Right, and so for my final blog for New Zealand. In contrast to my other blogs I'm afraid this is not going to be too action or fact filled.
After my last blog I had one more night in Christchurch, and then I stepped onto a lovely shiny plane en route from Japan and took the short journey back up to Auckland. It was a bit of a shock to the system really to get back to the city which is home to more than a quarter of NZ's population after the relatively unpopulated south island.
I didn't stay for long though - on Sunday I jumped on the Kiwi bus for one last trip up to Paihia and the Bay of Islands, which I had previously not planned to do because I didn't think I had time. The Bay of Islands is comprised of something like 144 islands all dotted around in the sea, and apparently has the second bluest sky in the world after Ayers Rock in Australia (how they measure these things I'm not entirely sure). Unfortunately none of this blue sky was to be seen as it absolutely pissed it down all day. Consequently I won't be putting any of my photos up because they look like a wet weekend on the Isle of Wight! Just a waste of your time viewing them.
We went on a dolphin viewing boat - there are loads of dolphins in Paihia. Unfortunately we somehow managed to see not one, much less swim with the b******s. We got a bit of money back which was good and I still really enjoyed the 4 hour boat trip round the bay. I went and sat out on the bow of the boat (away from all the people puking inside) and it was beautiful, it just doesn't come out in photos too well.
Paihia is where the Treaty of Whaitangi was signed in 1840 between the country's Maori chiefs and the settlers, creating the New Zealand we know today. It's an area of outstanding natural beauty. The islands in the bay used to be privately owned until the government passed a law giving it first refusal on each island that came up for sale. There are now only a couple left under private ownership.
Since then, I have been back in Auckland preparing for my departure. I have loved New Zealand so much but Auckland is a relatively uninspiring city compared with the rest of the country and so I do feel ready to leave now. I am going to India tomorrow and I am scared but very excited. I have been to a travel clinic and I am stocked up with all sorts of antibiotics to stop any kind of amoebic or bacterial diarrhoea. A girl yesterday told me that she had to poo by the side of the road with a bus full of people watching her when she was in India: there's no way that's going to happen to me!
The observant amongst you may have noticed that I was due to leave NZ on the 25th, and it is now the 5th. You may also wonder what happened to Australia. Basically I've decided to come home for 3 weeks in April. There are several reasons for this: one is that I miss Matt. Another is that I wanted longer in NZ so it didn't make Australia too feasible. Another is that I have gone waaay over budget in NZ (it's actually a lot cheaper to come home than it would be to stay in Australia for that time). Another is that I have now realised that if I were to stay away 7 months I would start to be quite homesick. I don't feel at all homesick now but I can see it happening later on and that could potentially mean cutting out a trip to a developing country which I'm less likely to visit when I'm older. Therefore, I've decided that it makes most sense to cancel one of the most expensive countries, and also one that I am most likely to visit in future. Also, since reading Down Under by Bill Bryson, I have decided that I actually don't want to do the East Coast of Australia at all - I want to do other parts and there definitely wouldn't be enough time or money to do that in 3 weeks. So India has been bumped up and I will be in England between 5th and 23rd April. Since I made the decision to come home I have felt so much happier, and I am enjoying my trip a lot more to know that I have that bit of time.
Due to major major budgetary concerns (I am spending more than I expected to) I will literally be going nowhere when I'm at home apart from Newcastle and Aylesbury courtesy of Matthew Young chauffeur services. It's not that I don't want to see people but I will have no money at all and I just can't afford the train fares. I'm certainly not demanding that people come and see me, but if you should happen to be in Aylesbury when I am there (dates to be confirmed) then I would always love to see you.
Anyway, adieu for now, I will write as soon as I have something interesting and non e.coli related to report about India! xx