10th Jul 2009 - 1st Aug 2009
Perth and New Zealand!!!
Thought I would write a bit about my time in Perth and New Zealand!! This is going to be purely by memory as I did not write anything down so I apologies if I forget anything!!
Firstly though, I flew out of Johannesburg and landed in Perth. My sister in law Stacey and my 17 year old nephew Isaac were there to pick me up. I hadn't seen Isaac since he was about 9 or 10!! Almost didn't even recognize him!! We had a nice drive back to their house in Fremantle and it was so nice to not be in a hotel, hostel or tent!!! I got my own room with a lovely big bed and it was just a little slice of luxury! Had a shower in the privacy of a bathroom!! No more communal shower stalls!!
Stacey was amazing and even did my washing for me.......my clothes had not seen a washing machine in 2 months!! That was very brave of her...he he!! My other nephew Jacob (21) came around as well and my brother Robbie came home from work and we all sat down to a lovely dinner.
I had such an overwhelming sense of being in Australia, it was very strange! Although it was winter and was rather cold, it still never ceases to amaze me the beauty of the Aussie sunshine! I really love Fremantle, wandering the streets and admiring the old buildings and getting 'hello's' from the locals...another great thing about Australia!
Jacob and I drove about 2 1/2 hours down to Donnybrook to stay with my sister Tracey and Craig and my niece Erin for a couple days. Donnybrook is a little quaint country town 210 km's south of Perth. A lovely place with one main street and friendly people! We took a day to drive out to the Margaret River and visit some wineries, of course tasting all the fresh wines along the way! Such beautiful scenery as we drove, really is a beautiful part of the country. Jacob and I also took a drive out to what they call 'Gnomesville'!!!
No-one really knows just exactly how the gnomes started appearing, but one story is that it really did just start with one gnome, placed on the side of the road and it went on from there! Regardless of how it started, Gnomesville now has a community of over 1000 gnomes of all sorts!! There are gnomes scattered everywhere - in the bush, alongside the road, down the various pathway s. We would walk one way, thinking we had seen them all, and then you'll find one peeking at you from up in a tree or from behind a log! And it's not just a pile of gnomes on the side of the road - it really is like a little community. With groups of gnomes playing cricket, flying planes, parachuting, having parties, playing football and all sort of things! There were things like the Gnoman Empire, experience There's No Place Like Gnome, and many many other Gnome puns that i thought were very inventive!!
So a nice time was spent in WA, catching up with family, a bit of sightseeing, met up with a couple friends of mine that I knew from London (Scottee and Naomi) and just enjoyed all the things in life that i will never take for granted again!
On the 17th I flew Perth to Auckland with a transit in Sydney. I arrived into Auckland, the 'City of Sails' quite late and Andrew was there to pick me up! Hadn't seem him for 2 months so it was so nice to see his face as I walked through the doors! We had a 45 minute drive to his parents house in West Auckland where he had been living for the past 8 weeks. Got to meet his mum Linda that night and crashed as it was already midnight by the time we got home.
Awoke the next morning and met Andrew's dad Lloyd and enjoyed a lovely cup of tea.
Andrew took me out for a drive, around some lovely windy roads and up to a look out point (for the life of me cannot remember the name?) with some fabulous views of the city. But man it was bitter cold up there and the wind tore through us so we didn't stay out of the car for too long!!
For the first week we cruised around different parts of Auckland. We took the train into the city and wandered around. We got the ferry across the harbour, with great views looking back.
Auckland is a great city in the fact it is so diverse! There are beaches, wineries, shopping, volcano's, boats everywhere and even rainforest's!
One of the days Linda and Lloyd took us to the Sky Tower for lunch in the rotating restaurant up the top. The Sky Tower is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere standing at 328m and from the top is breathtaking views for as far as the eye can see. You get taken up in glass fronted elevators and even part of the floor inside the life is glass so you can look down as you shoot to the top in about 40 seconds!! Not a good idea if you are afraid of heights! We had a lovely lunch sitting in the Orbit restaurant and got to do 1 1/2 laps of the rotation (It rotates once every hour). The lunch was amazing, I had a pumpkin soup and a delicious rack of lamb (had to eat NZ lamb - yum yum!!!). We watched people jumping off the top of the sky tower on something similar to a bungee cord, and also people doing the walk around it on the outside all attached on ropes etc.
We drove down to Rotorua for 2 nights also. Driving into Rotorua our noses started twitching as we got closer you could really smell the sulfur since its a geothermal wonderland and all! It really stunk at first but got used to it pretty quick. We stayed in a hostel but with a private en-suite room, which turned out great as it even had a kitchen in there as well!! It was a huge room!
We walked around some of the bubbling mud and thermal spas that afternoon and checked out the town. We were even lucky enough that the bar attached to our hostel does a free pizza night the evening we were there! So we ate for free, and it turns out they just order in a tonne of pizza from Domino's and hand them out, there wasn't many people there and Andrew and i got a whole pizza each and then they even bought out another one for us to share!! Sweet as bro!
The next day we kept very busy. We started out by going to the Rotorua Museum which is housed in the historic Bath House building, located in the Government Gardens. It was really interesting learning about the ancient Maori Cultures and seeing the original art pieces. We got to see an old throw/blanket that was actually Andrew's Great great grandmothers! As part of his background is actually Maori.
After the museum we went out to Te Puia at Whakarewarewa (pronounced Fuckawerawera!!). Te Puia is home to the Pohutu (meaning big splash) geyser, which we were lucky enough to see if explode of of the group about 15 meters high!! Its awesome to think these pools are about 40,000 years old!
We did our own self guided walks through the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley seeing the huge hot bubbling mud baths, loads of geyser's and then we got to attend a Maori Cultural Performance. I loved it, they did the Kapa Haka and I couldn't take my eyes off them. Quite a powerful performance.
We visited a Kiwi enclosure in darkness as they are nocturnal animals, and they are so cute!!! The Kiwi House is dedicated to survival of the endangered bird. There was a pair of them in their by the names of Kenny and Colorado, the first kiwi birds born in captivity without human intervention or artificial incubation.
We also went to watch the carving school and also the weaving display. After we had finished at Te Puia we made our way to Mount Ngongotaha and got the Gondola up the side of the mountain, it was raining quite heavy and had been most of the day but that didnt stop us doing everything!! We got to the top and even in the rain we did 2 Luge rides down the mountain getting the chair lift up in between! There are 3 separate concrete sealed tracks wind through the redwood trees, scenic, intermediate and advanced! We sped down them and it was so much fun, although our hands were frozen solid after wards and bums were rather wet! The tracks with viewing bays at great locations for taking photographs, enjoy a leisurely trip whilst enjoying the panorama views for 2 km's, and then we did the intermediate for 1.7 km's with some twisty turney bends!! So much fun!!
We got fish and chips for dinner and took it back to the hotel to eat. We had such a big day and were pretty exhausted so we didn't really stay up to late!!
So thats about all for NZ I have to talk about, saw loads of sights, discovered Auckland and was nice to see where Andrew had grown up and finally meet his folks!