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Published: March 4th 2011
New Zealand....3 weeks in and already been filled with so much-adventure, beauty, long lost relatives, great food, brilliant people, our wee camper Dora and lots more-LOVE love loving it!
So the last little need to know from South America that we squeezed in after our last blog was our dinner at La Cabrerra. We hadn't booked so we strolled up hoping we could get a table at around 9 o'clock with hoards of people waiting outside, Tom's thoughts were if there is a queue that must be a good sign so we stuck our name down with an hour wait ahead of us. Tom decided to go and ask could we buy some drinks while we were waiting to which the reply was...'Sorry Sir I'm afraid we only serve complimentary champagne out here'....much to our disappointment of course we had to drink 3 free glasses before we managed to get seated (a great start if you ask me!). Champagne was followed by the most scrumpous steaks ever, some of which were bigger than others. Tom ordered and of course finished a 28 ounce steak, 800 grams of meat....nearly a full kilo of meat not to mention the side dishes as well,
Outisde the ice bar
No cameras allowed inside-boo
Argentina def served us well before we made our way with a little mishap to Chile for our flight to New Zealand. Even though we were ready and waiting at the bus station over an hour before we were due to get our last 24 hour overnight bus journey to Chile where we were due to fly out 24 hours later (so not much time to spare), we somehow managed to misread our tickets and miss the bus...we were looking for signs for Santiago when we should have been on the look out for Mendoza our half way there change over destination. Tom was a little less than pleased when we realised we had missed it esp when he had asked me should we check the Mendoza bus but my reply had been 'nah thats in northern argentina it def wont be that one!!!!!' OOPSS! So a mad very expensive taxi dash across the city later, chasing the bus which had left 15 mins before we had we caught up to the bus and managed to jump in our seats a little hot and frustrated but on our way to Chile. We had to have one more drama to round
off Chapter 1 nicely with a story to tell...not sure Tom agrees with this though!
So New Zealand-wow what a world wind already. We arrived really early Monday morning after losing a day of our life due to time differences to an immaculate airport with immigration that took about 4 mins-AMAZING. Everyone was speaking english...that is except for Tom who hadn't quite used the last of his Spanish so used a few misplaced Hola's with confused airport staff! We were only in the taxi 5 mins though before Tom found himself in familiar terrirtory and was talking rugby with our driver the rest of the trip-he was loving it and was already feeling at home here. We headed straight for Jeff and Janes house (friends of my Dad's) after we had called in a Dad favour for a few nights with beds, a warm shower and some great home cooking before we headed out into New Zealand. Jeff and Jane were amazing and the perfect hosts, we were brilliantly looked after the whole time and it was a fantastic way to induct ourselves into a new continent and catching some family time with them and their two kids was amazing
after 5 months of just us and little chats here and there with other travellers. Thank you so much to the Pelz' for a fantastic few days. While in Auckland we managed some sight seeing, a yummy cocktail in New Zealands only ice bar-so much fun, everything from walls to tables, decorations to glasses were carved from ice-brilliant and although Tom did manage to put on a jacket he kept everyone entertained by staying in his shorts and flip flops as the rest of us were dressed in warm clothes from head to toe (not sure that boy every feels the cold!) Auckland also had some ups and downs for me as I had to go see a Dentist which was not too fun, thanks again must go to Jane for sorting it all out, driving me to and from and putting up with me crying! The dentist wanted to pull out my tooth and replace it with a very expensive implant or leave a gap, neither of which sounded like a fun part of our travelling plan, so I opted for a dose of antibiotics to get rid of infection and the grin and bear it option for as
long as I can-hoping till we get home where it will be a little cheaper to sort out!
Auckland was also for us the starting point of our adventure with our wee camper van Dora...we have since then been told we really cant call her a camper van as she is simply a long car with a couple of matresses in the back-but she'll do for us. So after our gooodbyes from Jeff and Janes we headed straight up to the Bay of Islands for some beach time and our first few nights as campers. The drive up was stunning with some really beautiful scenery along the way, a few lovely home cooked meals out the back of Dora with our wee gas burner and a few picnics by the beach. A round of mini golf was due to be the last bit of fun/drama in the Bay of Islands as we were heading back to Auckland to catch up with our friend Scotty and squeeze in a rugby game, I of course had other plans...I may have been rushing and yes Dad I needed to be going canny but as we were about to leave Paihia heading south I
potentially reversed our wee Dora into a parked car-oops! There was no running (not that I would have done that anyway Mum or anyone from GMP) as 4 people hopped out of the other car, including a police officer-doh! So a very patient Tom sorted out all the insurance details while I sat and contemplated what I'd just done-what an eejit! Anyway the trip down to Auckland was a quiet one to say the least, but we did manage to get there on time for a really quick chat with Scotty, a welcome beer then straight back out to go catch a pre season warm up game Blues v Chiefs. A few All Blacks players were playing for each team which was pretty cool but the match was pretty tame as it was only a warm up.
After goodbyes with the lovely Scotty we headed for another beach destination this time in the Coromandel Pennisula-AMAZING! The drive up was a little nerve racking as it was my first since the wee 'bump' but we managed to arrive in one piece still with only one insurance claim to our names!! We checked out a few different campsites before settling on the
one with a pool-fancy. Over the next few days we got in as much beach time as possible and prob way too much suntime-New Zealand has a wee hole in its ozone layer so Irish skin burns double quick over here if your not careful. At Cathedral Cove and Hahei beach we stumbled across some pretty huge waves which were so much fun, Tom and I were like little kids and literally played in them for hours on end only stopping for brief rests or a food stop, think this is where the sun burn came in. We also thought we would go all out for our Valentines night dinner and stumbled across a chipper-battered sausage and huge portion of chips-romantics dream dinner. As we were leaving the Cooks beach area we made one last stop off at hot water beach which was really cool to see. Just before low tide you can dig wee holes in the sand which have natural hot springs so that boiling water, merged with some cold sea water made for a great wee hot tub with a perfect sea view.
Up till a week and a bit in we still hadn't found one of
Well luminous glow worm poo actually, kinda like a spider web to catch some dinner
New Zealands conservation campsites so on our way south to Hamilton we had our first night roughing it-no power, no showers or running water, just a long drop toilet and a lovely river running along side it for washing and swimming in. Def a very surreal experience and a long way from our 5 star Christmas in Lima as I shaved my legs and washed my hair in a river-there's a first for everything. It was however this same river which gave Tom a wee injury, as we were crossing it to find a nicer spot Tom buckled and sprained his ankle which has been giving him a lot of grief but he has coped really well with it and I think its doing a good bit better now anyway. So we survived our first basic campsite with only a minor injury.
Our trip to Hamilton was to be the start of a completly fantastic few days. We set off not really knowing what to expect as we were heading to meet and stay with some very very distant relatives of mine. So back in the day my Great Grandmother Kernahan had a hoard of brothers and sisters who all
moved over to New zealand and amoungst the ancestors that came from the Kernahans side is a wonderful lady called Brenda and her family who have been doing loads of work on our family tree so long story short Brenda and another lady called Beverely (who are both my third cousins) had tracked down the link and got in contact with Dad so we thought we'd drop by and say hello. From the minute we arrived with Brenda (after she'd stopped laughing at the fact we we were calling Dora a campervan)we had the best time, Brenda and Murray definatly were fab hosts and Brenda opened up a whole new world to me with the whole geneology thing. Before we took a trip to Napier to meet some more of my relatives we squeezed in some touristy things around Hamilton. Black water rafting in Waitomo caves being the first stop-it was so incredible mooching through caves on little rubber rings, being scared witless by the guides who thought it was halarious that I was nervous and getting to see the roofs of the cave which were covered in thousands of tiny glowworms making it look like thousands of stars in
Very excited in my 80 year old dress
Me in Buzz Kernahan's (my great grandmothers neice) dress all ready for art deco
the sky-beautiful. Waitomo caves was followed by a trip to the far less exciting (for me...Tom LOVED it) Hobbiton village, or the film set for the Shire from Lord of the rings. We would have posted some pics and tell you a wee bit more about the trip but we had to sign lots of publicity waver things to say we wouldn't discuss it at all or show any photos or film anywhere on the internet until the new films come out so you'll have to wait till we arrive home for that bit. I did manage to feed a lamb at the end of the day though which was a pretty good highlight.
Onto Napier with Brenda to meet her parents for the weekend. We finally timed being in the right place at the right time and made it to Napier for Art Deco weekend, 80 years after the earthquake that distroyed the town and in its rebuilding became the Art deco hub of the world. Jasper, Ruth and Brenda were so welcoming and couldn't have been more lovely, we were completly spoilt the whole weekend with food, drink, traditional gifts from New Zealand, info and photos from my
Brenda, Jasper (Buzz's Son) Ruth and Amy-Brenda's daugther
extended family, chat, good banter and just a great fun weekend. The whole place goes to town with the celebrations with everyone dressing up the whole weekend, gorgous old cars on parade, music and dancing on street corners-the works it was so fun to be a part of. The highlight of the trip was definatly getting all dressed up in 30's outfits to head into town for some music and dancing. I got to wear an 80 year old dress that belonged to Buzz Kernahan (my Great Grandmothers neice) and even managed to squeeze a free dance lesson out of a wee old man in the centre of Napier-loved it. So I've def caught the family tree bug and wanna learn loads more about where in the world our extended family have settled, but we've made a good start at meeting people here as we also met Jaspers brother and his wife and sister and her husband (Buzz Kernahan's children for all the Morrells who are trying to keep up with who's who!), as well as lining up some more meetings in the south island...with a Cassells Kernahan, can you believe I'm gonna meet someone else called Cassells from our
Leaving Brenda and her family was definatly bitter sweet as we had had such an amazing time and feel so blessed to have spent such a lovely time with them all, but leaving Hamilton opened up a week of adventure for us as we headed to Roturua and Taupo the hub of adventure tourism. I know this blog is getting pretty long but every time I dont finish it we do something else amazing that has to be added in. So the first big event of the week was to be White Water Rafting with New Zealands highest Grade 5 rafting drop at 7ft (21 metres high!). I was bricking it of course but Tom was so excited to get in and give it a go that we had to try it. 5 mins of instructor time didnt seem quite enough to me but that was all that was on offer before we boarded our boat and we were off. I was less than impressed with being told our boat would suffer the most due to the size of some passengers...naming no names of course and it was very true. Landing some of the rapids with a heavier than
average load def made the drop that bit more exciting/terrifying. The whole experience was great and we got so many great pics to remember it by, think you can hear my screams through a few of the shots! Our day of fun wasn't over there though as we had booked in for the Tamaki Maouri experience for that evening-what a great night. The whole show was highlighting and celebrating traditions and stories, music and dance and of course food from the Maouri culture and it was completly fantastic. Was so great to hear some of the history and see some amazing music recreated for us, the traditiontal hangi feast was also incredible seeing how they cooked all the food in a covered pit in the ground with a yummy smoky taste, was really tasty and of course when you offer backpackers a buffet option we have our fill! We also managed to experience our first live haka which was incredible, photos and video dont do it justice.
Cant quite believe I am actually able to write about the next activity as I was amoung one of hundreds who didnt think I would actually do it but moving on from Rotorua
to Taupo meant booking and doing my sky dive....I thought a sleepless night would be on the cards but due to really changeable weather it looked unlikely that my first booking would go ahead. I was right I turned up nice and panicked, scared out of my wits, got all suited up with jumpsuit and harness and I waited and I panicked and I waited some more but clouds were causing problems and after 2 hours I was told to come back later. So an anxious 4 hours later I returned to do the same again but this time it was all stations go, my heart has honestly never worked so hard in its life, I was so terrified. Tears of course arrived as I was boarding the plane much to the amusment of the rest of the plane load. Fear became terror as I sat on the floor by the big gaping hole in the plane that they told me doesn't get closed in the summer (they of course sensed I was a good one for messing with, as just seconds before take off thankfully a door appeared and shut). I cant quite describe the next 20 mins as
we made our ascent to 12,000ft and I finally arrived back down on safe ground but its safe to say there was a few tears, alot of screaming (which Tom heard from the ground!), begging the instructor to give me a second to think about what was going on before he ignored me, wooshed my legs out of the plane and we were gone-I had no choice weither I was gonna jump or not...I was most defiantly pushed. I am however so so chuffed I did it, wouldn't do it again but am so chuffed I managed it, it was a very surreal but very incredible experience-the DVD is priceless cant wait to show it to you all, screaming is of course the highlight!
The next day was Tom's turn for dare devil stunts and he had hoped to do a bungy jump but cos of his poorly ankle he will have to save that for south island...watch this space. We did however find a Cliff hanger experience which is similar to a bungy but sitting down, he went very silent leading up to it and there was more than a little persuasion needed to get him to pay and
secure his spot but he did it and for all the stick he had given me about hearing my screams from 12,000ft away he gave a good shot at beating me. His scream was a little delayed and may have needed to be sensored but it was very VERY loud, DVD yet to be watched but I'm sure its halarious. So adventure tourism complete for now we decided to do something a little less intense and headed to Hukka Prawn for a wee bit of prawn fishing (I finally caught my fish off my birthday list from last year!) So a fun day of fishing was had with only 3 prawns on our plate by the end of the day but hey lots of fun while doing it and they were pretty tasty too.
I'm sure there is hundreds more wee stories and things that I'm missing out on but I'm guessing the length of this blog has tested the patience of even our wee devoted Mum's but I cant go without telling you about another wee drama that for once wasn't my fault. We've arrived in Wellington today calling in another Dad favour staying at the house of another
one of Dad's friends and collegues-thanks so much to Nigel and Ailsa for having us, but the 5 and a half hour journey didn't go without a glitch. Tom decided that even though we were nearly on empty the expensive petrol station at Taurangi wasn't the ideal place to stop and that we should head on to the next town...we didn't however know that the next town was really REALLY far away and wee Dora was already on empty. There was literally nothing for miles and miles as Dora started to struggle up hills and I was convinced we were going to run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere. A very anxious, desolate and spluttery 52 km after Dora said empty we managed to roll into the next town and grab some petrol-we really must narrow down some of our stupid decisions sometime soon!
So anyway if you've skipped down to the bottom through bordem (I dont blame you at all) a very long story short North Island New Zealand has been incredible, we have loved everything about it, from roughing it in Dora, to amazing people, beautiful scenery and amazing adventure and we are so excited to
see what amazing experiences south island has to offer. As most of you have heard Christchurch has been devastated by a huge earth quake and although we feel very blessed to be safe and sound we have been thinking lots and praying for all those who are down there in Christchurch dealing with some awful stuff, so although we dont know how it will affect the rest of our trip we are feeling very blessed to be able to be having such an amazing time in a country which is in the middle of a really horrible situation. We have been blown away by the generosity, chilled out easy going nature of everyone we have met here and I have no doubt that that amazing community spirit and strength will help them through the tough weeks and months ahead.
Hopefully New Zealand take 2 wont be as long as this we will really try to get on with a few less stories a bit quicker, but making no promises!
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