Forgot to tell you about our day at the ...

Trip Start Sep 19, 2002
Trip End Sep 22, 2003

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Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Forgot to tell you about our day at the strange museum on 17th October - The museum itself was closed in preparation for the summer but there were lots of other things there. We went into kiwi house where they make this glass room look just like the outdoors and things grow in it etc but it is in darkness and then lit up at night so that you can see the kiwi walking about in the day time. I always thought kiwis were small but they are more like duck size and they have big clawed feet like birds of prey.

We then walked over to the Clarke Homestead which was a spooky house left just the way the owners had it before they died and the younger family moved on so it looks like 1850 or something. I swear I heard someone in there but the place was empty and it didn't look like anyone had been there for some time. It was a beatiful house though with views over the surrounding countryside. Just my sort of place! There was also a hexagonal study in the garden where Katherine Mansfield wrote her first book.

The funniest thing though was the wild bird hospital. We wandered up there and in true out of season fashion, were the only ones there. We were accosted by the chap who runs the place - it's his life you know - and he got talking about the various birds etc. He then let us stroke a kiwi!!! Not even many New Zealanders get to do that so we felt very honoured. He also showed us his pet pukake (looks like a goose but is black with a blue front). He picked him up to say hi to us and the bird poohed all over his arm - really wet and runny too. We tried so hard to keep a straight face!

Anyway - back to more recent times.

The drive down to Wellington on 23rd was beautiful (isn't it always here??) and we got a fantastic shot of the snow capped Mt Ruapehu. We stayed in Wanganui that night and popped down to the harbour in the morning to see the paddle steamer they restored after it had been in the mud for forty years!

Next we headed for Palmerston North for the national rugby museum for New Zealand - we couldn't not go could we?! It was a strange old place, not close to anything much and very small. An old man welcomed us into what looked like a junk shop and there were lots of old photos and bits and pieces of memorabilia from days gone by. All a bit of a mish mash really but quite interesting. I had to use the loo and turned around to see Jonah Lomu staring at me - what a place to put a lifesize cutout!!

Eventually we reached Wellington on 25th October and we drove through a palce called Johnsonville (cool eh?). We drove into a multi storey car park and soon found out that Stan was over the designated 2m - oops! Stan was only a little shaken by the trauma, unlike the Kiwis who rushed to our aid to remove the OVERHEIGHT sign from our roof. Spent ages trying to find a nurse to sort out the old leg which lost us precious time in the museum. Te Papa (translation - our place) is a fantastic museum with lots of interactive games and fab displays about the New Zealand weather and all the natural disasters it regularly suffers from, including an earthquake every week in Wellington as it is on a fault line! The museum is also huge and we decided to come back another day as we were so tired. We could do that easily as the museum is free! How cool is that?

So we went in search of a cheap campsite for the night and found one called Battle Hill Park. There was not a soul about in this farm park and we approached the rangers residence with apprehension. Looking through the window it didn't look like anyone had been there for some time as it was so tidy. The light was fading and there was no-one in but we were supposed to pay $5 each for the night so we were a bit concerned but we went through the fields unlocking and locking the gates as we went to where it looked like we were supposed to park. Next to some grave stones. Nice. Later that night someone approached in a little truck and we motioned him over. It was the ranger - early 30's, dark hair, not bad looking. We got into a disccusion about huntin', shootin' and fushin' and he offered us some venison he had caught recently. We didn't have the right money so he said to pay him tomorrow - nice man. The next day we discovered that the ranger - early 30's, dark hair, etc - had died 10 years earlier and there hadn't been a ranger on the park since then but that sometimes he "chatted" to unsuspecting campers! No - not really. But we didn't see him the next day to pay him anyway.

The next day we headed for town again and did some shopping for a batch cook. Phil burnt his mouth on a chili and spent the next hour holding lager on his lip. Managed to get a good seat for the rugby finals in a little TV room and Phil watched the new Northampton player kicking for the losing side.

Next day we stopped at a beach (Pukeha I think) that had the driftwood that had been missing from all the other beaches we had been to. (Kath you would have had a field day!!) The stones were all roundned and looked like minstrels or M&Ms. Then it was back to Battle Hill where we walked to the summit (about 200m) in the driving wind but the views were worth it. The ranger caught up with us and was happy that we had left a message to say we would be back and pay then. We were lounging around reading the paper and he commented on how stressed we looked! Ha ha! About 10 o'clock there was a knock at the door (of the van) and it was some young youths who had been playing drums and wanted to know if we could hear them - and I thought it was raining!

28th October - went back to Te Papa to finish looking around the museum but we still got kicked out at closing! Then Phil (bless him) took me out for a meal at a food court. Three choices each and a coke and we couldn't eat it all - all for the princely sum of three pounds!! Isn't he good to me!

Talking of sums - the van - it was much more expensive in November than October so averaged out over the 4-5 weeks and allowing for the flights from Christchurch to Auckland, we allow $91 dollars per day (thirty quid). We obviously have to put petrol in it but it's less than half the price of England and we stay at sites more often than not which is usually about 6 quid for both of us but we are finding cheaper ones now. We still find it hard to work out how the restuarants can afford to sell the food so cheap as there isn't much difference in the supermarkets. Except for meat - we had three lovely lamb steaks Sunday night for 2 pounds. Some veg is cheap too. (Hope that answers your question Paula?)

We left the North Island early on 29th on the interisland ferry ($201 / about 65 pounds for us and Stan) and jumped back in our sleeping bags at the ferry terminal to catch up on some sleep as we arrived at 0430!

Spending a day or so here and then it's off to Kaikoura to try and see some whales!

Bye for now!

Pip and Red
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