From my walk around New Zealand I realised that the most special moments are those that are shared with others, Contiki gives you that opportunity, a chance to share both yourself and your experiences with others. Another really cool aspect of traveling with Contiki is they know the sweet spots, quite often the tour guide has been to the place you are in before and has met some of the locals and knows how to get to the spots you dream of! After 3 days of adventure; paraflying, kayaking, fishing, sailing and jumping off the sky tower I would recommend a Contiki experience to anyone who is 18-35 it is a perfect way to kickstart your traveling dreams and skip the intense planning stage. Just sit back, relax and wait for the adventures to begin.
I turned up at the bottom of the sky tower at 8:30am and started to get myself mentally ready to go. I had all the gear I thought I would need to have an epic adventure.
I was surrounded by new faces that looked excited but shy, a few people came over to where I was sitting and introduced themselves to me. I jumped up pleased and excited and told everyone my name and chatted amongst the small crowd.
The bus arrived. It was huge, it was quite new, black and had CONTIKI #NOREGRETS in purple writing down the side. We all piled into the bus and headed North, we were going to Paihia.
The atmosphere on the bus was so great, there was good music and lots of interesting people to talk to. The first stop we made was at a beautiful Kauri tree it was huge!!! After a short 10 minute walk we were back on the bus headed to Whangarei to have lunch. It was such a hot day the only thing I had on my mind was the nice cold swim I was going to have when we arrived at Paihia.
It had been a long time since I had been in Paihia, the last time I was there I was walking around the coast of New Zealand, I made sure to go and say hello to all of the people who I met back then.
The first adventure was all set to go, I was so amped because I was going para-flying and I had never done it before. It was so amazing being able to float so high and take in the beautiful views over the Bay of Islands, I spotted a small pod of dolphins, from 1200ft high they looked like large ants! As I approached the water on the descent I asked the two girls that were up there with me if they wanted to go under, they both happy said yes. We gave the driver the signal that we wanted to get dunked and under we went! It was so much fun!
Later on that evening, I met a local guy called Dan who offered to take me out on his little boat for a sail I grabbed my things and off I went! I had to meet him in Russell, the fist European town in New Zealand.
I met him on the wharf and it was the most perfect day on the sea, so flat but with a nice easy wind blowing back across to Paihia. There were three of us on the boat, and we sat talking and drinking a few beers, we watched the sun set behind the hills before heading in. We tied the boat up and then took turns at going back into the beach in a kayak, Dan took his friend first and came back warning me that the waves on the beach were huge! I couldn’t wait I was so excited to ride some waves in the dark. We paddled in and I could hear the booming of the waves as we got closer the moon was high in the sky and was reflecting the water making it look like silver, I spotted a big set of waves coming in so we waited for the last one and then I yelled “paddle now” Dan paddled as fast as he could, it was perfect we slid in on the back draft of the big wave and it dropped us right up high on the sand. Dan and I were so happy we didn’t fall out!
Later that night I went out for a drink with the Contiki crew. We had so much fun and danced till late.
On the walk back home I convinced a few adventurous people to come for a night swim! It was so exhilarating and yet so peaceful nothing but the moon in the sky, and the big sharks.
I woke up super early to catch the sunrise, what a beautiful sight it was. I had decided to go fishing in the morning so I took out my little rod and began casting off the rocks, after about an hour with no luck I set off back to the hotel to have breakfast, with a full belly I made a plan for the day. The first part of the day I went to explore the Paihia region by foot. I met some pretty cool locals and even had the chance to go back over to Russell to explore there too. At midday I came back for a kayak tour, from the sea up a river to the Hurua falls, they were so impressive, I loved watching the power in them, I can only imagine how huge they must get in a big storm. The kayak trip took us through an ancient mangrove forest, our guide spoke of ancient wars and how the daughter of a chief ran away through the mangroves to find love in the forest and the chief had dolphins searching the whole sea for her but she was never found.
That evening all of the Contiki crew went to have dinner at this amazing rib place.
There was so much meat on my plate! I was so happy! The night wasn’t too eventful we all just chilled out and chatted with each other, finding out about all the other epic adventures people went on, the coolest stories definitely came from those who went sand boarding! There were some that went big game fishing and some that just chilled on the beach. That night I didn’t get much sleep, it was so so muggy and hot, plus I was so excited for the next day. I was jumping off the Auckland Sky Tower, so I couldn’t sleep at all!
I got up, showered and raced to have breakfast. I had toast with marmite and some muesli. I packed up my things and started to put them on the bus I was so excited! It was about nine by the time we left, it was very overcast and still muggy. The bus had really good ac so it was sweet on there, we drove back to Whangarei to have lunch at the Whangarei falls. I used this opportunity to go for a swim. I jumped into the beautiful waterfalls that were falling from far above. I looked back over to the viewing platform where a huge amount of people were standing taking photos. I thought to myself you can make an adventure out of any situation and this was a perfect example, sometimes you just have to be spontaneous.
I arrived in auckland and after only spending 3 days with this amazing bunch of people i had started to really get to know them and enjoy their company. There was a huge feeling of family developing, i could see it all around me. It was my day to go home but for the others i can just imagine after about 16 days together they would be pretty darn close!
Next came my time to jump off the sky tower, the final thing to finish off an epic trip. I suited up in a bright blue and yellow jumpsuit and made my way up the lift to the top floor of the sky tower. I watched two people jump before me and then i was up. I walked up to the edge and looked down.. now I’m not scared of heights or of falling but oh my! All i could see was concrete and it looked quite intimidating. They gave me the count down 3. 2. 1. jump! I took the step of faith and began to fall. I got faster and faster as the ground got closer, i felt the wire that was holding me start to slow me down until i stopped with my feet firmly on the ground. What a rush!! Such an exciting experience, different to my usual adventures, i loved it!
From this moment i realised my Contiki was over. It was so cool to have had all of these experiences in such a short time, but the coolest thing about contiki was the people that i got to share the epic adventures with.
go with the wind, go with the river, find yourself lost in a jungle of happiness, don’t ever give up on you. live your dreams see the world, love often. most importantly have fun.