Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Zealand trip, day 4: Huka, Huka, Huka

Tuesday, October 4

One nice thing about jetlag is that my body clock is so confused that it doesn’t know when to get a caffeine headache. At home, I have to get coffee almost immediately after waking up—particularly if I sleep in—lest a massive headache sets in. Here, however, I can wake up an hour and a half before everyone else (I’m also a morning person when I go 17 time zones ahead) and just lay in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, waiting for the others to wake up, with no fear of a caffeine headache. I kinda like this whole 17-hour time difference.

We had to be out of the hostel by 10:00 a.m., and I think we only barely made it. Since my phone is stuck on Los Angeles time since that’s the last place where it connected to a cell tower, it’s annoying to subtract four hours and add a day every time I want to know what time it is, so I don’t look at the time very often. Note to self: buy a watch for the next international trip. We went to a crepe café for breakfast, and I tried a chicken, gouda, cranberry, and avocado crepe. One thing I like about this group of friends is that we share bites of our food. So I also got to sample several other people’s crepes. Theirs were good, but mine was gouda!

Then we walked around Lake Taupo, took pictures of ducks and swans, and continued to other activities. First up after Lake Taupo: Huka Falls. The website for Huka Falls has this to say about itself: 
The Waikato River, normally up to 100 metres wide, abruptly narrows to just 15 metres as it crosses a hard volcanic ledge. This of course causes a huge volume of water to collide together, forming a spectacular visual feast of powerful falls and rapids. Around 220,000 litres per second of pours over the cliff face, and then rushes under a pedestrian bridge (great photo opportunity here!) The water then bursts out of its rapids, over the 11 metre falls, and back into the Waikato River. 
Basically, a whole lot of water squeezing through a narrow space. The best part was that the water was this beautiful, foamy, ice blue color.

Next we drove to the Huka Falls Spa Park, where there’s a natural hot stream. Sadly, I left my swimsuit in New Plymouth, so I just stuck my feet in and watched the others play in the hot water. Best part about HF Spa Park: the zip line. It was small and simple, but fun and free! After everyone had had their fill of swimming in the hot water, we loaded up and proceeded to the Huka Honey Hive. This place had every kind of honey product imaginable—honey soap, honey fudge, honey wine, honey lotion, honey ice cream, and of course different flavors of honey. Fortunately for us, there were lots of free samples. They also had a glassed-in hive of honey bees, so you could watch them work. Bees are kind of incredible. Also, I would feel really stressed if I ever lived in a bee hive, because it looked really chaotic and crowded in there.

Grass in New Zealand is awesome. Where I come from, walking barefoot is extremely painful. The grass is dry and somehow sharp, most grass is also heavily seasoned with stickers, and the ground underneath is hard and often rocky. In New Zealand, however, the grass is plush, and the ground beneath is cool, moist, even spongy. Here, walking barefoot feels is soothing and freeing.

Next, we drove to Matata (not to be confused with Hakuna Matata) to set up camp for the next couple nights. It was probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever camped. To enter the site, we drove over a small lake-ish-looking body of water with lots of reeds. The camping area was a flat, grassy field stretching along the lake reeds. On the side opposite the lake-ish water was a dune, and over that dune was the Pacific Ocean. We arrived late enough in the afternoon that the lake and ocean were misty and gorgeous. While the guys did manly things (i.e., throw a Frisbee and swim in the really cold ocean), we girls took a walk down the beach. We were walking along, talking about random things, when we looked up and saw a seal! A real live seal not in a zoo! She was just hanging out on the shore and hobbled into the water while we scrambled for our cameras. That was the highlight of the evening, so I’ll stop there.

Here’s a Google map to give you an idea of where we were today.


  1. And you've got more than a week left! As a person who once spent two weeks somewhere totally fabulous, I am LOVING this for you!