The fellowship grew by one when Sal, a friend of C´s from the UK came over for a two week holiday.
We hired a (too) ickle camper and set off for our tour of the North Island. Highlights included:
Blackwater rafting in Waitomo: After freaking out in the cimulated cave (it was narrow and nasty) in the museum of Waitomo, I was a little bit apprehensive, to say the least, about going into a cave network with water flowing through it taking a big rubber ring. The guides did nothing to reassure us when they explained that there was a lot of water due to the rains and it was moving really fast.
We had to wear some rather attractive outfits and move to a river to practise. We had to stick our bums throough the hole of the rubber ring and jump backwards off a jetty into a river. I thought C and/or Sal were going to back out at this point. C´s face after she landed was a picture. The Lady was Not Amused. But we all overcame ouir doubts and got on with it. I really enjoyed it in the end. It was absolutely freezing but we floated, scrambled, and waded through the caves, spying glow worms as we went. Great fun.
National Park.... Ok, so this wasn´t really a highlight. C had visited this area on her previous road trip and was raving about the views of the volcanoes, we had plans to ski and walk. As it turns out, the weather was rubbish. we couldn´t see the volcanoes, the ski slopes were closed and it was peeing down so we didn´t fancy a walk. I think C was more disappointed than me and Sal because she knew what we were missing out on.
Wellington... Got drunk with Esther!! hooray!
Martinborough... took ourselves on a wine tour. Drank some lovely wine in various ´boutique´(they love that word in NZ) vineyards. A lovely place. In the evening, we had dinner and some more wine talking to the guy who had actually made the very wine were drinking.
Napier ... more wine! so good. Also went for a lovely meal where there was some confusion over our order. As a result, we got a free bottle of wine! Hic.
Gisborne... We were there the day before the Food and Wine Festival and met up with Sarah and Martin. For some reason (maybe missing the whackiness of Asia?) Celia and I thought we would get our fortunes ´read´ at a psychic fair. I sat down across the table from a lady who didn´t read cards or anything. She just communicated with her ´guide´. Now I don´t want to be completely disrespectful about this kind of thing.. I think some people do have a gift. Possibly Maybe. But I get the feeling this lady was having problems channeling her guide in a hotel events hall with abillion other people around. Maybe all the spiritual guides were on a spritual tea break. Maybe she was just rubbish. I mentioned that I was travelling and she said various bits and pieces, half telling / half asking me if I was going to Australia (as most people travelling to NZ tend to do) but the most mind blowing thing she said was that my mum was worried about me!! You don´t say.
We watched the Rugby World Cup Final in Gisborne. Not so much disappointed by the result as we were amazed by them being there! The fact that England didn´t score a try meant that we didn´t get to drink beer in the morning. Just as well because we more than made up for that during the day. The food and wine festival in Gisborne is a fab event. Lots of the vineyards in the area put on parties with wine to taste, food (though never enough!) and entertainment. We visted them all... transported in between by old fashioned buses. The weather was great for it and we drank, boogied, kicked rugby balls, and drank (more) our way through the day. It was a couple of months before I really fancied a white wine again...
Before Sal flew home, we had a couple of days on Waiheke Island near the Harbour in Auckland. We stayed in a lovely little holiday home (they call them baches down there!) and generally enjoyed having some space after a couple of weeks in the camper!then it was back to Auckland to say farewell to Sal and for me and C to start the next bit....