Published: April 2nd 2012April 2nd 2012
She’s a man eater make you doo doo making la la doo doo dee of your love. Excellent, that’s exactly 9 weeks that I’ve had ‘Man Eater’ by Nelly Furtado in my head. Hello everyone. It’s our last day in New Zealand today so we thought we’d celebrate it by sitting in an internet café/ karaoke bar/ dungeon in the centre of Auckland. I was a bit dubious about some of the furnishings around the place and thought the karaoke rooms looked a bit too ‘comfy’ if you get my meaning. If you don’t get my meaning I think it was a knocking shop. If you still don’t get my meaning then don’t worry about it. I’ve then spent the last 45 minutes listening to this massive psycho looking Danish dude who was telling me (shouting at me) about the forthcoming economic and environmental meltdown which is coming in 2015. I have the feeling we’ll see him again at some point. It will most likely be on the news as he’s taken out by police following a rampage with a Kalashnikov at the 2015 World Environmental Summit.
It’s been a busy few days. Following our ferry back to
North Island on Thursday afternoon we zoomed up through North Island arriving Friday night ready to sell Burman (our car with a mattress in it) at the Auckland City car fair on Saturday morning. We arrived at the car fair to find about 100 other travellers (people on holiday) selling the skankiest looking vehicles I have ever seen. If you’re going to sell your van at least move your skiddy pants off the bed. We, being proud of our Burman had cleaned him and taken all our crap out and left it in the tent on a campsite. We were certain we would sell it. The fair ran between 9am and 1pm and about 15 people showed up. It was terrible. The car fair on the next day was more successful however a large majority of the conversations we had that day were along the lines of:
“My friend what is your bottom price?”
“$3250 as per the sign.”
“Yes but what’s your bottom price?”
“$3250 or give me an offer.”
“I will give you $1000.”
“Don’t waste my time.”
“Ok $1100 final offer.”
the end of the day we had 3 good offers and 2 crap ones so managed to sell it quite quick considering it was low season. The funniest thing we saw all day was a guy who was desperately selling his van for $2500. He got offered $1200 and took it. They did the paperwork and 5 minutes later the van was back in the car fair with the new owner being sold for $2600. He sold it almost immediately to someone else then as we left Judith saw it back at the fair with the new owner with a sign in it for $3500 on it.
As we’ve been vehicle and bed less we’ve been camping in the grounds of a hostel in Auckland. We decided to bring our flights to Australia forward and are leaving for Sydney tomorrow (Wednesday) instead of Sunday. Well suppose I’d best fill you in. Apologies it has been a while but we’ve been really busy (I hate myself for saying that). We’ve generally been driving somewhere in the morning, doing stuff all day, arriving at a campsite, cooking tea, going to bed, getting up and repeat. It’s been mint though,
plus as it has been pretty cold at night we’ve gone to bed early and have been getting between 10 and 12 hours kip a night. Bargain!
I last wrote to you when we had just arrived in South Island. So I think that’s about 6 weeks of stuff to cover. I’ll try to keep it brief and only tell you the really important stuff that happened. I’ll start with the regular feature called, ‘What did Stephen loose this week?’ This month, my head torch. We went to buy a new one and the guy in the shop asked us what we needed it for so I replied, “for seeing in the dark.” I think he thought I was being sarcastic so sold me one that is so bright I could blind the pilot of a passing passenger jet. New head torch in hand we headed up to the Abel Tasman National Park to partake in a bit of ‘tramping’ as the Kiwi’s call it. Basically tramping is the same as walking but they made up a new word for it to make it sound more exciting than it is. Abel Tasman was nice with some of
the bluest seas I’ve ever seen. We next headed up to the Golden Bay to spend some time with a load of hippies. It was a bit like Hebden Bridge but with better ice cream shops. South Island surely is beautiful which makes you wonder why only 1 million people live here as opposed to 3.5 million on North Island. Then we figured out why – sand flies. Chuffin squillions of them and the little buggers bite. It was that bad one day that we left a campsite early without having breakfast. For those of you who know Judith’s love of breakfast, you will appreciate how bad it must have been for her to skip it.
Camping in Burman was awesome. We love being able to pull up at a site and not have to unpack. The same goes in the morning, just have breakfast then head straight off. The campsites have been great although we’ve never understood why people feel it is necessary to pull up directly next to our van when there is a huge campsite to camp in. I suppose that’s Burman’s magnetism. Everyone kept themselves to themselves on the campsites unlike in hostels
where you are forced into conversation with other travellers (people on holiday). It’s amazing how many English people reply “England” when you ask them where they’re from after you’ve been talking to them for 10 minutes. Talking of English morons I‘m always pleased to see people turn up on camp sites wearing shorts, vests and flip flops whilst wearing those stupid Noddy style woolly hats. It is 30 degrees you pleb why are wearing a woolly hat? Yes and take off your sun glasses, it’s 7pm and you’re indoors and you are not Kanye West. Last point, please stop saying “know what I mean”, you sound like a nob.
Any way, we headed off down the west coast, one of the most amazing drives I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. I did however nearly kill a massive yet short sighted Bird of Prey that mistook our van for a mouse as it dive bombed us. I think I only clipped it. I’m sure it will be fine……… We stopped in a little town called Hokitika where it just rained the entire time we were there. The locals were overjoyed with the rain as they hadn’t had
any for 4 weeks. I on the other hand was narked off because it was spoiling my holiday. We hid from the rain at the cinema one night as we saw ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Quantum Physicist’ which was the most complicated film I’ve ever seen. We’ve watched quite a few films since being in New Zealand and unlike all the films we saw on the buses in South America, we were able to watch the entire film in English without interruption or fear of death. We were able to watch surround sound films in the Burmanator as I’d rigged the laptop up to the car stereo. Like the nerds we are we watched the entire extended versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (about 12 hours in total). Speaking of LotR, a few people thought the tale in my last blog about me loosing my wedding ring was some kind of Lord of the Rings joke in the making. Although I thought it might be a good idea to make some elaborate LotR parody the only things I could think of were that firstly I lost my ring, secondly Judith and I enjoy two breakfasts like Hobbits and finally,
thanks to the parasite I had in my stomach I spent most of my time in South America sat on the Throne of Gondor.
We headed South to see the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. We got absolutely soaked at Franz Josef to the point that I was stood outside the van in a car park in my undies, ringing out my trousers before getting in the van. A bloke then stopped to have a conversation with me about how wet it was and if that wasn’t embarrassing enough he called over his wife to show her how soaked we were. We booked into a nice campsite with a kitchen and laundry so we could get dry and just had a day relaxing out of the rain. I did a bit of reading whereas Judith’s started knitting. She’s currently knitting me a hat which she said will probably be finished when we are in South East Asia. It will probably come in handy in the jungle in Cambodia.
The sun came out and we headed to Wanaka. It was our Judith’s birthday whilst we were there. It is incredibly hard to plan any secret
things whilst you are together 24/7 and living in a tiny van. We had a nice walk, had some cake and then had a trip to the local cinema to see the new ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ film. It was pretty good although it took Daniel Craig approximately 10 minutes before he was unnecessarily prancing around in a pair of tiny underpants. When watching the film I also realised that I hadn’t seen a Volvo since we were in the UK. Whilst in Wanaka we headed to the public library to use the internet. Whilst there I saw a bloke reading a book about the Vietnam War to his 3 year old. I’d have thought you’d have had to start with something a bit more light hearted like ‘Dora the Explorer’ and then build up to stuff about War but maybe I’m wrong. “If you’re a good boy Jack, when we get home we can watch Platoon.”
We headed to Queenstown and noticed that there are loads of hitchhikers in New Zealand or as I like to call them ‘dirty skinflints.’ It’s not like at home where hitchhikers look like they will kill you,
over here you want to kill them. They are generally unwashed students who are too tight to hire a car or pay for a bus. They look at you like you are a piece of dog muck on their shoe if you don’t pick them up, like it is their god given right to ride for free in the back of our van. Get a job! We arrived in Queenstown and the rain had returned. Two hitch hikers turned up to our campsite in the pouring rain and kipped the night in the disabled toilet. And they wonder why we don’t pick them up. Queenstown is the extreme sports capital of the world (probably) so me and our Judith went on a photography course. When it comes to slinging yourself off a bridge with a very dubious looking harness on or learning the benefits of custom white balance settings on your camera I know where I’d rather be. The weather got pretty cold at night down there. If you think I’m being a wuss, go sleep in your car the next time it gets down to 0 degrees c. Queenstown is one of those places that attracts lots of pretentious
expats that you just want to punch in the face. They think they’re better than you because you’re a tourist however they fail to realise that they work in the tourism industry and tourists pay their wages. Eat my fist you mother!
Judith’s mate Sereena joined us in Queenstown and we headed down to Fiordland in the South West. We booked in to do a couple of boat trips on Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound which are basically big hills surrounded by the sea. We decided to stay in a hostel at Doubtful Sound and left our beloved Burman inland for a couple of nights whilst we explored the isolated wilderness. When we arrived we took in the natural beauty of the area by sitting in the hostel drinking tea and watching an American chat show called Dr Phil. There was this woman who was about to have her 11th
marriage. Then this other couple were on who were having relationship difficulties. Unfortunately the boyfriend didn’t make it to the show as the night before he got banged up for knocking her about. And we thought Jeremy Kyle was bad. Oh yes that reminds me, we watched
Jeremy Kyle too. We did eventually get off our arses though and saw plenty of wildlife and stuff which was nice.
Sereena left us for a few nights and me and our Judith headed to the Catlins in the southern most part of the island to go hunt some penguins. Yet again it was raining when we got there but that didn’t stop us from spotting some of the little chappies. We saw dolphins, seals and sea lions too although I was disappointed that the seals weren’t batting a beach ball about whilst the penguins did a little dance. We headed ooop north via Dunedin, where we met back up temporarily with Sereena and our new chum Toby whom we’d met in Rotorua. Judith and I then headed up towards Mount Cook via a little place called Omarama which is world famous for its gliding. We thought it would be rude not to. It’s like an extreme sport for old people. I’m not the best flyer in the world whereas Judith on the other hand loves it. She went up first with a driver who looked about 20 and was clearly hungover. I went up with an
old dude who spent the 15 minutes prior to take off telling me about the number of deaths that had occurred through gliding around the world. The thermals weren’t quite what they should have been for a perfect gliding day which meant that my pilot thought it would be a good idea to fly round in circles for 10 minutes at the top of a mountain to get some lift. It was a bit like being in a washing machine in the sky at 40 degrees c whilst being repeatedly kicked in the stomach. It was lovely. Due to the lack of thermals Judith’s pilot had to land in a field in the middle of nowhere and await a tow from a plane. If she wasn’t already a bit concerned about the obvious hung over state of her pilot he went and had a kip under the wing whilst they waited for the plane to collect them. Probably for the best. I finally landed and awaited Judith’s glider. They saw me waiting near the runway and decided to show off by doing dive bombs and loop the loops. She had great fun. I on the other hand was glad to
be on the ground with most of my breakfast still in my stomach. Judith loves being in the sky whereas I prefer to be under the sea. We’ve compromised and have agreed to spend the rest of our life living somewhere between the two. Probably in Triangle.
We headed on a beautiful journey up to Mount Cook. It’s a bit out in the sticks so there was no radio. You generally know you are about to arrive into civilisation when you can pick up a radio station. The rest of the time it’s just white noise. When you do pick up a station you get a dose of swearing and racist banter from the DJ’s followed by loads of music you haven’t heard for years. One of the station’s slogans is ‘Music from the 80’s, 90’s and today.’ So I’m assuming that any music which came out in the post 1999 is classed as ‘today’. The most excruciating thing we heard on one of the local 80’s rock stations was a windup call where the DJ put on a really racist Chinese accent and phoned up a listener to pretend he had kidnapped her husband whilst he
was on business in China. She started having a nervous breakdown on the phone and they cut her off. At this point the husband was hysterical and screaming at the DJ to get her back on the line. They eventually got her back on the line at which point
the wife went biblical on her husband on air. It was literally awful.
The night sky at Mount Cook was amazing. I have never seen as many stars in my life. You could see the Milkyway and everything. The whole area was spectacular and the campsite was at the foot of the snow capped mountains. The National Park Ranger walked past us on morning whilst we were having breakfast and said, “have you ladies paid?” Cheers. I had about 5 days stubble an all. We headed off back East via a village fair in Lake Tekapo (where we ate our weight in free samples) and headed across to Christchurch. It’s been 13 months since the huge earthquake and the city centre is still closed off. It’s quite a strange place to hang about. There are loads of tourists quietly wandering about wondering whether it is acceptable to
take photographs. It was quite sad to see the state of the city but the locals are just getting on with it. Good on them!
We drove north up the east coast via Kiakoura where we were able to watch dolphins jumping around whilst having breakfast outside the van. It were magic. There have been two big news reports since we’ve been in New Zealand. The first was that the pie lady was kidnapped during a delivery at a school in Christchurch and the second and most talked about news story was the national Marmite shortage. Kiwi Marmite is a more inferior version of English Marmite. We had a jar of the Kiwi stuff which we were trying to get rid of so we took advantage of the situation of the national shortage and traded it with a fisherman for some Paua shells.
Our time in South Island was drawing to a close. We headed back up to Picton in the north, met back up with Sereena and then crossed back to North Island the following day. We stopped one night on a campsite about 2 hours north of Wellington and met some crazy
local builders who kept insisting on us taking photos of them. The next day we made the big drive up to Auckland ready to sell Burman.
So 7,200km or 4,473miles or 23,622,050ft or 7.610406e-10 light years later we are back where we started in Auckland and ready for the next leg of our adventure. We really liked New Zealand. The scenery is stunning and Kiwis are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They are nearly as nice as Yorkshire folk. The weather looks to be picking up so I’m going to go put my shorts and vest on. I wonder if Judith’s finished that hat for me yet. Know what I mean?
See you in a bit
Ste and Judith x x
Abel Tasman & Golden Bay http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150574105452532.383739.581642531&type=3&l=17c906d487
West Coast & Otago http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150638428692532.392968.581642531&type=3&l=a9a3784c2c
Mount Cook http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150639100317532.393071.581642531&type=3&l=73b0c69328
East Coast http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150639124022532.393075.581642531&type=3&l=167cd38fa9