Friday dawned bright and early and - for the first time in six months - I was going diving.
Destination: HMNZS Canterbury, a 113m long Leander class frigate scuttled after decomision to serve as a divesite and artificial reef.
Depth, bottom: 38m
Depth, tower: 12m
This dive was AWESOME! It didn't feel as deep as it was because of an excellent visibility of ca 20m, which means that heaps of light made it to the bottom. You could even see the tower from the boat before going in the water!
This dive was my first penetration dive and I was a bit nervous about it. We went in through the hangar and exited shortly after, swam up to the prow, back to the bridge and entered there as well before we started the ascent.
in the deep, all cats are greenish blue.
It's been ages since I've dived in a wetsuit, and I'd forgotten how comfortable and agile they are compared to drysuits. Three very experienced divers were diving in drysuits. 'How come you wear them on this dive? Don't you have wetsuits?' I asked. 'Yeah, but it gets quite chilly down there' came the reply. 'What temperatures are we looking at on the bottom?' I asked, fearing I might get cold in my wetsuit. 'Around 20 degrees celsius' he said in a serious voice. I couldn't stop laughing.
The second dive was even better than the first one. Conditions were just as good as on the first descend, but this time we penetrated just below decks and swam the length of the ship inside. I was very excited all the way through and couldn't stop cackling in my mouthpiece. If anyone had heard, they'd have thought I was narc'd.
In the creek by the dive center, eight huge eels hung out. They took an instant interest in my camera.
After the dive I got a ride to Paihia were the Canterbury's screw stood.
This house is so cool!
Not too far from Paihia there's a mangrove forest.
Saturday I went to the pub with a bloke from the hostel to watch a rugby match. I've never been much for sports (except for underwater rugby), but when I saw my first rugby match it was love at first sight. It's best described as american football for men. There's no protection, bloody tackles, and nary a timeout in a game. They don't even stop the game to treat the wounded, they just play around them as the medics examine them. For real!
Rugby is everything a real ballgame should be. It's fast-paced, fluent, brutal, and extremely entertaining.
After the game I quickly got tired of the pooltable. Instead, I went partying and almost got into a fight on two seperate occasions. Fortunately, I'm a good diplomat, even when extremely drunk, so none turned into anything. Don't go out in Paihia when the locals are drunk!
Sunday morning at 7:15 I boarded a bus-tour headed to Cape Reinga. I wasn't hung over. I was still drunk! This tour turned out to be the best tours I've ever done in a bus. The ninety mile beach is a beautiful stretch flat sand which is legally a highway with 100km/h speed limits.
Technically, it's only 55 miles long, but that doesn't seem to bother the kiwis. Australia has an 80 mile beach, and the kiwis are not about to be upstaged by the west-islanders, so the name stuck.
Turning off the beach we passed my favourite warning sign so far:
This was where the fun began.
Remember back when I was young, naive, and still thought that off-roading in a nissan bluebird was a death-defying act? Well, that's for pussies.
Now, off-roading in a fully packed tour bus is a different matter entirely! Full on!
Our guide, Spike, had recently escaped from the madhouse and kept us entertained with an endless rant about birds, bush and Maori culture, interspersed with music by kiwi bands. He made an already good trip heaps more entertaining.
Stopping on the ninety mile beach he showed us how to catch Pipi, a shellfish, and taught us how to open and eat them. The texture was like raw chicken, and the taste was very salty, but it was fun to try.
Next up was sandboarding, where you climb to the top of a dune, throw yourself on a board and try to control your mad plunge down the slope. Doing a running start was great for getting extra speed, but difficult due to the natural fear of having one's teeth knocked out. I did it, and ended up halfway through the stream at the foot of the dune. Hell yeah!
The cape was beautiful, spectacular, and all that jazz, but another highlight was bathing in the pacific on the way home. That's two seas in one day, the first being the Tasman sea at ninety mile beach. The waves in the pacific were sick as, and several times I was knocked straight off my feet. Mad fun though!
Cape Reinga. We were dodging rainclouds all day.
In the bus I met an irish girl whose name I forget, and Caroline from Frederiksberg, Denmark. We struck up a conversation and she asked me for advice on what to see in NZ as she'd only just started her trip. The three of us agreed to meet that evening to plan her trip. I remember specifically telling her to try the Green Glow caving, the Queenstown Fergburger, and remember to buy insect repellant. Sandflys is New Zealands best kept secret.
As my New Zealand trip was coming to a close, passing on my experiences was a great way to round the whole thing off. For the last couple of nights I'd had nightmares about coming back to Denmark, my big adventure being over, and they'd left me feeling really sad in the mornings. I hadn't realized I was so afraid of it. I'm looking forward to seeing friends and family of course, but getting back into that old tedium... Horrible! That night, however, I felt a real sense of completion about my New Zealand trip.