myself into a bad situation over new years and spending it an a rather unsavoury place, I'm sure she can look after me, if not..... oh well, I'm here for a good time not a long time.

Thanks for all your emails and christmas cards. I intend to hit the open road again in January and see some of Auz, so get your reading glasses out again, the big emails are going to be making a come back.

Have a very lovely Christmas and New Year everyone, you never know I may see some of you in 2004 its going to be a year of Marbles.

Love and Ice creams


21st October 2003

Howard Johnson was right...... Reverend

It has been a long time hasn't it? I thought it finally about time that I sat down and sent an ickle update to you all. I know some of you have been receiving emails from me and some of you have been neglected recently, not neglected in a christmas puppy around june time kind of way but just not recieving all the loving you deserve, and we all get what we deserve, dont we?

So what have I been doing? To be honest not a great deal. I arrived in a rainy Sydney what seems a long time ago now and have been working pretty much solidly since. I landed a little job as a, wait for it... "Customer Relations Manager" in basic terms a telemarketer selling Accidental Injury and Accidental death insurance. Not the greatest or easiest thing to sell but I made a mark and surprisingly got some good results from it. I had the great ambition and desire to save as much money so I can continue to travel. I saved a grand total of about $100 - pathetic I know but then saving never really has been a great asset of mine and Sydney is not really a city to have a quiet relaxing time in.

I moved into a flat... in a very lose sense of the word. Its more like a half-way house but the guys I live with are great and if nothing else are my reason for not being able to save money or finding something with gold taps and a maid. I am in a room now with 3 beautiful ladies from Norway, and loving every moment
of it, seeing them walking around the room first thing in the morning and last thing at night in underwear is enough to make me use just the cold tap on the shower. Life is so kind to me!

My work finished up about 2-3 weeks ago and I have since been doing labouring/demolition work, which despite it being bloody hard work at times I do enjoy it and the money is good, so until I get offered a high paid job taking photos of sexy women I will stick with it, besides it will keep me in shape for the beach!

My plans have all altered once again and I am now going to be based in Sydney up until Mid January. A friend from back home is coming out to spend 3 weeks with me from New Year until mid Jan and when she leaves I will hit the open road again.

I have been looking into getting a long term visa for Australia which will last for 4 years if all is successful. I have had 2 interviews for sponsorship so far, I think they went well but competition is large and tough, unfortunately its all done by men so my good looks and charm can't help me out this time!! I should hear if I got through to the final round in the next week or so, fingers crossed.

Sydney itself is a beautiful city, with enough to keep anyone occupied for a time. I have done the normal things like Bondi, Coogee, Manley, Opera house etc... but decided to leave most of my sight seeing for the summer and when I didn't have the hassles of work interfering. The detailed description of Sydney will come later on.

Well I had better dash, the sun is shining once again after a weeks bad weather and I have a few other tasks to finish up today. Sorry about this all being a bit short and vague, there is a lot to tell you all but to be honest I have no idea where to start! I will try and update you all again a little sooner next time.

Keep your emails coming

Lots of love


PS. For all those of you that haven't yet done it, you can still pre-order the new Marillion album at - plug over.

July 2nd
A Whirlwind Visit

Its that time again!! Before I start, how are you all? I'm 'sweet' and have really enjoyed my time in NZ and now wish I had more time there. As some one kept telling me "its bigger than you think and I soon discovered this was true. Anyway as usual I'll start from the top and work my way down, which I feel tends to always be the best way. (Looking at things now this is another long email, savor it and enjoy it, you may have to wait a while for the next one!)

I finally made it to Santiago airport with a tear in my eye but with a buzz inside of what lay ahead. After a fantastic 13-hour flight I touched down at Auckland airport at 4:20am with 3 hours sleep and a lost day somewhere along the line. As usual my planning for going anywhere new was at a minimum so first port of call was to grab a coffee (which I did in Spanish without thinking about it - I got a 'what?' in return) and to try and figure out somewhere to stay. I hopped on the next bus out of the airport and headed for the most central hostel for a night at least. I checked in, hit my new dorm and met what would turn out to be my traveling mate for the next 2 weeks or so, Daron. We both decided that we were going to hit the South Island straight away but how to do it we where unsure, in the end we settled for a camper van. Two days later we were at the depo loading our gear in, and off we went. We drove from Auckland down to Wellington to catch the bloody expensive ferry to Picton on the South Island. We got the cheapest ferry we could which meant leaving at 1:30am and arriving the other side at 4:30am. The crossing was fine and as soon as we had got to the other side we parked up, and crashed out for a few hours. Picton is tiny, as most of the towns in NZ are, really nothing there but it is pretty town and supposedly the second largest marina in the country. We pretty much left here and headed to our first major stop, Nelson.

Nelson should have been a little hive of activity as it is the SI's second biggest city (pop around 52,000!) but due to it being the Queens Birthday, it was a bank holiday Monday and everything was shut down, we even struggled to find a decent bar that was open, nasty. In the end we decided to make a move on instead of sitting around like a stale bag of chips, although we did have a wonder around looked at the Art Deco Cathedral which dominates the surrounding skyline a quick and disappointing visit to South St, which is meant to be the oldest preserved street in NZ, I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't really what I got, and finally a visit off to the Founders Historic Park, which is a replica of the town from the early 19th century, including the Founders Brewery... who am I to turn down a tour and tasting session?!

From here we had made a rough plan of things we both wanted to see, but due to the 18day time limit we had (Daron needed to be back in Auckland to fly to Auz) and the distances we were going to try and cover it soon became clear that we where going to be doing a lot of driving to get from A to B. We decided to head towards Greymouth on the West Coast. The driving soon become second nature and the scenery surrounding us caught more of our attention then anything else (except the odd wave here and there to fellow campers coming the opposite way!) its hard to explain NZs geography, varied would be one word. It is simply remarkable, even in winter it has more green then I have ever known. On route to Greymouth we passed through lots of little towns, (and I mean little - pops of around 250-1000people) far too many to start to document here although we did stop of at Buller Gorge which is little mother nature scar from a 1929 earthquake, the gorge itself now has NZs longest swingbridge crossing it at 110m and believe me it does swing. On the other side of the bridge we took some short walks the main one being to the epicenter. We hopped back in the van and continued the drive to Greymouth. We finally arrived in Greymouth to find once again another sleepy town and with not a great deal to do, although once again we did (or at least Daron did) discover the Monteiths Brewing Co. Once again we found ourselves in the Brewery being given a tour having a few tasters and then a free bar for the next half hour, milk it? us? damn right we did. By the time we left we both decided we were over the limit to drive on so stayed where we where for the night, took a walk around the town and across to the quay. In the morning we set off once again and headed to Hokitika.

Hokitika is another small town, anyone who has been to NZ will tell you that every town over here is small. Daron had suggested stopping here as it is a major arts and crafts centre for Jad and as he really wanted to purchase some for some friends we stopped off for a few hours. Whilst he went shopping I took a wander round but apart from various Jade, Wood and Whale bone factorys/craft shops there is very little to see and do, if nothing else it made a nice lunch break before heading down to Franz Josef

We arrived in Franz Josef around 6pm and parked the beast up. The main reason we stopped here was to take a trip up on to the appropriately named Franz Josef Glacier. We arranged the tour for the next morning. That evening we popped into the only bar in town for a quiet drink before retiring. The quiet bit lasted for about an hour until we met up with a bunch of Irish girls and then things got messy. Around 4am I crawled back to the van knowing we had to be up in 4 hours. Surprisingly we woke up with no troubles and felt right as rain, even more so when we stepped out to discover it raining. Hard. We got suited and booted, rain macs provided and off we went. We were advised to take the 'fast' group by our new Irish friends so thats what we did. It took about 10 mins to walk from the drop off point to the foot of the glacier at which point we put on our boot spikes and given some tips on how to keep safe. As I'm sure you can all imagine a huge frozen block of ice is slippery at the best of times add the continuing rain and it became even worse, most of us fell or slipped at one point looking more like a drunk elephant on an ice rink rather than Torvil and Dean recovering from a bad move. The Glacier it self is amazing, climbing even more so. In places it looked like marble, occasionally scattered with some dark slate style rock from the towering cliffs either side. The colours ranged from ocean blues, to grays and turquoise all still mimicking a marble effect. At other points it resembles more of a deep freezer, just pure white. We followed our rather nutty guide around the caverns, we went up and down and through the ice, every now and again we would stop whilst he tied a rope down so we could clamber our way up. Occasionally he would have to stop and figure out where the hell he was and how to get up or down the imposing block of ice in front of us, whilst we all stood squashed between two blocks of ice feeling that if we stood around any more we would go down in history as the famous 'tourists stuck in the ice', looking back I don't think we stopped for anything more then 5mins. At around 1:30 we reached a nice flat opening and stopped for a bite to eat. The other two groups at this point had decided that they were going to turn back. AJ gave us this option and we all gave him looks to suggest that he was idiot for even thinking we wanted to turn around. So off we went again, the higher we went the better the glacier got, the colours more intense and the little pools of water more frequent. At around 3:30 we started to head back down, and finally arrived back at the bus at 6pm. That night we slept like babies.

We arose the next morning and started our long drive towards what is described as one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, Milford Sound. Our initial intention was to drive straight down and spend the night somewhere there, visit it in the morning and then head back towards Queenstown. As Milford Sound is in the middle of a national park, the drive meant that we had to do a big U from Te Anau and come back on ourselves some 120km. Around about 8:30pm we realised we were not going to make it due to the Petrol light flashing at us, we made it to Te Anau just in time before the van gave up hope and chugged to a peaceful stop. We searched round for a petrol station only to discover that the idea of 24hr stations has not reached NZ as of yet. We pushed the van (a damn sight harder then you can imagine) to the nearest layby, cooked some dinner and had an early night. The next morning we arose bright and early to find the lake we had parked next to covered in a thick fog, with an almost perfect mirror reflection of the few boats , and the odd mindless seagull perched on the piers the boats where moored too. Once again we pushed the van to the nearest station, luckily across the road, filled her up and off we went. The drive to the Sound was nothing short of spectacular. The weather to start was cloudy and with a bit of drizzle in the air we assumed that our visit to Milford was going to be seen in the same light, however the more we drove the clearer it got. The view opened up to soaring snowcapped mountains, with a lone cloud drifting slowly below, we continued to follow the road around, slowly climbing our way up through the mountains, a real scene from the LotR, but despite how good the views are in the film, it does very little justice to seeing them for real. Eventually we came to the Homer Tunnel, which was completed in 1935, and cuts 1200m straight through one of the mountains to the canyon the other side. The drive from here was like driving down a slanted Curly Whirly, the mountains surrounding as at all sides, enclosing us in like a pebble at the bottom of the ocean. We finally made it to Milford, parked up and bought tickets for a
boat tour around. Its hard to describe Milford itself. Basically its a huge fiord with perfectly calm waters mirroring the peaks that protect it from the rest of the outside world, with a marine life that is home to some unique life, including black coral. The boat took as around the outskirts up to where it meets the sea before taking a leisurely cruise back to the port. Our luck on the weather didnt hold out though and half way round the heavens open and the rain fell. BIG STYLE! We returned to our van and made the long journey back towards Queenstown that evening.

Queenstown, what can I say? Firstly it has to be the most adrenaline packed town in the world, I think if nothing else they invented the stuff, you can almost smell it in the air. That aside its probably one of the prettiest towns in NZ, its situated on the edge of lake Wakatipu, with the Remarkables mountains at the back of this. The town itself is small and compact but has a fantastic night life. Whilst here there were two things both myself and Daron wanted to do, firstly a tandem skydive and secondly a bungy jump. We got a deal to do three bungys for the price of 2 and off we went. The first we conquered is called the The Ledge its a 47m drop from the gondola that over looks Queenstown. I was harnessed up, not by feet but in a strap that resembled more of a big pair of pants. The great thing (or at least I thought at the time) was that you had to take a running jump at it and as I was tied in at the waist and not my feet it wouldnt be a headfirst jump. I was walked to the edge, told to look around and smile to the camera above took a few steps back and after the count of five. run and dive off. 5.43.2....1 I reached the edge and instead of doing a nice star dive of the edge, I resembled more of a human bouncing bomb. Knees held up, hands somewhere, suddenly my brain caught up with me and reminded me that I was now plummeting towards the ground, two seconds later the Bungy stretched and I was catapulted back up, gravity got the better of me again and back down I went, this continued for a few more bounces until the cable was dropped to pull me back up. I attached the cable, adrenaline pumping around my body and reached the top, was un-harnessed and suddenly had a urge to do it all over again. We had booked the Skydive for the next day so after a few beers caught an early night. I awoke the next morning feeling a lot less anxious about the skydive then the remaining Bungys, one which was booked for the same afternoon. We arrived at the jump zone, dressed into our fashionable suits and given our brief tutorial by our diver and before we knew what was happening where in the plane climbing to 12,000ft. At around 7000ft the instructor connected me to himself and reminded me what I had to do, mainly keep my legs back, my head pushed firmly back and my hands on the straps until he gave the thumps up to let my hands go and look around. 12000ft came, the door opened, Daron was first to be shuffled to the edge, seeing him sit there, the ground a long way below us and then he was gone. I was then shuffled towards the edge, my legs hanging out the door, the cold air beating my face, looking 12000ft down, one last word from the instructor to remind to keep my legs back and then urrrrrrghhhhh, followed very quickly by arse these jeans were clean on this morning. Im still not sure if my stomach hit the floor before I did or if I left it in the plane. About two seconds later I was told I could stretch out my hands, falling 200km and hour, the ground rushing towards us for the next 45 secs. The adrenaline pumping through every inch of my body, the surrounding view of Queenstown far below me, the Remarkables for the first time looking like little snow covered hills rather then the giants that they are. Before I knew it we were at 5000ft and the parachute was pulled. We slowly drifted back down to earth, doing a few spins, taking in the views whilst the realisation of what I had just done coming to me, and a burning desire to do it all over again. Of all the things that I have done so far on this trip that 6-minute section has been battling for the top spot and not far from winning. I really cant explain the feeling of it all I can say is you havent done it do it. Now. After we landed we where driven to back to Queenstown, hoped in the van and drove towards our second Bungy jump off the Kawarau Suspension Bridge. The jump itself was the smallest at 43m, however this time there was no running jump and no pants, my ankles were strapped together and I was walked to a tiny platform, the river flowing carelessly below me. Same process once again, wave to the camera 5..4..3..2..1 despite having thrown myself out of a plane less then 3hours previously I must admit this scared the life out of me and I did take a second or two longer to make the dive off out. I finally pushed off out, my arms stretched out to the side, watching as I quickly fell towards the river once again the elastic band stretched and I was flung back up towards the bridge before once again falling towards the river and back up again like one of those kids toys where the ball is tied to a bit of elastic and you have to keep it bouncing against the wooden bat. My adrenaline at this point had got to some serious levels and I found myself with an urge to jump and dive from anything I could find. However deep down my conscious was worried at the thought of the final one the next day. The Nevis is NZs highest jump at 134m. You arrive at a remote scenic spot to find a little gondola hanging from a few suspension cables across a canyon. We were whisked across in a small cart to the pod. On reaching the pod we discovered it had a glass floor, so inevitably we had no choice but to look down. 134m is high. Eventually it was my turn, I was sat in a nice comfy leather chair, my ankles strapped together once more, told that I needed to do a BIG dive out for a nice comfortable ride! I was ushered to the edge, 5..4..3..2..1 I gave the biggest dive I could, for the next 8 secs I felt myself being totally weightless, the canyon floor getting closer and closer. The Bungy had still not extended at the point I was used to on the other jumps and I continued to fall, all of a sudden I felt myself whizzing back up the canyon, the Bungy relaxed and my body was free in the air again before once again dropping like a stone. After a few minutes, I pulled the release cable and was slowly winced back up to the pod. An absolutely exhilarating experience, a very different rush to the skydive, but one I could get very addicted to.

The next morning we left Queenstown and started too drive north and stopped off at Wanaka. In many a way Wanaka reminded me of Queenstown, just without so much tourist traffic. Saying that a lot of people descend there during the ski season, which had been postponed due to not having enough snow. The town itself is small and compact and over looks lake Wanaka, with the imposing ski mountains surrounding it. We hit Puzzling world whilst there, basically a large outdoor maze the idea to be to get to each tower in each corner of the maze but in a corresponding order. Imagine a square the bottom left would be yellow the bottom right red, the top left green and the top right blue. The first to find was the yellow then the blue then green and then red and then back out the same way you came in. Not as easy as it sounds, but good harmless fun. Even when you have kids giving there parents a race to do it and then discovering the kids still waiting outside 15 mins later waiting for their parents to come out!

From Wanaka we took a rather lengthy drive (time was starting to be against us at this point) to Christchurch. Christchurch itself is a nice enough city but thats pretty much all it is. It has a nice feel to it, albeit a very English one. A day or so later we made the long drive back to Picton to catch the ferry across to Wellington again. Daron departed for a couple of days to watch the Rugby and I....erm... actually I'm not sure what I did. I know I was out for the 2 days I was there and at the time thought I had done a lot but now have no idea what it was. I some how got myself invited to a party from a women I met in travel agents, turned up to that and had a fantastic evening but apart from that I couldnt say. If it comes to me I'll let you know.

After Wellington we took the 9hour drive back to Auckland. Daron left the next day for Auz and I arranged a short tour for the North Island. I hoped on to a tour bus with what I thought was going to be an 17-19s crowd but was pleasantly surprised. Out of the 12 people on the bus, including myself there were only 3 blokes and one of them was attached. Bing Shubba Bing. We left Auckland and once again drove through and occasionally stopped at various towns, too many and really not much point to start to write about. However, our first major stop was Raglan. A major surfing point in NZ and known around the world with surfers and surfets, apparently, dude. Despite the freezing cold weather most of us opted to do have a try and surfing (my main reason was to see some of the girls in wet suits, nothing more and nothing less as it turned out it was a great day out at sea). We had a brief tutorial on the beach, told the basics and then thrown out to the sea like whitebait to sharks. If I was going to be dishonest I would say I was fantastic, a natural, a born genius. However in reality I sucked. I could try and break it down a little bit more then that, but I dont like to dwell on the little insignificant parts of this update! The night the hostel put on a great meal for us, we drank some wine and a few beers, people mocked my surfing all in all a routine kind of night!

We awoke the next morning early, but far from bright. We lumbered into the coach and made our way towards a small town called Waitomo. In un-sunny Waitomo we all took part in a great adventure known as Black Water Rafting. Similar to white but you sit in a large rubber ring, and drift through pitch black caves, occasionally stopping to drop over a small waterfall. What made this so unique (despite for the 2nd time in 24 hours seeing some real beautys in tight wetsuits Ill stop stalling and get to the point soon enough!) was if you looked up at the ceiling it was covered with hundreds and hundreds (not the little flaky bits your mum uses in cakes) of glo-worms. This in turn gave it a blue star night effect, a really cool thing to see, or at least it was until your hand disappeared under water again. After we had all had hot showers, and sorted we drove on to our next stop for the evening; Hahei. We arrived here about 8pm so cooked a big group meal between us and then sat around playing cards, reading, chilling out for the evening.. well until 9:30 when we all voted the driver to do a beer run for us. The next morning we all woke up and hit possibly one of the most scenic short walks I have ever done. It took about a 2 hour return trip. Starting on the beach we followed it down until we came to a little walk way with a gentle slope to it. The path gradually took us to the top of the cliff face and gave an amazing view of the coast and rock formations a short distance out to see. The path continued round, up and down, until we took a downward path back towards the beach, or Cathedral Cove, named so due to the steeple type hole that is between the cliff. At low tide you can walk through to two different beaches. If you have all seen the film the Beach, this place is similar. Very deserted, extremely tranquil, and very very beautiful. When we arrived back we loaded up again and made our way to Uncle Boys.

Uncle Boy is a Maori and has lived a very interesting life, so say the least. He knows the man that owns the tour company I used and just over a year ago agreed to make his house an over night cultural stop for this tour company alone. He basically gave us an insight to the Maori culture, traditions and way of life, both current and past. Half way through the evening a local school group came in and performed a few local dances for us, and then it was our turn. Us limited boys had to learn the Haka (if you watch rugby, think of the little dance the All Blacks do before a game) within about 10 minutes then perform it to all the rest of the group. To top it off our shirts had to come off, and oh how the crowd went wild, (running out shortly after in fear). The girls in turn had to do a dance routine with Pos (I think). The whole evening was magical and really brought us together as a group.

The next morning we made our way to smelly ole Rotorua. Maybe smelly is a tad harsh, it has a very distinctive humm in the air due to the high Sulphur content of the ground and the high seismic activity of the area. Rotorua seems to have made a nice living out of it though, there a plenty of natural steam baths and beauty salons happy to part you with your $$s for a mad pack (yeah the girls loved it) We took a look around a natural thermal resort called Te Whakarewarewa (its full name is Te Whakarewarewatanga o te Ope Taua a Wahiao, which translates to; The Gathering Together of the War Party of Wahiao, so now you know!) Where we saw geysers bellowing into the air (similar to what I saw in Chile) boiling mud pools, and how the village cooks its food and heats the houses all just the aid of the steam activity. This was to be the last night we spent together as a group so had a drink or two to mark the occasion. The next morning I made my way back to Auckland and got ready for my flight to Auz a couple of days later.

So what now? Well I am now in Sydney and enjoying the consistent rain, but that will all keep for now until its time for the next email

Thanks for all your emails (and birthday ones, those of you that remembered that is!!!) keep em coming.

Lots of love
Iain xxxx
P.S. If you are ever in Queenstown, had a quiet drink, and decide to take a walk down the pier/boat Jetty for a breath of fresh air, watch your step, as it can get slippery. Or so Im told.

July 2nd
An Update
Hello again,
A quick addition to the previous email.
A couple of months ago, actually it was the 15th March at around 6pm, I remember this as I was lying on my bed in the hotel contemplating wether I really needed to go to the the loo at that precise time or not when a rather large bang occured outside which made me jump and nearly made the desicion for me. I lay there after, feeling happier, the warm summer sun beating through the window and the cool breeze blowing through the curtain across my chest, the birds singing their happy song with out a care in the world. I sat and thought about what I had achieved since I had left home and what I still didn't know was to come. I had been to far and distant places, but what was my true destiny in this trip? ..... oh ok I'll cut to the point!

Some of you already know this, some don't and some may have guessed. Initally this trip was to take a year which meant me being back my late Nov this year. Things have slightly taken another new twist. Instead of catching my connecting flight to Singapore I have decided to make the most of my 1 year work Visa for Australia, and stay here for the length of it. This now means that I will be back home around mid June next year. (Providing I don't dart off somewhere after that!)

I have a job that starts on Monday so for the mean time this and the last email will be the last big update on things. I will obviously still keep you all posted on things I do and hopefully you will still keep all your emails floating through.

See ya all soon



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