Happy Valentines Day! Yes they even celebrate this crap here in New Zealand. Oh yes and there are Easter eggs in the shop already. How splendid. It is more like England out here than you think. Eerily like England. They drive on the left, there’s an obesity problem, erm people speak English. Actually I think that’s about it. We have just arrived in South Island and have pulled in to a delightful campsite on the river front about 30km from the Marlborough Sound. No its not a music festival sponsored by a tobacco company, no no no, it’s a series of bays, islands, coves and waterways formed by the sea flooding its deep valleys after the ice ages, or summat. I’m not saying that our trip has turned into a year long Geography field trip but well, it has.
Judith’s in our campervan (car with a mattress in it) reading ‘New Idea’ magazine, catching up on all the latest important world news such as Heidi Klum and Seal splitting up (they we never gonna survive), brain donor Jessica Simpson complaining about being overweight and something about Ashton Kutcher killing Whitney Huston in the
hotel room with the lead piping. All important world issues which I am glad we are keeping on top of. I’ve decided to sit outside and reflect on the wonderful view I had about 10 minutes ago before this complete moron parked his van right in front of me and ruined it. Some people! We’ve already had an exciting morning. We arrived off the ferry from Wellington (North Island) into Picton (South Island) and stopped at the Post Office to renew our road tax which is due in a few days. As it was our first time doing this I took the old tax disk out of the van to show the woman in the Post Office what I needed. When I returned to the van I had a fine for $200 slapped on my windscreen for not having a visible tax disc. Brilliant! Thankfully after some heavy negotiation with the Traffic Warden, a trip to the local Council Office and about a million forms later, we were cleared of all charges - with the exception of verbal abusing a Traffic Warden which is due to go to trial at the end of next month. Only joking folks.
The day before yesterday was our 6 month travelling (on holiday) anniversary. How time has flown. So last night we went out in Wellington (North Island) for some grub and some beers to celebrate. I know what you’re thinking, how is that a celebration? Yes we’ve been travelling (on holiday) for 6 months, yes we haven’t done any work in all that time, yes I can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve had to get up before 9am, but you know we deserve a break. Come on have a heart, its Valentines Day after all. Actually by the time I finally get round to getting this posted it will probably be more like Easter. As we are spending our days and nights on campsites we generally don’t have access to internet so find ourselves pulling up in a McDonalds carpark for some free McWifi. We haven’t skyped our folks for a while so are missing the regular Skype conversations such as:
“Mum I can see you but I can’t hear you, have you plugged in your microphone?”
“Dad, can you turn the telly down? I can just hear the Last of the
Summer Wine theme tune in the background and can’t hear a word your saying.”
“Hello Mum, yes we can hear you but can’t see you. Did you answer with video call or just normal call? Right we’ll call you back. This time answer with video call.”
“Dad, can you see yourself on the screen? No well neither can I, move in front of the camera.”
Bless em. Right back to business. We last left you in Auckland (North Island). We spent a few nights in a posh campsite and then we headed back to Wendy and Gareth’s for a weekend of tea, beaches, barbeques and beer. We did some snorkelling up at Goat Island. We didn’t see any goats but I did get attacked by a seagull and then nearly run over by a glass bottom boat. “Ladies and Gentlemen, if you look to your left you will see the body of a chubby Yorkshireman who has just been churned up by our engine and if you look to the right you can see one of his legs being eaten by some seagulls.”
Every Kiwi we have met since being
here has told us about what a rubbish summer they’ve had. Serious? Have you been to England? You don’t even know what a crappy summer is until you’ve booked 2 weeks off work in August to go camping in Cornwall only to sit in your tent looking out of the window all day crying at the rain. I’m not talking about me and Judith. We normally go to France or Italy. The weather has apparently picked up though and the sun here is fierce. Ooo it’s brutal. I like it hot but not this hot. That hole in the ozone is real you know. Some people are really sun burned here or have really old looking leathery skin. There was this bloke in the changing rooms in the swimming pool the other day who was about 90 and he was horrifically tanned everywhere, I mean everywhere. We’ve been going to swimming pools quite regularly since being here, one for fitness and two for showers as some campsites don’t have them. The pool in Auckland had aqua aerobics the morning we were there. I thought I was almost out of energy and then they put on ‘I need a hero’ by
Bonnie Tyler and I managed to get motivated for another 20 lengths.
This massive chicken thing has just attacked our rubbish bag behind me. I almost wet me sen.
We left Wendy and Gareth’s and headed up t’north with our first stop being the Waipoua Forest to see the Giant Kauri trees. The road was quite windy and hilly. Our Burman (our car with a mattress in it) started to smell a bit funny so we pulled in at the top of the hill. I popped the bonnet and had a look and thought, ‘I have absolutely no idea what I’m looking at.’ I did however notice that the coolant thing looked empty. This guy came over and said “Ey bro need any help?” My hero. I duly accepted and showed him the coolant thing and he went and got some water from his car. He unscrewed the cap on the coolant thing and guess what? Yes that’s right it was full of coolant and it sprayed everywhere. Ooops! He topped it up with water and headed off on his way, most likely thinking about how much of a dick I am. We stopped
at the petrol station for another bottle of coolant and $20 dollars later we were on our way. Oh yes and I realised what the smell was. It was other people’s brakes coming down the hill on the opposite side of the road and absolutely nothing to do with our Burman.
We stopped the night just outside the forest and then headed in the next day to see the Kauri trees. They were massive and they were free an all. After seeing the trees we headed over to the Bay of Islands on the North East coast. We decided to stop at a campsite on route at a place called Ngawha Ngawha Springs as it had some natural hot springs on site which you could use. There was a series of timber pools which all had different natural minerals in them and they really really really stank of egg. The water was all skanky and bubbling greeny brown water and that and had all this gunk in it. Even though it was minging and the place looked like something off ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ we went in anyway and it was really warm and eggy. Like
bathing in a hot egg flavoured soda stream. Thankfully we could still smell the egg on our skin a week later no matter how many times we scrubbed ourselves. How lovely. There was also this evil one eyed dog on the campsite which kept looking at me funny so we only stopped for one night. I think it weed on our car too, although I can’t prove anything.
Judith decided to have another dip in the stink pools before we left which gave the car a nice aroma for the next leg of our trip to the Bay of Islands. We took the ferry across the bay to a picturesque little town called Russell where we pitched up on a site a short walk from the beach. They had a great outdoor communal barbeque area. I couldn’t get the last free barbie working so waited my turn for another available one. In the mean time a fat sunburnt tattooed skin head from Bolton came over and started to fire it up. I told the him that it wasn’t working so he had a go any way and it started first time. There’s nothing more that makes you
feel less of a man. I am so ashamed of myself.
The following week was not a good week for losing stuff. I lost my swimming goggles, the lens cap for the camera and then lost my wedding ring in the sea. Judith was clearly upset and I was just so annoyed with myself. It’s not the financial value of it, it’s more the sentimental value. But I assured Judith that we’d find a replacement as soon as we passed a decent camera shop.
We took a trip out into the Bay of Islands to do some dolphin spotting. There were loads and they are massive too. The trip offered the option to ‘swim’ with dolphins. Have you seen how fast dolphins can swim? An Olympic gold medallist swimmer couldn’t keep up with them. Imagine if a dolphin tour company offered dolphins the chance to run with humans. They’d probably say “clik clikclik clik clikclik clik” which translates as “you’ve got to be kidding me you imbecile.” It was however amazing to see them under the water for a few seconds before they swam off at 100mph. Unfortunately it was at this time that
I dropped my wedding ring into the depths of the sea. It was 40 metres deep so didn’t quite fancy my chances of finding it with the Tesco Value snorkel kit I had on at the time. In fact I think they were chav dolphins in hoodies and they nicked it from me when I wasn’t looking. They’ll probably trade it in at some underwater ‘cash for gold’ shop and then spend the money on smoking seaweed using seahorses as crack pipes or whatever the underwater youths do these days.
Whilst in Russell we had hands down the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. That really pains me to say that being from Yorkshire, the home of the UK’s best Fish ‘n’ Nurks. But they were chuffin marvellous. We left Russell and popped down the coast to Whananaki. The names of the places here are nigh on unpronounceable. My favourites being Ohokikokikoki, Nowthennowthen and Rilyrilyrilywannazigazigah. We stopped just off the beach for the night and we could hear the sea in the van. It were bloomin lovely. We were going to stay another night but the weather turned overcast so we headed off to the Coromandel
Peninsular to spend the weekend with Wendy and Gareth in their family holiday home. We had plenty of PG Tips, a nice meal out at a posh Phoenix Club, a dip in the sea in my Speedo’s and then closed off the weekend with another meat feast barbie. Happy days.
We left the Cogan’s and headed to Whakatane. Whilst on the campsite there, Judith came out of the van whilst I was cooking tea and said, “someone’s tea stinks.” She then realised it was ours……… We headed to the town and visited a music shop for a browse round. Most of the music you hear over here is from the 80’s or at a push the 90’s. There’s a few 80’s rock radio stations which keep me happy. Whilst in the shop I overheard a woman asking for Adam Ricketts on CD. Oh dear. Another thing here is lots of people walk around with nothing on their feet. A bit like Hobbits I suppose. Even though it is more sociably acceptable to walk round here in bare feet, let’s be honest you still look a bit of a mentalist.
We then headed down to
Rotorua which is famous for its thermal springs. On the way there Judith realised we had a voucher for a blueberry farm shop for some free jam. Even though the farm was a 60km detour we did it any way. As it turns out our voucher wasn’t valid so we just had a blueberry ice cream and then left for a camp site by a lake. Some of the sites here don’t have a water supply which means you have to get water from rivers or in this case the lake. Now I’m not the fussy type but when it comes to drinking water that ducks have been ‘quacking’ in all day, even I’ve got standards. Lesson learnt – we make sure we carry some water with us at all times and a sieve just in case.
The next day we decided to head into Rotorua to see some of the world famous thermal springs. The whole city smells of lovely sulphury egg. We had a walk round to see all the bubbling mud pools and even though it reeked it was pretty fascinating. Weird thing is when you walk round the city everyone else is just
walking round like it doesn’t smell of egg. But it did, it stank. We had prepared our sandwiches the morning before heading out into town and unfortunately for us we’d made egg sarnies. Just what you want when you’ve been retching at the egg stench of the city all day is egg sarnies. Mmmmmm.
We headed south to Lake Taupo and whilst in the Tourist Info realised that we had lost track of time and it was Friday and not Tuesday as we’d thought. Oh bugger. We had booked our crossing to South Island on the following Tuesday so needed to get a wriggle on so as a result didn’t explore Taupo. Although it was a bit last minute and really badly planned we decided to do the 20km Tongariro Crossing the next day. It was a walk up a massive hill and then down the other side with loads of pretty stuff in between. It was really good apart from the hoards of moronic 18 year old students pushing past me every 10 seconds not even out of breath talking about like Twitter, like Bieber Fever and My Little like Pony or whatever they’re into (like).
We were quite achy for the next few days but made our way down to the south coast to Wellington ready to pick up our ferry to South Island. We’re loving being in the van. It’s great to be able to drive to where ever we want to and not fear getting machete’d to death. It’s been nice to have our own bed day in day out. No more dorms (for now). No more listening to other people snore or talk in their sleep. There was even a guy in the last dorm we stayed in who listened to Simply Red to get to sleep. Simply Red for flip sake! We’ve much more freedom here but there’s no dangerous edge like in the Americas and I think in a weird way we miss that. Maybe we should start packing 50 randoms into our van and drive everywhere with no seat belts at 120mph with some chickens running around my feet. Maybe not.
Right must go. Middle Earth won’t explore itself. We’ve got a ring to find!
See thee in a bit
Love Steve Wise Gangee and
Judo Baggins Photos
Auckland, Waipoua Forest, Bay Of Islands, Coromandel http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150572546087532.383497.581642531&type=3&l=f7d15af818
Rotorua, Tongariro Crossing, Wellington http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150572639757532.383511.581642531&type=3&l=0a967c27b7
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