A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - The Epic Ends

The End of An Era.... Bye Bye Buzza

overcast 22 °C

We made it... 4788km later... we have gone round the country, both islands, not quite end to end, but done both west and east, north bits and south bits, both islands. We have toured through desolate empty bush, hick towns with long since abandoned railway stations, isolated villages, with dairies selling everything. We have been up volcanoes, glaciers, on beatuiful lake shores and imposing mountain sides. Crossed icy cold rivers and sat in boiling hot water. We still have much to see and do. The journey never ends... there's always something more to see, some new sight to revel in.

We delivered the Buzza (or Toyota Hiace to those who go for real names and not brand images) to a crowded reception area. We had done a mass of hassle free driving, given the van back clean and fueled up. Sadly our reality check came when we overheard folk complaining about the fuel duty they had to pay, damage charges, problems with engines they hadn't reported, flat pillows or some other such drivel. Welcome back to work... The Buzza did us proud. But its time to let someone else have an adventure... different to ours, but I hope they have the same sense of discovery that we have had.

Auckland was a shock, coming back to the hot sticky city after a month of sun and fresh air. The streets were thronged with crowds shopping, out for a bite to eat or a drink. The Christmas rush seems to be here now. Still having difficulty coming to terms with warm sun and christmas carols. We are not looking forward though to stepping from the plane in the uk to damp mist and freezing cold winds!

We dined out last night at a lovely italian restaurant overlooking one of the Quays here. Really tasty food... but reality has kicked in again and for the next few months it will be stews and casseroles and warming risottoes with extra piles of stodge to keep us going over the chilly nights. A light rain was falling as we walked home along the now empy dusty streets. I slept lightly... too much noise to keep my head down much after 6 am.

Our feet are itchy though. Theres a big world out there. And we haven't seen much of it really. We found this trip easy. What would it be like if we didn't speak the local language? How would we cope without the 'net? I have just finished reading a book by a chap called Brian Thacker. He is a chap who has taken his dad on a trip back to England after moving to Australia in 1970 odd. They visited the old haunts and then flew to other parts of the world. He makes a similar observation... what would it be like with no internet. Its fantastic to think that so many folk have kept an eye on us, seeing what we are up to, and contacting us on our travels. We are 100's of km away from home and yet theres this link. Unlike the early settlers here who saw the sea as a barrier to home, the Maouri see it as a connection to the rest of the world. So the net is a connection to home, and more importantly to your house/workplace/internet cafe or wherever you are reading this.

I have spent our last morning in an art gallery... Nettie is too cultured out to visit! I will show here the pics online. It seems somehow fitting to finish the trip with some culture... though some of the more modern instalations baffle me... I suppose they could mean anything really... so look out for my series of paintings... 30' square canvas with a green square to the centre right... I will take bids for this work of art at $250,000 to start....

Right.. one last trip... up the Sky Tower... we should have gone yesterday when it was sunny, but instead we will visit today in the cloud... the views will be impressive and the height will make me sick.. but that's what living is about... experience.

Thanks for reading this. Blogging has become a sort of diary for me... some call it adventure therapy. Others think its just an online gimmick. I think its a tool.. instead of post cards you get Blogs, and you can see my holiday snaps without me having to bore the pants off you.

Enough already.

This will be my last post on this thread. Keep an eye out for more Bongo tales as we discover more of the world. We will post here again, in the future.

Nighty Night.


Posted by andyroo1 16:29 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

New Zealand - Day 21 +

The last lap

sunny 26 °C

With a crunch of metal and a whine of hawsers our ferry reved engines and headed back to Wellington, on Friday morning. We sat on the conservatory deck looking out over the Sounds as the boat chugged its way along. The trip is definatelty one of the most scienic I have been on, but it takes so long as the ferry is limited to about 5 knots in the sound, to prevent the wash drowning the houses on the edge!

We had spent the first part of the morning looking round Picton. Hard to see what was there apart from the ferry port. And I have at last found the crapest coffee in NZ. My long black was so thin you could see the bottom! I can't remember the name of the bar, but its bright orange and has tables out in the parking lot at the front of the building, and is next to a motel enterence... avoid it if you are a coffee snob like me!

Our trip accross was uneventful. The boat ran into some fog so we slowed a little but then that gave way to damp windy Wellington weather. We had satisfied our need to view everything by this point. So we headed out to Gemma's place again. We had been offered a real bed for a night and a chance to relax at her place. After a tasty curry... this time much more to my liking... we waved Mike and Gemma off for their weekend away and took liberties with their beer and DVD collection.

Next morning we had a lazy start and only managed to make it onto the road by about lunch time. We drove north up the west side of the south of the north island (this is getting a bit complicated... we might need to change direction). We headed along past a few coastal towns and made our way to Wanganui. This town is located on the Whanganui river. Now for some reason none of the locals refered to this as Fanganui unlike at Whakatane, which became Facatane... I am now totaly mistified.

We camped for the night by the river, a wide lazy looking muddy river, which has NZ's only steam drived paddle steamer still at work there. Nice way to spend the evening, stolling along the side of the river looking at the gardens of the houses lining the road and river.

Next morning we were up and at 'em. Nettie decided that enough was enough... she had had her fill of driving 300 km then stopping. We also realised about 5 minutes out of Wanganui that there was very little between there and Auckland. So we decided to cut slightly east and head back up via Taupo. It was a hot and sticky day as temperatures soared and the radio kept warning of rain and storms.

We stoped for a moment to look at a set of falls... nice... but we have seen waterfalls. We both just wanted to shift the van from south to north and have done with it.

After passing through a National Park, the name of which escapes me now, we rounded a corner and met up again with Lake Taupo. Our old mate from about 3 weeks ago. Children were swimming and adults watching, drinking beers and picnicing as we reached the shoreline at Turangi. So we stopped for lunch. All of a sudden the heavens opened and the promised rain fell. Within 2 minutes we were the only vehicle in the layby, the kids bundled into cars, beers necked and the drivers were probably parked at home and in the pub within 15 seconds of the first rain!

We took the SH1 up north, as this road appeared to be faster. We dashed through Taupo, and then Cambridge, Hurly, and Hamilton, making a bee line for Clevedon on the shore of the Sounds opposite Auckland. Our final port of call was Orere Point on the Gulf of Thames. A pleasant spot off the main tourist drag and a haven for bird watchers. It markets itself as the seabird coast.

We bedded down for the night after a tasty BBQ... why eat anything else when steak is $5 for 3 huge servings! By now the kms had clocked up to 4588km, around 500 of those had been driven in about 8 hours!

Day 24... our last full day. We drove along the seabird coast south, then headed back in land. Today would be a fun day with little driving. So heading back towards Auckland we doubled back on ourselves after last nights loop to Orore point. Carrying onwards we headed into Manukau city. This is the principal city just outside Auckland and is where the main airport is. However we had another night in the van to look forward to, so we parked up at NZ's only theme park. Like Alton Towers without the scary rides. We went on bumper boats, pirate ships, go carts, corkscrew roller coaster and log flumes. We also went on some gravity defying spiny thing... but that really scared the pants off of me.. so I thought it best to avoid a repeat performance. Based on this performance I gave up daredevil stuff and refused to go on the tower thing that dragged you up 18 stories high and then droped you... too much for me!

So we spent our last day... eating crap and making ourseles sick with icecream on rides and amusements.

Auckland tomorrow... and good bye to the van... and probably my last post too.... for this trip.

Time to save my work before I get d/c.

Later dude...


Posted by andyroo1 11:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Day 19 (Netties Birthday)

What did the birthday bunny bring?

sunny 24 °C

Well I can tell you... a dancing dash board diva, a lovely NZ tea Towel, a snow globe, a mini slinky and a jade pendant, in an eternity twist.

With birthday celebrations over, we headed out of Carters Beach, Westport. The road lead us through Murchison and Tapawera, along some lovely valley roads and twisty bends. A brief stop at a swing bridge.. or rope bridge as we Brits call em was all the sight seeing we alowed ourselves. We decided that $10 just to walk over a bridge was a bit steep so we will save that for another time.

We headed round through to Motueka, and lunched at the harbour. We were now on the sort of north coast of the south island, just below the Able Tasman National Park. We sat watching two old gents sailing thier boats as the sun shone and the breeze took our sandwiches away. The old quay was the resting place of the Jane Siddons, a steam tug boat bought by the local fishing company in the 1940's just when local laws outlawed the use of coal vessles. They just left the ship to rot there!

Finaly we came to rest in Nelson... or just outside... infact we thought we had found a nice tranquil spot by the sea, in a quieter part of town... right under the take off run way and flight path for most of Nelsons interisland flights. Not so quiet after all... surely there can't be that many folk wanting to fly from Nelson at 10 pm at night to how may different places? But there were. As a treat we ate out.. pizza from a wood fired oven..lovelly. We had clocked up 3688km by the end of the day, so we got some well earned rest.

Day 20... 5 days to go. We moved camp from Nelso to Picton, via Hira and Rai Valley and Havelock. We stoped at Pelorus bridge to look in the clear water... all was good.

After spending a pleasant 20 mins in Havelock wandering round the museum, we headed out to a look out point. Lunch here was taken, amind the flies... a further investigation after lunch provided the source of the pests... a long drop was hidden in the bush, just meters from where we were eating. Nice! Time to make a move then, onwards to look at the Queen Charlotte sound... very nice, lush green vallies and clear waters. Hard to think its the sea!

Finally we rounded the bend to the port of Picton. There we stopped for the night. Nice campsite.. compact, and full of Brits, but it had a hot tub, and that was well worth the hours hire. Tomorrow its ferry time.


Posted by andyroo1 21:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealnad - Day 17 onwards

Glaciers here we come... and the one where Andrew bigs up Teva sandals!

sunny 22 °C

Leaving Wanaka on Monday morning was rather like leaving an old friend. It has the same charm as Queenstown, if not more, and the same good quality food, friendly locals and the same selection of activities, just a little less formal and busy, and there are some lovelly features to the place. The cinema just made the trip for us. Its the only destination we will visit twice on the trip because we want to.

So taking the Haast Pass we headed North, towards the West Coast. The pass passes through deep cut river vallies, steeply wooded, with some crystal clear waters flowing through them. Sadly the water was drizzling down the window pane so we didn't fancy paddling. A tea stop also brought home the truth to us of this area. BLOODY SANDFLIES!!! Any one who has met these creatures knows what we are talking about. They do make the Welsh midge look a bit small... however the midge does have the most anoying habit of getting everywhere. The Sandfly is just anoying! They leave you with huge blemishes on your legs and you end up with huge puss filled lumps! So we moved quickly on.

We continued north passing... well not much. The road hugs the coastline. Cook described the west coast of the south island as inhospitable and uninhabitable. He was not far wrong! We passed miles and miles of dense bush. I slept as there was nothing to see.. the mist was down, covering our views of the southern Alps and out to sea... so there was nothing left to do after I had cleaned my toe nails, empied the receipts and credit card slips from my walet and rearranged the stereo speakers and minidiscs. Even a lunch stop at a picturesque lookout was spoiled by the damp and the flies.

We rounded a corner, passed over a bridge... and there was a sign to the Fox Glacier. "Should we take that road" Nettie asked... as we sped past. Que squeel of breaks, hasty three point turn and we were heading up the vally to a glacier! We emerged from the bush onto a flat damp plane, below a huge vertical rock wall. The Fox glacier carved this gorge out... now it was retreating up the hill. We thought we would go and hunt it down. Nettie was sure there would be a little factory producing mints or something nearby.

After a few minutes of walking we found the glacier. A huge wall of dirty blue ice met our eyes. We tried to get up close and personal with the face. Our Teva's were put to their test. And can I just at this point say how good we have found them. If any Teva sales bods are reading this... you can take it from me... they do go everywhere, and you can get them wet and they still grip on the damp rock surface. And if you would like to reward us with a free pair next year we would love to have them!

Sadly for safety reasons you can't touch the glacier unless you are with a guide... I assume thats so they can dig you out when the ice falls. We missed any big falls but there were some seriously loud cracking noises and rumbles when we were there. The glacier doesn't move very quickly.. for ice, so gets a lot of debris washed down onto it. You can see bands of the debris layered in the ice. Oh it felt good to walk to a huge glacier in shorts and tshirts and Teva's, whilst the rest of our fellow glacier viewers walked in yellow pacamacs and boots... and in the case of the Japanese tour busses, carrying their shopping bags and camera cases.

We overnighted in Franz Josef Galcier... near to the Franz Josef glacier apparently. We couldn't see it through the rain. So we did the next best thing... went to a Bar and got drunk. It was Happy Hour after all. Sadly the rain cleared up so we made a dash for it back home to bed.

Day 18...some clear patches in the cloud gave us a view of the glacier the next morning. We took the decision to miss out FJG and save it for another trip. We had some serious driving to do. We started the day on 3091km... we would clock up another 300km today. Driving out through the bush past miles and miles of nothing again. We were entering gold rush territory.

We headed along through Hokitika and Graymouth, stopping briefly to contemplate going into Shanty Town. Sadly the rain put this outdoors attraction out of commision for us... why get wet when you can stay dry in the van and see sooooo much more!

Greymouth looked, well, er, grey... though we did have a good coffee in an internet cafe but there was little more to detain us. Most of the towns here were located as a result of the Gold rushes from the 1850's. Then with the claims giving up the gold the locals turned to trees for income. Sadly after they had cut much of the native bush down the timber trade fell apart. Now coal mining keeps them out of mishief, but that in itself is not going to be enough to keep things going much longer. The coal gets exported to Japan.

In the afternoon the sun came out so we stopped to look at a pile of rocks... at Punakaiki there is a National Park. The feature here is the layers of sandstone and lime stone, which has alternatively weathered to produce a stack... looking like a pile of pancakes. Hence the term pancake rocks. The sea action here has also caused blow holes to develop so as the see washes in with such great power the spray is sent skywards like dolphin blow holes. Sadly the sea was not strong enough, but the power was there... you copuld hear large booms and crashes as the waves broke against the rocks.

We chugged the last few km up the coast to Westport, a town just about as far west as you can get on the north of the south island. Here we found a lovely beach front site, and spent the night listening to the sound of waves crashing on the shores. Rain threatened too, so we tucked up with a bottle of red wine and had some tasty venison for tea. Such good meat at such reasonable prices in the supermarkets here. Wish we had the same at home.

The van was quiet as we settled down for the night. Sadly someone forgot to point out to me that you should try to get some sleep. I just had to finish my Ben Elton book... so I did. Tomorrow is Netties birthday.. I wonder what the birthday bunny brings... tune in next time folks.


Posted by andyroo1 21:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Day 16 etc

Back to Wanaka and some puzzling adventures.

sunny 24 °C

Heading North on Sunday morning from Queenstown we took the main SH6. This route will be our companion for the next 5 days.

Heading out of the city you realise how big NZ is, and how sparsley populated it is. There are areas with noone in them at all. Not just a few miles of nothing... but masses of nothing. The run out of Queenstown north is a very wild & lonely one. The trip was made harder by a strong wind blowing. Nettie struggled to keep the van going.

We stopped off at AJ Hackets original bungee site. Still not sure why anyone in thier right mind would throw themselves off a bridge towards a river, whilst attached to a bit of stretchy rope! I have done daft stuff in my time but even the hot sunshine and crystal clear water, combined with the factory like output of bungeers or whatever they are called did nothing for me to change my mind.

Instead of risking major internal organ redistribution we headed back to Wanaka. We stoped here before heading up in the plane, and thought it worthy of another visit. It was a lovely relaxing spot on the shore of a lake. We decided the weekend would not be complete without a visit to the puzzling world. We needed to get some brain work going. The maze we were confruntaed with looked easy... 4 towers, lots of walkways and bridges. Get from 1 to the end and out... in less than an hour.... well we did them in any order and got totally lost. Eventually we did find our way out only to then be thrown into a visual mishmash of hologrames and lopsided rooms. All very well presented and well worth the stop off for.

Then it was time for the highlight of our day... the cinema. Forget your wide screen dolby stereo multiplex. Go to the Paradiso in Wanaka. There you will sit on a battered old comfy sofa, or armchair... or even a car. You can take your glass of local chilled Pinot Gris in with you and you can buy home made cookies and coffee at the interval. We saw The Dukes of Hazzard. It wouldn't have mattered what they were showing! We enjoyed a 2hour slob fest... and the cookies were warm, home baked and tasty.

So ends another day on this road trip. We slept with full bellies and giggling at the film. Sadly the slow pace has meant we only have a 2777km total at present.

Anyway, I had best shift.. we are having a spa in 30 mins... and theres a line of folk wanting to use this kiosk.



Posted by andyroo1 21:17 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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