A Journey Through New Zealand - by Shira Klien

In 2012, Shira Klien, her husband Phil and their small daughter, Naomi, set off on a round-the-world trip that would take them from Cornish cottages to islands in the Philippines, from New Zealand to the US, and a few places in-between.  Here's one excerpt from their action-packed journey....

Clearer weather greeted us as we were driving the narrow winding roads past the countless coves of the Coromandel Peninsula’s western side.  We spent three days on a small farm with sheep and yaks, and views so breathtaking that Phil and I were happy to simply sit in the garden for hours, gazing, transfixed. 

On our final day, we drove to the east side where we swam in Hot Water Beach, with Phil joining other tourists digging holes in the sand in an attempt to reach the hot water spring, while Naomi and I just enjoyed the sea.  After an hour of strenuous effort in the wrong location, Phil succeeded by switching to somebody else’s pool...

One of the most impressive areas we visited was Rotorua, a centre of volcanic thermal activity, with a pervading smell of sulphur.  We particularly enjoyed Wai-O-Tapu, full of bubbling mud pools, yellow sulphur cauldrons, and multicoloured lakes from the pigments of numerous minerals within the soil.  Naomi moaned about the pungent smell but relented when she found a friend to run around and play with.

Then 80 kms south of Rotorua we found beautiful Lake Taupo, and between these two places a whole world of extreme sport to dive into.  Amongst all of the bungee jumping and skydiving, Phil picked the Zorb as the one he wanted to try, which involves lying in a pool of water at the bottom of a giant plastic ball while it is sent cartwheeling downhill. 

I considered it puerile insanity, and joined Phil only for support and encouragement.  But after seeing him alive at the bottom and clearly having enjoyed the experience, I mustered the courage to enter the ball myself, anxious and afraid.  I kept my eyes locked shut for the first few seconds, but then opened them to enjoy the rest of the thrilling experience, and emerged laughing and dripping.

A few days later, with these experiences still fresh in our memories, I gathered even more courage and tried skydiving over Lake Taupo.  This decision was rather out of character for someone like me who usually prefers to keep both feet on the ground.  I’m not sure exactly what made me do it - perhaps it felt like a unique opportunity to jump over such extraordinary landscape, or maybe the other recent activities and experiences gave me the courage, or it could have been the support and encouragement from Phil.  In the seconds before jumping, I was truly afraid, with sweating skin and pounding heart, and once out of the plane, I was calmer but had trouble breathing due to the thin air racing past me so quickly.  

The joy only began for me this time once the parachute had opened and I was able to breathe in the bliss of floating freely above the brilliant blue lake, studded with green islands and snow-capped volcanoes beyond.

                                                                          To be continued...