For the past almost two weeks, my friend Kelly has been visiting from the states. For those that don’t know, we met at college, or Uni (University) for those in NZ (college means high school in NZ), (weird, I know). She bought a plane ticket and left all the planning up to me. Didn’t know much about the country and did no research before arriving. I’m not even sure she knew where it was on a map before she bought the ticket. Anyway, I didn’t want to spend the whole 11 days driving so I picked some places to visit relatively close by to keep the driving under three hours per day. There’s too much to tell in one post, so I’ll be doing a couple about my favorite parts of the trip.
Our first stop was at the Whirinaki Forest with my cousins, who (as you know from my last post) were also in town. Jason found the place and made the arrangements, which included a one night stay at the Whirinaki Forest Lodge, a two hour horseback trail ride, and a wild boar roast dinner. I’m not gonna lie, I was most excited about the boar roast.
But, the horseback riding turned out to be the most exciting part! I’ve never experienced believing I was going to die so often in such a short amount of time. This trail was at expert level, and one of us had never been on a horse before! There were a couple steep embankments we had to navigate down, large logs to step/jump (yes, jump!) over, loose soil in very narrow passages, and all on temperamental horses. Personally, I loved the whole experience. Even the seemingly certain death moments.
This is my horse, Shaggy. I named him Shaggy because our guide couldn’t remember his name. I would have called him Shaggy regardless. He was one hungry bugger. Any chance he got he would try to snag a fern to snack on. He did well for the most part though, and thankfully he didn’t jump anything. Unlike Kelly’s horse. That was a surprise. Her horse also did what I can only describe as a full body shiver. Twice. I felt bad for laughing but it looked really funny.
This is what the easy part of our trail ride looked like. All the ferns made it feel prehistoric, and I expected a dinosaur to pop out at any minute. After the trail ride of death, we did some hiking to check out the other sights in the park.
We found a really nice waterfall at a bend in the river. A trail took us to the top, right next to the falls. The whole area was beautiful and we were the only ones there to enjoy it. After our hike, we got back to the lodge for our wild boar roast.
This is the lodge where we stayed. I lost cell phone service when we were about 20 minutes out from arriving and had none until we left the next day. Oh, and no wifi either. Completely cut off for over 24 hours. It was fantastic! Our guide, Gary, and his partner, Darlene, fixed a wonderful meal of wild boar, potatoes, kumara (NZ sweet potato), parsnips, broccoli, and gravy. Plus, a meringue dessert. Our hosts were wonderful the whole time, and they really went out of their way to make sure we had a great time.
We spent the night at the lodge and parted ways with my cousins in the morning. If I had the chance I would do the experience all over again, it really was a lot of fun once you get over the almost dying. Oh, and here’s one more picture, because I love it so much.