Mul like a pieball pony in Kerry!

Mul like a pieball pony in Kerry!
Anyone tell him about Grecian 2000?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Suffering Sulphur

Ok guys.. you will be delighted to know that todays blog will be shorter cause I am up at cock crow (6am) to do a walk called the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, I met with a lovely girl called Julia from Munich last night in Rotorua and also my first Irish contact a girl called Julie from North Cork who both informed me that Tongariro was in the north island and not south as I had originally thought..( I really HAVE to read those guide books correctly). This changed my whole plans completely for what ever they were worth.. Instead of going to Lake Taupo I would head straight for the National Park and give Taupo a skip. I left smelly Rotorua at 9 after saying goodbye to the closest Harry Burke ( my brother in law) lookalike that I ever met. Har if you are reading this you will piss yourself with the similarities. Well apart from the christian name Phil his surname was Bourke and he was a teacher and retired after 30 odd years end of last year. He was follically challenged and had a grey goatee! Id say separated at birth Burkie!! After getting his email and a place to stay in Australia for the future I made a rapid rush for Wai-O-Tapu Thermal park cause Lady Knox was due to blow her top at 10.30 on the button. Lady Knox is a little like old faithful in Yellow Stone Nat Park in the US and she blows at 10.30 every day. Now I am a bit sceptical about this but they did admit that Lady Knox has a little assistance... and nooo.. someone does not switch on the kettle underneath!! They do throw some surfactants into the simmering mass of gurgling water and by God does  she blow. She blows for about an hour but all the 1000 people get bored after 5 mins and feck off elsewhere to inhale the sulphur from the "thermal wonderland". Speaking of sulphur I have a pain in my brain for the last two days and its def got to do with the stink of sulphur. After walking the wonderland did i not bump into both Julie from Cork and Julia from Germany again separately. Julia from Ger was interested in the walk tomorrow so we swopped numbers and headed off in the opposite directions. The wonderland was interesting but once u see one bubbling mass you have seen them all. In addition my stomach was churning with the smell and I just wanted out of there... I was most unpopular as I walked back against everyone else while they all Ooohed and Ahhhed at every little steam burst.
I must check the effect that sulphur has on the system cause I came over all funny for two days beacuse of it.
I got a booking in a hostel in the National Park called Ski Haus! Obviously Germanic in origin and so far Id say there is about 30% from there... and two girls from Norn Ireland!
Ambled my way in the blazing sunshine through the most wonderful farmland with the windows open and getting assulted by wasps stones and lots of flying things in the windows.When I was booking the Ski haus , the lady there said I should see Hooker Falls near lake Taupo. I did find the Huta Falls which were lovely! Of course I will make an appointemnt for an audiology check up on my return!. Drove through the early evening to the Tongiraro National Park where the scenery was just stunning and yes you will be subjected to my 1000 pics so far of every angle of the hills!
 I met up with Julia (German) and several others and we drank a good portion of my second 3 litre container of wine.. now to bed for my early start! Watch this space to see whether I make the 8 hour hike.. If there is wind as forecast then we wont be hiking simple as!! Sleep well all until tomorrow.
By the way for those not in the know..this walk location was used in Lord of the Rings movies!! So there... but damned if I know anything about that!!!!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rotorua...yep they are right... it does stink!

Another beautiful day when I set out from Tauranga.
I discovered some of Melissas assets and one being..that she pointed out.local attractions on her slim little bod!! Pressed the button which I had no clue was ever there.. ( I told ya I was a technophobe and did not know all Melissas charms) Anyhow I looked and saw a place called Mount Misery... this looks interesting. An hours hike so not to bad. It was misery alright in climbing it as the fecking thing had a gradient of 1:2 and about 20 times the length of Patircks Hill. I will have buns of steel after this hol and also the worst farmers tan ever!
I got to the place where the hike began of course down a gravel road and miles from anywhere. Could only hear the birds and yep the blighters known as crickets. or grasshoppers. The views were amazing yet again.. lush rolling green landscape, hills and mountains in the background on one side and the sparkling sea on the other. I was slow to leave it but knew that I should head on towards Rotorua.On the way there, I passed Te Puke which is pronounced Te Pukie! An unfortunate name for a place that is the capital of the Kiwi fruit production in the world. A fact that you may not know but Kiwi fruit is worth 1 billion dollars to the NZ economy annually so dont ever scoff at the hairy green things! Well after passing thru TE PUKE I found what the world needs the 360 Degree Kiwi Experience.. I was tittering to myself at the train that takes you around the place in carraiges that look like half cut out kiwi fruit so there was no way I was lowering myself to be transported by a fruit!.I do have standards!
The centre was amazing tho in that there is shagging kiwi flavoured or smelling everything. So for spite I went to the cafe and got a coffee and a pecan nut tart. The guy who took my order had plastic discs in his ears for earrings and said "sweet like" every time you spoke to him. So I ordered the tart and coffee and his answer was "sweet like". I thanked him and he said " sweet like". He brought the stuff to the table and then acknowledged by saying "sweet like" again. I was sorely tempted to add in " a kiwi" but dont think hed have appreciated my humour or had the vocabulary to retort with anything if I did. They got their revenge on me with making the shape of a kiwi in the froth of the coffee and drizzling kiwi syrup on my pecan pie!
Arrived early in Rotorua and the smell was not too bad initially but then it seems to linger. That cant be good for your health. In fact I dont think its too good for me as I have a headache all day!!! Based on my brothers and Paulines advice I was going to go zorbing... which is throwing yourself into a plastic ball with water and careering down a hill in side slipping and been thrown all over the palce in the name of fun. Pol had advised the Maori night with the feast etc. I ended up doing neither. The zorb was closed and I had no appetite for lots of food. Instead I ended up going up on gondola to Skyline. A great place with downhill carting " where they assured me you could  not injusre yourself. I beg to differ as all my workmates remember me doing Ozzie Osborune in Antrim with the quad bike and not being able to walk properly for three days after falling off the bloody thing so Iwas not risking this. Anyhow I saw several people with fresh bandages on various limbs who had slight "encounters" with other carts! Hell no says I .. I will go into the flight simulator instead. A 12 min ride from HELL!. I got chatting to the Kiwi guy ( not fruit) who encouraged me to try it and I was the only one lined up for it. "Where should I sit says I?".." Up the back in the centre" says he... "its best there". Anyhow you have to strap yourself into this as it moves all over the place. He told me there were two buttons in the arm rest to keep continuously pressed if I felt motion sickness and wanted them to stop it. Motion sickness? I never suffered from that ever.......until today!!!!!! Just as we were about to lift off we were joined by three teenagers and a couple with their two small kids...
The ride began... it was lovely.....and then it went bloody manic.. I was rapidly losing colour and feeling the kiwi syrup starting to gurgle below....I swear to the one on high that I was a nanosecond from pressing those two bloody buttons to get out but could not lose face in front of the 2 kids under 5 who were hollering with delight. That was the LONGEST 12 mins EVER. I came out and was kiwi green in the face with only my badly sunburned nose remaining like Rudolfs. The contrast must have been hilarious.
This evening I went to the Polynesian Spa where I languished in 41 degree water and peered up at the southern cross in the night sky. I think the heat got my bod back to the "recently boiled look"!!
I am kipping in the "Funky Green Voyager Hostel" tonight and met several more women..a few mid life crises and travelling for months and no jobs to go back to!. One dopey eejit is cycling around the place... God I will never understand them!! Night night
PS the bloody pics took me ages to down load earlier and in fact it was trying to up load about 179 of them. I dont think anyone would have the patience for that so I just added a few!! Enjoy and take care.. Its a kiwi jungle out there and a rotten smelling one at that!!!

90 mile beach and Cape Reinga

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Some Pics from Northlands Cape Reinga, bay of Islands and Auckland at night

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bay of Plenty

Dont ya just love the names?? I am currently in a hostel called "Just the Ducks Nuts" in Tauranga. about 150 km south of Auckland. Its an incredible place but does not get the top billing in any of the guides. I think this is due to the fact that there is a bot of industry there but its incredible landscape. Wonderful islands with white sandy surfiing beaches that you can get loads of space to lie out and still  not clobber the person besides ya if you stretch out. One place I stopped and spent some time in yesterday was a place called Waihi Beach.. Incredible.. Loads out suffing from the youngest to the more doddery than me. To speak of doddery I am definately beginning to check up on myself. On lovely 90 mile beach I left my head torch behind. In Sunseekers I left my shampoo and finally in Marco Polo in Orewa above Auckland I left my complete larder!!! All the food I had bought .. It must have been due to the fact that I had finished the 3 litres of plonk the night before.
I was a  bit reluctant to leave Orewa beacuse of Richard and Marylin as they were incredibly good company but we definately annoyed the rest of the campers as we were guffawing so much. However there was the arrival of about 20 young kiwis who were shouting and roaring in their battered cars and trying to set up tents with not much success. Richard was watching amused and saying to us... " they wont be sleeping in those tonight" and wnet off tittering to himself. Anyhow it sealed things and I decided to take off.
One thing I did not about NZ is that you get burned here in less than 10 mins cause the hole in the ozone layer is just over head.. Now that explains the funny pattern of burning I have got so far!! Yesterday it was the inside of my arm and one of my elbows. Nothing for it but to skidaddle off to " PAck & Save" and buy an industrial sized bottle of Factor 30 sunscreen made on behalf of the NZ Cancer society. I can use this as shampoo if I ever lose my real stuff again. Apparently this facto 30 is the dogs and NOTHING gets through this. Maybe the freckles will fade completely.
IN checkin in to the "Just the ducks nuts" I met with two girls from the UK. Jacqueline and Angela.. Angela from Aberdeen and Jacqueline from Oxfordshire. We got chatting and I asked them did they want to accompany me on a hike up Mount Maunganui at the far end of theTauranga. They were delighted until they sat into the car with me. I dunno about you but I am getting very self conscious re how I drive when I have passengers. However in an automatic its completely different again. Added to that but Melissa started acting up again and started sending me down docklands etc. The girls were nervously whittering away thinking .. "Oh no what have we landed in here" Anyhow as they found out the only one they had to fear was Melissa as she sent us every which way but the Mount. We eventually got to climb it and it had the most amazing views. Now some of the holiday tower blocks were a bit offputting but those aside again huge expanses of deserted beaches and huge waves..  OK time ot check out here..
Listen to those who left comments thanks a mill... I dunno how to reply to the comments but will try and set that up soon. But to Benny, Mary B, Pam, Shane and of course Jemima... thanks a mill. I will be downloading some pics soon and will let ye know the link.. Also to everyone who text and mailed again thanks..Just off the phone from my bro and sis in law in Scotland...Great coversation guys and I now think I have to get out I am laughing so much!!!! I woke the Germans!! Now thats a change!!
Catch ye tomorrow.. lards of love Der x x Happy Sunday one and all!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Melissa's revenge....

I keep saying that I have to make these things shorter but then my fingers just run away on me and I am buzzin before I sleep. You will be glad to hear that the cheap plonk is now gone! Only 3 litres of it which is prob way above what the doctor would say is normal consumption in a week..but I was helped this evening your honour!..
Anyhow I digress yet again.. Magnificent morning so I decided to get up have my stable brekkie and then head for a long walk on 90 mile beach before the weather got too hot and scalder me to 3rd degree burns from the second degree I received yesterday. Can anyone please explain how I can get burned in various parts of this magnificant anatomy in a very inconsistent way..for example. the left side of my neck.. the backs of my knees. the instep of my left foot and the right hand side of my nose??? All of this after plastering the factor 30 all over...
The reason I tell you this is that I decided to go walking on the deserted beach for 2 hours and took my top off. I was a virtual nudist apart from the fact that I had my shorts on and whats not been burned that often will def not get burned now. So I'm walking down the beach with my tee shirt wrapped around my head and neck and draping down my burnt right arm in order to preserve it from further scalding when I am passed by a shagging bus... yes a bus tearing along on the beach!!!!!! That cheap wine has a lot to answer for...!! I thought I was hallucinating and again blaming the cheap plonk. It was like a typical number 10 bus cause a second one passed within 5 mins of the first one and then none for the next two hours. I was away in a world of my own humming to my self wondering why the people onthe bus were staring at me but in hindsight I probably looked like a suspicious member of the Taliban out on secret manouvers on the beach miles from anywhere with a yasmak over my head and face and looked a sight with the pale mottled frecked skin with scald marks on various parts that got some of the passangers a tad concenred. So an hour and a half goes and Der sees nothing or no one else and is singing to himself with the wind howling and the waves crashing and this B***t*rd in a hi-ace van comes up behind me quickly and bips his horn and nearly shot me into a parallel universe. I could spot the driver laughing hyterically to himself in the wing mirroras he drove off at breakneck speed. I was not right for a long time after that.
Anyhow you are wondering who Melissa had her revenge??
I got back to the car still not over the shock of that bollo scaring the life outta me so I sat into to compose myself..I then set Melissa to bring me to Whangerei (pronounced Fangerei.. remmeber the last lesson WH =F) when  she instantly turned me off the main road I thought I should have been on and on to a gravel path! I was raging with her as it was now roasting and the the car was difficult to control in the stones and gravel and I seemed to be going through fields. It was also too narrow to turn around. To cool myself down I put down the windows cause I was damned if I was using the air conditioning with the way it was gobbling the fuel.  So imagine careering down a lane and it like ice and something hits my ear.( yes the burnt one!). I did a sort of a flick and felt something move.. then whack another thing on the other side in the passanger window..
All I can say is that I nearly lost my life.. I jammed on the breaks skidding with gravel flying and dust all over and threw the car opened and hopped outta the car as quickly as i could try to manouver on my flipflops which at this stage had got stuck under the pedals with the force of stopping... I tentatively peered into the car expecting to see a rat or some other vermin and yes thouse of you who are paying attention will probably know what it was ... a fecking grasshopper peering up at me from the back a big bloody thing.. I HATE them.. thats twice now they have nearly given me heart failure and snet me prematurely to a home for the bewildered. I think that Melissa and them are in cahoots with each other to make sure I dont return...
Loath though I am to say it tho, Melissa was correct as she got me back the highway in the shortest distance and time. She is also repsonsible for giving me palpitations for the rest ofthe day!..
Today was really about getting down back towards Auckland as quickly as possible casue there is a very big Island and I will not get a lot in next week if I have to meet a few people in Wellington.So the only other place I saw was Ahipora on the west of Northland and the official start point of 90 mile beach.. then it was down towards Auck to geth thru there before the weekend. I decided I was going to go to a place called Helensville to spend the night cause I liked the name... but it was not a good idea.. One place there but full so I am  now in a town called Orewa in accomodation called Marco Polo backpackers lodge. I met a brill couple called Richard and Marilyn who are farmers from Saskatchewan in Canada.. It was Dick helped me finish the wine!!
With all the doom and gloom here on the radio and papers I needed to get a laugh and it was provided by a newsreader called I think Niva Riti Yewi on Northlands Classic FM. After the news she was readin out the sports events and said and in Auck there will be the National Nipple Championship this weekend... I was agog and aghast re what this competition would entail and my mind was only working overtime. The trouble is that Nivi Riti has a really strong Kiwi accent and in addition is VERY nasely!! I had to wait for the 5 pm news to determine that the National NETBALL championships were on this weekend... Mul get your mind out of the gutter!!..

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh my Gawd!!!!!!!!

Decided to rob this phrase from the nubile pubescent Americans for todays ditty... I had the most incredible day EVER!!!
I think I was a bit cruel saying that my night in Sunseekers Hostel was boring.. it really wasnt.. there were three that I spoke to and two of the three were nice but Mike could have been talking about paint drying cause every subject was just as interesting as that. His wife Val was lovely and Julie the other "billy no mates" person was very interesting .. well I discovered that over breakfast this morning. The room I was in was really good but I kept waking to the oddest animal sounds.. well I hope they originated from a species of the animal kingdom cause otherwise I am caught for an explanation as to what they were! Met Julie who is an avid fisherwoman.. the first I have ever met who admited that it was her passion over her frying her john dory this morning. She left " my buggar of a boyfriend" who by the way drvies a Bentley and is loaded at home as he could not be bothered accompanying her. I found it a bit strange that if the bf was that loaded as to why she was spending her hol in a hostel at 20 quid a night.. Anyhow it does not matter. She kept either laughing at me or with me but I still cant figure which one...!  I think I brightened her day after Mr Dry Paint! Anyhow I scarpered outta the hostel at 10 to the sunniest morning I have encountered in the southern hemisphere so far... The hostel in Wangerai is located on the side of a hill overlooking an estuary. In the sunlight and with the tide in it looked way better than last night!! I ventured to a place called Margonui also known as Doubtless Bay..... wow and wow again! Apparently when Captain Cook was discovering NZ he passed this place by and said to one of his crewmates.. "that is doubtless another bay and sailed past! The name stuck. It is FAB! but it gets better.. I started to wangle my way up Northlands on the Aupouri the way I am taking these names from the guidebook cause I never remember them. On the way I passed Coopers Beach.. wow.. Cable Beach wowier and then got to place called Waipapakauri or the start of 90 mile beach...... OH MY GAWD!! Its incredible and it is supposed to be 90km long at least and people use it as an access road to Cape Reinga in the north...
I decided not to bring the car on the beach as the excess on my car insurance would not cover it and anyhow if I got stuck it was up to "billy no mates" here to get himself out! Not a paper on the beach and wind howling and the waves crashing!!! I was mesmerised but better was to come. I walked for about an hour on it and then got into the car and worked myway up to Cape Reinga the most northerly point of NZ.This is where the Tasmin Sea hits the South Pacific sea and its one of the most incredible places I have ever seen. The sun was splitting and the seas were crashing against each other about half mile out with huge waves. Met a lovely Swedish couple there and got them to take a pic or two of me to prove I was there! I could have slept there I was so in awe of the place.
Dragged my self away as it was 4 pm and I had no accom booked or even an idea where to get any but I did want to get back to 90 mile beach. I drove the road back and set the sat nav for a place called Hochora.. the middle entrance to the beach but the bloody sat nav took me up a gravelled road and said that I would reach my destination in 20 km..... thats 12.5 miles to all the Paddies!! I was beginning to doubt Melissa ( my non too affectionate name for the sat nav) when low and behold I arrived again at the beach! It was just so impressive... massive expanse of sand and waves crashing and not a soul in site.. apart from the fools in the camper van about a mile down the beach who had got stuck in the sand. I did the uncharitable thing and turned before I reached them as I was not gonna do any damage to my back. Any way Dave said to avoid extreme sports as my insurance policy did not cover it!!. I complied and scarpered back the beach. On the way I spotted in a distance the "lovely" Swedish couple" who obviously had spotted me too and prob said to each other in swedish of course " Oh sweetest devine God there is that balding half scalded Paddy again" RUN"""( or what ever way they would say it in swedish!) They had gone by the time I had arrived panting after doing the 1km dash!!
Left that place and now back in Waipapakauri at the start of the 90 miler beach in a little chalet in NinetyMile Beach Holiday Park no less..5 beds in the chalet no loo or shower... its communal washing in the morning.. but a fridge to cool the last litre of cheap plonk and all for €40. The perfect end to the day was the fact I got the sun set on the beach.. what more could Der want apart from Calamine lotion as I got the side of me neck scalded with the window open today! Still though its a healthy glow. Now add to that the midge bite on my forehead and ankles and u get the picture..!!!.
Speaking of pics.. I will try and add some so have a look out for them over the next few days.
I am doing such an uncouth thing at the mo.. guzzling cheap plonk from a mug!! Mum I am sorry... all that expensive education and I let ya down..
Have a great day guys and "a mattina.. buongiorno!!!!" Have a brill day!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Why is it that people use a partiuclar expression all the time. Leah the land lady in the Opua Motel met with me to basically throw me out this morning and I decided to pick her brains  on whats best to see and do in the vicinity from a locals perspective. The trouble is that Leah kept saying HAY? every few words...You,re out of bed HAY?? Breakfast yet HAY? You should avoid Rotarua HAY? Jeez there were so much HAYs I could not decipher what she was about but needless to mention like all Kiwis she was incredible helpful and smiley! She also told me she was descended from Irish Missionaries....... now the less said about that the better! I told her I was gonna head towards a place called RAWHITI Point so that I could get a good vantage point over the Bay of Islands and hopefully get the best views. The day was initially fantastic and the sun blazing. Just to let you cold creature know I am in my shorts all the time and flipflops.. only $14 (€7) in the local Shell garage,. Anyhow I asked Leah re RAW HITI and she looked at me as if I was speaking Arabic... I had to point it out on the map to her. Ah HAY? RAFITI says she with another HAY thrown in for good measure... Apparently the WH is pronounced F in Maori.. The only time I heard of anything like that is in Kerry when they dont say Whip the cream they say FIP the cream!!
Anyhow I sauntered off to the car ferry to make my way across to that place. I am amazed by distances here. they are a lot longer than you expect and added to that they are constantly doing up the roads and you could have ankle deep gravel and stones which give the car a bit of a sliding... oh yeah and the car... I think the Camry was a mistake.. They all think I am loaded as most of the rental cars originate from the time that DANA won the Eurovision and that was not yesterday! Anyhow added to the fact that I can barely see over the steering wheel I think I will have to purchase one of those rubber thingies alright.
There was a trail in Rawhiti that I decided to try.. well I had to try and find it first and after sweating up an down a few hills I met a toothless Maori who was either laughing at my map reading skillls.. ( yes I was WAYYYYY off) or at my appearance (sweating in the midday sun like Christ Moore on a bad night)but I did find the trail called the Te Tawa Hill.. I got a half hour in to it and turned back.. Reason why is that there were a few signs around re their eradication program for vermin and I was afraid after my experience with the bloody grasshopper in my blind last night that this time the real beggars would decide to appear and lunch on this ever expanding sweet blooded Paddy.
RAWHITI was amazing.. beautiful coves and trees down to the water with the waves crashing against the islands in the bays and the coastlines. Another wide beach with no one on it!!
I left and went back towards a town called Russel... Incredible old town.. as in late 1800 early 1900's with wooded buildings everywhere. Really pretty location and again a beautiful bay. Too many north Americans around so I hiked it ( well Camryed in luxury) off to Paiha. I really liked this place as well. Very touristy but in a tasteful non fretful way. There was a fantastic craft market on too and I  was sorely tempted to indulge.
Filled the tank with petrol ... I nearly lost all reason when I saw the pump go to $113 for a tank full which is about 60 yo yos. That air conditioning is staying OFF from now on.
Checked out the bible which is the Lonely planet guide book for suitable accom for the night and liked the sound of Whangaroa Harbour and the Sunseekers Lodge.. this place is in the back of beyond and my room  is like one of the bedrooms in old house in Armore... yes the converted chicken coop..corrugated iron roof and out side loo. Well I have to get used to it as the budget will not keep me in the lifestyle to which I am accustomed to!!
Spent the evening chatting with MORE elderly "backpackers" or as I will now call them Cheap skates and had to put a major dent in the 3 litre box of wine so that I could numb the pain from the conversation from my three fellow travellers from Manchester and Dorset in the UK. I think they thought I had a drink problem.. goody!!! Well a phrase I remembered from before.. I will never see them again HAY?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bored? I dont have a chance to be bored

I am not going to bore you with a minute to minute update of everything.. I promised it would not be facebook but the first few days are fairly significant on the initial first vibes on a place...So far..... all I can say is the jammy so and sos'... no wonder they put this country this far away!! ( although to my horror I did see a drunken biffo already outside Father Teds Irish bar on Wellsley street drunkedly shouting " would ya have a gander at the legs on her..?!!
The reason I prefaced this paragraph with the “not boring” bit is that Saturday disappeared completely. Got a taxi from the airport by an refugee Iranian and got his life story.. Fascinating.. We really have it easy guys..This guy was shot and in a landmine explosion in the war with Iraq and had to walk to Pakistan to escape the regime in his home land! He eventually made it over here and only was able to get his wife and family out 18 months later! So much for my bitching to Cork City Council re the bins not collected.. I am going to get things into perspective from now on.
Anyhow got to the hotel... yes I did splurge for the first few days and promptly fell into a coma on the bed at 15.30... woke at 22.00 and said ah.. "cant be bothered" and then fell back into another coma until 2 am Sunday. Of course you guessed it. Woke and BLING.. wide eyed and bushy tailed!! Oh oh.. this cant happen.. However I dosed my self on caffeine (yes it does have the opposite effect on me) and fell back to sleep at 4 till 7. At least that gave me a brill,, second full day in NZ to look forward to! And for those of you any bit interested I did get the feeling back in my backside! I am walking less funny now!
I started off at 08.30 did the usual touristy thing and headed for the Sky Tower. I thought that seeing the city from above would give em some sense of orientation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every time since I tried to find my way to the bloody thing I got lost. And I keep on saying I have a great sense of direction!!
The tower is an amazing structure like the space needle in Seattle and just as impressive. You zoom up 50 stories to the first viewing deck and then can go a further 10 stories up to Sky deck. For those faint hearted there is a glass panel in the floor of the lift as well as several in the floor of the 1st viewing deck on the 50th. People gingerly put their feet on them or the braver jump on them “ just to test”. I of course did my bit by non chalently walking on them but silently terrified on the inside that I thought I heard the glass panel crack under my weight.There is also a digital sign that keeps saying “jumper in 4 mins”. You then get a congregation of blue rinse brigade and gawpers having a nose to see what happens. Suddenly and nearly giving us all heart failure a fool of a bungy jumper in a blue and yellow jump suit appears in front of the window and is left dangling outside for just enough time to wave or scream help to the  viewers before being released and plummeting to the target sign below on the ground!. This is a 200m jump and all I say is what plonkers! They would need the jumpsuits alright and clean change of undies down at the target zone. The other “fun” activity available is just below the upper deck again at around 55 stories high of a platform without rails (why not says you?) of course that several in orange jumpsuits can walk on this platform again 200m above the street below. They circle the tower but this time they are tethered to a guide wire. Its from the sky deck that you can peer on those idiots who are walking in groups of 5 around this 1 m wide platform. You would have to superglue me into my suit and as well as that weld my hands to the guidewire to get me up there.. and the fools pay for this “pleasure”?
 The rest of the day was brill.. walking through this fantastic city and beautiful parks, marina harbour areas and an amazing museum built on top of an old volcano.. why not.. the last eruption was several hundred years ago. The weather was fantastic and in Auckland domain the parkland where the museum was based had a free concert on the bandstand with families having picnics. There also was a Chinese lantern festival and I have never seen so many chineses takeaways that were temporarily set up to deal with the influx and by god was there an influx. I could have been in Shanghai! This pale skinned freckeld paddy stuck out like an un deep fat fried springroll!
Monday will I or wont I?
Cause I had spent the first of my two allocated Auckland days in a coma I had to make up for it someway. The lonely planet had recommended going to the youngest volcano.. an island called Rangitoto in the middle of the harbour. The day had started a little dull but as they told me here, it rarely rains in sunny Auckland....they LIED!
On the high speed catamaran the wind whipped up to a frenzy and my lovely sun glasses were plucked from my shirt and flew in the hurricane whip into the briney never to be seen again. That was another expense not thought of! The peak of Rangitoto was an hours hike from the dock. Its a complete volcanic island and covered in lush green vegetation and fields of lava flow. I got to the top in 35 mins..( the hikers would be proud of me) but in a bog of sweat and of course when I got there the clouds had descended and the heavens opened. I got small glimpses of the vista and it was very impressive in the nanosecond that I did get to see.. a back view of Auckland from a different angle and the other islands in the estuary. There were some trails and because I had a few hours to spare before the return journey I decided to take the long way back...It must be the effect of the southern hemisphere or else things are not in the same place but again I got lost. I did find the caves but could not venture in without a light.. although I tried and slipped on a rock so got sense and ventured back out before a wrist was broken. Id be only claiming from accident and General and Dave would not be impressed. He wants at least one holiday that Mul does not claim! Anyhow I ended up on the same trail back to the dock and arrived two hours in advance of the ferrries arrival and just had my un numbed ass on a bench when the heavens opened again. There was a guy called Bruce sitting there quietly doing e mails etc and I thought well this guy is quiet.. Like my sense of directions in the southern hemisphere my sense of perception is also shot to hell. Bruce was no less than the history teacher of pubescent tittering American teen agers who he had “ got rid of” on a history hike of the island. They came back in dribs ( I should say drips) and drabs to Bruce and surrounded him. I never heard such inane chatter in my life. I was ready to swin back to shore to avoid them
“Would you like... EVER.. like... date a short guy?” says bimbo number 1 of about 10 perfectly primmed tanned white toothed and soaked nubile young ones.. “Oh gawd nooooooooo.. I only ever date anyone over 6’ 3”... The conversation then went to the joys of waterproof mascara in weather like this and finally a comment like ..... “you know this is just not Sydney”... of course it isnt you twat... its Auckland!!
I was almost wishing for a hurricane so that they could have joined my sunglasses in the harbour.
My gripe?? In my middle age i am getting less tolerant of the other travellers especially of the American variety and their comments.
Still though I did meet a lovely couple called Sarah and Andy from Manc who are emigrating there to live in Wellington and they asked me for dinner when I travel thru in 10 days time. It was they also told me I should really get a hired car sorted as they were in short supply. They were right..only one car left in three companies and I nabbed it..Tuesday will let me know what it is!
Lovely evening spent with Ann, Paul and Sofie Williams friends of my brother Pat who collected and wined me!
Back to the hotel to do a wash.... yes I said a wash and fell asleep on the bed. Woke at 2.30 and had to pad to the 9th floor to the laundry room to get the bloody things dried or else I would be driving around with a sodden bag of washing.! I ran once I turned on the machine as it was making a bit of a din but at least I well out of earshot a floor below so did not mind at all!!! Oh no I am becoming the tourist from hell!

Tuesday...collection of the chariot and leave Auck..
Colleced by “Quality Car Hire” staff and brough to collect my car.. an 11 year old Nissan estate a in an industrial estate outside the airport. It was run by an Indian family who burst into a Punjabi chatter every time I tried to re-negotiate the deal. The car was totally unsuitable as an estate would have all me smalls on show for the would-be-thief so I was having none of that!! Iasked what else they had.... a pink coloured Yaris or a Toyota Camry..
Of course you know which one I went for........NO.... it was the Camry but they wanted $15 extra a day rental for it.. I of course negotiated it and saved my self 6 dollars a day. Its a tank and lovely and comfy for this tired old fart..I am not gonna put my already traumatised posterior through any more torture! One needs ones comfort after all. I got an extra dollar off per day casue I was Irish and told the Punjabi guy how to make a baileys coffee. Oh yeah the ferry fare for the car was also thrown in as part of the deal! Not bad as a negotiator!
I drove off up to Northlands with my sat nav telling me in auster English tones to follow her directions.. of course I didnt but came across the most wonderful beach in the Whangerai district called Ruanaka. Miles of golden sands and NO one on the beach. I even went for a paddle and the water was warm and inviting. However the weather wasnt..... it bucketed down again and I even considered a swim but the rain put me off. On leaving the beach I then noticed that there was an oil refinery at the end of the beach.. I am still waiting for my feet to turn flourescent.
I arrived in the Bay of Islands at 8pm and booked into a Motel in Opua..... yes I am slowly but surely weaning myself down a standard or two. Really good value though at 50€ per night but with some built in hazards like a rabid grasshopper that got thru the window and rattled the blind continuously leading Mul to think I was being invaded by a load of vermin. Got to the supermarket to buy the dinner and brekkie ingredients but did indulge in a 3 litre case of plonk which has got sedated me and put me in a very very happy place!! tee hee hee Nite nite!!


Hi all,
Just to let you know after the terrible earthquake in Christchurch today,I received a number of concerned texts calls etc. Thanks for those. Just to let you know I am no where near the quake zone and am hale hearty and putting on loads of blubber. Christchurch is in the eastern side of the south island. I am currently in the very north of the North Island in the Bay of Islands.I am about 1000km away at least from the zone. I was on my way here when I stopped outside Auckland and in the garage I heard a news flash saying there was just an earthquake but they felt that although it was smaller than the Sept 2010 one but not as deep (5km). As you can all see , it has been devastating for the city. My cousins Marys son Andrew is fine too.I spoke with him within an hour of it happening and he is over 300km from the zone.
I will endeavour to keep the humour going with the blogs!
Finally sympaties to the people of NZ on this tragedy and I am sure that based on what I have seen they have the determination and grit to get things as back to normal as quickly and efficiently possible. They are an incredibly friendly and good humoured and resilien folk.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who said flying was easy?

Well it should be when you are not actually flying the ruddy thing. However being a passanger is no bed of roses either!!!Try sitting your very small butt on a flight from Cork to Thiefrow and then dragging that sorry a** across to terminal 3... of course I ran it in case I missed the flight but of course checked in 3 hours in advance!! Soreness continued as I got a hard plastic seat in T 3 but the delight that I had managed to nab an emergency exit seat.. yahoo... lanky legs Mul can stretch out and sleep no prob in pleb class. In addition I decided that a window seat was a must too.... NO IT WAS NOT.. especially as the big jutty thing 9 the opening mechanism to those in the know) was sticking out of the the bloody door and I had less room that I would have if I had been on a bicycle saddle in a cardboard box!! Only an 8.5 hour flight to Bankok and  I decided not to get too friendly or chat to the lovely couple next to me! And they were lovely...They were Anita & Rob from Australia, on their way home after a 5 week jaunt around Europe including 5 days in Ireland in places like Mullinavat!!! Jeez and they thought they saw the real Ireland? I could not help getting acquainted though as I did a Homer Simpson impression and fell asleep mouth open and drooling on Anitas shoulder!!. She HAD to chat to me about 40 mins outside Bankok.. They really were lovley but the complete co-incidence of this is that your man Ray was a dairy scientist and Anita an agriculture teacher. BOTH had heard of Ecolab and Ray is judge in international cheese and dairy fetstivals. He was in great shape. If it was me I would be the size of a house stuffing my gob on a daily basis with the finest dairy prooduce!! Anyhow I digress.. my backside was so bloody sore from sitting that it was numb by the time I had limped off the plane in Bankok. In additon, we had only opened the blinds in the plane 40 mins before landing. That added to the 90 mins we had on the ground in the incredible humidity in Bankok gave me a total of 130 mins of day light on Friday. When we took off again it was dark. It was afterall nearly 6 pm. I am completely uneducated with regard to zones but i think I passed myself out somewhere!!!
Arrived in Sydney at 06.30 on Sat morn after another 10 hour 20 min flight stuck in the same bloody seat. I def think that if I do a  trip in the future like this that I will get those M&S pants with built in butts!!! It may make life a little more tolerable or else i should pack one of those rubber rings thingies for my posterior.
By the way on this stage of the flight I only discovered where the inflight entertainment was stored Boeing 747 and not inthe seat handle as I thought).. and when I got it into position.. it of course broke down for nearly 3 hours.... Needless to mention Anita and I were running out of chitchat at that stage!
Ok I am writing too much! After 3 hours yes SITTING in Sydney..the numbness from my A had spread to the rest of my legs.. I boarded the last leg to Auckland.  Only a snip of a 3 hour connection and guess what?? The entertainement system in my seat was broken.. Did not matter tho as the choice of movie was the one I had eventually watched just arriving in Sydney.
The lovely young asian lady next to me made sure I got my meal as I did a repeat of Anita and drooled on her too. She was horrified and kept pushing me over. She even got my meal, woke me up and ordered the white wine for me!!! She did not fill in my immigation form but did get it on my behalf and had slotted it into the seat for me. She was a star really but then again I think that my forgiveness for ignoring her texting thoughout the flight was thanks enough!!
Got to Auckland Airport and what can I say.... its just a site to behold..but be warned.. the immigration people set out to confuse ya.. This bald extremely pale skinned paddy with the funny walk could not remember what towns I was viting in the South Island and def your man thought I was hiding something between my cheeks as I was walking so funny !!  He should try to remember the name Queenstown if his buns were inverted!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The morning of...

Will get this sorry a** out of the scratcher and get the bod in gear. Just discovered my outta office is on wrong so that will have to be changed and then I can switch off. Any advice for all who think of taking this on...get yourself a personal packer (and guide!!). I watched Kevs face with amusement last night as he saw me throw about 20 tops into the bag (second repacking)... why do you need so many? I guarantee I will wear them all. This is from the seasoned traveller who goes off skiing for a week with a back pack..small one and that includes the ski suit!! Anyhow the bag only weighs 15kg..... I am sure I have forgotten something but anyhow as I keep getting reminded you can always buy it there!!! Instead of passport tickets money, I have a mantra of passport tickets money & Factor 50!!. I dont want another trip to an A&E suffering from ahem.. sunstroke.. you think you would only get that once and remember not to do it a second time. Well it must be middle age but I have managed it 3 times in my life and as recently as 18 months ago!! The hospital was lovely tho and I can certainly recommend the health system in Italy. In and out of that hospital rehydrated in 2 hours while I would still be on a trolly here in the CUH!! Ok where is that laptop to change the out of office?! Catch ya from Oceania. Ps Any comments please keep them clean.. you know who I am directing these to .......!!!!!!