Wednesday, June 29, 2005

No Sydney pics just yet...

In the absence of any Sydney pics yet (I haven't uploaded the first lot yet) here's a nice picture of a koala I took at Currumbin about a month ago.

Obscene portions

We had a mid afternoon snack here yesterday to escape the rain.

Eating their dessert pankcakes could kill you (if you ate them every day for about 5 years.) I recommend the crepes. They are truly great, albeit a cholesterol nightmare.

Weather conspiracies.

Well, hello from sunny Sydney. Actually, not that sunny. It has been raining most of the past week (which I find deeply amusing given the state of the UK summer). Anyhoo, I guess it must be someone else's fault, having come across this recently. [hopefully the link will still be working].

Otherwise, yes. Sydney. is a big enough city [but not stupendously big] that most useful services exist i.e. public transport, emergency services, pizza delivery. Tall buildings, smelly people, nutters, smilers, frowners, shoppers. Interestingly, the suited asswipe exists here too.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Back in Oz again...

We're back in Oz, this time in Sydney. So far we've managed to lose some money (don't wory, not that much, Mum) at the casino, eat Chinese food and not much else, but we'll have more to report in the next few days.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Where have we been?

Well, as we come to the end of our NZ adventure (more blogs to come, more things to tell you about) the above map shows the complete route we've taken, starting at Christchurch and ending up here in Auckland.


Following threats of exposure by fellow contributor Cathers, here is the latest from the steaming pit of journalistic acumen possessed by the mighty Rozzer: sometimes it is sunny in New Zealand. Yes, this may come as a surprise to those of you currently basking in equatorial UK and perhaps even those New Zealanders who might be experiencing this blog. I had come to the conclusion that New Zealand was just a mix of Scotland and Gloucestershire but now I am aware that sunny Bournemouth has made it into the mix. Mind, it is winter here.

I am also noticing that I only ever watch CNN in hotels.

Smelly smelly Rotarura...

Rotarua is smelly. Very smelly. The smell (of suphur) permeates *everywhere* - clothes, hotel rooms, up our noses. We stayed at a nice hotel by Lake Rotarua but that didn't stop both R and myself waking up loads in the night because it was so smelly. Ugh.

Thankyou? I don't think so...

This is a special post for Chrissy B who we think will like this.

None of your namby-pamby "Thankyou" one word crap here! ;)

Taupo, land of steaming piles...

...of mud.

This is "Craters of the Moon" at Taupo. All the smoky stuff you can see is steam coming up through naturally created vents in the ground after the nearby power station lowered underground water levels in the 1950s and affected the geography in the area around it. The vents come in the form of fumeroles and craters and some of these gurgle away loudly.

It's called "Craters of the Moon" because somebody thought it looked "other worldly". Actually it just looks like someone's blown a load of holes in the ground on Earth, but it's very interesting and quite weird.

More blog updates tomorrow...


After another short break whilst we've been travelling up the North Island we will be updating the blog again tomorrow (or today, we're 11 hours ahead of the UK here)

Blog items to look forward to:

Mildly smelly Lake Taupo
Very Smelly Rotarua
More pics
More hard hitting expose from Rozzer!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Another pic...

Franz Josef Glacier

Here's the first of a few pics...

Mt Cook at Sunset

Inaccurate Corned Beef and Pickle Sandwiches

One thing the Kiwis don't seem to be able to get right are corned beef and pickle sandwiches. I'm typing this out on the Picton - Wellington Ferry and having just eaten one one of their "corned beef and pickle" sandwiches I have to say that it was edible but unlike any proper corner beef I've ever tasted, and don't even get me started on the alleged "pickle."

The great petrol chase race

Petrol here is about half the price of back in the UK. We bought a full tank in one of towns after we left Akorai Mt Cook and a tank in our hire car takes around 500km. All the uppy-downy driving subtly drains the tank. In our case we drove past a couple of petrol stations with an almost half-full tank of petrol as we came out of the mountains and headed to the west coast to see the Franz Josef Glacier. No "No petrol for the next 180km" signs at any of them...

About 1/2 an hour later, just after we'd stopped at yet another stunning viewpoint, the petrol light flashed on.

And stayed on.

And stayed on.

The sun started to set.

"No probs" we agreed, we'll find another petrol station amongst these small amusingly named towns we're passing through. "Look, they're all on our trusy map." Only, these "towns" would have all made a hamlet look positively huge.

Time passed and the gauge edged closer to zero.

It got darker.

Rory slowed down a bit to conserve what petrol was left. We stopped at a farm and Rory was offered diesel (no use) and the suggestion that we "just keep going and if you get stuck someone will pass by eventually give you a lift in town (Fox Glacier in this case)."

More time passed and the gauge reached zero.

"No probs!" I said, there's a freephone number here in the owner's manual if we get stuck, we can call them."

It got to proper night-time.

Did I mention neither of us could get a mobile phone connection?

Some more time passed and the gauge not only reached zero but waved at it as it continued on its journey downwards.

So there we were, running on fumes, in the middle of nowhere in one of the least-populated areas of one of the least-populated countries in the Modern World.

We were resigned to the car running out of petrol at any second and having to either wait for 3 hours or try and hike 10-15 miles. We kept saying things like:
"At least we're in a developed country" and
"At least they have no large predators in the bush" and
"At least we have crisps and chocolate and warm clothes".


Then we had a miracle.

We actually reached the town.

In the car.

We had 2 litres left in the tank (which we only found out when we filled it up FULL again.) We had run for over 180km (over 100 miles) on the little yellow petrol light.

Unsurprisingly, we are now both fans of Ford Mondeos and their ridiculously early petrol warning systems. :)

South Island - one long scenic drive...

Once we drove out of the the "metropolitan" Christchurch area (and I use that phrase advisedly, it took all of 10 minutes), we headed into the Canterbury Plains towards Akorai Mount Cook on State Highway 1. Pretty much from the moment we got out of the city, Highway 1 was one great big advertising hoarding for New Zealand. Actually, pretty much the whole of South Island is one long avertising hoarding for New Zealand. It's a bit wierd and takes some getting used to, but it really is another mountain, lake or panorama around every corner, and just as you think you've seen the best mountain/lake/panoramic view, a better one pops up around the next corner. I wouldn't say that it ever gets boring exactly, but we probably have suffered from "stunning view" fatigue.

The speed limit here is mostly 100km/hour (about 60 miles) outside of urban areas. This sounds slow until you're travelling along the uppy-downy-twisty mountain roads when 100km/h is what a lunatic would drive (note to my parents: Rory did not drive like a lunatic, honest :))About 3/4 of South Island appears to be uppy-down-twisty roads, and those are the *highways!* However, they don't seem to have much of a concept of dual carriageways here either, so you can get stuck behind a r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w driver (usually overcautious fellow tourists) and not be able to overtake them for 20 miles whilst a convoy builds up behind you.

One bizarre thing is that after a while, in the rural areas, you often find that you don't see another car for 10-15 minutes, especially at this time of year. If you catch up to, or are caught by another vehicle, you almost feel resentful that even this one other car is one the road, that's how empty it is here! There are only 4 million people in total in NZ and only about 1m or so of those of those live on South Island, so that's not really many people living in an area the size of England and Wales.


The first thing we noticed about Christchurch was how much like home it was: cold and soggy! (mind you, it is the middle of winter here!) On the upside it looked a bit like Cambridge-by-the-Sea, even to the extent of a bit Midsummer Common type park and central square in the middle.

We were offered the opportunity to have our room at the Heritage Hotel right in the centre of town upgraded to a suite - for £20... Hmmm, hard decision...

We didn;t spend a huge amount of time in Christchurch and it was very grey the entire time we were there. To be fair sure it's jolly nice when the sun shines, but like most of the Southland towns we passed through, there's not really a lot to it other than some shops and a few "quaint" municipal buildings.

NZ Theme Song

In his infinite creative wisdom, Rory has created a theme song for NZ. He sings this every time a Neil Finn/Crowded House/Finn Bros song comes on the iPod jukebox in the car, and sometimes when it's just something that *sounds* like it might be any of the above.

Sing in a high pitched voice to roughly (but not exactly) the tune of whatever's playing:

"Welcome to New Zealand
Welcome to New Zealand
We are the Finn Boys
We write the theme tune
We sing the theme tune
Welcome to New Zealand"

Needless to say it is No. 1 playlist song in the car.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Quick post from an Internet Cafe in Franz Josef Glacier...

Things about New Zealand:

1. It is really ugly and we're getting tired of all mountains, lakes, glaciers and wildlife around every single flipping corner.
2. The people are horrible, all smiley and pleasant, look at you when they talk to you and speak funny.
3. The food is dire, so awful that everywhere we go we keep finishing it as it is so terrible that we have to keep tasting it to confirm how bad it is.

We hate it and can't wait to come home, although there is an abundance of tomato-sauce flavoured crisps so Rory is relatively happy in this respect.

I have to go know as this has cost $2 (about 75p) and I have to waste money on other things.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Possibly off-line for a few days...

Just a quick note to say that we *may* be offline for the next couple of weeks as we have no idea how much internet access we'll have whilst we're in NZ.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Rejoice, minions.

As you know, I am a dedicated monarchist. You can therefore imagine my considerable consternation in discovering that the republican rapscallions also known as the Australian Nation have a bank holiday celebrating our glorious Queen's Birthday. Now let me just thumb through the Book of British Bank Holidays for the equivalent.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Be at peace.

It is winter here. This means I must wear warm clothes. I have selected my shorts with the most dense weave and a t-shirt with sleeves (short). I tell you, it is truly freezing here. Muhahahahaha. Still, I spent an amusing time at the Baskin-Robbins asking for arse cream in a thick southern african accent. Ahh, happy days.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Lots of coast...

We've done a fair bit of driving around over the last few days. The pic above shows the routs we've driven in the last coupls of days. On Sunday my cousins took us down to Byron Bay, northern NSW for the day (great market, lots of hippies.) We took a drive yesterday up to the Sunshine Coast, had lunch at Cafe Le Monde at Noosa Heads (they do a wicked fish and chips) and then home via the Big Pineapple (big and pineapply) and the Glasshouse Mountains (big and pointy.)

15 milliseconds of fame

On Sunday night we went to the third eviction for Big Brother Australia, all much the same as the version back home - same obnoxious contestants, same claustraphobic house. All very entertaining though.

The eviction programme was fun, although the audience aren't treated terribly well. The Davina equivalent is called Gretel, she's a bit up herself and didn't engage with the audience at all until the end of the programme until we were roped in to provide some (free) cheering for a video for the the departing head of Australia's Channel 10.

We were technically on TV, 12 rows back, although unless you had a telescope and a pause button you would have missed it!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Lunch of the Dead...

We went to visit my great-uncle at his retirement home a couple of days ago, arriving at about 11.15am for a cup of tea. My uncle is by far the youngest resident and we had the residents' lounge to ourselves.

At 11.59am, the undead and their zimmerframes appeared all at once out of the walls, moving slowly, silent but for the occasional moan and squeak of the wheels. They converged on the lunch tables like zombies to er, whatever zombies like to eat. George Romero would have been proud. It was eerie and somehow very very odd.