1637 infill 1637 infill 1637 infill background nz

North Island Diary

1637 infill 1637 infill

Diary 

continued

Day 47 - Tuesday 11th December 2007,Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera, Auckland, NZ

Got up about 8, had a great breakfast Cereal, brown bread with Craig’s Boysenberry jam and marmite, apricots and teaafter the pacific islands this was bliss.Anne was overjoyed to see the shops of Remuera.Walked round to Remuera shops. Westpac ATM worked, posted DVD to Mum Bought map book and Auckland map Asked guy (v friendly) in coffee shop (ace café culture here) about wifi, free sometimes in Auckland so will try out Then caught bus with mad driver into DOWNTOWN went thru Newmarket, Parnell saw sky tower Hired a car from Juicy cars and drove back to motel for lunch Then headed out to Kea at Glenfield, up Highway 1 and over the harbour bridge. 20 mins max, not great weather Mostly rain.No camper vans nor big people movers anywhere on either island. All booked out for Xmas, so probably gonna get 2 cars and camping gear and stay in Motels/ campsites Steve and the Lady at Kea did offer us a 2 person camper with 20% buyback i.e we would loose £6k over 4 months. Too expensive, decided against A&I will reconsider when it is just us in mid Jan.Spent most of the afternoon on the phone trying to get a 8,9,10 person minibus all to no avail. We will take some other decisions i.e 2 cars.No photos taken, too busy sorting out arrangements for when the boys and phoenix come

Day 48 - Wednesday 12th December 2007,Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera, Auckland, NZ

Keef spent a lot of time on the phone trying to contact a few more car rental people but without success. He did arrange to visit NZ Car Rentals later in the day to look at cars.We went shopping to Sylvia Park mall to buy all our camping gear from The Warehouse and got everything. Mall was easy to find – off Highway 1. It was a large mall and Keef also got a sim card for our mobile plus a Vodem which would enable us to use 3G Broadband with the laptop. When we got back to our motel in the evening, Keef tried it and it worked fine. Apparently we can also use it in Oz. Had lunch in motel then set off to see NZ Rentals people across the city. Kieran showed us a Bluebird car which had a very large boot with 4 doors. He had 2 available for the dates we wanted so we paid a $100 deposit and he said he would collect us from Juicy when we dropped off our current car on Sunday. Then the boys can pick up the other car with us after they arrive. The car hire worked out at £13.50 per day which is excellent value. Then we returned to our motel to sort out mobile phone and lap top. Went to Remuera shops and got a Chinese takeaway. Very tired and busy day but we were relieved that we had sorted out the mobile phone, internet access for laptop and car rentals. Kieran in NZ Car rentals – very helpful.

Day 49 - Thursday 13th December 2007,Orewa, Warksworth, St Martins Bay to Sandspit

Decided that we needed to find somewhere to stay with the boys for Xmas Eve & Day as well as when Phoenix arrives on Boxing Day. Set off past rush hour at 1135 am over the Harbour Bridge and headed north along Highway 1. Thought we would look at Orewa as it had a beach and was a tourist area and had a Top 10 holiday park. Orewa was a lovely coastal town with a long beach, grassy area between the road and beach with benches and huge pine trees and the red flowered NZ trees. Stopped to have a look at the beach then drove along to see the campsite – no good – mainly for RVs. Drove back along seafront and saw lots of motels before deciding on a modern motel called Waves. They had vacancies, were almost on the beach and the rooms were lovely so booked up right away. Set off up the highway and saw lovely coastal bays and beaches including a thermal springs resort, a pioneer village called Puhoi where there were some weatherboard houses and a church and Warksworth which was a small town on Highway 1 with small shops. Had fish & chips (snapper which was delicious) by the sandy bay at Snell Beach – quite a rich area with posh coastal homes with verandahs overlooking the bay and islands. Toured round the area a bit more after lunch and Sandspit was where you could take a ferry to an island but the ferry was not operating. Lots of rolling hills with sheep & cows and views of coast and sailing boats. Very warm but breezy with fresh sea air. Nice area.Returned to Auckland once rush hour was over. Good view of city and Skytower when approaching harbour bridge from the north.

Unpacked camping goods to get rid of packaging and when we tried out the camping table found that it had some parts missing so would have to return to the mall tomorrow to replace it.Motel owners at waves were English from Derbyshire and knew Nottingham. Loved Orewa beach and drive north along coast.

Day 50 - Friday 14th December 2007,Sylvia Park, Airport & Auckland Botanic Gardens

Went back to shopping mall to exchange picnic table that had parts missing. Also bought some more camping stuff. Then set off to see how far it was to drive to the airport when we would pick up boys next week. Only took about 25 mins from the mall, plus extra 10 mins from motel. Had Subway sandwich at the airport precinct. Spent rest of afternoon at Auckland Botanical Gardens which was free entry. Very warm today – about 76 F. Gardens were nicely landscaped but mainly park with few flowers and a rose garden which was just coming into bloom but not perfumed enough. Jasmine flowers were very fragrant though. Saw native NZ trees and lots of palm trees and exotic plants. Not as good as Butchart Gardens or Wisley. Also gardens were situated next to motorway and under power lines.Saw a quaint homemade wooden campervan which Keef took a photo of. Motorway was very busy on the way back towards Auckland at 4.30. Stopped at supermarket and fresh fruit shop. At 5pm had lovely roast lamb dinner at Hot Roast Hut for $28 – meat was excellent.Weather was very warm today – is getting hotter every day.

Day 51 - Saturday 15th December 2007,Auckland Harbour Cruise

Vaughan & Greg suggested we go into town via Ascot Drive along the coastal wall . Excellent advice, superb route that we now use all the time. The Southern beaches are excellent and maybe better than what Sydneysiders get to see(?) Then turned around and headed back into downtown along Quay St up to Queens St (main posh shops) tried parking on Quay by Hilton Hotel and misread costs as it was Sat, parked uphill in a Wilsons car park. Fullers harbour cruise was great. 1 ½ hours and great commentary Really enjoyed it plus unlimited free return ferry ticket to Devonport thrown in. We may well use sometime. Then drove off in search of North shore beaches we had seen from cruise, especially Cheltenham (deeply disappointed) Herne bay on south side just over bridge is very up market, took picture of Masonic lodge for Brian. Harbour, Downtown, Various Islands, Southern & Northern beaches, Marina, Harbour bridge, horse and cart (v old) with 3 drays pulling in Devonport, which has lots of old ‘mining town’ type buildings (weatherboard and metal porches/verandas), met various folk on the cruise, lots of ozzies off the Sun Princess cruiser,Free cakes & coffee on the Fullers Ferry. Bizarre ship shaped Hilton hotel on quayside ferry Capt. said it was over budget, over time and not fit for purpose hence many men and companies went to the wall. It is a blot on the landscape, took pix of  Harbour Cruise, Herne Bay, South coast beaches (i.e Hobson, Kohimara, Mission & St Helier) and North coast beaches (i.e Devonport & Cheltenham ($NZD15m houses, although we are not sure why?), Achilles point at St Heliers.

Day 52 - Sunday 16th December 2007,Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera, Auckland, NZ

Returned Corolla hire car to Juicy motors in the Strand , downtown then Kieran came out from New Lynn to pick us up and go back to sign up for the 2 sedans, white auto Nissan Bluebirds. OK cars, big boot space, air con, twin air bags and bags of room. Happy. We have also asked him to get us a Station wagon for our last 3 months that we can dump in Christchurch. He is happy same price as bluebirds (approx £14/day with extra insurance) and so are we as he has dropped the $250NZD one-way excess. MEGA embarrassment when VISA card rejected for 2nd car then MasterCard rejected as well, don’t understand, bloody Barclays (maybe) Tried it out back ‘home’ online and ok so not sure, will try again 2moro and if blocked will phone and give B’card a bollocking Then had quick lunch back in Motor inn and went out to St Heliers beach for the afternoon Took our chairs and watched kite surfers for hours. Chinese girl posed in wedding dress. Weather overcast but HOT Keef got a little red, which shows how strong the sun is in NZ. Love south coast beaches. Went to Foodtown on way back to get some stuff for T Really good olives and bottle of Queen Adelaide Cab-Sav, xclent value.Kite surfers. Mt Eden although couldn’t get in, will try again sometime.Vaughan & Greg (again) clearing out 2 rooms for painting. As Anne said when we come back mid Jan we will have those ones.Kieran (nice guy) whose mum had come from Ipswich, told us houses about 4 times salary. His respectable middle class income is equivalent of £16k, not much in our books. Loved the Kite surfers jumping & St helier beach

Day 53 - Monday 17th December 2007,West Coast via scenic drive, Piha & Karekare beaches

Took trip out to west coast from Auckland  via Highway 16 to Kumeu. Farming area with lots of stalls selling strawberries. Drove along scenic route to Piha beach. Route had hardly any traffic and we saw lots of tree ferns, tropical palm trees and trees with red flowers. Twisty road down to coast. Started to rain so had picnic lunch in car. Few people were surfing but waves were not very good. Drove on to Karekare Beach where The Piano was filmed. By now the rain had stopped and sun came out. Small stream weaved through black sand to the beach where there were a couple of people plus one surf lifesaver and a few surfies. Beach was unspoiled and waves were crashing on the beach – worth seeing and nice walk. Continued along scenic drive back to Auckland.  Returned to motel and did washing. Then decided to go to the local supermarket from our motel but car did not work – battery failure. Keef rang NZ Car Rentals and Kieran came out at 8.30pm to sort out the problem. He replaced the battery & then we were OK after that. Met Kieran, Vaughan & Greg (again),Scenic road to Piha. Car gave up outside our motel room. Anne drove her first automatic around Remuera,Great view of Piha beach and lion rock from lookout point at top of hill leading down to beach. Karekare Beach where The Piano was filmed.

Day 54 - Tuesday 18th December 2007,Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera, Auckland, NZ

Weather not so great, were going to either go to cinema at Westfield St Lukes or sit on the beach at Mission Bay, instead went and did shopping for first days camping with boys, not much else happened. Used I/net and read a bit,Had very late chicken from Foodtown, finished eating about 10.30pm then went to bed neither of us slept that gr8 as too excited about boys arriving

Day 55 - Wednesday 19th December 2007,Boys arrive in Auckland

Up very early about 4.45am had breakfast and went over to collect the boys from the airport. EXCELLENT to see them again. They were rightly quite jaded but insisted on staying up even though we had beds for them at Motor Inn. Went to the south bay beaches had a walk, then visited Remuera shops, Lunch Aquarium Had big Sunday dinner at Hot Roast Hut then back to motel where they did sleep from about 4pm thru most of the night. A Gr8 day ,Kelly Tartons marine life aquarium

Day 56 - Thursday 20th December 2007,Auckland to Baylys Beach via Dargaville & the Kauri Museum

Up fairly early, breakfast, Craig manages to get into the Guinness book of records by sleeping for almost 16 hrs. Went to Sylvia Park mall (Mt Wellington) so Doug could buy sunglasses. Then went over to New Lynn to pick up the 2nd car, another Nissan Bluebird auto to match the white one we already have. Set off from Auckland about 12 and had lunch on the beach at Wiemera Thermal springs just past Orewa. Very nice packed lunch, ham & cheese sandwiches and fruit. Saw Kauri Museum @ Matakope,met Mad Dutch guy who was biking around staying at our campsite in Baylys beach. Remember taking 40 mins to get the tent up for the first time and 4 hrs to prepare our evening meal of mashed potatoes/ scaloppini (summer squash), BBQ sweet corn, sausages & lambnot bad once it arrived. But a mission from Keef to get beer and wine (Hawkes bay Chardonnay, yum!) had to go into Dargaville and furtively find an open ‘liquor store’tricky and the publican couldn’t sell it to me. Annie. drove all the way from Auckland over the harbour bridge to Baylys Beach, some 250 km

Day 57 - Friday 21st December 2007, Baylys Beach to Mangonui, Northlands, NZ

Got up about 8, showered, had breakfast and broke camp. Very hot and a few very large mossies. Then went down onto the beach, wonderful. Spent about 20mins there if not more. Then drove up the west coast thru the Kauri Coast forests, Waipoua being the most interesting. Craig remarked on initiative of Maori’s who told you your car would get broken into at tourist spots unless you gave them $2NZD to guard it! Great motel to crash in , recharge our batteries (literally) as have to get to Bay of islands by 12 noon 2moro for ‘swimming with Dolphins’ experience Finished on PC updating daily diaries at 12.Largest remaining kauri tree, huge and spiritual. Apinhari at bottom of 90 mile beach although the weather was so crap it looked totally inhospitable. Doubtless Bay (ace), Coopers Beach (ace) then Mangonui, which supposedly has the best fish restaurant in the world!!! Lady from Boston , who had been 4 years in Mangonui and  14 in Japan She ran our Hill Side motel, luxury $NZD200. Remember all of the banter via the walkie-talkies between the 2 cars. Meal in Bushman’s Restaurant Kaitaia,lovely steak meals, expertly cooked. Doug had steak and oysters, I had steak scallops and king prawns. Especially liked the view of the west coast after kauri forest at Waipoua. Plus Baylys beach, campsite, Giant Kauri (although picky doesn’t do it justice) Ferry (MV Taurua) from Rawene to Kohukohu on highway 12, Doug was still in the shop!

Day 58 - Saturday 22nd December 2007,Mangonui, Northlands, NZ to Bay of Islands + Swimming with Dolphins

Got up earlyish, went with Doug down into Mangonui to get some breakfast. Got some good photos on route including the ‘best fish restaurant in the world’. Drove to Piahia (very touristy) and went on the swimming with dolphins cruise. Xclent. Saw lots of the Bay of islands. Saw a huge pod of Dolphins, but weren’t allowed to swim because they had babies. We were not sure you were ever really able to swim with them if the truth be known. Great time , loads of piccies. Then travelled to Haruru , probably the best campsite in the world, ever! Superb view from the end of our tent, gr8 BBQ, chicken & bacon, potatoes and scallopini ,Dolphins , lots of them, including cute babies,met boat captain who left the Germans behind at the island..’aufwidersehen pets’ Huruhuru falls site owner , drunk and glasses caused puss to run on his face where it looked like he had fallen over, indeed if I hadn’t volunteered to pay the next day he would probably not have bothered , we could easily have driven away.Remember Doug’s washing, puppy dog at campsite

Day 59 - Sunday 23rd December 2007,Haruru Falls to Waipu Beach

Rained a bit overnight, very sunny in the morning so tent mostly dried out. Had breakfast, they have gr8 kitchen facilities in NZ camp sites as well as what we have ourselves. Then quite a lengthy drive to waipou cove where we set up camp again. Exclent beach, very busy family campsite.Beach @ waipuu. Whangarai falls. Remember lack of space on camp site pitch , Police interrupt our walkie talkies at Whangarai, we think!

Day 60 - Monday 24th December 2007,Waipu Beach to Orewa (Waves Motel)

Not too long a drive, drove along tourist coast road, loads of nice beaches and eventually rejoined Highway 1 at Wellsford. Got to Orewa at about 12 and went and did meat and food shopping in New World and Mad Butchers. Really busy like UK so glad to have got in. Checked into Waves after that and chance to unload, straighten out stuff. Got out Crimbo cards, downloaded piccies, updated all electrical stuff. Keef had spa bath, ace, then cooked Lamb curry (lemon , coriander, tomato, garlic, gold kumara and beans) with rice and Turkish bread (Nan) . Met again Derby / Scots couple who run waves , remember Margaret’s number plate (?)

Day 61 - Tuesday 25th December 2007 - Xmas Day,Orewa (Waves Motel)

Got up about 7 to hear the boys talking. Phoenix had texted saying issues with visa at LAX even though she was only in transit Had a full English breakfast, opened our few cards, read our email xmas messages then went down to the beach, where we played rugby, read our books, paddled and then went for a swim in the waves. Good fun and a first for Xmas day. Craig’s xmas pressie to himself was a remote control helicopter which we flew indoors. Rained quite a lot from 2.30 on wards so sadly Annie and boys watched Only fools and horses on the TV. Keef caught up on daily diaries and had a Steinlager at 2.30. Rang Mum at about 9.30 am (8.30 pm Xmas eve there) she seemed good and was going to Jacky’s for Xmas and Glorias’ for Boxing day. Had an op on her finger. Kiwi’s walking on the beach and picnicking, met cleaning girl who almost walked in on Craig whilst he was in the loo, lots of Brits on beach, remember Craig’s Xmas socks. Swimming on Xmas day and rain (alas) pm. So did chicken with pots and veg for Xmas dinner with Preece wine

Day 62 - Wednesday 26th December 2007,Orewa (Waves Motel)

Boxing Day.Some confusion over Phoenix’s flight and arrival time but after Keef rang Air NZ Auckland we realized that she had not been allowed to fly via LA as a Chinese national without a visa even though she was only in transit, so rather than up at 4.30am we rose at 9am. Doug and Keef drove back into Auckland to pick Phoenix up but alas she was detained again by NZ customs who questioned her for 2 hours and unpacked all her stuff , bad news leaving her feeling like she never wanted to come to NZ again. Left Notts 6am arrived nz 2 days later 30 hrs travel, can well understand but we will convince her that NZ is good. Had a great BBQ (prawns ace) dinner and tea. In between went for a swim / sunbathe, played rugby and watched some Disney kids film, Zaphora, remember Poor Phoenix’s journey & our BBQ

Day 63 - Thursday 27th December 2007,Travel from Orewa to Golden Springs park, between Rotarua and Taupo

Boysenberry ice creams at Wildlife park nr Rotarua.Quite a long drive saw Huntly Power station, and loads of traffic going to Coramandel from Auckland.English guy who runs Golden Springs campsite. He has been in NZ 2 years and was selling the site. West Ham fan. Real cockney pleased to hear I came from London After travel we had meal in the restaurant on the site. Good, remember Getting both tents up. First outing for Doug’s Note we spent 7 days here and used it as our base to visit Rotarua, Taupo and Tuarangi plus cold swimming pool and very warm stream

Day 64 - Friday 28th December 2007,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Wai-o-tapu Geothermal park, nr Rotuarua and Polynesian Spa,The most beautiful and fascinating thermal landscape. Artist palette particularly good but all of it really. Remember 28c: Sulphur smell. Heat in various thermal baths and pool ranging from 51c to 31c plus view out over lake whilst sitting in those pools plus cold shower to cool off plus split heels

Day 65 - Saturday 29th December 2007,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Huka Falls Jet and Prawn Park. The jet does a whole series of 360deg spins the most spectacular of which is right close to the falls at the right hand end. The left hand end is a dam end that we came back to see open on a later day .Keef, Anne (2) and Phoenix catching 4 prawns after 4 hrs solid fishing, very satisfying. Alas we part boiled them and froze them back as the campsite with intensions of eating but in the end we chucked away as too risky.Loads of Russians prawn fishing. Remember 360deg spins, catching prawns and tour, almost hitting the golf stroke into the flagged holes (craig ace), walk round park and avoiding water / feeding trout

Day 66 - Sunday 30th December 2007, Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Sky Diving, Taupo Airport, all day event, up really early and drove to Taupo airport. Cost a lot but well worth it (so they said) 15,000 ft over 62 secs freefall with Freddie (German – Dougs), Phil (UK – Phoenix’s) & Greg (NZ- Craig) Their mad tandem pilots plus the American hubby who watched his mrs with anne & I firmly on the ground Young couple from London. Note All 3 had pictures taken by the professionals and DVD plus I took quite a few of their sky diving. NZ for extreme sports!

Day 67 - Monday 31st December 2007, New Years Eve,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Turangi Trout Farm. Irish Bar Taupo for midnight celebrations, with Maori singer Vegas Brown and 2 much Guinness,New Years Eve: Thai meal Craig took us all out for in Taupo. We then went to the fair and Craig won marbles and a handbag (kiddies) on darts (or some such side show) Then went to Finn McCoulls bar ($20NZD entry fee each) for a boozy and rowdy eve, fun poor Annie had to drive the 35+ kms back. Tried texting folk back in UK but phones jammed, used email the next day

Day 68 - Tuesday 1st January 2008 - Annes 54th,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Happy new year and 54th birfday me deary!!! Went round Moari Village, BBQ in eve with Preece wine ,Bubbling mud, haka and maori performance & main geyser blowing Heat from under your feet, met Nick Cage lookalike, remember Anne having her photo taken with the ‘cast’ very hot that day. Had hangi roll at site and D&P had sweet corn ‘boiled’ in sulphur spring

Day 69 - Wednesday 2nd January 2008,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Trout Fishing from Taupo to Turangi,Hired 3 rods in Taupo and then set off around lake Taupo looking for ‘ideal’ spots went swimming and had dinner  at Halletts Bay on Lake Taupo, superb, so cool clear and what views. Expert who said he was a novice at Taurangi who gave us loads of advice on mending the line and casting, not easy! Remember Didn’t catch any. Doug saying he had caught his hat, trousers and the trees, plus supposedly one bite!!!

Day 70 - Thursday 3rd January 2008,Golden Springs to Tongariro National Park

Volcanos, Chateau Tongariro, Mountains + stayed in Mountain lodge Motel,Some of the best scenery ever. met Essex girl married to swede who ran the motel, remember Meal doug bought at Café Railway National Park village station and lunch at the Chateau. Craig having the best chocolate brownie in the world, loved Chateau Tongariro and the national park

Day 71 - Friday 4th January 2008,Tongariro National Park to Wanganui

Boys and Phoenix do the Tama lakes walk , up at 6am. Keef and Anne go up the cable car, which broke down on the way Superb views and very hot, although weather changed and was very cold when they let us down gently on the hour, glad to get down A&I spent rest of day reading in the sunshine. Very intense as always in NZ ,Superb , snow, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls etc, met guy on chairlift who got us down and annoying Kiwi kid who spilt our flat white at the top of the mountain. Owners of Anne& Dion Motel (Wanganui) they named the motel Anndion Lodge, wonder why, hee hee (Anne (Hard rock café bear collector and Dion , Maori welcome man) in Wanganui and yellowfin fish & chips. Nice aussie girl in spa pool at Anndion’s who gave us wine list for Barossa and had kayaked 4 days on Wanganui river. Remember The lift is broken!!!!! 2 + hour drive thru amazing scenery to Wanganui after their walk had finished. So hot road tar melted. Loved Mt Ruapuhe.

Day 72 - Saturday 5th January 2008,Wanganui to New Plymouth via Surf Coast Highway

Woke up showered , breakfasted and had Dion intro us all to all manner of people at the Anndion Lodge. Their spa, pool and sauna were most useful to the boys & P after their long walk. Went into Wanganaui, to fruit market and strolled thru old style town. Miner’s town. Found out how to pay for parking. Walked along river front, saw market had sushi saw tram reconstruction, then headed off via Harewa along surf highway stopping at Onupehe for surf day,Steam boat. Surf coast highway most disappointing. Boats over the surf throwing folk high into the air,Mt Taranaki (although mostly in clouds) almost going to KD Elvis impersonators house in Harewa American who was doing the tram

Day 73 - Sunday 6th January 2008,New Plymouth, West Coast, NI

Camped in sea front camp site for 3 days Found Boysenberry wine head quarters,Couple at Country wines and camp commandant,Sheep shearing first hand, Craig took us for a meal at Bistro on sea front, it was BYO We had 3 bottles and the meal lasted about 3.5 hours best lamb and steak ever. Shark Poo pud!!! and me not getting my Brulee, loved sheep shearing & rock carving

Day 74 - Monday 7th January 2008,New Plymouth, West Coast, NI

Great meal at harbour side bistro yesterday Day off for us catching up, the rest went surfing at Fitzroy beach but found it very difficult. I sent brief email to folks,

Went off in search of the kids surfing at both Fitzroy and east end beaches, as it was so hard they had left early. Went to New World to get steak, cooked tea early. It pee’ed down, so went to cinema with Craig to see the golden compass, it was gr8. D&P went to see a movie but walked out as said it was crap ,Kiwi fisherman at campsite who had bought their mussels even though they had nets out at sea. Said at $2nzd a kilo ‘no worries’ They gave D&P a BBQ one each,Mums birfday. Must ring. Tried twice at 11.30 (she was out at MOT) got her the next day. Visited local park lights extravaganza in the rain

Day 75 - Tuesday 8th January 2008,New Plymouth, West Coast, NI to Waitomo/Otorohanga

Absolutely bucketed it down for about a day and a bit. Got up and put on trunks to take tent down. Forgot ice bag, blocks, food and beer in our hurry to be away by 10. Waitomo caves and the glowworms, including boat trip thru the caves. Stayed at Otorohanga in motel. Spa and pool again for only $NZD150 .Mike from White Cliffs brewery (Urenui, Taranaki) One of the few members of Camra in NZ Had long chat about beer, sampled his Mountain lager and Mild and bought 2 litres of each , yummy plus nice Dutch guy who ran the motel. Lived there since 1961, big infux of dutch farmers to NZ in the 60’s,rang Mum on her 76th birthday from inside BlueBird1 (the car) whilst it poured Great mussels/Mexican and strawberries meal cooked by the boys Family in next chalet from Greenland

Day 76 - Wednesday 9th January 2008,Otorohanga Kiwi House and drive to Raglan

Camped so we could get the tents dry which were still ringing wet from New Plymouth, not the greatest campsite in the world but had our last BBQ with boys & P, sausages and Chinese chicken washed down with real ale.Kiwi’s (the first and only we have seen live) alas they have to be kept in the dark so seeing them saw a little tricky and meant most of my piccies didn’t work however the videos did. Drove to Raglan, had lunch , watched locals jumping off bridge into river and saw surfing at Manu bay and Whale Bay. Remember Camp site at Raglan with HiDiHi motor bike and loud speaker system for prisoners. Hill top campsite with train carriages as kitchen etc Alas it was full but had an ace view of the bay

Day 77 - Thursday 10th January 2008,Raglan then Auckland

Leave campsite, A&I up about 7 boys slept in til 9 Cold shower, boy really wakes you up. After Raglan drove back to Auckland via SH39 & 1. About 2.5 hours. Very hot,Boys & P doing surfing at Raglan. Ace beach. Doug & Phoenix hired a wet suit Craig didn’t. Craig first to fully stand up and surf. The other 2 then managed one run. Very steep cliff down but oh what views (superb),met English guy who kept telling everyone about ‘the one that got away’, remember Boys being able to surf

Day 78 - Friday 11th January 2008,Auckland, Remuera+

Sad day Sir Edmund Hillary (Orewa/ Remuera) dies. We went up sky tower, north shore beaches (Little Shoal bay) and ice bar as well as all having Japanese,Sky tower and sky deck, just superb views of Auckland. You begin to realize how big it is and what some of the yachts look like, we took lots of pics up the sky tower especially the mad beardy who ‘dropped in’ – take a look

Day 79 - Saturday 12th January 2008,Auckland, Remuera+

Alas boys last day, took them back to airport after a day at World Windsurf champs at Takapuna, Mini Golf and bagels/subways,Phoenix met the Chinese Wind surf guy and had her picture taken with him .Remember 27c: Sir Edmund Hillary fever in NZ. Anne shedding a tear as they left! 3 holes in one: C&D & me, the boys leaving (sad!!!)

Day 80 - Sunday 13th January 2008,Auckland Harbour trip, Greenlane, Remuera

Boys arrive in LAX after 12 hr flight, no problems this time. We and Phoenix went out with Greg & Vaughan on their boat around the harbour. Xclent weather and we did sea fishing, very much fun even if we caught nothing. Lots of bites and Phoenix caught a rock crab and sea weed,Rock crab, yellowfin and snails note shark in harbour the day after,Spent much longer talking to V&G over a fair number of beers. They are nice guys and most helpful.Boys (Vaughan & Greg) showed us where they used to live in Remuera after selling their Coramandel motel. Plus where Sir Ed lived. Phoenix took us for a lovely meal at Remuera shizuan. Boys (C&D) txt us to say home, tired but no probs. They saw loads of films. Fishing trip memories.

Day 81 - Monday 14th January 2008,Auckland, Remuera+

Alas Phoenix’s last day, she is back to China for new year for 1 month. Enjoyed having her around,Got up about 9.30am had breakfast and went to do some ‘retail therapy’ at Sylvia park mall in Mt Wellington area. Keef sorted Vodafone (sort of) and came back and after various calls found the way to set up a separate account online so he can pay that way rather than via the post office,Lazy day really, saw no one apart from Phoenix. 25c: Used mall food hall, had Indian (P&I) Fish and chips (A) then went to Warehouse to buy some extra camping stuff, will sell on Trade me when we leave for Oz (hopefully), lazy pm after being all shopped out. Anne got some clip on sunglasses for travel we went and had roast lamb at roast hot with Phoenix as her final meal. Bad storms in Sydney. Remember sadly saying goodbye to phoenix.

Day 82 - Tuesday 15th January 2008,From Auckland to Coromandel Holiday Park

Up earlish, packed and said good bye to Vaughan and Greg. Over to Kierran in New Lynn  to pick up Bluebird 3 (our Toyota camry gracia) for 81 days, drop off in Christchurch, 5/4Then repacked into new car and traveled off on the Pacific Coast Highway from Auckland thru Clevland, Kawakawa bay (where we had luncha complete whole shell beach) and onto the Coromandel peninsular at Thames (pronounced after London’s river). The view all the way along was superb, best yet. We really like the CP.  Oh such great scenery and the weather was great, met Campsite owner-Coromandel Holiday Park (a family park,generally good in our humble opinion) Went back in 2013 when it was a big 4 park.Space lab bright in the sky. 6.30ish only 10 mins thought it was a plane

Day 83 - Wednesday 16th January 2008,Coromandel Holiday Park

Got up reasonably early first time as it was a cold night and then back to sleep again to wake up in a sauna inside the tent. 28deg, hottest yet. Did bacon & eggs then had a gr8 trip further up to Colville, end of the line before unsealed roads, then back to site for swim. Then gr8 trip on Driving Creek Railway (DCR) up Cliffside to the Eyefull (geddit!) tower b4 returning for pizza (our first use on an oven in 10+ weeks) b4 catching up on PC. Gr8 day,Superb views over goat island, met Scottish lady and Dutch partner who had moved from Aberdeen 10 years ago (at campsite and then again in Colville), she had only worked 3 of the last 10 years supposedly based on her UK  property value, Hmm but by the same token she claimed that the average 3-bed house was £200k and salaries £12ksomething doesn’t add up they all have boats, summer batches (£100k) and food is more expensive,Buddist retreat, we thought about it but moved on. Driving Creek railway (superb)driving creeks were kauri dams for getting the wood down hillsides (ingenious)

Day 84 - Thursday 17th January 2008,Coromandel Holiday Park

Day of rest, went into Coromandel town, saw the town shops, waited outside Butchers for a while for him to open and then bought steak, mussel and sunripe tomato sausages. Had for t with fried kumara, yummy,28c, v hot. Had tent completely open although a little windy,French couple and 3 blond german ‘babes’ traveling in Hiace. Called them BBQ French couple spoke gr8 english (put me to shame), Germans also they were making icecream in a drinks bottle.Not much really apart from 3 hr chat to Bernhard & Esme from Hamilton. They gave us most of their bottle of Shiraz, a&I v drunk as we had already had Boysenberry wine and beer, loved Coromandel old colonial house, which is where I think greg and vaughan used to own/ let out

Day 85 - Friday 18th January 2008,Coromandel Holiday Park to Mateku, via Bay of Plenty via Pacific Coast Highway

Got up reasonably early, would have got away earlier apart from Bernhard & Esme (again) chatting to us. Eventually left about 10. Travelled across peninsular to Whitianga, then Tairau where we had lunch in front of the batches , superb views, then to Whangamata , Waihi beach, Katikati (mural town) , Tauranga (up and coming city), Mt Maunganui (New Auckland) , Papamoa , thru Te Puke and stayed at Maketu on the beach in a v expensive for what it was!!!) motel.Lots, including superb murals in katikati, lots of Maori ‘stuff’ and longship in Tauranga plus café culture in harbour side road (trendy), expensive yachts in Mt Maunganui and the whole of the wonderful 9 mile long Papamoa beach which we went swimming in but the rip was huge so didn’t go too far out,28c+. Giant Weta in Bernard and Esme’s awning note they are PETTITT@CLEARNET.CO.NZ, alas having no food other than toast and cheese at the motel, 3 books for $20NZD including 2 Ben Elton’s neither of us has read (Bargain hunters!)

Day 86 - Saturday 19th January 2008,East Cape, Mateku to Hick’s bay, plus divert back to Te Puke Kiwifruit world

Set off from Maketu where we stayed in a motel on the beach, v expensive for what it was $115NZD. Then to Kiwi Fruit world at Te Puke, great fun, v touristy traveled around orchard on kiddies KF train. Saw many fruits plus vines of KF. Yellow ones Zestri the most interesting. Allowed to sample fruit, juice and pick other fruit. Then traveled along Pacific Coast highway via Whakatane, Ohope (gr8) Opotiki, old town Maori statue where Anne found out details of up and coming rodeos, hawai, Whitianga, Awanui, te kaha, te kopua, whanaria bay, waihau bay (decided not to camp, too windy) then cross land to Hick’s bay. Excellent remote scenery, but alas cold, windy and eventually drizzly and drivers windscreen wiper stopped working (serious stuff)fixed at motel, gr8views when u could see plus cooked Mexican inside motel on our gas ring with oxford landing red and boysenberry wine, bliss!!!

Day 87 - Sunday 20th January 2008,East Cape, Hick’s bay to Gisborne

Very misty and drizzly this morning. Luckily fixed windscreen wiper myself (hopefully) We will travel thru Te Araroa via Tikitiki where there are some Maori sites, then Ruatoria, Tokomarey bay, via hot pools at Te Puia and Cooks 2nd landing at Anuara bay, then Tolaga bay which has the longest wharf in NZ, thru Whangara, setting for the film whale rider past whale graves into Gisborne,Lots of drizzle, long wharfs, deserted ship yards ,Couple who run the Motel we stayed at in Gisborne, White Heron v good $110NZD incl breakfast,From Previous day a sign for a motel which said ‘Bummer: you have just missed Motel XXXX’ nearly died crying.25 rain soaked wonders, including logging kiwi style and cooks 2nd landing

Extract of note sent to B&A, Linda & Jacky, Pete & Chris,Most written by Annie.....you just couldn’t read my handwriting anyhow!!!ME: We are now in Gisborne on the East Coast, where James Cook landed A guy we met whilst camping said that when he arrived in NZ as a child in 1951 from Sussex his parents drove from Auckland to Gisborne and there were wheel barrows at the side of the gravel road to remove boulders that got in the way of the car. Apparently his parents almost gave up and went back but he is now a retired grandparent here. The roads aren’t that bad but there are still a few untarmaced ones around where we just traveled,ANNIE: We were sad to say goodbye to the boys at Auckland airport and they got home safely without any incidents although they were very tired. Doug had been challenged by the LA security police on the way to NZ because his passport stated he was born in Wellington and they thought he was a Kiwi (with that Nottingham accent I don’t think so!!) and therefore should have had a visa even though he was in transit. They took his passport away without saying why and took him off to an interview room. When Doug realised why they had taken his passport, he pointed out that he was born in Wellington, Shropshire and not Wellington NZ. The US customs guy did not apologise to him and Craig thought he was being carted off to Guantanamo Bay. Phoenix also had a problem coming to NZ because the travel agent had not told us that she also required a visa to be in transit to LA as she holds a Chinese passport. The NZ staff at Heathrow told her when she booked in and luckily they found her a seat on a plane to Auckland that went via Hong Kong but it meant she had to hang around for several more hours at Heathrow. When she got to Auckland she was quizzed for just over 2 hours by the passport people even though she had a visa which said she was on holiday and the date when she was travelling on to China. They wanted to know the purpose of her visit, looked at all her camera pictures to check up on her boyfriend and took everything out of her 2 suitcases to inspect it. Poor girl was exhausted and they were suspicious because she could not give an address in Auckland as we were travelling around staying in motels and camping. Keith and Doug were waiting for ages in the arrivals hall wondering what was happening. When we took her back to the airport for her journey to Hong Kong (& back home for Chinese New Year) there were no problems. She got back to China OK.All three of them had a brilliant time and really enjoyed NZ – it is something that they will always remember for the rest of their lives. They wanted to do some activities that they had never done before such as tandem sky diving, trout and prawn fishing (which we also thought was great fun), the 17km/8hr hike that they did in the national park by the volcanoes ,attempting surfing for the first time, going to the Minus 5 degrees ice bar in Auckland, the glow worm caves, the speed jet boat ride to the Huka Falls, seeing kiwi birds in the bird house, wonderful scenery, unspoiled and uncrowded beaches that stretch for miles, the good weather as well as the camping. Craig made us laugh a lot (he has a good sense of humour) and luckily he thought to bring out 2 walkie-talkies with him as he knew that we had two hire cars. This made it easy to communicate between the cars so we did not lose each other and at one town we thought that we got the local police on our frequency so had to have a ‘white out’ and lie low!! It was a hoot and I could not stop laughing at some of the comments that Craig and Doug made as we drove along.There is also the plus that there are no snakes at all here. There are a few small lizards though. We were told by a fellow NZ camper that all container shipments are sprayed inside to kill off any wildlife and apparently they have discovered the odd dead snake inside, probably from Australia. They definitely do not want these poisonous snakes here. They have already got a huge problem with possums which were introduced by settlers from Oz in the 1850s and these animals destroy the native trees by eating the leaves so are considered pests. As they are nocturnal we have only seen dead ones squashed on the roads which the Kiwis call ‘NZ pizza’. Recently we heard that 10 people had drowned in NZ since Christmas and some of the beaches have warning signs about the rip currents. So many Kiwis own boats (ratio is 1:10) and they are allowed to drink and sail boats even in Auckland harbour where there are ferries and huge container and cruise ships. It is only if they have an accident that the police may prosecute them for sailing whilst drunk. When we were out sea fishing in the harbour the other day we heard a cruise ship blast its horn because a small fishing boat was moored in the shipping lane. Although engines should give way to sail there was no way that a cruise ship could alter course quickly enough to avoid a small boat. Aucklanders start dingy sailing at the age of 10 apparently and no one requires any formal seafaring training, navigation certificate or licence to go out in a boat. The marinas around Auckland are huge – one alone near the harbour bridge holds over 1,000 berths. They also store their boats in boat warehouses where they are stacked vertically and if people want to get them out they just telephone in advance and the boat is taken down to a jetty for them. No wonder Auckland is called the ‘city of sails’.Keith and I are very impressed with NZ. Many people told us that the scenery in South island was much better than North Island but we think that what we’ve seen so far is ‘awesome’. The bush is tropical looking and almost impenetrable with huge tree ferns and other palm trees and native bushes and trees. There are a lot of reserves and national parks which preserves the virgin bush where no man has ever walked. There is a bushfire risk similar to Australia with road signs to identify the fire risk. They have volunteer fire crews outside of major cities who are called up by a loud siren going off as they do not have the people to act as full time firemen. We heard a siren go off on the Coromandel peninsular whilst camping and we were told that the siren continues to sound until the first volunteer fireman gets to the fire station to turn it off. All the houses are made of wood or part wood upstairs because of  earthquakes. Recently there was a big earthquake in Gisbourne (east coast of North Island) which caused some structural damage to buildings but no one died. There is one place along the coast from Gisborne where they had 1,200 earth tremors last year (it was in the local paper). NZ is such a volcanic country that a lot of the mountains are in fact volcanoes. There are 40 extinct volcanoes in and around Auckland city alone.The coastal highways are wonderful and scenic although the roads are very twisty there are volcanoes (extinct) everywhere, even in and around Auckland. The people that we have met so far have been very friendly and chatty and we have picked up some useful information and advice from them. The campsites, busy at the moment because it is school holidays, are well equipped with kitchens with a fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster and electric cookers. Some of them charge for showers though. At the moment we are travelling along the Pacific coast highway from the Coromandel peninsular, along the Bay of Plenty and its superb sandy beaches heading to Gisborne and Hawkes Bay (wine growing area). We have stopped in a motel overnight at Hicks Bay due to the high winds and rain caused by Cyclone ‘Funa’ which is travelling south of Fiji and we are getting the outer edges of this storm. The weather forecast is that some parts of North Island could get monsoon rain. Some of the cattle pastures are looking very yellow so the farmers will be pleased to get rain. The temperatures average between 24-28 C and it was 29c in Auckland yesterday. We hope to see 2 of Captain Cook’s first landing places today. We did plus Sir Ed (Hillary's) funeral next Tuesday, v big here , they may rename one of their many mountains after him  Hope you are all well,love Keef and Anne

Day 88 - Monday 21st January 2008,Gisborne to Wairoa, via Mahia peninsular

Left motel (colonial) at about 10. James cook statue and Young Nicks point plus gr8 views from up the reserve overlooking Gisborne. Then drive past wineries to Morere Hot Springs, didn’t go in, too hot today for thermals, had lunch outside instead. Afternoon around Mahia peninsular (about a 40km detour) but oh what views. Cloud alas cutting in and had to stop and u-ey (u-turn) car on gravel road after tarmac ran out. Then onto Wairoa to camp for 2 nights. Oldish town which was destroyed by earthquake in 1931. Pictures in gents urinal show what happened. One of the most interesting pees I’ve ever had hee hee! Met Rowena & Simon from UK. Ambitious trying to ‘do’NZ in 7 days, impossible. Was gonna do road to Rotarua in campervan via lake until I pointed out it was gravel. Humidity.plus putting tent up in it after string in one pole broke (twice), liked Wairoa,Gisborne, Mahia

Day 89 - Tuesday 22nd January 2008,Wairoa. Drive to Lake Waikaremoana along State Highway 38

V Hot today. 32c and humid. Then v windy. Drove along partially gravel SH 38 to lake Waikaremoana, superb views 4 day walk to Rotarua starts from here, police on look out as hardest walk in NZ.Did ½ day there then came back and picnicked at far end of Waioa river along Kopu St (famous Maori chief of area). Then came back to site to repeg tent and do some washing, i/net updates,SH 38, gravel 200kms to Rotarua, don’t go there,Gr8 campsite, superb kitchens. Met lady owner whose hubby had driven their rig (40ft caravan) up Coromandel Peninsular, now that’s scary,SIR ED’S FUNERAL : national day of celebration/ mourning. Laid in state in parnell cathedral, do hope Brits sent someone!!! Police car in the middle of nowhere when we were at the reserve at L.W, liked BBQ on camp site

Day 90 - Wednesday 23rd January 2008,Wairoa along SH2 to Napier, Hastings & then Havelock North (5kms past Hastings) 

Hot again, up early to try and avoid heat of ‘decamping’. Keef spent too long chatting to folk from Auckland so didn’t quite make it. Still left at 9.30 and got camplight charged. Napier museum, including Roland Hopkins (Hipkins?) art stuff and 1931 earthquake movie (v worrying) 529 aftershocks, no wonder Wairoa, Napier and Hasting were wiped out. Art deco buildings in Napier and Hastings, those in Hastings in my humble opinion were more impressive. Bluff lookout Napier, only of the port (really) with tourist guide to fork-lift trucks, as if we are interested! Met old guy and teacher wife from Birkenhead, North shore , Auckland.Railway structure over the gorges on the way to Napier Getting completely lost trying to find campsite in Havelock North and annoying git who insisted on driving up my boot, a Kiwi classic, some are not gr8 drivers. Loved the art deco buildings, Nat tobacco building @ Napier

Day 91 - Thursday 24th January 2008,Havelock North

Gr8 day, decided to stay at site 3 days as we like it and the area so much. So went up Te Mata again,Jack, site owner on rusty tin bike, he is a hoot to joke with, wicked sense of humourask Annie about the showers!Went for nice walk along Ocean beach. Loved Te Mata and ocean beach

Day 92 - Friday 25th January 2008,Havelock North

Chilling Day – Bacon sarnie for breakfast, treatsville at £3.20 for 8 rashers of streaky Then posted cards and pressie / letters to Margaret / Brian in Havelock North. This is a very posh town, 50 something blondes who love to shop and are wives of winery owners. V affluent Went back up Te Mata (339 ft) Love the view from the top, better weather today so crowded. Maori legend is some guy who needed to win the love of the princess his last talk was to each thru the mountain which he didn’t manage to do hence the shape of the valley, but realistically the gr8 scenery is due to again volcanic eruptions . After mountain we visited Black Barn & Te Mata wineries as well as cheese tasting, bought a sheeps blue cheese and bottle of Preece and Mission Estate (Hawkes Bay) so good lunch, then attempted to do North island DVDs for Mum,Divorced guy in caravan next door. His daughter went back today and I did a copy of new eagles for him and he loaned me some Kiwi bands. His music is gr8, pink floyd and bee gees and hootie so we ‘gassed’ music for quite a while. His claim to fame was seeing Bob Marley live in Auckland. Plus scots guy and family (2 & 13 year old daughters) who were traveling oz and nz for 7 months. He is a paid musician, like john martyn supposedly, who was touring playing Auckland etc. Forgot to find his name.  Swim in site indoor ‘heated’? pool it was freezing but as 22c today most welcoming at least for Keef if not Annie. Corn beef hash 4 Tea. Great pix of vineyards (Winery in NZ speak) and us on Te Mata

Day 93 - Saturday 26th January 2008,Havelock North to Palmerston North

3 MONTHS TRAVELLING ANNIVERSARY – boy it seems to have gone quickly! Packed up reasonably early, said goodbye to our next door neighbour, the divorcee. Went into town to post office to post 2 DVDs to Mum, bumped into guy from campsite again who gave us directions for quick route out of town. Drove along winery highway (SH2) until we joined SH3 to Palmy. Saw various small towns, had Egg & Bacon sarnie and lemon/ginger cake and 2 flat whites in the town beginning with W (which been purchased (haha) by Mr Mclean in 1851 from Maoris and then free passage for all Scots to work on his snippet of land, 2 towns, railway and 272 hectacres from Maoris. No wonder they now feel cheated.) Travelled thru very scenerific Manawatu gorge between Woodville and Ashhurst onto Palmeston North (named after a famous PM from UK, surprisingly) even found Nottingham Avenue!Vikings at Dannevirke, Manawatu gorge, Massey Uni (PN) old art deco buildings and Institute of Rugby.  town center and life museum Palmy. Stayed at Awatea Motel, just outside main Palmy town. Watched ‘All the kings men’ with Sean Penn/ Jude Law/ Anthony Hopkins/ Kate Winslettace about (loosely) south American hick mp who gets shot, met lady in Museums (twice) Nice lunch in George St Palmy, Boysenberry juice/iced coffee/chicken lasagne & panini with brie and chicken (yummy!), cost about £10

Day 94 - Sunday 27th January 2008,Palmerston North to Levin

Layed in (a bit) as in motel. Supposedly quiet one, but kids up and noisy by 7am playing outside our door which was on the park. Left about 10, went to rose gardens (Dugwald Mckenzie) interesting yet not inspiring. Was set in Victoria Esplande park, lovely spot, kiddies railway track (although like the main trains on this island) we didn’t see the train in action. Lots of bikers / joggers Then went to Manawatu art gallery, maori stuff plus heaven Karl Maughan exhibition (look out for this guy)  After PN went to Foxton & Foxton beach before arriving at site in Levin very good campsite.A clear day exhibition wonderful, KM artist from Ashurst/PN went to Auckland FA then London, superb realistic oils of plants etc.Kiwi railway worker at campsite and English couple in camper van who seem to visit everything we did, they left the Levin campsite after only one night though! Remember NZ Rugby Museum, retail therapy in Kmart PN, plus King size duvet to keep out cold at night. Did meat balls, fried kumara and veg for Tea,loved rose garden/ art gallery and rugby, plus Foxton windmill

Day 95 - Monday 28th January 2008,Levin

Late up, pancakes, jam & syrup with Kiwi juice for breakfast, morning spend mooching in heat. Washing for Annie, pc for Keef. Off to beach/ wild life park pm.Went to Cobb & Co for lunch, I had beef escalope and Annie oriental chicken salad, yummy, we were the only folk in the place. Was a bit like being in the Bulls head at Breaston. Went to Horowhenua lake , lots of birds, swamp hens , ducks and geese. Bit smelly, lots of Didymo in lake. Then went to Waitareare beach (see below) and onto Hokio beach. Then back to tent for eve to read and relax.Kiwi railway guy who got up really early in the morning and was from Palmy and soon to move onto Wanganui after Levin. Drank what seem to be copious amounts of coke with ice in a chilly mug but my guess was it had rum in it as well judging by his slightly slurred speech. He told me about fly-fishing for trout, i.e. it took him 10 years before he caught anything.Driving on the beach at Waitareare beach after the surf guard said it was fine to drive along to Hokio We wanted to see the sunken ship, but only got as far as the first 30k signpost on the beach which I wanted to take a picture of but got the car bogged down in sand ‘ice cold in alex’-style. Annie and some kind kiwis helped with logs under front tyres and a big push to get us out!!! We turned round and got off the beach, that was enough for one day plus in the space of 2 roads at Hokio 2 idiots pulling straight out across me without looking, Kiwis are not gr8 drivers. Remember hick shack at Hokio village

Day 96 - Tuesday 29th January 2008,Levin to Greytown

Hot morning for packing up tent. Got away just before 10, not that it would have mattered as site quite empty. Went to Otaki beach, xclent, long drive along front. Was a pebble beach though and this time, yes I could drive up on it safely. View of kapiti island in background. Drove along Kapiti coast (SH 1) Waikanae town and beach (had to get there round back of houses but oh what nice houses). Had a walk in the water here, fun. Then lunch on chair overlooking Paraparaumu beach, disappointing as book said like Malibu but wrecked by Cyclone Funa’s after effects. Then back up thru Waikanae town again via Virgin Mary statue to Akatarawa Rd, single track steep road (superb views if a little frightening with sheer drops) Quick look at Hutt river at Beechville and then on thru windy SH2 to Featherston and Greytown where we stayed for the night in Oak motel. Relaxing eve Fish & Chips from local Chinese.Te Marau lookout on SH2 just outside Beechville. Watched Nick Cage in The Wicker Man (ace!),met poor couple from Auckland (and grandchildren) stuck at top of Akatarawa Rd where their radiator had burst. Smell of dead pig over powering so we didn’t stay long.RJs liquorish comes from Levin. Akatarawa Rd views thru Tatarua range (almost as good as Mt Tongarira,Akatarawa Rd , Giant statue at Waikanae

Day 97 - Wednesday 30th January 2008,Greytown to Lower Hutt via Palliser Bay

Up early-ish, packed and left at 10am. Went into look at Greytown and took some piccies of some of the older buildings. Its quiet and old (in NZ terms town, 1850s) then traveled via delightful road to Lake Ferry, Palliser Bay. Very deserted Few fishermen with quad bikes as long hard pebbly walk out (in flip-flops) past inland lake to bay. V dangerous rips, not swim able.Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt, cities (my foot) CBD was one skyscraper and Top 10 site pretty bad industrial area still reasonable facilities, cheap and good location. Sea view esplanade drive round into Wellington sea front.Lady in next tent who is a musician who suggested Golden bay on South island from her music tours there. We will give it a whirl. Alas hit a female pheasant with the car, dead I’m afraid. It walked straight into me and I couldn’t get out of the way. Not very nice and made me feel a bit uneasy for a bit, but hey us or a pheasant, we win!!!

Day 98 - Thursday 31st January 2008,Te Papa Museum Wellington

GREAT DAY IN WELLINGTON!!!! Up early, good breakfast in kitchens. Weird walk in freezer room with paid ($1NZD per day) locker to keep stuff cool in. Arrived at Te Papa museum car park about 10.30am ($12NZD all day, pretty gooddespite girl in museum saying if you leave after 9.30pm its free, not true barrier still in play) Museum ace, we did 2 floors, floor 2 & 4 and looked out on the roof. Left Elvis concert about 9.30, went wrong way along SH1 to seatown not seaview and then back home for 10.30 Just in before curfew and 2 bed very satisfied with a gr8 day.Floor 2: earthquakes and volcanoes, weather systems, passports, Scots, pacific islanders, coffee Floor 4: Maori stuff with supposedly the oldest Marae (meeting house) in NZ and the paid ($16NZD) whales section, fascinating, whaling, Maori whale rider stories, lovely T-shirt that I couldn’t buy alas. After 5 hours standing we were done in. Went to MacDs for late lunch (down under burger and nuggets combo) sad or what! Then to Reading Cinema to see Death at a Funeral hilarious. Then Keef lamb madras from food hall, Annie smoothie then off to Elvis concert in Frank Kitts park on harbourside, very very good.Met a few folk at concert. Maori guys whose phones went off in cinema (annoying). Remember Down syndrome guys pulling the blondes and dancing to Elvis and Heat with Feet rock dancers.

Day 99 - Friday 1st February 2008,Wellington

Got up late, v blowy. Listened to and watched various kiwi supporters getting dressed for the Irb 7s. Alas all tickets sold out, only available on Trade me for £250 so not going. England playing Cook Isles, Wales & Fiji. Fiji will be hard to beat. Went to Pak n Save for some stuff, did PC updates. Had lunch of Sweet corn and pumpkin soup. Went to Interislander ferry to collect tickets for Tuesday, booked motel at campsite (room 27) for Mon eve so we can get an early start and go up cable car.Went up lookout by cable car and botanic gardens. Had coffee and cake with YOGART at summit café. Gr8 views and very sunny if a little breezy. Also visited Oriental bay (man made  beach) not impressed compared to Auckland. Saw lots of nutters (drunk) in costume for 7s. Babies, Durex, Surfschool, Cowboys & Indians, prisoners, you name it they were there. We weren’t so sure they were that interested in the rugger though.7s supporters in ludicrous costumes. Keef tried watching thru the caravan opposites window until he closed the curtains (wasn’t on TV) Friend of lady in next tent (another divorcee) who bought her daughter along, very pleasant and suggested Seatown beach.Very windy and a little rain overnight, 24c

Day 100 - Saturday 2nd February 2008,Wellington

DAY 100 Hoorah!!! Started off cloudy, got hot but remained windy. Final of Wellington Irb 7s, went to parliament house and had the tour of the beehive , main parliament building and library / archive house. Very interesting stuff. Took about 1 hour. 121 MPs and lots of committees. Follow the British constitution in all things parliament except banned house of lords and have a strong (rightly) Maori representation / ethic. Then back to Te Papa and floor 5, the art gallery. Gr8 Rembrandt original sketches otherwise disappointing that there was no real scenery of NZ. Then had woodbaked pizza in Sellar and Feijoa / wild berry juices and went to cinema to see Nick Cage / Helen Mirren/ Jon Voight in National Treasure. Don’t go.Drew out cash in Lower Hutt, Jackson St (off Cuba) they all seem to use the same street formats and names or is that just a coincidence, check on Palmy town map!!! Fireworks from Finals

Day 101 - Sunday 3rd February 2008, Wellington

Drove all the way along the Wellington harbour road in v bright sunshine 25c from Eastboune to Lyle bay and the airport. Stopped off in the morning and read books, papers, mags at coast side, then went onto Lyle bay and had a paddle. Watched planes arriving and taking off from extended runway into sea at Wellington airport. Sun lasted until at least 8.30 pm Drove back thru Oriental bay on coast road Went to Pak N Save and did Satay chicken 4 Tea.At Eastbourne amazing designer houses , guy swimming from one bay to the other and back (exhausting), snorkellers, jetskis, water skiing and subaqua with float / flag on water surface to show jet skiers where he was. At Lyle went to Warehouse had boysenberry icecreams and Keef bought a Hawaiian shirt for approx £6 not bad.Lady with little child in store at Eastbourne who only wanted muesli bars for his birthday (gr8 deal if you are a parent).Bloody dogs at Lyle bay, including the one who slobbered on our food bag. Hot day got both wind and sunburn and we are particularly brown. Tried to find Blue Penguins (no joy!), loved being around the coast

Day 102 - Monday 4th February 2008,Wellington

Up reasonably early to the sound of our German next door neighbours running water. Not too bad as had to pack up tent today which we managed to do just before it rained. Spent from 10-3 at Settlers museum lookout over beach reading and munching. Went into ANZ Patone to ensure account cancelled. Was set up in Wellington on 10/10 (shame they didn’t tell me about it!) No prob. Came back and got in motel on site. Pretty good and close to Ferry. Chilled on PC/ TV/ Reading. Did Audible book download Jenny Éclair and charged up stuff for journey to South island. Sweet corn (10p) and cheese on toast for tea  washed down with Bundaberg plus rang Mum and early to bed.Rain 14c. Met Nutty guy from Coventry (married Canadian) who had been in NZ since the 70s. Cat shop that did books. Bought War & Peace for $3NZD and Anne got a book as well. RJ’s liquorish (not the red one) from Levin. See South Island Diary for Day 103.

Timeline->

Want to read more diaries?

SanJose Fiji Samoa Tonga NZNI NZSI NSW Tas WA NT SA Vic Qld HongKong LA StewIsld