A Travellerspoint blog

Taupo, Tongarino National Park and Wellington

Writing this hungover...sorry

overcast 10 °C

We left Waitomo early and headed off to our next stop Taupo. We checked into our hostel, chilled out for the afternoon then headed to the local pub for a quiz night to catch up with the people we'd met on the bus. We somehow managed to come third, this may have something to do with the quizmaster coming over to our table halfway through and correcting our answers! The next day our tour guide 'Flea' had arranged a fishing trip for us all on Lake Taupo (huge lake the size of singapore, crazy!). Adam and I had never gone fishing before so we thought we'd give it a try. There were 15 of us on the boat and we only managed to catch one trout which was pretty shocking. Even more shocking when we found out the skipper had some kind of 'fish sat nav' which told him exactly where all the fish were. The skipper's wife caught the fish, I've never seen a fish being killed before and it was pretty brutal. You're meant to bash it on the head and it dies instantly, unfortunately this old bat was pretty frail so we had to watch as she feebly bashed this fish over and over again giving it a slow and miserable death. Nice. After that we chucked it on the barbie and shared it out between us all, what a feast! 4744168325_28f8368347.jpg
The following day we jumped back on the bus and headed to a place called Tongarino National Park where we did a 2 hour trek. The park has been used a lot for the filming of Lord of the Rings and has the infamous Mount Doom in it (means nothing to me but I'm sure it means something to avid LOTR followers). It was a beautiful park though! That night we stayed in a place called River Valley which is a customary stop on our tour and was in the middle of nowhere. It was a pretty nice place and we spent the evening playing cards and drinking mulled wine next to the fire, then we retired for the evening to our orgy bed. That's right orgy beds. They dumped us all in one big bed for the night, luckily 6 of us went into a seperate 'orgy bed' so could stretch ourselves out a little. Luckily we only had this for one night before we headed off to the capital of New Zealand; Wellington.
Once in Welly we met up with everyone from the bus and played more drinking games where I discovered Adam has extremely bad luck at these things. Not only does he lose every game but whenever someone's nominated to drink it's always him!! Not sure what that's about but it's putting a dent in our wallet! We spent 3 nights in Welly in all and on the final night Adam and Mike (a guy we'd met on the bus) decided they were gonna cook for me and Mike's girlfirend Rebecca. They decided they were going to cook 'Mama's secret recipe spag bol' as this is Adam's signature dish. 'Sous chef' Mike looked on in awe as Adam masterfully opened the bottle of Dolmio and tenderly poured it over the mince. 4753085751_204f601abb.jpgI have to say, Dolmio's, I mean Adam's, spag bol was an all round success as always! This was our final stop in the North Island before catching the ferry over to Picton in the South Island. Over to you Adam!

Posted by palmer830 20:30 Archived in New Zealand Tagged food Comments (0)

Auckland and Bay of Islands

First stop in NZ

rain 15 °C

Unfortunately blog readers I have had to step in and write about our first stop in NZ as Adam (or Madam as I call him) is refusing to do it as he'd rather brag about white water rafting and skiing which is coming later! So here goes! First stop was Auckland, as is ever the case: nice hostel shame about the area, we popped out to get some supplies and saw a few prostitutes loitering down our street. The first day we went to the Stardome Observatory and saw some cool constellations. I further improved my limited knowledge of space by discovering that the moon doesn't just 'come out' at night, it's there all the time!! Then we decided to check out a place called 'Ice Bar' where they were offering entry to the bar for $10 the following night rather than the usual $30 so we opted for that. Little did we know that it meant we got no protective clothing in there whatsoever, apart from a measly pair of gloves so we freezed our arses off! Ice sculptures were cool though - boom boom! 4694905184_da844681de.jpgAfter a few days in Auckland we headed up to a place called Paihia in the Bay of Islands with a rather disciplinarian bus driver called 'Geoff' who would only allow 'lightly coloured sports drinks' on his bus. Unfortunately I took a sickness tablet on the way up which made me pass out and when we finally got there I'm pretty sure I'd got concussion from continually banging my head on the window for 4 hours. This was confirmed the next morning when Madam told me I'd laughed in my sleep and told him I was laughing at Westlife...Anyhoo, Bay of Islands was a pretty place and our hostel had great views over the bay. 4689255215_ee5e8e46a1.jpgHowever the weather was pretty crap so we couldn't do too much. So we went to the Treaty House where the English and Maori first signed the treaty back in 1840 and then the next day we went over to a town called Russell and saw the oldest Church in NZ....Good times! Can maybe see why Madam didn't want to write this part...it gets better I promise!

Posted by palmer830 17:59 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

Oz Part Deux!

Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne.

overcast 18 °C

After seeing one dreary 1950's timewarp town after another we decided to skip small town Oz altogether and just see the cities. Our first port of call was Brisbane which was a nice laid back city. We saw a few sights including Parliament House, Botanical Gardens and of course the shops! We also went to watch a game of 'Aussie Rules', knowing it was our first game the ticket woman rather cruelly put us slap bang behind the goal which meant balls flying at us for half the game! It was rather entertaining tho, especially the Aussies in front us who hurled abuse at the players throughout the game (a favourite being 'piss off ya fanny').4628589069_011c9baf94.jpg
After a few days in Brisbane we hotfooted it on a flight (flashpacker style) to Sydney. Luckily Adam's friend lived right in the centre of the city and we stayed with him for about a week. Once again we saw the usual sights including the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach and Darling Harbour. We took a ferry over to a place called Manly and came back when it was dark, the plan being to get some great nightime shots of the Opera House. This didn't quite go to plan due to freezing weather and a bout of seasickness. All these sights pale in comparison however with the story I'm going to tell you next...I wanted to go to a 'mind body and soul' exhibition (hippy shit) but Adam really didn't fancy it so I ventured off on my own. I'm walking around the stalls when who should I see but the one and only Richie from 5ive!!! (If you're not sure which one he is, he's the one that always looked like he was wearing make up). I figured as no one was around I could waltz up to him and get his autograph so after stalking him for a few minutes I plucked up the courage to poke him in the arm. I asked him for his autograph and I think he thought I was a genuine fan until I asked him to write 'Keep on Movin' for me. He looked at me with disgust and reluctantly agreed. After shaming myself I had to make a quick getaway and promptly left the building!
The next day we headed up to a place called the Blue Mountains which was a couple of hours from Sydney and was a really nice place with amazing views. There's a blue mist around the trees everywhere due to the eycalyptus trees hence the name! 4630809756_d04482f846.jpg We did a looong walk and then went to a really quaint cafe with an open fireplace, lovely!
Next stop Melbourne. We stayed in a 4 bed dorm with only 3 of us in it most of the time, our roomie was a girl called Una from Ireland. The hostel is pretty nice except for the occasional stripper passing by....A particular highlight of the hostel was a guy from Israel called Yaneth who, when the dvd player stopped working due to a timer being set on it, took it upon himself to cover the security camera, break into the cupboard and reset the dvd player while shouting 'I promised you a movie...I'm gonna give you a movie', what a hero! Anyhoo the first night in melbs we went to a bar which offered free drinks which we never say no to! The next night was Tom Cruise night, coupled with red wine, perfect (maybe not for Adam!). Then on the friday we met up with Adam's friends Charles and Sarah. Sarah very kindly offered to be our host for the next day and took us on a tour of the infamous Ramsey Street, which is actually called Pin Oak Court, we've been conned! It was also pretty small but still good all the same (definately getting back into neighbours when I get home!). We also checked out a place called St Kilda which is a chilled out seaside town which was pretty nice. The next day Adam and I went to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image where Adam got to play old school Nintendo games the whole time, score! We also managed to blag free beauty treatments from a University training up beauticians while in Melbs, I got a pedicure, manicure, facial and massage - pretty much a full body overhaul and all for free!! On the Saturday we went to a Guiness Book of World Records 'Most number of Superheroes' attempt, which involved us getting a free superhero outfit each! I'm also pleased to announce we won the attempt, so I guess we're in the Book of Records now (somewhere!) 4664464363_773f6d1870.jpg On the final night we decided to blow our final $30 at the casino, never really thinking we'd win anything. Little did we realise I was a professional gambler in a previous life. I had tactics (which obviously I'm not going to reveal) and it worked everytime winning us $80!! Overall we liked Australia but it's so expensive to do anything and it's so damn big! We were looking forward to getting to New Zealand where we had more cash and it's a lot smaller!

Posted by palmer830 00:55 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Queensland

via the 'Spaceship'

semi-overcast 27 °C

Blowpipe survived!!! I bloody told her it would. *Wanker* that's what the Ozzies say to everything. We got to Cairns and found out that we had been upgraded from a 10 bed dorm to an 8 bed dorm (which was also populated by Swedish girls) Score!! Unfortunately they all moved out the next day and were replaced by guys. Anna was pleased. We decided on travelling around Oz via a Spaceship Campervan4545122837_94b36df0e2.jpg. Each one has a name so you can recognise it, ours was Ground Control so from now on I will refer to it as Bowie!! Bowie was bright orange as you can see and a bit smaller than we imagined but it turned out to be a very good way of getting around. Our first stop was to be a loooong drive into the outback to see the Lava Tubes in Undara. On our way there we stayed in a free campsite (there are quite a few around and saved us a lot of money) but they have little in the way of amenities. It was also raining when we arrived so we had to cook our nice $3 steaks holding an umbrella. A little later on a lady came over, there were only 2 other vans here and it was pitch black, to introduce herself. "Whats a Spaceship" were her first words in an Ozzie accent. I wish I had replied "greetings earthling". She then went on to call us Pommes and when Anna asked her how to start a fire she came out with "What do you mean how do you start a fire?? You light a bit of bloody paper!!" All respect for us was gone and she went off to talk to the other van. Very funny indeed. (Anna does a great impression of all of these lines). The lava tubes were very interesting and one of our highlights of Queensland. Set in the outback we got to not only see the caves but lots of wildlife (our first Roo's) and did a few treks around. They also had a free night surfari which was good and we got to see a snake. We left the next day only for me to hit a Roo with the van. Couldn't believe it, came out of nowhere. I wasn't going fast though so hopefully it was ok (the van was fine). When then made our way slowly down to Airlie Beach which is quite a way from Cairns. Anna and I had originally thought, on first starting our journey, that OZ wasn't as big as everyone was making out. This was a mistake that I learned from a few long days driving. When we got to Airlie beach the weather was awful, so our plan of sailing the Whitsundays looked a no go. So we stayed a night to see if the weather would clear up, which it didn't and had decided to leave and miss it all together!! Fortunately we had a change of heart whilst driving and headed back to book our trip. We booked ourselves onto "Summertime"4570061949_7e10b8136c.jpg, which was a lovely old boat which we managed to get a lot cheaper than it was advertised for. The boat itself was wicked, it could hold upto 16 passengers, however only 12 turned up. This meant lots of left over food for me and Anna to gorge on. I swear i have never eaten so much in my life, they literally begged me to take 2nds and 3rds (i didn't need to be asked twice after Anna's tight budget). So back to the weather... as I said it was raining quite a lot, which was a reason for us nearly not doing it, and the day we left it rained quite a lot. After a 2 hour boat ride out to the Islands, we then went Kayaking (after a massive lunch I might add) and saw stingrays and Anna managed to spot a massive turtle swimming under our Kayak. (I was doing all the paddling as usual, she was on the look out for Animals!!!). It rained the whole time, although it didn't spoil it as it would have been too hot in the sun and def too much hard work for me lol. The next day the Captain (Cookie, no idea why) had planned to head to Whitehaven beach on account of the weather turning nicer. We were all hopefully and it turned out to be a gloriously sunny day and the beach looked amazing4570014667_96013a69db.jpg (although a little battered as a cyclone had hit it a few weeks prior). The morning over breakfast we all sat around the boat and watched sea turtles come to the surface for air. An amazing sight. That day I also did my first dive. It was a try dive so I didn't get any qualifications, but still got to see lots of fish, Nemo included. All in all it was an amazing trip and we had both eaten enough for us not to worry about food the whole trip. The boat was full of really nice people, oh and I was the only one to see a Dolphin (albeit from a distance).
After the Whitsundays we decided that we wanted to get down to south of Brisbane to Byron bay and Surfers paradise for some sun, then head back to Brisbane for a few days. Byron bay was really nice and we ended up staying a day extra. When we first got there we stumbled across a cool weekend market and we quickly found that this place was a hippie town. Really cool, laid back place. It also has some nice walks and we went to the most easterly point in the whole of Australia. After Byron bay we headed to Surfers Paradise. This place is Cheeeeeeesey. Lots of places for drunken westerners to hang out, shop, drink and eat. The beaches were nice but the waves here were amazing. Absolutely massive and I got "washboarded" by a few of them a couple of times. All good fun. Anna would only go out to knee deep and I don't blame her after Nha Trang!! Here we decided to stay at a proper campsite as well because it was our last few nights in the van and we needed a nice HOT shower (we had just been showering in cold ones by the sea, not fun!!) and a good BBQ.4558707073_5216b82c8e.jpg It turned out to be a little masterchef campsite, where everyone competed to cook the most extravagant meal. First off a girl cooked a measly soup out of a can, next we had 2 guys cooking steak and potatoes ("bah i cooked that on my first night") then Anna and i came in with Super Burgers with all the toppings and Sweetcorn, and whatever else we could find. The in came this couple who were waiting for everyone else to finish. God knows what they cooked but it looked good!! All very funny with only Anna and I knowing it was a competition!!!! (basically we were mocking everyone...it wasn't actually a competition!!). The next day we headed back up to Brisbane via a Koala sanctuary, which only had 2 Koala's, to hand back "Bowie". This was a very emotional day and we will miss him greatly, but for now it is back to dorms. Camper van......DONE!!

Posted by palmer830 18:24 Archived in Australia Tagged automotive Comments (0)

Singapore

SimSim, Ems and Mr Singapore!

sunny 30 °C

After a horrendous nights non sleeping at Bali airport we met up with Simon and Emily at Singapore airport, at the ready with our 'SimSim and Ems' sign (their nicknames for each other - public ones anyway). 4539124503_fca21f1d46.jpgWe found our hostel (28 bed dorm - our personal best so far), then met up with Simon and Emily for lunch at a hawker centre. In the evening we met up with Kim who we'd originally met in Malaysia and went to Raffles for a Singapore Sling, costing a whopping 15 pounds!! 4539157515_f12d077c40.jpgAfter blowing our budget on one Singapore Sling we decided to eat cheap that night but still managed to have a feast!
The next day Kim took us on a guided tour of Singapore, including a Buddhist pagoda, a Hindu temple, Chinatown and Little India. In the evening we met up with Adam and Simon's friends Kent and Richard who have both been living in Singapore for 9 months but had yet to meet up until we came over and brought them together!
The next day we planned to go to Universal Studios on Sentosa Island, however after discovering the main attraction was closed we decided to just head over to the island and see a few other attractions instead. We signed up for a package deal including a 4D Pirate Adventure, a rapids simulation ride and a cowboy laser shoot em up. Out of about 15 people on this ride Adam and I rather embarrassingly featured in the top 3, I think maybe we took it a little too seriously...4545731028_828bc6beb9.jpgWe then headed to the beach and the boys had a cool down in the sea. We were having a nice relaxing time when the lifeguard came over to warn us about the jellyfish in the sea which weren't 'particularly' lethal...needless to say we made a quick getaway! Adam and Simon then had a go on the zipwire which was 75 metres high. Our final stop was 'lugeing', (a combination of a go kart and a toboggan) where you get to race around a track at night. We all loved this, I somehow managed to lose everyone on the way round and came last! We liked it so much we had another go...where I came last again. There was some pretty stiff competition going on between Adam and Emily, both going on one wheel at one point...*Adam came out top in the end* - I was forced to add this by Adam.
The next day, Simon and Emily were heading back to Malaysia and Adam and I were off to Oz so we had a final stroll around Chinatown in the morning, enjoying watching Simon's growing haggling skills! Then Kim came to see us off at the airport, which was pretty emotional, he was an excellent host! It was great to see everyone and so nice of Simon and Emily to come all the way to Singapore to see us. Australia here we come!

Posted by palmer830 05:40 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

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