Stacey and Zach come to Napier!

A week and a half ago now (time flies) we had a visit from my best friend form uni Stacey and her other half Zach. I had been looking forward to seeing her for ages and it kind of crept up on me really, with our South Island and visit and being so busy. So on the Friday as when my parents came I didn’t really believe they would be here until I actually saw them stood in the campsite car park ready to be picked up for a civilised (yeah right) meal.

It was great to see them both and it felt like we only saw each other yesterday like it always does with Stace. After a quick tour of the Dark Knight (Stacey and Zach’s campervan) we headed back to our flat for a few drinks. After cracking out the compulsory prosecco that my mum left us (thanks momma Jules) and a well-earned catch up (mainly Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars debriefs) we headed out for a meal. I think I’m going to just skip to the good bit with this one, as you can imagine after our food it got quite messy and we ended up doing a pub crawl of every bar on our street and back again! The night highlights include me cutting my foot open on the dance floor, Stace having a very long conversation with the bar man about the best way to cook a lobster and dancing like idiots until 4 am. We then thought it would be a good idea to walk into town for a kebab (come on its Napier nothing was open) so we just went home and I passed out fully clothed (successful night all round).

The next day I am safe to say was very slow paced it started with a late breakfast and coffee on our balcony and when we did decide to surface we headed to the air show in nearby. This was followed by a trip to Napier town, an ice cream (best hangover cure), another little walk and then a G&T (even better hangover cure). We finished the night with a lovely little BBQ at Stacey and Zach’s campsite and a chat to some tipsy kiwi guys on a stag do. I was told the next day they were knocking on their campervan at 4am asking them to ‘party’.

Sunday we were able to function a little better and I think if I was a tour guide I would call Sunday ‘Booze and Views’. We headed to Hastings Market for a wander around and then ventured up Te Mata peak to admire the view (more successfully than last time). The last time we went up Te Mata Peak Hugh broke down as he wouldn’t go into reverse and we had to get a tow truck home! Next on the agenda was The Filter Room our little cider heaven we take all our guests too (because we love it and it’s an excuse to drink cider). It’s safe to say my favourite Sangria Cider was a hit! We then went back to the flat via the ice cream place again for a little bit of lunch and it was straight back out to the winery!

This time we went to Elephant Hill winery which is my favourite so far, it wasn’t too posh but it was very grand and had amazing views. We had a wine tasting which was fun as we played a game of who could guess the most flavours in the wine (I won because I cheated and looked at the sheet). This was followed by a bottle of wine on the terrace (so posh) which Stace and Zach treated us to –so thanks guys! After a few goofy pictures with an elephant we went to Emporium for a pizza! As it got dark we showed the delights of Napier at night all lit up (it really is beautiful) and then back to the campsite to say goodbye (sad times).

We had an amazing time with Stace and Zach I just want to say thank you so much for coming out to visit us! It really was nice to have friends out here and be able to show you around and for you to see as much of New Zealand as you did. For me it was lovely to have Stacey here to have some girl time and gossip with someone other than Chris (sorry Chris).  They are flying home tomorrow after travelling the North and South Island so have a safe flight guys!

Lucy

Wellington

Hello

This weekend we went to Wellington –the Capital City. We were originally supposed to do the Tongariro Crossing but it was cancelled due to high winds at 12pm on Friday, so by 12.30 we had rebooked the Crossing for the end of January and booked in for two nights in Wellington.

We arrived at our backpackers called WorldWide at around 8pm, the backpackers was ok it was pretty noisy and not the cleanest we had been to, but it was ok for two nights. We couldn’t be bothered cooking so we headed of down Cuba St (where the party is at) for some food and a few drinks. We wandered up and down for half an hour visiting the night market, looking at the cool sculptures and listening to a live band playing on the street, and settled on a place called Ombre with good reviews in the Lonely Planet (surprise again).

Ombre was really quite small and very busy it was a rustic Italian feeling restaurant which served Italian tapas and breakfast Martinis (marmalade and gin? = HEAVEN), the food was amazing and Chris tried his first meal of New Zealand lamb it didn’t disappoint. After this we lowered the tone and to cut a long story short went to an Irish bar, got very drunk and danced to a band who had karaoke music as their backing track (Chris was on the dancefloor with three middle aged women dancing to Mamma Mia), so a good night all round! I already loved Welly by this point!

On Saturday morning we got up pretty early as we knew we had a lot to fit in we headed to the Cable Car which takes you up to Kelburn lookout a hillside in which you can see the whole city. The Cable Car is more like what we would call a funicular in England and it only took 5 minutes. We admired the view and wandered around the Botanic Gardens (they weren’t as good as your Melbourne one Kaley). It was a really sunny day and only a slight wind which is lucky as Wellington is known as Windy Welly and can be really bad on some days.

The next thing we saw was probably one of the coolest things in Wellington – The Te Papa Museum. This museum is incredible its 6 stories high, completely free and I’m not joking you could spend a few days in there looking. They have an exhibition on there for four years by Peter Jackson which is the Gallipoli War – it was amazing. It was so touching and shocking that it did exactly what I imagine it was intended to provoke in people. The exhibition had large model waxworks of soldiers of war that were huge, I can only demonstrate this for you from the pictures below where Chris is stood next to one of them, they were so realistic and detailed they even had hairs on their arms. Then at the end you collected a poppy and wrote a message leaving it at the feet of one of the soldiers.

The rest of the museum was just as good they had a Natural Disaster section, and wildlife and nature all interactive and really cool (Chris built his own squid). We finished by climbing to the rooftop look out and looking across the city, it was really special.

We then went straight to the Beehive which is the New Zealand parliament building it’s a really cool building which looks like a (wait for it) Beehive. Chris really wanted to do a tour of the parliament and it was another free attraction (I know there are loads), it was an informative tour and you expected Jack Bauer or James Bond to jump out at any minute.

We then started a sculpture walk in my Lonely Planet but got half way through saw a WagaMamas and vowed to finish the walk the next day. After eating Gyozas (my favourite) and Chicken Katsu Curry we went to try some more cool bars on Cuba Street. We found a really nice cool beer garden at a place called Southern Cross and sat drinking watching a man cooking sausages for a free sausage sizzle get told of by his boss for eating them (entertainment value).

On Sunday morning we had another action packed day, we set off for the love lock bridge and put our padlock on there that I had carved with a pin right next to a bike lock someone had put on as a joke (romance at its best).

After this we finished the sculpture walk which actually turned out to be really cool it took us to some really amazing sculptures one of my favourites was the bucket fountain which filled different buckets and when they were heavy enough the tipped and filed the next (amazing explanation I know). It actually finished about two minutes from the car which was handy as we were heading to Mount Victoria next.

This is a mountain lookout (we love our lookouts) where you can see the city at 360 degrees and see the planes landing at the airport. It was a clear day so we had an amazing view and could see for miles, we were watching the ferry’s cross to South Island which we will be going on in three weeks!

So we had heard a lot of good things about the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit models at Wellington Airport so we couldn’t not go! Smaug the dragon was brill, as you walked past one eye was closed and as you get to the other side his eye is open and eyelid is moving up and down. There were also amazing sculptures of eagles with Gandalf and Gollum. It was well worth it and the parking only cost $2 winner!

Our final stop of the trip was the Weta Caves which is a workshop tour for the company that makes sculptures and props for films such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, District 9, Avatar, King Kong – the list goes on. This tour was really good they took us around the workshop showing us the tricks of props and costumes and the materials they use to make things such as chain mail and guns. We had a step by step of how the guns from District 9 were made and there were the real props from movies all around. It was a geeks heaven (Chris). It was really good and to top it off we saw how the sculptures for the Gallipoli exhibition were made 🙂

We really loved Wellington and I really hope to go back! Right now I am seriously excited because my best friends just got engaged (Congrats Kaley and Rik) and my family are flying to New Zealand on Thursday!!

I wanted to fit everything into this post about Wellington as my next blog will probably be about Christmas in Napier whilst my family are here and I didn’t want to wait any longer as my friend Trudi has been waiting for my next blog (this is for you Trudes)J

Until next time and Merry Christmas if I don’t blog before then,

Lucy 🙂

Bay of Islands

Hi 😀

We purposely saved our trip to the Bay of Islands in the Northland until last weekend which was double public holiday (woo)! We worked extra hours  at work and set off at 12pm on Thursday, our first stop was in Whangarei which is 2 hours past Auckland. We arrived at our backpackers ‘Little Earth Lodge’ at 8.30pm!! It is a very very long drive it was only 570km but the windy roads in New Zealand make the travel times longer. Little Earth Lodge was lovely it was a farm style backpackers that was really homely and welcoming and David who owned the lodge stayed up especially so we didn’t miss check in (thanks David).

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On Friday we planned to go to Cape Reinga which is the very top of NZ this was another 4 hours’ drive (like we hadn’t done enough driving already) but we knew if we didn’t we would regret it. We set off driving up the coast and the first stop on our list was the famous Mangonui Fish and Chip shop! It didn’t disappoint we sat eating fish, chips and the best salt and pepper squid I have ever had looking out at the sea. A definite highlight of this stop off (apart from the squid) was getting a picture of what I think is a Shag (keep it clean) reading the fish and chip menu!

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As we drove for another couple of hours (I won’t bore you with the details) we were getting bored and tired we started to see signs for sand board hire, as we travelled further you could see some huge sand dunes that came in line with the mountains. It was pretty spectacular, it was a nice surprise really as I usually know everything about where we are going about a year in advance (I’m not joking, I’m a planner). These are the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes, we drove down to the dunes hired some  sand boards and set off on the long walk up the dunes –seriously it was a trek! They were even bigger than they looked and it was so hot, after about 10 steps I told Chris I saw a mirage and he said I was being dramatic (not at all like me).  Every step we took was like taking 3 back as you slipped back down again. When we got to the top we sat on the boards and whizzed down the dunes it was fun and really worth the stop off (although I’m still finding sand now).

Cape Reinga was only another 30 minutes and when we got there it didn’t disappoint it was beautiful. There isn’t much at Cape Reinga but that’s what makes it special, there is a small light house and a sign and nothing else. The most amazing thing we saw there was the meeting of the Tasman and Pacific Oceans you can see the green Tasman meeting the dark blue Pacific pretty special. This place is very spiritual as the Maoris believe it is where spirits leave the islands after death.

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The plan on the way back to Paihia (we were staying in a different place that night) was to go to 90 mile beach which is actually 55 miles long (not as catchy though). The beach is actually classed as a State Highway so at low tide you can drive all the way down the beach. When we arrived we parked up to see what the ‘road’ conditions were like, Chris being a man was expressing his certainty that Hugh the Fiesta would be fine driving on the beach, and as we turned the corner a people carrier was stuck in the sand and the frantic family were trying to get it out before the tide came in. The beach was nice but it added a bit of excitement watching the car get towed out by a legend who drove up and down the beach all day charging people to get them out of the sand (excellent career move).

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We were staying at a place called Mousetrap in Paihia (where the main bay of Islands are) I was a little dubious of the name but it was a great quirky little place and it was a bit of a crazy layout it sort of reminded me of the game mousetrap (amazing game). After our trip to Cape Reinga and all the driving we didn’t want to cook so we headed to a restaurant called 35 degrees south it was lovely and it had a big aquarium in the middle. I tried to make a puffer fish angry by swearing at it (classy) but it didn’t work (I was really surprised).

The next day we had a Bay of Islands boat trip booked (it was weeing it down) we got there and they gave us the option to cancel and come back tomorrow (it was meant to be glorious) so we decided to cancel and do some of the things we had planned for Sunday. We had a trip to Whangerai which turned out to be just lunch in Whangarei as it was raining so much and I sat and ate the best pizza of my life (I know it’s a bold statement but it had -potato, bacon, caramelised onions and sour cream) we were pretty happy with our decision to cancel the trip (gutted for the family who travel 3 hours for that trip).

In the afternoon we headed back to Paihia and went on a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds this is where the Treaty agreement was signed on 6th February 1840 by the British Crown and various Maori chiefs. It is a really special historical place and it was really interesting to go around the place where such a huge part of history happened.

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At around 4.30 we got the 15 minute passenger ferry across to Russell (it was either that or the 1.5 hour drive –no thank you). Russell is the first ever capital of New Zealand and its tiny! We had a little walk around but it was still raining and let’s not kid ourselves the main reason we were there was to have a drink in the oldest pub in New Zealand. The Duke of Marlborough holds the oldest liquor licence in the country, we got a seat in the covered outside area and had a few drinks whilst watching people in the rain (shout out to the old lady who smiled and waved at Chris you made his day).

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The next day (Sunday) we went on a boat trip around the Bay of Islands with Fullers Great Sights, now I feel like this boat trip deserves its own blog – so that’s what it shall get (sneak peek we swam with wild dolphins!!!)

After the trip we headed to Auckland for the night and stayed in the poshest backpackers ever called Verandahs. We didn’t do much that night just ate pasta and slept (pretty adventurous). The next day we had to get home it was 5 hours from Auckland so we just had a quick look around and set off home. We plan to go back and see Auckland properly on a weekend where we have more time.

It was an amazing weekend and after so much driving we are so proud (and relived) of Hugh the Fiesta for getting us around like a pro 🙂

Lucy ❤

Rotorua

Hello Again

This weekend we went to Rotorua and it didn’t disappoint! We set off on Saturday morning and arrived at Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland just after 9.30 (this is the one in all the famous Rotorua pictures). It started off with a trip to the Lady Knox Geyser which erupts at 10.15am everyday –sounds suspicious –turns out it is! Every day at 10.15 the guide puts eco-friendly soap into the geyser and this creates a reaction and it erupts.

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The rest of the park was absolutely amazing. It was a mixture of mud pools, hot springs, fumaroles –out of this world. The old ‘who farted’ joke was cracked a few times due to the eggy smell that fills the whole city not just the parks. I must say the highlight for me was the famous champagne pool blue with a bright orange surround and the devils cauldron a bright green pool! It was amazing and the heat from the steam was incredible it blew across steaming up everyone’s sunglasses as they tried to take photos.

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After this we did something we had wanted to do for a very long time –we had our very first Wendy’s. It was sad how excited we were but it was very tasty and made Chris’ day to be honest. I had an avocado bacon burger –pretty special.

We were booked in at Hells Gate at 1.30pm for a ‘Combo Package’. This is another geothermal park but it is completely different to Wai O Tapu. Everything is so close to the track and you can stand within feet of a bubbling mud volcano! Our guide was brilliant (shout out to Jaxon), the highlight was when he told us he ate some of the ‘healing mud’ and had to power walk the rest of the tour back to the toilet. After the 2.5km walk we got the opportunity to carve our own Maori coasters I chose the symbol for loyalty, Chris chose strength (typical man). I thought I would be crap but my coaster tuned out pretty cool, Chris tried to be too artistic and his ended up looking more like a yucca plant than a mat.

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As part of the package we got to try out the mud pools and then the sulphur spa. The mud pools were great you got to cover yourself in mud and it had many health benefits I’m told (to be honest I felt more like a pig in mud after my Wendys). The sulphur spa was lovely but I still can’t get the smell of egg out of my bikini (this will be interesting next time I hit the pool).

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That night we went to Fat Dog Café –recommended by Lonely Planet (standard), those of you who know me know I live my life by Lonely Planet and I love it! We had the ‘Dogs Bollox’ burger (I know another burger) and I finished it off (see picture below and make your own mind up whether you are proud or disgusted).

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We stayed at the Funky Green Voyager backpackers and it was a small chilled little hostel that I think was a few houses that had been converted. It was a quirky style and our room was set on its own in a cabin style we really enjoyed it here.

Sunday morning we were booked in at the Luge (a go karty style thing) you get a gondola to the top of the mountain and then whizz down and then back to the top again on a ski style lift. We had 4 turns booked the first was easy, then intermediate and then advanced. We had a go on all 3 I found the advanced a bit scary but Chris reassured me he was going down it again as he was a pro but funnily enough he came down the intermediate with me (he said he wanted to overtake me –yeah right). The photos from that overtake were pretty funny me with a face like thunder and Chris looking like a kid on Christmas. I was later to discover on a video that Chris kindly took of me that I wasn’t going as quick as I thought and I looked more like Madge from Benidorm on a mobility scooter.

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We stopped off at Okere Falls to watch some white water rafters conquer a 6ft waterfall it looked amazing and we plan to do this with our friends when they come over in January (sorry Stace).

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We then had some time to fill so we had a trip to the museum and then Rotorua Lake. We people watched some tourists take pictures with seagulls on their heads and then set of for our Tamaki Maori experience.

Now we were both pretty nervous about this as we didn’t know what to expect. When we arrived we were told not to laugh, smile or mimic them as they greeted us with the Haka I must say it was pretty intimidating and it set everyone on edge (the tourist who was nominated our chief and looked like Ed Sheeran looked like he might cry). It was very moving and after this welcoming they told everyone to relax and have fun. We were then shown into the main village where we were taught all about the culture and the practices they used in them days (Chris did the Haka). We had a cultural performance and then the highlight – Hangi! This was a traditional Maori meal cooked underground it was amazing –with additions (I’m pretty sure they didn’t have aioli and gravy in them days). It was a great experience and it opened our eyes to their culture I would highly recommend it.

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We didn’t get home until 11.30pm that night but it was the best weekend yet!

Lucy 🙂

Skiing on Mt Ruapehu

Hi

About a month ago now we went on a trip Skiing, the nearest ski fields to where we live in Napier are a 3 hour drive away on Mt Ruapehu a nice big active volcano.

We booked to stay in a backpackers section of a hotel called Skotel (I was later to learn the highest hotel in NZ). We loved Skotel and we have booked to stay there again for when we do the Tongariro crossing in December. It was a typical ski lodge type of design that you would imagine and it was very cosy just what we needed as it was freezing. We stayed in a village called Whakapapa at the base of the access road to the ski field, it was a tiny village with a few hotels and about 3 cafes/bars.

When we arrived on Saturday afternoon we checked in – our room was a cosy little bunk room it really reminded me of an overnight train for some reason and then went for a drink (what Lucy and Chris do best). We opted for the Chateaux a very very posh grand hotel that is quite a feature in the village- so it was perfect for us (ha). We sat at this huge bay window that framed Mt Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom as it is now better known as) and watched the sun go down. Chris kept shouting ‘Mount Doom’ and ‘You Shall Not Pass’ in a really deep voice so that was really relaxing as you can imagine. That night we just chilled at the backpackers as it was absolutely freezing!

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We planned to Ski on the Monday as that was the best forecast so on Sunday we had a lie in and a lazy breakfast and then wrapped up in hundreds of layers to go on a few of the walks around the area. The first walk we did was Taranaki Falls walk which was about 1.5 hour trail to the falls and back. As we set off we soon realised the weather was a lot hotter than the day before and soon took our thermals off. Chris had 2 pairs of thermal leggings on and gave a passing elderly couple who were in their 70s a treat when they came round the corner to him in his underpants. They then proceeded to tell us that we were looking a bit ‘over the top’. When we had regulated our temperature and got to the falls they were really impressive it was definitely worth it.

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We went back to the hostel to offload some of our winter clothes, had a tuna sandwich and then set off on this next walk. This walk was called Silica Rapids I was excited as it had a volcanic name. This walk was really cool it was a series of volcanic features such as a ‘golden rapids’ due to golden coloured silica rising up through the rock. The main Silica Rapids were huge and the silica coloured the rock a yellowy cream colour!

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In the evening we went back to the Chateaux and a sports bar called Tussocks for a few and then went to get ready for our big day on the snow.

Chris had never skied before and I hadn’t skied since I was 15 so we planned to buy a discovery package that included lift passes to the beginner’s area (Happy Valley), a lesson and all equipment hire for $115 (£50) which we thought was pretty cheap! When we arrived on Monday morning we bought our tickets got our equipment and set off for our lesson, by this point it was 10am- we got to the ski school and the next lesson wasn’t until 12! This is the point where we decided to sack off the lesson and that I would teach Chris to ski, as I’m practically a pro after my 5 days experience as a 15 year old (not as disastrous as you may think).

I hasn’t lost it as I was worried I would have and Chris set off and took to it really well (we both only fell once!) There were a few pretty funny moments like where we were battling to get off the ski lift (every man/woman for themselves, I lost on this occasion) and I was wiped out by the lift as I wasn’t quick enough and ended up face down in the snow.

Chris got in a situation when we were waiting for the ski lift where he ended up bent over doing the splits (bit of a Bambi moment) and I had to push him forwards to resurrect the situation.

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By the end of the day we were both skiing down together with big grins on our faces in our hired ski gear, standing out like a sore thumb (typical tourists) thinking we were pros. That was until kids who were only just old enough to walk came whizzing past and doing tricks – they were pretty amazing although it really annoyed Chris that they were better and faster than him.

We had a great time skiing and it was helped by the fact we had the best bluebird day in 10 years (fresh layer of snow and sunshine).

My next post will be about our trip to Rotorua this weekend 🙂 (I’m seriously excited).

Lucy ❤

Our Weekend in Lake Taupo (Tow-Poh)

Hi 😀

When we first arrived in Napier and settled in including sorting our flat and buying a car (shout out to Hugh the Fiesta) we were pretty excited to go on our first road trip. We wanted somewhere fairly nearby so we could test out the car and get there and back within a weekend so we settled on Lake Taupo about a 1.5 hour drive away over the mountains.

Lake Taupo is New Zealands biggest lake and is the Caldera of a volcano. For the Geography geeks out there like me (Stacey Downes 😉 ) the caldera was created 26500 years ago by a volcano collapse due to a huge eruption.

When we arrived at Taupo we went straight to our backpackers Rainbow Lodge, we were a bit anxious as this was our first backpackers experience but as soon as we arrived we loved it. We were greeted by a gorgeous Collie dog called Jess who gave Chris a high five (enough said). We opted for the private en-suite option which was kitted out with double bed, bathroom and TV for $68 per night (around £28) for both of us so I would highly recommend it. That day we planned to do the 3 hour round trip walk from the backpackers to Huka Falls, it made our day when the girl at the reception said we could take Jess with us, and I must say she is the most well behaved dog I have ever met (sorry Max Barrett).

We set off for Huka falls and the weather was great considering it was still winter (just coming into summer now sorry people of the UK), the walk was brill we passed some bungee jumpers, natural hot pools and the walk was beside the river the whole way. I was really excited to see Huka Falls as it had been one of the first places I researched when we decided to move over to New Zealand. As we got near to the falls it was pretty clear we were there due to the loud sound of rushing water, it was quite strange as you approach as the river is still very calm and then you move around the corner and you are hit with the view. Huka Falls is at a point where the Waikato River is forced into a gorge make the river drop 10m. It was amazing the river was a lovely blue colour and there was a bridge where you could stand right over the top of falls.

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That night we went for a curry deal that we got on GrabOne (NZ Groupon) and the restaurant was freezing, we were sat next to a gas heater and we were still frozen, but on the plus side it was one of the best curry’s we have ever had (I had chicken tikka and Chris had mango chicken). We then bought a bottle of red and drank it back at the backpackers watching Saturday night TV (Rock and Roll).

The next day we got up early as we had booked a trip to see the Maori Rock Carvings with a tour company called Chris Jolly who offer boat trips to the carvings. The trip out to the carvings included tea, coffee and croissants which we weren’t expecting so it was a lovely surprise. Chris disappeared onto the top deck (I stayed in the warm, for those of you who know me this wont come as a shock) he came back down very excited about the ducks he had been feeding and telling me how I just had to come upstairs. I must say it was worth it as two ‘local’ ducks recognise the boat and as they fly up to the top deck of the boat they take bread right out of your hands, I think Chris preferred this over the carvings to be honest.

When we got to the carvings they were really impressive they were carved in the late 70s with only a hammer and chisel and they are 10m high! There were other carvings around the main design and every time you looked at it you saw something new a bit like Where’s Wally but more interesting 🙂

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The next stop on the agenda was ‘Craters of the Moon’ which is a geothermal area which is full of steam vents and mud pools, it was pretty cool. Some of the craters looked like they belonged in Jurassic Park, you expected a T-Rex to appear at any minute! It was a geographers dream.

The last stop before home was the Aratiatia Dam (that’s what you get when your boyfriend is an engineer) which is a hydro electric dam that blocks of the river before some pretty impressive river rapids.

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We loved Lake Taupo and hope to go back again before we leave.

Lucy ❤

The Northerners arrive in NZ (via Melbourne)

Hello 🙂

So I know this post is very late considering we have been in New Zealand for 3 months (ish) now but I came here with the intention of starting a travel blog, and after following a good friend from uni blogging around South America (thanks Amiee) it has given me a kick to get this blog started.

On the 2nd of July we set off to the airport after some emotional goodbyes (lets not go there) with a very long journey ahead of us. We flew with Ethiad via Abu Dhabi, Perth and the Melbourne!! We were staying in Melbourne for 4 nights with our lovely friends who we hadn’t seen for nearly 4 years – Kaley and Rik. It was the best feeling to arrive in Melbourne finally after what felt like a never-ending journey to be greeted by your best friends!

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We had an amazing time in Melbourne, Kaley and Rik went all out to show us Melbourne and all the tourist attractions nearby and it was great to chill and catch up after being apart for so long. We sat up until late on the night we arrived drinking port and curdled Baileys like old times- nothing changes.

So our first day consisted of a lazy morning recovering from jet lag eating an Aussie fry up including kangaroo sausages (yum) and getting to know Jeff the lizard. Ryan and Jess (Kaleys brother and his girlfriend) were staying for the weekend so when we decided to venture out we obviously took a boys car and a girls car to look for wild kangaroos on a nearby golf course. I’m sorry to say that predictably the girls got lost and took a long time to get there but we did see wild kangaroos. One took a dislike to Raz and squared up to him, so we made a quick exit went to McDonalds and then visited the set of Neighbours! The night soon escalated into lots of drinks and a game of ‘fire ball swingball’ which I wont elaborate upon.

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On our second day we went into Melbourne City Centre and it was amazing!! Its such a cool city it didn’t feel too big and had a really modern artistic feel – I loved the different artwork and sculptures. We started off by visiting the casino and we had a lovely lunch outside under some patio heaters I had a risotto and a glass of Sav (obviously). We then went to the Eureka sky deck which gives you a 360 of the whole city, and finally we went to Hosier Lane and the famous Flinders station, Hosier Lane is a street full of graffiti its really great as it apparently changes everyday with different art. We had a brill day and finished it off with a chilled night at the house!

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Day Three – Kaley took us to a place where you could feed wild cockatoos, you paid for a bag of seeds and they flew down and jumped all over you whilst they ate the seeds, being the chicken I am I managed to pose for one photo and then passed them back to Chris. The next stop was a viewing point in the Dandenong Ranges where you could see a great view of Melbourne CBD it was interesting to see how flat the land around it was and then just  a cluster of tall buildings where Melbourne appeared! We then went to pick Rik up and went to Philip Island to see the Penguins, it was an amazing experience seeing all the little Penguins coming out of the sea to get to their nests- sadly I couldn’t take any pictures as the flash scared them. On our final night together it would be rude not to get very drunk, light a fire and talk late into the night – so we did 😀

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On our last day we visited the Botanical Gardens where Kaley works it was really cool to see where she had been working in Australia and it was a really interesting place to visit. The final mission before we went to the airport was to go to the Moonlit Sanctuary and get the classic Australia tourist picture of us feeding kangaroo and cuddling a Koala.

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After a quick takeaway pizza it was time for the airport to continue our journey to New Zealand. It was strange leaving Kaley and Rik, I think that’s when it hit us that we were moving to New Zealand as all our energy and excitement had been focused on seeing them when we were left on our own we got a little nervous.

The flight went by in no time and we arrived in Auckland at about 5am, but it wasn’t over – we still had to get to Napier. We arrived at our motel in Napier at about 5pm and after 4 flights, 3 buses and a taxi to get there we just had a curry, drank some wine and slept. We were finally in New Zealand- our home for a year!

Lucy 🙂