Monday 13th September-Sunday 19th September WK 2
Day 8-Monday 13th September Taupo-Tongariro National Park-Wanganui
It was beautiful and sunny this morning when we woke up. So we were able to see the gorgeous views around Lake Taupo before leaving. We went to Pak n Save (supermarket) to get food for our journey, then we set off for Tongariro National Park. Unfortunately it was raining heavy on the way and it was extremely foggy. This was such a shame as we were passing mountains that we were unable to see fully. We drove past Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhue (Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings).
We stopped in Whakapapa village and did a 2 hour walk, taking us to Taranaki Falls. It was raining really heavy, but we decided to just keep going. Even though we got drenched, it was still well worth it. We could see remains of lava flow, from when the last eruption. When we got to the falls we walked right down to it, the spray coming off it was really powerful. If I wasn’t wet enough already, I was now!
We were drenched when we got back to the van. We decided to use the rest of the afternoon, catching up with my journal and Paul had some work to do. So we stopped in Wanganui to get onto the internet. We drove onto Palmerston North tonight, and straight in our campervan there.
Day 9-Tuesday 14th September 2010 Palmerston North-Wellington
This morning we took a look around Palmerston North. We took a look around the Plaza and also looked around the town. Then we drove on to a town called Fielding, just outside of Palmerston. Fielding was voted best town in New Zealand for 14 years. It was a cute little town.
Paul could see wind mills in the distance and wanted to know where they were, so we asked about it in the tourist information. We found out that it was the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere. We decided to take a drive to see it. It was close to the town of Woodville and is named Te Apid Windfarm.
I can understand why they have the wind farm there. It is extremely windy up on those hills. I could hardly hold myself up. We stood right under one of the wind mills.
Next we stopped in the town of Woodville, for cheesecake at ‘Yummy Mummy’s cheesecake’. We got white chocolate and raspberry to share.
Then we drove through Levin and stopped at Hokid, Otaki and Otaihanga beach.
We drove all the way to Wellington tonight. We arrived there at about 5pm. It took us a while to find a hotel. It was a bit of a nightmare trying to park up in the city. Everywhere charges at least $4 (£2) for 1 hour. Most parking in the city is free after 6pm.We finally found a hotel to stay in. We stayed in Downtown backpackers for $80 (£40) a night. The hotel was a little out dated, but the room was fine and comfortable. A nice change from staying in the campervan anyway!
Day 10-Wednesday 15th September 2010 Wellington City
We checked out of our hotel this morning at 9am. We had to find somewhere to park up for the day. We finally found a car park close to the city that cost $10 (£5) for the whole day.
First of all we went to Te Papa Museum. This is one of the best museums I’ve been into for a while and it was totally free. There was so much to see and learn about and there is so many interactive activities for children and adults. There was an earth quake display, fossils, large interactive map of new Zealand, Maori Culture, kids activity room and many more. There was enough in there to spend at least 3 hours, but we only had a short time so spend in there.
We went to the Botanical Gardens. There’s an old cable car that takes you up to the gardens from the city. You can get a beautiful view over the city from the gardens. Although the gardens were only small in size, compared to others we have been to, the location is still a great place for viewing the city.
Next we went to Old St Paul’s. This has to be my number one spot of the day, because of the wonderful lady that we met there. Her name was Mary and she moved to New Zealand over 30 years ago with her husband. She was originally from Windsor. She showed us around the church and told us of the history there. It always helps to hear about history from someone who is passionate about what they are speaking about. I could of listened all day to Mary.
Old St. Paul’s is one of New Zealand’s greatest heritage places, and is one of the finest examples of timber Gothic Revival architecture in the world. It was the parish church of Thornton and Cathedral church of Wellington from 1866 to 1964. It is no longer a parish church, but still consecrated. It can still be used today for weddings, funerals, christenings ect. They also have concerts in there, which are open to the public. I would of loved to see a concert in there, maybe one day I will.
Next we took a quick look at the parliament buildings. Unfortunately we were running short on time as we had to leave by 5:00 pm. I was going to meet up with my friend Clare tonight and her Fiancé John. Clare moved over to New Zealand over 6 years ago with her parents. I met Clare when I lived in Liverpool in 2002-2003, when studying performing arts at Liverpool Hope. We worked on our final piece together, where we had to devise a short performance. We based our performance on the story of Midsummer Nights Dream and wrote songs to go with our performance. I really enjoyed working with Clare, she was a hard worker with a lot of talent.
We went to Clare’s and John’s house for dinner. It was great getting to meet up with Clare again and to meet her Fiancé John. They get married in a couple of weeks. We would of loved to be there, but unfortunately won’t be able to be there. It was great catching up and sharing stories together. Hopefully if we ever make it back to Wellington, which I hope we do, we’ll meet up again.
After spending many hours chatting with Clare and John we decided we best get on the road, as we planned on driving to Masterton tonight. This was a 1 hour journey, around mountains. I’m glad Paul was driving, as the roads were so windy and steep.
We got to Masterton about midnight and straight over night in our campervan.
Day 11-Thursday 16th September 2010 Masterton-Gisborne
We left Masterton early this morning and drove all the way to Gisborne. First we stopped in Hastings. This was a fairly big town. We took a look around the shopping streets and stopped for lunch. Then we drove on to Napier. Napier was a really nice town, surrounded by beautiful green top cliffs. We took a walk along the beach and also visited a cathedral that was re-built after an earthquake hit Napier in the 1930’s.
We finally got to Gisborne at about 6pm. We were both really tired after all the driving, so we just took a quick walk around the city, then got to sleep in our camper.
Day 12-13-Friday 17th Saturday 18th September 2010 Gisborne
We woke up early in our camper this morning. We found shower facilities in the city, just near the McDonald’s. It cost us $3 ($1.50) each for a 10 minute shower, this included towel hire. We’ve been lucky enough to find shower facilities in most places.
We planned on spending the morning in Gisborne, then moving on to our next destination. However things did not go as planned.
We parked our car up and decided we would take a walk along the river. Paul saw some wooden posts right by the river and decided he wanted to jump from one to the other. He said ‘video me, video me.’ Without giving me time to even respond, he had gone ahead, as confident as ever and took a leap. What he hadn’t realised, was that what he thought was a solid river bank, was actually 2 feet of sinking mud, and yes he landed right in it!
His face soon changed from confident to embarrassed, as people were walking right by. Paul soon realised that the mud was sucking his shoes in and it was difficult to get out. He had to pull his feet away from his shoes in order to get out. He pulled his hands and feet out of the mud and pulled himself back up on to the path, leaving his brand new trainers in the mud.
He had mud all up his jeans and you couldn’t even see his hands with all the mud on them. I quickly asked him where’s your wedding ring. He realised it wasn’t on his finger, and in panic he just thought maybe he’d left it at the showers. I drove back to the showers, but it wasn’t there. He soon realised that he had put it back on and it must be in the mud. It must of slipped off his finger as he was pulling his hand back out. The ring was getting very loose on him, so this would of easily happened. He also realised that his right index finger was bleeding. I took a look and it was fairly deep, I tried taking him to the hospital, but he refused and wanted to fix it up himself.
We were both really upset that the ring had gone, but didn’t know what to do, as the tide was coming back in and the mud was so sticky. We decided we wouldn’t leave without trying to get it back. So we went to the shop to buy some equipment, wellies, a basket with holes for the mud and we found two planks of wood to stand on, to stop us from falling in to the mud. We waited for the tide to go back out, which was around 5pm.
Paul dug through the surrounding area of where his hand could of gone, trying to find the ring, but we had no luck. The sun started to go down and we hadn’t got anywhere. We decided to call it a day. In the morning we were still frustrated that we hadn’t found it, but just felt that digging through again wouldn’t get us very far. So we decided to drive on. I’m still upset that we didn’t get it back. Maybe one day we’ll go back for it, with a metal detectorJ
We went to the Cinema in the evening to see ‘Grown ups’ with Adam Sandler in. We hoped this would take our mind off loosing the ring, but as soon as we got out we were thinking about it again. It is not so much the value of the ring in cost, but rather its sentimental value. We will be looking for a new ring for Paul soon, but it will probably have to wait till we get back. It’s funny because the day before the ring got lost we had both mentioned about getting our rings engraved and Paul said it would be a good way of someone returning it to us, if we ever lost them.
We drove from Gisborne to Turanga on Saturday. We stopped in Tokomaru Bay. There was a small village near by, of which was mainly Maori people. We passed by a few other bays and beaches-Te Piu Springs, Waipro bay, Hickes Bay. Unfortunately my camera batteries fell out of my camera on one of the beaches, so I wasn’t able to get any more photos until we got new batteries. Paul decided to draw the beach that we were on instead…..I never knew Paul was an artist! Haha.
It was a long drive to Turanga on the coastal road, but the scenery made it worth it.
We arrived in Turanga at about 6pm.
Day 14-Sunday 19th September 2010 Tauranga-Whangarei
We went to the tourist information In the morning to get info on Tauranga. We were recommended to climb up Mount Maunganui.
Mount Maunganui is regarded as a coastal resort town, although Port of Tauranga, a major facility, is also partly located on the western (harbour) side. It is also well-known for the quality of its surfing conditions, though parts of the beach are notoriously dangerous. The harbour bridge was opened in 1988, linking Mount Maunganui with Tauranga. The construction of a duplication bridge was completed in December 2009, forming a vital link in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui’s growing motorway system. (Wiki)
We drove over the bridge to Mount Manganui foothill. We took the 1hour steep climb to the top of the Mount. You get an amazing view of the bay.
In the afternoon we drove on to Whangarei. The winds were really strong. There were a lot of storms around the North and South island with winds up 120 km Hr. Luckily we managed to miss most of these storms. We arrived in Whangarei at about 9pm. We slept in our campervan again.
Wk 3 Blog coming soon
Ruth and Paul