Happy New Year!!!

Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, February 15, 2010

Ello! First things first, I (and I’m sure Bex can be included in this too) hope you all had a merry Christmas and a smashing new year! We know it’s been a while since the last blog, so again this will be a little long, I’ll try to make it as un-laborious as possible for you all and will try to squeeze in the best bits. Don’t start reading yet, go and get some tea/beer and any remaining leftover xmas nibbles and I shall begin…..

So we left that town called Blenheim after our rubbish employer. We were rather hoping for some housekeeping work on a tiny island in the Marlborough Sounds, but that came no nothing, so instead we went to the ferry crossing town of Picton (fortunately on a glorious sunny day - it is supposed to be “one of the worlds nastiest crossings”), drank a European lager (or NZ cider in Becca’s case), and drove onboard.

The crossing was a joy, really spectacular going through the sounds. Then it was the choppy open ocean, and then into a nice view of the steep-hilled capital city, Wellington…North Island!!! Almost felt like visiting a new country, home for the next 4months. However, after our awful work experience and a rapidly approaching Christmas trip to Melbourne, the first thing on the agenda was some more ghastly work. This took about one week - we looked in Welly for 3 days - only plus was we lived for free by the beach, and helped out a yoga place in the kitchen for free yoga and food. But we needed cash quickly, and it decided to rain incessantly for a full week straight. In this time we drove North, then East to Hawkes Bay, briefly visited “Art Deco” Napier (where we fixed a wheel and dealt with a very racist panel-beater), went to watch Where The Wild Things Are (it’s awesome), drove to the sulphur smelling Rotorua and saw the humongous lake of Taupo. There was a method behind all this, to arrive in the Bay of Plenty - more specifically Te Puke (the kiwifruit capital of the world) by the time the rain stopped. Managed to get a job within the day, so this was home for 2weeks……

Not much to say about it really. Was an easy job, met 8lovely people, earnt the money we wanted  to, and cleaned the hostel for a week in exchange for free rent. Along came the eve of the 18th of December and this was it….the drive to Auckland to visit Matt & Charlotte  (Beccas bro and wifey) for xmas in sunny Melbourne! Amidst more airport madness we did finally arrive at our destination, and only an hour late! Turns out we needed visas..not nice telling me that at 5.30am after I’ve queued since 4am, particularly when you end up missing you flight (largely due to being given incorrect visa attaining details) and learning that Pacific Blue only fly daily to Melbourne. We were quite stuck…van was locked up for a week, we thought our visa could take 10days, and Becca was being “challenging” (understandable given the circustances). Anyways I had a chat with the newly voted best airline in the world (Air NZ) who informed me that we could get our visas in an instant and board a plane in one hour…so we did…and for our extra money we watched 2 movies, had a meal and a very well deserved beer.

So…Ozzie. Was so great to see familiar faces, exchange stories, eat too much, drink too much, and sweat too much (and poo too much!). In our time we visited the enormous Melbourne botanical gardens, the casino, the beach (of course), a penguin colony (caught the naughty buggers fornicating and becca forgot to take her flash off!), went to a very cool night market AND had an amazing Christmas Eve meze dinner. As for Christmas day, we made a traditional Christmas dinner, highlights including pigs in blankets, brussel sprouts and Christmas crackers. On this day I feel obliged to say that between us we had 23 poos….I will admit to feeling slightly aggrieved when Matt equalised with his seventh…how can you have seven shits in a day and not win?!!! But it was a great day, I think it was good for all of us, and was a perfect way to gear us up for our return to New Zealand (and for Matt & Charlotte’s mammoth drive).

So we said our goodbyes, our see-you-next-years’s and left Australia on boxing day. Upon flying back into New Zealand we both remarked on just how much we love the place, its like the feeling I get whenever I fly back to England from abroad, its hard to explain, it just felt good! We had agreed to do 3more days kiwifruit work to offset our additional flight expenses before our final piece of touring to Northland (needless to say it’s north), after which  we were to sell Morris and make our way to Wellington (Bex had a teaching job lined up).

Our wee stint up North was marvellous. I messed up the origin of our diving and so we missed it and ended up in the wrong  town! I was very angry with myself, although it did end up being a blessing in disguise as we got to drive all around the area, a bit of a scenic tour we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise! Beautiful beaches and markedly warmer, not to mention a stunning (typically) drive. We eventually arrived at our dive destination where we had a crackerjack of a day! Took about an hour to get to the marine reserve by boat, the beauty of marine reserves is that it is illegal to remove or tamper with the life - to put this into context we saw a HUGE crayfish and a large lobster, if we were not in a marine reserve the crayfish would certainly (and probably the lobster too) swim away as they are used to being hunted, but here this does not happen so they chill out and look at us instead! Diving in cold water was slightly unpleasant purely due to wearing an oppressive hood, and  a lot of layers in general, but it did not deter us too much. It was great to finally get back in the water and see stuff we have never seen before. They even have a ‘boom boom’ cave - in lamens terms there is air with nowhere to go, so the only place it can go is inside your ears, nostrils etc etc, and then it has to explode, resulting in a boom boom in your body - a bit weird for us, but a cool experience nonetheless! It was a really professional company with fantastic people, and reinforced to me that I want to do it, and for a good company, and maybe get a skippers licence too! Other species of note that we saw included a short-tailed stingray, many scorpion fish, and loads of groovy neon seaslugs!

After this we drove directly back to the kiwifruit work for 3days work - finishing at new year. We had a different from the norm new year celebration, but it was a brilliant evening, and a welcome refreshing change from our way of doing it at home. We went to a quiet lake near Rotorua with a group of about 10friends, where we had a Barbie and drinks, and followed it up the following morning with a gentle swim in the lake!

So then became the start of our final mission in New Zealand. Bex had a flight to catch down to ‘windy Welly’ to start work and find a flat, and I was to stay in Auckland, sell the van, and then come down to Wellington. Becca went safe and sound, and I spent 2 days  fleering and sleeping by the beach, hoping to sell the van privately. It did not prevail, and whilst I did not want to go to the car market to sell the van it seemed  the quickest way to sell, everyday I was waiting was a day I could be earning (and be with becca of course). I paid up for 3 days, a demoralising experience, but on the third day I cracked it, that’s how easy it is to master hard-selling it seems, get a product that’s important to receive a good price for, and talk nonsense in one of those horrible pushy-yet-friendly manners until it sells. It certainly does not require a degree, or a 2year trainee internship or whatever I’m sure the corporate bigwigs offer recent graduates! We managed to get all the money we spent on the van back, so it was perfect, we essentially paid for petrol in our time here and nothing else! So I decided to pull a trick on Bec and tell her the van hadn’t sold, in which time I bought a plane ticket to Welly (on an horrifically windy night) and turned up on the doorstep! She was pleased when she realised that I wasn’t lying and was actually standing on the doorstep!

So here we are. Becca has a really great bunch of people who she works with, it took me a week to find work, but I have ended up with a lot of hours and also work with a great bunch, so the days go quite quick. We both really like Welly, it’s a pretty ‘urban’ city. Throughout the summer there is 3months of ‘free stuff’ every day. Everyday in January there is a free gig in the botanic gardens where everyone can take some food and drink for a relaxed evening. February it is free movies. We live 10minutes from a cricket ground where its 6quid to watch a 20-20. There are cool cafes, bars, beaches, views, lunch deals and weird statues everywhere, not to mention arguably the best national free museum I’ve ever been in. We both desperately needed to re-urbanise after doing naffy outdoor jobs for so long, a change of scenery, and feel in the best place to really enjoy our last 6weeks (6weeks today!) in the simply fantastic New Zealand. We are going to be sad to leave, but also looking forward to the next chapter of our voyage! I am getting back to how I was in the UK September 2008, really quite nervous but for all the right reasons, I have the excitement of a small child who is finally realising all the cool and cheap stuff we can do in SE Asia, it’s an awesome feeling. Becca will update you all upon our exit from NZ, and after this point you can expect blogs with a greater frequency, and lots of scary stories for the mothers out there!

But for now I bid you farewell, I hope you enjoyed the blog! I like writing them (even if it takes me an eternity to get round to it), it brings back a lot of great memories, and in a strange way makes everything we are doing seem even more real!

Take care, we look forward to seeing you later in 2010! Hugs, kisses, misses and a lot of love.

Us  two x x x x x

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Bethan on

Becca Becca Becca - where will you be for your Birthday? And what will your address be? Or what will your address be for the next 6 weeks? Do tell!
Mrk Mark Mark - when are you going to be in Vietnam, and whereabout? Because I'll be comin to Vietnam end May/beginning June time and Becca's invited me to visit and go scuab-diving with you and I would LOVE to!
Bisous to you both x

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