Thursday, May 29, 2008


Am back into doing the tourist thing for the last week of my stay here. Headed north at the start of the week and am travelling with a great german lad called Thorburn who has just cycled round the south island, crazy man. He's hired a car now and both of us are enjoying sharing our travels for a while. Just as well because there are hardly any cars up here on the road to nowhere.

Have been deep into the forest to see the biggest Kauri trees in the world (in New Zealand), they are proper huge. 90 mile beach that stretches right up the coast to the top, you can hire surfboards to sand surf which looked rather crazy or just have a walk and get back into the car to drive some more. The top, Cape Reinga, miles from anywhere was a bit of a dissapointment apart from the waves out at sea caused by the different densities of the two oceans meeting and the fact that due north there is nothing but ocean until Alaska which is at the other end of the world.

We got up early and watched the sun rise over the South Pacific ocean, real tranquil until the light arrived, then the whole harbour sprang to life bith buzzing outboards and trucks arriving for the day. It gave us a good start on another beautiful sunny day exploring what tourists have to explore.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Some amazing places

Had a great week with Irene and Roger. It was so good to return somewhere and see what progress has been made in a year and to help get things on the move again. They do like a plan. They have been so kind and generous, i shall share more with you when i get to Australia next month.

Three bus journeys later and i am in Raglan. The third bus was a local service at 3.30pm and packed with school kids. They patiently waited until all the full fare passengers had got on and then filled the bus. So different to how i remember traveling on the bus from school, i was quizzed constantly for the duration of the journey about where i had been and come from and what England was like and why we have so many Indian restaurants.

Sue picked me up from the bus stop and we came back to the house where i met her husband Keith and son Tom who is nearly four and likes cheese sandwiches with a top on to eat!! Amazing house in the bush surrounded by huge tropical plantings and forest and not a sound except the birds and the wind in the trees.

My task, to prepare an area for a lawn and get it sown by the end of the week.

The Bridal Veil Falls were amazing, a totally huge and unexpected waterfall in what felt like fairly flat terrain, Raglan beach at sunset, the only day that the waves have been small enough to contemplate surfing and i didn't go prepared, the waves have been huge since so i made do with a trip to Waitomo caves for the Black Abyss trip. Abseil 35m down into the cave system through the smallest hole in the ground, take a flying fox, rope swing, over waterfalls in the pitch dark before jumping off rocks into deep dark water and floating downstream on giant rubber rings looking up at 'constellations' of glowworms deep within the massive cave system. Wet and cold for 4 hours but exhilarating and worth every dollar. So much fun i may even go abseiling again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

r and r

Spent a wonderful couple of days relaxing and doing very little in the smelliest town in New Zealand, partly because it continued to rain and because that was the plan.

Soaked for hours at the Thermal Baths in a variety of hot pools whilst enjoying a view out across the lake. Swapping from hot to warm to cool pools whilst the rain did its thing. Joined a crowd from the craziest backpackers i have stayed in yet for a night on the town. Quite civilised, all considered.

A lie in on Sunday, followed by a sedate morning with a great cooked breakfast and a stroll by the lake. The afternoon taken up chilling and having a wonderfully relaxing massage at the local hospital, all set up to get the most from the tourist dollar, the facilities are available out of hours to the general public at much more reasonable rates than other private providers.

Am now back at Irene and Rogers for a few days, catching up and helping out with their garden again. Had a great couple of days here last year and its good to return. Plenty of work to do as everything has grown crazily compared to how it does back home. Secateurs and saw at the ready again.....

Friday, May 09, 2008

it stinks

Have just arrived in Rotorua, the biggest geothermal area in New Zealand, in search of warmth. Its been so cold and wet for the last week or so i just cant wait to plunge into a thermal pool and get warm. There is a smell that hangs over the town that would conceal the most pungent of farts, it emerges from vent holes by the lake and wafts in waves through the streets along with clouds of steam from the boiling water.

I left the citrus farm a few days ago and headed up the east coast to Gisbourne, where Captain Cook first landed and accidentally killed a few locals, it rained the whole time so i got wet and had a fairly good look at most of the sights and sites of interest. The plan of escaping the town came on the first sunny morning in the form of a car transporter, whose driver picked me up at the outskirts of the town,after waiting just half an hour or so. The road headed up to the north coast through farmland and later high hills clothed in rain forest, up through an area called the Triffids (for no apparent reason) over the top of the range before descending down a 75km long gorge. The view from the cab was amazing, looking down over the edge to the raging torrent of water at the bottom, miles ahead into the distance with hills following hills as we slowly wound our way down into the valley. Soon after reaching the flood plains the coast appeared, and my destination, the little one horse town of Opotiki. There were two back packer hostels, i chose the smaller, left my bags, explored the main street in about 5 minutes then spent the rest of the afternoon walking along a small section of the longest most deserted beach i have ever been on. Thankfully i made the most of the sunshine as the rain came in again that night and its poured down ever since.