A Travellerspoint blog

February 2011

We’ll be having 2 Fridays & 2 Saturdays!

This date line thing’s confusing

sunny 20 °C
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Saturday (in NZ) has just been a ‘get up and get to the airport’ day. Despite our best efforts to rebalance the suitcases, one still came in 4kgs heavier than the other. We got away with it being overweight from Auckland but we’ll have to sort that before flying to Maui. And now, confusingly, it’s Friday night on Oahu! In other words, we landed in Hawaii before we took off in New Zealand! We’re off to Pearl Harbour tomorrow (Saturday - again) and then have an evening flight to Maui for a few days of rest. We won’t have access to Wifi for the next 4 days but it’ll give us a chance to put together our ‘Top 10’ North Island and ‘Best of NZ’ lists for the next blog. Oh, and select a few photos to post as we’re a little behind.

Posted by neilthelr 00:37 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Last stop: City of the Sails

And a catch up with old friends (part 3)

sunny 26 °C
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It’s hard to believe that we’re only a couple of days away from leaving New Zealand but our time here has ended well. Our second experience of the roads to Auckland were better than the first (Friday, rush hour) so we landed at Russ and Nicky’s house early evening having stopped at the Whangerei Town Basin (again) for lunch on the way back through. Russ and Nicky are only about 300m from the beach in the North Shore, which, on a sunny Friday night is slightly sickening when you consider what the average Friday night holds for us after work in the UK! We had a catch up over dinner (and a couple of drinks) with them and planned the following day. Nicky drove us in to Devonport (pretty, and it’s where the Navy is based) where we caught the ferry to Auckland City and went up the Sky Tower: it’s quite a view! If you don’t like heights (Helen) it’s advisable if you don’t look down through the glass floor sections of the viewing deck or lifts. It was a fantastic, clear day so we could see a long, long way. Nicky picked us up there and took us to Mission Bay where we stopped for lunch before heading up to Mount Eden to see the crater and a different view over the city. It was dinner and drinks with them at home and a game of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ (we got to £125k) to end the day. The final day was reserved for heading in to the city with Nicky, meeting Russ for lunch, saying our goodbyes and then just the two of us wandering around. Oh, and Neil got a haircut! We had our last supper in Viaduct Harbour, which capped off a good few days, a great North Island experience and a fantastic month in New Zealand. Finally though, we have to say thanks to Nicky and Russ for hosting (and chauffeuring) us. It was fantastic to catch up with you both and we hope to see you again soon.

Posted by neilthelr 00:36 Archived in New Zealand Tagged bridges sightseeing Comments (0)

144 Islands in one location

We didn’t see them all but drove (sailed) through one of them.

sunny 24 °C
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Upon leaving Kaiwaka, we headed North via the Whangerei Town Basin for a spot of lunch in a quayside café in the sunshine (Jo – thanks for the suggestion) and then a stop at some ‘well known’ toilets (seriously – this is the second lot of NZ famous toilets we’ve come across – is this country normal?!) – photo to come. Bay of Islands was our next (and most Northern) stop. Basically it is an area of 144 Islands off the coast. Pretty nice place but did not have the ‘wow’ factor the Coromandel peninsula had. We still had a great time though. 3 nights in 1 place was good (staying in Paihia with our room directly on the sea front) and we had a number of good ‘trips’. First was a boat ride where we saw dolphins, harboured on one of the larger islands (Urupukapuka) where Captain Cook first took shelter, and went out to the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ – as it sounds – and with tides in your favour it’s large enough to fit a (decent-sized) boat through. Going through this was an experience. The weather at sea had turned rough and the rain came down. We sat looking at the hole watching another boat considering the drive through. Each skipper makes their own decision and the other boat’s skipper chose not to go through but, after a few minutes, ours took the plunge and we sailed right through (although a strong grip to hold on was needed as the waves were choppy on the other side) so we can now say we’ve sailed through the middle of an island! We also spent some time in Russell (a quaint town) across the water and did a tandem parasail (i.e. the two of us together) where Helen, after getting up there, realised that she is not the best with heights (but still enjoyed the views from above despite the rain coming just at the wrong time)! We also went Kayaking down the Waitangi River, which, for those who are not hot on their NZ history, is where the Treaty of Waitangi (NZ’s founding document) was signed on 6th Feb 1840. The kayaking also meant that anything that wasn’t already wet from our dunking at the end of the parasailing got a second chance at a soaking. All in all, a nice place, some new experiences and time to chill all washed down with some good food and of course a little Sauvignon Blanc (oh how we are going to miss this good local wine)! Next stop heading back to Auckland for our final NZ destination and catching up with more old friends.

Posted by neilthelr 23:54 Archived in New Zealand Tagged boats driving sightseeing Comments (0)

Christchurch, our thoughts are with you

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Yesterday’s earthquake in Christchurch is a little too close to home for us. Most people travel north to south when they visit New Zealand. We chose south to north so we got to Auckland at the end. Had we followed the usual route we would be about to arrive in Christchurch. Whilst we’re thankful we’re not caught up in this disaster we can’t quite believe that the wonderful city we visited only 2.5 weeks ago looks like a war zone. We have pictures of the Cathedral we took ourselves, which has now lost it’s spire. There’s a picture of a building (the Baptist Church) that we posted on this blog that we thought demonstrated the damage from the Sept 4th 2010 quake rather well: that building no longer exists. The white pillars have fallen as have the side walls and roof. Only the front and back red-brick walls still stand! The building on the opposite corner to where we stayed, which was undergoing repair, is now partially collapsed. We took pictures of the green-roofed bandstand from outside the Pyne Gould Building, which is featuring on the news a lot as it pancaked downwards and it’s where people are still trapped. There are numerous other buildings and streets we’ve seen on the news that we walked past or down that are now badly damaged or strewn with debris and can’t quite believe it. Our thoughts are with those still trapped or who have lost loved ones.

Posted by neilthelr 13:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

I can see 7 houses from here

And none of them within a kilometre

sunny 26 °C
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We should explain that Jo(anne) is an old school friend of Neil’s whom he hasn’t seen for about 17 years. She and Simon (her hubby) have been in NZ for 11 so that hasn’t helped. They live in Kaiwaka but they don’t really; they’re 12kms out to the west and have become ‘lifestyle farmers’ (or something like that) whilst still doing their ‘career’ jobs. They live in the most idyllic spot with their cows, chickens, baby turkeys and bees and we had the good fortune of spending a couple of nights with them. We both grew up in fairly rural locations so this was like going back to our childhoods (without the smell of Sugar Beet though). We spent the 2 nights sat on their deck eating and drinking (Simon’s homebrew – very nice by the way) and catching up. We went to the unspoilt Ruakaka beach on Saturday and watched some boating folk try to row faster than each other – we didn’t understand how ‘our’ team were doing but it was a good way to spend an afternoon, particularly when it’s capped with a Tip-Top ice-cream. You realise when you stay somewhere like theirs how simple and calming life could be; a very relaxing couple of days and just fantastic to catch up with them after so long. Scarily, if we wait another 17 years, we’ll be in our 50s! If you read this guys, many thanks again. It was great to see you both. The home grown melon has been partly consumed already and the tomatoes and cucumber is in tomorrow’s sandwiches 

Posted by neilthelr 22:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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