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Wellington to Picton & Blenheim, South Island - Day 71

Windy Wellington

16 °C

After staying in another paid for campsite last night called Camp Wanui, which was cheap at sixteen dollars and close to Wellington, we drove in Wellington and had a look around. It's not called Windy Wellington for nothing! We only had a time for a walk around the harbour area, but being overcast and very windy, we didn't mind too much.
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The ferry from Wellington to Picton was a steady and easy 3 hour journey. We went out on deck when it wasn't raining to look at the scenery and there were some lovely rainbows.
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At the other side we travelled a short distance towards Blenheim for our camp site by the sea, and on the way we saw some more funny post boxes - this time with faces and made from the outboard motor of a boat?!
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It's noticeably colder here on the South Island, and because we want to keep tent on the back rather than sleep in a stuffy van, we have decided to wear our thermal leggings and long sleeved tops to sleep in...I hope it's not too cold to sleep!
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Posted by staceywaugh 05:42 Archived in New Zealand Tagged bridges buildings boats rainbows post_boxes Comments (0)

Waitangi & Russell, Bay of Islands - Day 69

20 °C

We picked Mary up from her hotel in Waitangi, Bay of Islands, and took the 2 minute drive to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is the site where Maori and Europeans signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Not that long ago really. We watched the short film about the signing of the Treaty - in which, we were sure the captain of the boat yesterday featured in one of the reenactments! - and the explored the grounds. The Treaty House, where Scotsman James Busby and his family lived, the beautifully carved Maori Meeting House, and one of biggest Maori war canoes in New Zealand.
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Afterwards we drove to Kerikeri to see New Zealand's oldest stone building, The Stone Store, which was built between 1832-1836. Andrew said he has jeans older than that! I guess were spoilt for old buildings in England. It's a cute little building though in a pretty park setting, the perfect place for a picnic.
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But we were moving on, for a quick toilet break in Kawakawa. There's a pun in there, because this place is home to the famous (apparently, we just knew about them as Andrew's brother had been) public toilets designed by an artist called Frederick Hundertwasser. They were really different, for toilets, and I liked the glass bottle and glass tile windows, but as we have seen the flower toilets at Barton Grange garden centre near Garstang, Lancashire, I think I was expecting something more flamboyant.
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Our final destination for the day was Russell. We drove to Opua and got the car ferry across. Mary and I didn't even realise we were on the ferry yet when we started moving, it was so small!
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The short film at the Treaty Grounds this morning had told us that Russell had been a rough and ready port for sailors and fishermen back in the day, but now it's a beautiful seaside town. We walked down the waterfront and chose to have fish and chips at the Duke of Marlborough, New Zealand's oldest pub. Oh and some cold beer too, of course.
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Fed and watered, we walked to New Zealand's oldest church, Christ Church. The guide book said it had gun shot holes in it from a war in the 1800s, so Andrew was really disappointed when he couldn't see any.
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And finally we drove up to Flagstaff Hill to see panoramic views of the Bay of Islands.
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We'd had a lovely day but now we had a long drive ahead of us. It's 1st April and we have to be in Wellington for 1pm on the 3rd, which is at least 11 hours drive, as we wanted to have a good amount of time on the South Island. After leaving Mary at her hotel, to see her in another week or so, we drove for about 3/4 hours until we got south of Auckland. I don't even know what to say about the holiday park we stayed on. I don't think anyone was having a holiday there. There were messy drunk girls in the toilets trying to open a bottle of alchopop with their teeth. I don't think I need to say anymore...

Posted by staceywaugh 05:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged art boats views maori Comments (0)

Paihia, Bay of Islands - Day 68

Swimming with dolphins

21 °C

What an amazing day we've had! After the short drive from Puketi Forest to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, we did a few necessaries - checked out a few things online, laundry etc. - then grabbed some chips on the promenade before our dolphin watching, and hopefully swimming, tour.

We stood on the harbour eating our chips and a group of people wearing AAT Kings badges walked in front of us. This was the same tour company Andrew's mum, Mary, was with (doing a 17 day coach tour of New Zealand), so I asked a lady what tour she was on but it wasn't the same one. We walked down the pier towards where our trip would go from, as boarding time was getting close, and then Andrew took our chip papers to the bin while I waited for the boat and he spotted a AAT Kings coach pulling up. A few minutes later Andrew looked down the the jetty to me, waved his arms around and then walked quickly out of sight. It must be Mary! I ran all the way back down the jetty, dodging people left and right, and there she was! We didn't expect to meet at the harbour, as we thought she would be arriving later, so it was such a lovely surprise. We all agreed it was strange to see each other again after almost 10 weeks in the other side of the world.

Our boat was boarding so we said goodbye for now and ran back down. The woman collecting our tickets before we got on said 'winners!'. We looked puzzled but it turned out the company, Fullers Great Sights, have a promotion where a person on each trip gets their ticket price refunded. So we were getting ninety-nine dollars back when we got off - result!
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The captain of the boat and the woman, who was the dolphin expert, talked us through the likelihood of seeing dolphins - quite high as they'd been told a pod had been seen by another boat just a short time ago - and swimming with dolphins - not great, as they need to be in the right mood and not have any babies or juvenile dolphins in the pod. I didn't know this, but the survival rate of baby dolphins is really low and one of the reasons is that they have the same body fat as human babies so they have to get their fat, to keep them from freezing to death in the water, from their mothers milk. But the mothers milk doesn't go from teet to mouth like humans and plenty of other animals, the mothers have to shoot their milk in to the water and the babies have to pick as much up from the stream of milk in the water as possible. Obviously this is extremely difficult and so many just don't get enough to survive. In terms of swimming with them then, if there is a baby in the pod it can stop the mother from feeding the baby, which needs feeding up to 20 times a day!

We were told we'd probably have to sail quite far to see dolphins today but keep our eyes out and let them know if we see anything. About ten or fifteen minutes in someone spotted dolphins, and we sailed closer. There they were! They were incredible. Jumping out of the water like in all those wildlife programmes my Dad watches! It was too hard to get pictures of this, as they're so quick. They swam in front of the boat, inches away from us - they even sprayed me with water from their blow holes they were so close! We have a video of this, which we'll upload on our return.
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The captain and dolphin expert told us this was the same pod they saw this morning but in a completely different mood - and that they judged it was fine for us to go in! They made it very clear how hard it was to get close to the dolphins if you're not a great swimmer and that the waters were quite rough, so along with a couple of other women, I let the alpha males go in first to see how it was whether it was. As Andrew and loads of other people from the boat tried to swim close to the dolphins and attract them through twirling in the water, diving, clicking and making noises under water, we looked on from the boat and saw them, away from the swimmers, making enormous jumps crossing over each other in the air. Andrew got out because it was so tiring, so I thought I wouldn't be able to get in.
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Eventually, the dolphins started playing again and Andrew jumped back in. They were really deep in the water, but he could see them, then they were right next to him! They started playing around him and he says he even eyeballed one under the water!!
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I couldn't miss out and thought it was best to try and get out than not try at all, so I grabbed some flippers and snorkel and jumped in. They were really close but I couldn't see them under water. We got back on the boat, moved around a bit, and the captain and expert said I could get in first to try and see them, which was lovely and they didn't need to because I wasn't the only one who hadn't seen them in the water yet. They swam towards us and I jumped off the boat as the dolphin jumped straight up out of the water and I saw it drop straight back in and swim right to the bottom. It was so big and powerful but really graceful. I stuck my head out of the water and gave the people on the boat the thumbs up that I seen one. Then I put my head back down and saw four dolphins gliding and crossing underneath me in the water. It was incredible! I wish I had a video of it, but I will never forget seeing that. I couldn't stop smiling when I got out!
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Back on dry land, amazed at what we'd just seen, we found a campsite just down the road from Mary, showered and then went to say hello before she had her dinner. Mary even had a gift for us - an Easter egg each! We'd missed out on Pancake Day in Peru so I was really happy to be able to part in Easter! We had some wine, caught up a little and set a time for meeting tomorrow.

Posted by staceywaugh 05:47 Archived in New Zealand Tagged boats dolphins swimming_with_dolphins Comments (0)

Doubtless Bay to Puketi Forest - Day 67

A lazy day around the bays

18 °C

An overcast day in the Northland, which was supposed to be a beach day for us! Never mind, we drove around Doubtless Bay, going to a little local fete in Taipa, watching men fish on Coopers Bay and had lunch at Cable bay.
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Then on to a quiet little fishing village called Mangonui, where people of all ages were fishing off the jetty and the community centre had stalls inside selling honey, soaps and knitted items amongst other things.
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It was still early, so we took a scenic drive through a harbour town called Whangaroa - a centre for big game fishing.
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Then round the coast road through Matauri Bay. The scenery was pretty and we saw the strangest post boxes that were made from microwaves?! As usual, we were going to quick to get a picture and then there were no more!
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We stayed down another long dirt track tonight in Puketi Forest, which was peaceful but the toilets were covered in flies. Not only were there dead flies covering the seat but when I felt brave enough, I flipped the lid and flies flew out at me! Needless to say, I couldn't bring myself to go in there so a little nature 'going' had to commence. Ill never think public toilets in England are bad again!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trees boats fishing views harbours Comments (0)

Auckland - Day 57

Dizzying Day in Auckland

21 °C

Today I woke up after about 10 hours sleep, feeling a little better. Exciting we bought cereal and real milk (it's not the same in South America), which tasted amazing for breakfast! We watched some breakfast TV, where again they had a very informal style. The female presenter almost told the male presenter to grow some balls plus they had a heated discussion about wedding etiquette and they were allowed an opinion - that would be allowed on UK news TV! After 9am the programmes turn to mostly adverts, with constant repetition of the same three or four products, which makes it seem a bit like a shopping channel. Subsequently, Andrew really wants a Ninja 3 in 1 blender and a Total Gym, like Chuck Norris and Olivia Newton John use!!

We headed out into the city again, for our only full day in Auckland. Andrew wanted to go to the fish market, so we went to the marina, silo park and the wharf area. There were some pretty impressive boats there! I hate to think how much they cost.
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The wharf buildings are really cool, they look like barns with enormous sliding doors, and would be a great place to go for dinner or a drink after work.
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The fish market was quite small and boutiquey - I think Andrew was expecting a big wholesale type of place - but it would be lovely to come and shop if you lived here. We bought some chips from the chip shop next door but were disappointed when we found they were oven chips :( It was quite an overcast day, but down by the marina we made the most of it and sat out in the sun.
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Yesterday we had seen the Sky Tower of course, you can't really miss it, but today on the way back from the marina, we saw people doing the harnessed walk around the top of it. Not for me!
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I started to feel dizzy, headachey and light headed again once we began walking around, it was a really horrible feeling. So we ended up stopping at a pharmacy, who suggested a cheap decongestant nose spray, because of the flight pressure, and also some immune boosting multi vitamins for £34! So I took the nose spray.

Continuing on a money theme, lunch was a bit of a shock to the system after two months of relatively cheap living. We ordered two chicken burritos and it cost more than £15! And the didn't even taste that good...I started to miss London and its awesome food!

Andrew had been in pain with his neck ever since he hit his head in Cusco, so after lunch we found a massage place in one of the shopping centres and both decided on a shoulder, neck and head massage, as I thought it might help my congestion too. It hurt! And definitely was the least relaxing massage I've ever had. I guess that's what you get for getting one in a shopping centre?

We both needed some cheap trousers as we new it would be colder here, and we ended up somewhere called The Warehouse, which is the equivalent of buying jeans from Wilkinsons in England! Mine were too long (of course!) so I had to take mine up using our mini sewing kit from Muji (thanks Ben and Sneha - so handy!). I definitely needed my mum here at this point, but I managed it! Although I think they may be ankle swingers now though?! Auckland needs a primark, new look or h&m for us travellers. Andrew's breo watch finally broke on him, the digital face had been waning for a while, so he bought a replacement from a dollar shop and put the inside of it into his nicer breo wrist strap. We're getting very thrifty and handy whilst abroad!!

Aside from the marina area, Auckland feels a bit like Leeds to me. A city that's big enough to have plenty of shops, restaurants and bars but that's small enough not to get lost in it or for it to be too busy. I think it would be a really nice place to live. Just not for me as its too far from home!

Tonight we met up with a friend from Auckland who I met in the touch PR years, Bonnie, and her partner Nick. They took us to a Belgian restaurant in the Mission Beach area, which was a beautiful place. Andrew tucked into enormous green lipped mussels and Nick had a metre long sausage! It was so nice to catch up, talk about their travels around Europe, their new house and of course get advice on what to do here in New Zealand. And also really lovely to see a friendly face after two months of talking to strangers.
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Even though we can now speak the language of our current country, it doesn't mean we can understand! Bonnie ordered us a Mt. Difficulty wine and said we should go to there winery when we were in Queenstown. She said they had a range called "Roaring Mig", "Roaring what?" we said, "Mig", "Mig?", "Yes, like Mig Ryan", "Ahhhhh Meg!!!". There was also a conversation about a cartoon with a girl called Jim...we'll get the hang of the accent soon!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:46 Archived in New Zealand Tagged boats food marinas Comments (0)

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