Week 34 - New Zealand - Taupo, Napier, Wellington

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June 12th 2010
Published: June 15th 2010
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Caravan club - Episode 2

Kia-Ora folks,

After the last few weeks of action this week certainly felt a little more subdued, but fantastic all the same.

After hitting the hay at the end of our extreme sports day we awoke to a rather wet and windy Taupo, but this didn’t dampen our spirits so we put on the wet weather gear and headed to Huka Falls just outside Taupo which is an amazing water fall pouring 200,000 gallons of water every second, now that’s one natural power shower. After the falls we had a spot of lunch near a hydro electric dam, which to be fair was a little disappointing as we expected a more spectacular flow but it was more of a steady stream but anyway afterwards we went to the “Honey Hive” bee centre where we all sampled different flavours of honey and killed a few hours away from the rainy weather.

The next morning we headed straight to the much anticipated Huka Prawn Farm in Taupo. The setting was in the valley of Taupo with numerous Prawn Lakes (man made) scattered around the grounds. We were informed that any prawns we caught during

Guilty Face
the day would be ours to keep and take home or at least to Big Fat Sue, or alternatively we could take them into the on-site restaurant and they would cook them for us. We signed up for a full day of prawning which included a tour of the grounds, trout feeding , baby prawn feeding and of course the prawn fishing itself. We got given a bamboo rod each and some bait which looked a bit like raw tuna and we choose our spot on lake 2 and dangled the rods into the water. The technique we were told was to treat your prawn, once on the hook, like a dog and take it for a walk in the water for about 5 seconds until the prawn stops walking, let it place the bait (and hopefully the hook) into it’s mouth and then pull up the rod slowly and cross your fingers the prawn is on the end. Well, like a shot, Kate a novice in the world of prawn catching hooked one, we were all shouting with excitement as Kate dangled this poor defenceless prawn in the air over the water. After the initial excitement and photos Kate

We left Kate there!!!
unhooked the prawn and placed it into the bucket provided.

We all got back to the business of catching the second prawn of the day, now with this recent catch in our minds our confidence was high and again all of a sudden Kate screams, she had hooked another on the end of her bamboo rod, which looks like it is almost snapping! Kate gradually pulls the prawn out of the water and it is an absolute whopper, with big blue pincers (the blue pincers indicates that the prawn has won numerous prawn fights) going ten to the dozen. It was hilarious!!! This thing was not happy but we pulled the hook out and placed him with his little friend, catch number one! Well after these initial “big hauls” Kate popped back to the van to grab the large bucket we had with us as the one they provided was not very big, well not big enough for our plans anyway! After the high of Kate catching two we all had visions of pulling in big ones, which in fact could be as large as 40cms long which in prawn term is quite big. We all sat around dangling our rods in the water when I felt a little tug on my hook, I walked the prawn along the line and then pulled the little sucker in. He was quite the fighter but no match for us hungry prawn eaters so another one for the bucket. It was then Cerri who caught one and we were all pleased with our early effort………………fast forward 3 hours of sitting down on camp chairs and we had all caught several prawns apart from poor old Banj, who was at his point yet to land one. The last hour saw him desperate to catch one as he didn’t want to go home empty handed and at one point in desperation almost jumped into the lake for a more hands on approach and grab a few! Unfortunately in the end it wasn’t to be for Banj so he walked away prawn less. In total we caught 11 big prawns which we were pretty pleased with, the tours, feeding trout and baby prawns went out the window as we were so engrossed in catching our own prawns. We got the prawns cooked in the restaurant covered in garlic butter and sat back in front of

"Catch of the day"
a open fire and enjoyed the fruits of our labour with a couple of beers, a cup of tea and a diet coke.

After the prawn farm we headed to a look out which gave views of the town of Taupo and the lake, it was an OK view but was slightly tainted by the fact that you could see several supermarkets, industrial buildings and car parks so we quickly hopped back into BFS and headed to the Lake Taupe Hole in One Challenge. This was a quick bit of fun which basically offers individuals the chance to win $10,000 if they can get the golf ball into a hole on a floating platform on the lake. We all thought there must be some kind of catch with this as it sounded easy and I was actually really confident I would get it in the hole, well until we spoke to the guy who ran it and he informed us that in the least 5 years only 7 people have ever done it! The hole was 110 yards out in the lake so a Pitching wedge was the chosen club, Banj and I hit some balls but sadly none

Wellington Museum
landing into the hole. I did manage to hit the platform but that was as far as it goes, no prize for us, but we did walk away pleased with our efforts.

That evening we stayed in Taupo before moving on South to Napier the world acclaimed art deco town that got rebuilt in 1931 due to a massive earthquake and thus all being art deco in style. We did our own art deco town tour which included a rather suspect café and a Mcdecco (An art decco Mcdonalds). After the self tour we headed to the oldest Jail in New Zealand, Napier Jail. The Jail itself has housed inmates as far back as 1880 but today acts solely as a tourist attraction since being closed down in 1993 due to inmate population limitations. The prison was a strange attraction that actually boasts to be “better than Alcatraz” which it blatantly wasn’t. We took an audio tour around the penitentiary looking at the cells and reading about past inmates. The jail stands on the top of a hill over looking the ocean and had a capacity occupancy of 63 inmates. The conditions looked fairly harsh in the olden days but the prison did seem to look a bit like a holiday camp in more recent years. I forgot to mention that this attraction actually doubles up as a backpackers hostel, allowing backpackers to stay in the old cells on bunk beds. After we finished the tour we headed to a water fall which was built by ex prisoners in the early 1900’s and took a few pics and then jumped back in Sue to head towards Wellington. We stopped at Lower Hutt which is 15 minutes outside Wellington to get a couple of things sorted on the van. We ended up wondering around the town and a shopping centre for a few hours before picking up Sue and heading for a camp spot for the evening.

Up bright and breezy we awoke to a fresh sunny day and headed into Wellington and straight to the Museum, Te Papa which is the largest Museum in New Zealand. As this was a free entry we didn’t expect a great deal, however it was a fantastic modern looking building with 6 floors full of historic memorabilia, interactive games and even a live entertainer as you entered. After 5 hours in the museum we headed back to Sue and drove into the city centre to find the cable car which takes you up into the botanical gardens. We took the cable car (a tram looking cable car) up the big hill in the centre of Wellington and up to a Cable Car museum, it began to feel like we were on some kind of museum tour!! But anyway after 10 minutes of reading about trams we went outside to take in the views over the city. We then followed a path around the gardens for about 1 hour as it took us back down to the city and eventually back to Sue. As it was Saturday we thought we would all go out for a few drinks on Cuba street, which is Wellingtons premier night spot.

Now it’s a difficult one where to park Sue when you are in a city centre and you want to go out for some beers so we found probably the loudest spot we could, which was outside a students union and parked up for dinner. We had a couple of beers and a kebab and headed back to….no actually we had beers and kebabs before

Huka Falls
heading out and then we headed to an internet café to skype the family and then a local bar on Cuba street, The Bristol Hotel. Somehow we had seemed to have picked the number one under-age watering hole in Wellington as everyone seemed to look about 16 or maybe 17 at a push, so I actually fitted in quite well. After a few beers and a few yawns we headed back to Sue, now as we turned the corner we could hear the music coming from the union and when we got in Sue we could still hear the music so we all lay there listening to the tunes guessing the songs one after the other. By about 4 O’clock in the morning most of the songs released in the last decade had been played and we could eventually have a few hours undisturbed sleep, well apart from the odd drunk person hitting sue and shouting “freedom campers”.

In the morning we awoke to car doors slamming as there seemed to be a market occurring near us, so we slowly got out of bed and decided to have a walk around the city and down to the harbour side.

Lake Taupo
There was a farmers market on down there which was full of different stalls ranging from crepes to chocolate so within only moments of being there Kate got into the spirit of it and bought a big chocolate croissant covered in choc chips and Cerri opted for a large Spicy German Bratzwurst sausage. To be fair Kate did give me half of her croissant and I saw Banj munching on the German sausage a few times whilst wondering around! Now as we looked at all the sights the heavens opened and we headed for cover, which was coincidentally a food court and cinema complex. This was very convenient for the girls as they were both itching to see the new Sex In The City 2 movie, so we all had a bit of food from the Thai and Malaysian food counter and then split into twos to watch our chosen films. Banj and I watched Iron Man 2, which was good, the girls loved SITC2 but didn’t rate it as highly as the first one.

We returned to Sue all stuffed after lunch and went in search of a water tap and dump station. We filled up with water and emptied our tanks before heading along the Wellington harbour coastline and parking up for the night. We stayed at a spot where you can see penguins come up in the evenings so Banj and Cerri were extra excited at the thought of seeing a penguin but unfortunately they were feeling shy and were no shows. We were soon joined by 5 other campers so we seemed to be some kind of trend setters with regard to camp spots as this has been a fairly common occurrence. Whilst there I thought I would reserve our water tanks and have a beach front shower in the freezing cold as I was having a “it’s all part of the adventure” moment. Banj of course joined me for this cold event and we headed to the shower. It was, as predicted, freezing so the shower was unsurprisingly a very quick one so after that we headed off to bed early as in the morning we were embarking on the second leg of our New Zealand adventure to the South Island.

I hope you are all well.

Love as always

Matt and Kate xx

Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 30



Proud Moment

A desperate man


Napier Prison Waterfall

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