A Travellerspoint blog

June 2010

Coromandel Peninsula & Rotorua

All aboard, the Kiwi Bus

rain 8 °C

wooo and I never win arguments!!! We got up early the following day to catch the Kiwi experience (our transport around New Zealand) from Auckland. Its a massive green bus4694260813_df6e14887d.jpg. , described by the locals as the "Big green shag bus" or something like that! This didn't fill us with much confidence as to what it would be like but it has turned out to be a wicked way of seeing the country.....so far. Anyways, after checking in at the office we headed off to Mount Eden, which gave us a cool 360 degree view of Auckland cityWe then headed off on route to the Coromandel Peninsula and Catherdral Cove beach. Along the way our driver gave us a lot of information about the views and New Zealand in general, unfortunately I fell for a corker of a lie, which involves cows and a "New Technology" which changes the cows skin colour when they needed milking. Shocking I know but hey I was sucked in by his cool stories!!! When we arrived to Cathedral Cove beach we hadn't planned on a 40 minute walk to the beach4694300259_246805b98e.jpg and Anna had forgotten to wear her new walking shoes, instead opting for the warmer UGG boots. It was a gorgeous day and it was a very nice beach just a shame it wasn't that warm so we couldn't go for a swim. After a night in Mercury Bay we headed off for Rotorua, via an old gold mining town. We got to walk through all the old caves and also see our first glimpse of the famous NZ glowworms (They're not actually glowworms but maggots and the green stuff that glows is their poo). From here we headed to Rotorua for our first taste of some adventure sports. Rotorua stinks...of eggs. Its because of all the sulphure as its on an active volcano. This in turn makes for a lot of cool mud pools, geysers and thermal pools, which are very cool. We got to see this first hand at Tepuia, a local Mauri centre which explained how they used to use the hot thermals to cook and survive back in the day!! From here we headed to the Lugeing centre for some more lugeing action. It wasn't quite as spectacular as doing it in Singapore (that was done at night) but the tracks where much longer and if you went fast enough you could actually get some air on a bump. Anna didn't manage to get any but I did and nearly crashed as I was going way too fast. Anna was actually much better this time and didnt finish last everytime!!! It was quite a long day and once all this was finished we checked into the "Funky Green Voyager" our favourite hostel in New Zealand. This place had a nice log fire, big kitchen and warm, clean rooms. The atmosphere there was also good and we met some cool people. The next day we had White Water rafting and a 7 metre drop. One of the biggest drops you can do on a grade 5 rapids4694830182_a6f15165b5.jpg. It was so much fun, and not as cold as we thought. There were only 4 of us in the boat so it was a lot of work. You can see from the pictures that it was quite a tough run, with 3 big waterfalls and lots of rapids. We managed to stay in the boat the whole way even over the massive waterfall which was good. Didn't fancy going for a swim in the cold water. When we had finished we managed to blag our way into a free BBQ which was good. Basically the people who were also on the rapids, in another boat, were celebrating a birthday and had lots of food so invited us in. Was very good and saved us some cash. We got picked up a few days later by the big green bus and headed for the famous farm show. This is basically a place where you watch sheep getting sheared, cows milked and dogs rounding up ducks, all in a comical way. It was very funny and the guy picked on me because I was the only person there who said they were from England. I also got called up to the stage to feed some baby lambs.....ahhh very cute. From here we headed of to Waitomo to do some Black Water Rafting. This isn't like White Water rafting were you are in a big raft, instead its you and a rubber ring riding some rapids in a pitch black cave, jumping off water falls and exploring all the glowoworm tunnels.4715571223_664b22e69d.jpg It was really good fun for me, however Anna did not like it at all and had a little panic attack down there. It was very claustrophobic, dark, cold and as there was a lot of rain and the water levels were up high which made it very hard to walk around. Anna unfortunately doesn't like any of these aspects and had to endure 1 1/2 hours of hell. At one point she managed to fall out of her rubber ring and was flying along the rapids and caught at the end by one of the guides before she went over a waterfall. This did not help matters and i had to make sure i helped her all the way around. At the end we got a nice warm soup and Anna decleared never to do anything like that again......

Posted by palmer830 21:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

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)

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