More to come (slow internet!)
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Hello from New Zealand! We have thoroughly enjoyed our first week here, despite the heavy rain and howling winds! We arrived from Sydney last Sunday and spent 3 nights in a hotel in Auckland, which seemed like absolute luxury compared to our campervan in Australia. We took in the main city sights, but seeing as Auckland is a small city and it was pouring for the duration of our stay, we did quite a lot of cafe hopping and went to the cinema twice! The best thing we did in the city was to visit the ice bar. The bar is made completely from ice (even our glasses were ice) and was minus 5.4 degrees while we were in there. You are only allowed to spend half an hour inside the room, so we had one drink, played air hockey and had our photograph taken. It was a wonderful experience and a great start to our trip.
On Wednesday we picked our new campervan up. We have a much larger and well designed van now. It has been painted with green and brown Maori designs and is called Darryl. Luckily he is warm and snugly and has room for 3 people, so there is plenty of room for us and space for our bags and pots and pans etc. Once we left Auckland we headed north to the coastal town of Wairea where we spent the first night in our van. On Thursday, we went to the hot springs in Wairea. The thermal water bubbles up from under the ground and has created various pools, some of which reach temperatures up to 48 degrees! We spent the morning swimming and relaxing in the eggy smelling hot tubs and baths and also enjoying the awesome water slides which spiralled and twisted from great heights, eventually spitting us out into the warm water below. Philip and I were the only adults continually queuing for the 3 different slides!
As I said earlier, the rain this week has been torrential (I think it’s following us around the world). Villages and towns have been cut off, there has been a deadly tornado in Auckland and a state of emergency declared. However, we are British and used to this sort of weather, so we continued north and into the gales and downpours. The upside to this is that it gives me a wonderful excuse to nip into cafes and, on occasion, vineyards. We visited ‘Ransom Wines’ after our hot pool experience and shared a gorgeous platter lunch in stunning surroundings. New Zealand has some fantastic wines and everything here is much cheaper than in Australia...so we have to give all the food and wine a try! That evening we stayed in a campsite near a sailing club, so I did my Dad proud and went into the club for a drink. We were met by lots of elderly men who were very kind to us and gave us a free dinner. The Kiwi’s seem to be as nice as the Aussies.
On Friday we continued our pursuit of rain and followed the road north again to the Bay of Islands. There are 144 islands around Pahia and Russell, which are the main villages in the area. We stayed in Pahia and managed to find the only place in town showing the royal wedding..the RSL club (royal servicemen legion). The TV had no volume and we were thrown out just after they said ‘I will’ (I thought it was ‘I do’?) but we walked back to our campsite in the rain feeling patriotic. On Saturday we were lucky enough for there to be a slight break in the weather so that we could get out on a boat. We took a 3 hour cruise around the Islands and were given heaps of cultural, historical and geographical information about them. The highlight though was seeing masses of bottlenose dolphins. I couldn’t believe my luck! They were surrounding our boat and came right up to us to say hello. Philip has some great shots of them showing off in the water.
On Sunday we left the Bay of Islands and drove just south of Cape Reinga. We were hoping to see the top of NZ but the roads have been closed as bridges have collapsed. However we found a wonderful spot at the end of 90 mile beach and a campsite that had immense facilities with a roaring fire and TV. We planned to stay there for one night but fell in love with it so stayed there last night too. Yesterday we had a break in the weather and enjoyed some sunshine, allowing us to walk on the long beach and play lots of table tennis!
Today we enjoyed a very speccy drive from Aphiri through the Karri forests and along the coastline. We were extremely lucky as our original plan was to drive to Auckland today, but we kept stopping to gawp at the views, so we only made it half way down the coast. We are so grateful as it means that we missed the tornado that hit the Northern suburbs this afternoon. Instead, we loved taking the vehicle ferry across to Rawene and eating our lunch outdoors in the sunshine, walking deep into the forest and playing on the zip wire in our campsite this evening!
We aren’t too sure what are plans are for the next week yet. We are hoping to go to the Coromandel Peninsula but we may just stay put for a while and see what the weather does.
So our first week in New Zealand has been exciting, eventful and wet! The Kiwi’s are great and the prices here agree with us. The landscape is absolutely stunning and has already beaten Australia hands down! Sorry Oz...
We will try to update the blog again soon. I hope everyone has had a lovely long Easter and bank holiday break.
Loads of love to all xx