Leaving my adopted family, arriving back to Auckland, off an adventure with Sister Tor

2 08 2014

So my time in Russell is up and I’m back to Auckland for a few days to meet up with Tor before we head off on a little organised tour of some bits of the north and south islands.

I was helping out to do some cleaning and tidying at play centre before a bite to eat at The Wharf (http://thewharfrussell.co.nz)and getting the boat back to Paihia to pick up the bus back to Auckland. I was sad to leave! It’s amazing how quickly you can settle into a place, with new people and a new routine. Those of you that know me well will know that this is one of the things I was actually worried about before coming away; a lack of structure and routine. I like those things, but as I predicted I’ve been able to create my own new travel routines, but being with a family and getting into their routine has been just lovely :-) I know I totally lucked out with having such a wonderful hell exchange experience! I was very well looked after and made to feel very welcome which made getting on with the work a lot easier. The kids are a delight :-) I loved spending time with them loom banding, colouring in, reading, playing games and Bingo, lovely Bingo. He’s such a good boy, he’d make a nice boyfriend for Linda :-) I’ll miss his paws tippy tappying up and down the corridor!
Still, it’s time to go and I’ve got new adventures to look forward to with Tor.
So, it’s raining when I leave and it’s raining pretty much the whole journey back to Auckland. I listen to a lot of radio 4 podcasts on the journey and get very giddy listening to the news quiz, David Mitchell is particularly amusing on it, tee hee hee
So I get into Auckland circa 6pm and my sis has already arrived so I head straight to the hotel. Exciting!
Let’s see what our joint adventures bring…

Me and the Bambinos :-)


Lovely Bingo


Cape Reinga, sand dune surfing and 90 mile beach

2 08 2014

I’ve been looking forward to this trip, especially the bit up to Cape Reinga

It’s an early start, 5.30am, to get ready and make the 30ish minute walk to Russell wharf to pick up the first boat out at 7am to go to Paihia to pick up the bus from there. It was so worth getting up at that time. The moonlit, starry skied walk into Russell was eerily beautiful as I made my way along the side of the unlit roads toward the wharf. I was the only person on the first boat, apart from the skipper, obvs. As we left Russell and headed for Paihia, the sun started to rise bringing with it purpley, pinky, orangey tinged sky and a gentle glistening to the water as the boat chugged along.

En route the skipper radioed through to the office at Paihia to say I was on my way so I was reassured that I wouldn’t miss the bus. I got off in Paihia, had a little chat with the lady at the office who told me that the UK is experiencing heat wave, while I was wrapped up with a woolly hat to top me off :-) it was a chilly start to the day, but I was hopeful that meant sunny skies and warmth later on. I was correct, thank goodness :-)

At the bus I’m greeted by our driver for the day, Scratch, and off we go collecting people from various hostels and hotels in Paihia before setting off on our adventure proper.

First stop would Puketi Forest where we could have a little mooch through on a boardwalk and say hello to some kauri trees. The kauri are culturally as well as economically significant in New Zealand. The Maori used them or making their wakas. In the olden days they were also used to build houses when the British arrived and there was a big gum trade, mainly the Eastern Europeans arrived to do that. So, we hopped off and had a stroll through the kauri trees. It was chilly in there too, but the trees were impressive, standing string and high into the sky. The kauri are said to have healing properties so I laid my hand on one for a bit just in case I need healing at any point, I’m hoping it’s magical powers will last :-)

Back on the bus and our next stop is for a cup of tea and a wee break just past doubtless bay, which, surprise, surprise is beautiful! Endless water stretching out, edged by lush green grass and sandy beach. I enjoyed a hot choco in the sunshine taking it all in. It was starting to get warmer, but still a chilly breeze coming off the sea.

All abroad and we’re off again, the next stop is actually luncho. An early one, scheduled for about 11am!! I hadn’t ordered lunch, that was an option. I’d brought my own, as well as the compulsory party mix, the natural sweetie people this time, it was on offer :-) Still, if I’d had ordered the lunch I wouldn’t have wanted it at 11am! So, I sat around in the sunshine while others went in to eat lunch and others stayed out to do the same as me :-) That’s all part of having to stick to an organised tour schedule though. I did get to see a nice puppy dog at this stop :-)

Our next stop would be Cape Reinga itself.
We carried on right to the tippy top of the north island, Cape Reinga. We were so lucky with the weather, there was not a cloud in the sky and the sea/ocean stretched out in front of me, the sky, clear and blue. A fresh, crisp sea breeze coming in, it was beautiful. We only had about 45 minutes at this stop, which is one of the things about going on a organised trip. You can’t necessarily spend the time you want in the places you want. There are some ace walks from Cape Reinga, but I couldn’t explore them because of having to be back on the bus for a certain time… Still, I wouldn’t be getting to do this adventure without the organised tour so I mustn’t complain!
I think I mentioned in my previous post about the significance of Cape Reinga to the Maoris, well just as a recap, it’s the place where they believe our souls leave the earth to go on to the next bit. I wonder if the souls wait for a beautiful clear day for a smooth journey to the next life… I don’t fancy going off when it’s stormy and the sea/ocean is swooshing.
Still, I loved Cape Reinga.
After a walk up the hill, I did some learning, in little chunks as I walked up the hill and to the lighthouse, stuff like this…


This is the lighthouse and vistas there….




Amongst other thinks, being at the lighthouse made me think of Rachel Page, I can imagine that she enjoyed it very much here when she visited :-)

Time at Cape Reinga was soon up and we headed back to the bus. I’ll just mention at this point that a child was sick on the bus a little way into the journey. They were ok once we got out at Cape Reinga, but now the bus smelt of sick :-/
Anyway, off we went and the next stop was to the big old sand dunes to do some sand dune surfing :-) I wasn’t sure what to expect with this; would I need a wetsuit? Would I be too scared to jump on the board and whoosh down the dune?
Well, I did not need a wetsuit, I was not too scared, I got a board, climbed the dune and jumped on it to whizz down the dune. I repeated this about 7 times before it was time to go on to the next activity. It was sooooooooo fun!! I could have spent all afternoon doing that :-) The sun was out, the wind was fresh, and the sand dunes were massive! Amazing!

Once the boards were packed back into the bus we carried on with dunes either side and went on to 90 mile beach. Now, I believe I’ve mentioned that 90 mile beach is not actually 90 miles long… It’s actually about 54 miles long which I think is circa 90 kilometres.
Our driver took us along and we stopped to take in the vast vistas of the beach. Totally beautiful… I went for a paddle and got a bit too confident and got whooshed on by a fast wave coming in. I ended up with soggy jeans, but surprisingly the water wasn’t too cold. I couldn’t come all the way to 90 mile beach and not do a paddle! Still, I was glad I had a spare pair of bottoms in my bag :-) and that I didn’t have a soggy journey back to Russell.




We had a bit of time on the beach and then we were back on the bus to drive the rest of it before heading back to the state highway to make our way back to Paihia. It was dark by the time I got on to the 6.30 ferry back to Russell and like on the way over in the morning, I was the only one on this one on the way back!
Another beautifully clear night as I disembarked at Russell and started the walk back to house. Just as I was nearing the edge of Russell a car came round the corner and I thought was going to run me over! Turns out it was all of family Welling :-) Roberta had tried to call me to see if they could pick me up or if I could meet them in Paihia, but my phone had died!
Still, this was a lovely surprise and I managed to squeeze in my fat arse between Isaballe and Eli. They’d all been out to Kerikeri for the day.
Roberta had got me pasta tea from the restaurant, how nice is that? We made our way back to the house, I ate my tea while the kids got sorted for bed.
What a bloody brilliant day trip. If you’re ever up in the bay of islands you should totally get up to Cape Reinga.

I’m working tomorrow and Saturday morning and then I’m off back to Auckland to find sister Illingworth for adventures :-)

Hello New Zealand! My first week. Eeeeekkk!

16 07 2014

Right, I didn’t want to do this, but I’m going out of sync because I’ve still not finished the Melbourne adventures with Kat McEvoy! So, I’m going in with the first bits of NZ action and will follow up with Melbourne. Sorry about that…. Let’s get on though with my first week in NZ :-)

My first week in New Zealand has been in Auckland and I’ve mostly been sorting myself out. It’s probably not going to make for vey interesting reading, but I’ll summarise for my own sake as a something to refer back to next year…

I arrive into New Zealand from a Melbourne around lunchtime even though my flight from Melbourne was at shit o clock in the morning. This is because NZ is 2 hours ahead of Oz. I decide to get the shuttle bus to the hostel I’m staying at which is more expensive than the normal airport bus, but it drops you right to your door. Convenient or what?
The only drawback with this is that there are several people in the bus and they all get dropped to their door. In my case I was the last to be dropped off and so I probs didn’t get to the hostel till around 3pm, but that did mean I had a little drive around different parts of Auckland.
Once I’d been dropped off I went in only to find reception was closed she it should have been open and no one around to ask about it… Bums. I try calling the number in the poster on the wall that says call this number if no one is in reception…. But I can hear the phone in reception ringing and there is clearly nobody in there! Another guest joins me as she needs a token for the washer and so we wait together and then another girl joins us who wanted to stay at this hostel but it was full so she had to go to one down the road which she doesn’t like so she wants to book in to this one as soon as she can…
We try the number again but no joy. Eventually, Campbell, the manger appears and seems surprised that we’re waiting for him… ‘Why didn’t you call me?’ He asks. ‘we did.’ I reply, ‘several times’ Then then picks up the phone and dials and fate about 27 rings the reception phone diverts to his mobile…. Clearly we weren’t letting it ring long enough, but when you can hear the phone ringing in a locked office you kind of think it won’t get answered… I might leave that on my feedback form, maybe amend the poster to say you have to let it ring a long time before it’s diverted…

Anyway, as there are several of us waiting and the other two have seemingly quick things to do I suggest they go first. Eventually I get checked in rather hurriedly as other people have arrived that need one thing or another.
So, key in hand I make my way downstairs to the room I’m sharing with 3 others… It’s small. For 4 people it is small and there is absolutely no storage, at all. It’s dark a raining outside and I’m feeling a bit flat and what with being tired and a bit disappointed with the hostel, missing Kat McEvoy after we had such a lovely time in Oz, I do a little cry :-( Just as I do one of my room mates comes in so I’m quick to wipe away the tears and pretend I’m ok. I think I get away with it and chatting to room mate one helps lift my spirits a bit. So I pull myself together, it could be worse, I think, so I decide to arrange my stuff as best I can and head to the nearest supermarket to get supplies for the week I’m here. I know this is really silly, but I love a new supermarket experience :-)
So, supplies in hand I walk back up the hill and along the Ponsonby Road back to the hostel. I find a spot in the food cupboard and fridge and set about having a cuppa and some biscuits in the lounge and catching up on the emails while making a plan for the next day…
It’s all going to be ok I think. The NZ adventure is underway…

I don’t want to skip over Tuesday completely but it wasn’t a very exciting day!
I have a lie in, I must’ve been tired!
Once I’m showered and breakfasted I take a walk into town to get my bearings.
First stop on the list is the library. Hurray for the libraries. If find out what I need to join and then I spend the best part of the afternoon writing myself to do lists and letters home, which felt nice.
Back at the hostel and I’ve figured out I need to get all the stuff I need for the next day ready the night before so I don’t disturb sleepers if I’m up before them. After tea I have a bit of time in the lounge before heading to bed so I’m ready for the IEP orientation tomorrow.

I’m up early and try to dress nice for the orientation at IEP Work New Zealand. I don’t need to dress nice for it, but it feels nice to make a bit of an effort rather than the usual stuff I’ve been wearing. I’ve time to go to the post office before the orientation, I’ve got souvenirs from Australia to post! Needless to say when the woman at the counter tells me it’s going to be $72.50 I nearly do a sick on the floor, but hand over the money and hope that people like them!!
I make my way over the road to the orientation which is not too far from the post office. As I’m part of the IEP working visa crew I get to make use of their office space, with computers, free wifi, free printing, help with travel and employment.
The orientation takes around 3 hours and we cover all of the things; culture shock, New Zealand chat, New Zealand history, how to buy a car, how to apply for a job, doing the CV, how to apply for the IRD number for the tax, which meant another trip to the post office, that sort of thing. They fed us choco throughout and even though they’ve had to do this presentation a lot of times, they are still really friendly, encouraging questions and ready to give advice on pretty much anything. Once we’d done the orientation I started to take a look for a help exchange for the next couple of weeks before my sister Tor arrives. I spent a lot of time going through all sorts of profiles and sent messages to the ones I was most interested in, one a llama farm :-) After a few hours doing that I headed back to the library to join proper. You get to choose from a range of membership card designs :-) I went for this one…



I spend some time at the library checking for help exchange replies and I’m pleasantly surprised as I already have several replies, a couple of offers and some to say they couldn’t give me anything for the dates I wanted. I thought it would be sensible to leave it overnight to see if I got anymore replies.

I took a walk down Queen Street and stopped in at the bank of make an appointment of validate my bank account. I applied for it while I was still in the UK. I spoke to a really lovely lady and she booked me in with her colleague Connie tomorrow. Another tick off the list :-)

The library closes at 8pm and before I log out I see I have another message from a help exchange person, which sounds promising as the dates are perfect, I reply and suggest a phone chat which is agreed for tomorrow. Eeeeekkk!!! I’ll expect a call from the help exchanger host around 9am tomorrow :-)

I head back to the hostel to make tea and catch up with how the day has been for some of the hostel crew. There’s a really sweet Welsh girl, Lisa, who has just started working at the university and she’s always very friendly.

I’m feeling like I’ve had a pretty productive day :-) Bedtime!

I’m up earlyish as I want to speak to Mr & Mrs Illingworth, before I speak to the help exchange host circa 9am. I’ve got the appointment at the bank at 10.30 so it’s all go :-)
Roberta the help exchange host called just after and we talk about what she would want me to do and for how long each day etc. Tasks include household chores, help with the 4 children and help in the restaurant they have in Russell. So, pretty varied and doable hopefully. Having spoken we agree that I’ll come to them from Monday 7th through to Saturday 19th July. Eeeeekkk!!! I’m excited and scared and pleased that I’ve got something organised. Another job added to the list is to sort out travel up there. It’s about a 4 hour bus journey up from Auckland and then a little boat trip over the water from Paihia to Russell. Next task though, the bank!
I arrived for the bank account appointment early and ended up waiting a bit longer than anticipated because Connie’s appointment was overrunning. Once I was in though things went smoothly and I validated my account successfully :-) it will take about 10 days for my real card to come through, in the meantime I’ve got a temporary one. Timing wise it should be ready for when I get back to Auckland to meet Tor :-) Hurray!
Another job ticked off the list.
The next thing is to organise transport for getting to the Bay of Islands. I did a quick search and then settled on getting the 0745 bus from Auckland Central to Paihia and then the boat across to Russell. Coming back to Auckland on the bus on the 19th ready for fun times with sister Tor :-) YEAH!
Tick :-)
Back to the hostel and another good organising day :-)

Friday morning was a chilled one and I took my time getting ready to go out to meet Alex Allan who used to work at work :-)
After a right old fanny faff bags of me getting the wrong boat Alex finally found me stuffing my face with delicious ice cream – a maple and pecan and a creme brûlée scoop. Yum! We head off for a little adventure which involves a drive to One Tree Hill, amazing vistas!



We then head back to Auckland and have a walk to the Wynard Quarter to get some tea. I had a big old fish burger and Alex had an even bigger meaty burger! We enjoyed a couple of beers. It’s been lovely to spend some time with him, but a shame his wife couldn’t make it… I’ll meet her one day!
After tea we had a walk up to the sky tower and a mooch about and then we walked back to the car and Alex dropped me back at the hostel. What a gent!
It was good to see him, thanks for looking after me and taking me for tea :-)


I’m feeling more organised for the coming weeks and so I’ve decided I’m going to be a tourist doing the coast to coast walk. YES!

Another gentle start to the day and I get myself sorted out for doing the Coast to Coast walk. I’m excited. The sun is shining and I’m off! The walk starts down on the wharf/port front at the bottom of queen street and takes you through some reall lovely bits of Auckland; the university bit, domain, Mount Eden, One tree hIll… Some amazing vistas to be had as well as a bit of a nose at houses in the different neighbourhoods. The end is a but uninspiring – electricity pylons, public toilets and a bit of an industrial estate! It’s probs got a different feel in the summer…
So if I was to recommend this walk to anyone I’d say get the bus to Onehunga and do the walk back to the city. Still, I really enjoyed it and I reckon I did about 20km all in, although the official walk route is 16km I defo had more on either side…




Oh and I like this dog poo bin in Cornwall Park..


Saturday evening was pretty chilled, chatting to Lisa and Nicci at the hostel. Highlight included eating a Moro gold with nuts! I love trying the new choco and sweets but need to ration it! Naughty! So far I’ve tried a picnic, a Moro normal and a Moro gold as well as some party mix which was no where near as nice as Oz Cole’s party mix :-( Need to try pineapple lumps as they are pretty NZ and some fush things… The confectionary opportunities are endless!

After a pleasant evening I head to bed only to be woken up by two of the dormers doing smoochy sexy time!!! Now, I’m not sure what the etiquette around this is.. I find myself in a bit of a quandary for two reasons – I really need a wee so will have to disturb them at some point but the second is how I actually feel about having to share a room with this situation… Here’s what I concluded.. I needed a wee, I especially getting really desperate so I went for one, needless to say the smoochy time stopped after that and I couldn’t help feeling bad :-/
Here’s the three things that were going round my head
1. How inconsiderate!
2. Aaah, I hope they are having a nice time. Smoochy sexy time is nice :-)
3. I’m probs a bit jealous because I like smoochy sexy time, but defo not in shared hostel dorm and boy Joe isn’t here :-(

So in end I thought, the only way this is affecting me really is disturbing my sleep. While it’s not my bag, it’s clearly there’s so they should enjoy it. I did think though to is just something you hear about, but I can confirm it is actually a true story!!

My last day in Auckland for now and I sort myself out for the help exchange, find where I need to get the bus from, which is actually really near the hotel I go back to to meet sister Tor :-)
I decide to get a Daiso/Countdown love gift to leave at the hotel for when Tor arrives.
After that I have a bit of library time and head back to the hostel to pack. I did have plans to go to the pictures later, but I just ended up getting tea at the metro centre instead, I had a nice katsu curry from a very chatty and polite Japanese man.

Belly full I head back to the hostel to find a new girl in our dorm. She’s just come back from Fiji and is heading back to Germany tomorrow. She goes on to tell me she has bed bugs, brought with her, in her stuff from Fiji. Nice. She then asks if she can borrow my flip flops to go over to the kitchen. I’m not comfortable with this situ. Can bed bugs attach themselves to flip flops? Still, I agree… I settle in for my last night at the hostel, paranoid the bed bugs are going to invade my stuff and I’ll end up infesting the help exchange house! How awful would that be?!
In my paranoia I decide to leave my flip flops there!
An early start to get the bus tomorrow so it’s an early night for me. Fingers crossed for a successful help exchange experience for both parties :-)

New Zealand – week 2 and 3 – Help Exchange Fun Times

16 07 2014

Ooooohhh I’m behind!!! Oops! This is the first of a few posts that should bring us up to date. Apart from the missing Melbourne adventures that I still need to complete!
Still, here’s a bit more of my NZ activities…

So for the next two weeks I’m heading up to Russell, in the Bay of Islands to do a help exchange. Basically I work for bed and board. I have an early start on the Monday morning, say goodbye to the hostel and get a taxi to Sky City to get the bus from Auckland to Paihia then boat from Paihia to Russell.
The bus journey was lovely amazing vistas, wiggly roads and hilly landscapes, sunshine and showers and rainbows disappearing before my eyes and lush greenery and expanses of sea.

After several hours we arrive to Paihia, greeted with lovely sunshine and I hop on the boat to Russell. As instructed I call Roberta, the help exchange person I’m working for and staying with en route and she meets me at the tiny boat stop on Russell. Their restaurant, The Wharf, is on the main street, grandly called The Strand, in Russell.
Roberta has a few errands to run then we head to their house where we are warmly greeted by Bingo, the miniature schnauzer and Roberta and Todd’s 4 lovely children – Isabelle, Annabelle, Isaac and Eli. Cutesvilletown!
I really don’t know what to expect, but they have an amazing house and my room is spacious, with a bathroom en suite and the most amazing vistas!! A far cry from the small, cramped hostel room that has been home for the last week! Wowsers!

Roberta and Todd have a few businesses, one of which is a restaurant in Russell, The Wharf, it’s very nice and right on the waterfront. Fabienne, the chef, puts out top food and they’ve a good selection on the menu, including this stone grill business. That was a pleasant experience when we all ate there on power cut night. More about shortly :-)

So, the first week of being here and I’m learning the routine and the tasks that Roberta wants me to do/help with. It’s housework and looking after children. Weather wise it’s done nothing but rain, rain, rain!!! It’s supposed to be The Birdman festival this weekend (11th, 12th, 13th) but we’re not sure that’ll happen which will be a real shame :-( So far I’ve been doing child minding and entertaining as well as cleaning the house, ironing, that sort of thing. I may be needed to help at the restaurant, probably in the kitchen at the weekend if things are busy with The Birdman, but we’ll see what the weather does. I did have a day off but the weather was so rubbish I had a day pottering about, crochet, reading, planning what to do on my days off next week, that sort of thing. I feel sorry for the bambinos as they’ve been in all week too, they are getting over coughs and colds so torrential rain is probs not the best thing for them at the moment!!
So my first week here has mainly been spent at the house. I did venture into Russell a couple of times, each time I got totally soaked!!! I made it to the FourSquare for a bag of party mix, but that’s about it!
Oh, now, Kat McEvoy, I can’t get solo here! Lovely, refreshing solo! I guess the equivalent here is L&P and I finally tried some…


I can tell you that it’s no where near as delicious as a solo! It’s got a weird salty flavour.. Anyway, I’m yet to find a solo alternative… Still, there are plenty of other beverages available in NZ. It’s not like they make you drink L&P all the time!

Anyway, back to it… There is though a lovely walk through a woody bit and along some boardwalk bits and down Florence Avenue into Russell rather than taking the road. It’s about a 40 minute walk for me, that route and about 30 minutes along the road. It’s such a pretty place, Russell. I’m keen to explore more of the Bay of Islands and I’m hoping to do that next week; I’ve got 2 full days off :-)

Let’s hope the weather picks up. It’s set to according to the long range forecast. Thank goodness! It’s been high drama! We had a power outage, which for us meant no water, as the house is not on the mains, but out of a big tank. So the rain is good for that at least!! The power outage only lasted a couple of days, but that was enough!! We took the kids down to the restaurant for tea, as they’ve got a generator down there, and just as we were finishing, the restaurant started to fill up. So, Roberta and Todd sprang into action while I took the kids to wait in the car. It was a whooshy, rainy night and the car was doing a fair bit of wobbling! The kids we so good though and were really patient while we waited for Roberta to clear the bulk of the rush and then come back home with us. What a night! Im so pleased I had my head torch!
The power comes back on the next day so we start to get back to normal, although there were a few light flickers…

The coming week I’ve got Tuesday and Thursday off. I’ve decided that on Tuesday I’m going to do this; hole in the rock and dolphin boat trip, where you can swim with dolphins!


Cool or what?!

Then on Thursday I’m going to head up to the tippy top of the north island to Cape Reigna. I did look at hiring a car to the this trip, to the point where I’d booked and paid the deposit for it, then I got an email from the company saying that they couldn’t fulfil my booking because some of their fleet is stuck in Auckland because of the flooding, oh and yes, did I mention this, a couple of roads have collapsed :-/ One South of Kawkawa quite significantly it seems. I hope I can get back to Auckland on my bus on Saturday for the arrival of sister Tor Illingworth!
So, there goes my hire car plan out the window! It’s ok, they do an organised trip up there, but I wanted to make my own way, stop at places of interest to me. Stop for a wee when I need one, eat when I want to to, that sort of thing. Still, that’s not happening so I’m going with the organised tour, which on the plus side means I just have to turn up! It’s going to be a long day! I’m excited though, the very top of New Zealand! Ooooooohhhhh! Cape Reigna is said to be where the Maori believe our souls leave the earth when we die. It’s also the point where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. Amazing. I think we also go along 90 mile beach, which isn’t actually 90 miles, but 64 or something like that! If the weather is ok then we get to do sand dune surfing! Alice Prevett recommends this, so I reckons it’s going to be fun! Let’s hope the weather holds so I can do it! Other activities on then itinerary are kauri tree forest stuff and again, weather dependent finding pipis on the beach…

So, at weekend, The Birdman activities planned for Friday didn’t happen but Saturday went ahead. However, I stayed at home to look after the kids and Roberta and Todd took care of the activities at the restaurant, as they were quieter than expected because of the crazy weather. Still I’m glad they managed to do some stuff. It would have been a real shame it the whole thing got cancelled… I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t be part of it, but I had fun with the bambinos instead. A perfect example of being able to be flexible and adaptable to changing plans :-) I can totally do that!

I worked on Sunday all day and then Monday, for a few hours. For the afternoons I had a lovely walk into Russell and up flagstaff hill for some wonderful vistas of the bay. Russell is a very compact, seasidey, little town. You’d never believe it was once known as a ‘hell hole’, with drunkeness and prostitutes and violence and general debauchery… It has got the oldest pub in New Zealand. The first place that was granted a licence, to an ex convict that had been transported to Australia.
Today, I know I’m here off peak, but it’s a sleepy little seaside town, very picturesque, but what a lot of history! It was just across from Russell and up from Paihia in Waitangi where the treaty of New Zealand was signed and the British claimed yet more land as theirs… More on that shortly.

Tuesday I had a whole day off and was up early to walk into Russell to catch the boat to go on the hole in the rock and dolphin spotting boat trip. If we find any dolphins there’s the option to swim with them, wetsuits provided, so I was keen to do that. The department of conservation ( DOC) the dolphins, and the sea however had other ideas though!!
It was a glorious weather day, the sun was shining, it was warm. A perfect day for being out on a boat. We chugged off with our captain telling us stories about the different islands we were seeing, 14 out of the 144 that exist!
Motu means Island in Maori and my favourite one was Motuarohia, which roughly translates as the island of desire or love island :-) There is also a little cluster called the sisters, which reminded me of the three sisters I’d seen in the blue mountains in Australia and in turn of my sisters Illingworth :-)
The sea was beautiful, glistening and sparkling in the sunlight. Me and two other Brits, that have made New Zealand their home, Ruth and Ian, took to the front of the boat and pretty much stayed there for the duration! It was so fantastic. Uninterrupted views of the sea and the islands around us. We saw some seals hanging out, basking in the sun on one rock. We delivered post to two other islands.

Now, this sounds like a cool job, but I’m not sure if I’d go crazy after a while!! You can work as a caretaker of an island. Usually this means maintaining the house and grounds, so you have to be a bit of an all rounder. The other stipulation is that you have to be a couple. The first island we dropped post off to we were greeted by the dog, Molly. I’m awful, I can’t remember the name of the lady! She came down the jetty, her 5 month old well wrapped up, to receive the post.

Off we went to another island, the house on there looked as though it was a James Bond villain lair! All hidden behind a row of line trees. The dog that greeted us at this one was called Basil. I’m not sure how you’d go about getting a gig like this, but if you’re a couple, with a dog and can do all the things to maintain a property and land and like being in beautiful, yet remote surroundings then this could be the job for you!!! I’m not sure what happens when the families come to use the house, but I’m sure there’d still be a place for the caretakers. Modern day servants!

After our postal deliveries, (handed over in a net!) we made our way to Motukokako, the hole in the rock. This is exactly that. A hole in a rock. It’s said to be lucky if you get dripped on while you pass through the hole, but this was not our lucky day, There was a real swell on the way to Motukokako which made for a very rolling ride, I was clinging on for dear life but loving it at the same time! My stomach felt like it was being left in the air as the boat went back down into the swell. So, the captain decided it wasn’t a good move to try and go through the hole. I totally agreed! Disappointing as it was, it looked proper choppy and it’s only a smallish space for the boat to get through. So we just had a bob about in the boat and looked at it! Here it is…….


That was the second sort of disappointment of this trip. The first was the announcement that we wouldn’t be able to swim with the dolphins, if we ever found any, because of the crappo weather that we’d had. The department of conservation, DOC, had put a temporary ban on getting in the water for fear of the water being contaminated with stuff after the heavy, heavy rains. So no swimming with the dolphins… At this stage in the trip, we hadn’t even seen any dolphins!!!
I was still have a wonderful time though, taking it all in, amazing vistas from the boat, a lovely sense of freedom as we whooshed over the water and really nice to chat to Ruth of Ruth and Ian :-)
Oh before I move on to the next bit of the trip, I must mention the lighthouse and tiny house on the a Cape Brett Peninsula. The lighthouse became automated in the 70s and the little house, where the lighthouse keeper and his family lived is still there, perched on the side of the peninsula. You can stay there if you like for just $30 a night! It would be either totally romantic and idyllic or totally dramatic and maybe even a bit scary!!! Weather dependent of course. I might look into that if I make it back up here before I come home, but I think that’s one I’d like to do with someone else! Maybe when Joe is here over Christmas and New Year…I’ve already said we should get a boat to go with our small holding when I get home :-)

So, let’s get back to it. No boating through the hole in the rock, no swimming with dolphins, no actual dolphins… Yet!
We make our way from the hole in the rock to another motu to stop and have a little walk and a break from the boat. Just for 20 minutes or so. A quick paced walk up a sheep lined hill reveals more amazing Bay of Islands vistas…


We hop back on the boat and Ruth gives me her contact details. She’s so lovely. It’s been so good to chat to her. She and Ian live in Wellington so I’m defo going to get in touch to go for a beer or something once I get sorted in Wellington. Hurray for lovely people and wonderful adventures!
Back on the boat and it’s tense, as time is running out and we’re yet to spot any dolphins! One lady has already announced that she will be pissed off if we don’t see any dolphins. I bite my tongue, but wish I could speak up to things like this. Yes, it would be disappointing if we don’t see any dolphins, but in real life, they aren’t here to entertain us. It’s not like we booked the dolphins to do a show for us! Flips! To my relief, this is pretty much what the captain says!
Then, good news! The captain gets a magic call to direct us to where there is a little pod and in a short time, lo and behold, dolphins!

I totally get why people are fascinated by them. Even from a distance they are leaping out of the water and when the boat gets closer they swim around us, underneath us. We spot a mum and baby swimming along and they look like they are smiling when they come up for air. I love the sounds they make when they come up for air. It was ace to experience that again, after the whale watching our of Sydney harbour, where we saw dolphins too. I try to get a couple of pics, but there’s a bit of jostling on the deck, this is the best I did! I know Isn got some good leaping ones, I might email them and ask him to send me a couple! Cheeky!


It would have been totally wonderful to swim with them, but it’s not meant to be this time. Captain calls time and we have to head back to Russell and then Paihia. I’m very pleased I decided to come on this trip. I loved it. I decide to stay on the boat and go to Paihia. Ruth and Ian get off at Russell for an explore and in search of fish and chips :-) we say goodbye, for now :-)
I get off at the end of the line, Paihia, which is about a 15 minute boat ride across from Russell.

It’s lunchtimeish when I get to Paihia and I decide to take the short walk, about 20 mins, to Waitangi to do more learning about the history of New Zealand. What a lot of history in such a small space! Waitangi is where the treaty of New Zealand was signed by the first Maoris, Hone Heke, along with James Busby and William Hobson.
The Waitangi Treaty grounds are made up of a visitor centre which introduces us to the treaty and it’s significance with a short film. The timeline that takes us through the visitor centre is also a good overview to key events that took place from when the British arrived to when the treaty was signed.
My understanding is that while we weren’t as crap and awful and hideous as we were to the aboriginals in Australia, we were still pretty crap and awful to the Maori. By all accounts, this Busby fella wasn’t the best mediator ever and so things could have been better… But the result of him being there was this treaty, which the Williams chap translated into Maori. Eight of the nine copies were in Maori.

Out the other side of the visitor centre you can walk through some lovely mangroves and then you come to a ceremonial waka (canoe); Ngātokimatawhaorua. The waka is quite a significant part of Maori history, it’s purpose, it’s meaning. This ceremonial war canoe is launched every 6th February as part of the Waitangi Day celebrations. From there you can walk down to Hobson’s beach, so a called because that’s when he landed when he got here. It was called something else before then, as per the Waitangi Treaty website details:

‘The original name for the beach in front of the waka house is Te Ana o Maikuku (Maikuku’s cave). Maikuku is a female ancestor of the area. The name Hobson Beach came from its being the landing site for Captain William Hobson, the British representative responsible for negotiations with Māori and for organising the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Today, the beach is used to launch the ceremonial war canoe every Waitangi Day.’

- See more at: http://www.waitangi.org.nz/treaty-grounds/#hobsons-beach

In fact, to see more about all the things at Waitangi their website http://www.waitangi.org.nz

There’s also some stuff about the key people involved in the treaty that will give you a bit more background…

William Hobson

James Busby

Home Heke

Ok, just a little aside… Kat McEvoy and I had this conversation when we were learning about the Melbourne at the Melbourne story bit in the Melbourne museum. All these people that just turned up, took land and then decided to call it something else, usually after them just seems such a crazy notion. I mean there’s already people there! Doing their thing, on the land, etc. Goodness me! It’s no wonder that there’s such a hoo ha about immigration today. As a nation if you’re going to go around the world and take people’s land, write treaties that declare the people you took the land from are now equal to British citizens, then what do you expect?! You’re giving them the right to be British citizens as part of the deal of taking the land, then surely that means you’re giving them the right to come to Britain if they want? If they’re part of the commonwealth created?… Flips. History is essential for understanding the now hey. I need to do more history to understand more about it too and I’m making comments based on what I’ve learnt from being in Australia and New Zealand. I’ve no idea about how the treaties here compare with those of other commonwealth countries from when they were first colonised. Another bit of learning to do :-)

So, back to the Waitangi treaty grounds… Once you’ve had a mooch on Hobson’s Beach you can take the path up to the lawns where they had the marquee pitched for the treaty to be discussed and signed and to Busby’s house, the treaty house itself. That’s an interesting one from a building/architecture/conservation perspective. Then there’s a Maori meeting house; Te Whare Rūnanga, little further along with some wonderful carvings. This house was added retrospectively of course. The Maori didn’t have one at the time the treaty was drawn up. From the treaty house you can see the flagstaff on the lawn to mark the approximate spot where are the treaty action happened. Did you know that New Zealand has 3 official flags? Well it does! The first is from 1834 and is of the United Tribes. The second is the Union Jack from 1840 and the third is the current New Zealand flag from 1902.

Now, a couple, Lord and Lady Bledisloe bought the Waitangi Treaty land back in the day to restore it and gift it to the country as part of it’s history. Nice one fancy people :-) You can learn a bit more about them and their vision when you have a look around the treaty house as well as about treaty man Hobson and his family.
It’s here that you can also cast your eyes over a copy of the treaty. Read it. See the signatories. Make of it what you will. It’s all there.

Once I’d taken it all in, I meandered back through the mangroves, had a little perusal of the gift shop. Love a gift shop and then made my way back to Paihia to catch the boat back to Russell. It was getting dark by the time I got off the boat and the half hour walk back to the house in the dark was none too appealing I can tell you! The roads aren’t lit and when a car comes toward you with it’s full beam on, it’s pretty blinding and I had several moments of feeling like a rabbit in the headlights! Still, I made it back without incident and took a little time on the walk back up the massive hill to the house to appreciate and wonder at the twinkly stars in the night sky. So clear, so magical, a good end to a lovely day of freedom on the sea, hanging out with dolphins, the most beautiful vistas and learning. Bonus time when I got in, Roberta had made tea for me too :-)

I’m working just for a couple of hours on Wednesday then I might do one or two of the little heritage trail walks and get ready for my big adventure to Cape Reigna on Thursday :-) Whoo! Whoo!

Russell and Waitangi…



Melbourne – week 1

1 07 2014

I think I’ve caught up now with the Sydney chapter and it’s been a while since I’ve blogged properly and I’m now in Auckland, at Auckland City Public Library, to be precise. More on that in future posts. The next couple of posts will focus on Melbourne fun times.

I arrived into Melbourne by train, thinking that after enjoying the train journeys in Thailand so much that the same would be said of the Sydney to Melbourne journey. Ha! Not so! It’s a looooong journey to do by train, ours took around 13 hours as there was a bit of hoo ha with a broken down train around Junee. I can also safely say that the scenery was boring! Sorry, but it was.

On the plus side a man who was sat next to me for part of the journey told me all about the benefits of drinking bottled water rather than tap water and encouraged me to watch a you tube video all about it to the point where I had to write done the details and assure him that I would once I was on the wifi…..

I did have a good chat with a lady who was travelling with her mother to her uncles funeral. Her mother refuses to fly anywhere, hence the train journey :-) She was telling me about her grown up daughters and finding love in her life again after her husband dying some time ago. She’s off on an adventure in a camper that they are renovating, exciting! I’d like to do a similar thing in a Bedford bambi around the UK one day.

I also enjoyed a cup of tea and I spent a lot of time writing up my Sydney blog posts and reading a very trashy freebie from the iBooks :-)
If I was going to do this journey again, I’d fly! No, really, if I was going to do it again I’d go on the night time service.

Anyway I arrived into Melbourne around 19.30 and was greeted at the station by my great uncle Gordon, who I’ll abbreviate to GUG in this post. I stayed with him until the Saturday and then met up with the lovely Kat McEvoy for a week of girl time time fun time in the city :-)

It was good to spend some time with GUG, we explored the Great Ocean Road, went to Williamstown and had a mooch about Footscray market. I loved a walk around the botanical gardens and a bit of cake :-) We also had a walk around Fitzroy gardens and a mooch about Captain Cooks cottage.

Captain Cooks Cottage



I also had chance to catch up on the secret crochet that’s come to other side of the world with and that will need sending back very soon! Still more to do on that so I’d better use my time during the first couple of weeks in NZ wisely!

It was good to hear about our family, particularly my auntie Maria’s side, who are Hungarian. She died some years ago, so it was good to see where they had started and spent their lives together after moving to Australia from the UK. I loved looking through old photos from their wedding, my mum and dad’s wedding, family holidays and visits and even some of us as children one Christmas when GUG was over visiting.

We had an invite from GUGs friend Edith for tea on Friday night, which was lovely. One of her daughters, Linda and her husband and two children were there too and it was a good meal followed by the most delicious cake! Everyone was really friendly and made me feel very welcome.

It was a good finish to the first week in Melbourne and I had that weird mix of feeling sad to day goodbye to GUG but also excited to be seeing Kat McEvoy for the first time since she left Brighton for her adventure year around Australia.

That’s where we’ll pick up the next post. CBD adventures with Kat McEvoy.




Sunday – MCA, Manly, getting ready to leave :-(

22 06 2014

I get up to people watching the World Cup :-) I have breakfast, during which I have a really lovely chat with an older couple, pensioners; Mel and Pam, in Sydney to join a cruise round the pacific islands. We chat about their travels, my travels, their lives, my life. They are nice people to have breakfast with.

Saying bye to Mel and Pam, I get my pack up ready for the day and head out into the sunshine, which soon turns to grey skies and rain, but fortunately for me I’m already at the MCA :-)


The museum of contemporary art is located on the rocks at Circular Quay. I get there in time for the 11am free tour of volume one of their permanent collection. I bloody love an arty tour and this was no exception. Frances, our arty tour guide was a really lovely lady, sooooo enthusiastic about the pieces in the collection that she’d chosen to share with us. She was also really encouraging, asking us what we thought of each of the pieces, what they said to us. Brillers.

We started off looking at a temporary mural on a big wall in the entry foyer of the gallery by Gwam Wei. That was all about the journey to Australia and was pretty haunting because the people were faceless and that freaks me out.

These are the ones I liked a lot…







After Frances concluded the tour I revisited a couple of things, the video installation of the skateboarder in slow motion, like the dancing last night, was totally mesmerising.

As I was leaving the gallery I noticed the big cruise shop docked in at Sydney Harbour and thought of Mel and Pam boarding and getting ready for the off on their adventures :-)
I made my way to get the ferry to Manly for a mooch about.


That’s one of the things I enjoy about Sydney. Getting boats to places. I guess if I had to do that every day it would get boring or tiresome and if it was a rough sea I might do a sick over my work clothes or even worse over someone else’s work clothes or I might get washed overboard or spill tea on myself or something. At the moment though, I love getting boats to places!

It’s a bit of a dull afternoon weather wise in Manly, but I soon find my way to the beach and before long my shoes and socks are off and I’m enjoying a pleasantly not too cold paddle. As I walk along I watch the surfers. There are plenty of them out on the water today and a number of lessons going on too. I’m thinking it looks difficult, but also fun and also really good exercise! I’d like to give it a try one day I think.

I head off the beach in search of a cuppa and mooch about Manly town. I can see why people recommended I come here. Even on a cloudy, chilly day it’s a pleasant place to be. Before I know it’s getting dark so I stop off in Coles to get something for tea and then head to get the boat back to Sydney. It is a choppy sea on the way back and I’ve chosen to sit outside as it’ll be my last boat trip here :-( I get sprayed by the waves and the boat rolls up and down. This is due to a big swell apparently. It wasn’t an unpleasant journey back, if anything it was a bit exciting!

As I head back for my last night in the hostel in Sydney I have a little think about all the fun stuff I’ve done this week and feel very lucky and very alive :-) I’m looking forward to what awaits me in Melbourne, but I am sad to say goodbye to Sydney.

High drama skies at Manly…




Saturday – relaxy day, photos at the biblio, opera house adventures

22 06 2014

Le weekend! These last few days have flown by and have been jam packed full of wonderful activities and adventures :-) I did manage a little lie in today and a very leisurely getting ready for my day. I enjoyed stretchy time, another thing I’m missing about being at home, exercise! I mean I’ve done loads of walking, loads and a fair amount of cycling since being away, but there’s nothing quite like a run or a kettle bells session and I really miss Pilates so I’m getting some in whenever I can. It’s more difficult when you’re sharing a room with other people, but now I’ve got one to myself I can do stretchy time till my hearts content! Kettlebells I think will have to wait until I get to NZ. I need some new trainers and need to ask sister Illingworth very nicely to bring my PE kit when she visits in July :-) exciting!

Anyway, by the time I’d got myself sorted it was the afternoon so I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through town via market city, picking up a couple of tops and a lovely cardigan along the way, which is a bit naughty because I need to try and squeeze them in my rucksack! I have been told though it is colder in Melbourne than in Sydney, where for the most part it’s been tshirt and cardi weather. Anyway, all of my purchases were sale items, obvs… I know it sounds silly, but it was actually quite nice to browse clothes, it felt like a normal thing to do on a Saturday…
When I got distracted by clothes, I was on my way to the state library of NSW where they have galleries and on at the moment are 3 photo exhibitions. Each one fantastico. The first one was images of home from immigrant communities, the second was press photos, the third world 1440 photo competition entries. A really eclectic selection depicting all sorts from sport to nature to war to love to childhood.
I didn’t venture into the library itself, what a terrible travelling librarian I am!

By the time I’d finished in there it was time to go back to the hostel to get ready for the evening at the Sydney Opera House for M¡Longa. As I’ve not an occasion to dress up for in a while I thought I’d make a bit of an effort and I’m glad I did because it made me feel nice :-)

Feeling a bit fancy I hopped on the train and headed for, you guessed it Circular Quay. It all happens there you know! A short walk round the harbour and I’m at the Sydney Opera House. There are people everywhere having a nice time in bars and restaurants along the way. I’ve only a little bit of time to get a feel for the space which is geometric, wooden and concrete with bright red carpets here and there. Again, another wonderful vista of harbour bridge from the front opera house. I make my way to my seat. I love going theatres I’ve not been to before and on entering the Joan Sutherland theatre at the opera house I had a definite moment of wowzzles! It is a wonderful space.
I’m enjoying a text based convo with boy joe involving chat about G&T along with sweet and savoury snacks, when the lights go down and the performance begins.

It’s a hour and a half of non-stop tango based intricate, beautifully executed and truly delightful dancing. Lots of tight bum cheeks and very busy legs :-)

There’s a fantastic contemporary feel to a number of the dances and the one with 3 of the men is exquisite. Really. It is. It was so expertly put together, with movements requiring so much skill and they danced it with so much feeling and so fluidly. It was mesmerising. I loved it. It was one of those performances that had so much soul I was emotionally tired when it came to an end. Talk about passionata!
The man/woman combos were elegant, yet some were filled with turmoil and strife! Oh it was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!
It was over so quickly, but I had a lovely time.
It’s a performance I think Iain Worrall would have loved and it prompted me to message him to say that when I get back we should go to some lessons for ballroom dancing or something. That would be a lot of fun items for sure and Iain has got fantastico rhythm what with being a drummer and all. Ooooh it would be fun, so Iain, if you’re reading this, that’s something you can find out about for when I get back, please :-)


It’s a pleasant evening so I walk back to the hostel, stopping at Coles to get a snack on my way. Now, a food aside, I have eaten the best tasting mandarins while I’ve been here. I can’t get enough of them! They are delicious, so full of flavour and juicy. Yumo. So a mandarin and a raspberry and coconut yoghurt were the night time snack of choice :-)
Getting close to bedtime, but not too late for a bit of Skype time with boy Joe. Then it’s sleepy time ready for another day of adventures tomorrow in the form of the Museum of Contemporary Art and an afternoon jaunt to Manly.


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