After an early night, we had an early morning, catching the bus at 7.30am. Our first stop was some old gold mines and we walked through the pitch black tunnels and over the rickety bridges before heading off. Next was the town of Hobbiton- not the place where Frodo lived but an actual town. We had a picture with a Lord of the Rings statue and grabbed a Meatball Sub for lunch and then we were on the way to our final destination of the day: Rotorua.
Upon arriving, we went to a geothermal park, where there were mud pools and geysers sending steam out of the ground. We also got to see some of the native Kiwi birds which appeared to be wrestling with each other.
Our next activity was a visit to the Tamaki Maori village where they performed dances, songs and hukkas. Before we arrived, we were warned not to laugh. Apparently one time a man had laughed during the hukka and he was rewarded with a headbutt. Thankfully, it was more intimidating than funny, so that was not a problem. We were also showed how they did their tattoos, carvings and how they killed their food. We were then treated to a feast in the form of a buffet. I was left very happy after a dinner of roast lamb and gravy. Our day ended with a bus ride back to the hostel, singing songs as we went, before dancing away at Lava bar.
We spent the morning wandering around town. We were collecting shot glasses in every country we visited (not the most practical souvenir but nevermind), so we found our New Zealand ones, bought some postcards and a Subway and headed back to the hostel to get ready for our skydive.
After a bit of a wait, our minibus finally arrived. When we climbed in, we were shown a DVD of a skydive and were given the option of getting one for ourselves or a photo package- we opted for the photos. They were expensive but we needed a momento and they turned out fantastically, although having watched a lot of people’s films, I wish I had that too. As we arrived at the jump site, we were prepped before being taken up into the air. It took a little white to get to 12,000ft. Annoyingly, I get travel sick and those little planes do not do me any favours, so I was looking forward to getting out into the fresh air. My instructor and photographer- Peter and Tony- chatted to me and told me what I needed to do and, before I knew it, the door was opening.
My travel buddy was the first to jump and I quickly followed. It was hands down the best experience of my life. I hate heights, I mean really hate them, but, at that height, vertigo did not kick in and I giggled for the whole freefall. I had expected it to feel the same way as it does when you’re falling in a dream but instead I floated over a toy town of little cars and mountains. 45 seconds later, the parachute was deployed and we drifted over the lakes before hitting the ground with a surprisingly little bump. Once it was over, I couldn’t wait to do it again.
The excitement of the skydive really took it out of us, so instead of checking out the hostel pool, we crashed in bed whilst stuffing our faces with crisps. After a nap, we wandered down to the kitchen to try out our super-cheap, 55p macaroni and cheese. It was actually not that bad and we relaxed in front of the TV before getting an early night to prepare for our early morning.