The birds got up bright and early that Tuesday because laundry needed to get started and bags needed to be packed. The girls ran around cleaning, vacuuming and completing any other chores that was on their lists. Once the day started to slow down, the two birds went out to Willis Street and snagged some coffees before heading back up to the flat and waiting for friends to show.
Technically, TUB isn’t supposed to have parties during the last few weeks of finals, but this was the final night some of the crew would be in the country, so they turned a feather to the rules. A game of wizard staffs and hack and laughs were all rounded up, along with reminisces, keeping the mood light.

The next morning, the birds reluctantly left their nest to finish packing and get the rental cars from in town. With a little struggle at the offices, the nice Toyota Corolla hatchbacks were finally parked outside the flat and people were loading up their sleeping bags, tents and backpacks. TUB &O were reunited as they claimed one of the red identical cars. Driving up to the Tongariro Crossing was full of pit stops and back tracks. Finally, the four boys and two birds stopped to grab some directions and realized they were only a few minutes away!

It wasn’t the best day for the hike since the weather was ominous and the clouds were low hiding the entire volcano from view. TUB made the best of it and started climbing around the volcanic erosion and finding caves and caverns to tuck away in and practice their best Gollum. Jaime and Kelley think they found the ‘forbidden pools’ from the Lord of the Rings, but unofficially.



Everyone continued on with the hike, the boys blasted on ahead while the little birds fluttered and played around with the camera. Once 6:15 hit though, they turned around to head back and continue the 5 hour drive up to Auckland. Tramping around for a couple of hours had the birds spent and most of the trip from then on was full of dosing in and out of sleep. Once again Oliver had to power through the drive.
Getting to Auckland, it was after midnight. Hugs and hellos were given and then beds were called and sleep was first priority. The next morning everyone was up at 7AM to walk downtown to the ferry. Coromandel, here TUB comes!

The ferry was a very small boat and brought VNTRbirds straight back to Fiji when their adventures first started. Ian, Sager and Oliver joined them while the rest were waiting until the next day to head over. The views were just as distracting as Fiji’s and the South Island’s, but so new. The sun was shining and burning off any cloud that came in its way, thus getting everyone excited for their next few days at the beach.


Once on the Coromandel Peninsula, a bus took the TEANers into Coromandel Town. From there, everyone rehydrated, ate lunch and then got ready to hitch a ride into Matarangi. Kelley paired with Jaime and went first, then Ian and Sager followed by O. The birds felt a little put off after the first ten or so cars past by, but they were picked up by Sue within 15 minutes. Sue shared some great conversation with the two girls not only about herself, but the town and the best places to go. Periodically, a finger would be pointed out at some scene and Sue knew the history and story. The girls picked a great ride.


Being dropped off in Matarangi’s town center, there were a few shops to kill time in while TUB waited for the boys. The shops consist of a small beach convenience/ grocery store that are also connected to the pricey liquor store. Then there is a small café with delicious baked goods, a sporting goods/ fishing shop and a real estate office. VNTRbirds were literally left in an almost deserted beach town to themselves, what could be better?

The boys were having some poor luck on getting into town so the girls decided to meet them on the beach. Changing into their swim suits, putting on sunscreen and soaking in the rays, the birds were enjoying their vacation; soon after the boys were spotted down the beach running in and out of the water. Getting together, shells were hunted and tents were set up right on the beach for their first night. Drinks and stories were shared among the friends over a small fire. A fallen tree that was stripped of most branches and all leaves was found not too far from the tents and made into a perfect bench.



Exhaustion started to set in earlier than expected, so the fire was extinguished and the tents became occupied. The next morning would be bringing in some bach (batch) hunting!

…to be continued