We are Back Downunder

January 5, 2009 - Grand Canyon Village, Arizona, United States

We are not quite home yet, but we are close.  We're just over the pond in New Zealand now and have a couple of weeks here before flying back to Sydney and reality.

We had a reasonably good flight over and were thankful that the airline took all of our luggage without charging us excess.

Deb's good mate Sandra and her new man Garth met us at Auckland airport and it was just fantastic to see them both.  Garth and Ed hit it off like a house on fire and didn't stop talking for the next few days which left plenty of time for Sandra and Deb to catch up on each others news without being interupted by annoying boys.  We spent a few very enjoyable days with them On New Years Day we visited Sandra's family over the North Shore and spent the day wandering on the beach and chilling out.  On another day Garth took us over to Murawai beach where he is a lifeguard, and showed us around.

We then headed down south past Hamilton where we are spending the next week and bit.  We have been here before rockclimbing and know it is the best place for climbing in the North Island so decided we may as well stay here where it is good rather than driving round the place searching for alternatives.  The last few days we have been camping beside a river near the small town of Te Kuiti.  There is no showers or electricity, but it is free camping and the river is a great bath (although very cold!).

The reason we spent a few days here is because it is near the famous Waitomo Caves.  Our buddies Tania and Nick were extremely generous and gave us tickets to do a 5 hour "Black Abyss" Black Water Caving tour for our xmas gift.  We can't thank them enough.  It was the most awesome day ever and we both had such a good time.  There is lots of different caving trips there but from the sounds of it this was the best one and we got to do loads of stuff.  First thing of the day was getting all our wetsuits on.  We knew at this point it was going to be very cold water down there as the suits were thick diving suits - uh oh!  We then were taken to the start of the cave where we were shown the ropes on how to abseil.  Both Ed and I are obviously very familiar with abseiling but they used different devices to what we use so we still had to learn what to do.  We then had to enter the cave and the only way to do this was to abseil 37 metres down a dark slippery chute.  It was so cool, at one point the chute was only as wide as a person so it was abit of a tight squeeze.  Even though Ed and I have abseiled thousands of times before, this was quite a unique experience for us.  We then regrouped and followed our guide through the cave until we got to the next obsticle which was a flying fox.  To make it scarier everybody had to turn off their headlamps so the person on the flying fox was in the pitch black and had no idea where they were going...or when they would stop!  For those who screamed (yes, Deb was one!) the guide at the other end made some huge loud banging noises to add to the effect!  We regrouped and were given coffee and bikkies at this point.  We were sitting on the edge of a cliff with a pool of water below and it was at this point we were informed that our next move was to sit in some inner tubes and leap off this cliff into the freezing water below!  Oh boy that water was cold!  The jump was only 3 metres, but it feels a whole lot higher when you go bum first in a tube!!  The next part of the trip was the relaxing part.  We paddled our way through the caves looking at limestone formations and stunning glow worms and at this point the guide decided to tell us about the plentiful eels that lived the water that we were paddling in.  We even had the luxury of seeing a few ... I can't tell you how awful that was!  At one point we were taken to a small pond where a "tame" eel by the name of Cecil was shown to us.  He was big and long and  lived in this shallow pond.  Apparently some guides feed him so when he hears tourists come through he swims over to see if there is any munchies.  The guide then tells us that the direction we are heading to next is right through the pool we just saw Cecil in!  Walking through waist deep water  expecting to stand on a slithering eel was not Deb's idea of fun!  The next few hours were spent navigating our way through the water, small tunnels and slides before the finale which was to rockclimb out of the cave up a series of waterfalls.  It was just a fantastic day out and we loved every minute of it.  Thank you so much for Tania and Nick for organising this, it was the best gift EVER!!!



Karen Houldcroft:
January 5, 2009
It is sad that your dream is coming to an end but what experiences you have had!
By the way you couldn't pay me enough money to do some of the things you do!
See you soon - Kaz
January 14, 2009
Its been so great having you guys to stay and if having your company wasn't good enough Ed doing those little plumbing jobs, cleaning my car and sanding the ceiling was a real bonus and thanks Debs for helping pack the house today. Thats the second time you have arrived in time to help me clean a house and pack - what a mate. Can't wait to see you again in Sydney in May when I will be able to show off my Tonga Tan. Love you guys, and still full from tea last night. :)
January 15, 2009
Come back Ed, we need you. Finishing stuffing some bits of board under the deck only to hear water dripping - I have a leak under the house and need a plumber..... :) Enjoying my last day at work today.
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