It's been a hectic few days, since leaving Rotorua on Thursday. Our last day in Vegas we were a little bit shagged from the previous few days riding, so we did the tourist thing and went out to Te Puia, the site of the boiling mud, geysers and Maori cultural displays. It was pretty cool, our guide was a pretty funny dude, giving the Aussies and Poms a hard time, and vise-versa. We saw real live Kiwis (birds, not people, seen plenty of them), and a traditional Maori gretting ceremony with lots of cool singing and hakas, wood carving and of course the gurgling, spraying stuff. In the arvo I decided to get a last taste (for now) of the sweet trails, and headed up on my own as Keeds was onto his third Southo and Coke. Once again I tried to do trails I hadn't done before, and made the looong climb up tp Billy T, the newest trail in the park. Overnight rain had made it a little slippy, but it was a nice ride down, linking up with Chestnut and Rollercoaster. Another 2 hours and 25km in the legs, and I was sated. In the morning we packed up and went into BikeVegas to see the guys, Dave the owner has offered me a job there if I want it, and I'm thinking it could be worth it for the amazing riding. We headed towards Mt. Ruhapehu in the arvo, planning to stay at the Chateau, oh yes indeed old chap. Getting there before the 3pm check-in, we decided to head up the mountain to try and see Crater Lake, which is in the news as it is about to 'breach', basically one of the walls holding in the water is very close to collapsing, and will spill it's contents down the mountain in the next few weeks. We caught the ski lift up as far as it would go, then were told it was another 2 or 3 hour trek to the lake. It was getting too late in the day tro risk it, so we trekked up a way to some snow drifts, which was cool enough for us. arriving back at the Chateau, I made up a story that my parents had been in an accident and we had to get to Wanganui. The guy bought it, and we drove to the pretty little river city and spent the night arranging a ferry for the trip over the Cook Strait the next day. Somehow I managed to double book us, and on arrival in Wellington on Friday, we were in a fluster as we tried in vain to contact the booking agency to cancel the extra booking. But no-one at the ferry company knew anything about it or us, and eventually we got a standby spot, got the other bookings cancelled (they actually hadn't been booked!) and we were on our way. Three hours later we were docking in Picton, and then another couple of hours drive to Nelson. What a cool place this is... on the top of the island, coastal, mountainous, a cool vibe and trails. Well the trails aren't as good as Rotorua, no way, a lot of steep ups and very technical downs, not a great deal of flow, but we really only scratched the surface. Helping us to scratch that itch was 'Wayne Train', a local XC/Tri/XTerra guru we met at the markets this morning. We were cruising around the stalls, checking out the local produce (oh boy, the locals...) and I spotted a nice bike at a stall. Got talking to Wayne, and asked if he'd like to take us on a spin, which he happily agreed to. A top bloke, and a hell of a rider, ripping our legs off up the climbs, and railing the nasty switchbacks and drops on a 3.5 inch XC bike with sketchy tyres and flat bars, saddle up! I was skating around with seat down and fork at 140mm, while Keeds tested the human-catching abilities of the trees as he launched a wooden drop and overshot the next turn by a good 15 metres. They used these trails for the National XC round a few weeks back, that's REAL XC racing right there. Wayne punished us some more uphill on the way up to 'Centre of NZ', a lookout over town. I left the camera in the car again, so no pics yet, but I'll get some when I come back in a week or so. Could be here for a long time yet, the city is so damn cool, there's work apparently, but the trails will have to pick up their act a little to rival Vegas.