Wow, what an incredible few weeks. I’ve been really bad at doing any blog updates so I’m really sorry so here’s a little update about what I’ve been up to. Its all been a bit surreal really as I’ve managed to try out some sports that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, catch up with some friends and check out some amazing places! It all started about 4 weeks ago back in Wellington where I left Daisy at Pat and Doro’s who very kindly let me store some stuff while I had this little mini adventure from a big adventure (I know, ridiculous!) so I loaded up my backpack and set off for Auckland.
The first sport I wanted to try was paragliding which I’ve always been curious about. I found a place to do it up in Auckland so booked a bus to get me there, roughly a 12 hour ride away. A couple of days before I was due to get it I went out for dinner with Pat and Doro and we met a friend of theirs called Mike. It turned out he’s a bus driver with one of the tour companies and he was driving to Auckland later that week with an empty bus. Now when I first heard about this I though mini bus, there’s no way a massive coach would be traveling all that way without anyone in it…how wrong was I. On the Friday morning Pat dropped me at the station and we found Mike parked up with a huge tour coach. Now we’re talking! I jumped on and carefully picked my seat, there wasn’t much competition if I’m honest and we set off. A short way out of Wellington we picked up Mike’s brother and the three of us headed off to Auckland. Three of us in this massive coach, there was something ridiculous but brilliant about the whole situation! It felt like I was hitchhiking and I’d somehow bagged an empty bus! Brilliant! It was a great trip up, we stopped a couple of times along the way and when we got to Auckland Mike dropped me outside the hostel I was hoping to stay in, service or what! Thanks Mike!
My plan was to spend a few days in Auckland and do a three day paragliding course called PG1. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas as it was either raining or too windy so in the end three days became one. There were a few advantages to this as I managed to find some cool coffee shops which meant lots of reading, never a bad thing and I met some interesting people in Auckland, one of which was called Tolsten. A german guy who was backpacking through some amazing countries. It was nice to have a beer and hear his stories about his trip so far. He’s also doing a blog so if your curious check it out. (https://mistertaroundtheworld.wordpress.com)
Fortunately my one day flying turned out to be a pretty epic one, the weather was great and the condition were perfect (So I was told). We drove about an hour out of Auckland to a beach on the West Coast which was a stunning location to learn at. I was taught by Reubens who owned the school and Lukas who was another instructor and amazing pilot. We started off by doing the basics like how to inflate the wing, taking off which for me meant lots of running and also how to land, quite handy that last one. After doing this a few times to get a bit of a feel for everything Lukas took me up on the tandem to give me a bit of an idea about turning and what the whole experience felt like. Really fun! After that, amazingly, they asked if I wanted to do a solo flight…yes please! I was handed a radio and got myself set up and launched off the hill out towards the sea…it was both amazingly exciting and a little scary as I thought I hope this works. Of course all went well and after a couple of small turns I landed! Brilliant. I then did three more solo’s, another pretty straight forward one and two longer ones of about 10 minutes each running along the cliff edge which were great fun! An amazing day and so much fun! I’ll certainly be doing it again in the future!
After the buzz of flying I was off to my next place to explore so I jumped on a bus to a place called Raglan. I can’t remember how I heard about it but I’m glad I did as it was a brilliant place. The reason I was heading there was to do some surfing. Another sport I’d always wanted to try but never found the time. As I cycled down the east coast I missed this section of the west coast so it was really nice to visit it. Raglan had an awesome vibe, wasn’t too touristy and very relaxed which I really liked. They also had the Raglan roast, a coffee shop and possibly the best I’ve ever had, I became slightly addicted to it while I was there! The first day I was there I met a really cool girl from America called Nina and as we both had a free day we decided to go paddle boarding, another first! There’s a little estuary that Raglan is on so we went for an explore up there, it was great and apart from a couple of falls, one involving some hidden rocks, it was great fun. All these new sports could end up getting expensive!
I decided to do something called surf and stay with a company called Green Wave Surfing. They’re a fairly new and small company and they have some rooms at their place where you can stay hence the stay bit in the name…clever this isn’t it, you get some food and you learn to surf, hence the..ah you get the idea! Its run by three guys called Ryan, Bing and Zenner who were all awesome and made me feel really welcome. The best bit however was they taught me to surf, shock horror! After a few days I was standing, turning and trying to look cool, apparently a very important part of surfing, ain’t that right Merlin. If your heading that way and want to learn to surf I can’t recommend these guys enough! The other cool thing was I was in Raglan over a weekend and on the Sunday we all went to see a band called My Baby who turned out to be really good! Check them out if you get a chance. It was a fun night with lots of bad dancing and a few drinks! Brilliant! Thank you guys! Hope to be back in Raglan soon!
After 5 days in Raglan I headed back to Auckland to get my flight back to the UK, basically due to a slightly strange decision on my part I had a 6 month return to the UK and I still have some unfinished exploring left in New Zealand. Instead of ignoring the flight I thought I would have an adventure away from an adventure, returning to NZ in February so after a night at Shaun and Jenny’s, who it was brilliant to see again and catch up with I got on the plane back to London. The timing was great as it meant I would be back in time to go along on our family skiing trip, so I’m incredibly lucky! After a couple of days back home it was off to the alps, one of my favourite places in the world, to get my ski legs on.
Its was an amazing week as I got to catch up with my family and my extended family which was lovely. It was great to hear how everyone is getting on with their own adventures and what everyone had been up to. I was also lucky to be around when Lauren found out she had become a Doctor! Pretty epic! Congratulations again Lauren!! There was some hilarious falls, Brodie, all you mate! Some brilliant food and stunning views so all in all it was very much worth the trip back to catch up with everyone! Thank you guys! Great to see you all!!
I’ve now got a little bit of time before heading back to New Zealand to continue down the south island. I’m hoping the weather will be a bit more settled and it’ll be a little quieter than it was over christmas so I really can’t wait. I’m now looking at what I can’t do to reduce the weight I’m carrying around on the bike…exciting stuff I’m sure you’ll agree! ill be sure to let you know how I get on!