A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - Day 5 and 6

overcast 12 °C

We are clocking up the miles now and have travelled over 1000km to date.

Day 5 dawned fresh and clear after a chilly night in Roturua. There is a strange whiff about the place. All the thermal activity going on arround the area means that the sulphur smell permeates the air, and gets into your clothes. We had a pint out in a real Irish Bar.. in a very draughty part of town! I resisted the temptaion to try Guiness though.. somehow I know it will not taste the same over here.

We had another earlyish start today. First stop on our tour was Whai-o-Tupo. The Thermal Wonderland. Lots of smells again and steam gushing from the earth. Hot water mixing with cool streams and making strange colours out of the water. Clouds of steam rest on the surface of the Champaigne Pool... so called as the bubbles of CO2 come to the surface and remind one of a glass of Moet.

We saw huge chasms in the earth with bubbling mud and an ever changing palette of colours caused by the chemicals in the water.

The highlight though was the Lady Bower Geyser. This is a "managed" geyser, erupting at 10.15 am every morning. They put soap stuff down it to distrub the surface tension and make sure it erupts on time. Quite impresive if a little false. Once we had seen this then we headed back to the park to view the rest of the steamy exhibits and marvel at the Opal pools.

On then to Taupo. Home of the big lake. Very nice city... by NZ standards. But there was a breeze blowing off the lake... made it feel like minus 10 not 20 degrees C. We overnighted here at a park with a big bouncy pillow.... a buried bouncy castle which is open to all... even us pretend adults... so we took the opertunity to bounce. Great fun.

Day 6 dawned another great sunny morning. We headed out of Taupo out towards the Hills. We took the SH5 to Napier. NZ's Art Deco city. A massive earth quake hit the town in 1931. As a result all the old buildings fell and were replaced with the syle of the time... fortunately this was Art Deco.

Today the main street in Napier looks a little tired in places with the air of faded 1930's glory that you can expereince anywhere in the UK. However some buildings have still retained a wonderful period character. Its always a good idea to look up sometimes... you never know what you might see.

Napier has a charming meusum well worth the $7.50 it cost us each, where exhibits on modern day style nestle with Art Deco peices, Mauori art... pieces with no explanation put to them, as only those involved with the production of the piece know the story of its origin sit next to stories of terible death and destruction as the earth quake hits the town. Downstairs is a pc terminal with a link direct to the earthquake reccord service. Apparently we slept through the last earth quake.... 2.45am the night previous, and the other 6 quakes that have hit since we landed on NZ soils.

We decided that Napier's charms weren't enogh to detain us more than a few hours and headed out of town along the SH5 to a strange place... Dannevirke. This town was established by the Danes in the 1870's but was abandoned by them after the road they were building was finished. The whole place survives now on its name. We overnighted at a quirky campsite, with its own deer park and wild bird area. Nice and peaceful.. apart from the local joy riders.. we didn't care - the days of travel take their toll... and bed time comes round quickly.

So today to Wellington. More of this delight later. Nettie has up'd more pics and we are in need of coffee.

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Check back later.


Posted by andyroo1 18:34 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Day 4

semi-overcast 17 °C

Another stunning day today. Yesterday we had a travel day, stopping off at Tauraunga on our way to Whatakane. We took in the sights and sounds of the area and made our way owards to overnight in Ohope Beach.

Here the weather turned a bit worse for wear... we found ourselves on a deserted campsite, with the most fantastic view of the sea. We could see the whole of the sweap of 'the Bay'... the Bay Of Plenty. As the weather colosed in and a rain storm kicked up we camped down for the night.

This morning we awoke to bright blue skies and lots of lovelly sunshine. An early start was called for as we were booked on a tour. We set off at arround 8.45 am.. something of a miracle for us! We back tracked to Whatakane... pronounced Fakatarne apparently. Our meeting point was by the harbour and we proceded to check in with our tour company for the day... White Island Tours. Once signing the disclaimer.. apparently if anything happened to us it was our own fault... we headed to the boat. 9.30... we cast off heading out into the Bay. Our destination - White Island. New Zealands only active marine volcano.

Yep folks we have been stood today on an active erupting volcano! The sight of clouds of steam and a distinctly bad egg smell met us as we landed at Workers Cove.. or Crater Bay. The landscape was almost lunar, with mounds of purple and black matter, a yellow stain here and there and fumeroles gushing steam from the depths of the volcano.

The heat from the steam was tremendous, as we tramped round the sulphur cones in our hard hats and gas masks. The crater lake was awe inspiring. 70 meters across and just about the same deep. The most amazing bubbling mud pools. A real eye opener and we had the sobering reminder that the last eruption was only 5 years ago. The crater lake is due to burst any day. Land slides occur regularly especially when it rains as theres no vegetation to hold the feeble volcanic soils in place. 10 men lost thier lifes there mining the sulpher deposits.

Once back on the tour boat.. there is no direct landing, you have to use an inflatable launch from the main boat, we tucked into a snack meal... most welcoming.. though the egg mayonnaise sandwiches might have just been a bit too far!

On the run back to port we spotted some marine life. A fin was seen diving in and out of the water. The another, and another. Eventually we counted over 30 fins, of Fake killer Whales and Bottle Nose Dolphins. This pod was lazing arround on the surface... probably warming up after a night in the depths avoiding the storm. Never before have I seen so many wild mamals in such close quaters at sea. It was almost as if they were playing for us. Magnificent.

Back on dry land and we have now made the swap in land to Roturua. More volcanic activity. Tomorrow we are going to see a Geyser erupt! And maybe play in the mud.

Right. Best get back to Nettie and see what she has done to the van.. she was apparently tidying up! Last I saw there were some pictures on the van walls! Not sure how legal this is but hey! So Daniel and Phillip - your picture has pride of place on our wall!



Posted by andyroo1 23:13 Archived in New Zealand Comments (4)

New Zealand Day 3

overcast 21 °C

We have now picked up the van.. and very roomy compared to the Bongo it is. We have a sink, electric lighting, cooker, with 2 rings and a grill, electric fridge, with ice compartment, storage space for all our crap and plenty of room for more. There's full bedding in there too, and we have been provided with towels. We took the option to hire 2 outdoor chairs... but now wish we had just bought them for $8 each instead of hiring for $12 each! Tight wad!

After picking up the van and shopping we headed out through Auckland's nearest neighbour Mangatau, then out towards Hamilton. After a few km we headed east to towards the Coromandel Peninsula. Our journey took us north along the west side of the Peninula, through Thames and up to Coromandel Town. Then we headed further north and east crossing to the east side of the peninsula. Our first overnight stop was in a quiet sleepy motot park in a place I cannot remember the name of now... but am sure it began with a K! Nettie can't remember either!

After a breif walk along the beach in the early evening... brief as Nettie has huge blisters on her feet from wearing some sparkly pump things round Auckland... looked great but rubbed her feet.... we headed back to the van and dined on a feast of green lipped muscles in a white wine, garlic and cream sauce. Great big fat muscles fresh from the sea... or to be precise fresh from the sea water spray cabinet in the supermarket. We washed down with a glass or two of white wine. Then to bed.

Day 2 was a lovelly cloudless sunny day, so we headed down the east side of the peninsula to Cathederal Cove and Haihi Bay. Very lovelly beach with golden warm sand and some nice big Pacific waves. We walked along a short track to the next bay... but rather than treck all the way down in the heat we took photos at the headland, looked out over the rock formations and marvelled at the clear blue water with its turcquoise tints. All very nice... but the best was jet to come.

After lunch we headed out to Hot Water Beach. Sadly due to some strange geothermal pressures the hot water only gets out at 2 hours either side of low tide... we were early. Any way... what do you do when there are coach loads of US tourists arround.. dig a big hole and look interested... its only a matter of time before one asks if you have found hot water! Anyway, after a few minutes playing in the sea... being kicked round by the waves and the surf, and getting sand in some very unprintable places (I now have a porn star name based on this...) we opted to lay in the sun. About an hour later after icecream we saw frantic digging to the left of where we sat... so off we trot, with our shovel.. and jopined in the fun. Sadly I caouldn't work out what all the fuss was about... then after a few minutes knee deep in water we found it... hot water bubbling up through the sand. And when I say hot it was about 70 degrees C....hot! The bubbles were due to CO2 being released from this underground hot spring. Something to do with the volcanic nature of the place. We ended up sprawled out in pools of hot water, being scalded by the hot vents. Its the only time I have spent on a beach in very close proximity to lots of other bodies... all intent on laying in sandy pools of warm water. Nationality boundarys broak down, ages didn't matter... the germans dug with the brits, the kiwis helped the americans... it was a uniting experience... and all for some hot water from the sand!

After that we headed back to the van, grabbed some homemade cakes from the cafe that loaded the shovel at $4 a time, had tea and removed the sand from the places that we cannot say online! Our bongo captain lead us on through more lush steeply winding roads, through tropical looking forest to Waihi Beach. Another very pleasant camp site, with fantastic facilities. After a shower and food it was bed time. Both of us fell asleep within seconds of turning out the light, the ruff and tumble of the surf having knocked the living daylights out of me!

Day 3... well we will have to wait to find out what happens next...

Keep watching.


Posted by andyroo1 11:40 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Land Of The Long White Cloud

sunny 23 °C

The date 19th November 2005... we have arrived!

Yes the bongo crew finally landed yesterday in New Zealand with our luggage intact, if rather fish smelly! So much for the Kiwi's not allowing anything vaguely food orientated in... Netties bag must have been sat in a puddle of raw herring juice... clearly some one thought that a cool box full of fish was a good idea to stick on a plane and get bounced arround in the sky. Had a nervouse moment passing through the customs point when an x ray showed up Nettie had packed her trainer boots in her luggage and not declared them.... apparently this could be a $200 fine... we pleaded ignorance and made a quick dash for the airport bus pick up point. That said the West Collonial Bank caught up with me for exchanging $70 (UK) into $350 Fijian dollars... thats a very good rate of exchange.. far above the real rate... the poor girl had added up the travellers cheques incorrectly and given us GBP 110, not GBP 70. Anyway they caught up with us just as we were leaving yesterday morning. Shame...

Today we pick the Campervan up. Something we are both looking forward to. We have been Bongo spotting since we left CArdiff bus station and are happy to report that our Bongo's cousins are alive and well and are living in all parts of the world.. Budget Rentacar even have Bongos for hire... though without our autofreetop luxury! We have even spotted them in New Zealand... not bad for just over 18 hours in the country!

Had a real food experience last night. We went to a Korean buffett... not quite the Hot Wok / Wokmania things we have in the uk... its a self serve self cook sort of set up with a little gas stove on each table... we were the only English speakers in there... and had fun trying to suss out what each dish was! Nice squid... and so far today we haven't suffered any side effects... only time will tell.

The cost of things here in Aukland seems pretty reasonable. We ate out last night for $42 dollars.... thats some wehere in the region of GBP 18. And that included beers. $25 is GBP 10. So you have some idea of the exchange rate. Internet access is a dollar for 30 mins.

Time is up...


Posted by andyroo1 13:11 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Round 2 Begins

Sat at Nadi airport

rain 27 °C

Well the second round begins now.

Looks like we are leaving Fiji at the right time.. there has been torrential rain all morning. add to that a brush with a very nice bank manager and a taxi ride that shook my stomach up then its perhaps a good job we are heading to civilisation again.

Fiji overall has been exacltly what we were looking for.. a relaxing break, with a bit of paece and quiet. We have taken great pleasure in doing nothing for the past few days except sleeping, eating, reading and laying in the sun and cloud!

Now though the REAL adventure starts. Aukland becons and the delights of spending a month couped up in a van with Andrew's feet... er... well... we are looking forward to it any way.

Hopefully we will be able to keep this blog more uptodate once we are in the land of the long white cloud. Thats assuming we travel anywhere near an internet kiosk.

As the Fijian goodbye band... same guys who were hear at 4 am to say Bula to us... are begining to drive me mad then we will sign off and go and find a plane to take us away from this dampness... feels just like home... but warmer!


Posted by andynette 15:32 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

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