At last! This is the first real opportunity ive had to bore you to death with my NZ exploits so here goes! In no particular chronological order...
Dec 25. Hmmm...flying on Xmas day. You'd expect a cracker wouldn't you. Maybe party hats. None of it. Dinner was the traditional festive fish dinner as well. Bah humbug. Film wise, I watched Ratatouille (hilarious coloured pixel fun), The Lives of Others (yes it's subtitled but believe me it's worth it), and Transformers (not anywhere near as bad as I imagined or you thought). On board booze was free so when I wasn't watching tv I was drunk, as I had a dull German couple to my left and a mother with two crying babies to my right.
Dec 26. This didn't actually happen.
Dec 25 continued. I arrived in Los Angeles in the evening and it was still Xmas day, but on arrival in NZ the following morning it was the 27th. Figure that one out! Met an interesting Kiwi guy in the airport bar and got drunk again with him whilst he told me all about his travels for the past two years through South America and Thailand and all the weird food he'd eaten (snake blood jelly stands out as memorable). He got me thoroughly decided to take a career break for a few years soon and do it all myself (but i'll probably stick to Rowntrees). On the plane I was sat next to a Kiwi girl going home for Xmas who was very helpful and filled in my already choco block itinerary with more stuff I just had to do. Kiwis are like this i've discovered, very friendly very helpful even when they don't want your money. They're like the British when we're in a good mood.
Dec 27. Arrived at Lizzies. This a friend of my ex, Bianca, who lives near Auckland in a 1.2m house complete with spa and swimming pool. She helpfully picked me up at 8am from the airport (see, more helpfulness). I want more contacts with swimming pools and spas i've decided. Lizzie showed me around a few bays near Auckland where The Piano was filmed (not seen it but now have to). That was about it today, tired from the flight in the evening so sat and drank Lizzies wine whilst in the hot tub. This is, was, and will be the life.
Dec 28. Lizzie took me around Auckland proper in the morning. For some reason i'd imagined from all the pictures that Auckland was about the size of downtown Manhattan. This is wrong. Very wrong. It has a few towers, but all the area beyond this is residential. Saw the Sky Tower which has a kind of Bungee Lite controlled freefall from the top about a 1000 feet up. Might do that but might not, justifying it in my head that it costs $200 and not because it's anything to do with fear. I picked up my car today, only a cool 130,000 on the clock. It's a Toyota though so will probably outlive me. Air con thank god (it's not boiling hot here, about 80 degrees which feels like a really good british summer's day, but it changes hourly and when the sun proper comes out from between high cloud it gets really hot really quickly). Annoyingly the car also has a CD stereo, which my Ipod tape adaptor doesn't fit (see below). In the afternoon I went out with the New Zealand Police on a ride around. This was great. No sheep rustling in sight either. They're actually really really busy, at least around Auckland. Lots of Maori domestics going on. For all you police people get this - They locked up a guy for criminal damage and from getting to the station and getting out again, everything done, charging him, the lot, it took 45 minutes! 45 minutes! For all you none police people this would take hours and hours in the UK. I even got a big car chase out of them, some Maori guy on a motorbike who hit a hedge and was lucky cos the hedge saved his life. He had loads of Crystal Meth on him - there's a massive social problem with Crystal Meth over here amongst the lower classes for want of a better expression. Came home, drunk more of Lizzies wine and then collapsed knackered.
Dec 29. Today I drove to Paihia, the bay of Islands. This is just over 3 hours drive north from Auckland. It's a collection of 147 islands, some inhabited some not. Planning to spend New Years Eve here. Had to listen to the radio all the way up, which was painful. New Zealand radio is like the worst of local radio. The banter doesn't get any more interesting than "that was Katy Tunstall, a great track. I bought her new album the other day, it's really excellent. I recommend it to all you guys.". You get the picture... Fun driving around here, all bends and hills, keeps you awake. Not long after arriving in Paihia I boarded The Rock which is an overnight cruise boat, along with about thirty other people. Most of the boat was dominated by a bar with all the dorms upstairs. Spent the evening with nice beer and interesting characters. Met Chris from Londonium who is a freelance IT geek, spends his life living places for a year and getting IT jobs. When it got dark we had a night Kayak cruise. This was so cool, the sea out here is luminescent for some technical reason I can't remember. Basically anything you move in the sea at night creates an effect like sparklers coming off whatever it is - wiggling your hand in the water creates showers of sparks in the sea. It looks amazing. Apparently a night scuba dive is the best thing ever. You can create Jedi type effects by waving your arms around so it looks like a light saber! Ended up being one of the last at the bar drinking by candle light as they had to turn the generator off so people could sleep :) Collapsed later in my top bunk, but was unfortunately sharing with four large Scottish women who were doing a really good line in synchronised snoring so didn't have the best nights sleep in the world.
Dec 30. Still on The Rock cruise most of the day. Did some snorkelling for mussels after breakfast, hit the beach for a bit then headed back in the afternoon. Got to my backpackers, Pipi Patch Lodge, and feeling flush upgraded my dorm to a double ensuite room for £10. Spent the night in the bar here, chatted to Frazer, a 28 year old ex Zoo Keeper from Sevenoaks who arrived 3 weeks ago with a one way ticket! He'd read a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and decided enough was enough he was off to chase his dreams. NZ seems full of people like this who want the unconventional, it's cool it makes you feel normal.
Dec 31. This is a day in progress. Had an easy morning, got a ferry to Russell which is a small Island near Paihia and had a relaxing morning walking around the island and spending some time on the beach. Got the ferry back and am now typing this! This evening should be cool, fireworks on the beach and hopefully some parties, although apparently the cops are w***s for enforcing the public drinking ban so we'll have to see how it goes.