Happy New Year to you. We are currently in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia so are really behind in our updating of the blog which I believe has only got as far as New Zealand which is where we were 2 months ago. We have no real excuse for not writing anything other than the fact that we are too busy enjoying ourselves!!!
So............... New Zealand, where shall I start? We flew into Auckland from Santiago on a non-eventful overnight flight (non-eventful is good when it comes to flying!). On arrival in the early hours of the morning we made our way to the first cafe where I requested if they had any fresh milk (I wanted to order a good old fashioned cuppa but it had to have fresh milk!). I think the girl behind the counter could hear the desperation in my voice as she replied that they didn't have any but then proceeded to get me some from another cafe! It was the best cuppa I had had in two months and was most appreciated! You'll note that the picture accompanying this blog entry is of a tea field in the Cameron Highlands which is where we visited today and also had a lovely cup of tea although I had today's without milk!
So, now fully refreshed we caught the bus into Auckland city and found our hostel. Again I think I must have looked pathetic as we weren't really supposed to check in that early but the lady on reception let us in so that we could freshen up and get settled into our room. We were determined not to let jet lag get the better of us and made our way out to explore Auckland and to stock up on some provisions as we would now be cooking for ourselves for a month! The first meal we cooked was a veg-tastic stirfry as we both felt the need for fresh veggies having not had many in South America.
We took it easy for the rest of that day just looking around and exploring the different areas of Auckland. We had the most expensive beer we've had on the trip so far in Ponsonby - a bit of a trendy area with very lovely vintage dress shops and little galleries and boutiques - just as well we're on a traveller's budget or else I could have got a bit spend happy down there.
After our extortionate beer and veg-tastic stir fry we decided it was a reasonable hour to go to bed and hit the hay to sleep off our jet lag.
Day 2 in Auckland was spent with our friend Emma (we had met Emma on the Peruvian tour) and we all headed over to Devonport on the superfast ferry. We climbed up Mount Victoria where we got a great view over the water taking in Auckland's CBD. There's quite a few skyscrapers and the Sky tower which is a very tall tower that, if you choose to, you can throw yourself off for vast expense (I am more in the thinking that you would have to pay me vast amounts to jump!). We treated ourselves to a pub lunch in a lovely beer garden soaking up the sun and enjoying the fact that we now understood everyone and didn't have to speak Spanish anymore. It was very weird not to order in Spanish or to greet people with a nod and a "buenas". Us girls also dragged Andy to the famous Devonport chocalatier so that we could indulge! It was awful...ad
Once back on mainland, we all seperated so that Andy and I could go about buying our camping equipment for our impending camping adventure. We had ummed and ahhed for ages as to whether we should go for it but decided that within 5 days the tent would have paid for itself so we decided to give it a bash. We also bought a camping mat each and along with our sleeping bags this was the grand sum of our camping equipment!!
I'll hand you over to Andy now who will explain the fun we had picking up the car - who would believe that a car rental place would be so amusing?.....
Amusing yer arse, I almost had a heart attack by the end of it. We arrived to pick up our car and were served by a young american fellow seemingly on his first day. He spent an hour fumbling about and eventually found our car. Disasterously it was an automatic and I said "no way pal we ordered a manual I canny drive automatics". After some lively debate we agreed that I would take the car around the block, he thinking that it would get me settled into driving an automatic, me knowing that my appalling attempt at driving an automatic would see us given a manual, if only to ensure the rental would ever see their car again.
After a juddering and frankly terryfing trip round the block the young fellow was pleading to give me a manual. HOORAH.
Anyway we set off back to the hostel and parked up to get the car packed. For some reason (probably Andy Intuition) I turned the key just to see if the engine would restart and to our horror it didnt. Another 2 hours of getting the AA out to start it and taking it back to the rental firm and getting a new battery and we were ready to set off. HOORAH.
Our plan was to head to the Coramandel Coast which is about 2 hours east of Auckland. Once we got off the highway and onto the single track roads we started to chillax and my heart rate was getting back to normal. By the time we had got to a wee town called Thames the scenery was absolutely amazing. We drove along the coast for about 1 hour, with the sun slowly setting ,until we got to our first campsite and it was one of the most beautiful drives I have ever done. The rolling hills and islands off the coast were fantastic to watch and our mouths dropped every time we turned another corner, of which there were plenty. This was the perfect start to our NZ road trip and we were both very excited. The campsite in the town Coromandel (Top 10, very good) was lovely and very well equipped. Infact it was the best eqpped in all of NZ it turned out as we had to buy our own cooking gear the next day (thats another story)(not that that particular story will make it onto this blog as it is not remotely interesting unless you are a fan of hardware shops in which case email us and we'll regail you with the details). The next morning we were both pleased to realise that we had a reasonably comfortable night in the tent and the morning chorus improved our moods even further.
All was well with the world and we set off for our next stop Mount Maunganui. More on that later, we're off for a Malaysian ruby murray right now.
love and peace to all
v n a