Castlehill, Cavestreaming and Kia birds.
A couple of months ago now, pretty much when we had just landed in New Zealand, a couple of friends of ours had already been running amuck around here for a while.
One of these friends is an unforgettable chic, Lori. She’s gorgeous, extremely clever, doesn’t take bullshit, funny in the most inappropriately best way and is the best ball of energy! I should have known better when we agreed to meet up!
I thought we were just going for tea or coffee!
The next thing I know we’re off driving in the beautiful countryside the first time I’d really seen the rural areas of New Zealand, before that they were just hills in the background of the urban areas we had wandered around, a backdrop for the shops and stores, longing to be explored but they looked so far away.
As if we had to do our time (jobs) earning money before we were allowed to experience what most tourists come to New Zealand for.
We met Chris, a lovely guy who drove us out and then sooner than I expected we stopped and pulled up at a carpark. That was it. We were at Castle Hill. I was expecting to be in the car a lot longer. I thought I had ages of wistfully looking out of the car window but no.
Australia has clearly warped my sense of time and distance.
Castle Hill is a little like the Peak district, cliffs and hills, odd rocks small and large that you can climb up. It’s actually really cool and of course, there are boards around detailing the not so distant past of the area but I didn’t really read them. I was just glad to be outside.
I huffed and puffed but made it up the hill. I felt like I hadn’t walked uphill in years after being in Australia. The closest I got to that was the vertical settings on the treadmill at Moree gym.
We found penis rock. Of course, we would. Hid in a cave, found faces in the rocks and observed a drone even though you’re technically not allowed them there. Then it was in the car for the next place. Now I just thought that Cavestream was the name of the place and that was it, I didn’t really give much thought as to why Lori said I needed to bring a head torch. I just went with it. We got out of the car, I was told to change into my bikini but put clothes on top that I didn’t mind getting wet or at least quick drying ones. I asked if I could bring my phone and Chris laughed and said no. I soon realized why.
We headed down over a ledge down the bed rock and a stream/river and heading towards a cave. I was quite oblivious to what was going on for the majority of the day but as we neared the mouth of the cave it hit me. We were going in there. And it was dark. And it was wet. And it was fucking scary. I watched as Chris climbed in first, then Lori and I hopped in and the water was sooo cold and up to my chest! It then got shallower and I found my footing quite easily. I only had a hand torch which I didn’t have a cord for so I alternated between hands and being brave and putting it in my bra for difficult bits for safe keeping. Sean’s head torch from was bright enough for everyone anyway.
We made our way through the cave, stumbling in the dark up mini waterfalls, over wobbly smooth rocks and through narrow corridors. It was terrifying but utterly thrilling and I was surprised how easy I decompartmentalized myself into old army mode, where it just felt like a job and something I had to do. I didn’t give myself time to be afraid and it ended up being sooooo much fun! Especially at the end where you have to climb up a dodgy kind of ladder that’s embedded into the rocks near a waterfall and crawl on your belly out towards the light, all the time clinging onto a metal chain so you don’t fall. It’s quite a drop too. There were a few people turning back and this part might have been why. We passed an Indian family on the way and one woman looked like she was having a bit of a breakdown and I did feel sorry for her. I can imagine if I’d never had any formal training I would be much like her so I was grateful to myself for agreeing to do this and pushing through. I haven’t done anything quite as actively adventurous as this since our last trek in Nepal in 2015.
I could have strangled Lori but she’s fantastic and her energy and enthusiasm for life is completely contagious! Plus it’s not her fault I didn’t do the research I was very blase about our day plans.
Maybe I just wasn’t expecting it.
Scarier still are the roads in New Zealand not to mention New Zealand drivers. Less said about them the better. Still, we went to Akaroa and the Fish and chip shop for tea and all was forgiven and I think the adrenaline left me eventually.
I must have enjoyed it though because we insisted on taking our housemates Jose and Felipe a couple of weeks after!
This time was a little harder though, just because of the rain and the water levels so I would recommend doing your homework before you go as it can be dangerous.
Here’s us at Castle Hill and the aquaduct where I cowered in front of the not-so-shy Kia bird. Which luckily didn’t destroy our car.
Oh also we went past Spring field on our way back! My donut pictures were highjacked by a group of drunken kiwis on a stag party. Welcome to New Zealand!