I'm writing this travelog in a launderette ...

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

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

I'm writing this travelog in a launderette that has e-mail while you wait for your washing - how cool is that?

Anyway, our last travelog left us in Oamaru on our walk. We got quite lost as we wern't really talking and therefore not comunicating about direction etc so what should have been a pleasant couple of hours bimble turned into a mammoth hike for nearly 4 hours on an empty stomach! When we spied Stan in the distance we knew we would make it and I kissed him on his bonnet when we reached home. The last part of the walk (second to last after a minor detour) was through public gardens which were really beautiful as it was a lovely sunny day and the flowers had chosen to bloom just for us. There were also lots of baby ducklings in the pond and travelling along the river behind mum who was quacking at them all to hurry up or not to go that way etc. The rest of the day was spent sorting out the "not talking" thing so mowing quickly on we parked at a lovely park with mountain and stream views at Waihi Gorge in Geraldine, Canterbury.

15th November - Travelled to Christchurch and parked in a proper site which is probably the best we had. Amber Park was well kept and clean and there were numerous roses and rhododendrons in full bloom so that every time you opened the door you got a floral waft. We rushed in to the centre to find our feet. In the Cathedral Square we had a drink at a fab place called the Yellow Rocket which sells coffees and milkshakes etc even soda floats with squirts of flavoured syrup. We watched the tram come and go and then wandered around the cathedral. We also managed to book our Xmas accommodation at Coffs Harbour in Oz. The Xmas day plan starts with everyone going swimming, then coming back for dips, nibbles and lollies(?!) then party games where you can win surfing lessons, rafting trips etc and do forfeits. Lunch is then served - ham, cold turkey, cranberry sauce, salad and bread followed by pavlova, black forest gateau and cheesecake (what no sprouts??!!). Xmas cake and tea / coffee is then follwd by a doze in the chairs on the sundeck and then any leftovers are served up for the evening meal with a video or two. All for 5 pounds each!!!!! Still trying to book New Year which is proving to be a bit more difficult in Byron Bay.

16th November - Weather is back to pooh! Back into the centre (bus is $2 each for return!)to meet our friends from Fiji (Martin and Shush) but it's quite difficult to meet when neither party know the area or have phones etc. I stood outside the cathedral in the pooring rain and suddenly realised that they wouldn't recognize me anyway as we had only ever seen each other in swimmers and shorts! We left an e-mail about our movements and went on to the antarctic centre. $14 each and it wasn't really worth it (it's been voted best attraction 2 years running though). Most of the centre is in written word but there are a few films which were quite good including one showing footage of the initiation which involves plunging naked into a hole in the ice!! We also learnt that body hair grows twice as fast in the anatarctic which is why explorers etc all have huge beards (the chaps anyway). The only REALLY good thing is the snow room. You put on rubber boots over your own shoes and they give you a coat and you go into a room which is constantly -5c. There's real snow, an igloo and a tent and a wind machine to simulate the wind chill if you can bear to switch it on. There is also a set of steps cut into the snow leading to an ice slide which if course we both went on. I started sliding elegantly but my weight took me down too fast and I shot off the end and ended up on my back with my legs in the air and a very wet bottom! Bit hard to explain but we did laugh a lot at the time (especially Phil as I had managed yet again to make a tit of myself!)

As we exited the centre we were accosted by our friends who had followed us and we spent the next couple of hours in the car park having coffee and catching up (with Shush and myself talking nineteen-to-the-dozen as usual). We were getting peckish then so we drove into town for a kebab (not so easy to eat this one but the meat was freshly cooked and didn't come off an old ladies leg like normal kebabs). 6 pounds for the two kebabs so not bad. We then headed to a bar and the first one we came across charged an entry fee so we carried on and found an Irish bar complete with crusty half cleaned up sick on the floor so we stayed there. A live band came out after a while and Martin even coped with his dislike of the "diddly-dee" music by watching the people dancing. There was an explorer looking chap doing a chicken style dance which we all laughed at but he was always surrounded by girls. Phil was excited by the numerous young girls in bits of tops all jumping around and was less impressed (scared even) by the spoon playing female(?) who was also getting excited by the young girls. As Martin was driving and we needed an early start, we made arrangements to meet again the next day.

17th November - Bloody early start! We were in the town by 0830! We'd heard about this bar called The Holy Grail and headed for there to watch the rugby. If I ever have a bar - this would be what it was like! The place has about 50 tellies showing various sporting things from Sky etc and there are loads of places to sit, some stools, some bar chairs, some sofas etc. They even have a telly in the loos! However, the best part is the big screen. Virtually the size of a small cinema screen, this screen covers one entire wall of the bar. To make sure everyone can see, there is grandstand!!!!! The place was packed as you can imagine for a New Zealand rugby match and things got quite frisky as the refs were making a few bad decisions (the papers were full of this the next day and there is going to be an inquest). We had tea and coffee but most people were on the lager and some were even drinking spirits - blech! After the match, the place cleared out a bit and we got seats in the restaurant to watch the England V Australia game (which the friendly bus driver had already told us the result of - thanks). Always nice to put one over on the Auzzies! Breakfast consisted of the following: field mushrooms, bacon, 2 sausages, 2 large hash browns, tomatoes, 2 slices of toast, 2 fried eggs and coffee or tea - all for about 3 quid! This was called the Footy Feast.

We suddenly remembered that we were leaving the next day and we hadn't packed and had loads of washing to do so we raced back to the camp site but all the machine were busy so we had to pack a whole rucksack just with dirty washing! With all the condensation in the van one of the sleeping bag liners had gone mouldy too - this didn't help!

Back to town and back to the Holy Grail for 1630 to watch the Kiwi V Great Britain league match and Shush and Martin were spookily in our seats from the morning so I didn't see most of the match (which we luckily drew) as we were talking so much. Eventually we thought about our evening meal and Pip had a big chicken burger which he had to trim before he could eat it and I had lamb shanks and pumpkin mash, neither of us finished as the portions were huge. We had started drinking as soon as we got there and didn't leave until 2345 (slightly the worse for wear...) And the bill - about 35 pounds for both of us!!!! We said said goodbyes to our friends with promises to meet again in Oz and jumped in a taxi back to the camp for our last night in Stan.

Early the next morning (blech) with me retching, we said a sad goodbye to Stan who has served us well over the last 5 weeks. We hopped on a flight to Auckland ($260 (about 81 quid) for both) and landed in the lovely sunshine. Then it was our first coach journey on Intercity for about 5 hours to Taupo on the north island ready for our sky diving extraveganza. However, this morning (19th) it's peeing with rain again so it will not be today (yippee - more time to get nervous). Last night though we did find a Pizza Hut (I've had a craving for about 3 weeks now) and we had combo which is a huge pizza to share with a bowl of chips and garlic bread and two cokes - all for 6.5 pounds! We're now sat here waiting for our rucksack of washing to be done for us at the Cyber Wash (hour's e-mail plus washing and drying for $10 or 3 ish pounds). It must be nearly done so I'll sign off.

If we don't mail again within the next week - we didn't land. Otherwise we are headed for Rotorua and the thermal springs.

Tara for now!

Pip and Red
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