Internet Returns

Yep.. still alive.. just!

We left Bay of Islands and drove to the Coromandel Peninsular on 10th December.  We stayed at the Rapaura Watergarden, in their little ‘cottage’, which was really a rather sweet large garden shed set in a private sub-tropical garden, complete with pet ducks and a rather tame collared dove.

No Internet, no mobile phone reception, no tv, no radio… you get the idea.

Whilst on the beautiful Coromandel, we visited the incredibly quirky/geeky and downright scarey Driving Creek Pottery & Railway.  This is the creation of local potter/artist/sculptor/eccentric Barry Brickell.  Barry bought a chunk of New Zealand bush back in the early 70’s, and over the last 30 years or so has built a twisting railway up through the hills for about 3km, up to a summit where he’s constructed the tackily named “Eyefull Tower” as a pretty impressive (albeit tree-house inspired) lookout.  Brod thinks the whole thing is a cross between Rupert Bear and Indiana Jones.  If this was in the UK, Health and Safety would condemn the place, no safety locks/barriers/systems.. you just have to hope the driver is having a good day the day you visit.

After the loony railway, we drove around to the other side of the peninsular, to the unpronouncable town of Whitianga (the Kiwis do odd things with ‘Wh” it becomes “Phhhh” or something), then back to our forest retreat/shack via a suicide road (30km of gravel, single track, twisty, blind-bend roads, but with Kingfishers and equally suicidal truck-drivers for company).  We had eggs laid on the premises (not due to the bad roads!), and several bottles of NZ wine (mainly due to the bad roads :P).

On the 12th we departed our little Eden, and headed South for Taupo.  We broke the journey about half-way in the town of Matamata, which for the Tolkien geeks is also known as Hobbiton.  At the local iSite centre (NZ’s verson of Tourist Info centres), we jumped on the tour bus to Hobbiton, with a huge crowd of… 1, some poor tourist from deepest, darkest Canada, who had taken a bus from Auckland especially to do this nerdy trip… bless.  Hobbiton, the film set, is a few kilometres outside of Matamata, and is a sheep farm.  Our tour guide Eric, who was older than Gandalf seemed to ignore the fact there were only three of us, and took us around with gusto, even asking us if we had brought costumes to dress up in….. yeah.. right.  Aparently it’s not uncommon for nerds people to travel half-way around the globe to dress up as Bilbo.  This weird little tourist thing may.. or may not still be here in years to come, as they may.. or may not.. be about to film The Hobbit here, though legally we cannot talk about that, as technically according to the NDA nothing has been agreed yet… or not agreed…. yay for legal speak bollocks.

Onwards to Lake Taupo, along the stunning Highway 1, to our motel, the rather imaginitively named “Lake Motel“.  This is a small (5 room) motel, with a 70’s retro theme.. done really rather well.  Yes we love our hostess Helen 😉

The word of the week for Taupo, is “Awesome”, after our waiter in the local pub/restaurant place, whose resonse to everything sounds like he’s from BIll & Teds Excellent Adventure…. “two more beers?  Awesome!”, “The world is about to end?… Woah.. thats Awesome!”… aye.. gets tedious by the 9th time.

Anyhow.. we are currently stealing Wifi from a kind/unsuspecting/clueless neighbour.. so that will do… pics etc will be uploaded soon..ish.

A quick catch-up post

Yes.. I am crap at keeping these things up to date!  So here is a very brief run through of the last few days.

Tues 2nd Dec
Arrive Auckland about noon, have a boozy lunch, caught the tour bus for the circular tour, fall asleep.

Weds 3rd Dec
Busy day, wandering around Auckland.  Up the SkyTower (hence the photo of the fella in the air in an earlier post), the Auckland Museum, catching the ferry over to Devonport for an early dinner

Thurs 4th
RNZB Guest Artist Shannon Dawson as Kitri's father, Act I Photo by Maarten HollPicked up the hire car, a rather battered Toyota Corolla 1.8l Auto, which isn’t like the UK Corollas, it’s probably closer to a cross between the UK Avensis and the Corolla.  A trip to the Auckland Botanical Gardens, then the evening spent watching the truly excellent Royal New Zealand Ballet.  More info/piccys:

Fri 5th Dec
KauriLong drive from Auckland to our next stop, the Bay of Islands.  We are staying in a town called Harura Falls, which is on the outskirts of Paihia, in a B&B called Crisdon Castle.  We drove up the West coast (Tasman Sea), through the Kauri forests, where we saw the ancient and huge (as in 13 metres wide trunk type of huge) Kauri trees.  Gift shops all over the place seem to sell 101 things made from the wood, it’s impressive there are any left at all.  We got to the B&B around 6pm, where we were met by our hostess Donna, who informed us we had been upgraded.  Rather than the one bed apartment we had booked, we have a three bedroom detached house!  The view from the house is here:

The town of Paihia is tiny, a few restaurants, dozens of motels and lots of people selling the same half-dozen or so different boat trips, scenic flights, parasails and trip on crazy fast boats.

Sat 6th Dec
Chillout day, huge breakfast, followed by a wander about Paihia town/village/hamlet buying a hat.  Took the ferry boat over to the township of Russell, where more eating and drinking was involved (are you sensing a theme here?).

Sun 7th Dec
My birthday.. yay.. turned the rather senior age of 30.  Yes.. I am looking at cardigans, slippers and smoking jackets in a whole new light.
We drove to Kawakawa, steam-trains and weird toilets etc (see the other post).  In the evening we went on a river cruise dinner boat type thing.  Not at all what were expect (not that I am sure what that was exactly), but was a really fun night with plenty of white wine (yay! what a suprise), and meeting and chatting to new folk from all over the globe.

Kawakawa, Bay of Islands Vintage Railway

Today we travelled from our base in Harura Falls, Pahia in the Bay of Islands to the town of Kawakawa.

Kawakawa is the home of the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway. This is a volunteer type railway, that operates Fri-Sun about 4 trips a day. They have one steam locomotive “Gabriel”, that chugs up the line for a few Kilometres before plodding back. What is fun about this line is that it runs right up the high street of Kawakawa.

BOI-VR running down the main street of Kawakawa

Kawakawa is also famous, rather dubiously, for it’s public toilets.  Designed by the Austian painter, architect, and all round groovy type of fella Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who lived his last years in the town

Arrival in Auckland

We landed in Auckland Airport dead on time from our trip over from Seoul.  We were pretty much first off the plane, and first through security.  I think we did from aeroplane to meeting Bart, our host in about 6 minutes.

We flew with Air Korea on their “Prestige” class, which is basically their term for business class.  Wow!  Was truly another world.  After doing long haul cattle class to the US and South Africa, this was really a joy in comparison. Fantastic, attentive, service, great food and even better wine (our quote of the holiday so far is the Purser(is that the word for the head cabin crew guy?) as he poured us a glass of champagne “Krug Sir?  The finest Champagne in the world… we’ve opened the bottle just for you.. so it’s all yours… enjoy!”).

We are staying for 3 nights at the Ascot Parnell – The website doesn’t really do the place justice, it’s beautiful, stylish and the views are stunning.

Today, being jet-lagged to buggery and not really knowing what planet we are on (hence writing this post at erm.. 3.45am local time) we just went for a wander in to the “village” of Parnell and grabbed lunch at Iguacu – then took the touristy bus, that did a circular route around the city to try and vaguely orientate ourselves.  Crashed out at about 4pm and slept through til about 3am’ish.  I know I should of tried to stay awake till later, but I was fighting a losing battle with my eyes that were informing me that sleep was the only option!

I think the plan is that later err today (what day is it?!) we will wander down to the port and grab a ferry over the water to Devonport for more chilled out wandering around and lunching then another early night.. I am determined to try and stay up late today.. until at least 7pm!

In Auckland there seems to be a pretty decent public transport network, including a bus service called “The Link” which is big circular route, so we may use that to pop into the Auckland Museum and get a taster of the history, which as far as I can tell is the Europeans arriving, giving the Maori’s guns and letting them shoot each other, then joining in later to help with the slaughter… yay for Europeans! 😛

No photos today, doubt that either of us were looking overly photogenic, more like pale and pastey Brits looking like they’d been up for 72 hours or so.

Righty.. it’s gone 4am so that will do for now!

6 Days to go…

Only 6 days now, until we fly off to New Zealand.

We will be there for about 6 weeks, spending Christmas in Christchurch, and New Year in Dunedin.

The rough itinery is below.  I will try to use this blog to keep people updated where we are, and post pics etc.

Our route:

Bay of Islands
Lake Taupo
Te Anau
Waiheke Island

InsertWit Finally moves

I’ve finally pulled my finger out and set up wordpress on my new Slice.

This has been a pretty big learning curve as when you buy a slice all you get is a core OS install.  Thanks to the articles at Slicehost it was pretty much a case of copy/paste’ing instructions over SSH to install apache2/php5/etc/etc :)

I decided against importing the old WP over from the previous server, as I felt it was time for a new start on this domain.

All good fun.