A Travellerspoint blog

Cape Palliser

The Dimholt road

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Cape Palliser is at the south tip of North Island. We stayed at a DoC campsite at the Putangirua Pinnacles, the slightly creepy setting for the Dimholt road (way of the dead) in LOTR. This may have been my idea.

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The area was pretty wild.

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We got pretty close to some cool seals.
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Posted by bloorsontour 12:06 Archived in New Zealand Tagged island north cape pinnacles palliser putangirua dimholt Comments (0)

Palmerston North

A break from the van

Nicola kindly offered us a few nights out of the van in her flat. It was good to have some warm running water and the company wasn’t bad either! We did some cooking in a proper kitchen and went out for a few beers. It was nice to have a normal few days.

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Posted by bloorsontour 14:33 Comments (0)

Tongariro Crossing

Mount Doom

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We met up with Sophie’s friend Nicola for the Tongariro crossing. This is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” and the setting for Mount Doom; it was breathtaking. We were very lucky to get a quiet day with blazing sunshine! The National Park is volcanically active and occasionally gets closed so we were pleased to have the green light.

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Posted by bloorsontour 13:30 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tongariro Comments (1)

Waitomo

Caving and glow worms

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Not much to report from Waitomo. Some ok caving, a good waterfall and plenty of glow worms.

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Posted by bloorsontour 13:43 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waitomo Comments (0)

Bay of Plenty

Cathedral Bay, failed fishing attempts and an eggy stream

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The weather continued to hold so we hit some more beaches.
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Tried some fishing.
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Gave up and bought some mussels.
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Cathedral Bay is stunning.
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We found a thermal stream – smelt a bit eggy but was great for a relax.
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We even went out of our way for a NZ famous pie. Unfortunately it wasn’t worth the trip.
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Posted by bloorsontour 13:27 Archived in New Zealand Tagged of island north bay plenty Comments (0)

NZ North Island - Northland

Chasing the sun

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We headed north from Auckland to catch the remaining warm weather. We felt like we were back in summer. Bright-blue skies every day.

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I managed to get a game of golf in.

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We stopped off at a nice little campsite and went for a kayak

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We stayed in a couple of great DoC campsites and got in some beach-time.

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We were hoping to swim with dolphins, but there were little ones so we had to make do with them playing around the boat. They were with us for hours. We had a stop off at an island with some great views. I swam from the boat, while everyone else took the rib. It was worth it as I saw a big stingray as I swam back, though it was pretty cold.

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Cape Reinga was stunning.

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And Spirits Bay was one of the most peaceful and beautiful places we've ever been.

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Our final stop in Northland was some giant sand dunes.
We got a bit carried away sliding down the dunes and missed the incoming rainstorm. Soph wasn’t too impressed!

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Posted by bloorsontour 14:10 Archived in New Zealand Tagged northland Comments (1)

Pause in the blog

Move to Manchester: jobs, a house, a baby!

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Blog continued after a rather lengthy delay! The visit of the Findlers meant that there was a lot to be written about and we knew we’d be pestered until we got it up... We were on the last leg of our trip and starting to apply for jobs and before we knew it the blog was a long forgotten. I write the remainder of these posts from our lounge in Manchester while our 6 month old daughter Sylvie is asleep. How life has changed! Detail is going to be a little scant from here on in. We’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Posted by bloorsontour 11:49 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

Around Auckland, New Zealand

Thank you!

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It was going to be an emotional day. Luckily for me, my parents flight wasn't until night time so I got to spend a whole day with them. We were determined to make the most of it...

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We had a leisurely morning and took a drive out to Piha Beach. It's stunning; a windswept beach with sand dunes, the remnants of a volcanic eruption and white crested waves (perfect for surfers). We had a walk along the beach and of course a cuppa.

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Me and Jason went on a walk to the north side of the beach on a hunt for blue penguins (we didn't see anything though). They're tonnes of shells on the rocks and you can hear them popping around you.

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Elevation Restaurant proved to be the perfect pick for our celebratory 'end of holiday' lunch. There were brilliant views over Auckland from their dining terrace where we enjoyed a smashing lunch; white wine, pork ribs, risotto, ginger and pear crumble... amazing!

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After a leisurely lunch there was just enough time to enjoy a drink back in Auckland Harbour, where there are some very swish bars by the sea. Although I'd gone a little subdued at this point at the thought of saying goodbye to mum and dad :-(

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The drive to the airport was really strange... I'd looked forward to seeing my parents so much, and the weeks had flown by and now I'd got no other date in the diary to see them again. It was very emotional saying goodbye to them at the airport, there were a few tears shed. I think Jason's said it in a previous blog, but as hard as it is being away from family, those precious weeks spent together on holiday are like nothing you'd get at home; being with mum & dad in New Zealand, so much laughter and creating lasting memories that I will treasure forever. Thank you Mum and Dad! X

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Posted by bloorsontour 01:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

The 'Drunken Oyster'

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Waiheke Island is a short ferry ride from Auckland harbour front; it gave us a chance to see the city scape from the sea. We didn't take the car over and instead bought a combined ferry/bus ticket so that we could explore the island more easily.

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Yet again it was a changeable weather day...sun, rain and wind (often all at once!). When we first got onto the island we took the bus to Onetangi Beach and had a stroll along the sea front. The weather was glorious and gave us an opportunity to sit outside in a lovely cafe bar to take in the views. We shared a platter of goodies; prawns, chicken, pork ribs, meatballs...delicious!

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Then came the rain... Boo!

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The only option was to take cover at a vineyard (it's a hard life).

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While the three of us enjoyed a few tasters of wine, Jason ordered a 'drunken oyster'. Grim! It was a dark ale with an oyster sat at the bottom of it. I don't know how he drank it. By the time he'd nearly finished his beer, the oyster had swollen to double its size and he had to down it in one at the end. Quote: "I won't be ordering that again!".

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We then called in at another vineyard to try a few more wines.

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Dad was in such a mood...I ordered a lovely large glass of wine, while he stuck with a taster. Mistake!

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Waiheke Island is beautiful. We all said we'd like to spend a night or two there next time as there's plenty more of the island to explore (and more wines to sample).

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The ferry home turned out to be LONG because it broke down.Unfortunately we didn't take any photographs of what happened. I could sense my mum getting anxious as the ferry continued to struggle to get any speed on the crossing. The captain then couldn't dock the boat. We got led through the engine rooms, only to be told to turn back around. Finally we had to crouch over a temporary ramp because the ferry couldn't get closer enough to the site to make it onto dry land. Panic over, we made it back in one piece.

Posted by bloorsontour 00:44 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Rotorua to Auckland, New Zealand

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and Raglan

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We decided to call in at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and Raglan on our way back to Auckland (there was no time to rest).

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Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is a reserve on the triple peaks of an old volcano; a paradise area for lots of traditional New Zealand species thanks to a 47km pest-proof fence.

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When the British arrived in New Zealand years ago they bought a lot of 'pests' with them that unfortunately changed the ecosystem on the Kiwi islands and decimated large numbers of animal and plant species. The fence is mouse, possum and cat proof and has allowed native species to flourish again; including kiwis, kakas, ferns and much more.

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We had a guided walk through parts of the sanctuary (with an informative, although not that enthusiastic guide). We were there in time for the feeding of kakas (a native parrot), whose numbers have increased thanks to the pest eradication. Unfortunately it was raining when we were there and so weren't many birds about, we did see a few fantails and tuis though. Mum seemed to enjoy the gift shop there... purchasing a tweeting kiwi cuddly toy for my brothers nursery class.

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Driving really isn't a chore in New Zealand, everywhere you look there's stunning landscapes to keep you entertained. The drive into Raglan was beautiful (however mum was asleep for most of it), the road winded its way through rolling hills and past scenic rivers.

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Raglan is a laid back surfer town with a picturesque beach front and cute cafes. We grabbed a nice lunch in one of the cafes while we waited for the rain to pass and then went for a walk along the beach front.

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It was the strangest day, literally all 4 seasons at one time. We had glorious sunshine to our front and the rainiest, darkest clouds on our backs; at one point half of my body was in the rain while my other side was getting a tan.

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We were staying at the same holiday park in Auckland; it meant that Jason got to get some more freebie food and my mum got to have fish & chips again for tea. It was also an ideal base for us to explore around Auckland again the next day.

Posted by bloorsontour 00:23 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Rotorua, NZ

An eggy, Hobbit, Maori, rafting adventure

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We were staying in another well kitted out holiday park, this time with its own swimming pool, hot pools and hangi cooking area. We all liked it, but dad was still struggling with the eggy sulphur smell that lingers throughout all of Rotorua town. The hot pools and hangi were heated naturally from the volcanic activity underground and as you drive through the town you can see steam rising up from the ground in the local park.

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We'd got a jam packed itinerary planned for our time in Rotorua. On our first day we drove to Matamata where you can find Peter Jackson's amazing Hobbiton set. I'd not seen The Hobbit at this point (but I have now) and didn't much like Lord of the Rings, but our day at Hobbiton turned out to be a brilliant tour. I was expecting a theme park style, over the top, cheesy tour production and actually what we got was a cute, authentic and comprehensive tour (no gimics) of the original set. You get picked up by a coach that takes you to the farm site of the set and your driver gives a description of the farm, its family and how life has changed since Lord of the Rings.

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We then walked around the set on foot with a guide, who explained every detail about the Hobbiton landscape.

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We saw Bilbo's home, Bagend...

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The vegetable patch (where Jason managed to acquire a green pepper).

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The oak tree, which turns out to be artificial, that sits above Hobbiton.

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The Green Dragon Pub, where you can enjoy a complementary beer by the roaring fire (if you're Jason you can scam a second free beer) and of course, my dad had to try a Hobbiton pork pie.

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Samwise Gamgee's house...

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The only bit of 'cheese' you get is to dress up as a Hobbit (no obligations) and mum dived straight into the fancy dress box!

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On our way back to Rotorua we stopped in Tirau, a cute little village famous for corrugated metal (even the public toilets are a corrugated dog and sheep design). And we stopped at Bugger Cafe for a bite to eat and coffee.

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By the time we'd arrived back at Rotorua it was nearly time for our pick up to Mitai Maori Village, which my parents had treated us to. The evening starts with a run through of Maori culture and what a traditional Hangi is; they'ed prepared enough food for about 100 people and cooked it underground from the volcanic heat all day. We had slow cooked lamb and chicken with hangi kumara potatoes, as well as tonnes of salad and vegetables and a selection of desserts (to which me and Jason got very excited about because we hadn't had a warm pudding and custard for ages).

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Before you eat there's a short tour through a wooded area and you watch a reenactment of Maori fighters in their long boats by fire light.

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Then there's a brilliant performance by Maori men and women; singing, dancing, traditional acrobatics, and of course the haka.

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It wasn't that late when we got in but my parents had been fed, wined and entertained, and all they wanted was their bed (at 8.30pm!). These old folk just can't keep up!

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The next day we'd sat and had a leisurely breakfast debating what to do with with the rainy day ahead of us. Sometimes you just have to get on with it... we got wrapped up and went for a walk around Okere Falls. It's just a nice short walk through some woods and there's lookout points over the river to some waterfalls.

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Quote D.Findler: "Bring it on!": when mum saw a raft dive down a 7metre waterfall from a lookout point on our walk. Ha, we'll see... when we got back to the car there was a company van parked up next to ours and I telephoned Rotorua Rafters to see if they'd got space for 4 adults on their afternoon trip. Yes they had... Mum soon went very quiet in the back of the car on the way home.

We headed back to the holiday park to get ready for the rafting. We also prepared our very own lamb hangi that we put in the accommodations' own volcanically heated underground ovens... It meant we'd got a nice hot meal to look forward to after our rafting adventure.

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Rotorua Rafting was sooooo much fun! Couldn't stop laughing.

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Even though mum was apprehensive she got stuck into everything! Well done mum, proud of you! There's photographic evidence of you jumping from the top of a cliff edge...

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Being pounded by water at the front of the raft with dad (our guide Amy called this surfing).

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Diving down a 7 metre waterfall, having been told that they'd flipped two rafts over on the morning tours. Apparently this waterfall was one the biggest ones you can go off as an amateur.

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I was asked to sit on the front of the raft for one of the smaller rapid sections, however I lasted about 2 seconds and ended up heading down them on my back with my legs in the air... not very James Bond.

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However the hilarity award goes to... Debra Findler (again!). Mum had managed to stay in the raft throughout the whole trip, right up until the photoshoot in the shallow waters at the end. I LOVE these series of photographs that explain the story...

1. Mum falls in and panics

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2. Everyone is shouting for her to stand up on the rock she's landed on, but instead Dad dives in to rescue her...

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3. In the process of pulling mum out of the water Dad elbows the lovely girl in our raft!

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4. Mum needs a minute to recover... Haha!

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5. Don't worry, it all ends with smiles.

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Jason's got some brilliant video footage from the afternoon.

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After all that adventure we went back to our cabin and feasted on our lamb hangi...delicious! I'd had such a brilliant day!

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Posted by bloorsontour 02:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

Taupo, New Zealand

Volcanic beauty

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Technically the next day was a 'travel day', but we made the most of the stunning scenery by calling in at Lake Taupo and Orakei Korako on the way.

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The weather was gorgeous, as hot as any summers day in the UK, and typically when this happens Jason starts to crave golf. There was a driving range area at Lake Taupo where if you got a hole in one you won $10000... but unfortunately he didn't win despite hitting the float a few times. I think he enjoyed having a golf club in his hands again and I'm pretty sure this won't be the last I hear of playing golf in New Zealand (especially as you pass a course every few kilometres).

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We drove up to Huka Falls to view the waterfall there... spectacular! 220,000 litres of water flow through it every minute. The water is crystal clear and bubbling in the sunlight. If we had more time I would have liked to take the Waikato riverside walk all the way from Taupo town to the falls, instead we walked a small section of it and stopped for a picnic along the way.

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On the way back we managed to see one of the jet boats that speed up the river to view the falls. This would be something I'd like to do at some point... maybe Queenstown (we'll see if we have enough pennies?!)

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The land between Taupo and Rotorua is bubbling with volcanic activity and we were informed that Orakei Korako is the best place to see the silica terraces, geysers and sulphur mud pools in New Zealand. As you park your car you're met with a beautiful view of Orakei Lake and the steaming terraces.

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You catch a short boat across the lake and then you're left to explore the area via a well preserved walkway. When I asked if it was possible to dip in the hot pools I was virtually laughed out of the visitor centre... "DO NOT STRAY FROM THE PATH, IT'S EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!" Hhhmmm, I now see why, the temperatures reach boiling.

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We were lucky and caught one of the geysers erupting with hot water and firing it into the air.

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Dad did not take to the sulphur eggy smell and needed a minute to take in the views of the lake instead.

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Next stop... Rotorua.

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Posted by bloorsontour 22:43 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Napier, New Zealand

Mum in the drink

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It was a shame to leave Green Olives Cottage as there's plenty to do in the area and it would have been nice to see out the bad weather and enjoy it in the sunshine. We were on a tight schedule and needed to drive to Napier on the East coast.

The drive itself was beautiful again (all the landscapes seem to be impressive in New Zealand). We followed the Manawatu gorge road and stopped for a cafe break at The Bridge where I enjoyed a date and lemonade scone in their beautiful cafe (I'm hoping to go back there and try more of their menu when we visit a friend in a couple of weeks time). Again, it was a bummer it was raining because they had a lovely garden.

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More driving... but it wasn't long before we reached the wine region of Hawkes Bay and mum NEEDED a stop. Ash Ridge was the first of many wineries we'd be visiting and my parents needed holding back from buying a bottle of everything they had to offer... "We're on holiday!" was their reply. I think their pinot gris was our favourite.

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We quickly checked into our holiday park and went to see what Napier had to offer. It's known for its Art Deco buildings that were re-built in that style following a devastating earthquake. The high streets' really nice because most of the shops sit below beautiful Art Deco architecture. We filled a couple of hours walking around and stopping by the beach for some more 'jump mid photo' poses before enjoying a curry at a nice restaurant (although mine was 'blow ya head off' hot).

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Our evening consisted of playing card games. We taught my parents how to play S**t Head, which they ended up enjoying, but mum insisted that she couldn't call the loser a S**t Head so instead it became Muffin Head... I'm not sure which is worse?!

I, unfortunately, was designated driver for the day in Hawkes Bay wine region... Boo! It was too early for wine tasting... Yes, even dad agreed that 9am was too early for alcohol... so we drove up to a viewing spot at Te Mata peak. You can do a nice walk midway to the top, but as it was raining we took Graham all the way up instead and enjoyed a good brew and piece of cake in the car (mum loves it when it's raining outside but she's cosied in with a cuppa). I'm not sure the photographs do it justice, but even with the rain the views were stunning.

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It still wasn't an acceptable time for wine tasting so instead we went to a honey producer. It was actually surprisingly interesting and we got to try a lot of honey at the end of the tour. We purchased some manuka honey and a honey baby soap for Evelyn's first birthday back in the UK... I hope she liked it?

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OK...now it was wine tasting! First stop was Te Mata winery. All of the tastings we did in Hawkes Bay were free and consisted of between 3-7 wines... some very liberally poured. From this vineyard mum and dad treated me to a bottle of viognier (one of my favs... I'll look forward to enjoying it on a chilly night in the van, thank you).

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Next stop was Brookfields Estate. We'd arrived at the perfect time. Dad was asked what his perfect wine would be and he replied "a full bodied red".....perfect! There was a bottle on the table with no label on it and we all tried it and absolutely loved it. The man then took us behind the back and explained that this malbec wine had only just been bottled and was awaiting labeling, we were only the 4th group of people to try it. Mum got a chance to pick her bottle from the store and put her own label on it... I'm not quite sure it's on straight mum!? We caught the eccentric owner pinching a glass of the malbec to have with his lunch... If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for us.

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There came a break in the wine tasting and we needed some lunch... Oooops, it only happened to be at a cider producers orchard. Wine tasting turned into cider tasting. Dad and Jason shared a tasting set and we all enjoyed a meat & cheese platter for lunch.

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After lunch the wine tasting continued and we visited a couple more wineries...

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By the end of the day I was really looking forward to enjoying a glass of wine with my evening meal. We were hanging around waiting for a takeaway restaurant to open so that we could grab a quick meal to enjoy back at the holiday cabin. Mum, dad and Jason decided to get some fresh air and go for a quick walk on the beach while I waited in the car for the restaurant to open. I'm gutted I stayed in the van because I think I missed the funniest moment of the whole holiday!!! There was a tap on my van window and there was mum, stood motionless with a frown on her face, in soaking wet clothes and no shoes on..."what on earth had happened?!" Behind her, 20 metres down the street, was Jason and my dad in fits of giggles, uncontrollably laughing. Mum had fallen in the sea! She'd had to walk through Napier town centre with wet clothes on and a squelch in her feet. Even now (I'm writing this a few weeks after the event) Jason bursts out laughing at the thought of mum lolling about in the sea in all of her clothes. I think we all saw the funny side... although mum did break her camera. Too much wine mum?

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The evening continued to be one of amusement everytime Jason or my dad looked at mum. We played muffin head, drank some wine and had an early night ready to make the Farmers Market in the morning. Even though I was the chauffeur I'd had another lovely day with everyone.

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Posted by bloorsontour 22:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Wellington, New Zealand

Jump...losing your spring with age

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It worked out that mum and dad had about 10 days total in New Zealand and we therefore decided to get the longest leg of the driving out of the way (Auckland to Wellington) on the first day; giving mum and dad an opportunity to catch up on some sleep in the car.

The journey took about 10 hours... Yes, it was a VERY long day! We stopped off for a picnic lunch to break the travel up a little bit...

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We also took a slight detour around a scenic driving route to make the journey a little more interesting. The Whanganuni River Road winds its way through beautiful forested hills and small iwi villages where we took advantage of the lookout opportunities dotted along the road.

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It gave mum and dad a chance to master the 'jump mid photo' pose...haha! Apparently you lose your spring as you get older.

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Finally, after a heck of a long drive we arrived at our beautiful accommodation, Green Olive Cottage. It's surrounded by olive trees and loads of other fruit trees, which if they were ready for picking you could take whatever you wanted (we managed to get passion fruits and fejoas). There was also a natural pond in the garden that you could swim in but unfortunately the weather was awful when we were there, plus I don't think we'd have had time anyway. We arrived at nighttime and the boys got straight on with a BBQ, which we enjoyed with a bottle of bubbly and even a bottle of wine...we were in holiday mode after all.

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The weather couldn't have been any worse, torrential rain! Luckily we were planning on visiting Wellington's museum anyway; Te Papa is free and has some amazing modern and interactive exhibitions about New Zealand.

My favourite part was the colossal squid. It had been donated to New Zealand by the Antarctic fisherman that had caught it by mistake when it was trying to eat a tuna that was being pulled in. They are incredibly rare to see because they survive in the deepest blue waters, so once it had reached the surface it was unable to survive. It was donated to the research teams and then preserved in jelly in the museum so that everyone can see it.

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There was an interesting Maori exhibition where I particularly enjoyed learning about the haka I now understand the history and meaning behind the warrior dance that you see the All Black rugby team display before a match. Also, the importance of Maori tattooing, living arrangements and the Treaty of Waitangi. You really need to spend a couple of days there to see everything.

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Not to let the weather put us off we went for a walk around the city centre and called in for a spot of lunch at a nice cafe. Then took the cable car to the top of the botanical gardens, where on a clear day you have spectacular views of Wellington and its bay (as you can see, we only managed to get a view of heavy cloud and rain... nevermind). We walked around the botanical gardens, which mum seemed to love as she took photographs at every opportunity.

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There was time for one last look around the museum before we left Wellington to cosy in at Green Olive Cottage for the evening. We had a chilled evening, taking advantage of being in a proper house with snuggly sofas and of course... a bath! Bliss! It's nice to spend time with mum and dad, just chatting about the 'goings on' at home and what everyone is up to.

Posted by bloorsontour 04:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Auckland 2, New Zealand

The Parents' Arrival

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I woke up VERY excited!!! Luckily my parents' flight was on time and and they got the biggest hugs of their lives when we saw them in the arrivals lounge. I'd not seen them for 6 months and I'd been mega excited to have these next two weeks with them. Bless them, they were both so tired after their long flights over to New Zealand from the UK but really keen to make the most of their first day here. Eek, I think I wore the biggest smile on my face for the whole first day of their trip!

Graham sat waiting on the airport carpark for my parents. He was as clean as he was ever going to be at 20 years old and we just hoped that mum and dad would like him. Luckily I think he exceeded my parents expectations and started first time.

Mum had been great and organised all of the next 10 days accommodation in advance. For our first night we were staying in a holiday park in Auckland; we were in the van and they were sleeping in a cabin. Dad and Jason got straight on with the celebrating and enjoyed a beer in the sunshine whilst we waited for their cabin to be cleaned. I thought the place was really cute and Jason was over the moon with all of the freebies he could get his hands on there; He racked up teabags, coconut cream, lemon juice, ginger, porridge oats, ketchup, spices... and probably much more.

I'd got a little pile of post delivered to me, courtesy of mum and dad, and it felt like my birthday had been extended. It was now time to celebrate it with loved ones. Thank you to everyone who sent a card/present for me, unfortunately Jason wouldn't let me decorate our van with all of the cards...

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Mum and dad had a quick freshen up and then they said they were raring to go. We went to Mount Eden in Auckland, which is one of the city's volcanoes, and had a short stroll up to the top. We soaked up the views of Auckland and enjoyed the autumn sunshine.

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We then headed into Auckland centre to visit the Toi o Tāmaki art museum. It's quite a nice museum, lots of modern art and historic Maori culture, but it was a very sedate activity to be doing with two people with jet lag.

Instead we went for a walk around Auckland city, did a little bit of retail therapy (Mum needed flip flops because it was hotter than she'd expected) and stopped for an ice-cream by the harbour front.

I thought Mum and Dad had done well to stay up for as long as they had and made the most of their first day in Auckland, but they were well and truly ready for bed... snoring in the back of Graham on the way home. The only thing that woke them up was the prospect of calling at a fish and chip shop for supper. An early night was in order as we had a long drive to Wellington the next day.

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Posted by bloorsontour 03:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

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