Thursday, January 31, 2013

For we are Brave and Full of Adventure!

     Everyday here in New Zealand is pretty much an adventure, but last Saturday was the biggest thus far.  Our lovely director Erika decided that our motto for our time here is "For we are brave and full of adventure," and boy did we need to be ready for adventure on Saturday.  Let me explain what went down.  At the beginning of last week James, our wonderful tour guide of sorts, informed us that we would be joining his son's scout troop for a hike over the weekend.  James always knows what's up so we were stoked.   Saturday arrived, we drove to the start of said hike, and we met up with the 15 or so scouts and leaders we were going to hike with.  If we're being honest, we loved them instantly!  We waited around for James to get things rollin and it was then that things started getting a little bit interesting...  

Some of the lovely ladies before they knew what they were actually getting themselves into. Yay for hiking! 

One of the leaders and one of the scouts we hiked with! They were AWESOME!

...We overheard the scout leaders talking to the boys and telling them that their fingers would probably swell while hiking, that they needed to have good shoes for rock climbing, that they needed to make sure they had waterproof containers for cameras and such, and that they needed to look for the sign at the end of the trail that said "This trail is for experienced trampers only."  We listened intently and, let's be real, thought 'What the heck is this hike?!' It had transformed into quite the excursion in only a matter of minutes.  We didn't really have a choice, so well...we got our stuff together and headed out.  

Head 'em up, move 'em out.   

Us (minus Sarah and Erika) and our trusty guide James.  
Let it be known that he is probably one of the nimblest and fittest 61 year olds you'll ever meet.    

Things started out pretty easy with what we all pictured as hiking.  We followed an honest to goodness trail into the jungle and walked for a good 20 minutes or so.  We had to us James' "bum hiking" at certain points (some hills are just too steep to hike down and sliding becomes necessary) and closely follow the river's banks, but things were still under control.  

The whole "under control" bit changed when James told us that the only way we were going to be able to walk to the next bit of "trail" was by walking through waist-high parts of the river.  We again had no other choice, so we pulled our packs up to our necks (okay so I did because I'm shorter than almost everyone else, the water came up higher on me, and my pack was in more danger of getting wet) and prepared ourselves for squishy shoes.        

Things got real crazy when we came to the lovely wall you'll see below.  James told us that their were two ways to across the water to the next bit of land.  The easy way was to hike up and over, and the hard way was to rock climb your way across.  The rock climbing way seemed harmless enough except that, oh yeah, if you fell you fell into deep water.  Most of us decided to take the easy way (we had packs with us that couldn't get wet), but their were a few brave souls who took tried the rock climbing.  You know what??? Not of single one of them fell in! Take that rock wall. Go team us!!

This was the postcard-worthy waterfall waiting for us after completing the climb of death.  
You're jealous huh?

We relaxed by the side of the river and I was able to successfully cross something off my bucket list!! 
Swimming in a natural pool in the jungle...CHECK!!!  (P.S. Our wonderful island boys did a haka for us and taught us a sa-weet game while we were stopped. Don't panic though [I know you were all about to panic] because videos are coming.)

The next leg of our journey was where things got real sticky.  This extra long leg included crossing a plank to get to the other side of the trail, rock climbing for everyone, hiking down a waterfall, trekking through a swamp, and climbing burning hot sand dunes.  It was...well different, but it was sweet as! (Here in New Zealand it is normal to add "as" to the end of pretty much any description. You may ask "Sweet as what?" Just deal with it. No one knows.  It's just sweet as.)  

Look at Elise's smiling face! So happy despite being 20 feet off the ground on a plank of wood! 

You may be wondering why it looks like we hiked through the sets of Jurassic Park and Lost. Well, it's because we actually did hike through said sets! We saw heaps of dinosaurs and stranded survivors along the way.    

This my friends was the best part of the hike BY FAR! We all had to rock climb our way alongside a river.  You can see Andrea taking that wall on like a champ.  It pretty much made us feel like we could conquer the world.    

This picture of cute Katelyn is to show you the size of the boulders we hiked over the whole time.  They were massive! 

Our fearless leader Erika! 

The beauty of this jungle was downright surreal! 

Picture pterodactyls flying above those trees and um hello, you are in Jurassic Park!!   

Onward ever onward. 

 After 7 hours of hiking we finally made to our final destination...the beach! Too bad we were all actually too tired for a beach day haha.  Instead we just creeped on the attractive worker at the ice block (aka popsicle) stand... 
(He was Californian surfer who decided to live in New Zealand and he was a lovely sight for our tired eyes. Sorry the picture is so small.) 

...enjoyed delicious chips...

...and just took in the incredible view of the beach.  

We had a grand old adventure on our hike and as Kylie (one of the other girls here) put it, "This hike just made me realize that I'm way more hard core than I thought."  I couldn't agree more! After all, you're not hard core unless you live hard core!  Hope you're all doing well! More adventures to come!  



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