Published: January 3rd 2009December 10th 2008
Back in New Zealand - who would have believed it after only 9 month since I was last here! I felt like I'd never left. It was so good to see Debbie Steve & Sam again, I really felt like I'd come home!
Well our arrival was slightly marred due to the fact that we were stranded at Singapore Airport due to be unable to land because of an electrical storm which was awesome.
We were flying with Malaysian Airlines, which I have so say were pretty good. I sat with my face pressed against the window mesmerized by what I was watching. I just couldn't stop looking at the storm I found it so exciting, Sharon was petrified and wouldn't look out the window! During the storm I saw that the clouds was massive and had wisps of cloud blowing off the peaks which reminded me of a sandstorm in Dubai. The sky looked so angry, grey, white and black, sheet lightening shining through the dense clouds followed by fork lightening, then in the far distance was the fading blue sky being replaced with a magnificent sunset.
As we were landing there were hundreds of boats in
the harbour, all lit up, some for Christmas, they looked fabulous.
We were supposed to land at 6.45 but didn't land until 7.30 giving us no time at all to catch our connecting flight at 7.55 - although we were taken off the aircraft first and told there would be a buggy waiting for us - there wasn't so we ran all the way to the next terminal. We arrived 5 minutes before take off and Qantas refused to let us board - even though we discovered later that the plane actually stayed on the ground for a further 2 hours due to the storm!
I wasn't best pleased with Qantas for not waiting for us. But as for Singapore Airlines, well, they were fantastic. They got us transferred to a Hotel called Chang Village which was beautiful. We had a gorgeous double room with all the mod cons, unfortunately arriving their at midnight and having to leave at 6am we were unable to take advantage of the infinity pool!!!
We got a taxi to the airport at 6am, our bags were already checked in so we just had a coffee - I also had a vodka
cocktail - it was a promotion so I just had to!! We flew direct to Auckland with Singapore Airlines who were just fab, as always. We landed ten minutes early, at 11.20pm. We waited for over an hour for our bags to show, but to no avail. We found out that they didn't actually make it on to our flight - where they had gone who knows? We finally got out of the airport about 1ish, poor Debbie had been waiting all that time for us. We got back to her house and had a cup of tea with real milk!!
We had the first few days with Debbie, shopping, having coffee on the beach and just chilling then Sharon and I hired a little car and I drove to Rotorua - I did really well considering I've never driven in New Zealand. We stayed in motel called Golden Glow for 2 nights, which was really nice, it was convenient to the attractions and was clean. One of the best features was that it had a spa in our bathroom which was lovely. We went in flight simulator which took across the North and South Islands of New Zealand
Lady Knox Geyser - goes off at 10.15 every day
which was quite an experience.
We went out for dinner one night and ordered a steak on a sizzling plate, we thought it was a bit strange that the waitress hadn't asked us how we liked our steaks but we were pleasantly surprised when they turned up on a red hot rock with a raw steak on it, we had to slice it and cook it on the rock - to our liking - how cool was that?
I decided that as we were in the area, I would like to pop in and see my auntie Jen who I've not seen for about 44 years so on the Monday morning we set off for Mount Manganai. As I was driving I suddenly spotted "Raftabout", white water rafting - what's to stop us? I drove straight in and lucky enough the next boat was due to leave in 20 minutes. We grabbed a hot chocolate then got all the gear on, including a sexy little wet suit and helmet, absolutely stunning!
The actual waterfall excursion that we did was a grade 5, called the Kaituna, which boasts the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world!!! It had
14 rapids, amazing scenery and a wealth of history and culture.
We visited Wai-O-Tapu, which is well known as New Zealand's most colourful and diverse geothermal area and has been thousands of years in the making, it is a stunning volcanic area. It is nestled within a natural bush setting. The range of geothermal activity was so extensive and included huge volcanic craters formed by the ground collapsing over the last 700 years, the ground was steaming with hot and cold water springs, some coloured, of which the Champagne Pool and Devil's Bath have to be seen to be believed!! The water in some of these pools reaches up to 300 centigrade!! The "rotten egg" smell that hits you, which is a bit nasty sometimes, is associated with "hydrogen sulphide".
There was plenty of elevated lookout points for just pondering or to take photos, which as you can see I took full advantage of. We made it to the Lady Knox Geyser whose eruption is introduced by an informed guide every day at 10.15 am. If you're wondering, like we did, how you can decide when the geyser will erupt, it is because the guide starts it off
with a bar of soap!! which apparently was discovered some years ago with some prisoners who did their washing there!
One of the newest acquisitions is the cooking pools where you can try boiled eggs and blanched corn,hich are cooked using geothermal steam and mineral water- unfortunately we arrived at the wrong time to see this!
When I was in New Zealand earlier in the year I met a lovely girl on the plane called Sharon Rudkin, we quickly became friends and have kept in touch ever since. When i told her I was returning the NZ for a short visit she said to look her up and we could get together, which I did. The night before we left Sharon and Kerry invited us to a BBQ at their house which was so lovely, it was so nice to see her again, I met her dad who was out there visiting, met Alex, her son, again, and her youngest son who was banned from traveling with her at the beginning of the year because he had been naughty!!
I've done a bit more reflection on my life again and feel that we should care less about
What an amazing walkway
pushing pens around on paper, working out sums and things to do etc and focus more on pushing forward and taking stock on our lives, and think ourselves lucky to have time to spend with our family and friends, regardless of distance, we should perhaps use our holidays to volunteer for charity, or help out with environmental projects, which in turn will help us to help ourselves.
Call it soulful, sensible, decent, simple, foolish, stupid, but all the things I have achieved on this trip so far has taught me to stay true to my word, do things for yourself, and try and lead by example. We have to stand up for what we believe in no mater what - and doing this will make me a stronger person.
Thank you Debbie for making my time in Auckland so memorable.
There are more photos below