Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The end of New Zealand (for us at least)


So since I last posted I think we've racked up around 2,000Km, a lot of petrol, a fairly decent hangover and some police interest. We have a lot to catch up on. :-)

I thought I would start today's blog though with a few pictures which we wanted to put on last time but couldn't...................

This is me in our attractive van!!

Some bubbling hot mud from Rotorua!

At the really nice Indian restaurant we found in Rotorua.

Kelly punching the punchbag at the cinema in Auckland. :-)

The sun shining on Auckland Harbour.

OK, so on to what we've been doing lately.................

We started in Dunedin, which I really like. I had an amazing time there last time I was here where we accidentally stayed out until 7am partying, however this time it was a bit more sedate. We got into our hostel but as it was a Monday night we just went for a wander around the 'Octagon', which is the centre of Dunedin. I couldn't help laugh every time someone said Octagon, which those who know Anchorman well will understand. For those that are not Anchorman fan, it doesn't matter. haha. We went for a nice meal in an Italian restaurant and wandered home. I discovered that I really liked Speights Ale and Kelly and I both discovered (again) why we don't usually order the 'house wine'.

After Dunedin we headed to Queenstown which I was looking forward to as I have a friend there from Sydney and we could stay somewhere for a few days and not have to be up and on the move again every day. The first thing we did was organise a coach trip to Milford Sound, which we enjoyed a lot, although it was a pretty long day! We were picked up at 8.15am and didn't get home until 9.15pm. We saw a lot of amazing scenery on the way though, and got a boat trip out on the Sound where we were followed by both common Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins. They are really playful creatures who followed the boat around and jumped out the water etc.

The next day we finally had a sleep in and a day to relax. We went out that night with Niki (aforementioned friend from Sydney I worked with before) and some friends of hers from Queenstown. It was the first day of the Queenstown Winter Festival, so we had some music, fireworks, drinks and dancing to celebrate. It was a really good night and much needed break from driving around all day every day from place to place. The next day however, my love-affair with Speights Ale was well and truly over. It was horrific. Somehow Kelly managed to escape the hangover, while I thought I was going the same was as Jacko!! I finally managed to get out of bed around 3pm and we headed off to Queenstown gardens to play some Frisbee Golf. Apparently it's a tradition in Queenstown, and it was quite fun. I finished a fairly lame 9 over par, although I'm blaming the previous nights excesses for that performance. We finished the day off with a 'Ferg Burger', another Queenstown tradition, it's a great little burger place which does fantastic food! It certainly cured the hangover. I wanted one about 11am but Kelly wouldn't go and get me one, I think she liked to see me suffer!

On Sunday we drove from Queenstown to Franz Josef. We stayed there for one night and took an hours walk to the glacier there. You can do an eight hour walk/hike up the glacier which is really hard work, but good fun. I've done it before so wasn't that desperate to do it again, and for those of you that know Kelly, you'll know that it's not really her 'bag' to walk up a glacier for 8 hours. So as I said, we walked for about an hour to the base of the thing before heading to our hostel.

The next day shall from now on be know as 'Unlucky Day'. We woke up, got ready to head off north but realised that our campervan had a flat battery. One of the internal lights was left on all night. I would like to blame Kelly, but I think I vaguely remember doing it myself. Anyway, was a bit of a disaster, but we soon got it jump started. We were heading for Westport and while on the way Kelly managed to pull out from a junction in front of a man in a jeep and then shout at HIM! Her outrage at him soon shifted to the police officer who stopped her for speeding no more than 5 minutes later though. She was stopped for doing "62Km/h and speeding up" in a 50Km/h zone. I have some sympathy for her on this one though as I was done for exactly the same when I was in NZ 4 years ago. It's because as you drive around, you do about 200Km at 100Km/h and then you turn a corner to a 50Km/h sign and the police sit there waiting as you slow down. I'm sure I wasn't speeding last time so I think it's just a scam by the NZ police to make money from backpackers, because it's not like you can argue with them. Anyone else who's driven round NZ been caught like this?? :-)

We got to Westport and soon realised that it's a bloody awful and depressing place, so we thought we would just keep going to Nelson. We drove about another 3 hours and arrived in Nelson around 10pm and found a hostel. And this is where I am writing this blog from. So there you have it, the last week or so condensed into a blog for you guys.

We just today booked some accommodation for Fiji, we found a 5 star (yeah right!) resort doing a special offer so have booked there for 7 nights. I have to say I am really looking forward to just chilling out for a week or so in the sun and relaxing after driving around for 3 weeks in the freezing cold, even though I think NZ is a fantastic place and would definitely come back again.

So until next time, which may well be from Fiji in a weeks time, hope everyone at home is well.


P.S. Here are some more pictures we have taken along the way. Enjoy....................

A picture of the mountains from Milford Sound.

Upstream from 'The Chasm' - a stunning part of river on the way to Milford Sound.

What a traffic jam in New Zealand looks like (or a Welshman's Dream, take your pic!) :-)

A cute little seal we saw around Kaikoura.

The Haka before the New Zealand v France match.

A rock formation known as 'The Pancakes' due to the way the rocks are built up. Can anyone else see the beaver in the picture??

The lake at Queenstown. It's a really gorgeous country!

Kelly demonstrating a poor technique at frisbee golf.
Kelly and Niki being particularly rude on our night out.

The fireworks to mark the opening of the Queenstown Winter Festival.

That's all folks. :-)

Monday, 22 June 2009

No photos, but good stories


So I'm in an Internet cafe in Christchurch and didn't expect to be here so don't have my photos, which is a bit of a pain, but hey ho. I'll put them on sometime soon.

New Zealand (NZ from now on!!) so far has been great. Since I last blogged I have done loads of cool things which I've been dying to blog about so here goes.

On day one with the camper van (which has been named Candy Cane because it's a kind of truck name and Kelly strangely thinks she's a truck driver when she's in the van!!), we headed for Rotorua which is this town with loads of thermal activity (which means it smell of egg!). We found a campsite and parked up and went for a wander in town. First of all we went Zorbing, which is where you are put in a big plastic ball and thrown down a hill, it was great fun, although I did suffer from a bit of motion sickness for the next couple of hours - just a sore head really so not too bad. I then dragged Kelly round a Kiwi encounter animal park where we saw Kiwi birds - they are really really weird!!

After all that excitement, we went into town and found the best curry house I have been to in ages and took our seats. Kelly ordered a Mango Chicken curry and I couldn't decide between a Chicken Bhuna and a Lamb Rogan Josh. Luckily the curry gods were smiling on me that day as the waiter said they had a special on where if you ordered two curries you got a third free, so I got two curries!! Surely this makes it one of the best curry houses of all time! We left there stuffed and with a doggy bag and headed to the camp site where we sat in the hot naturally heated thermal pools which was great. Unfortunately though, we had underestimated how cold NZ actually is! I thought it would be fine to sleep in a camper van with no top on in a sleeping bag. For those of you back home, just imagine going to sleep in your car in mid-winter, it really was amazingly cold. So grumpy, cold and tired we headed for onwards.

We drove down past Lake Taupo and down the Desert Road to a little beach resort where we manned-up and booked another camp site. This time though we were prepared!! We both have thermal trousers and tops, we bought insulation for the van and the woman at the campsite gave us two huge blankets. That night was fine actually, Kelly even got too hot!!

The next day we headed to Wellington as that was where we were getting the ferry from to the south island. We splashed out a bit and got a nice hotel to stay in and were just going to have a quiet night, but then I saw signs saying that the All Blacks were playing France at the Westpac stadium. I asked the woman at reception where the stadium was and she said it was only a 5 minute walk, so we wandered over to have a look. On the way we said we wouldn't pay more than $50 for tickets each, and when we arrived the cheap tickets were sold out and the cheapest left was $82! We decided not to go, but then this French guy all decked out in flags and face paint asked if we were looking for tickets. He said he already had some but had won a couple the day before by catching a rugby ball or something. His tickets were face value of $110 each, and he wanted $80 for them. I managed to get him down to $65 though with a bit of tight Scottish haggling!! :-) We went and got some hot dogs and beer/wine and headed into the stadium. It was a good atmosphere, although with the rain and wind it felt just like Scotland! I think the best part though was the French releasing a Red/White/Blue Cockerel onto the park just before kick off, and the security guard taking about 5 minutes to catch it as it ran all over the pitch. Every time it evaded capture the crowd let out a huge roar and the security guard got more and more angry. Then with five minutes until the end of the game, a slim, drunk girl ran onto the middle of the pitch and started waving at everyone. As she turned round to wave to her adoring and applauding public, the security guard took his cockerel frustrations out by literally crash tackling her to the ground!! It was brutal, and there was a huge 'booo' from the crowd to let him know it was a bit extreme. So to summarise, the two birds on the pitch gave everyone more entertainment that then 30 guys!! Glad we went though, it was good fun.

We then headed for the ferry next morning, with Kelly being a old grump because I had to get her out of bed at 6am!! We arrived in Picton and drove down to Kaikoura which is famous for Whale and Dolphin watching. Unfortunately it was cancelled though as they weather was pretty bad for taking boats out, think 'The Perfect Storm / Titanic'. We had a good night though having fish and chips (pronounced fush and chups here) at the beach and then heading home to a warm room to play monopoly. Kelly still owes me $28m and is refusing to pay up!!

Today we've been to Hanmer Springs which is a lovely little town with hot thermal pools. We spent a couple of hours just lying around in 40 degree naturally heated water and relaxing before driving onto Christchurch, which is where we are now. Strangely we booked into accommodation and when we pulled up I recognised it as it was the place I stayed at last time I was here when I was traveling with the two Danish guys.

So that's you pretty much up to date with our goings on. Apologies for the lack of pictures, I know the blog is a bit more lively when it's not just me wittering on and you can laugh at the pictures.

So onto Dunedin tomorrow, then Queenstown, Milford Sounds and Wanaka. I'm looking forward to Queenstown as I remember some good nights out from last time I was here and I've got a friend who's living there at the moment.

I will put another blog on in a couple of days and hopefully remember my camera next time!

Until then, take care everyone.


P.S. Wait until you see Kelly's photos, she's become obsessed by taking photos of Sheep from the moving car! She also finds it funny to beep the car horn and make them all scared and run away every time we pass them! Girls!!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Greetings from Auckland

Hello all,

We arrived in Auckland last night and it's freezing here!! We went out for a wander and went to 'Love a Duck' Chinese restaurant which was appalling! Oh well, you live and learn.

Today we have been wandering around central Auckland, and it's a really nice city. We have been to the Sky Tower and the Viaduct Quay where we say the fattest seagull ever! It looked like it had been blown up with a foot pump.

Apologies that we don't have any photos to put up at the moment, we've taken some, but the internet cafe we're in has computers which look like they were used by dinosaurs.

Tonight we're going to take it easy, I've walked past a sort of gourmet burger place which has taken my fancy, and then we're going to go to the cinema to watch the new Terminator film - Kelly's choice!! ;-)

Tomorrow we pick up our camper van and take to the open road. And when I say open road, I mean roads covered in SNOW! The south island looks like it's absolutely covered in snow at the moment so that might affect our travel plans, we'll see. We have a couple of days on the north island first so hopefully things will clear up soon.

Hopefully we'll be able to provide you with a better update in a couple of days (with picture and everything!), and until then, take care.


P.S. Congratulations to my cousin Andy for passing his driving test, if anyone was thinking of going to Glasgow anytime soon, maybe give it a miss!

Also, congrats to Craby from York and Paul from Edinburgh (or more accurately their wives) as they've just become dads!!