Last Thursday (12th June) we caught the bus to Napier. The first stop on the Magic Bus was at the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre to see a Kiwi bird (Kiwi is a symbol of New Zealand), which is much bigger than I thought, and to see a Tuatara (resembles a lizard and endemic to NZ). Our next stop, at midday, was at the Tui Brewery were we all paid $2 for three glasses of beer - not bad for the middle of the day. The rest of the journey to Napier was a bit hazy, much rowdier and involved alot of toilet stops and sleeping. On the way to Napier we drove through the town of Hastings and past the many apple orchards and wineries of Hawkes Bay.
Napier is the largest Art Deco City in the Southern Hemisphere. We arrived mid afternoon so once we'd dumped our bags at the YHA (where we got a 4-bed dorm for $24 each to ourselves - yipee) we went for a wander around town to check out the Art Deco styles and the architecture. Buildings on Emerson Street included the Criterion Art Dec Backpackers and ASB Bank which is beautiful inside. Tenneyson Street has some preserved buildings which include the restored Municipal Theatre which stands out with it's neon light fittings and wall decorations and the Daily Telegraph building which is one of the finest examples of Art Deco in Napier. We also saw the Deco Centre and the Masonic Hotel before going to the iconic AMP building, home of 'Indulge Hawkes Bay' for a wine tasting of six local wines from the region. The cost was $15 each but I think the lady took pity on us travellers counting our pennies and gave it to us for $15. We also got dips, olives and crackers. Back at the hostel we decided that instead of staying an extra night at Napier, like we'd plan, we'd try and get tickets for the rugby (Sat 14th June) - All Blacks Vs England in Auckland. We knew we'd be missing out on a visit to the Hawkes Bay wineries but it's not often that you see the England play the All Blacks especially for the bargain price of 20 quid each!
Friday 13th we got the Magic Bus to Mount Maunganui stopping at the lakeside town of Taupo to collect people and then onto Rotorua for a 3hr stop. This was a bit annoying but we managed to fill the time with a trip to the local Pak & Save to buy lunch which we sneakily cooked in the YHA hostel that we stayed at on our last visit to Rotorua. Our friends Sam and Laura got on the bus and from here we went to Mount Maunganui stopping at a giant kiwi fruit along the way to climb inside and take some piccies of. We arrived at Mount Maunganui at about 5pm and Rangi, our lovely driver, drove us around the town to show us around. The whole bus stayed at Pacific Coast Lodge were we got given pizza and biscuits on arrival but got stung for $26 each and $2 for sheets and a duvet. We chilled that night watching two films - Remember the Titans and The Ring.
Yesterday we caught the Magic Bus back to Auckland for our last bus journey in New Zealand. On the way we passed through Katikati, the 'mural' town of NZ, the gold mining town of Waihi and Paeroa which the kiwi soft drink ''Lemon & Paeroa" is named after. Last stop before Auckland was at Thames on the Coromandel Peninsula. We arrived in Auckland at midday, got dropped off at the International YHA. After a couple of beers with Sam and Laura we headed out to Eden Park to watch the Rugby and unfortunately England getting thrashed by the All Blacks. The best bit was watching the All Blacks perform the Haka (Maori traditional dance) before the game.
Today wé've just chilled at the hostel and Jem cooked an amazing New Zealand lamb roast dinner for us with the best roast potatoes and gravy ever!
Tomorrow we fly to Chile for a new chapter in our adventure! Will be in touch, take care and lots of love and kisses xxxxxx