This blog covers our trip around the world in 2006. We will post here with news of where we are and what we've been up to. Enjoy! Ang & Jane

Monday, October 2

Location: Sydney
Miles Travelled: 25094
Time Zone: GMT + 9

After Queenstown, we headed to Dunedin. Along the way, in a town called Alexandra we spotted a road called Ennis Street with the next street along called Limerick Street!! As soon as we got to Dunedin, we went on a lovely wildlife tour. You would not believe how close we got to some sealions! They were all sleeping on a beach which is on private land and only the one tour company is allowed access. It was amazing, they are such huge lumbering looking creatures while they're lying there sleeping, but apparently they move really fast if riled! On the same beach there is a yellow-eyed penguin colony, and we had gotten there in time to watch the penguins come home to bed. They're so cute, doing their little waddle walk!!! After watching the penguins for a while, we took a short walk uphill to a cliff top where we could watch another colony of wildlife, New Zealand fur seals this time... At this time of year the baby seals should be self-sufficient so the mothers just abandon them to catch their own food - unfortunately the babies are too stupid to cop this so they cry out for their mothers the whole time!!

We'd only planned one night in Dunedin so the next day we were off to Lake Tekapo. On our way out of Dunedin, we stopped for a short while to allow us time to climb the world's steepest street, Baldwin Street. Or for some of us, time to stand at the bottom of the street and take photos of the more energetic people climbing it!! Along the coast we took a walk among the Moeraki Boulders, which are these huge almost perfectly spherical rocks. Nobody knows how they're formed, but they're pretty impressive. We saw some more spectacular sights that day including the beautiful Aviemore Dam and Lake Pukaki, where we got our first view of Mt. Cook. Lake Tekapo is a lovely little village on the shores of a lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains. There isn't much there, just a statue of a collie dog which is a tribute to the dogs that enabled the pioneer farmers to manage their huge stations. There is also a gorgeous little chapel there called the Church of the Good Shepherd.
That night we met up with a girl from our hostel in Queenstown, and spent an exciting evening doing a jigsaw that had almost all it's pieces!

Off to Christchurch, where we spent the afternoon pottering around a market in Cathedral Square and had lunch in the Cathedral Cafe. Carmel headed for the airport to go to Auckland, and we went out for dinner with Colin and Pauline for Colin's birthday. Colin had the Wild Food challenge for dinner which was ostrich liver!! We'd a few drinks in the restaurant with some friends of theirs and then went on to Concrete for a few more. The following day we'd a nice lazy day in Christchurch, watching tv then called to Colin and Pauline's house to say goodbye.

We had a great time in Kaikoura... We went swimming with dusky dolphins, which was amazing!! There were loads of them and they totally interacted with us, it was fantastic!!! Not so fantastic was the "Wings over Whales" trip that we took... It was only a half hour flight and we saw one whale in the very beginning and then nothing at all for the rest of the flight... There are loads of whales in the area so it was pretty bad that the pilot only found one whale to show us. We were really disappointed...

The next day we were off to Picton to get the ferry across to the North Island, which was really nice. Having taught Jodie and Chris to play gin rummy, there was no stopping them for the whole ferry trip!! Or indeed when we got to the hostel that night...! The next day we visited Napier, stopping at Mt. Bruce Wildlife centre to visit some tuatara and some kiwis in a nocturnal house. We also stopped at the TUI brewery for a beer tasting session. In Napier, Jane and I had just about enough energy to go to the cinema to see Miami Vice.

Our next stop was Rotorua, where Jane and I went for a shopping session to buy a rucksack to replace my lovely suitcase, which had lost its pulley handle in Vancouver, and now had a buckled wheel! We had a great time shopping for the bag cos the guy who owns the outdoor shop, Bill Davis was lovely and entertaining. He even threw in some free padlocks for me, after reducing the price too! Afterwards, we decided to do the cultural thing so we went to a Maori dinner and exhibition at the Tamaki Village. We should have realised we were in for a fun night when our bus driver Mark managed to explain what the Maori greeting "Kia Ora" means, in over 50 languages including perfectly accented Irish!! We'd a great evening, very interesting and entertaining. There was great dancing and singing and some explanations of Maori culture along the way. All of the games the children played were to make them agile and fast for fighting. On the way back into town after dinner, Mark sang songs (including several national anthems) and made up lyrics. He even sang "Here we go 'round the Mulberry bush" while driving around and around a roundabout!!

The next day we went to Hobbiton village - the farm where "The Lord of the Rings" Hobbiton scenes were filmed. We got to see the Party Tree and several of the houses they built into the hill for the hobbits to live in. We took loads of photos and will no doubt watch the films again when we get home and compare it to real life! Afterwards our bus driver dropped us at Te Puia so we could go see the geysers and the mudpools. The geysers were pretty cool, they erupt really high! We also got to enter the grounds of a Maori Marae which is their meeting house and you're not normally allowed. The following day we went back to the Tamaki village to see The Realm of Tane which was 3 actors depicting an old lady explaining the culture to her granddaughter and how it's still relevant in the modern day. We got to do the nose-rubbing handshake with them afterwards which was cool!

We went to Mt. Maunganui that afternoon, for the night and then on to Auckland, stopping in the Kauranga Valley to take some pictures. We were staying with Jane's friend Maeve and Shaun in Auckland so we had a lovely quiet evening in, watching tv. On Sunday we went out for Sunday roast with Chris and Jodie when they arrived, but our roast was very disappointing - we didn't get enough food between us, so we actually complained and ended up only paying for 3 meals rather than the 5 we'd ordered. We figured that was about fair cos there was barely enough for 3 of us! Afterwards we went to Danny Doolan's for a few drinks and a sing-song. We were eventually kicked out of there - apparently a guy dancing on his own must be drunk! We went to The Fiddler next and then had chips on the way home.

The next day we hired a car and went to the wine region to try and get a wine tour. As Shaun works in one of the best wine bars in Auckland we had a bit of pull and in Nobilos winery they pulled out all the stops for us - getting one of their winemakers to give us a tour, and then giving us a wine tasting session. They even gave us a bottle of wine to take away with us! Shaun went to work then and we went out for dinner with Maeve to a lovely Turkish place. It was a lovely night and a great way to spend our last evening in New Zealand, as well as our farewell to Chris and Jodie. And then on to Cairns...


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