Now in NZ and since I have spoken so much about food I will not mention the food here, since we have hired a camper van and we are cooking for our selves and you wont be interested in the venison sausages and mash, the pork and pistachio pate and not to mention Pauls green Thai curry!!!!
But you will be interested in the wow factor of south Island. We landed in Christchurch and cycled to central backpackers where we stayed for a night b4 picking up camper van - chucking bikes in back for later use. En route from C to Dunedin we stopped at Oamaru to see the rare blue penguins
come in to mate at the colony there and we had a great chat with a local in
the very victorian Criterion Hotel-RUNNING DOWN TONY BLAIR BASICLLY.
At Dunedin I paid to see some baby albatross at the Royal Albatross centre which was
fabulous but expensive. Paul refused to pay!! (Paul - 25 dollars for a quick video, a chat and a look at a couple of balls of feathers - hardly surprising I refused!) but I was persuaded to go for it since this is the only Royal albatross mainland colony in the world. Sadly did not see any adults coming into feed them there - darn it!! Have to come back! But I did see 4 baby albatross.
We moved on to Nugget Head where we saw the Elephant Seal, seals and sea lion colonies and Paul managed to get a huge couple of Elephant seals in the act of procreation. further on at Curio bay at the very south of south island where you can jump off and swim to Stewart island if you want, we saw there a petrified forest - look it up!!!
We had to see Franz Josef and Fox glaciers and walked up to the face of FJ for a better look. fascinating!
The weather was pretty dreary and drizzly here in South Island 2 begin with but true 2form when we arrive it picks up and the last 3 days have been autumnal, bright and stunning for views and the roaring forties have abated while we have been here.
We walked round lake matheson where we could see the snow capped mountains of Tasman and Cook-remember them?
There is a downside to NZ and that is they are simply over the top on prices and charge the earth for just about everything.
However south island is a spectacular place for scenery. You can view Fanz Josef by helicop 4 just $250.NZ.
After the glaciers we headed north to Picton for the ferry to Wellington across Cook Strait, stopping only to dump our toilet waste and grey water from the camper- thought you would like to know!!!! (Paul - before anyone starts complaining, we did use an official dumping site, didn't just park it on the road side. I wonder who came up with the name dump station. Rather appropriate, really.)
We heard there were foot & Mouth scares in NZ and saw 6 dead cattle in a field with pyres nearby ready for lighting- but have heard no more. Also read that the clover root weevil is causing more havoc over here than F&M anyway. Farmers are not happy. (We later read that there had been a hoax letter sent, claiming somebody had released F&M on an island off the coast)
We also drove up through the huge Marlborough wine district where chardonnay and methode chmpenoise are the best sellers!!! We didn't stop. (Paul - thats because I was driving. Rita wanted to stop at EVERY one)
The early fery left Picton at 8am and the trip ws fine - hoping to see albatross in Cook Strait but no luck.
Still not seen a wild kiwi bird!!!!!!
Still not seen Adult albatross or yellow eyed penguin - have to come back. (Paul- I saw an albatross and I've got a photo to prove it. It was quite a long way away, but it was an albatross)
And so to Wellington.
On arrival we went stright to cyber cafe to update but the darn pc ate my words which I now re write and so another day went by without us updating our web site- sorry folks.
Our first night on North Island we spent in the Welly camper park and heard the verdict of the chapelle corby case (Paul - she was quilty as hell, hangings too good for them) as the Lions arrived in Auckland.
We leave NZ the day b4 their first match - I know some of you will find that difficult to believe but we fancy S America is calling!!
We have heard Maui camper van rentals have taken over the Auckland race course with rental vans to accommodate the fans.
Do you think she is guilty????????? (Paul - Yes)
We did laundry and had a roast dinner last night - how boring is that - its tough travelling!!
Friday we cycled to Wellington, visiting the Te Papa museum, weather broke in the afternoon, but no matter- we rang my cousin Roger and spent a lovely couple of days with him and his wife Maggie who emigrated some 20 odd yrs ago, in the village of whangaweka!!!! Nearish to Taupo.We also visited my Auntie Joan who emigratd there some yrs later.
We moved on today to Napier -a pretty place and the art deco centre of NZ, since an earthquake hit the town in 1931, smack bang in the centre of the largest wine area of NZ.
Guess what we are doing today??
Yeah, you are correct!!!!!!
We are visiting the oldest winery in NZ at Mission Wines along with a couple of others in Church Road and may take tastings, it would be exeedingly rude to pass another wine producing district without popping in.
We are cycling round the art deco heritage trail for the exercise too.
Paul has been anbsolute dear and said he will do the driving later on today, so off to mission winery we go. It is called mission winery since it was a seminary about a hundred years ago- but it was our mission to do some tasting, which was kindly offered of triple silver award winning chardonnay, a gold star Merlot which was a good round wine!! and mission ice a madeira which was by far and away the most delicious and by the time we had left after a visit of chapel etc my cheeks were rosy.
The weather turned from fine to wet and on leaving there we decided to get on up to rotorua for the geysers and mud pools etc.
The scenery in the North Island is also very varied, perhaps not so dramatic as the south but equally as colourful, despite this being winter as everyone keeps telling us. I dont really think it makes too much difference at this time of year except there are no queues and no fully booked sites which is a blessing as far as we are concerned, even though you can park up absolutely anywhere with a camper van!!! As no doubt the hoards of Lions fans will do when they all arrive. The locals are calling the british fans " the barmy army".
En route to Rotorua we first stopped off at the Crater of the Moons which is a huge site of geothermal activity and took some mystic shots of the steam billowing out of the earth, then we carried on to the Volcasno research centre north of Taupo. Here it all happens as it is on the line where the pacific plate is pushed under the australian plate and there are plenty of volcanoes redundant and otherwise in this region.
The largest of them being Ruapehu (may not have spelt that quite right) which you will remember last erupted in 1998, we saw the video, FANTASTIC!!!
We arrived at Rotorua around lunchtime and after snacking in the van we went to the Pohutu geyser sight which also includes mud pools and kiwi house, which I had visited when here b4. so since it was another 22 dollars entry, I gave it a miss and paul did the sights single handed. After about 2 hours he returned with some amazing photos.
We parked up later in town by the Polynesian Spa as did a number of other campervans and I checked out the cost of a full mud and bath and spa, at 70 dollars I thought I would give that one a miss too.
The town smells constantly of Hydrogen sulphide - bad egg gas - which is the down side but there is a huge park in the centre which also gives some fine examples of mud pools and vent holes, one of which erupted last in 2003, much to the disappointment of the local council, since access to the park is free and apparently hoards
of people came to get a free show. yeah!!!!
We motored on up to Auckland with half an intention to go further north if we had time, but auckland is such a massive place we are giving it a couple of days especially since Paul is meetin up with some old friends here tomorrow.
We took a site near the town and did domestic chores!!!(They have got to be done)
Weather today is showery, but it is slightly warmer as we are going north and sleeping was warm last night. After ablutions and "dumping" (a quaint local phrase) we cycled into Auckland centre which has a host of fine dining places and cafes and internet cafes, and some very ugly buildings which constitute low cost housing. There is presently an uproar about the fact the people who first bought them havent made a return on their money, despite a house boom like in uk, but they are SO ugly they cant sell them either.C'est la vie.
Met up with Chris and Rachel in the afternoon for a couple of shandies and a chat, Paul hasnĂ‚Â´t seen them for 14 years, so it was nice to catch up on old times.
Later in the evening, went to a fabulous Indian restaurant, Safron, recommended by Rachel. By the time we had finished it was getting quite late, and dark, so we got a taxi back to our campsite.
fri 03/06/05 (Paul writes....)
Our last morning in New Zealand. Tried to get a new battery for RitaĂ‚Â´s PDA, but to no avail, posted a parcel of CDs and guide books back to Clive back in Old Blighty, (cheers mate), then it was time to cycle off to the airport.
Had to pay an additional NZ$25 each for airport tax, another little shock to the wallet as youĂ‚Â´re preparing to leave. Also had a very unfreindly women serve us at the check in desk, talk about attitude. I think she decided she didnĂ‚Â´t like us from the outset, and instead of just checking the coupon for our flight out of Tahiti (a requirement of entry into Tahiti is that you have a ticket out) she insisted on seeing our flight coupons for the rest of the way back to England! Then she put us in centre aisle seats, even though there were window seats available, as we discovered when we boarded the plane. Its enough to put you off flying Qantas!
Had a last beer in the departure lounge, then boarded the plane in an orderly fashion. Tahiti, ready or not, here we come!