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Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
Trip End Dec 21, 2009

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, August 17, 2009

Seeing Mum after 6 months was amazing. That sense of familiarity and comfort that you begin in miss when taken out of your normal circumstances and put into a culture so far from what you are use to was back in my life and the ease of knowing what the other is thinking without any effort was reassuring that how ever long you dont see someone for when you do eventually catch up again (even on the other side of th world) it seems like no time at all has passed. Catching someones eye in a wordless moment and sharing a lifetime of jokes and laughs through an understanding of the other person makes all those months apart disappear and seem like a split second in time.

However the other aspect of it is that you know the other persons tolerence and limits so well that when that certain person gets fined $200 on arrival into the country for trying to smuggle in a couple of apples you know you can laugh and not mortally offend them. And this is how the following 2 and a half weeks proceeded. Laughing, laughing, discovering the stunning islands that are New Zealand and then laughing some more. Oh and drinking a little wine tambien!

We set off out of Auckland on the first morning and headed up North. Jet lag was prevalent and I was pretty tired after working non stop for the previous few weeks. So we headed back up to Paihia which was close to where myself and Gisele had been WWOOFing the first time. I didn't call in to say hi! We checked into a place just outside the village where upon Mum passed out before she’d even hit the bed and we left her to it and went shopping for a quiet night in . The following morning while on an exploration of the area we passed a sign advertising a helicopter flight up over the Bay of Islands. After a little convincing on Joe’s behalf we reluctantly aggreed to go and experience the beauty of the bay from the air! It was a stunning flight. So much fun to be up in a helicopter for he first time and getting a different perspective on an area I’d known to be home for a week! It was simply spectacular.

There were several days spent up north – partly due to the aftermath of jetlag that was still being suffered and also as there was simply so much to see. We ventured out on a day trip to a small town called Russel for a delightful fish and chip lunch and then hopped back on the ferry to Paihia. It was soon time to move on – so off to the west side of the island to see the giant Kauri trees which were magnificent. Trees so big you can barely comprehend their sheer size and autum colours like you’ve never seen. So a nice stretch of the legs before we got into the car and did our first stint of serious milage. All the way to Cambridge. No not all the way back to the UK but it did take us a while to get there! We stopped off in the town of the superloos for a much appreciated Indian and early night before heading back for the second time to the town of rotten eggs – Rotorua! Luckily with the drop in temperature and anticipation of the smell it actually wasn’t as bad as I rmembered! We had to stop off on the way into the town for a quick go on the gondola and then tried our hand at a spot of lugeing back down the hill! Mucho fun! I got back into my 'go car’ mentality and managed to overtake Joe on the way down – much to his disgust I hope! Perhaps the reason I didn’t get much of a chance to drive over the few weeks! It was worth it though. We had a quick glance around the town before heading to the Volcanic valley which was amazing!

It was as if we’d been suddenly transported from normality and plonked on the moon. Or a film set. One or the other. There were turquoise lakes and steam billowing from the ground and lakes with steam dancing on the surface being carried by the wind, yellow sulphur rocks and boiling water issuing from the ground. Quite bizzare and amazing. We did a hike for a few hours around the valley before almost our boat around the lake. Or volcano crater. As you do. It was truly stunning and unforgettable.  Just being in a place with so much recent history and so many stories and of course so much power was just amazing.
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