Day 34 – Torquay to Cairns

Friday, Feb 19, 2016

I had a 1.5 hour drive from Torquay to the Melbourne airport to catch a 4 pm flight from Melbourne to Cairns.

I woke up at 7 am after a good nights sleep, although the ground was a bit uneven. I had lots of time, so I packed my tent, re-arranged my belongings to fit into two backpacks and then I had a leisurely breakfast at a nearby cafe before leaving Torquay.

The drive to Melbourne was uneventful, however, it is a large airport with 4 terminals and when I got off of the highway into the airport, the GPS told me to go to the far right lane but I couldn’t because it was full of cars. I had to improvise, so I drove into the parking garage, grabbed a ticket and drove to the exit hoping that it would allow me to get right back out again. Fortunately this was the case, however, the only option I had, was to drive out of the airport on a small highway for a few miles, before taking a roundabout and driving back to a different entrance into the airport, which allowed me to fill the car with gas before dropping off the car at the rental agency.

Torquay to Melbourne

When I entered the airport, it was 4 hours before my flight. After a little research, I found my terminal and tried to check in but it wouldn’t allow me to do so until 3 hours before the flight was scheduled to leave. This gave me a reason to get a ” flat white ” coffee ** and a snack before trying again. After an hour I checked in and got my boarding pass and baggage ticket, without any problem, however, the automated system told me that I could not check my bag until 2 hours before the flight, so I had another hour wait, before finally ‘checking in’ my bag on the automated conveyor system that weighed the bag and checked the bar code label on it to make sure it met the criteria. After that, it was just a jaunt through security and then a wait in the food court for another hour before the monitors would tell me the gate I was supposed to go to.

1 hour before the flight was to leave, the monitor informed me that my flight would be at gate 45, a good 5 minute walk. When I got there I realized why they hadn’t let us go there earlier. There was nothing at the gates except a few seats and we would have all been standing around in a small area. It was quite the unique experience, but it all turned out just fine. After a late take-off and a 3 hour flight, we arrived in Cairns at 7 pm. It was 8 pm in Melbourne, because there is a 1 hour time change going to Cairns that I wasn’t aware of.

Melbourne to Cairns

As I had been warned, the heat an humidity was stifling when I got off of the airplane onto the tarmac. It was in the mid 30’s C ( 90’s F ) and almost 100% humidity. I was in the tropics.

After I got my bag, I checked to see where my shuttle driver was, only to find out that my ride would not be there until 8:30 pm. When the driver arrived, I was escorted to a van with 5 other people and after 30 minutes consisting of picking up one other person and dropping 4 people off, I arrived at my resort. Before I got there the driver said that she had experienced late check-ins with this resort before. Like many of the accommodations in Australia, the reception desks are not attended at night. She informed me that the last time she brought some foreigners to the resort late at night, they couldn’t speak much english and it took her an hour to figure out how to get them to their room, so she now had experience with it. She drove me to the reception which was at a different unit and she told me that I would have to take the elevator to the first floor and get my paperwork out of the safe around the corner. I found the note at the reception indicating what to do for a late arrival, but when I got to the safe, I didn’t have an access code to open it. So I went back down and called the after-hours number. I was put on hold for about 10 minutes before an agent informed me what the code was and I was able to get my envelope containing the resort information and the key to my room. With the key to my room in hand, the shuttle driver brought me to my unit and I was able to get into my room.

It was a bit of a pleasant shock. I have gone from tenting to a plush resort. This was one of the few times I had pre-arranged a place to stay while travelling. I had traded a timeshare unit for this unit in early January in order to get a place to stay for at least 1 week in the tropical area of Australia but I didn’t know what to expect. It is a very extravagant, 2 bedroom unit, but the most stunning part is the tropical view out of the large windows in the living room and master bedroom, looking past a huge veranda.

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Tomorrow I will have to get acclimatized and figure out whether I will need a car and what I will do for the week that I am here. I will also have to plan my last four days in Australia, as well as, my flight back to Sydney to catch my flight back home.

Note:

** A flat white is a coffee beverage that originated in Australia. The beverage is prepared by pouring microfoam (steamed milk consisting of small, fine bubbles with a glossy or velvety consistency) over a single shot (AU) or double ristretto shot (NZ) of espresso. It is somewhat similar to the traditional 140 ml (5 imp fl oz) cappuccino or the latte although smaller in volume, therefore having a higher proportion of coffee to milk, and milk that is more velvety in consistency – allowing the espresso to dominate the flavour, while being supported by the milk.

Day 33 – Peterborough to Torquay

Thursday, Feb 18, 2016

Peterborough to Torquay

It had drizzled rain off-and-on all night but it stopped at sunrise. I woke up at 5:30 am, after a good sleep and started to pack up, before walking to a cafe for breakfast. After breakfast I started driving towards Torquay.

I didn’t get too far. I reached several ” lookouts ” that I hadn’t had time to see before and I was glad I had the time to see them now. They were amazing.

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Notice the cave at the right side near the water. Of course I had to go into it.

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I couldn’t believe how big the cave was. This is a picture from the back of the cave facing outwards.

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I had a lot more pictures of the shoreline and I have placed them in a folder and I have imbedded a link to them, in case someone wants to see more pictures indicating the artwork created by the water wind and sand –
https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=BC9F145E7DC17E78!3176&authkey=!AH8gm5jSiwFsuRk&ithint=folder%2cjpg .

As I walked along the paths, I noticed something ” slithering ” away very quickly. It didn’t seem like a snake and later I saw two more. The last one I saw on the path and it stayed around long enough to get a picture of him. I believe it is a newt.

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I stopped for lunch close to Apollo and there were several parakeets outside. I could see why they were there. The owner had bird feeders strategically placed outside the windows which were attracting the parakeets and in turn attracted customers.

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I was about to leave when a young fellow who had just been dropped off by someone at the cafe, waved at me and asked if I could give him a ride to Apollo. I offered him a ride and found out that he was hiking the south coast while his parents were in Sydney at a ” soil ” conference. His father is a soil expert and he is a hotel manager in Wisconsin who loves to hike and travel. I dropped him off at his car in Apollo and then continued on to Torquay.

On the way, I noticed that a fire had recently destroyed many hectares of land along the beach. I saw many evidences of fire damage in northern Canada this summer, but here the vegetation is a little different. Both New Zealand and Australia have fire bans in effect, in many areas because of drought conditions, however this area does not have a fire ban at the moment.

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When I finally reached Torquay, I reserved a campsite, set up my tent and went to the beach. I went into the water but I didn’t swim, because the waves were too rough and there were numerous young people learning to surf.

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This is my last full day in South Australia. Tomorrow I am scheduled to fly to Cairns in the northeast.

Day 32 – Cape Jervis to Peterborough

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2016

Cape Jervis to Peterborough

I like a firm surface to sleep on and I had the ultimate firm mattress under my tent last night. I put on several layers of clothes to make sure that I would not be cold and together with a firm surface, I had a very good night’s sleep, the best so far. There has only been one other time that I have slept better and that was when during my whitewater rafting trip in the Grand Canyon when I slept under the stars without a tent.

I woke up well rested and ready to start driving back to Melbourne. My plan was to get as close to Melbourne by the end of the day so that I could complete the section of the Great Ocean Road I hadn’t travelled before.

I stopped at the same bakery in Myponga that I had visited on the way down to Cape Jervis and had a breakfast pie and a Cappuccino, before continuing my drive. The pies in New Zealand and Australia do not refer to sweet fruit pies like in North America, but generally refer to meat or breakfast pies. Mine had bacon, egg, tomato and a few other goodies inside. It was very good.

No sooner had I passed a sign indicating that there was a potential for kangaroos being on the road for the next 14 km, when I saw one watching me from the side of the road as I passed by. I was glad that he didn’t decide to cross the road at that time. I wasn’t in for a game of ” frogger ‘.

I didn’t stop very often during my drive because I was retracing my steps, however, I did stop at the Father Woods Park to take pictures of the magnificent sculptures at the entrance of the park. I had seen them on my drive to Kangaroo Island but I hadn’t stopped at that time. As quoted from the website:

” On Sunday 23rd May 2010 the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson unveiled tree sculptures at Father Woods Park. It is dedicated to the memory of pioneering Roman Catholic Priest Father Julian Tenison Woods who served in this region from 1857-67.

Sculptor Kevin Gilders has spent many months on the site and has created some amazing designs that are already creating a lot of interest with local residents, as well as those who are visiting the the region or passing through along the highway.”

There are 4 themes.

Bush Priest:

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Good Citizen:

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Scientist and Explorer:

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Founder and Educator:

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I left the park and drove until shortly after 5 pm, when I stopped in Peterborough to get a campsite, pitch my tent, get something to eat and do some laundry. The campsite is one of the best I have been at, so far. It is very clean and the grass sites are in excellent condition. I pitched my tent on top of a nice grassy spot and although it has been drizzling rain off-and-on and it appears that it might rain during the night, I am anticipating that I will have a warm, dry sleep.

Day 31 – Kangaroo Island

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2016

Kangaroo Island

I have mixed feelings about today. It was a very interesting and enjoyable day but there was also sadness.

I had been looking forward to my trip to Kangaroo Island because I wanted to see the unique scenery and animals in the wild and today was the day I was scheduled to go there.

It had rained occasionally during the night and it was quite cool and windy. The cool windy temperatures, coupled with sleeping on the ground, made it difficult to sleep for any length of time, but I managed relatively well. I got up at 7 am, packed, had a light breakfast at the campground and by 8:15 I was at the Ferry Landing, waiting to leave.

The ride across the channel took about 45 minutes and we were met at the Penneshaw Landing, by a bus that would take us on our journey to see the highlights of Kangaroo Island.

Our first stop was Seal Bay to see the Australian Seals. This is a picture of an adult male seal. Notice the white patch on the top of his head. They can grow up to 400 kg ( 880 lbs ).

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These two young males are practicing to fight so that when they become mature after they are 7 years old, they will be able to compete for the females.

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After we left Seal Bay, we had a nice lunch and then drove to the Hanson Bay Koala Walk. We were allowed to wander through the Eucalyptus trees to search for koalas. The smell of eucalyptus was very strong and it didn’t take long to find several koalas sleeping in the trees.

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They look cuddly, but from this next picture you can see the long claws that they have.

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As we left, we also saw these kangaroos. We ended up seeing a lot of kangaroos, before we left the island, hence the name Kangaroo Island.

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After leaving the Koala Walk we drove to the ” Remarkable Rocks ” and they were truly remarkable rocks covered with lichen and shaped by the water, wind and sand. This is a view from a distance.

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I took a lot of pictures of the different shapes but this one captures a lot of the different shapes.

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From the Remarkable Rocks we went to ” Admiral’s Arch “. This next picture is a view to the right as we walked over the arch.

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This is a view in front of us standing on top of the arch looking out to the ocean. At this point I didn’t know where the arch was because the bus driver was pre-occupied.

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As I continued down the walkway and steps to the left I finally saw the arch. This is the arch looking back in the same direction as the first picture.

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We were told that the jagged rock hanging down are not stalactites. They are actually fossilized roots of trees.

This area is also populated by New Zealand seals.

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Now I said earlier that it was also a sad day. As it turned out, just before our bus arrived, the driver had been informed that someone had collapsed on the walkway and that he needed to help attend to the situation. He asked us to go down the walkway to see the arch while he checked out the situation. When we got close to the spot where the man had collapsed, we were asked to keep our distance from the situation out of respect for the family, since they were very distraught. As we drove away from the area afterwards, we were informed that the man had passed away. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends who are probably still in shock.

As the bus quietly continued on its way, we stopped at the Flinders Chase Visitors Centre for a break before heading back to the the Ferry Landing. While we were waiting, one of the passengers noticed this Wallaby, mostly hidden, eating the leaves from a bush. I took several pictures of him before we scared him away.

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As we drove back to the Penneshaw Landing, we saw some more animals along the way before getting back to the ferry. After the short ride back across the channel we reached Cape Jervis. It was only a 2 minute drive back to the campground, where I would stay for the night, before starting my journey back to Melbourne.

Day 30 – Myponga to Cape Jervis

Monday, Feb 15, 2016

Myponga to Cape Jervis & Victor Harbourn

I couldn’t believe how cold it would get at night and I woke up several times, needing to cover up in an attempt to keep warm. It was 8 C ( 46 F ) when I woke up and although I didn’t have a great sleep, I felt rested.

I washed up and went to a local bakery for breakfast, where I had 2 Cappuccinos and a chicken curry pie, while I made reservations for my flight from Melbourne to Cairns on Friday, as well as, a one-day tour of Kangaroo Island on Tuesday. I drove on to Cape Jervis, checked the ferry landing site to familiarize myself with the parking and then drove to a local campground to make sure that I had a place to stay for the night. The campground wasn’t as nice as the other ones I had stayed at, but it had all the necessities, so I booked 2 nights stay, took a shower and proceeded to finish my journal for the previous day.

The agent at the ferry terminal had recommended that I visit Victor Harbour, so I headed there in the afternoon. The views were not as green as green as the ones in New Zealand, but the rolling hills and farmlands were similar.

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When I reached the top of the hill just before Victor Harbour and looked down at the city and the island off-shore, I could see the attraction to this location.

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It is a beautiful resort town and it has a magnificent park honouring the veterans of World War 2.

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From this view you can see the island in the background and the causeway leading to it. I walked over the causeway to the island and hiked around it. The picture below is taken from the island back to the city.

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If you don’t want to walk, you can take a horse-drawn trolley across the causeway to the island.

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As I hiked around the island, I saw a few different birds but most of them were camera shy, except for this fellow.

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I returned to Cape Jervis and chose to relax for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow I will be going to Kangaroo Island for the day.

Day 29 – Port Campbell to Myponga

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016

Port Campbell to Myponga

It had rained at night, so when I got up, I wiped down the tent and left the tent out to dry a bit more in the cool breeze, while I went to brush my teeth. When I stepped out from the washrooms, it was raining again, so I had to gather my tent, which had blown over from the wind ( even though I had staked it down ) and then dry it as much as I could, before leaving.

It was cool when I left Port Campbell 9:30 am, for the 8 hour drive to Cape Jervis where I hoped to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island the following day, or so I thought. My life is anything but boring. If I don’t have opportunities, I tend to create them.

The temperature was 18 C ( 64 F ) when I left Port Campbell and it got a little warmer, but it didn’t get higher than 24 C ( 75 F ).

I continued my drive along the ” Great Ocean Road ” and I enjoyed the many ” lookouts ” with spectacular views along the coast.

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Among the unique coastline, there were grottos,

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and crags.

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While I was walking along one of the paths to take pictures of the landscape, I came upon these large ants.

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They were quite large and I couldn’t believe the size of their pincers. I checked it out and they look like the ” Bull Ant ” which is apparently the largest ant in the world.

After I left the coastal highway to go a little more inland, I saw several unfortunate kangaroos and koalas that had not made it safely across the road. But I did see these emus walking just outside a wooded area along the highway.

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I had gained another 30 minutes and I am now 15 1/2 hours ahead of the time back home. I have never experienced a time zone that is only 30 minutes difference until now.

There were large sections of vineyards that stretched on for kilometres, which was not unexpected, knowing Australia’s reputation for making wine.

I still couldn’t get over the large number of eucalyptus trees. They seemed to be everywhere and a lot of the roads were lined with them. A lot of them dwarfed the one I saw at the park in Hamilton.

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It was taking a lot longer than expected to get to my destination, Cape Jervis, so I decided to try to get a campsite at a Big4 campground in Aldinga Beach, 50 kms north of Cape Jervis. I was almost there when the sun was setting.

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I reached the campground by 9 pm and there were rooms and sites available, but no ” innkeeper “! There were some instructions for assistance if you were a registered guest, which I wasn’t. I called anyways and the camp manager said that he couldn’t help me if I didn’t have a registration. What now? I checked on the internet for a few options and then drove back to Willunga and stopped at a little food mart and called a B&B but they were booked for the night. I decided to continue driving, however I was getting very tired, so when I saw a public washroom in a small town along the way, I parked the car, bundled up and went to sleep in the car because I was too tired to update my blog or answer any emails. It had gotten a lot cooler by the time I went to sleep, but I didn’t realize how cool it would get!

Day 28 – Auckland, NZ to Port Campbell, Australia

Saturday, Feb 13, 2016

Auckland to Melbourne

Melbourne to Port Campbell

I spent the night in the airport and was able to sleep along with many other people who were waiting for their flights in the morning, although, sleeping on a makeshift bed, consisting of chairs, coats, towels, etc, is not very comfortable, but will suffice in a pinch. I was actually able to sleep for 5 hours. I don’t think that the airport shuts down at night, however, the shops close around 11 pm.

When I woke up it was 5:30 pm, so I got ready and went to the ” check-in ” kiosks. It was easy, however, I was rejected the first time and I was given a slip of paper to present to the agent. When I did, I was informed that I needed an Australian visa to go there and that I would have to go to the service desk and request one. It only took 10 minutes and $30 to get the visa and then I was able to successfully check my bags and go through security.

The 3.5 hour flight was on schedule and we left at 8:30 and arrived at 10 pm because of the 2 hour time change. Now I am 16 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.

Upon arriving in Melbourne, I was able to use my Canadian passport to skip having an agent talk to me about my luggage. All I had to do was sign into one of the many kiosks for pre-approved passports and then have my picture taken at another kiosk where it was compared to my passport picture. After I picked up my luggage, I had to see an agent with my customs declaration card, but that was a very quick process.

Now I was in Australia, however, I didn’t have a car or a place to stay. I didn’t want to stay in Melbourne so I opted to talk to the iSite agent. The agent was able to rent a car for 6 days at a reasonable price and pick up a Vodafone SIM card for my iPhone for $40. The SIM card will give me 8 GB of data ( which is great since I use my phone as a GPS and I can use it for my blog ) and it will also give me unlimited calling in Australia, as well as, 90 minutes of international calling.

So now I was ready to head west along the southeast shore of Australia. The traffic was very busy and I was glad that I had decided to leave the city. It wasn’t until I drove south of Geelong, the the 3 lane narrowed down to 2 and then 1 lane, but by then the traffic was a lot less. I was unimpressed with the landscape all of the way from Melbourne to Geelong. It was extremely dry and the grass was mostly a golden brown colour. The cattle and sheep on the ranches, had mostly dry grass to eat.

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Where there were trees, they were mostly eucalyptus trees with some evergreen trees along the way, which added some colour to an otherwise, dull background. I could understand why it was so dry because it was 34 C ( 93 F ) and there was no humidity in the air in Melbourne. However, the temperature slowly dropped as I headed towards the ocean. The scenery started to became more colourfull, as well.

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There were still brown patches in places where there were no trees left.

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Although there are a lot of eucalyptus trees here, I haven’t seen any koala bears yet. I didn’t see any kangaroos either, although there were several signs indicating there were kangaroo crossing areas along the road.

The drive along the ocean shore was beautiful and that is why I took it instead of going on the highway.

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I was lucky to find a National Park along my route. It is called the ” Twelve Apostles ” and there were a lot of people stopping there, so I decided to stop as well and check it out. I’m glad I did. I soon saw the reason and it was well worth stopping for. The beaches and the rock formations created by the water were absolutely stunning.

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I took several photos of the landscape around the 12 Apostles before continuing on my way.

I was going to drive for a few more hours, but I realized that with the time change, it was 8 pm and not 6 pm in New Zealand and I was getting tired so I stopped in Port Campbell. I found a Holiday campground, secured a campsite, took a shower, picked up a few groceries before writing my journal.

It had cooled down significantly and it reached 20 C ( 68 F ), by them time I set up camp in Port Campbell.

Tomorrow I will try to purchase a ticket to fly to Cairns ( in northeastern Australia) on Friday because I have a condo booked for a weeks stay there. That is the only thing I had pre-planned in Australia. After that I will be heading to my westerly destination, but that could change at any time. Whatever happens, all I need is to find a campground and I am all set.

Day 27 – Waitomo Caves and Auckland Airport

Friday, Feb 12, 2016

Waitomo to Auckland

Yesterday I was supposed to go “ caving “ but when I reached Waitomo, I was informed that all of the more extreme cave adventures had been cancelled because a sudden flood in the caves had made them unsafe.

It is a 1 hour drive from Hamilton to the Waitomo Caves, so I got up at 6:30 am to make sure that I wouldn’t miss it. I arrived shortly after 8 am and I was informed that I was the only one on the 9 am adventure because a large group had cancelled. The agent asked me if I would consider going with the 10 am group. I informed her that it didn’t matter to me, so I waited an extra hour for the adventure to begin, but, it was well worth it.

It was on the 5-hour “ Black Abyss “ tour and I had been looking forward to doing it from the moment I had signed up to do it. According to the website, the Black Abyss involves ” descending into the seemingly bottomless black depths of the glow worm studded Ruakuri Cave. This five hour expedition combines abseiling the 35 metre tomo, climbing, whizzing down a flying fox and cave tubing underneath glow worms into one unforgettable journey.”

We weren’t allowed to take our cameras along but if you want more information and pictures about this tour , you can find it at their website,

http://www.waitomo.com/black-water-rafting/Pages/black-abyss.aspx

I have already forgotten some of the details but I will try to explain it as best I can.

Our group consisted of 4 men and 1 women and 2 guides. We were given wetsuits, with extra padding on the knees and elbows, helmets with headlamps and boots. We started off abseiling ( i.e. repelling ) down a 35 m (115 ft ) hole in the ground, by slowly lowering ourselves down a rope, while tied on by a harness. I volunteered to go first. When everyone reached the bottom, we walked through a few caves, ” zip lined ” down a short section of the cave and walked a little further until we got to a ledge where we each grabbed an inner tube and jumped into the flowing water which was slowly flowing about 4 feet below us. The impact of the tubes on the water made a thunderous noise as they hit the water with us in them.

We pulled ourselves upstream using ropes along the edge of the caves until we got to the point where there were thousands of glowworms. At this point, we created a line of tubes by having everyone hold on to the feet of the person behind them, turned off our lights and then we floated through the caves while viewing the glowworms on the ceiling.

When we reached our starting position for the tubing, we left the tubes there and continued on foot because the water level was low enough. We slid down a small slide and continued walking, while carefully watching our steps, until we got to some smaller caves. We climbed through some caves that were only a few feet high, some that were very muddy, some that had water flowing in them, some that were very tight cracks in the wall so that we had to push against each surface to keep from falling down into the crack and some that were so narrow that you had to literally squeeze yourself through them. One was actually called the squeeze and I am happy to say that I made it through by maneuvering my fat around each little nook and cranny, while pulling with my hands and pushing with my feet as much as I could. The wetsuits that we were wearing helped protect us from the sharp rocks and kept us warm in the 10 C water, but they also added quite a bit of extra volume when we had to make it through tight places and there were quite a few of them. Only one fellow tried it, but gave up because he felt he was to big to go through, so he went around a different route.

We also had to climb up a few small narrow waterfalls in the caves, which I found exhilarating, because you had to find a foot hold and a hand hold on each side of the waterfall as you slowly climbed up, without getting into the full path of the water because the force could easily knock you down.

The tour guides took us into some extra caves because he said that we were doing so well that we had time to do a little more.

It was a very interesting experience for me and I enjoyed it very much. The tour isn’t difficult and almost anyone can do it, but is definitely not for someone who doesn’t like to take a few risks or is claustrophobic.

Afterwards we took showers, changed and had a simple lunch of soup and bagels.

I returned to Hamilton to return the car before taking the 5:15 pm bus from Hamilton to the Auckland Airport, where I would wait for my flight to Melbourne on Saturday morning at 8:30 am.

Day 26 – Hobbiton & Cambridge

Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

Hobbiton

I have been through the depths of Mordor and now I have also been to the Shire.

Weather conditions affected my excursion today and required me to switch my anticipated tours. With the change I drove to visit Hobbiton, where I could tour the movie set of the Shire from the movie, “ Lord of the Rings ”.

On my way along the detour to Hobbiton, I stopped at a small cafe for lunch and I had the opportunity to talk to a fellow who was spraying the weeds and I had a short conversation with him regarding New Zealand policies about the use of herbicides.

I had been enjoying the rolling hills in the North Island and I could tell why this area was used for the movie. Just 6 miles north of the set, I saw a similar landscape.

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I reached Hobbiton, at 1 pm, 2 hours before my tour would start so I relaxed for a while and waited for the tour to begin. Hobbiton is strictly regulated to control the number of tourists.

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The movie set has been maintained since the completion of the films and I found the attention to detail very interesting. I couldn’t capture all of the many ” hobbit ” homes in a single picture.

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” Bag End ” had the most detail associated with it.

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Just before we completed the tour, we were invited to the ” Green Dragon ” pub, used in the movie to have a drink.

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At the completion of the tour, I drove to Cambridge to visit with my brother-in-law’s niece, Petra, her husband Gavin and their family. I was treated to typical New Zealand hospitality. We had a wonderful BBQ dinner, Gavin gave me a tour of a kiwi farm, along with state of the art technology used to grow the kiwi fruit and then we visited until late in the evening.

When I returned back to the motel, I started to prepare for tomorrow’s adventure. Hopefully the weather co-operates this time.

Day 25 – Hamilton

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016

I had a good nights sleep and when I woke up, I decided to make plans for the next few days. I thought that it would be a boring day around the motel, but with a little effort everything worked out very well and I was able to spend some time on the riverwalk.

First of all, I tried to arrange a car rental, however, I wasn’t able to get a car until Thursday, so I looked at some options for activities in the area instead. Having checked out some of the options, I decided to walk to the iSite in town, to make some arrangements.

When I reached the iSite, I mentioned my issue with the car rental to the agent, so he made a few calls and arranged a car for me for me to drive until the end of the week. He then arranged a few more activities for me, so that I will be busy until I leave New Zealand.

The downtown area where the iSite is located, is very nice.

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I left the iSite having planned the rest of my time in New Zealand, I grabbed a sub for lunch and returned to my room to wait for my car to be delivered. When the agent arrived, he drove me to the rental agency and we completed the paperwork.

I then, took a walk along the river to the Hamilton Gardens, as suggested. It was a fairly long walk but it was worth the effort. The walk along the river is similar to the one along the Niagara River back home, but the vegetation and the trees are different.

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The rowing club is along the river and I snapped a picture of some of the teams practicing.

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The Hamilton Gardens can be compared to the Niagara Botanical Gardens back home. They have beautiful gardens, one of which is a rose garden.

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They also have a Horticultural School and a Cafe. I stopped at their cafe for a drink and a snack. The view from the cafe overlooked the adjacent pond.

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One thing I have noticed in New Zealand is that they have a lot of bees and one of the species is very large. They have a small problem with infection, but nothing like the bee populations in the US and Canada.

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There were also several very unique trees including this huge Eucalyptus tree.

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I posted some of the pictures I took of the flowers, at the following link.

Tomorrow I have a full day planned and I am looking forward to it. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update.