Published: May 12th 2009May 13th 2009
In Minus 5, looking "cool"...
And so into the final Oceania blog, and the home straight! Although it seems only yesterday that we landed in Christchurch, 3,700km later, we leave our beloved Big Fat Neville behind and head to California. We realise that we focussed more on the natural beauty of NZ as opposed to the cultural, but here you can find so much of both and its well worth the 24 hour flight to find out for yourself! Despite only having a couple of weeks on both islands we feel we have experienced alot of this great country - and we've purposely left out some stuff for next time....any offers to join us?? This is how we spent our final few days;
8th May 2009
Rain, and lots of it. We spent the morning driving through a torrential downpour until we reached the city of Hamilton. We have noticed that the driving over here is slightly erratic and the rain only enhanced this. We saw two head-ons and so after a visit to the local i-site, we decided to sit this one out and parked up at the local campervan site. Hamilton is the biggest city we have been to since Wellington and so
Marae detail at Hamilton Gardens.
we made the most of the night life by watching the rugby at a local pub. We also got to see the local reaction to the Haka - which ignited far more passion than the National Anthem - when we watched the National rugby league team playing against Australia. If you thought the rivalry between the home nations was intense, you won't believe how much the kiwis want to beat the Aussies. It was scary!
9th May 2009
We should have guessed it, but after yesterdays downfall we were greeted with sunshine as we woke early ready to set off to our next stop. Wanting to take advantage of the sun we stopped off at the Hamilton Gardens where we were able to reminisce about our trip by walking through Chinese and Indian gardens. There was also an English garden but without the rain, it just didn't work! After walking the grounds we got back in to Nev and headed for the Waitomo Caves, 1 hour south west- ish of Hamilton. On the way we decided to stop off somewhere a bit special....we thought we had left the crazy stuff behind us in Asia, but this could well top
Rotisserie bunny pre shave.
anything we have seen before. You may want to read the next line twice; at 12.45 we went to watch a rabbit get shaved (shorn if you're an expert.) Yes, these massive, fluffy beasts are hooked up to a rotisarie-type contraption which is rotated so that all it's fur can be reached and removed. This may sound brutal but they seem to be quite blase about it and without this being done 4 times a year, they would actually die from overheating. It is very, very funny. Again, video footage is available on request!
Leaving the Shearing Shed, we parked up at a nearby hostel where we spent the afternoon catching up on chilling. Apparently the Waikato region is a hot bed for sport and so we sat and watched some on the tv before heading to the local public house to watch the night's rugby.
10th May 2009
After a stilted nights sleep listening to heavy rain pounding Nev, we were up at 0730. We filled our bellies and headed over to the HQ of Black Water Rafting Co., the original company for cave exploration in Waitomo. It was a cold damp morning, perfect for putting on cold,
damp, wet 'dry'suits and heading into the Ruanaki Cave. Our gear was quite fetching; leggings, a jacket, white booties, and a helmet with head torch. Looking good wasn't an option. We would be spending the next 2 hours tubing (rubber ring style!) through caves up to 100 metres under the ground. In pitch dark. We were informed that we had to get cold to get warm, and so before entering the cave system, we were led to a ledge a few feet above the cold looking river, and from there we jumped into our rings. It was colder than we had anticipated! Infact, excuse our language, it was bloody freezing! Shivering, we climbed back out of the river, and headed to the cave entrance where we climbed down a waterfall and into the dark...We had to sit for a number of minutes to allow for our eyes to adjust to the complete darkness, and then we began wading deeper through the cave, alternately in the tube and out, clambering chest deep in cold water. We were heading to a huge, cathedral sized cave where the main attraction would be. On arriving, we were asked to switch off our headlamps and
Cold cold cold!
look up, while we floated along in a train system. Above us were literally thousands of glow worms lighting our path. It was stunning! 30 minutes more of waterfalls, baby rapids and numerous near falls(!) and we slowly drifted back out into the bright daylight, numb fingers and toes still intact! There were times where we questioned whether we had really
paid for this trip, but it was really amazing, and unlike anything we had done before. Some moments were quite scary - at one point we were led flat in our tubes, the ceiling of the cave literally inches from our noses, pulling ourselves along - but the sight of the glow worms was more than worth a little bit of cold....well, a lot of cold....but still worth it.....
Some warm bagels and hot soup greeted us back from the trip, which we duly demolished. Then it was time to give Nev his last big test, the last of our long journeys. We hopped on to Route 1 and drove 3 hours north into Auckland, where we found a nice sea-side camperpark to stay in. The boy done good!
11th May 2009
After quite the eventful day yesterday
Cool cool cool.
we had our longest lie-in yet, not leaving Nev til a shocking 1130. As our departure from NZ draws near, we started sorting out a few things as it is surprising how much you can accumulate when you are not constantly reminded of the weight on your back! And so, this took longer than we had anticipated, but now we are ready for San Fran. We cooked up a world class lunch of Sausage Teriyaki and, due to the intermittent downpours that are following us, we took refuge in a local coffee house. A low key day of huge proportions, but a much needed organisation day leaving our last full day - tomorrow - free to explore Auckland.
12th May 2009
An early morning spent contemplating the looming dark clouds was followed by risking the rain (which never came!) and catching a bus, and then a ferry, across Auckland harbour and into the city. A few stats; Auckland is a city of 1.25million people, not too amazing on its own, but then you have to remember that NZ is a country of only 4 million people! It also has the largest Polynesian population of anywhere in the world. All
One last sun rise in NZ.
this adds up to, well, for us, just another city. As we've said before, we kind of lose our way in big cities, and so it proved today. We wandered aimlessly, watching people hurl themselves off of the 192m SkyTower, eating sushi rolls and drinking coffee. As the day began to drift away from us, we found ourselves a very plush wine bar to use our new found wine 'knowledge' out in. Being sat with high rolling businessmen and women, in their finest suits, whilst we sat in our traveller clothes (Hayley had a cookie monster hoodie on...) was very amusing to us - though perhaps not so much for the others?! From here we headed to the Minus 5 bar, which is a bar in which eveything - from the chairs, the walls, even your glass - is made of ice. We donned our parker jackets and gloves, had a cheeky cocktail and naughtily took some photos (cameras are banned, shhh!) before the temperature (it was actualy - 6.9 degrees, not - 5) became too much and we headed out, and back across the ferry to Takapuna, where we are staying. 1/2 kilo of steak was dinner this evening - which Daniel duly threw up once his body reminded him that he cant eat steak. Doh. Definitely wasn't the wine and cocktail....
13th May 2009
As with all campsites we had to be off site by 10am this morning, which meant an early start to ensure that we were completely packed, clean and ready to leave NZ. This inevitably led to us still being in a rush, showering, packing loose ends and stuffing in our breakfast of beans on bread (the toaster was broken!). All set though, we await an emotional goodbye to Nev, and then we have a few hours to kill before our mammoth flight to the west coast of the US. Exciting times! We hope the plane is showing High School Musical 3 again!
New Zealand Road Trip? Done.
See you all real
D and H
ODE TO NEV Oh Neville, you are big and white
Oh Neville, you kept us warm at night
You were slowest on the road
Chugging in automatic Mode
But to us you were our guiding light
....sob sob....we'll miss that guy.....