Sunday, 9 August 2009
New Zealand - The North Island
We have arrived in New Zealand to continue our travels in Australasia, continent 2 of 3.
We flew into Auckland around a week ago. On arriving at 4am we went to our hostel where we promptly crashed out in the lounge, our jet lagged mugs later startling a number of people getting up for breakfast. Around midday, Mr Simon Reynolds arrived to increase our number from 2 to 3 and mercifully give Dan and I someone else to talk to..
We spent a couple of days in Auckland, taking in the Auckland museum (the first of our trip – cultural black holes that we are) and the Sky Tower (think the Seattle space needle but smaller), before hiring a car and setting out on the road.
The first stop for us and our trusty Nissan Sunny was ‘Northland’ and the Bay of Islands. This is pretty much what it says on the tin, so we had a poke about some of the islands, took in ‘Jam Night’ at our local and then fired up the Sunny and headed south to Rotorua.
Rotorua is a non-descript place, famous for geothermal activity and Maori history. After some time looking at various steaming rivers, lakes, mud pools (and deciding we didn’t want to pay an extortionate NZ$100 to watch some half naked people dance about – again, culture failing to make the cut) we continued south to Lake Taupo.
En route to Taupo we did 2 lots of caving, one professional and one “independent” outing, consisting of us wandering down a cave we found, bare foot and in our swimming shorts. This later caused much amusement to our professional guide, who went on to tell us of people drowning, dying of hypothermia or just generally disappearing when venturing into caves without the requisite knowledge, skill or equipment..
We have spent the last couple of days in and around Taupo. Highlights of this were me doing a bungie jump (Messrs Reynolds and Pearson declining on grounds that they were “not interested”) and us trekking around Lord of the Rings own ‘Mount Doom’ (pretentious black and white photo above) , which at this time of the year has replaced the giant glowing eye with a covering of snow.
Onto Wellington tomorrow for our final stop in the North Island before catching the ferry south..
- Driving Test – within 10 minutes of hiring our car we found ourselves driving the wrong way down a 4 lane carriageway in downtown Auckland. Cue minor panic, a swift 180 and much questioning of Simon’s driving skills and/or will to live.
- Theft – we left Santiago on the 28th of July, flew for 13 hours and landed in Auckland on the 30th July. I don’t really understand how that is possible (“international date line” allegedly) but think that the 29th of July should probably be added to my passport in the list of items I’ve had stolen from me.
- All about context – Dan likes to whistle. This would not be noteworthy except for the fact that Dan’s whistling is context sensitive. For example, whistling a sea shanty when on a boat (any boat), or the McDonalds theme when walking past a fast food outlet. The last week has seen two real gems:
Context: On a sailing ship with a family of Germans
Song: Dad’s army theme tune
Context: Talking to Simon about life in the police
Song: Casualty theme tune (while attempting the theme tune to The Bill)