A Travellerspoint blog

Tauranga & 'The Mount'

Beaches, Burning & Bus Stop Haka

Hey guys,

Been awhile since we last wrote as we have been on a busy little road trip which we'll be writing about in our next entry...Anyways, from Rotorua we headed up to the coast to a place called Tauranga. Not before Rusty got roped into doing the Haka at the bus stop however- as you can see he needs to beef up a bit before he could be mistaken for a true Maori!!

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Tauranga itself was basically just a holiday resort type town and we mainly went there to check out the beach at Mount Maunganui, which as you can see from the picks below was quite rubbish!!

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The 'Mount' is in the background of the pic with Rusty in, and you can walk up to the top for some good views, but we gave this is a miss in favour of reading books and lounging around all day!! (I found the last ever Poirot mystery in the hostel we were staying in and read it all in about 2 hours on the beach- hurrah!)

After a couple of days in Tauranga we caught the bus to Auckland to pick up our hire car for our road trip. The sky tower below is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, which you can jump off. But we didn't.

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Instead we found the most amazing place for dinner called Mexical- Em and Kirst you would love this place. It's basically like a Mexican subway where you choose your 'bread' (i.e. burrito, taco etc) and then your fillings. The resulting burrito could surely have been used to bludgeon a man to death it was so weighty! Hope they are less filling in the real Mexico or we will be returning rather larger than our former selves!!

Adios for now...C&R xxx

Posted by russncath 15:08 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Lake Taupo & Rotorua

Jets, Rivers, Lakes and Maori Villages

-17 °C

Morning All,

Arrived into Lake Taupo, which is the largest lake in New Zealand, this was created by the biggest volcanic eruption in the past 5000 years! It's pretty big eh.

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The Hostel was amazing, had its own bar and spa pool which we took advantage of in a big way! Met some nice dudes and dudettes from America, Canada, Bavaria and the UK and had one of the largest and most complicated games of Shithead I have ever had the pleasure to be involved in!

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So with sore heads we awoke in the morning and had the cobwebs literally blown away by going on the Huka Falls Jet Boat - Warning Thrills Ahead - Which was a great trip. The driver Steve Ming, affectionately known as Minger, was brilliant- swerving spine-chillingly close to tree stumps and rocks at 80km an hour, and got really close to the falls as you can see from the below! Enough water passes over these falls to fill 2 olympic swimming pools in 5 seconds or 4 olympic swimming pools in 10 seconds!!!!!!!!!!! (Cath here- I thought I was going to cry for the first cpl of mins, but then totally loved it- must be getting braver!)

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Anyways we decided to walk back to town by the river which was just so beautiful and peaceful. The colours of the rivers here are breathtaking, like nothing I've ever seen before. This one the Wakatipu (the longest in NZ) is a deeper blue than those in the south island (which are like an icy crystal blue) but so so clear... We had heard about some natural hot springs on the way back to town, which we found and were just about halfway in when a gaggle of french high school students turned up on canoes, which rather ruined the ambience, was very funny though...

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Still we managed to find a rather more secluded spot further along where we swam in the river and generally took in the wonderfulness of it all! Then it was back to the aforementioned spa pool for some more relaxing- we could get used to this!!

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(What was also amazing but a bit creepy was the constant and really loud buzzing of the ciccadas or plague of locusts you could call them- the discarded shells left on all the trees made us feel a bit itchy but fortunately the newly emerged bugs seemed to be swarming too high up for us to see them!)

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The next day it's time for our bus to Rotorua, we get in and do the usual explore. Rotorua is a geo-thermal area and is filled with sulpher pools and and mineral rich waters and what we happen upon but the Polynesian Spa!! This place was originally found in the 1860's when an old priest discovered that bathing in these Radium rich waters helped with all the achesand pains (The mums take note, would do wonders for the arthritis!) Now its got seven outrageously bling spa pools all over looking the sulpher lake section of Lake Rotorua! Feel a bit P-Diddyish

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Our last day in Rotorua yesterday and we made it a good one, got joint entry to Hell's Gate geothermal park (so named by George Bernard Shaw) and the Tamaki Maori village. Hell's Gate was the wierdest place ever, loads of bubbling pools of sulphide and various other molten rock type liquids, which were revealed after an earthquake drained the lakes in the area. Some of the pools are over 100 degrees, and they're all constantly bubbling and giving off the most hideous aroma you can imagine! One of the pools 'the cooking pot' can be used to cook an adult pig in two hours and the local Maori tribe still bathe in the 'Medicine pool' Bizarre!!

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Then yesterday evening we headed off to Tamaki for an evening of traditional Maori food and entertainment. Having only been on the usual sort of Turkish/spanish evenings put on by package hotels in the past we weren't expecting too much- but we had a fab time. The village was properly set up as it would have been in the forest and the Maori people came out and did the whole traditional Haka/welcome/challenge thing which is actually quite intimidating close up. Also had a 'Hangi' which is a Maori feast cooked in underground ovens- it being a buffet we managed to eat rather a large amount of course!!

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So it's off to Tauranga and the beach today, can't believe NZ is nearly over already!! Hope all is well back home, missing you all lots and lots, keep the comments and things coming (Ruth yours made us giggle a lot!) Big hugs, C&R xxx

Posted by russncath 11:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (8)

Wellington & Napier

Big City - Small Town

-17 °C

Hi Boys & Girls!

Hit Wellington today after a long and tiring journey on the ferry. After a mammoth walk from the station to the hostel, which just happened to be on the only and also steepest hill in the city, we went for a well deserved drink............or 6 (with a fat curry)!

So with hungover heads we started the next day and the first port of call was Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand, which was quite simply the best Museum in the world ever part II. Saw loads of things including the below....which is a Colossal Squid that was caught off the coast of Anartica!!!!!!

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Loads of crazy interactive stuff to do in the museum- we were just like big kids! Could have spent ages longer in there but we were flagging a bit after a few hours so sat outside in the sunshine for lunch. Decided we needed a different kind of museum in the afternoon so found the national tattoo museum and got chatting to some cool folks in there for a while. We are now officially rock and roll married too!! The guy who looks a bit like Steve-O from jackass did the ceremony ;)

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Finished our day with a ride up the cable car to the botanic gardens, where we became involved with a sundial and took in the fab views over the city. (By the way I didn't cry this time!)

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Long bus ride to Napier the next day during which we try and practise our pigeon spanish! Napier is really pretty, it was destroyed by an earthquake in the 30's and rebuilt in a mainly Art Deco style....it looks a bit like an episode of Poirot so Cath was very happy!

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Had a mainly lazy time in Napier, walking around looking at all the Art Deco buildlings and seaside shops. Also spent a relaxing day at the Ocean Spa, which is a pool complex on the sea front with heated salt water spa pools...this is the life!

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Decided we needed a bit more action in our lives now so have moved on to Lake Taupo today to take advantage of all the activities on offer (going on a jet boat tommorrow!) Lots of love to everyone, keep in touch, C&R xxx

The jet boat jumps out of a plane into a waterfall attached to a bungee rope!!! (the previous statement may not be true)

Posted by russncath 14:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

Oamuru - Christchurch & The Cook Strait

Pingu, Fish & Ferries

-17 °C

Kia Ora dudes!

For the past week we have been travelling up the east coast of the south island. We left Dunedin on the bus and arrived at the historic town of Oamuru. Stayed in an old 1860s hotel in the really quaint old town section.

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After some excellent cake we took a walk down to the harbour to book in to see the penguins come home after a hard days fishing! When we were waiting to catch the old school steam train to town the guide said 'eh do you wanna look in the box' we of course said yes and inside were two baby pingu chicks!!!!! We saw over 250 little teeny tiny blue penguins come home to the nests to feed their chicks that night. Soooooo cute although were sad over the fact that those closest to us never saw their daddy come home :( Not allowed to take any snaps though- hence the pic of the road sign below!

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Anyway next day did the 'skyline' walk through the botanic gardens and up into the surrounding hills. The countryside here is much more like home, lots of fields full of sheep as you would imagine!

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After Oamuru fairly long bus ride to Christchurch, where we stayed in the nicest hostel we've had yet- the old Countryhouse- lovely gardens for sunbathing in, and lots of home made wooden furniture. And free spices and tea and coffee-bonus!

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Had a good couple of days in Christchurch seeing the sights and a bollywood movie being filmed in Cathedral square! The square is really cool with loads going on, as you can see from the pics below... The man dressed in Harry Potter garb is known only as 'The Wizard' and we were quite lucky to catch him as he is semi-retired nowadays. Basically he is an actual wizard!

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On our last day there we took a bus out to New Brighton to see the beach, which was cool but very windy! Laura and Liz you would have been shocked at the poor imitation pier- not a ghost train in sight!

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Anyway today we have travelled right up to the top of the south island on the Tranz Coastal train (there are literally three train lines in the whole of NZ!) which had amazing scenery...

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Then it was onto the ferry to cross the Cook Strait. In Wellington for a couple of days now so will write again soon...miss you all loads, big hugs, C&R xxx

Posted by russncath 23:15 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Wanaka...ka..ka.kaaa to Dunedin

Sunburn and some Culture

Hello all! Its is I. We have arrived in Wanaka which is a bit like Queenstown on a much smaller scale, cool shops and bars etc but not full of well lairy people!

We are staying in a place called Holly's which is really nice its just like staying in someones house and has a good feel to it. Determined to partake of some exercise we commence a tramp up Mt Iron which is billed as a leisurely 1 & 1/2 round trip. This is true except its all up a practically vertical hill! The view from the top is well worth it though great view of Mt Aspiring over the lake.

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After we get back down we come out right at the entrance to probably the craziest attraction ever. Its called Puzzling World and is purely devoted to puzzles and illusions!!! It has a room full of 3d holograms and a room of famous faces that follow you where ever you go. Also contains a room that will totally screw with your balance but does enable you to do the Smooth Criminal lean! Totally weird but excellent fun!

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On the way back from Puzzling World we find a place called Cinema Paradiso, a little independant Cinema that is basically a cafe attached to a large shed filled with sofas, airplane chairs and even a old Morris Minor that you can sit in while you chill out with Pizzas or home made cookies and Ice Cream while watching a movie pure class!!! We book in for Burn after Reading and its a brilliant night we need one of these at home!

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After our lovely evening at the cinema it's up early the next day for a long-ish bus ride to Dunedin on the east coast of the south island. This is the biggest city we've been to so far, although still not exactly huge. We can walk round the centre bit in about half an hour! Staying at an awesome house just like the house out of fight club; high ceilings, big old wooden bannisters and a generally delapidated air! Anyone who likes luxury would not do too well here, but we're loving the variety of it all- no strangers to slumming it after all those festivals!

Anyway we've had a funny couple of days here- have done loads of 'cultural' things including visiting the public art gallery, two museums, a chinese garden, the cathedral and first church, and dunedin's main attraction 'Baldwin street' which is the steepest street in the world according to the Guiness book of records!! The pics below are of the Chinese garden, Russ riding a penny farthing in the Otago Settlers museum and me standing at the top of Baldwin St (yes we did walk all the way up!)

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We met a cool guy from NYC while we were struggling up Baldwin St and arranged to meet him and his two hostel-mates later for a drink. They turned out to be Danish and called simon and chris hence the Nordic Grezzwells were born!! (Obv not as cool as the real deals!!) Anyway we are just waiting for our bus to Oamaru (bit further up the east coast) so better go now, but love you all lots and thanks for all the comments- miss you all xxxxx

Posted by russncath 13:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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