Wine, Ferry, Art-Deco, Rain, Volcano, Zorb, Surf, Done
07.04.2012 - 24.04.2012
So over the past couple of weeks I have been gradually making my way north, back to Auckland to fly out in May. I haven’t written a blog in a little while so rather than go day by day I will just mention the highlights from each place I visited:
A town full of wineries and not much else; I only spent one full day here where I rocked up in the morning and immediately booked myself on to a wine tour. It was really enjoyable as you just get driven round in a minibus with a group of people drinking lots of nice wine in pretty places (what’s not to like). I bought one bottle of wine out of guilt (you can’t help but compare the prices to Pak’N’Save ) and actually spent more in the chocolate shop we visited than in the wineries (in my defence it was REALLY good chocolate, and it was Easter time so its allowed). In the evening I completed my day of decadence by going out for a nice meal with the girls I made friends with on the tour (not really a good move for a backpacker running out of money, but they were all on holiday and sucked me into their casual “we’re on holiday let’s spend loads of money” attitude.) One day of excess is allowed though…
I spent the Easter weekend in Picton which was beautiful weather so just spent most my time doing the walks in surrounding area (walking is free so made up for my excess in Blenheim, see it all works out). My hostel was really nice as well (they gave out free hot scones in the morning, so really you can forgive them for anything else) so I had a nice couple of days chilling out before my ferry.
I only stayed one night in Wellington to visit Tracy (one of the Irish girls I was travelling with) where the sum total of my activity was getting lost in the city trying to find Tracy’s hostel (I stayed the night for free there as she has her own room being a long termer, so I just had to walk in and pretend like I belonged and didn’t get asked any questions) getting Domino’s pizza (its $4.90 on a Tuesday which is like £2.50 for a large pizza so how can you say no?) and then getting up at 6am to move my car as parking in the centre of a city sucks.
Napier wasn’t excessively exciting as its main attraction was the fact that it had lots of art-deco buildings (I still don’t know exactly what art-deco is, but apparently there was a lot of it in Napier). I did however see my first Kiwi bird (in the aquarium randomly), so it was worth visiting as I was starting to worry I would leave New Zealand without seeing one.
Nothing to say about Gisborne, it rained loads and all I did was wait in Pak’N’Save for it to stop as I forgot to bring my coat, then went back to the hostel to watch movies, then left in the morning. Even if it didn’t rain I don’t reckon there would be much to do there…
The main attraction here was White Island – An active volcano out to sea. My visit involved a 1.5 hour boat trip out to the island, a dodgy transfer in a dinghy in quite rough swell (we had a few near misses with people falling in the sea, one girl actually slipped and started to fall backwards out the dinghy till one of the crew on the main boat jumped over and pushed her back in with his momentum, it was quite impressive), an hour tour round the island (complete with small risk of eruption/landslides, gas masks, an old abandoned sulphur mining factory, bad smelling acid steam and other joys of volcanos), another dodgy transfer back to the boat (I was actually quite surprised/mildly disappointed no one fell in), lunch, and a 1.5 hour boat trip back (by which time I was quite sea sick, so wasn’t excessively enjoyable). The volcano itself was pretty cool to see and the tour was good, but it was a bit of an effort to get out there (though luckily we had a nice day so it could have been a much worse crossing I guess)
I didn’t actually stay the night here (as had been here before), but stopped off to try Zorbing; which involves filling up a big plastic ball with some water (obviously not to the top, just enough to get you very wet and make sure you slip around loads), diving head first through a little tunnel to get into it, zipping it shut, then getting pushed down a hill on a zig zag track. They tell you to walk towards the edge (like a hamster ball) and I was determined to stay up and run for a bit but literally fell over within one step and went rolling off down the hill. It was awesome fun, though really just felt like a cool water slide, which makes it one of the most expensive water slides of your life ($60 for one go, which is like £32). Still, you have to do these things at least once!
Raglan was my last stop before Auckland and it was pretty cool! The hostel was very chilled out and awesome (hammocks, a slack line, a double bed, surf boards for hire and right on the water front) and the surfing beach was only a 5 minute drive away. So after a chilled out morning in a hammock and a brief expedition out of town to go tow a van (Ron’s tow bar finally had its use), I headed down to the surfing beach for the afternoon and got well and truly destroyed (the waves seemed to be really perfect sizes until I attempted to paddle out, when they would get massive and break right on top of me to destroy all my hard work of trying to get far enough out to surf). Still it was really nice being in the sea, and I did manage some ungraceful standing up which resembled surfing. It has definitely encouraged me to dig my surfboard out the shed when I get home.
Now I am back in Auckland staying with Amy and Dan for a couple of weeks, to sort through my accumulated crap, sell Ron and generally prepare to go back to real life (and sit out on the deck in the sun as Im still on holiday )