Tag Archives: NZ

The Camping Chronicles: Part II

Here’s to tents flapping in the wind. To swimming in the sea because there’s no shower and watching baby ducks instead of facebook. To learning to speak German by playing cards by candle light. To airbeds and sleeping bags. To not looking in a mirror for three days and sleeping in all of your clothes. To sticking your head out of the tent to see the stars. Here’s to pasta and pesto, to kindles, and to spending thirty minutes boiling water for coffee before realising the gas canister is empty. Let’s hear it for eye masks, more sheep than people, finding forgotten chocolate santas, and cold beer. Here’s to laughter and hugs, shit weather in the summer, and drinking wine from a mug. Here’s to long walks. Here’s to jumping out of the ocean because you’ve seen a sting ray the same size as your tent. Here’s to pulling over at the side of the road to say hello to the seals. Here’s to good friends. Here’s to the bitter sweetness of homesickness. Here’s to a few days left before the plane journey. Here’s to joy.

IMG_4512 IMG_4448 IMG_4403 IMG_4383 blogsignatureProcessed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Christchurch

After Omaru, we happily boarded our final intercity bus of the trip. The buses have been really easy, and cheap, but we were really bloody fed up of sitting on the bus by this point!

Christchurch was our destination. Having suffered two huge earthquakes, one in 2010 and another the following year, Christchurch is a shell of the city it once was. There’s not much there anymore, and it’s really sad to see. Loads of the buildings are now unsafe to enter, so they’re decaying and covered in graffiti. Some of the older churches remain, propped up by scaffolding, but most of the buildings have been demolished and then turned into carparks. So I guess it would have been handy if we had a car – plenty of places to park!

image

We had another long slog to get to the hostel. This time in the rain. Luckily it was a nice one again – phew! We did some laundry, made some food and then fell asleep, totally knackered from seeing so many places and walking so far.

The next day was a lazy start – I love a relaxing morning when you’re not rushing to check out! We waited for the rain to stop, but it didn’t, so we headed out into the city. We walked past a lovely memorial – A church badly damaged in the first quake was rebuilding when it was destroyed by the second. Instead of starting again they decided to take 187 of the stones from the building (one for each person who died) and lay them out as a memorial pathway.
Next we found the cardboard cathedral. The original again fell in the earthquakes, so a Japanese designer made this one – complying to earthquake safety standards by 130% and made with cardboard pillars and a plastic roof. Despite not being huge, it seats over 700 and feels enormous, and so full of light.

image

We then walked to the city square where another church is propped up with scaffolding and full of pigeons. All round the city is street art, which is really beautiful and gives the place a sense of optimism and hope for the slow but steady rebuild.

image
One of the coolest places we saw was the Re:Build mall – a shopping area made using shipping containers.

We then headed back to the hostel and prepared for the arrival of ZE GERMANS!

Philine and Kerry arrived and it felt so good to see them! We headed to the supermarket and then had a few drinks in the campervan before heading out for a night out. We walked for what felt like an hour in the rain to several bars that were having private parties and then finally found an Irish bar that let us have a drink. We had been walking for so long that we decided to get some food (macdonalds of course) and then head home. We had to walk for about 45minutes again in the rain. (everything is so spread out in Christchurch) before finally seeing the golden arches.

It was closed. But the drive through was open. We tried going to the window and pretending to be in a car but the server was having none of it. He suggested that we call a taxi and get the cab to drive us round…. We were stumped…. And quite drunk… And very hungry…
We stood around moaning for ages and then a car pulled up and a man got out and walked towards us, speaking in sign language. As Tom’s mummy is a teacher of the deaf, Tom can speak sign language too, and quickly started conversing with the guy, and then said “okay, he says he’ll take me round if I do his order too!”

Tom Copley = my absolute hero. Turns out the guy was French, and it was his first day in New Zealand. It was an awesome, yet very surreal moment. We all found it absolutely hilarious that in order to get a Macdonalds when you’re drunk in Christchurch, you have to be able to speak sign language to a deaf French man. Challenge accepted!

Philine and Kerry slept in their van parked on the street outside the hostel. We were very relieved to find them still there in the morning, and after a bit of recovery, we were on the road to Kaikura.

image

blogsignature

Wanakabakpakawanakabakpaka

So I’ve got a bit of catching up to do. I’m blaming this on terrible wifi not laziness, but in truth it’s been a combination of the two.

After glacier country, we got back on the bus and headed to Wanaka. We had a really huge bus driver who could barely fit up the aisle of the coach. He kept leaving his microphone on and deep breathing/coughing into it for the entire journey. But for me, the highlight of the journey was when he did an emergency stop at a roundabout and exclaimed “crikey tits!”

Wanaka is a small town at the base of a big blue lake. There’s really not much to do there, and we’d booked three nights in the hostel. We were back to dorm rooms, all blokes (standard) but I was just delighted to have a bed to sleep in, and a lot of sleep to catch up on post-camping extravaganza. I’ve also discovered ear plugs. God send. The hostel was small, but so friendly, and we actually had a great time and met some really nice people.

image

Above is the most photographed tree in New Zealand – can you see why?

On our first day we did very little. Wandered the town and then did some shopping and cooking. On the way to the supermarket I had my eyes glued to a bookshop window (standard) and Tom suddenly spun round on the spot, staring at someone who’d just passed us. He said “Oh my god I think that was Richie McCaw!” A kiwi guy walking towards us confirmed “yep, that’s our Richie!”
For those of you who don’t know, McCaw was the captain of the All Blacks – taking the rugby team to victory last season, and possibly the biggest NZ celebrity. Typical kiwi style, he just wandered the streets, respectfully being left to his own business.

The next day was pretty much the same. In the evening we met up with Ernest, our lovely fruit thinning friend, who happened to be in Wanaka. When I went to hug him, I hadn’t realised that I’d dropped half an icecream down my front so I awkwardly covered him in chocolate which was embarrassing. It was great to catch up and see how he’s getting on. Ernest was staying at a backpacker’s hostel called Wanaka Bakpaka. Isn’t that just the best name ever?! I kept muttering it to myself “wanakabakpakawanakabakpaka”until I felt more crazy than usual.

The next day we tackled Mount Iron along with Fabian, who we’d met in the hostel. It wasn’t too much of a challenge – 45mins up hill but it was pretty hot so we worked up a bit of a sweat. Good views from the top too. Again, fairly chilled day as there is sod all to do there if you don’t have a car to see the area, and don’t fancy spending a small fortune in the restaurants.

image

image

The next day we had a long wait for the bus, but we spent it on the beach so that was gooood. And guess who was waiting to take us on the bus to Queenstown? Our favourite deep-breathing bus driver!

blogsignature

The Camping Chronicles

DISCLAIMER: No photos in this post due to rubbish wifi. Apologies.

After Abel Tasman, we continued our camping extravaganza with a trip to Westport. We only really went to Westport on the way to the glaciers because I had a strop and told Tom that I wasn’t happy doing a ten hour coach journey on a vehicle with no toilet.

So we jumped off the bus at Westport. It was a town that looked a bit like the Wild West. The best thing about Westport is that you don’t need to look before crossing the road because there’s NO ONE THERE. We plodded to our campsite, or rather, “holiday park,” which was a bit like redneck America. Oh well. There was a good barbeque area at least, so Tom was pleased. The weather was fine on the first night, but I didn’t sleep anyway. Thanks body.

We “awoke” to rain. Rain rain rain. Rain that lasted all day. As there was nothing to do in the town, we stayed put and dry in the TV room and had an internet day. By the time it came to going to bed, it had been raining none stop for well over twelve hours and showed no sign of stopping. We leapt over the puddles around our tent and tentatively stuck our heads through the door flap. It looked rather the same as outside; puddles everywhere, but with the addition of water running down the walls. Luckily we’d had the foresight to keep our valuables with us, so they were all okay, but everything else was pretty drenched. We tried to mop up the damage for a while, then decided it was hopeless, and went to see the manager to see if they had any cabins available that we could stay in.

They were all full, but the kind woman said “if it gets really bad, just go and sleep in the TV room.” We went back to the tent, and after a few minutes of discussing what constituted “really bad,” we made the decision to go inside. Everyone else on the site was sleeping in vans/cabins/their cars, except for a kiwi teenager, who joined our little sleepover. I muttered to Tom “if he is a snorer, I’ll kill him.” And guess what… He snored.

The next day, we were more than happy to pack away our completely sodden tent, and get back on the bus. Seven hours later (I caught up on a lot of sleep on board,) we arrived at the campsite by Franz Josef Glacier. We erected (hehe) the tent and left it out to dry, and then walked half an hour into town to go to the supermarket for some supplies. When we returned, we did some washing, which was a relief as I’d been in the same clothes for THREE DAYS and then went to bed.

That night was bloody perishing! I couldn’t sleep for the cold, any body part that came loose of our shared sleeping bag immediately went numb. Anyway. Let’s just say that I still wasn’t a camping convert. I was delighted to watch the sun come up through the tent wall, what a relief. We got booted up and headed out to do the Franz Josef Glacier valley walk.

For most people visiting New Zealand, this is 1.5hour round trip, but as we had to walk at least an hour to get to the carpark where the walk started, it was more of a day trip. We were quickly beginning to realise that we are in a big minority travelling by bus and foot. When we check in at most places, they ask for your car registration and then look at you like you’ve got two heads when you say you don’t have one. That sounds like a rant, but I actually really enjoyed extending the walk and taking more time to look at the beautiful scenery.

The mountains are huge, and jungle covered. We really enjoyed the walk to the carpark through the rainforest, listening to the crazy birdsong. I sometimes feel like I’m at home in the lakes, but then I see some kind of crazy tree that I’ve never seen before, or I’m stopped in my tracks transfixed by a weird bird. The path to the glacier was rocky, but rewarding when we got to the top. Seeing a glacier that is retreating feels special. I know that if I return to New Zealand it won’t look the same, or might not even be there at all.

In the afternoon we went to the “Glacier Hot Pools,” which we’d managed to book cheaply online. The three pools of different temperatures felt great after a long day’s walk, and it was a really relaxing treat! We returned to our campsite tired, and ready for a rest. Having hired some wool blankets I was feeling more positive, but alas, still frozen, so no sleep. Thank god for coffee!!

The next day we went on a kayak trip across Lake Mapourika at the base of the glacier. In doing this, we realised how lucky we’ve been having grown up in the Lake District or spending a lot of time in the lochs of Scotland. The lake seemed a bit small and poxy compared to Windermere/ Loch Goil. Tom was in charge of steering the two man canoe, and took great pleasure in deliberately crashing us into the other members of the group and then pretending to apologise profusely, which was absolutely hilarious at first but then got a bit awkward when people were getting pissed off with us. At one point we hit the side of a German couple and steered them completely the wrong way and nearly beached them. I was laughing so much, and it only got funnier the more pissed off they got. We saw a rare white heron, which was cool. Then we went on this little detour down a river track. When we had to turn to go back the way we came, we embarked on an Austin Powers style 30 point turn whilst everyone waited for us. I don’t think we were very popular…

We got a lift back to the town and waited for the bus. It was late. Tom checked his phone to discover we had a text: the bus was delayed due to a mechanical issue and would be an hour and 45 mins late. Bummer. Whilst we waited we enjoyed using the most hilarious public toilets: you press a button to open the door and then a recorded voice proclaims “welcome to the toilet! Door will automatically open in ten minutes!” and then some light piano jazz started playing. I’m glad there was a toilet in there because I probably would have wet myself laughing if there wasn’t.

We waited and waited for the bus, and then a bloke in an official looking uniform jumped out of his car saying “hey, are you heading to Fox Glacier? Need a ride?” – turns out he was a bus driver from another company, who when heading home after his shift always heads past the bus stop to see if anyone needs a lift. He was so kind, and dropped us directly at the campsite, which was a massive help. Everyone we’ve come across in New Zealand has been so friendly to us with our huge backpacks. 🙂

We pitched the tent, and then went to hire some kind of blanket from reception and were given a double duvet each! I was in heaven and actually slept well for the first time in over a week. It was so nice to finally be warm enough! Waking refreshed, we headed off to do the valley walk at Fox Glacier.

More stunning scenery that almost made it impossible to not look longingly after the people driving to the car park at the beginning of the walk. Fox Glacier had fewer people, and was actually even more impressive than Franz Josef. The final ascent was steep, and covered with warning signs saying “no stopping” due to the hazard of rockfalls. After our picnic at the top, we began the descent and came across a family surrounding the grandma, who had fallen and cut her head open. There was so much blood everywhere, all down her face and top. Luckily she was conscious! Tom legged it back up the hill, to where we’d seen a guide and sent her down to help. We then carried on our way because there wasn’t much we could do to help. Seeing the accident shook me up a bit. You always forget that an easy-seeming walk is often more dangerous than it looks, and we’re only flesh and blood after all. We returned to the campsite and watched Harry Potter on the telly, and ate chocolate which cheered me up!

So that was me done, I’d seen some of the most beautiful sights ever, survived six nights in a row of camping, and found myself almost looking forward to a dorm room!

blogsignature

Abel Tasman Coastal Track, or : horrid soup, corned beef, and cold ravioli in paradise

After Picton, the intercity bus took us to our next destination: Nelson. I kept getting muddled between the two because they both sound like surnames.

We’d booked two beds in a dorm room (my favourite!) as things over here are starting to get really jam-packed over the post-Christmas period. This means that I’ve got a billion nights camping and dorm rooming before we leave NZ. Can’t complain too much because I’ve mastered the art of the power nap, and sleeping on the bus.

i really really like the South Island so far. For some reason the North Island feels very similar to the UK, but just with less people and more of the good scenery. The South feels much different. There are even less people, and the scenery is on a massive scale, it’s absolutely stunning and hard to put into words.

Anyway, I digress. Two nights in Nelson in a cool hostel. Millions of people, but there was a pool, and parked at the back of the pool was a huge vintage green bus. Inside was the TV room, and a big bookcase! Heaven! I asked Tom if when I win the Euromillions I could get a reading/TV bus for our garden, but then we figured out it’d probably be a bit cold. Oh well.

image

 

The hostel also kindly offered a free “vegetable soup” in the evenings. “Vegetable soup” is in inverted commas because it doesn’t deserve the proper title… We queued up dutifully, holding our bowls. Meanwhile, a box of bread was placed on the table, and I’ve never seen anything like it. A bun fight pretty much broke out. The “vegetable soup” was some unwashed, unpeeled raw potatoes chopped up in hot yellow water. The water swirled and separated into yellow powder and water, a bit like when you stir a muddy puddle. Basically, they’d put some potato in a pan, added water and an entire tub of curry powder then served it up. Inedible. We felt bad for wasting food so I suggested politely pouring it back in the pan, but in the end we had to just hide it haha.
The rest of time in Nelson was mainly spent preparing for our trek in the Abel Tasman National Park.

New Zealand has many of what they call “The Great Walks.” We’d already tackled one in the North Island – the Tongariro Alpine Crossing that we both absolutely loved, so we were eager to get our teeth into the Abel Tasman Coastal Track (ATCT)
The idea with the ATCT is that you take around four days to hike the whole coastline, stopping to camp or stay overnight in the huts along the route. Each campsite has a set number of spaces, and unfortunately we’d left it too late to book the whole route. Luckily the chap in the Wellington tourist info suggested we book two available nights in the campsite at the very top of the track and plan some walks around there. So what we did in the end was to get a shuttle bus to the start of the track, and then a water taxi to the last boat stop, hike three hours to the campsite. We’d then stay two nights, hike the area and then back down to the place where we were dropped off.

image

The water taxi was great up to Totornui, with stunning scenery: orange beaches and blue sea in front of huge green hillsides. We tried to pack as light as possible, but it wasn’t easy – we needed our tent, sleeping bag and mats, and enough food to last the trip. Special shout out to Thomas Copley for being an absolute angel and carrying the heavy gear whilst I was in charge of food and water!

image

The first day’s walk was absolutely beautiful. Mostly you are plodding up and down the forrest tracks, in the shade which worked well as it was a scorching day. The track then opens out onto the beaches, which make great lunch spots hehe. We walked pretty slowly as the gear was quite heavy and we were hot. Lots of folk overtook us, but I was happy to be slow and enjoy the scenery. It was so calm and peaceful.

image

We finally arrived at the camp ground and were happy to dump our bags. I was a bit apprehensive about the first night sleeping in the tent…. The hut at the Whariwharangi (far ree far rang gi) campsite was a house from the 1800s where a family lived off the land. It was pretty awesome because although there was a proper bog (phew!) and running filtered water, there was no electricity, which meant it felt like it was unchanged and it was really fun imagining the family strolling around in their Victorian clothes and shooting the wildlife.
I was originally gutted that we couldn’t stay in the hut, but when I went and looked inside, I was relieved we weren’t! There was some kind of bizarre bed situation – one really really wide bed where about ten people would sleep side by side…. my worst nightmare! Imagine waking up with a stranger’s head on your pillow… Eurgh.

image

Well we set up camp, and it was quite exciting. There were these weird birds everywhere called “weka” or as we referred to them as “veloceraptor bastards.” The walk so weirdly, like dinosaurs. They circle your tent looking for food and watched one try to get its entire beak around our water bottle. Very funny but irritating at the same time. One pecked my toe whilst I was sat on a picnic bench and I jumped about a foot in the air.

For tea we walked back to the idilic bench we had spotted on the way to the campiste. We had a Ruth Shepherd patented corned beef party. (Bread, corned beef and a sparkling beverage…. well we had luke warm water, but it was still good.)

image

We watched the sunset with the beach to ourselves, which I’ll never forget.

 

Then got into bed to be surrounded by the sound of SNORERS. I HATE PEOPLE WHO SNORE!!!!!!!! There was also an Israeli couple next to us who had no concept of whispering and just shouted at eachother all night. It was uncomfortable. I fell asleep and woke up what felt like every five minutes to move position because it was so uncomfortable. My hair was everywhere and I was freezing and the sleeping bag we decided to share was pure nylon so I was just sweating and the sleeping bag kept falling off and I was being eaten alive by some kind of biting insect and I needed a wee all night but didn’t want to get out of bed to go to the toilet. Then we were awoken by the dawn chorus of birds that sounded like we were in a zoo and then loads of bloody children started chasing each other round the tent. I overheard the man in the tent next to us saying “children are worse than dealing with ISIS” which really made me laugh. Anyway. Rant over. No sleep was had but it doesn’t matter because we were sleeping under the stars in paradise.

The next day we enjoyed a muesli bar breakfast and then headed off on a two hour walk to a different beach. More beautiful scenery and stunning weather. We had some more corned beef sandwiches for lunch and had a nap on the beach. I’m getting really good at this power-napping business now. Then we walked back to the campsite. After a little rest we decided to do another walk. One of my toes had a blister that surrounded the entire digit. After wrapping it up, we headed on a walk to “Separation Point.”
This was mildly hilarious because we walked for two hours to the point which was just a tiny cliff that had some plastic gannets on it and was playing a recording of gannet sounds…. We just looked at each-other.
We then went on to a cove called Mutton Cove which was actually home to a load of seals, not sheep. It was so cool seeing the seals. They were doing this weird thing where they go in the shallows and wave a flipper at you. I love how big and lumbering they are when out of the water, yet so graceful in the sea. We also saw a big fat one who was barking on a rock, and sounded like a huge dog.

We stomped back to the campsite, and Tom introduced me to his camping special – tinned ravioli, cold from the can, and surprisingly yummy! We got ready for bed and it started to piss it down. It rained all night but luckily this served to silence the birdies, and our stuff remained relatively dry. I was very impressed with our little 15 quid tent! We both slept better, and I felt a lot more human on waking the next day.

The next morning we packed up and began our walk back to the water taxi stop. I was sad to leave the park because it was an amazing experience. New Zealand is definitely one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen so far, and we both feel so lucky to be here. I felt so relaxed to have a few days off the grid and under the stars. I think it’s good for you, and, despite the camping bit, I do want to do it more!

image

 

 

Christmas in the sunshine!!

Hello dear reader,

At the time of writing, I’m hiding from one of the biggest rainstorms I’ve ever seen in the TV room of our darling campsite. Unfortunately wifi only works on one device, and all my photos are on my iPhone, and I’m writing this on the iPad, so there will be no pictures to illustrate today’s episode. So instead I shall jazz it up with some interesting

t

y

P

i

ng

And also some emogees

On Christmas Eve we rose early in Wellington to catch the 7.20am shuttle bus to the ferry terminal. After nearly two months we were leaving the North Island!

We were efficiently shoved onto the ferry and then off we jolly well headed across the Cook Straight. The trip was fairly uneventful, with some beautiful Norwegian style fjord scenery.

We were both still pretty sleep-deprived so did a bit of napping and treated ourselves to some chips and a beer/cider… it was nearly Christmas after all!

Before arriving at Picton, I’d mentally prepared myself for the worst. Everyone told us that all the shops would be closed, and spending Christmas on a campsite sounded pretty grim. In my head I was picturing our cabin to be a bed with walls, and imagined surviving on supernoodles due to the shops being shut.

Anyway. It was great! The area Picton sits in is called Marlborough Sounds, and it was absolutely stunning. Huge hills covered in gigantic greenery falling into the turquoise ocean.

We found our campsite, and settled into our little cabin. It was bigger than expected and it had a little decking area that caught the sun all afternoon and evening. Perfect for festive drinking!

Once we’d settled in, we went into Picton, which was a small but pleasant town. We decided to do our Christmas shopping, setting ourselves a ten quid limit. How refreshing! I know it’s terrible, but I took great pleasure in not needing to stress about Christmas presents this year!

After that, we did the Christmas food shop – mainly barbecue supplies, rum, and bacon and eggs for breakfast. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without stuffing yourself silly, would it?! When we reached the checkout, we encountered what Tom now refers to as “The Fat Lady Who Ruined Christmas” – – a woman of the larger disposition who refused to take our driving licences as a form of ID despite it being Christmas Eve and my asking if Tom really looked like he was under 18 with the beard that he is currently sporting. Anyway. We stormed off back to the campsite and returned with the passports and all was well.

After our shopping extravaganza, we sat and played cards on the decking for a while and had some pasta for tea.

We woke up and it was Christmas!! There was a layer of snow all over the campsite, and I could see the footprints and tracks from Father Christmas’s entourage. ❄️❄️Only joking. It was about 25 degrees and I had factor 50 on all day. What a first! I opened my presents from Tom (a papau shell necklace and matching earrings and a puzzle book) and he opened mine (a bottle opener keyring shaped like a kiwi bird, and a bag of jelly “kiwi worm” sweets.)

The rest of the day was a blur of burgers with stuffing, chicken, salad, sweets, chocolate, mince pies, cider, beer and rum. Perfect. We put on our lovely santa hats too. It was so surreal to be chilling by the pool! A British family joined us and they were blasting some Christmas tunes by the poolside so that was really nice. (Given up on emojis now. Sorry.)

All in all, it was a lovely Christmas. I’m really pleased that we booked a cabin to have some time to ourselves. It was a Christmas that I’ll never forget, but at the same time it’s been one of the hardest days since we’ve been away because we both missed our lovely families like mad. That’s a good thing though. Imagine if we were like “well thank god we’ve got away from them at last!” Ha!

Stay tuned for the next episode, where we encounter the weka bird, watch TV in a vintage bus, and I try my hand at camping in the wilderness. ❤️❤️❤️

 

Windy Wellington

 

DISCLAIMER: this post was meant to have a lot more photos but the wifi is shocking and I’ve given up trying to upload them.

And so we hit the road once more.

Windy Wellington welcomed us with open arms after a five hour bus journey. As the bus trundled away from Hastings, I felt a bit like James Mcavoy in the final scene from “The Last King of Scotland” when he shrinks into his plane seat as he leaves Uganda. Anyway, there was no “STOP THE BUS!” that my overactive imagination had dreamt up, and we weren’t dragged back to the orchards. Phew.

We are still waking up fairly early, and also still achy and bruised, but we’re free!!! What an amazing feeling! We arrived into New Zealand’s capital and checked into our box room in the YHA. After dumping our bags, we had a wander round the city, and treated ourselves to a roast dinner. We felt that it wouldn’t quite be Christmas without one! After that, we went to bed and I was unconscious about thirty seconds before my head hit the pillow.

image

(Very happy with his roast NZ lamb)

The next day, we decided to check out the city’s cable car. The pedants among you may wish to know that it’s not a cable car, it’s a funicular railway, but oh well, you can’t win them all!

image

The cable car was actually pretty cool because they had installed a load of fancy lights in one of the tunnels and I got all excited thinking it was going to be like Space Mountain and we were going to fly up the hill at 100mph.

image

Must stop getting so carried away.

It was a lovely sunny day, but we could feel that it was cooler and windier than Hawkes Bay, so better for sight-seeing really! The cable car takes you to the top of the botanic gardens, which have loads of themed areas, which we got thoroughly lost in, but we were so happy to be back to having no schedule and it not mattering! We wandered aimlessly down to almost the bottom of the hill, but then realising we’d paid for a return ticket on the cable car, we walked back up again to ride it back down the hill. We found a Henry Moore sculpture on the way so it wasn’t all bad.

After that, we went for a guided tour around the NZ equivalent of the House of Commons. Luckily it was only a 30minute tour which was perfect for my attention span. It was interesting to learn that any kiwi residents can go to parliament with a query. How funny is that?! I’d love to go to Westminster and strive to have macaroni cheese outlawed. Anyway, I digress. There was a really cool Maori room covered in hand wood carvings. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos as it wasn’t permitted, but here’s a photo from outside. It’s called “the Beehive,” or as Tom preferred: “one fuck ugly building!”

We went to the modern art gallery that was free entry (Wellington is great for free tourist attractions!) Tom got thoroughly pissed off by the contemporary art saying “it makes me furious! What’s the point in it!?” I told him it was there to cause a reaction and he replied “well I never want to go to an art gallery ever again!” Which made me howl! We also saw a Grayson Perry tapestry…. In the Deane Gallery. Spelt correctly and everything! Unfortunately I couldn’t take a photo because it was privately owned.

That evening came what we’d been waiting for……

image

SO GOOD

The the next day we did a bit of shopping – my clothes are all a bit knackered so I treated myself to two new dresses. Tom really made me laugh because I asked him to get me the dress I was wearing, but in a different size, and he came back with a completely different dress. Love him.

It started to rain so we headed to the Te Papa museum, which is the biggest museum in the city and was bloody rammed with everyone’s kids. I came to New Zealand to escape everyone’s bloody kids but oh well it’s the summer holidays and all that. We spent a lot of time peering at this “collosal squid” which freaked me out a bit because I used to have a reoccurring nightmare about a huge octopus when I was a kid.

Thoroughly fed up with the ankle grabbers, we headed into the Gallipoli exhibition which was fantastic despite the amount of people in there. I didn’t know anything about New Zealand’s involvement in WW1, so found the exhibit really informative. It was titled “the scale of our war” and featured gigantic models of six of the people who died at Gallipoli. The statues were made by the studios who did Lord of the Rings and the hobbit, and were incredibly powerful and lifelike.

The rest of the day was spent in and out of the tourist office and department of conservation offices trying to book what we will be doing on the South Island. Yawns.

Today, we woke up in a fit of panic because we had a very important appointment to attend at 11am. After a catch up on FaceTime with Jacob and Charlie we headed to Sinatras Tattoo Studio. EEEEEE.

We had decided a few weeks ago what we wanted doing “don’t worry” and “be happy” in each other’s hand writing… Something to tick off the bucket list and a reminder to stop stressing would do me some good. All in all it took about ten minutes each and hurt about as much as I’d expected. I love the result!

 

The rest of the day was spent buying camping gear, a laptop bag and a replacement lens cap. Exciting stuff! Tomorrow we’re up early to get the 9am ferry over to the South Island for Christmas!

blogsignature

 

And then there were two.

Hello there from sunny Hastings.

It is actually sunny. Unbearably sunny on some days. We’ve only just discovered that Hawkes Bay is the hottest area in the entire of New Zealand, so well done us! At least we’re finally working through the kilos of suncream we brought with us, so our bags will be lighter. We’re both getting browner despite larding up with factor 50 every break time at work.

image

The observant amongst you may be questioning the name of this post. Well, let me explain. Our lovely friends, Philine and Kerry, and Max and Mathilda were sacked from work, and have had to leave our house. So it’s a little quiet over here. We’re abandoned, miles from the supermarket,  with a distinct lack of chicken parties.

image

 

We’ve arranged to meet them in the South Island in January for a dolphin party, so that’s good.

Work has started at 7am each day this week, leaving us all with thousand yard stares at break times. My tiredness results in me repetitively closing the ladder on my head and also thinking I’m on the bottom step when I’m not and having a mini heart attack when I step off into the air… I’m not spacially aware at the best of times.

image

(Above is my bastard of a ladder. He has sharp bits on the reverse of the bottom rung that cut the back of my leg every time it swings shut on it. I’ve got a delightful pair of very bruised and cut up calves now! )

Another highlight of the last week was the meeting on Friday, where the health and safety officer came and shouted at us all for standing on the very top step of the ladder and blaming our idiocy for the three people that fell off the ladders. I had to put my head between my legs and do some yoga breathing to prevent myself from commiting GBH… The supervisors had screamed at us when we were terrified and told us we’d be fired if we didn’t stand on top of the ladders!!!!! ARGHHHHH!!!!

Okay! A few happy things to lighten the mood:

1) Only fifteen working days left until we are free again.

2) We’ve booked flights for March: from Australia to Bali, Bali to Malaysia, and Malaysia to Hong Kong. We now only need to book Hong Kong to Tokyo, Tokyo to Bangkok and then our flight home from whichever South East Asian country we find ourselves in! I’m so excited to be on the move again. I’ll be so happy to leave Hastings.

3) Yesterday I saw a possum in the garden. I was really excited by it, and was telling my backpacking friends at work, when I realised some of the Maori guys had overheard and were absolutely pissing themselves at my excitement. They’re a pest here in NZ…. HA

4) The birds nests. Sometimes they have eggs, or little birds with open mouths waiting for the return of mummy bird. I like to shout “Do I look like your mother!?” at them.

image

5) Another funny story… At work we have to remove the russet apples that have orange powder on them because they can’t be sold. Margot, a fellow backpacker from France, was dancing away to her reggae music whilst working, when the supervisor came over and said “there’s lots of russet over here Margot!” (implying that she wasn’t doing a very good job) to which Margot replied, “Yeah, I know, do you like it?!” the supervisor said “no!” and stormed off, leaving Margot puzzled. It turns out, Margot misheard and thought she was talking about “rasta” not “russet.” HA

6) Made friends with Maria, the lovely supervisor from Fiji. She’s working to save money to continue her studies. She’s learning to be pilot and flies here every Sunday. So cool to hear about it!

7)  Starting at 7am this week is leaving me completely exhausted and in bed by 9pm (tiny violin please) but it means I get to see the ducks sleeping on the lawn in the morning.

image

 

 

8) I’ve just found out that The Corrs have got back together!

9) Chocolate is on offer at the supermarket.

And, my farewell gift to you: please enjoy this very hairy apple I found at work last week:

image

 

blogsignature

 

 

Lately

Oh hello there,

I’ve been a bit naughty lately with trying to keep this updated but it’s mainly due to there being little to tell…

Basically we’re working away like good little worker bees.

Last weekend we walked along the coastline to Cape Kidnappers – a cove nicknamed due to a member of Captain Cooks motley crew being kidnapped by the Maoris when they landed there.

We we walked along the beach for 2.5 hours before finding the gannet colony with the help of this lovely welly. Classic New Zealand.

imageThe scenery was absolutely stunning, so although it was a much longer walk than expected, we had a great day out.

image

When we reached the end of the peninsula we came to a big gannet colony. I’ve never seen a gannet before so it was quite interesting. Did you know that it takes them eight days of straight flying to migrate to Australia in the winter? Many of them don’t make the journey, sadly.

image

The quality of the photos are annoying the hell out of me. Sorry about that – still can’t get the photos off our big camera. I’ll have to bore you all to death with them when we get back haha!

In other news, our housemates Philene and Kerry’s camper van has finally been fixed!

image

There’s Simson sat on our drive, isn’t he handsome?!

We now start work at 7.30am most days, and I like to use this photo to describe my feelings about this:

image

We were in need of a night out to blow off steam so we hit Hastings for a night out on Saturday. For pre-drinks we had a chicken/box party (please see below photos for an explanation.)

image.image

Absolutely ridiculous. I love these guys so much.

We went to a bar and I asked “is it cheaper to have a white wine, or a pale ale?” The answer was wine…..which instantly made me dubious. It was the most disgusting wine I’ve ever tasted in my life. If I were to describe it in a wine-tasting situation I would have described it as “offensive, with aromas of a vinegar salad dressing and revulsion.”

Anyway, to remedy the situation, Philine decided to steal a candle.

image

She’s a bad influence on me…

I feel the above three photos sum up the night quite well.

After an unproductive hangover day, we were back to work this morning. At 11.30 Tom and I were asked to house sit for some of John and Wendy’s friends who were attending a funeral that afternoon.

It turns out that in NZ there’s a risk of being burgled whilst out at a funeral because low lifes look at the obituaries and target people whilst their houses are empty. How awful is that?! Anyway, the result was a slightly awkward afternoon of staying in a lovely house. Much easier money than kiwi thinning haha.

imageThe houses here are so cool! Mainly modern wooden bungalows.

Things that have been keeping me occupied:

Watching the series “Scream” on Netflix. A murder mystery based on the nineties horror movies. I love trying to figure out who dun it with the added layers of head nods to the cheesy horror genre that I adore.

Reading “Instrumental” by James Rhodes – one of my favourite classical musicians who plays without the silly suit on and actually talks to his audiences. Reading about his childhood abuse was really harrowing, but I couldn’t put the book down. I have so much respect for him.

Listening to the new book in the Millenium series – “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” by David Lagercrantz. Lisbeth Salander is one of my favourite literary characters and Lagercrantz is doing her justice.

Baking many many variations on pear recipes – flapjack – bad, pear cake – good. (Mainly good because we now have weighing scales.

blogsignature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle of Hastings

Don’t worry there wasn’t really a battle. Well not at the time of writing anyway.

Well hello there dear readers! I thought I’d give you a little update before we start work tomorrow. I can hear you sniggering into your teacups. Stop it.

We arrived in Hastings just over a week ago, and in that time we’ve made some friends, got a job, stumbled across a lovely abode, opened a New Zealand bank account and drank too much wine and beer.

Our first stop was a hostel called The Rotten Apple. We’d read about them online and despite the name, decided they’d be a good place to start as they offered help with finding fruit picking work in Hastings, the middle of the orchard district. They put us up in their sister hostel – The Orange House, which has a no alcohol policy. We were like WHAT but it actually turned out to be a silver lining… Our German friends Philine and Kerry stayed at the Rotten Apple for one night, and said they only got two hours sleep due to the other guest’s partying. Fine, but not ideal if you’re going to be working whilst you stay there!

The Orange House was okayish – we were in our own room but in a bunk again. (Why?! I will never understand why they do this. Why don’t they just put two twin beds in? So bizarre.) There were plenty of nice people about, but the kitchen was tiny for the thirty guests, and there was two showers and three bogs (well, three showers, but the door didn’t lock on the third one and I didn’t really fancy taking the risk.) I can only imagine what it’s like when the season picks up and everyone tries to get in the shower at the same time before work. Makes me feel stressed just thinking about it.

We spent a few days there, walking into town each day for something to do and spending the majority of the day sat in the library reading the books. Christ, it’s starting to sound like Matilda! Anyway, one morning  we were sat in the library when the NZ phone rang. We got a call from RJ Flowers – the company we had been told to get in touch with by a Czech couple we met whilst in Fiji. They invited us over for an interview that afternoon. We looked up the location on the map and decided it was walkable…

So off we plodded (well, power-walked really) an hour before we needed to be there. The sun was beating down (thanks hole in the ozone layer) and the road became more and more rural until we were just walking on the grass at the side of the road passing massive tractors and farm machinery. Then a wasp flew into my Birkenstock. Bloody hell. Managed to pull my shoe off whist it was stinging my big toe, smacked it off with said shoe, and then had to make Tom pull the stinger off. I was in agony but had to just slap my sandal back on and keep limping along because we were already running late on a walk that seemed to be getting longer and longer by the minute.

Anyway, an hour and 15 mins after setting off, we arrived at th RJ flowers office. The staff we met were so lovely! They explained the work (8am-4.30pm Monday to Friday and optional Saturday mornings) and took us over to see the staff house…

image

It was beautiful! Here’s a few pics from inside:

image

Above is our bedroom and ENSUITE bathroom. (note, the rucksacks have since been shoved in the wardrobe, and I’m very happy not to have to look at them again for a few weeks.)

image

Here is the lounge and kitchen area. Massive telly. All the better for watching the rugby on, says Tom.

imageThe back garden leads directly onto the apple orchards. Not a bad commute to work but I’m unsure how I’ll feel about them after a day working in them! I’m sure I’ll be dreaming about apples in no time.

Anyway, we decided we’d definitely like to move in. Convenient, cheap (60 quid each per week, so a lot cheaper than a hostel) and so so clean, lovely, and with loads of room. The company told us they were looking for another couple to move in and work too, so on our return we told the good news to Philene and Kerry, and also told our friends Ernest and Lewis to ring up for an interview.

A few days later, we managed to get all our stuff into Tracy’s (who works in HR) car, and she kindly drove us over to the house. So no wasp stings this time.

We’ve spent the last 5 days chilling out, wandering around (nearest shop is a 30 minute walk haha), drinking, eating incredible German food, and being merry. We start work tomorrow apple and kiwi thinning. (Apparently, this isn’t some kind of fruit diet, as suggested by my mum, but it’s where you remove some of the smaller fruit from the tree allowing the remaining fruit more space and room to grow huge.) I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, just picture me falling off ladders, boiling in the sun, being stung by wasps and wearing a ridiculous hat, such as the one modelled by Tom below.

image

image

 

Below is our front gate, and work beyond. Not a bad commute eh?

image

It’s very trendy at the moment to write a “Gratitude List” on your blog isn’t it?! Well here’s my version:

A list of things I’m grateful for after living out of a bag for five weeks:

– Coffee made in a cafetière

– A little cup to put your toothbrush in

– A sink near the toilet

– Toilet paper

– A real towel

– A face flannel

– A free to use washing machine

– Eating a meal without having to wash up your pans before you eat

– An oven

– Drinking from a glass, not a plastic bottle

– A cupboard. With your clothes in.

– A sofa

– A telly

 

Haha! This is meant to be tongue in cheek – I’m not moaning, I’m appreciating. Lots of love!

 

.blogsignature