We're Never Coming Back

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Day 126 - Hot Water Beach & Rotorua

new zealand Today is not just any ordinary day. Its not just any old, get-in-the-car, drive-somewhere-new, do-something-exciting kinda day. Today is special. Today, is my birthday.

But, before we get to that, we need a quick recap. Monday morning, and after hitting Macdonalds for lunch (sick, this country is killing me), we headed the 100odd kilometres across the Coromandel peninsula, along winding coast roads, dirt-tracks over mountains, and motorways cross-country, we ended up at a place originally entitled HOT WATER BEACH. Nice. It was too late in the day to get down and dirty in the sand, so we drove to Whitianga where we stayed in this cute hostel on the beach and watched my first episode of Sex and the City in 4 months. I went out for a little walk on my own too, listened to some music that tristan made me, and contemplated how being 27 would change me. It looked a bit like this...


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In the morning, we packed up and made the 30 minute drive to beach. To start with, we had no hole to lie in. We had no spades. and we had no way of sampling the warm geothermal waters that everyone was enjoying so much. That was until we STOLE someone else's pit. and then it was GREAT.

The water was kinda lukewarm, but 'in' the sand it was scolding hot. like, properly burning hot. some people had buckets, to empty the cooled water out. and their pits were steaming. but we were content just splashing around in a lukewarm hole. for about 10 minutes.

so anyway, we jumped in the car (right after some other routs stole 'our' pit) and headed south towards Rotorua. Then, on my birthday of all days, we got a PUNCTURE. I've never changed a puncture before in my life, but with a little direction from eve and sam, I managed it. Sweet as.

Rotorua is known as the 'stinky city', because it honks. I mean, it stinks SO MUCH of sulphur, its a bit gross. We checked into a hostel with a heated spa (nice), and had a dip, then after a grand spaghetti bolognase, we downed a few pints at the local routy hostel bar, where some old dude came onto sam, told me I wasn't a real gay, and then made me feel bad for telling him to go away.

How was my birthday? A bit rubbish. I mean, I got to lie in some hot water on the beach. And I got to eat my favourite meal. And I got to be in new Zealand, which I really shouldn't take for granted. BUT, it was just a little too far away from all my friends to be special. Gutted. Next year will be MUCH better, I'm sure.

Anyway, the next day, we got up early (we were staying in a criminally noisy hostel)and headed into town to cheer myself up a little. Sam bought me a new lip piercing (well, a new stud for my piercing, not an actual new hole in my face), and I got my beard trimmed. AND, now this is exciting, Sam managed to spot GRETCHEN in a shop.

OK, so here's some background on Gretchen. Before I left, I asked Tristan and Jess to give me something which I could take round the world on their behalf. And they gave me Gretchen. But I told them that the chances are, I would probably LOSE gretchen at some point. Apparently its not a problem, tristan told me, because "gretchen ALWAYS come home". She may wander off, but she will ALWAYS come back. So when I left Gretchen in a hostel Cusco, Peru (that's MILES away from here), i never thought I would see her again. And guess what, she's come home. After 3 months apart, she's come back. You can check on HER adventures here, but until the next time she wanders off, she'll be right by my side.

Anyway, that day got EVEN better. We hopped in the car to do my birthday treat, which was to go Zorbing. I'd never been zorbing before, so this was going to be exciting. Despite the course downhill looking VERY short, we were told it was great fun, so we paid up (15 quids) and changed into our zorbing attire.

The principle is that you get inside a massive infatable ball and roll downhill. Adda bucket of cold water, and you slip and bounce all the way down. Apparently its dangerous (insurance policies don't cover you for zorbing, no matter how much you pay), but it just looked FUN. I jumped in, started rolling the ball downhill, then fell over and BOUNCED all the way down. about 3 minutes of laughing, tumbling, swallowing water, and watching the sun dance around. It was unreal. I loved it. From the very start to the very end, you have NO idea which was is up, and it genuinely is like being inside a washing machine. Brilliant.

Then, after calming down from the grief we caused our adrenal glands, we headed into town where there are loads of bubbling pools of mud. Cute.

And after that hectic day, sam cooked us up a whole trout for dinner (I did my part - I bought microwavable rice from the supermarket), and we got another noisy night's sleep, before jumping in the Laser and heading east to Gisborne, on the east coast.

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