Friday, October 31, 2008

Our car is now called Daisy. She's fantastic.

Spent the past few days out on the Karikari peninsula at a fantastic backpacker's called The Rusty Anchor. Staying there felt more like crashing at a friend's house than staying in a hostel, which was great. One night Shane (one of the owners) took us out on a glow-worm tour on his private land, which was really cool. There's something magical about sitting listening to a stream and the calls of the morepork (NZ owl) while watching the glow-worms come out and light up the rock overhangs like earthbound constellations. Gorgeous.

Anywy, today might be caving shortly. Yay, underground exploration! or it might just be sitting drinking coffee and chasing the hostel's dog around. Who knows.

At some point I need to get to a bank, too. Then I can pay myself a cheque and finally have access to my own money! Take THAT, Natwest! (Still very annoyed about that.)

Oh, and I snorkelled for the first time the other day too. That was a lot of fun, although I kept having to remind myself that yes, I can breathe underwater. I kept holding my breath, which really doesn't work. Anyway, saw loads of little tiny fish, masses of sea urchins and a big crab. Not sure who was more scared, it or me. I quickly left it alone and went back to looking at the less pinchy things.

What else? I can't really think of things of interest. Lots of the past few days has been spent just enjoying the spring weather and relaxing in pretty scenery. Oh, and driving. Almost ran over some wild turkeys, which was exciting. Why do they run along the road? You can't outrun Daisy!

Currently we're staying at the Little Earth Lodge, which is rather cool. There are ponies, which took a liking to R and decided to try and eat him, a rather fantastic shaggy dog who we spent a while chasing round and round, and lots of farmland. It's so peaceful - I can hear a tui and a pheasant at the moment and nothing else. Lurvely.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We are officially surf bums, but withoout the surfing. We shall learn though, and then the Tasman Sea had better watch out!

Lots of other things to write about too, will do that when I'm not supposed to be cooking...

Monday, October 20, 2008

We bought a car!

Or, more accurately, R bought a car. I was present though, so that counts for something.

It's a 1998 Ford Escort estate, with a 1.8 diesel engine. It's a workhorse! And I imagine is really heavy to drive. I have to keep up my climbing strength somehow. And it's green! Which is an important factor, obviously. Green is good. Apparently it's R's third green car, which is good?

We went to Waiheke Island recently (last Tuesday or so) and hired scooters for the day, which was a lot of fun. Did mean that we couldn't do the vineyard tour, but that's probably just as well. Carrying lots of bottles of wine, while tasty, would be hard work. We both survived pretty well, although R did try driving off the road a couple of times. I claim no responsibility for that. Just because I meeped my horn at him to tell him to drive on the left is no reason to drive on the left-hand verge, in my opinion.

The scooters were a little scary on the roads though. Suddenly there was an 80kph road, and our little speedos only went up to 60... but we survived, I was nearly overtaken by a bus, and all is well. We were very glad when we dropped them off though, and had a local bottle of wine to celebrate. With a delicious meal, I should add, not on the street with it wrapped in brown paper.

Waiheke itself is absolutely beautiful - golden beaches, turquoise sea, green hills... all the stuff you see on the brochures and think they've Photoshopped is actually how it looks. Unless someone Photoshopped my eyes, which would be weird.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Journey time again

Ok, been in NZ for over a week now. Starting to feel a bit like a local - I can use words like "kumara" (sweet potato) and I can even pronounce Aotearoa! For reference,it's "Ow-teer-owa". Go me.

... oh yes, and we met the Prime Minister Helen Clarke at a flea market in the south of the city:

Let's start at the beginning. 32 hours is a long plan journey! First part (to Frankfurt) was easy, as was getting through Frankfurt airport to wherever I needed to be. I did enjoy the "smoker's boxes" - glass boxes in the corridors in which the smokers stood looking a little like vertical goldfish, and where people walking past could feel very smug about not smoking. Good stuff.

The next flight was to Hong Kong, which was long. Luckily my medication knocked me out, much to the chagrin of the man sitting next to me who wanted to talk. Sorry.There were also noodles for breakfast, which was odd but appreciated. Yum, noodles.

Then I was in Hong Kong! I decided to venture into the city itself on a sleek fast train. It sounds silly, but I didn't realise HK was so mountainous! Very pretty, with all the sea and mountains and big tall buildings.I wandered for a while, went to the pier and saw boats (surprisingly enough), took photos, got lunch (which was a strange experience in itself, but successfully negotiated without too many faux pas, I think), discovered I'd lost my train ticket, bought another and headed back to the airport.

Then there was another 10 hour flight down to New Zealand. Slept some more, which was good, ate more noodles for breakfast (what is it with noodles for breakfast on long flights?) and watched as we flew into the dawn with the long beaches of North Island below us. Such a beautiful introduction to the country. Seems I was lucky, as R had landed a few hours earlier in the dark and rain. Heh.

I was met by R and S (his cousin), who took us back to her house for an early lunch. After that we headed out to the Waitakere mountains for a bit of a wander and some pictures (which are on facebook, but nowhere else at the moment). There was a giant picture frame framing the view, and a totem (for which I don't know the Maori word) featuring various ancestors with huge penises.Such is the way of things.

So far our time here has been eating, sleeping and doing touristy things in almost equal measure. Since we're so close to the sea wherever we are, green mussels are incredibly cheap (NZ$2.25/kg!) which means we're eating them fairly often. Yay seafood!

The Auckland Museum was fairly fun. We went to see a "cultural performance" which was a Maori troupe performing songs and dances with poi and sticks, culminating in (of course) the war haka. Quite a sight, even when done purely for tourist purposes. One of the dancers reckoned himself to be a bit of an NZ Idol star, which was quite amusing. Hard to be fierce when you're trying to pose.

We've also been over to Devonport, which is a village just north of Auckland reached by ferry. All very picturesque and "English", down to the prevalence of fish and chips (or "fush and chups") and little tea houses. Really is a bit like stepping back in time.

Other than that, we've been organising ourselves (ha!) - getting bank accounts sorted, SIM cards for phones, car hunting etc. Turns out that I can't transfer money from my UK account to my NZ one without calling them, which is a pain, but I'll need to do that at some point soon. What's the point of internet banking when you can't use it to do the things you want to? Grr.

But, all in all, we're fairly settled in. S has been taking us to various places (mostly foody places), we've found good places for beer, like here:

Oh yeah, and we met the Prime Minister Helen Clarke at a market:

So we're doing quite well.

Hopefully we'll set off for the Northland next week at some point, when we have a car.

Will write more when there's more to tell, and internet to tell it from.I do have a phone number down here now; email me if you want it.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Safely in Auckland

And R did a decent blog about the first couple of days here. I'm too lazy to duplicate it, so if you're interested, head over there. There'll be more updates here when I/we feel like it (and have internets).

Yay travelling!

EDIT: Also, the Earth has now been destroyed (see the indicative badge on the left). This is unfortunate. Details here.