Kia Ora!

Trip Start Oct 13, 2011
Trip End Jun 07, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, February 6, 2012

Conor: Kia Ora and welcome to New Zealand!

We landed in Auckland airport after being sent off from Melbourne by Annabel's mum. After our short flight we took a shuttle bus into town to find our hostel. The night we arrived we didn’t have much time to do anything but have a walk around our immediate surroundings. We saw straight away that New Zealand seemed much more multicultural than Australia. We were told later than there are more Polynesian Islanders in Auckland than there are in the Polynesian Islands, and I can well believe it! We saw more sushi counters in 5 minutes than we did in a month travelling around Oz! After dinner we went to bed, only to be woken up in the night by the fire alarm and all be forced out of the hostel. Not fun!

On our fist day in New Zealand we had arranged to meet up with Stuart and Celia who are good family friends, and stay with them and their daughter Clare, partner Glen and their daughter Mia. We had to get the train in the afternoon to meet them, so we thought we would use the time we had to get out and about. In the morning we took the short walk into town to see a modern art gallery, which was good, and had a look at some of university buildings that the book had said were interesting (they were).

After that we got back to our hostel, got our stuff and took the train to Pakakura to meet Stu. On the train a local guy had a good conversation with us, which was lovely. We’ve got the impression that people in New Zealand are generally really friendly and open, as well as very polite. Just like home!

Anyway, we arrived in Pakakura to find Stu waiting for us (after some locals had looked at us with all our kit and asked 'are you on holiday’). After introductions and a brief shopping stop (Stu had bet Annabel would be a veggie, but Celia had disagreed!) we got under way to Clare’s house in Portland. As we drove through what is technically Auckland’s suburbs, surrounded by tiny strip towns and plenty of greenery Stu filled us in on some facts about the local area. After a while we got to the hill where Clare’s house was and where pretty damned impressed! The house sits on a hill overlooking a wide valley, and you can actually see Auckland’s highest building (the Skytower) and the highest volcano (Rangitoto) from her front room. We arrived and met Celia and then we were taken out to meet the horses, which Annabel was very excited about. There were two big horses and a miniature horse, all of whom seemed scared of me but seemed to like Annabel. There was also the dog Rosie and a particularly cat like cat whose man we have forgotten (sorry cat!). After a while Clare came home with a very shy Mia, who had to be convinced to say hello. Well, at first.

Before too long Stuart took us all down to the pub (a happy tradition of any visit to Stuart) which he considers his local in New Zealand. We arrived at a very important moment. The pub had changed hands the day before and all the locals were down to see how the new staff were doing. Not well was the answer. Stuart started buying bottles as his pints were completely froth, they ran out of diet coke at around 5pm and they forgot to charge Stuart for one his rounds. Though I guess that was a plus point. After talking too two of Stuart’s really interesting friends we went home to the BBQ…

Annabel: Stuart cooked up some lovely food and we all sat and ate it while watching Australian X Factor, so I was very happy!  After that it wasn’t long till we all went to bed.  Mia didn’t have kindergarten the next day so she spent the day with us!  Which was rather fun.  We went down to a nearby beach which was really pretty, and so quite, like most places in New Zealand, and had some lunch in a café there.  I could not believe how many chips Mia was able to eat!  We then headed down to Pine Harbour were me and Conor would be getting a ferry back to Auckland.  Before we caught the boat we had some time to walk around the harbour, then we had to say our goodbyes and were off back to Auckland for a second time.

We spent the next day mostly looking round the huge Domain Park and national musuem, which was fantastic, if not very time consuming!

The next day was the day we started our Kiwi Bus tour, and our first stop was a small town up north called Pahia.  We got picked up by our friendly driver, Jerrod, and after a few more pickups to fill the bus (we didn’t quite realise that February was peak season in New Zealand so all the buses are rammed at the moment!) we set off to Pahia.  We arrived in the afternoon and just spent the afternoon having a look around the town.  In Pahia there are two main things to see; a boat trip around the Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea.  We would have had time to see both things, but as we are not exactly flush with money we decided that we could only really afford to do one, and as we both agreed that we have pretty much had our fill of seeing island on a boat trip, it was a pretty easy decision to make.  The decision was also helped by the fact that neither of us had actually heard of the Bay of Islands, and the reason I had wanted to go north was to see the two seas meet!  So the next morning we were up early and off on a coach again, travelling even further north.

We both really enjoyed the trip and were really glad that we choose to do it.  Although the main purpose of the trip was to see the two sea at the cape, there were some other rather fun activities included, mainly sand boarding!  The driver had warned us that it would be really windy on the sand dune and that we would get completely covered in sand, a point which put me off doing it somewhat.  However, luckily I decided I couldn’t miss out the opportunity and was so glad I gave it a go as it was really fun!  Our next stop after that was to a nice little beach for some lunch then it was up to Cape Reianga itself.  We took a walk to the end to see were the lighthouse stood and were the seas meet, which was not exactly as defined I was hoping for, but it was pretty cool to see the waves breaking into each in the middle of the sea.  After that we started our journey back to Pahia which was partly by driving down a long beach named 90 Mile Beach, although it’s not actually 90 miles long, I think he said it was about 64 miles!  In the evening we just hung out in our room chatting to the other guys who were in there.  The next day the bus didn’t leave till the afternoon so we had a free morning to do something with, and it just so happened that that day was Whitangi Day, New Zealand’s nation day, and the town only 20 minutes walk from Pahia was…Whitangi!  So up I the town there were lots of celebrations going on such as traditional Maori dancing, a Navy band, a canoe precession and lots of stalls to look around.  We easily found enough to do to pass the morning and even found ourselves having to power walk back to the hostel as we were worried be were going to be late!

We were then back on a coach, again (can you see a theme occurring…), back down to Auckland for a third time.  Again, we didn’t really have any time in Auckland so it was just a case of dinner, bed, breakfast, and back on a bus! Next stop the Kiwi bus proper!
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Mum and Dad P on

Great to hear you had such a good time with Stu, Celia and family. We look forward to hearing all about it when we see them in UK. We are in Kathmandu until tomorrow, then Pokhara. We visited Jogimara yesterday. Thanks for all the blog entries. We really enjoy reading about your adventures. Much love to you both xxx

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