Sadly, our time here in New Zealand has finally come to an end and we’re off to the States tomorrow.
We’re gutted to be leaving such a dramatically beautiful country although have to admit we're looking forward to getting back to modern civilisation.
We honestly can’t stress enough just how hilariously behind the times New Zealand actually is.
Internet access is dire, businesses are only just coming to terms with credit cards and video rentals are still doing a booming trade (and yes we mean VHS!!).
It’s not just technology that feels out of touch. The things that Kiwis say and do in public has quite literally left us speechless.
Perhaps we’ve been protected by the BBC’s conservatism and political correctness for too long, but we’ve gasped in horror at some of the content and language used on TV and radio. It’s perfectly acceptable for a presenter to refer to something as ‘total shit’ on daytime TV or a radio DJ to tell his co-host to F*** off.
Unbelievably, the worst culprits are the politicians. The Trade Minister confirmed on the 6 o’clock news that a rumour was "Total Bollox” and who'd have thought Prime Minister’s questions could be so entertaining. We watched the poor PM get quizzed by a senior politician about whether he dyed his hair and if his ‘collar matched his cuffs’. The PM replied “This is all mine, baby!!”. Can you even begin to imagine a similar exchange between Cameron and Clegg!? CRINGE!!
Despite being here for 2 months, we still struggle to understand anyone with a strong Kiwi accent. E’s are pronounced I’s and I’s are pronounced U’s which makes even the simplest of sentences difficult to comprehend. It took us quite a while to realise that the radio ad encouraging listeners to “take good care of your ‘dick’ this winter’ was actually referring to garden decking!
To be fair the Kiwis have a great sense of humour and take the piss out of themselves relentlessly, including the accent. If you want a giggle check out these You Tube videos......
Netflix spoof advert (in case you're wondering, 'Pascal's Pineapple Lumps are somewhat of a national treasure - the Kiwi's love them)
This decking advert was briefly featured on TV before it got banned though how it ever made it past the broadcasting commission is beyond us!!!!
Sooooo what have we been up to? Well, very little actually. We are both absolutely exhausted from moving around every couple of days, living out of bags and sharing kitchens and bathrooms with teenagers. Are we pulling on your heart strings? No, didn’t think so.
Of course we’re still having a blast but our pace has slowed somewhat. We’ve spent the past few weeks living like a pair of old codgers – taking long walks, scenic drives and even trying our hand at fishing.
Now calm yourselves down guys – you must be bursting at the seams with excitement about reading more of this blog now!!!!
For all your sakes, we’ll keep it brief and let our pics do most of the talking.
Thankfully the snow blizzard didn’t last long and just a few days after leaving Queenstown, we were back in the beautiful sunshine.
We spent a few days at Lake Tekapo, staying in one of the shittiest hostels we’ve experienced so far. Our room was directly off the kitchen in which hordes of Chinese tourists spent all day boiling up chicken’s feet and fish balls, which of course made our room smell delightful.
Nonetheless the location couldn’t have been better – the view from every window was breath-taking.
View from our hostel:
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains:
Sunset outside our hostel:
We couldn’t pass through New Zealand without descending on Jason’s cousin Emma and her wonderful family, who moved to New Zealand over a year ago. We spent the weekend with them at their home in Pegasus, just outside of Christchurch.
It was great to see everyone after so long and an absolute joy to relax in a normal family home.
Well, as normal as can be expected for the Ford family :-)
Arthur's Pass - not far from where Emma and her family live. The lucky buggers!!
Scenic drive between Pegasus and Kaikoura:
Kaikoura was like a ghost town, with more resident seals than people. We walked for several hours across the rugged headlands in the blistering winds.
If only I’d read the warning sign about keeping a distance from these ‘highly aggressive’ seals BEFORE I tried to cuddle up to one……
Our time on the South Island finished up where it began – in Motueka. We both loved the area the first time around and were pleased to be back.
On our first day we took a water taxi to Bark Bay, a beach totally inaccessible by road. We spent the day walking back to the car along the coast, some 16 miles away. It was much tougher than we expected and we could barely walk the following day.
On the lookout for something a little less energetic, we decided to try our hand at fishing. We found a salmon lake in Anatoki where fishing equipment is provided free of charge and an onsite fishmonger cleans, guts and prepares your catch. Perfect!
Much to my annoyance, Jase found himself wrestling a gargantuan fish within the first 20 minutes. We had plenty for dinner but we weren't leaving until I’d caught one too.
Still waiting, zzzzzz......
Obviously just to piss me off, Jase went on to catch a second just a few minutes later. Sigh......
It took me a long time before I finally got a bite, but boy – what a whopper!!
River monster - Eat your heart out Jeremy Wade!!
Ok, ok, I guess I’m not fooling anyone. THIS was my dinner contribution:
She was only a tiddler, but I was proud as punch with my catch.
Ironically, Jase doesn’t even like fish but thanks to the whale sized beauties he reeled in, he had to endure salmon for breakfast, lunch and dinner for around 3 days. Karma for show offs!
Salmon sashimi for lunch - just 20 minutes after we caught it!!
What's for dinner love? Oh......
The rest of our time was spent driving around the beautiful vineyards. It was on one of our drives that we experienced an earthquake. The car wobbled and rocked from side to side but thankfully nothing more serious.
Autumn had well and truly set in since our last visit:
This awesome little place was completely destroyed by an earthquake 85 years ago and had to be completely rebuilt. As a result, we were whisked back to the bygone era of the 1930’s thanks to the art deco buildings and shops that line the streets.
2 things hit us immediately when we arrived in Taupo – the beautiful scenery and the revolting stench of rotten eggs caused by volcanic sulphur. It smells even worse than Port Talbot – believe us, it is possible.
Plumes of hot steam pour out of sulphur vents along the roadside as you drive into town, it's totally nuts.
Despite the god awful smell, the geysers and bubbling mud pools are awesome and we had a great day exploring one of the many geothermal parks.
"Have you dropped one, Jase?"
Bubbling mud pools:
Smiling through the stench:
Rocks stained white from sulphur:
Is that Freddy Krueger?
Rotorua has one of the highest Maori populations in New Zealand and seemed like the perfect place to find out more about the culture.
On our first night we enjoyed a Hangi Feast, a traditional Maori meal of meat and vegetables. The food is roasted in baskets underground, using the natural volcanic heat in the earth. It was lush!
Digging up dinner:
Of course we couldn’t leave New Zealand without experience a traditional Haka either. It’s one thing watching the All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium but to be stood some 3 feet away from these guys is absolutely terrifying.
Many of the Maori people have 'Ta Moko' which are the traditional facial tattoos. Women have just their chins tattooed while Maori men have most or all of their faces covered, with designs handed down through many generations. It's so hard not to stare when we pass someone with Ta Moko in the street or supermarket, given that it's not something we see every day back home (valley girls with face tats in St.Mellons Tesco are an exception!).
Jase and I agreed we needed one last adrenaline rush before we left New Zealand so booked ourselves on a rafting trip along the Kaituna River. We were dunked, spun and spat out by grade 5 rapids, en route to the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world - Tutea Falls.
Riding the rapids:
A little splash here and there:
As we approached Tutea Falls, we were fully briefed on what to do should the raft flip over. We paddled frantically to the edge of the falls, crouched down inside the raft and held on for dear life.
We're in there somewhere......
Ah there we are!
Thankfully we didn't flip over, although none of us were prepared for what happened next...............
Thankfully our guide Sam was a strong swimmer and made it back to our raft, much to our relief!
Yay - we found him!
It was a great way to end our time in New Zealand.
Tomorrow we fly to the States, the last stop on our big adventure. Our bargain flight to LA didn't seem like such a bargain when we realised we'd have to fly back to Australia and spend 8 hours in Sydney airport - lovely!
So we'll speak to you all again soon from the USA......
"Have a nice day y'all !!!"