A Travellerspoint blog

Rotorua

Does it ever stop raining??

rain 13 °C

Well we arrived in Rotorua at aboot 1pm. It was only a stopover as we wanted to head straight to Wellington so we could hit the south island. We would investigate Rotorua further in a couple of weeks (We rearranged our schedule according to when Danny Howells was playing Auckland) Like FFs. Lol. Anywho, it was pissing out of the heavens in Rotorua – and I mean absolutely fecking lashing. I had lost my rain jacket and we had no brolly. So seeing as how we were already soaked, we wandered around in the rain and then went to the Polynesian Spas – outdoor hot spring pools that reach temperatures of 42 degrees Celsius. The hot water was refreshing – and surprisingly the smell of sulpher that permeated the rest of the town was not as bad actually in the springs. The place had trunty million asian tourists there – I was the only white girl in the dressing room, and let me ad ‘modest’ to that. Everyone else had their bums out. He he.

The springs were cool and passed a few hours. Then we hit the net and had some expensive thai food before we went to catch the overnight bus to Wellington. (ugh)

At the bus stop – the bus driver was an ignorant prat. The first rude person we’ve met since we got to NZ. We had to sit separately as the bus was packed and it was really uncomfortable and krappy. But it was over soon enough and we arrived in Wellington at about 7am.

(Lisa forgot to mention the sulpher smelt like stink bomb :op)

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Posted by squeakylee 16:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Otorohanga

the real one WARNING - mucho text below. lazy arses, look away now

overcast

[We arrived about 12 and a kind man called Bill, who ran the local shuttle company, told us that it had pissed down the night before and we should check to see if our underground caving would be going ahead (sometimes the water gets perilously high and the underground caving is cancelled due to dangerously high water levels because the water is so high and then the caves get flooded and it is perilous to go underground due to the high water levels.. ) Ahahah I jest - I’m sure you get the message!)

So we rang the caving company and were told that it was still going ahead – which is good as there is feck all to do in Otorahanga if you’re not going caving. Woohoo. We slowfooted it to our hostel (we are carrying at least 20 kilos each) and checked in to a very cute hostel (in a type of caravan stylee house – I think we were practically the only guests) and then we hit ‘the town’ for some lunch.

After lunch we were picked up by Bill (the aforementioned shuttle dude – about 60 years old) and chauffered to the Waitomo Caves. We were a bit early though so Bill brought us right up to the door, introduced us to the checkout girl, got our passes for us and then brought us back to the cab and drove us down the road to the Waitomo Caves Museum. He said that it would be closed by the time we would be finished our underground caving adventure (approximately three hours) and that it was defo worth seeing. He also arranged for us to be picked up outside the museum a few minutes before our caving adventure was about to start!! (in the words of a Red Dwarfian – “What A Guy” [ paul Kenny may be the only one who gets that quote apart from jimbob). He really was like our dad. (no offence Dads!)
We were picked up by a young fellow (I hoped our underground guides would be a tad older – how old am I??>;) in a van who brought us back to the check in desk. We checked in and I whipped out our “FREE MUFFIN” voucher that I had cut out of a magazine – (GRANNY LOOKOUT !! ) We got our free muffins (SCORE!!) and headed out the back with our three (young) guides to don our wetsuits (Jim’s second in two days – does he have a fetish??) he he
We looked spectacular! I doubt anyone there looked as good as us!! – See pics. Tee hee hee.

There was about ten of us in our group and three guides. There was one dad – an English fellow and his son who were a good bit of craic, two French dudes who were quite funny and a couple of couples (one girl was so funny – she got trapped in the seatbelt of the van).

So off we piled in the van in our ridiculous suits and we were brought to the bank of the river.
We were all given a rubber tyre and told to practice sticking our butt into the middle of it. Then we were shown to the river bank. There was a little platform above the river that we were all brought to the edge of one by one, then the small guide showed us how to jump off the platform BACKWARDS with our butts tucked into the inside of the tyre. Holy Moly. He he. I was morto at having to be the first bird off the edge, couple that with the get up that you see in the pics below. He he. Anywho I took a deep breath and launched myself backwards off the platform. The water was F u c k I n F r e e z I n….. he he. It went up my nose and into my mouth and all over my head. ARRrRRGGh. It was aboot 12 degrees I’d say – FRESH! FRESH, EXCITING.. hee hee.

So we all did this one by one, then it was back into the van and off we went to the cave entrance. Once inside the mouth of the cave, we all played a little game of ‘introducing ourselves and our favourite food’ (random & weird) so that our eyes could adjust to the darkness of the caves. Then off we went wading through the caves. The water was freezing and varied from knee deep to chin deep (for me – for Jim it was only chest deep). It was pitch black in the cave except for a) our mini headlamps on our helmets and b) the millions of tiny glowworms that shone bright luminous green on the ceiling of the caves. They were so cool – we turned our headlamps on and off at different stages throughout our cave adventure and followed the luminous glow downstream. It was cool - the whole place lit up only by tiny little larvae. Sweeeeet..

So anywho, we waded through caves that were so low, the roof was only inches from our faces – whereby we had to sit in the tyre and lay right back to fit under them - to really high caves where the roof was nearly 65 metres above our heads. Some times the guides told us to sit in the tyre and float downstream, others we had to wade through the fast-flowing water with the tyre above our heads and then we came to the waterfalls! At the waterfalls, (i.e – where one cave ended and another cave began – except lower down) we were led to the edge of the higher cave, told to turn around, stick our arses through the tyre and leap backwards into the water – as we’d done in our practice run at the river. It was pretty difficult to even get to the edge of the top cave as the water was gushing by our feet so fast and with immense power (no slags please at my descriptive language JAMES). So anyway the first waterfall jump was cool. At the second one, I jumped in and landed in my tyre only to be swiftly bumped back out again. Arrggh.. I’m gonna drownnnnnn – oh ok.. I can stand up here.. he he. But it was still scary.

So at the third and biggest waterfall, we were all a bit nervous. Even more so, when we spotted the English Dad on his way down. He totally ignored all advice to keep in along the edge of the cave and wandered out into the middle of the cave. Immediately the gushing water took him off his feet and catapulted him over the side. All we could see was his goofy boots in the air as he nearly kicked the guide in the face and went headfirst over the edge. It was hilarious… once we found out he was ok! So we were all a bit twitchy going down that one. The underground caving was hella cool. It was dark, freezing and all lit up by tiny green bugs.

James said to remind me to put in how the guys did a quiz on gloworms and because we had visited the cave museum before the caving adventure, we knew all the answers and were real brainiacs!

We were also told that there were eels, rats, and horrible shellfish type stuff in the waterall of which made us even more nervous – well we weren’t nervous at all until we saw all the gross stuff that is in the water in the museum before we went to the caves. Anywho our scary underground adventure was quite hilarious, and well worth it. Our guides were young and friendly and very helpful, even when our legs were too cold to move. After an hour, we were all absolutely freezing – I don’t know how the lads do it everyday – I also have no idea how anyone could stay in there for more than an hour (there are many three and four and even seven hour underground caving trips). Eekazoids.

Towards the end, we all floated out to the exit of the cave and then floated back up the river. At the river platform, all the lads started to jump off the platform doing sumersaults and twists in the air trying to land in their tubes in the water. Jimbob did one first and missed the tube, it was kinda funny. Then on his second go, he did a big whopper of a twist and landed right in the tube. He was hella cool – I was mega pround. GEW ON DEE OIRISH.. hee hee. I didn’t say that outloud – don’t worry.

So then it was back to the van and off with our mega cool suits. Thanks be to jaysus. The yokes were so cold. We all had hot showers and went back to the hut for some hot soup and bagels. EXCEPT – who was waiting for us at reception – only Bill the Shuttle Guy. You see, the last shuttle was at 5.45 pm and there is no bus or any way of getting back to Otorohanga after that time without ordering a taxi which costs nearly 28 bucks. So didn’t Bill only come back and wait for us. What A Guy!!
So we got our soup to take away and got back into ‘Dad’s’ car and were chauffered home again. He also said we were welcome to go into the local club, use his name – i.e. say we were friend’s of Bill’s the great taximan, and avail of his discount on food in the club! Holy Moly! WHAT A GUY!!

Hee hee – we were a bit pooped and decided to get some bread & tuna and head for the hills. We headed back to our hostel – which was empty apart from us - and watched some lethal weapon two on VIDEO. Tee hee.

Jimbob fell asleep on the couch – all the watersports must be taking their toll on him. Lol.
Caving was cool :o)

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Posted by squeakylee 16:11 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Hamilton - another Quito imo

sunny

Hamilton is becoming like a Quito to us – we keep having to go back there between places. So off we went to Hamilton where we spent a couple of hours over a cappuccino in a Starbucks in the comfiest chair I have ever sat in. Jimbob explored the computer whilst I stared out at people going past and read some magazines – it was tres relaxing. Then we hopped on the super dee duper, extra clean, extra fast, extra efficient bus to head to Otorahanga where we had planned to go adventure caving.

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Posted by squeakylee 19:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Raglan

Yo Duhuhuhude....

sunny

The next morning, we breakfasted up ourselves and headed to Raglan. A small, remote (not in summer) surfing village so Jimbob could get his surf on! I decided not to surf. After a ghastly and terrifying surfing experience at a Water Adventure Summer camp in Connaught some years ago,(summer in Connaught – are ye off yer head or what?) I really had no desire to try surfing again. The constant bashing of my head off the board as well as the sea dragging me fifty metres down the beach kinda put me off. So we settled into our room and Jim booked his surfing lesson with the Raglan Surfing School, for the following day. For the rest of the day we just mosied about and had a champion dinner of fish and chips with 2 cokes all for under 10 nzdollars (BETWEEN US) WOW. (It did however cost us another 4 dollars when we absolutely insisted on running to the supermarket to buy some HP sauce).

The next morning, we made our own muesli/fruit breakfast and just lolled around in the sun. Jim was taken off with a few others in the Surfing School van. I decided I would rent a bike and cycle the 6k to the beach and take a few embarrassing pics of Jimbob in his swimsuit. (aka wetsuit). So the cycle was a tad tough for a gal with only one pedal on her bicycle – especially the uphill parts. It was sweatingly funny, howanever I got there just in time to see Jimbob put his wetsuit on backwards. lol tee hee :)

Then all the hot men in wetsuits took to the beach to perform some onland acrobatics on their surfboards. I took some pictures and laughed my head off. Then they took to the water and it was quite a challenge to get some pictures of them standing up on the boards as the total time any guy got to stay up on the surfboard was about 1.35 seconds. So me and my camera had our work cut out for us. He he. So after a few shots I hopped on the bike (aka walked it up the hill) and one footed it back to base whereupon I awaited my surfing hero Jim’s arrival home. He was chuffed – he had a great time and really enjoyed the surfing. We went out for a stroll in the town (That took all of 2 minutes to explore) and settled for a fish n chip supper amounting to ten NZ Dollars. Woohoo. :)

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Posted by squeakylee 15:59 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Auckland

Woohooo - everyone speaks ENGLISH! he he

semi-overcast 15 °C

Well we arrived in Auckland at about 6am and I rang the hostel to make sure my booking had gone through ok. It hadn’t. Butts Galore. So we booked again, and decided to hang out in the airport until it was time to check in. We had some McDonalds brekkie and I had my first airport shower – free & easy. Warm water & lots of it. Fanfuckingtastic. :)

Then we got into a shuttle with a very nice & slightly mad Kiwi driver who gave us a mini tour (as they all do I’ve since found out) and some history of the areas we were going through. I, of course, knew it all – for I had the ROUGH GUIDE. He he.

Our hostel was pretty cool, even if the cheapest room had no windows. We dumped our stuff & headed out to strut the streets. We went down to the port, tramped up & down Queen Street (the big shopping street) and headed to the art museum. Then we had a cheapo lunch of tofu & rice and decided to hit Happy Hour. We got the drinks in, piled all our New Zealand brochures, guides, discount coupons & millions of other pamphlets onto the table and started to try make a bit of sense out of it all.
We finally emerged with a semi-plan. We would get a flexipass bus ticket (allows you to buy blocks of hours and use them up on whatever routes you like) and do a bit of the north island, then do the west coast of the south island (the east coast is flooded) and then fly back from Queenstown to Auckland to catch Danny Howells play on the 12th. Then we would have another then days or so to do the northland, lake Taupo & a bit of the Coromandel Range. Easy Peasy lemon Squeezy.

The next day was bloody Anzac day (kinda like veteran’s day) so everywhere was closed. We managed to grab some brekkie in the one open café and decided to do a bit of track work & do some laundry. Later on (about 1pm) things opened for a while and we went to Skycity to watch people jump off the top of the 328m tower. He he. Then we decided to go for lunch (around 2pm) only it took us (for us see James) so long to decide what we wanted to eat (and also it had to fit into the category of under 10 dollars [each not between us that would be a bit too crzy]) that by the time we found somewhere ‘suitable’, it was feckin 5.30pm. Crazy Irish.

Anywho, we hit happy hour again and finished up our much more important decision making. Then we headed to the Internet café to book some bus trips for the next couple of days.

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^nice pic!! Hooter Rowlando

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Posted by squeakylee 15:56 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Santiago - the last bit

Chile Chile Chile, can't you seee...

sunny 22 °C

The Last Supper (& afternoon & evening) In Santiago

On our last day in Santiago, we lorded it up with the crazy Swiss & had our farewell drinks in the picturesque town square. We were quite sad to see them go (or us go whatever way I mean), L as they were the most normal and fun people we’ve met on our travels. But we are defo going to invite ourselves over to Swizterland for some fondo when we return. :J

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Posted by squeakylee 15:52 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Laguna Torcha & Pichilemu - the second last bit

Chilly on the willy

rain 15 °C

So after all that excitement, we decided to drive back up north. We stopped at a really cool place run by another crazy Swiss. It was kind of like a farm house, with plenty of animals and happy chickens. We know they were happy because we had the best eggs ever the next morning. The yolks of the eggs were really really orange and we were pondering their colour, when we were told that they were happy chickens and that’s why they were orange. J They were the best eggs in the land. We spent the night before the best breakfast in the land, chatting to the swiss lady in front of the fire, with some cheap wine, about how she came to be in Chile. She was very interesting and was cracking jokes along with the other two crazy swiss. ;)
The next day she gave us some advice on what to see on our last day. We headed for a really cool lake that she recommended. The view of the lake from the look out point was amazing. We saw lots of little swans and other beautiful scenery before we stopped on the side of the road for our last (we hoped) lunch of sandwiches!

On we went northwards, where we stopped at a beautiful beach along the way to go for a stroll. Then we continued on up in the car to Pichilemu. A small surfing/seaside town along the coast. We booked into this cosy, wooden cabana that cost us a total of 12000 for the night. We couldn’t believe it. We kept saying “12000?”. “For the cabana?”, “or each?”. I think your woman who was showing us around probably thought we were retards on parade.. Finally she managed to convince us, that it was in fact only 12,000 for the ENTIRE cabana for the WHOLE night and we were delighted. :)

We shopped for grub and beer and went down to the beach to watch the sunset with some small plastic cups and a bottle of beer. It was gorgeous. (See the million pictures – we probably only put a few up though).

Then we all did what we crazy irish & them crazy swiss do best – drank. We also forced them to watch Family Guy – we have some new converts as they loved it! Our plan to convert the world to FG is working!! ;)
The next day we had to drop the car back as rental time/ road trip was up. Boo. L
However we still a night left in Santiago. More drinking time!! YAY.

After trekking around town for a bit, looking for a place to stay, we settled in the Barrio Londres area..(we think)…(we can’t remember the name of it already – how pathetic is that?) Then the four of us headed out for a ginourmous lunch. We trekked off on the metro to visit a large statue of The Virgin Mary, that overlooks the entire city of Santiago and the Andes. It had an amazing view! We then headed on a mission to; A) scare the pants of Jimbob, by bringing him on a cable car ride over some of Santiago (his little scared face – he is no friend of heights), and B) Find this Irish pub that we had read about in the bible! :)

We scared the pants of Jim and found the Irish pub in no time at all, where we commenced drinking. J All the staff were wearing Liverpool jerseys despite there being no Liverpool (or any other match on) that day. We treated ourselves to a large platter of olives and cheese (the crazy swiss love ze cheese..;) ) and then headed off on the metro before it closed for the night.

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Posted by squeakylee 15:50 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Laja Del Salta (Or the other way around) (the middle bit)

Who knows Lisa, Who knows?

rain 16 °C

The next day it was back on the road and on towards the south. We muddled on to try to find somewhere to stay. On the way we stopped at a garage for some eats. I bought what I thought was an egg sandwich, but it was mushed up chicken. It was alright though and beggars can’t be choosers. He he.

We tried to book into some cabanas (mini houses to you and me), but the lady there had some very weird rules – come back at seven – then I charge you for only 12 hours – if you stay now – no you can’t stay now.. etc etc (obviously As Espanol). So again we headed off but the only problem was, it started to rain. Eekazoids – and boy did it rain. We kept going and going to see if it would clear until eventually we decided to call it quits in Laja Del Salta.

We stopped at these cute little wooden cabanas and rented one for the night. A very old man (who reminded us of Lurch from the Adam’s Family) put some wood on our fire in the house and withing a couple of hours, the gaf was roasting. Then the power went, me & Jim went to the shop for numerous candles and all was swell again in the cabin – mucho cosy – that is until the water went! Ah for crying out loud. So the crazy swiss went off to fill some buckets with water. Then We decided to make some warm food for a change and Manuel & Priska whipped us up some delicious pasta. We played some board games (we finally learnt how to play Ludo) and headed to bed, hoping the rain would have stopped by morning.

After much rain that night, and scary dreams of Lurch coming to chop us up we awoke to find it was still bloody raining. We packed up all our stuff again and admitted defeat. We would have to go all the way back north again without actually seeing the fantastic waterfall – the biggest one in Chile – we had come to see.

But lo and behold, by the time we had packed up the car – it had STOPPED raining! YAY. (well kindof – it was spitting). We drove up to the look out point and jumped out of the car, cameras poised. We finally got to go and look at the falls and take some pictures. Poor Jimbob slipped and fell and we nearly lost him, but thankfully he survived with just a mucky pair of pants. ;)

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Posted by squeakylee 15:48 Archived in Chile Comments (2)

Talca, Chile - the second bit

Who swiped my pic-a-nic basket?

sunny 22 °C

And off we went again continuing South – we stopped to have a picnic of more tuna & meat sandwiches – tastefully arranged on the bonnet of our swish car! He he. We drove on and finally came to a very nice backpacker lodge. The little dorms/rooms were so cosy that we all decided to stay for maybe two nights. We shared a dorm between the four of us and headed to the supermarket to stock up on more ingredients for sandwiches! We had one of our great evenings of chit chat, beer, wine & sandwiches. The next morning we went off gallivanting to try to find a fantastic lake (it was on the map) for our picnic (of more sandwiches! )

We had a bit of difficulty finding it though but we drove through some incredible scenery, stopping for picture opportunities and little strolls & wee breaks.
We finally found what was the lake. Only it had dried out a bit, the lake was substantially smaller than what it usually is. We abandoned the car and carried our picnic over to the edge of the lake. But as we got nearer, the ground was getting muddier and muddier and places to sit were becoming sparse! We were all covered in mud, so we trekked back to the car and tried to eat lunch on the wall. But it was invaded by wasps. Loads of them!

We escaped them and bundled back into the car. We decided to head back to our backpacker haven and have a few drinks and play some competitive ping pong. We had a great night. :)

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Posted by squeakylee 15:46 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Santiago (briefly), San Fernando (even briefer) - 1st bit

and onto Santa Cruz..

sunny 22 °C

Well we managed to hangover it into Santiago, Chile, whereupon we hopped on a bus and headed out to some ‘very fancy’ hostel .. snarf! He he. It was the only one with any room in it and it was not the nicest gaf we have ever seen to say the least. Howanever it was just a stop off point so we could meet up with the crazy swiss and lay our heads down for the evening. We finally bumped into Priska & Manuel in the hostel and we quickly set about drinking their beer and boring them to death with TALES OF INNNNTERRRESTtt.. Tee hee. It was great to catch up and have a great auld laugh with the lads. They had decided to rent a car for the next week and tour a bit around central Chile. They kindly asked us if we would like to join them and we were only delighted – a) to have a bit of a laugh, b) they are NEARLY as good as us at drinking (he he) and c) anything to avoid bus journeys! So first of all they gave us a mini tour of one part of Santiago, we got some eats and went to bed at a reasonable hour.

The next day we all hightailed it to the airport where we rented a very swish silver car! La Dee DaH!. I was very excited at the prospect of a ROAD TRIP!! Hee hee. Woohoo.
So off we headed into the unknown.. with no agenda and no worries. J We decided after a while to head to somewhere where they was some vineyards and so we headed to San Fernando. But once we arrived, the only thing in town was a bouncing castle.. (woohoo I hear some of you add) but it was not to be – it was for the kids and we didn’t want to lose face in front of the Swiss either. ;) So we piled back into the car and headed on to Santa Cruz. Upon arriving in Santa Cruz – a very sweet little town – popular with weekend & vacationing wineheads – basked in the evening sunlight. We booked into our most expensive hostel/hotel (since New York) at 50 bucks a night! We were a little worried (as this was our first day in Chile and we had already spent nearly 270 dollars), but we were consoled with the following news that this price indeed included breakfast – and you could get it delivered to your room! Sweet As.
So we did the first thing the four of us do when we arrive anywhere – head for the beer! We settled in for the night on the balcony of a very nice pub/restaurant for some very expensive beer & wine. Then when we went to look for eats, we discovered there was not really much choice – so seeing as we had all went over budget - we decided to buy some bread, meat, tuna & beer and have some tuna / meat sandwiches back in the hotel. And what a roaring success it was. J
The next day, we were somewhat disappointed with our “Breakfast in Bed”. We kept waiting for yer woman to come back with more food but it was not to be… what a let down.
But it was a gorgeous day and there were vineyards to explore so off we went to the Viu Manent Vineyard near Santa Cruz. The vineyard surroundings were gorgeous – very meditteranean and rustic and really impressive. We were just in time for the next vineyard tour so we bundled onto a horse & cart and were given the grand tour. Our guide was very nice, if a little muddled and we were brought into the VAT rooms, and the wine process was explained in detail to us all (and just as quickly forgotten) and then the tasting began! Woohooo! However, when we were brought back to the wine tasting room, SHOCK, HORROR – the others in the group (Americans) started pouring the rest of their wine out!! ( Now I know this is the proper way it’s done, but when it’s your first time in a vineyard, coupled with the fact that you’re Irish, seeing this type of behaviour is unacceptable.) James & Manuel were both plotting to steal the pouring/slops bucket. We just said ‘feck it’, we paid 16 dollars (or whatever) and we were bloody well drinking as much as we could. I did feel a bit of a greedy alcoholic however, so I reluctantly poured out the one I didn’t like. The rest of them we drank (except the driver) and to make me look a bit better I pretended to throw out the last few drops.. he he he – fooled her! I also bought a bottle of my favourite (cheapy) wine so as to fool her into thinking I was a grown up.

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Posted by squeakylee 15:33 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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