Wednesday 5th February – 3 months since I left the UK

Can’t believe today marks the end of the first quarter of my trip (assuming I can eek my money out for a year!). I’ve seen so much, on my 17th city, 5th country and 2nd continent, taken 1000s of photos, 3 planes, several boats, a ferry, a kayak, a pedalo, 1 scooter, 1 motorbike, countless trains – under, overground, bamboo and funicular and untold numbers of buses and minibuses, tuk tuks of varying design, cycled in every country and am happy to say I’ve loved almost every second of my time!

Today did pretty well in adding more fun to the list.

First up, woken with a coffee – John’s way to begging forgiveness for the lack of mountain climbing, closely followed by an awesome bacon sandwich – not served in bed, so I guess he didn’t feel that guilty – bread buttered then soaked in fat from the bacon with the addition of the bacon, cheese and ketchup…. If that wasn’t enough it was followed by more bacon, poached egg, mushrooms and 2 hash browns….. Perfect mountain climbing food, not so ideal for a relatively lazy day, but it was awesome!!!!

Eating in the lounge I made myself at home and opened the curtains to see what was outside having arrived in the dark! OMG, an incredible view of Mount Taranaki, even with it half covered in cloud, only wish it had been a rare day of a cloud-free view.

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Talking of the mountain, I was taken on a mystery tour, all I knew was I would get wet (but only for a minute) and would need a change of clothes. On the way to where we were going I saw several hawks, cows, but as ever a distinct lack of sheep.

We took a turn off the main road – there’s essentially one main road around the mountain and then lots of turn offs towards it – headed up hill and stopped at the side of the road, purposely didn’t look at the signs, wanted to maintain the surprise! Turns out we were at Dawson Falls – really tall waterfall, quite low water just now, but later in year the water pounds over and you couldn’t stand where we were stood.

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We jumped back in the car and went a few minutes up the road to the next stop, up to a look out, then another walk along a track up through what’s known as the Goblin Forest (was odd being with a local taking touristy pictures, but also v handy for getting pics with me in them!!)

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We came to what I thought was a nice view over a river, but it turns out this was what we’d come to see – the water? No, I took a few steps more and saw what John was already gleefully looking at…… Wilkie’s Pools. The water had eroded the rocks to make a slide with a plunge pool at the base – this is what we’d come to do…… Getting wet (yes) but only for a minute…. That bit was a fib…….

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So, removing extraneous clothing we climbed up the rocks, John stepped into the water, screamed with cold, memories of previous visits coming back. He climbed out of the water and made me go first!! Never one to stepdown from a challenge I stepped into the water, slowly lowered myself into a sitting position, took a few breaths and I went. Cold does not describe the water! I screamed with laughter, got out of the pool and hugged the warm rock – couldn’t speak for a good minute until the cold shock had receeded. Then he had no choice!!!!! I climbed up for a second go, no point in getting cold and wet and not making the most of it, did mean I got a photo!

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Was exhilarating, and with dry clothes on we chatted and laughed our way back to the car.

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We’d missed evening milking, but with John having some work to do I was sent to Hawera via Mania armed with a handrawn map to get an Indian takeway.

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I drove following the street names, but none of the landmarks matched up, so made a call and I’d been sent to the wrong street! Wasn’t the end of the world, but as he didn’t know the name of the restaurant I was aiming for I needed to be in the right place to find it!

New street name found, it was easy from there. Little place, but amazing food, had 20minutes to wait so went for a little walk, was going to climb their water tower – it’s a tourist attraction but also closed!

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Got back safely with so much food – an absolute feast, the second in one day!!

As John had more work to do to the accompaniment of some awesome music I had a mini party in the lounge, dancing, then some press ups, tricep dips, surf jump ups, and decided an early night was needed – cows to be milked early in the morning.

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