Ok, so I wrote this post ages ago and never got around to putting it up. I’m sorry I have been rubbish! Obviously you can all ignore the smug weather references that were relevant when I wrote it but aren’t now you are all basking in the sunshine of the UK heat wave! Enjoy! I’ll be following this post with an update of Blia and our road trip round Indo shortly!
So a little late (and a little long), but without further a-do…New Zealand……
Hello! I hope you are all well and that the sun is finally making an appearance back in the UK, the weather looks like it has been terrible!*chuckle*. Jim and I have left New Zealand and arrived back in beautiful Bali, we have moved back into our old room at Rays place, unpacked our bags and it feels like we never left. It’s been less than 48 hours since we arrived, but Jim has already found his happy place and is out and about on his second surf of the day (it’s only 10.30am) and I am pretty sure he has a couple more planned in before sun down….not that he’s obsessed or anything?! I’m taking a more relaxed approach and giving my jet lagged body a little time to recover before I join Jim on the ‘training programme’ (his words not mine) that he has decided I should undertake to get my surfing up a level…..sounds fun hey?!….Sort of.
I’m going to stop with the Bali talk now as this post is going to be dedicated to filling you in on what we got up to in New Zealand. It was an amazing couple of months and we did heaps, so I’ll just give you a run-down of the highlights to keep it short-ish (but hopefully sweet)J.
So after dealing with a few minor mishaps on the way (me forgetting to book our ongoing flight & holding up check in and Jim forgetting to sort out hire car) we finally got on our way to Auckland city. Luckily for us, our kiwi friends Zoe, Ben and their gorgeous wee boy Hector were kind enough to put us up for a few days to help us get over the jet lag (jet lag from Australia to NZ, who knew?! It’s further than you think!). They fed us, watered us (with wine – yay!) and introduced us to many local treats including city beaches and the Little and Friday bakery (Best. Doughnuts. Ever.) We even got a little taste of home with fish and chips on the beach. Thank you guys, we had such a lovely time with you all. Even if Kiwis don’t do mushy peas with their chippy! 😉
Our plan had always been to tour round New Zealand in a van, I mean, it’s just what you do in NZ, right? Everybodys at it. So we set about to get a van ASAP and after a few phone calls and a little bit of driving about, we came across the lovely Toby. He was the first and last van we saw and despite a small leak in his radiator he was an awesome companion for our trip. And yep, that’s right, I’m talking about our van like he’s a real person, and I’m not even sorry! We loved him! We nearly had to pay a little bit more for him than expected when Jim nearly reversed him into a post while test driving him, but I promised Jim I wouldn’t mention that.
A quick trip to the bank for cash and we were off! Our first destination? Taranaki – the surf highway. Jims choice, naturally.
Unfortunately for us, the ‘Surf Highway’ in this particular week turned out to be the ‘no surf high way’ so we passed the time here exploring some of the beautiful remote beaches and practicing our camping stove cooking skills. One of the highlights of this area was the people. People in Taranaki are SO friendly and when they came over to chat to us, many encouraged us to park on their land or outside their houses overnight with a few even offering to cook us roast dinners and asking us in for a drink! They were SO hospitable and interested in us, we were a little suspicious that we would end up in some sort of wolf creek scenario….but fortunately that was not the case. Despite the amazing hospitality of the Taranaki people, after a few days of no surf we were keen to get moving, so we set off in search of surf.
We were bumped into action by the promise of catching up with friends. For the second time in four years, we found ourselves (quite by chance) holidaying in the same country as the Sandberg family! Last time around in Bali, our paths didn’t quite cross, but as they were going to be in Wellington, we decided now was a good a time as any to start our trip to the south island. It was so good to see some friendly faces and we had an awesome couple of days, catching up, meeting baby Finn and enjoying the sunshine (drinking beer) in the city.
After the brief stop in Wellington, we took the ferry across to the south island. Our first stop was the Able Tasman National Park. We decided to spend a couple of days here doing some tourist type activities and so we booked in to do a day trip Kayaking round the marine park after which we would hike back through the park to the van. This was a strategically planned walk on my part as Jim hates walking unless “it’s to a specific destination”, i.e. circular day walks are a no, no *sigh*. We chose to go with the Sea Kayaking Company, who provides kayaks and a guide for the paddling part of the day. It was a great day; we saw seals, A PENGUIN (my favourite) and some awesome scenery on our hike back. On arriving back at camp, our lovely guides invited us to park our van at their house and to join them at their local pub for an evening of drinking beer and storytelling. Storytelling is a popular form of traditional Maori entertainment in NZ where ‘storytellers’ are invited to share with an audience a tale related to a pre-chosen topic. It’s quite an art form and people spend long periods learning their stories and practicing their delivery before they present them on stage. It was a little strange to us that the first two storytellers were Scottish (you guys get EVERYWHERE,!!) but all in all it was a very entertaining evening. Beer led onto more beer and before we knew it was a house party. Despite the late night, all the boys managed to get up bright and early to get to work the next day, while I, however, was left with the hangover from hell (Note to self: do not go drinking with outdoor pursuits instructors in their early 20s. YOU WILL LOSE). Incidentally I should mention that Kyle and Matt (two of our hosts) run an awesome free online travel guide to NZ travel called Bare Kiwi..…. So if you are planning to go to NZ you should defiantly check it out (www.barekiwi.com ) we used it heaps! Kyle also did the NZ episode of Idiot abroad with Karl Pilkington! How cool is that?!
So, hangovers and all we set off in search of happiness (in the form of getting Jim a surf before he went mad) and headed for Greymouth on the rugged west coast of the south island. And….Success!! WE GOT SURF! YAY! I was a little apprehensive about surfing here, as, like Perth, they have Great White sharks lurking about, but I was very brave and went in anyway. So I reckon that makes me pretty hardcore (I only screamed out loud a couple of times when my leash caught on something in the water).
We stayed in Greymouth, probably the most aptly named town in NZ, as it really is just a bit grey and dingy, for a few days as the surf was good and plenty of surf time = happy Jim. With a couple of surfs under Jim’s belt, we were able to move onwards and explore the west coast, eventually ending up in Queenstown to catch up with Julia, a friend from Bali.
Julia hitched a ride in Toby up the east coast with us to Kikora where we were able to surf some more, all be it close to the seal colonies…which I wasn’t too keen on, especially after news of the poor guy that was attacked by a great white in Auckland not long before. But we survived!
After our whistle stop tour of the south island we were eager to get up north to Gisbourne for more surfing. We jumped on the late night ferry across from Picton to Wellington arriving at around 10pm. Jim was keen to get on the road (shortening the distance between him and the waves, obvs.) so we decided to push on and get some of the journey done.
So, we arrived in lovely Gisbourne, which had the most amazing free camping spots right on the beach and parked ourselves here for a few weeks. From here we were able to explore the surf spots in both Gisbourne and the Mahia Peninsula which was just an hour down the road.
Jim LOVED Gisbourne. The surf was great, but an added bonus was the friendly locals. There was one particular guy who caught his eye that he took a bit of a shine too. He was a great surfer and I think Jim got all giddy when he was around and at one point ‘gushed’ (that is the only way to describe it) at the guy about how awesome the wave he caught was.
It went a little like this:
- Surfer catches wave and disappears deep inside the barrel.
- Jim tries to duck dive through the wave, thinking he can’t possibly be still in it as he can’t see him, he’s so deep.
- Jim feels the guy hit him under the water and they both tumble under the wave.
- Guy pops up, concerned, paddles to Jim and asks him if hes ok.
- Jim STARES at the guy all starry eyed and the following conversation ensues:
Surfer: OMG Dude, are you ok, ARE YOU OK?!
JIM: MATE!! WERE YOU IN THERE?! *shouting with excitement*
Surfer: Errr yeah. I’m sorry mate, are you ok?
JIM: O.M.G, O.M.G, O.M.G THAT WAS AWESOME!! *still shouting with excitement*
Surfer: *stunned silence*
JIM: I THINK THAT’S THE BEST WAVE I’VE EVER SEEN IN REAL LIFE!! *shouting – you get the picture*
Surfer: Errr, thanks dude. But are you ok?
JIM: yep, yep, yep, I’m mean maybe *checks himself for the first time for broken legs etc, before continuing – MAN THAT WAS AWESOME!!
Surfer: *smiles- slightly scared* err thanks dude
Gisbourne had a few ups and downs. It would take too long to write fully about all of them so I’ve made a list:
- Tan Tans Visit – Great to see you hunny!
- Morning Swims in the Sea – The best way to wake up.
- A ‘Winston’ lookalike dog at our camping spot – A nice reminder of home.
- Subway – Who doesn’t love a good Subway?!
- Free Camping – Its free(ish). What’s not to love.
- Pies – Steak and Cheese pies cheaper than a cup of tea. I couldn’t live here. I would be obese.
- Wine – Cheap. Wine. No explanation needed.
- Jim’s Man Crush
- Mice in the Van –Sharing your home with scratchy furry people freaks me out.
- Setting Mouse Traps – I don’t like killing things! (Boy’s job).
- Crazy Cake Lady – LONG STORY but don’t ever go to the Mahia Cafe on the Mahia peninsular in NZ. They DO NOT LIKE TOURISTS.
So as you can see, there were far more ‘ups’ than ‘downs’.
We ended our trip by trekking across country to Ragaln, probably the most famous surf spot in the world sue to its feature in the film ‘Endless Summer’.
It was beautiful and the surf was amazing, even if the localism was a bit more heavy handed than we had seen elsewhere in NZ.
We managed to sell they lovely Toby (SOB) for only a couple of hundred less than we paid for him (expected as we were leaving in the low season) and head off, happy and excited about Bali phase 2!
Thanks to Maria for putting us up in her awesome apartment for our last week. Having a real bed and TV was AMAZING (apologies for watching Geordie Shore on Repeat).
5 Things I have learned (sometimes the hard way) on our trip so far:
- It doesn’t matter how long you have been surfing, or how good you are. English people should never say ‘gnarly’ or ‘stoked’. Just like Americans should never say ‘mate’. It’s just wrong.
- Surf forecasts are not interesting. I have ABSOLOUTELY NO INTEREST in discussing a surf forecast in detail. Ever. Ever, ever. I appreciate its necessary knowledge, but anyone who prattles on about wave periods and swell direction for half an hour should be immediately placed on a naughty list and not taken off until they realise the error of their ways.
- The ‘Surf Scene’ that surrounds surfing is in general not ‘cool’ or ‘chilled out’. In fact, it can be quite the opposite.
- ‘Surfing’ bikinis are not made for purpose but for posing. If you buy such a bikini, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES wear it in the water for surfing unless you are into flashing your boobs and your arse in public.
- I could actually be a ‘cat person
Part 2 to follow soon….Bali update!