Mul like a pieball pony in Kerry!

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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Final Summary..honestly!!!

My overall synopsis of NZ in 6 of the fastest weeks ever!
  • Dodgy hair styles... is the mullet still trendy with old fogies like myself?
  • Great post boxes including, a filing cabinet, a microwave, beer barrels both wooden and stainless steel, air conditioning unit, wood carvings, kennels etc
  • Some phrases like... "sweet like", "hay", "mate" to suit both genders and lots of profanities and the most annoying of all..."AWESOME".. everyone uses that word any gender and age! It drove me simple!
  • Outlandish radio live talk shows...with a good dollop of racism thrown in and loads of profanities.
  • Unpaved roads
  • National pastime is road repair and not rugby!
  • Hitchhiking is still in vogue.
  • The constant inhaling of sulphur in Rotorua cannot be good for the bod!
  • Tattoos... on everyone!!!.Most unusual was covering a ladys chin in Albatross world.. and no it was not a birthmark!
  • Pub closing times and any social outlet open after 22.00!
  • An obsession with health supplements that cure every thing from breathing to heart defects and the one I love.. "Ignite... supports healthy Erections"!!! All on offer as well of two for the price of one and if you are not completely happy we will give you your money back... yeah as if that will happen!! You are either well dead or not rising and wont ask for it back!
  • Sandflies.. the bastards!!
  • INCREDIBLY friendly and proud people. Proud of their country and appreciative of same, Very hospitable  and generous rellies. You are all welcome in my gaff anytime!
  • Incredible body called the DOC (Dept of Conservation) that is in control of national parks and the maintenance of same.. Superb
  • Excellent tourist information even in places of 100 souls!
  • Lack of traffic... and in addition "old" rental cars.. average age 10-14 years.
  • The most incredibly clean landscape and public toilets.
  • Beauty.... abounding around every corner no matter where you turn.
  • Superb weather.. I only got a max of 4 days rain and the perfect climate with max of 25 deg C. 
  • Hatred of Possums! Loads of road kill! Fat hawks though...!!
  • Politicians being indiscreet.... but whats new.. thats global!
  • Value for money...definately not as much greed  as at home!
  • Unbelievable scenery... did I already say that?
  • Amazing wildlife.
  • Clean air
  • Bad hole in Ozone layer just overhead ensuring burning after 10 mins exposure!
  • Fantastic hostel organisation called the BBH which encourages people to chat and get to know each other. Brilliant company, friendliness (apart one nationality I'm sorry to say) and new friends and contacts made.
  • Woofing.... its available everywhere.. work for your accomodation with or without meals! Fantastic idea.
  • Most definately worth a visit or a prolonged return visit!
Overall..... the best holiday I have ever experienced... come out here and experience it for yourself! The Kiwis need our dollars.. they ae only borrowing about a 50th of what we are!!!
Go n'eiri on bothar libh! Slan and beannacht.
April 2011

Road to Christchurch & the lost rellies?!

I am reverting to my old ways again..... it much be in anticiaption of the departure in 18 hours time but it was a case of not getting a good night sleep again. Had a great chat with Benjaman a young French guy in the backpackers and headed to bed after a few coffees. I should really know at this stage in my life that this is not a good idea especially when the loo is a good 200 yard dash., I think I spent the time worrying that I would need it and that kept me awake! Anyhow I did eventually manage a good six hours again awoke to an incredible morning. Met a lovely English couple at brekkie who were on a six month sabattical doing volunteer work in nature reserves in NZ, Thailand and The Philippines. They work together and both asked the boss could they take the time off. He did not initially know they were a couple so it could have been an awkward one if the boss had refused one of them. Anyhow they are on the same flight as I am to Sydney tomorrow on their way to the Phuilippines.
Decided that I would leave the Olive Grove and head back towards Moeraki town and the lighthouse where there wasa colony of Yellow Eyed Penguins." Dont go near the noraml path" Kim the Hostel owner told me.. "Go right and past the lighthouse".Nothing like the local knowledge casue I was rewarded hugely.. There were seals and sea lions and then I stumbled across two yellow eyed penguin chicks. As I went further I saw the whole colony on an island but I could not get up close and personal but did get pics with the zoom. I was really happy now casue I had seeen most of the wildlife that I could with the exception of dolphins and whales..... not a good time of year and secondly I was in tooootally in the wrong part of the country!
I was trying to figure out where the best place would be to stay for my last night. I had heard that a lot of motels were full on the outskirts of Christchurch so I settled on Ashburton.. an hour from the airport. I am now reclining by the said of the swimming pool in the blazing sunshine and it nearly 17.30. On the way here I was passing through fairly unexceptional landscapes when I was flying around a corner into a town called Timaru when I spotted on the side of a big shed... Mulcahys Sheep and Wool! Now there was no way I was not gonna stop. I got talking initially to a guy called Bob and said my name was Mulcahy.. "I'll bring ya to the boss" says he! and before I knew it I was talking to both Barry and Terry Mulcahy who act as merchants for wool trade and they gave me a bit of their family history.. Apparently they are related to some Mulcahy who had a run in with Elizabeth 1st. Jeez and I can only go back as far as the start of the 1900's with my crowd! I can also report that the "good looking gene" was no where in evidence with the Mulcahy name in the Southern Hemispere either, so I think we will just accept the genetic make up we were destined to have! They were unusual Kiwis in that they have travelled theri own land extensively and even exported their eldest brother to Copenhagen!
So my plan for the evening is to try and download some more pics and then get the bag sorted out. I will then do one final blog re my other observations of NZ and my comments on same. I hope that no one will be offended by my musings.  Thanks to one and all for the positive comments and I hope that I gave you some idea as to what this country is like and the huge variety of opportunities for exploring and losing yourselves in this wonderful land!
Its been an absolute blast from beginning to end and I have been incredibly lucky with the whole experience here.. people I met, travel mates and what I have seen and done!.
Hmmmm.. Now now I must really find the number of my "friendly" bank manager to sort out the loan for the return trip!!  Scheduled trip home is with Quantas on the Airbus double decker A380 I think.. Christchurch to Sydney. Sydney to Singapore and then straight to London with an hour to grab the connection to Cork! I may not be very coherent for a few days! Apologies in advance but thanks for sharing it with me!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birds of a feather!

I woke quite groggy (must have been the lack of wine or any alcohol!) to a magnificent morning. As a night cap to myself and a source of exercise/weight loss I walked around at a lick to give myself some fresh air  and to tire myself out. It did not work...finally got off at 2.00
I must say I had some curiousity re Alans suggestions and headed off for Baldwin Street, the "steepest street in the world". Ok I will give him this one... it bloody well is incredible!. I though Patricks Hill was bad, but here you would get a full weekly workout by just heading to the shop for milk.!! All the folk I saw had buns of steel that they would be able to crack walnuts between their cheeks! From there, I drove up to Signal Hill Road to the lookout over Dunedin. One thing I find really strange in a country that has so many natural disasters like volcanos and earth quakes is why do they build houses clinging to the sides of VERY steep hills?
I decided that Alan obviously knew what he was on about so headed off then to the railway station and added a few dozen pics to the 2500 I already have. Beautiful old buliding but the bus load of eldery British that that parked right in front of the building did not help my humour! I had to stay another 15 mins till they and the bus disappeared to get better shots!
Decided to get out of the city and try and get to see some penguins, sea lions or albatross and where best to do it but Otago Peninsula. This is the most incredible land mass south of Dunedin and about 26km long with the road that goes right by the side of the water passing places like Dublin Bay, Broad bay, Company Bay and eventually leading up to a  place called Taiaroa Head. You have to keep your wits about you on this drive though as there is no barrier and one slip up or sneeze and you are in the briney!! Incredible drive though. I got to the top and the place called Royal Albatross Nature reserve. On the way there, I tuned into my fav talk show host Michael..not Lord but I think Lars or maybe Laws! Anyhow its difficult to understand the kiwi accent at times. They were still on about gun laws and were discussing the banning of the game of cowboys and indians in kindergarden schools. A lovely lady called Mary rang up to discuss it from the kindergarden teachers point of view. Anyhow the bould Michael told her what she was saying was  load of  and I quote "bollix" and promptly cut her off. Somuch for freedom of speech. Not only that but he then commented further that having teachers like her taking over the parenting role and not sticking to her bloody job of teaching would be the down fall of many of the future generations to come. Marys credibility was shot to hell! Id say she booked striaght in for therapy after the call. This guy Michael is an ex politico and was the Lord Mayor of some big city at one stage but that does not excuse the fact that he is one of the most obnoxious people I have ever heard on the airwaves...Come back Neil P 96FM ... you are a pussy cat in comparison!
Anyhow, I reluctantly left the car to head into the Royal Albatross Nature reserve. Now those of you who know me, know I dont have the slightest idea about birds and in particular the feathered variety so I decided to pay my $45 dollars and get an education! On the Otago peninsula, NZ, has the biggest and only land colony of Albatross in the world so the money would be well spent for something unique!. I was joined in the touring party by some very enthusiastic birdwatching fraternity with huge lensed cameras. In the intro movie which was honestly fascinating, one of the crew had to take a few puffs of her inhaler as she announced to everyone she had I quote " terrible asthma"! She was also the crankiest of the group. She had a large knapsack and when the lovely Lillian (tour guide) asked us to hike the 3 mins up to the observatory then she nearly had heart failure and instantly started bitching.Did she think they would bring the birds to her or what?. She puffed and wheezed her way to the half way mark and had to take a rest! The rest of the group who were mainly the blue rinse elderly brigade were all knacked by the time we did reach the very well appointed hut which composed of a tiered standing area, with windows to the front for the best viewing. This hut was literally three mins or 200metres from the main building.. I knew the observation time would be comical by the initial interaction with the group. The weight of some of the cameras was enough to requiring the hiring of a pack horse and sherpa to go with it!
We got to the hut and it was fantasitc. Three, two month old Albatross chicks were just below the windows of the hut waiting for their parents to come back and feed them which could be once a day. Now one thing to explain is that the parents grow up to a metre long and a wing span of 3 metres. They are huge. The chicks get to 12 kg in three months so they are no mean birdies to be tackling!
The lovely crew were initially oohing and ahhing at the chicks when Ms Wheezy started bitching that the chicks were not looking in her direction when she was trying to take a battery of pics with the longest lens I have ever seen. No wonder she was wheezing with the weight of the fecking equipment on her back!  Someone commented on the length of the lens and she quipped " it took an awful amount of night duty to pay for this"!, I wondered what type of "night duty " it was, but refused to stir it.. at this stage anyhow!Anyhow that was the start of the whinging.. " why cant you just cut that bush next to the nest so that the paying public could get a better view?" was another comment. She then wanted to go outside. Lillian the really patient guide nicely told her that she was damn lucky to get to look at them from the hut and through the windows.. Oh yeah that was another thing. Cause Ms Wheezy was so small, she could not see properly out the windows and they had to get a stool for her to step on!! When the chick eventually obliged and looked around, I could hear her finger hitting the shutter of her camera like a machgine gun. She calmed down and one of the others took over the baton. It was Sue, the nice suburban permed haired septagenarian from Sydney. An Albatross parent was just landing to feed its chick when she was trying to get her zoom lens into focus. All I can say is that Ms Nova Scotia from Slope Point lost her recent title of Curser of NZ when this woman did not manage to get a full focus action pic of mummy or daddy albatross!.
"S**t, Bugg*r, B**tch, F**king bastar* she shouted in quick succession at the bird that was appearaing without doing the proper thing of notifying her in advance so that she cold have her lens at the ready!!
It was hilarious.. . I decided to stir it a bit and told Sue she had offended my ears greatly and that she would spend six months in confession repenting for that outburst. She did not give a damn and when the stupid bird swooped back over for another attempt at landing another litany of one worded profanities escaped her lips directed at me cause I had distracted her!!! She then glares at me and says" Right ho Mr Smart arse outta my way and keep an eye out for the bugger" So much for her love or nature.. NOT..She was def determined to get her photo shot and value for money! I was gonna ask her if she wanted to take home some Albatross pie to ensure she got all her monies worth but declined luckily.  I threw a few more comments in before running outta the hut but firstly thanked Lillian for the great tour and then sympathised with her in a loud enough voice (so that Sue and Wheezy could hear) that she was one hell of a patient woman and that she deserved cannonisation for putting up with this crap! She does the tour 4 times daily! Note to brain be very wary of birdwatchers in future. They are a foul mouthed bad tempered bunch!
After my escape from the Royal Albatross Santuary, I checked the map and saw that there were  several other bays on the southern side of the peninsula with promises of penguins etc. I saw a place on the map called Sandymount point and headed towards there for a hike. It was incredible with deserted sandy beaches on view below with the sea, estuaries peninsulas all stretching out below me. I hiked to the Chasm... 230 metres deep with a huge sea arch and Lovers Leap about 200metres deep, really impressive drops that in any other country would have busloads of people queueing up to have a gawk. I met one person in a hike of 60 mins! When I got back to the car I sat out in my shorts and shirtless while I watched hangliders  soar just above me over in the clearest blue sky. It was magic. Left the place reluctantly at 5.30 as I knew I had no bed booked and needed to get up nearer Christchurch or Thursday would be a rush. Dunedin looked amazing in the sun and all I can say is that its location is amazing...... well in sunshine anyhow. I also had another first.. my first time in KFC giving myself indigestion from the 6 large pieces of chicken. How is it so cheap or why do they give so much? Maybe it was not chicken at all? Hmmmm.. they said they were missing some birds in the Royal Reserve!  Park that one Mul!
Incredible sunset again and just as I was trying to find my backpackers Olive Grove Lodge in Waianakarua I stumbled across Moeraki Beach which has the infamous completely spherical large boulders strewn on a part of the beautiful beach! This was def a treat as I got there just at sun down and very few others around! Major bonus! Arrived at the hostel at 8 and what a better treat..€20 for a very comfy pvt room with hot water bottle on a beautiful organic farm.. I wonder do they do Albatross?!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cursing in the Catlins

Ok...I have a confession to make. I did not stand on the most southern part of the South Island when I battled the elements to get up Bluff point on Monday.... I thought I had... but discovered on my journey today that Slope Point about 40km away to the east is indeed the most southern point of the south island.but any way I just needed to clarify and not set you astray fgor your pub quiz nights. I am also not including Stewart Island if you want to add tha tto the argument.
I also have an apology to make re my comments on Invercargill. They weren't exactly gushing! When you see a place in lousy weather, it does not look its prettiest like any place else in the world. However in the bright light of day I think I would say it was a mix and gatherem of the most unusual architecture I have seen in a town of 50k. In fact it has the highest level of retail outlets I have seen for such a population as well. This is a thing I cant figure out... how does such a small population support all those businesses? Anyhow I digress. I decided to take the scenic route and boy am I glad. I passed the way along the coastal areas called the Catlins. It is the landscape that reminds me the most of Ireland. The day was improving and the sun began to blaze again. But there was  howling wind. I was I suppose on the extreme south coast and the place where I presume the Tasman and the South Pacific Ocean clash and by God do they... they should bottle that energy. Crashing waves the whole way along the coast. I got to Wapapa Point and saw a live sea lion on the beach there. He was lumbering his way up the  beach.. According to the nature tour on Doubful sound the other day, seals eat half their body weight in food a day! This guy looked as if he was after eating a few of his colleagues!! Anyhow I got to meet the same couple I met at the cheap lunch yesterday. They were the couple who took the last slice of the delicious carrot cake. Anyhow she cheerily greeted me with.. " hmmm we meet again".  Well we continued to meet again and again that morning so I decided to chat to them. They were from Nova Scotia and I have now met my match in life for the amount of profanities that can be uttered in a short conversation. This lady would make a docker blush with her foul tongue!!! It even shocked me and as you know thats a hard thing for me to admit!! Her prim husband was not impressed and was trying to ignore us by walking to the edge of the cliffs to get the best wave crashing shot! Id say he would have liked to get a pot shot of her mouth as her voice was carrying beautifully on the high winds!
I sat into the car giggling to myself to make my way on along the coast to Curio Bay... home of the yellow eyed penguins. Anyhow I got to tune back into the Talk FM station.. This time I got to listen to Michael Lord. This guy was a combination of Joe Duffy, Neil Prendeville and Jerry Springer together! I never heard such outbursts and in addition I was a bit shocked at the racism towards the Maoris! He was almost suggesting that the young Maori males should be sterilised when they were between 14-17 to prevent them being able to father feral children!! Thats like saying the same thing about northsiders! Jeeezzz, what country am  I in?? The bold Michael then said the word bolli* twice! God I know that there should not be censorship but maybe a little?? Comments please!
The penguins were not in Curio as I suspected but had fecked off to gorge themselves on the bounties of the seas. I did not get to see any. They were out in the rough swell eating their body weight in fish too! Apparently they return at dusk but I would have no bed for the night if I waited! Had a late lunch/early dinner at 5pm in Owaka. Unusual place with one of the most unusual gardens I have seen on my travels. It was called Teapotland with every conceivable shape and type of dipenser for tea ever seen. I hope I can download a pic!
Rang a few places in Dunedin to book a bed but every place was full. Finally sorted the Alhambra Motel on Great King Street in the heart of the University district...and a very "know it all" owner called Alan. He bugged me from the second he answered the phone but he had the only room available so humble pie would have to be eaten and I had to take it. He seemed to know more about me than I did.. for example when I said "I'm Irish" He said "I know". When I said I was from Cork. He said he knew as well..Who was this guy ? Mystic Meg?? Anyhow he also advised not using the sat nav to find the place as it would not work.. Maybe he WAS Mystic Meg after all and knew Melissas nasty little traits already!! He did know!!
I got to the place at half 7 and he was gushing at the things I should do like ... "Go to the steepest street in the world.. Its in Dunedin you know!! In addition the Railway Station is in the top 200 of the most photographed buildings in the world". This guy has some fascinating tourist titbits... That will keep me occupied for about 10 mins! But I will still check them out even to keep the railway station up in the rankings.
If I thought Invercargill was unusual this place is even more interesting. Its a University town and has all the hall marks of same. Some beautiful Edwardian and Victorian houses, but they have been thrashed by the use of students over the years. Lots of the houses have been renamed. Examples of same are as follows... the Shrieking Shelter, Pandoras Box, The Jolly Roger and finally the Muff Inn!  I will do a walking tour of the place tomorrow and see what else I can glean from the place. Stay tuned if ya can bear the excitement of the anticipation!!!!.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Way down South!

I think I am in the most southerly city in the southern hemisphere namely Invercargill and its really nothing to write home about. Decided to stay in a motel as I needed some time me to get myself organised and wind down to heading back on Friday! I bargained with the lovely Natalie in the "Homestead Villa Motel" and got the suite for €57 for the night. That is a full kitchen, diningroom /sitting room, bathroom separate loo and 2 flat screen tvs! Not bad. Natalie will even deliver the paper in the morning. She thought I was charming and kept asking me to speak with my lovely lilting Irish accent.. now if I could sell it that easy to others the hol may have cost me half the price... this fool should have definately exploited this earlier!! She was giggling away telling me I was "just the ticket hay" while I cajoled her to knock another $5 off!  So all in all it was a great day. After writing up the blog for yesterday I left Manapouri and headed for Tuatapere which has the accolade of being known as the NZ sausage capitol.. I only knew this as I was leaving it but surprise surprise I did happen to have my dinner  of Sausage casserole here in the most fantastic place called Yesterdays Museum & Cafe! It was delish.. that with two veg, potatoes , a cup of coffee and a huge wedge of the moistest most delicious carrot cake all for the pricely sum of €8.50!!! Lads I will repeat it again... " we are being screwed back home"!!
On the way towards Invercargill, I was listening to the local Southlands Talk show 94FM.. a little like "Talk to Joe on RTE" but even more opinionated if you can believe that!! At one stage the presenters Willy and JT start fighting and insulting each other up to their eyeballs talking about a most controversial subject.. the shooting dead of a teenager by Police in Napier today.. Apparently the cops here have shot 9 people dead since 2000. This caller rings in to give his opinion and ended up whimpering off after WIllie told him to " shut your face"!! I was agast but determined to listen in for the rest of the time I am here. Nothing was sacred on this. One of the callers told JT he had "shit all" idea what he was talking about!! They dont cut off a crank caller.. they seem to thrive on it and the insults flying every few seconds.
I was getting a little hot under my own collar myself when I stopped at a place called McCrackens Point to view the huge expanse of beach and the surfing waves crashing close to a surfers paradise with the ugliest sculpture (I took a pic!) in a town called Colac Bay. Next stop from there across the water was the Antarctic I think!!! It was bloody freezing with gale force winds blowing but I just happened to bump into two Kiwi sisters.. Ann & Margaret (nee O'Grady) who asked me when I come back I was most welcome to stay with them!! This was after about 5 sentence with them.. By God, I was gonna exploit this Irish accent bit and ham it up!! Anyhow these ladies were descendants of some distant Paddy called Jones from Mallow and Kanturk and Margaret asked me did I know them?  I think the wind was getting to her and scrambling her brain a bit but she was asking for a contact number after 10 sentences!! I politely declined thinking that I well may end up having an "O'Grady/Jones" reunion in Cork at some stage in my gaff!! By this is it about the Kiwis.. I have not met an unfriendly one yet! They would nearly promise you their first born if you talk to them for longer than 5 mins.They are amazingly open and really thankful when you tell them their country is great. The good thing is that all of them agree and appreciate their homeland and just hope that every visitor enjoys it as much! How could you not I ask?. Its an incredible place as if you could not glean that from my gushings at this stage!! Drove through Invercargill to the most southerly point called Bluff... a definate bit of a hole but I wanted to ensure that I had reached the extreme top and bottom of both Islands which I did. I know that in reality the most southern part of NZ is Stewart Island but I was not willing to risk the danger of 1.5 hours of up chucking on one of the most violent seas on the globe. Anyhow I think there is a tornado due here soon!! Yikes... hope it passes before Friday! Dont fancy being blown to Cork via Argentina!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The best thing about birthdays!

I know I had confused some by saying Happy Birthday to me after Julia and I had done the skydive but it was done as a subtle reminder.. or warning ..heheh and to check who was really reading this!! The best thing about celebrating the big 46th in NZ was the fact that it went on for a total of 48 hours. I felt like royalty.. a 2 day birthday with the time difference. The first texts started coming in on Saturday and the final ones today Monday the 28th. Thanks to one and all and I am grateful to everyone for all their kindness, support, love, best wishes and taking the time to send or offer greetings. I had a fantrastic day!!!
It started off badly though... tragedy of tragedies my porraige boiled over in the dodgy microwave but just as I rounded the corner cursing into the dining room of Barnyard I was greeted by birthday candles burning brightly on a packet of caramel tim tams and a chorus of multi tongued "happy birthday" coming from all the fellow backpackers and staff. The two girls were grinning like cheshire cats at getting things set up without me suspecting a thing. I knew that there was definitely something up with Julia the day before in the supermarket as she was skulking behind the aisles and peering up and swivelling her head around like a KGB agent!! I was marched outta the shop by Carmen announcing " Ve vill leaf NOW!!" ( Apologies Carmen but I have to add the german bit in.. Your english is brilliant!!)... I duly obeyed but slightly concerned that Julia did not know we had left. Anyhow she planked her backside in the car with a big smug look on her face so I should have guesssed she had been up to no good. The absolute darling presented me with a Skydive bag with my 200kph 15000ft tee shirt which she had gone back to Wanaka airport a few days after the great event. She even said she met her tandem dive buddy the guy who was attached to her as she hurtled herself towards earth. He recognised her and asked her was she back for more.... believe you me when you are attached to someone that closely you remember them VERY well! She asked him did he remember that loud bald never shut up Paddy I was with.. can you remember his size?? Hmmmm she got it perfect and I was very humbled with the fantastic treatment I got.. One of the highlights of the holiday! Julia headed off and was heading on a Penguin misson.. she was damned if she was leaving NZ without seeing one in its natural habitat. Even in Doubtful Sound on the ship the other day she nearly knocked a few of the few fellow travellers overboard when someone said " is that a penguin in the water"? I never saw someone charge so quickly over to the side of the boat! Nothing or no one was gonna stand in her way! Pity she did not knock gleeful Gina or Clicking Chuck overboard! We hugged our goodbyes knowing that she will probably be having a few pints with me in Henchys over the next few months or else I will be holed up in a beer tent in the Ockotoberfest in Munich drinking beer for brekkie and eating pretzels!!
I was gonna have just one more cuppa and head off to god knows where. Well it was lashing and I just kept drinking coffee, tea and having a laugh at the table with the staff and Carmen. She then got up hugged me and headed off to Invercargill. I just kept on chatting to the others and drinking more tea. Looked at the clock and it was 1pm. No point in moving now, so I booked in for another night. The staff of Jackie( loud New Yorker) Lyn (Cornwall) and Barry (Dublin) ended up chatting and doing tim tam slammers for the afternoon. Great chats and sorting out lifes problems.. I am great at doing that for everyone else. Gave Barry and Lyn some advice on CV writing and updating and then Barry and I went for a long walk by Ta Anau lake in the evening sun... Pizza salads and the 3 litre vino for dinner and they all helped me finish  it even the Texas couple of Fred and Leanne.. So to those of you thinking I drank it all my self and have a problem ... NO! I only had three glasses. It was great that the others helped me cause I think my filling problem is probably being caused by the cheap plonk weakening the molars!
Its now Monday morning and 11.30 NZ time.. I think its 23.30 Sunday at home as the clocks went forward?? I was waved and hugged goodbye by the staff of the Baryard.. Jackie is now by best pal! Just before she left to do her duties she bellowed "where is Dermot John Francis Mulky and gave me a bear hug that would do Arnie Schwarz proud!!.  Anyhow off to the Bluff... I think the southernmost point of NZ. with the exception of Stewart Island. Sitting at the side of Manapouri Lake writing this and the wind is howling but the sun shining brightly. Autumn and winter are approaching as the first snows were on the mountains this morning and some trees are changing colour. Other things are changing colour too.... I gave in and packed away the shorts!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Never upset the landlady!!

Having spent hours the other night writing the blog re the "Oh Mein Gotts" I was left alone in the Barnyard Backpackers Te Anau, knocking the keys on the keyboard trying to outline the details of a fantastic day. There is a rule in this place that everyone vacate the main buliding by 22.30 while the caretakers can get some sleep but I decided to stay on as there was no internet access in the lower bungalows. I found the area with the best signal and kept typing away even though I had turned the lights off and was like a mouse in the corner. Every so often I would hear the door open on the mezzanie floor and my large New Yorker land lady throw open the door upstairs and say in a stage whisper (or in other words 20 decibel stage whisper) for a yank " Who the hell put their runners in the tumble dryer at this hour?". I would stop and ask her was I disturbing her and she would gruffly answer.. "No but some MORAN is up to something and it sure as hell is buggin the shit outta me". She stomped back to bed and I continued typing with avengence. Anyhow at 00.45 I hear the thumping again and the door swung open again and she shouting at this stage" Jesus I am fit to kill" as she descended the stairs noisily. She cast an accusing eye at me and asked .... " did you hear anything?"  to which I meekly replied.. "no".. all I am doing is typing quietly.. She thought it was some animal thumping outside and I told her I thought there was a mad cow outside alright cause I heard it bellowing!. She was just about to disappear again and she turned on me..."type again" she demanded.. and I did.. but as I did the table shook, and banged slightly off one of the posts holding up the ceiling.. Now what I did not know is that beam was also supporting the crossbeam to which the canopy over the large hearth of a fireplace was secured to..... so in other words every word I was typing was causing the vibrating thud that was echoing in her quarters .. so "I" was the trainers in the tumble dryer and the mad cow. I scarpered quickly down to my room and hid under the blankets in case the real mad cow came charging after me.
I gingerly opened the door to the common room the next morning to be greeted again by Jackie the New Yorker. I was nearly geneflecting with apologies and said that I was REALLY sorry for disturbing her night sleep.. She quipped .. "never mind I was not all that bothered" If that was her notion of "not bothered" then I would hate to see her if she lost her temper!!!
We had planned the day before that the terrible threesome would go on a overnighter to Doubtful Sound. It was with Realjourneys Holidays and we were to be in Manapouri Lake by 12 the next morning for a 12.30 sailing. We arrived to see the rest of our shipmates.... all of 26 others. Normally there would be 70 in total but the earthquake and the economy had shrunk the numbers. We had a marvellous cruise across the lake to  be picked up by coach to the other, and then bused to Wilmot Pass and then onto the cruiser called the Fiordland Navigator. Its a wonderful ship with three sails but engine driven.. if ya know what I mean. We had a 4 berth quad room ( two  bunk beds) just above the water level. We dropped our stuff and cruised the wonderful sound in brilliant sunshine with the storm clouds appraoching and munching freshly baked muffins and coffee. We passed loads of seals at the mouth of the sound and came back in. There was then a choice of either a kayak trip or to go on a nature trail in a tender boat with Carol the wildlife guide. It was just at that point that the heavens opened and we got soaked to the knickers. The girls had wisely decided to go kayaking while I was stuck on the boat with a pair of cranky "know it all" yanks and a lovely Brazilian lady called Margaret. While Carol enthused eagerly re the flora fauna and wildlife we, namely Mags and I asked appropriate interested questions while the water was pouring down our necks and soaking our backsides. When we had fininshed our questioning and were beating off the swarms of sand flies Carol sweetly asked.. "Any more questions?" to get the one question from glorious Gina the cranky yank " when are we going back?"!! So I decided to ask more questions to pee her off more. Any fool who goes out on the water in the rain in a hoodie and her good shoes and full make up is a complete gobshite as far as I am concerned and she had had a puss on her since the original boat trip across Lake Manapouri!
This Realjourneys crowd are so organised that when we got back to the boat they had clothes horses set up for our sodden clothes and provided fresh towels & hot showers to get ourselves warmed up again . The girlies arrived back after their kayaking and definately the over exposure had got to them as they wanted to go swimming off the boat. Mad fools were joined by the other youngtsers in the piddling rain and diving in. After they thawed themselves again with their showers we headed for dinner.. It was like Ballymaloe with a buffet and LOADS of excellent food. We got a bottle of wine and followed with 2 others. Everyone had gone to the wildlife lecture and then to bed bus us 3 lushes were solving the problems of life in the saloon until 12 midnight. Everyone one else were in bed since 22.00. We giggled and fell down the stairs  thinking we were being quiet and fell into bed in brill form. The beds were about wide enough for a 5 year old midgit child and either I kept hitting my elbows or backside off the side wall for the night. We were warned that there would be an alarm call in the form of the ships engines starting at 06.30 but were not prepared for the din. I suppose if you pay for the cheap rooms you know you are not too far away from the engines! Anyhow we were all up agian at 06.45 and at brekkie for 07.00 much to the surprise of our fellow shipmates!!! This is a holiday for Gods sake!! The view that greeted us was magical though! There was a heavy rain and mist but the place was mystical with no other craft around and surrounded by mist shouded mountains rising magestically above us. The cloud was clinging at different sections to the hills and the "soft" rain was incessent. At one stage the boat stops and turns off the engines and everyone just stops and does not move..Complete silence descending in the shouded landscape and all you hear is the rain and the birdsong........ Incredible.  Well it would have been but cranky Ginas husband Chuck decided that it was his time to shine while he moved like a beached whale taking the pics he "just " had to take there and then! Julia felt like breaking her silence and pushing him overboard and to be truthful it would have been a happy day for mankind if he had grabbed on to Gleeful Gina and pulled her with him!
I can never understand why people put themselves though an "endurance" and do things cause they are the right things to do on hols and then bitch so much that they make life for everyone else miserable. I think that Chuck and Gina should be part of the 80% of Americans who should NOT have a passport.. The girlies in Rangitoto Island would also belong to that group.... oh yeah and the yank that told me the best view on Key Summit was 15 mins away!
Anyhow enough bitching...... we had the most wonderful time and really great laugh .. the three bottles of Pinot Gris (NZ wine) helped immensely and we all thought we were hilarious.
Got back to Lake Anau and chilled for an hour and settled ourselves back into the Barnyard Backpackers before heading out to the NZ National Rodeo!! Yes you heard it right..... YEEHAW!!!! It was fantastic! Te Anau had the honour of holding the event this year. A true Rodeo with the stetsons, denim Wrangler jeans, cowbow boots and check shirts and all!! We sat mesmerised while cowboys lasooed , got the cows on the ground and then tethered them in about 16 seconds!! I was thinking it would take me not 16 seconds but more like 30 mins to get on the bloody horse as several of my buddies will testify to!!! Never mind grappling a writhing beast with very hard horns that could do you lots of damage!!! It was brill though. These guys were risking life and limb to win a few measley dollars and the accolade of NZ cowboy of 2010/2011. I would have preferred to sit at home drinking cheap vino and congratulating myself on NOT doing the stupid thing of riding a mad horse or indeed an even bigger madder bull! These guys were true sportsmen and incredibly skilled. It proves that men can indeed muultitask... ride, lasoo, balance, descend and tie ya up in knots.... whats new?? I can confirm that all cowboys are bowlegged!! They were hilarious to look at but built like the preverbial s**thouse wall! When someone won an event they were brought on the back of a open 4 wheel truck around the track waving their stetsons madly and proudly at the delerious crowds while smiling with large toothless mouths caused by several hooves in same!!
A fantastic day overall with wonderful company, great fun and great food! Tomorrow brings the parting of the ways for the terrible three but definately not the last time that we will meet.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Oh Mein Gott!

What is it with the Germans when they say they will do something you know they will do it, and to 110%! So when the two bold lassies told me we WERE to take off for Milford at 07.30 sharp, you bet I was going to be there on time to collect them. In fact, the fear of being late kept me tossing and turning all night and hence getting a poor nights sleep. Anyhow I did wake at 06.15 and had a shower and worked my way up to the main building to have my brekkie. Dragged open the door at 06.45 and it squaked so much you could have heard it in Cork and no doubt all te backpackers heard it too. Anyhow I was met by an austere long haired American who grunted a good morning back when I quipped did she have any 3 in 1 oil or WD 40? I thought I was being very clever to think up of that so early, but guess what.. no she did not appreciate my humour. She was on the internet..possibly to coincide with the folks at home and then decided to engage me in converstion re the joys of fast internet speeds.. whoosh over my head especially at that time... she may as well have ben talking about quantum physics for the amount of attention I was giving her. Went to brush my teeth and the handle of the loo door fell off and I thought with horror I was going to be late if I got locked would I explain that one to the Germans? Looked at the watch..yikes it was 07.15 and they will be waiting for me all bright eyed and bushy tailed and prepared in Carmens hostel. I rapidly got into the car and Melissa informed me smugly that I would get to them at 07.31. Now that was never gonna happen so I was passing the local possums at breakneck speed and came to a flying gravel stop outside the hostel at 07.30. The reason we picked this time was to avoid the tour buses that begin to motor around 8 and therefore it would be best to be ahead of those especially on twisty roads and a two hour drive. No such luck! Carmen arrived at my car window at 07.31 precisely and asked me where Julia was. She had not appeared yet.Well slap her wrists for such tardiness!! Well in fact the bould Julia was LATE!! Ireland dous points! She woke at 7.40 and ended up getting ready so fast that her head nearly spun off. Her first time late up for nearly 20 years and what a morning to pick!! She tried explaining the reasons while trying to digest her rapidly scoffed breakfast and me tearing down the highways. Julia told me to turn Melissa off as the stupid unit had NO idea where she was sending us and was wrong! I obliged willingly and Melissa was sent to coventry for another day. Even though we got on the road at 7.55 by God weren't some of the tour buses already started and got to Mirror Lake in front of us. NOT a good start to the day which was crisp cool and lots of low lying cloud... also not a good start. The Mirror lakes are amazing and we were clicking away. All I could hear was one of our lassies shooing the ducks away as they were causing he mirror on the lakes not to be so reflective!! Any way we got our pics and tore off towards Milford.
The sun began to come up and all I can say is that this country continues to improve. I have yet to get a bad day here and hopefully will not. Fiordland National Park is just incredible. Huge mountains, loads of lakes and enough waterfalls than you could shake a stick at. Our plan as to hit Milford early, have a look around and then get out before the buses got there in droves. The "city" of Milford has a population of 180. I think my terrace in Cork has more folk than that  or maybe that was that how many were up in my house on Christmas Day?. Anyhow the numbers in swell during the day to about 100 times the 180 and there are a lot of cruisers, helicopters and scenic planes etc around. We would have a nose and leave and then do a few hikes on the way back. With the morning sun just beginning to show it glory, we decided on a whim to go and take the earliest cruise we could get and then feck off. Nothing could have prepared us for the absolute magnificence of this place. Mitre Peak is used in the tourist brochures of NZ as it is the highest mountain that rises out of the sea at 1682m. It was incredible in the first of the morning light. There was not a cloud in the sky for most of the day and the sun beat down. Now this is incredibly unusual here as they get a huge annual rainfall. Some say between 7-9 metres and it rains around 300 days of the year. A drought is when they do not get rain for 7 days in sucession.The blessings of St Patrick were on us and he paid off even more when we came to Rainbow Falls. I dont think the camera will take a still of the double rainbow that we saw but all was going so well I expected to see Darby O Gill and the little people with several crocks of gold there too!
Another falls the Bowen Falls is 160 metres high and the boat goes as close to it as to get everyone in front soaked. A bit like the Timotea ad for shampoo but without the polynesian woman, but including several foreign tongues in their red ponchos! Needless to mention I stayed inside for that one!
Got back to dry land gobsmacked but congratulating ourselves on a unanimous decision to go out on the Sound. Even though the place is commercialised, it's done in a subtle way.. there could be 5 cruisers heading out at the one time, but they dont pile up together.The most annoying thing was the sound of the helicopters taking off, flying overhead and landing back again after a few mins and folk forking out a fortune for their few minutes on board. Anyhow on a day like this, it was well worth the money. Walked around the small 20 mins jaunt there and beat off another few hundred sand flies and scarpered away from the place.  It was now 1pm and the buses were piling up in the car park and the helicopters taking off like a military manoeuvre. Even bumped into the Israeli couple I met in Queenstown the other night in the hostel with Andrew. God this world is getting smaller. Dejavoo again. I must not have insulted them as she even greeted me with a hug!
Went to have our picnic, outside the Homer Tunnel, (a VERY rough version of the Jack Lynch one but this is under the mountain) and looking out over the valley below as the huge walls of the mountains towering above us. It was really surreal and not a puff of wind as the place was so sheltered the valley so narrow..... hence the name Fiordland!
Anyhow we headed towards the Chasm, an amazing waterfall with a big black hole and the torrent shaping out the waterway into a smooth channel. Then to the Divide and it was here we started our hike up to Key Point. This is part of the famous Routeburn Hike, a 3 dayer walk I think. We could not have asked for better weather and to say that the hike was incredible would be to underplay it. There is an Alpine garden on top of the point and it was like something that Disneyworld contrived..spongy ground, mosses, lichens, gnarled trees, herbs and minature plants. gorowing and full of colour and mixtures. Met a few people who advised going further as the view would be worth it. It would take 15 mins according to the yank.. another lie..It was more like an Irish 15 mins... ish. Actually it took 40 mins to reach the part of the way and I went well off the path. I think the girls gave up at the section where they sank up to their "North Face" ankles in muck. I could hear a few shrieks carried on the warm breezes as they sank! Anyhow they sat down and chatted and took in the view of Marian Lake while I trudged off and on  track getting my legs scratched and covered in muck. Met an Italian who cheerily persuaded me to go on for another 10 mins. I did, and boy was it worth it. Incredible views. According to the brochure the Key Summit provids spectacular views over the Hollyford, Greensotone and Eglantine Valleys. I took a little video clip to remember it but by now it was 17.15 and we had at least a 2 hour hike back. Not a good place to get stuck without appropriate gear but Julia said " we have cereal bars".... the solution for everything... and NO she is not the marketing manager for Kelloggs! These bars would not keep a newt fed for the night or provide any heat or shelter! Got down in record time and headed back for Te Anau. We knew the sunset would be good but we were not prepared for what we got.. We would screech to a halt, hop out of the car with several more "oh mein Gotts" and then just shake our heads in admiration or disbelief. At one stage the cars were lining up behind us to take the same pics. It was just when we were on one final hurdle that we scorched around a corner in front of Lake Mistletoe and nearly ran off the road with what was on view ni front of us. You could not have got a more fantastic end to the fantastic day . The sunset behind the mountains and the colours reflecting on the lake below. Geese or ducks or some member of the bird family migrating for the winter in large V's across the sky and you have an idea. In  fact I think that even some of the birds were so impressed with tonights sunset that they decided to stay put!
By the way my last pic count was 2400! Are yawl ready for them? Add to that two day overnight cruise to Doubtful sound and I think you will be making excuses not to meet me and review the hols when I get back. Anyhow most of the details are contained on the blog so all you have to do is look and the pics in the same way and we did... OH MEIN GOTT!   

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mirror Lake, Milford Sound & Mistletoe Lake

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My idea of bliss and future campaign for Mul!

After an amusing night in Kinloch allowing three Germans to take the complete piss outta my skydive dvd and the facial expressions on Mullers face, I settled into my dorm for a good night sleep.. Just to clarify the situation, there is NO such thing as a good night sleep in a dorm unless you are a). Locked outtas your skull or b). so exhausted that you would fall asleep standing in a cow shed up to your eyeballs in manure.. Anyhow Christian and the girlfriend did warn me they were getting up early and would try and keep the noise down... They didn’t, but did try and make a valiant effort. I was not much better when I got up 15 mins later and poor Israeli lassie in the bunk underneath was subjected to stage whispering cursing as I tried to manouver this body off the top bunk... It has been years!!
Anyhow the sun was splitting the stones and all I can say is the catchphrase for Kinloch and Glenorchy is not wrong. In fact it is damn right about paradise...
A little bit of a geography lesson. Kinloch is on the north-western most tip of Lake Wakatipu. Queesntown is half way down on the east side of the same lake. Anyhow the last 12km to Kinloch are unpaved roads so you get an idea re remoteness. They do warn to get your food and petrol well in advance of travelling here. The mountain range at the back of Kinloch are the Thomson and Livingstone Ranges while on the other side of the lake  are the Richardson Range. I cannot again do justice to the landscape by either written or pictorial explanation but by god you think you are in heaven....especially on a day and morning like this. The sun was splitting and the air chilly... it is autumn here after all and it’s beginning to show especially in some of the trees. I am determined to stay in the shorts for as long as I have an unbitten section of flesh from the sand flies or until they eventually turn blue. I travelled along into Queenstown with the sun glistening on the lake on my right, the whispy clouds sticking to the sides of the incredible mountains. With the window down and my arm frozen out  and me beating out time to a song on the Glenorchy easy listening radio 92.4FM called “Tequila makes my girlfriend lose her clothes”.. Crystal Swing look out!! Anyhow I am driving along this most beautiful vista and to top it off the almost full moon is still out over the Thomspon Peaks at 10.45 am!!!! WOW and wow yet again.. I refuse to use the most overused word in Oceania which begins with AWE and ends in SOME but it truly is!!  Spent some time just sitting on a rock  typing this sitting in the sun and Lake Wakatipu glistening below me and the steam liner chugging its way up to Queenstown. Does it get any better than this?  It is said that that this road route is one of the most picturesque in world and I well believe it. I can’t imagine though what it is like in the rain... hehe I have been spared this so far but others were not so fortunate. The landscape changes a good  bit to rolling farmlands as you make your way towards Lake Te Anau and the population of sheep increases a thousand fold... the bloody things are all over the place. I of course took a pic or two to confirm this.
 I had told the German others that I was going to head down to Te Anau Lake (Pop 3000) later in the day to make my way out either on the Milford or Doubtful Sound over the next few days.. I think we all ended up having the same idea in that the plan now is that Julia, Carmen and I will drive the Milford Drive in the morning up to Milford sound (pop 170),come back here tomorrow night and then on Friday take the overnight Cruiser into Doubtful Sound overnight on Friday night. We were gonna start bargaining with your one behind the cruise counter but she got there ahead of us and said there was a $70 reduction but the girls will have to put up with me in their 4 berth cabin! I hadn’t the nerve or the brain power to start haggling for another $10 off the fare. Its still a bit fuzzy and I could not string a sentence together this evening. Go back to the Barnyard Backpackers 8km outside Lake Te Anau and met more Canadians and even a guy from Dublin, Barry, woofing his way around NZ. He told me he spent a good bit of last year woofing in West Cork and had a ball. Where were these guys when you needed some cheap work done on the house? As stated before if someone did my ironing they could stay for free anytime!
 I am now on orders to collect the girls at 07.30 in the morning... So much for rest on holidays!! Anyhow its definitely something to look forward to and to get another million pics. Weather is due to be crap on Saturday /Sunday so need to make the most of it. For those of you wondering where exactly I am... try looking at a map of NZ and the south island. I am in the South West at the moment in Fiordland. This place is incredibly under populated. For example some of the local towns I passed through today and there were only about 4 of them in a 3 hour spin including Athol had a max of only 100 inhabitants. However all the villages etc have a motel or unique quirky coffee shop and all home made fresh produce. These guys here definitely know how to make the best of and not exploit their tourist role.. no overcharging... friendliness to a non gushing extreme and above all incredible cleanliness and hygiene standards with loos that you could walk barefoot into without worrying. Tick tick and tick again! One guy told me the other day on Mount Isthmus that I should work for the NZ Tourist office, I was waxing so lyrical about his country. I told him they had it all sorted and needed no further help..Now Bord Failte on the other hand... hmmmmmm...where do I start???!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ok there is def a prob here!

I am getting fairly sick of this now.. today was a day of complete “switched offness” if there is ever such a word! Got up and lost the dongle off the computer... went searching for it for ages and eventually found it under the bed in the Butterfli hostel. I had a feeling of horror that I had got it caught in the sheets and they were now merrily churning around in the washing machine. Anyhow I eventually found it and got our stuff together and I dropped Andrew in the centre of Queenstown with his three bags. We went to park while I went and did a few duties.. namely get the broadband topped up as well as my head shaved again.. it must be the humidity or the fresh air or something but the hair growth is phenomenal.. it was at least 8mm long! I would have had to get the bloody thing permed if I did not get it shaved. Also needed some shampoo.. dont snigger... and some other smellies. We parted, as I could not let Andrew endure Mul faffing around trying to organise himself and he went on his merry way.. his penance well and truly over and a big smirk on his face!
 What best to do is to ask some lovely shop keeper where everything was and just go for it? Headed for the barbers first and got lost. Then went for the phone shop and also duly got lost again. It’s a small bloody town for fecks sake.
Eventually found the Vodafone shop and can I tell you those bastards of Telecoms are the same the world over. After I bought the $30 credit to top up I ambled my way back to the car or where I thought the car was....completely lost. Can I tell you that Queenstown is not the biggest of places... about the size of Youghal... any how I parked the car in a street that I never took the name of and spent 30 mins trying to find the bloody thing. Then sat in the car trying to recharge the broadband and top it up when I nearly went off my head. The “simple task “ of topping up would have confused Einstein. I stormed back to the Vodafone shop.. taking a further 20 minutes to locate it, waving my $30 credit note and my laptop in my hand bellowing to him... “I told you I would be back”! The very very patient guy.. freckled and red-haired (definitely of Irish descent) behind the counter was fit to mangle me by the time I left. He discovered that I did not have all my gigabytes used at all but that the computer was only registering up to 500MB and I had 5 times that left.. They are all a swizz. There was no need to top up or waste my $30. Added to that you would have needed a bloody PhD in  “how to top up the fecking account”. I was at boiling point when I had eventually left the  Vodafone after getting the job completed. My next task I did manage to miss the barbers but found hairdressers with two of the loveliest Irish lassies in it.. a girl from Dub and a Galway girl! They had moved here years ago and said it was not all idyllic and they needed to get home every so often to get rid of the cabin fever from the surrounding mountains. I never thought of that aspect but then again hols and working and living in a place are a different story. I was well calmed and returned to the car.....if I could find it .... again!! It took another 20 mins. Where was Melissa when you needed her but the cow was probably tittering to herself in the is a nasty vindictive thing.
Headed off to Glenorchy and Kinloch Lodge... When you get to Glenorchy the sign here says “Gateway to Paradise”.... they are not far wrong.. The tyres in the car are down a few threads with the dint of braking and going .... “Oh sweet god look at that” and another million photos. Arrived here in Kinloch and was instantly attacked by another million sand flies. The other happy campers were chuckling to themselves to see the gobshite dancing in a frenzy around the car... Everything I have taken in my diet has not deterred the little buggers.. Raw onions and garlic from now on I think..... It should not make me popular with the flies or the fellow backpackers, but I don’t give a damn. I am raw from scratching in my sleep and I must have the tastiest of ankles and shins. Tonight I share my room with 3 others.. They are a messy crowd and I was tempted to do a bit of tidying before I dropped my bag. Got for a lovely walk up by the lake in the setting evening sun. I have taken so many pics. that I had to recharge my camera battery again and given to the state of mind I am in today I charged the already charged spare and not the other one that was flat. Added to that I lost my BBH (backpacker membership) card, the top off the computer broadband dongle and then lost my phone.... oh oh.... I think that I need to do more brain training exercises!!!!! Either its lack of sleep or else too much wine or the skydive.. or a combo of all three!! The latter me thinks!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Foot in mouth!

Maybe its a case of still being on the parallel universe in my head but today was kinda a weird day and I cant put my finger on why. Andrew and I left the Backpaca in Wanaka and gave a lift to Amy and Matt who were gonna climb Mount Isthmus on my recommendations.. Even though I did it the day before I still could not find the start off point. Meliss come back.... all is forgiven! She is not so much in demand now cause we are on the south Island and there arent many roads or places that I can get too far lost without her help...although I must say I did use her this evening to find the digs in Queenstown and this time even Andrew got narked with her as she told us this place the Butterfli Hostel was on the other side of the street and futher on! We are doing lots of U turns with this lady! I’d get an “A” in my three point turns!
Anyhow after we dropped Amy and Matt, we went into Wanaka Airport so that I could show Andrew the location of the skydive... there were others at it and he saw it all including a good few landing..
We went from there “on impulse” to a rifle range.... why I dont know but we are on hols after all and everything MUST be experienced! It was a bit of a weird place and they had 4 activities on offer..... crazy golf, clay pigeon shooting, archery and a rifle range... Anyhow the guys who owned the place were really intent on showing us EXACTLY how to shoot something or one!! In fact they got a bit bolshy with me cause my elbow was not in line with my shoulder and I was shooting too low and I should really FOCUS!! God these guys were baying for blood!! Anyhow I only managed to hit 4 of the 20 clays and at that only clipped off two of them by pure fluke.. Now the strange thing is that both of us were a bit uneasy after we came out and both said in unison... that did NOT feel either good OR fun! Maybe I am truely a pacifist.
Legged it outta there in case the guys wanted to enlist us or something and headed off towards Queenstown.. On the way stopped in an old gold mining village where of course we ate and did not go panning for anything except a large citrus slice and a tea!! From there to Arrowtown, a quaint expensive little "unique" Kiwi town... Unique my foot... more contrived really but very pretty and drawing the completely unsuspecting tourists by the busloads.. not my idea of fun but suiting some markets...especially the asian community as there were two streets and one of them a Chinatown... strange but true!
On the way to Queenstown we had a further stop.... at the AJ Hackett.. originator of the bungy and birthplace of same at a bridge called Karawau. It is hypnotic to watch folk hurl themselves off a small ledge 43 metres above a fast flowing river below all for the sake of fun.Now I know what you may say, "Mul u threw yourself off a higher place" but I will retort...there is no hulky Alex strapped to your back as you are ultimately “pushed” off the edge. I was gobsmacked to see a 12 yo doing it and quipped to the lady next to me....”Jesus but I wonder where is the parental responsibility when you leave your kid do something like this...” Of course you will know me and my big mouth but you can instantly guess that the one person I would stand next to was the 12yos mother!!! She just said that he always wanted to do it and had no fear. I would have told him grow up and pay for the pleasure yourself. I was morto that I had opened my gob and you all know I rarely blush but could not get my size 8s out of it now!! She had 4 other sons it seems and he was the eldest.. maybe she was thinking of future college fees or something...!
Queenstown has the most fantastic location ever.. really incredible and mountains all around a beautiful lake. Decided to hike up to the sky road rather than doing the gondola ride up and did I regret it? Soaked with sweat and a big red head on me by the time I reached the top I was scaring adults and children in unison with mud spattered skin.. shivering from the chilly breeze and a sweat soaked bod and top!! I just appeared outta the trees at the top and all the bright shiny folk were oooing and aahing at the fantastic vista below... Nothing for it but a bit of retail therapy and had to get a gondola down as my legs were killing me from the hiking for the last two days...I was thinking of sneaking on and saving the $14 fare but I think a sweaty heavy breathing mud streaked limping paddy is a bit noticible so I did the honest thing and coughed up the dough! In my leaba now and tried to download yesterdays video of Mount Isthmus to Youtube but it used most of my credit on my 3G card. Shag that for a game of soldiers.. this bloody thing was to last 60 days...
Nothing for it but hold on in Queenstown tomorrow for a few hours to get more top up if I want to keep you bored for another 10 days!!!
Night night

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sky dive b4 & landing

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Wind,air pressure & altitude sickness

One thing I forgot to mention re yesterdays skydive is that another one of the effects of altitude is a massive expulsion of air and I am not saying burping. Anyhow in retrospect I think this is why Eduardo disappeared so quickly and the lovely Alex was shade of green by the time he hit earth. While hiking today I was going over the scenario of the dive and definitely think that Eduardo’s acceleration to earth at greater than the speed of gravity was more than likely assisted by Mul leaving a blaster with both the fright and the altitude. Anyhow you will be delighted to hear that my left ear is back to normal audible function.. It only took 7 hours but it popped back in the local “New World” Supermarket chain.. I know it was there cause I was able to hear the latest bargains on offer over the tannoy! Hence why two more x 3 litres of wine were purchased.
A little bit of advice for those thinking of doing a sky dive is to take the rest of the day off afterwards. I was on a bit of a parallel plain for several hours and it was probably not the wisest time to go to wait for it..... Puzzle World... a brill little place with a human maze. Well it was prob a not a good idea at all and I should have known I was not exactly with it when I could not find my way into the maze!!! I gave the assistants much glee as I passed through the shop for the  third time trying to find the entrance...Anyhow one of the lovely girls took pity and pointed me in the right direction probably saying under their breath ... “you are welcome you gobshite”. There are 4 towers in this maze and the trick is to hit all towers in the space of 60-90 mins if you are a genius. I thought I was the dogs as I had found three of the towers in 40 mins and then Julia arrived. .. She could hear me muttering and cursing as I found the green tower 4 times in a trot was waving at me over the barriers to get my attention. We started as a team. You know the Germans and the way they operate... anyhow needless to mention she is formidable player and maze solver!!. Eventually found the 4 of them after about another 30 mins and if you add the 25 mins trying to find my way in and the extra 45 mins trying ... yes you got it... to get out of the shagging thing meant that we duly failed to beat the system. In fact 4  year olds were whizzing their way past me and were back in the shop licking ice cream by the time I got started!!! So yes it was a bad idea. With the parallel plain thing, I think I am in universe 15 today!
Great night with a good homemade meal and salads followed by large bowls of chocolate icecream.. Julia was on a high after the dive and with a glint in her eye would raise her wine glass every 5 mins and chink and guzzle after her toasting mantra of “ 15000 feet” followed by more giggling and guzzling! Between us we drank about  2 of her 3 litres of plonk. I think I have converted the others to the joys of cheap chemical alcoholic concoctions! Anyhow I was only responsible for about 0.5 litres consumption this time!
Woke again a bit spaced and this was the great clearout day. Sunday a day of rest my foot....Alice, Julia and Carmen got on the road..It took a few hours for me to get myself organised and eventually Alice and I got to the DOC office by midday to get some maps. She then said her goodbyes and headed off to Dunedin. I headed towards Mount Isthmus.... The guide said that the climb would take about 3-4 hours. I was a bit sceptical as first of all there was cloud on the mountains and in addition I knew the climb was fairly steep.. It was 1386 metres.. 300 metres higher than Carrantuohill and just about a few metres higher than Ben Nevis.
I got up in 2 hours 20 after meeting a total of 3 people and lots of rabbits, sheep and a few hawks. One thing about sheep.. I past one of the recently deceased members of their animal kingdom and the other brethren were munching close by nonchalantly while the corpse was giving off putrid odours. As I got higher I was feeling a little nauseous.. Where was hulky Alex with his oxygen mask??? Just when I thought delirium was settling in I spotted a glint in the sun in the distance..The scene was incredible and I thought that I could hear cow bells and expected to see Julie Andrews careering across the pastures and warbling “ The hills are alive.... etc” Anyhow the glint was not from some maiden’s hair but a bloody jeep with two hunters in it on the peak!! So that was the other sound I was hearing.. gunshot!!! Anyone seen a pale Paddy?? Yikes I am definitely sticking to the paths!!!!
The climb was very tough but by God was it worth it.... Incredible views with Lake Hewea on one side and Lake Wanaka on the other. I only took about 100 pics and a video clip.. I will try and upload it and see what happens.. Otherwise I think I may try putting it on You tube and adding the link to the blog..
Got down exhausted but elated again..   however it took me 1.5 hours down and added that to the 2 hours 20 up that was a total time of 3 hours 50....
Whoever put the time up as 3 hours – 4 must either have been on speed or else got a lift to the peak by the hunters!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

All fright but FAB!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday was a day that brought the weirdest of feelings. First of all the impulse of booking the sky dive and then the tension and knots in getting there and being sent back. Then the waiting and the weather disimproving again and its ultimate postponement. So there was nothing else to numb the disappointment that to go for... yes you guessed it... wine tasting.. this of course to add to the green cider hangover from the night before. Why not? The merry crew of three (Julia Alice and me fein)  took off at 2 and knew we would have to be back for 6 to meet up for the movie in the unique Wanaka Cinema..We thought it wise to have very little time there
We were told the hike to Ribbon Vineyard would take two hours but it only took one...oh oh more time there to taste more,..maybe it was the draw of the free drink at the other end that reduced the transit time. The winery was based in  most fantastic location ever....half way up a hill overlooking Lake Wanaka and the town on the other side. The wind was fairly whipping it around the place so I think in retrospect it was the best decision not to skydive ... otherwise I could have got a free flight home strapped to some hulky instructor!!
Ribbon is a unique in that the location is supreme. However it also was like an out door sculptor gallery with some of the most unusual pieces which completely complimented the surrounding scenery. You leave the shore line to walk up the hill but that only took about 10 mins.
Once inside, we were greeted by a lovely French girl who gave us samples of 7 different types of wines. Alice was the one who seemed to know the most about the whole art of tasting where as I am crap at it.. If there ws a hint of alcohol then I was satisfied! As Ro Ro would say.. that one would suck the alcohol out of a deodourant stick!
We had been advised that the cheese plate  would be a good option.. I was starving as the impending skydive had put me off eating most of the day in case I puked on the instructor plummeting my way back down to terra firma!!
We ordered the cheese plate with two relishes and 4 types of cheese and two packets of crackers but of course had to add a bottle of Gewuerztraminer ( Julias spelling!) to help in the digestion process. So my definition of blitz is scoffing my gob and skulling back lovely chilled vino, excellent company and a magnificent backdrop. Added to that, some fools were getting hitched by the lake shore and having their reception in the winery building. What a place to make a committment or the biggest financial mistake of your life.... ok I retract the last cynical comment. The couple looked very happy... we will see how long it lasts!.. Wrists duly slapped again!
Great evening at the cinema watching the "Fighter" with all the crew. Carmen and James came back from their hike on Ishethe Mountain.. one to add to the list along with Mount Roy...
Wanaka Cinema is unique.. its filled with sofas a convertible VW Beetle and a real laid back atmosphere. They serve drink and freshly baked biscuits and also booze and pizzas. My stomach was a big delicate from the wodges of cheese earlier. It really was not a good idea to mix the cheeses and allow the contents to be sloshed around on a based of wine.
Movie was really good. Back to the backpackers for a a chat, coffee and a few games of cards. They off to the leaba in the dorm with three others..One narky guy kept tutting as I was trying to get into bed and I could not have been quieter... honestly.. Now he would have had reason to tut the night before alright after my bucketfull of green tinted cider!
Sleep again was bit strange. One of my roomies got in at 4 am and he made loads of bloody noise and there was no tutting for him. My dreams were a bit strange as well.. filled with lots of fear and dread of jumping out and no parachute and that sort of scenario!
Woke and showered and had a good brekkie. The others were winding us up really terribly including young Andrew who was saying.. "well YOU did sign up for it and imagine paying that much  to terrify the life outta yourself" said with a smug smirk the other comments like...."no its not like the anticipation of the time before an exam.. this is different!" or finally... " the wind looks as if its building up..maybe it will be postponed for another few days" He was bloody right it was different....stomach was doing somersaults and I was paling by the nanosecond. Alan collected us at the appointed time and we trundled our way to the airport. I cannot over state the type of day this has been...... incredibly sunny and cloudless sky and the blueist of skies.
I would recommend Skidive Wanaka to anyone.. the staff were incredible, in the way they explained and more importantly reassured you re everything. Kitted up and met two sets of other clueless Irish fools who also were paying for the pleasure... one lot in our plane and a couple who were on the flight ahead of us.
I was strapped to Alex... a brazilian who was a big butch brawny guy... He was either gonna be a hero by getting me down safely or the one to squash me to pulp if we landed badly. I was last on the plane and so therefore gonna be the first out. .... Yikes!!!!!!
The scenery was incredible with snow capped mountains and the most incredible reflections off the lakes and waterways below.... I had to sit on Alex lap while he attached us together and then put on the Oxygen mask as we rose higher. Eduardo the cam man was taking pics and stills the whole way so I will def bore everyone with a  night of showing this event. We hit 15000 feet and Edwardo grins .. gives the thums up and disappears out the door. The gale force siberian wind hits ya and you are so bloody delighted that you had put on the windproof coat just prior to leaving the airport.
What can I say? The odd thing is that the worst part for me was not the leaving go of the plane..... no it was when we turned completely up side down and you see the sky flying away while zooming down backwards. Eduardo appears periodically waving and smiling and basically being a total nusiance.. however the cost included him getting every reaction on cam and stills! All I can say is INCREDIBLE!!!! When the parachute opened.. thank you lord Jesus... we were hoiked back up and then everything goes really silent. This mass expanse of green and sun and water below while you glide down slowly was just truely amazing.Eduardo in the meantime has completely disappeared to get to the ground first to take more shots on landing. Before going he is flying lying on his back filming me above him. I think at that stage I was more concerned that he would not pull his chute than dealing with my ears which completely blocked up and were bloody sore. The left one still is not unblocked 4 hours later and no amount of holding my nose and chewing and awakard face contortions is improving the situation!!!!!!
Landing was so easy and we just glided to a stop on my arse on the ground. Pure elation and adrenalin at getting down safely and getting over a phobia.. albeit an expensive cure for same.
Julia and myself were hugging each other like maniacs on the field whooping laughing and dancing around hysterically... Jeez but this was the weirdest feeling ever...basically it was the feeling of being still ALIVE after seeing the most incredible part of the world below us and plummeting towards same and most importantly SURVIVING.. I will let ye know the progress of the ear drum later. Alex ( the most unlikely Brazilian ever) in the meantime is probably in a home for the bewildered and saying to himself... "NEVER again will I attach myself to a balding middle aged freak!" When you get back inside you have the pleaseure of reviewing the DVD and all I will say is that I neaver realised I was so jowly and do I EVER keep my mouth closed???
But in conclusion all I was saying was "Happy Brithday to me!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Flight or fright....!

We had been warned that the lower you go in NZ the more vicious the sandflies get and they are not wrong. I now dont need a daily walk or hike. ... just the moves alone to squat the little buggers is enough for several daily workouts. All you can hear everywhere is the slapping of flesh with the appropriate level of cursing. No wonder the Kiwis were able to invent the haka... It was not a tribal dance .. it was to squat the blood sucking biting bastards!! In addition to the further south, you add rainfall and the lushest vegetation then you will understand that I am now of twiggy proportions and getting worried about over doing the exercising. Yippie I am now allowing myself to live from now on on a diet of choccie bikkies and cheap plonk.... starting today. ... ahem.. well.. since I arrived.
Sleep in the Ivory Towers.. was a fitful affair broken several times by the deluge of rain that was pounding on the corrugated iron roof. Left the place in the lashings again and got to get up to see Fox Glacier but from a long distance. They had to close the path to it as there had been a few minor landslides or something so nothing to wory about. We then went to another viewing platform and met with a lovely mum from the UK and her over active son. They were one of the friendliest people we have met here. Their names are Ingrid and Peter or “Peewee” as his mum affectionately called him for short. Every time we went from one viewing place to another during the course of the day we kept bumping this hilarious duo.Lunch was like a comedy.. we had only orignally meant to stop for 10 mins for a coffee and a biscuit but once they joined us and were horsing into a seafood bowl we decided to remain on there in Haast for another hour and do the same.Anyhow it was miserable out and we were laughing so much with them it was difficult to head off. Maybe I should have though, as I broke my back tooth on something hard in the meal and swallowed the broken molar  for spite! Population of Haast by the way is 300 and the only place to eat in a long journey to Wanaka. Pee wee and Ingrid were constantly chattering away and on two different topics as well as nodding and smiling in unison with each other. They were the only pair I have every come across who could multitask in such an effective way. It was so refreshing meeting them.
Anyhow on the drive to Waneka you pass by the most incredible national parks including a place called Aspiring which had beautiful waterfalls at every bend of the road .They were named Thunder Falls and King Billy etc. We kept seeing the dynamic duos red car screeching to a halt and we knew there was something spectacular ahead. So we ended up chatting with them for ages during the day. We also found Peewee to be a mind of information.. he was telling me about partiuclar mushrooms on the walk and the best way to dry, preserve and smoke them!! By god this boy was knowledgeable!! He would bound up the paths and had a level of energy that was infectious. Everytime he said something shocking his mum would quip....”thats my boy” and giggle to herself knowingly. Then she would say something almost equally controversial and he would nod and smile in agreement. They were the perfect pair.
Now did I forget to mention that Peewee is 37 and Ingrid  is 64!??
We were laughting for ages after they took their leave from us and headed to Queenstown.. We headed into Backpaka Hostel in Waneka passing the most wonderful scenery in the brighest of sunshine.Checked in with Hannah the lovely lady on reception and tired to get the rooms sorted.. she looked up the computer in front of me and I spied the fact that guy who took the booking had said “Dj Mulcahy... talks real fast difficult to understand” The cheeky bastard.....
 We were greeted by James , Julia who fed us again between them with their food from the barbie.. Delish.. then the troop of us including Alice and  Carmen  ended up drowning St Paddy in the local pub... Great laugh with some competitive games of pool thrown in..The Irish got a discount on the the drink of $4 per drink which were normally 7. In addition green food dye was squrted into each drink to add to the atmosphere. None of us are sticking our tongues out today though as we look as if we have a contagious version of black tongue. A kiwi was the musical entertainment for the first part of the night with repertoir his 6 Irish songs which were sung in a different tempo to what I had ever heard. I nearly offered to take over and sing Molly Malone for him instead but they did not pay enough!
Back to the hostel late and chatting  and character assassinating with Julia until about 2. Then a good nights kip. Woke to a beautiful morning and on impulse I cajoled ... nay bullied Julia into agreeing to go sky diving this morning. She actually agreed quite willingly (that was easy) and so we went and booked.. There was a bit of a problem though... we did not have much time to get over anxious.. We booked at 09.30 for the 11.00 jump... Collected by Alan a brawy Glaswegian at 10.45 and bricked it out to the airport and signed our lives, insurance policies and mortgages away. We had just signed along the dotted lines when the bold Alan said the wind was too high and that the next one is at 14.00... wind dependant.. otherwise its tomorrow morning.. This is like the Kiwi version of torture.. Julia and I have just been going through various shades of paling reacting to the place and plane and suits and hulky skydivers when we now have to go through this again  later if we keep our nerve!! Is it normal for your hand to get clammy and to loose all feeling??
Watch this space!  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Deja vodoo!

I have decided that age does not necessarily bring wisdom.. This is said after a few hours of trivial persuit with two bright sparks of 20 somethings and this ancient old fart of the 45 yo.. almost 46..take note!. Anyhow, maybe it was the combination of the fresh sea air, the wonderful company, the gallon of wine and the poison from the sand flies but it was getting increasingly difficult to answer questions. Me being "the know it all" was outlining the rules of the game to the others without really knowing it myself but all I ever direct anyone to do is RTFM.... read the F'ing manual! It descended into us using both kiddie and adult questions and I am mortified to say that I was struggling on the former. The kiddies in Oceania must be mighty intelligent! Andrew scorched off to a very good start  but was surpassed by Alice from Leeds who eventually took the laurels. Well is was also 00.45 and we do have a long journey ahead. Went to sleep with the Fantail eyes staring down at me and was woken several times during the night by the passing train ( forgot to mention that one) and the road traffic etc. I cannot for the life of me understand why there was so many cars in a place supposedly with only 6000 inhabitants.. maybe for fun they drive up and down outside back packers places all night to keep themselves amused. No though.,... the thing that kept me in this fitful sleep was the bite I got on my second toe.. Can anyone confirm how many layers of skin we should have cause I think I have got through em all. Another note to self... tie your hands together before sleeping or else cut those nails..I think if I will have any colour on my return it will be from well scrubbed/scratched skin.
On a different topic, Andrew has suggested that I should do the skydive in Waneka but it looks like it could be the day after Paddies day!!... Not a good idea me thinks! We will be searching out a good pub to honour our national Saint and celebrate in a way that only we do best.... get langers!!!....I am making a promise to me though not to mix the grain and the grape.
With Hokitika and the avian theme haunting and well behind us, we headed South for Franz Josef and again what a day.. Passed and checked out a phenomonal lake called Lake Ianthe...In the morning sunlight, the day was bright and the lake offered a perfect mirrored reflection..Just incredible. Will try and add one or two of the pics to show its splendor. From there we carried on and stopped for a coffee and huge white chocolate muffin in a typical kiwi village with single storey buildings and farmers dressed in singlets, denims and cowboy hats. We were heading closer to the Southern Alps and had to stop the car on several occasions to take more pics.. Got to Franz Josef as the sky was becoming more overcast but managed to get to walk to Franz Josef and meet half of Birdsong backpackers from last night including Alice the Trivial champ from Leeds and Cathering and "whats his name"from Germany on the track up to the glacier. Now enscounsed in the twin room in the Ivory Towers BP in Foxs Glacier. I was just settling myself in when James ( Kiwi I met in Hopewell) walks in, and I then bumped into Alice (Leeds) in the kitchen. The German couple, Catherine and "whats his name" were no where to be seen but could appear anytime soon!!
Andrew, Alice James and self are are gonna head back the 22km to Franz Josef for a bite together later with Julia... maybe a rehersal for tomorrow night!!! Roll on St Paddies!!
Top o' de mornin to yawl in advance!!!

Good footwear is essential

Well what is it between me and the weather.. in the most fantastic location in The Old Slaughter house in Hector and it lashes out of the heavens all night and this morning. Not being able to see your hand in front of face in one of the best locations ever is not good. Added to the fact that if you were paying attention to the last rambling, that I had to hike up the hill to the hostel there has to be a down side... I had to walk down the ruddy hill in this rain and fog. I had of course left my shoes in the car and the only footwear was a pair of flipflops. When you add this struggle with your food and overnight bag and throw into the recipe for good measure a long evening chatting with the German couple Catherine & whoever! (I can never remember his name and he is in the new hostel tonight as well so I keep saying "hiya boy"!) There was also Cedreric from Switzerland. We finished the wine.. Cederic and I.. well you cant leave a small drop and anyhow I would have to cart it down to the car. Went to bed at 00.30 to the sound of crashing waves and rain lashing off the corrogated iron roofs. Slipped up the steps outside to the bedroom cabin and then of course because of the wine had to  take a trip down again to the loo. Note to self.. as well as the ears I will have to get the waterworks checked out on my return too. Work early to the sound of the rain bucketing down again so I went for an early breakfast. Met with David the kiwi owner and definately have met my my NZ equivalent re crank of the year. He also bitches to the local council regularly and is the bane of their lives.. we were definately separated at birth but had a great laugh at comparing notes. He discussed the house and the things that also happened to him when he was constructing it 15 years ago. Apparently the area can get about 4 inches of water in 2 hour downpour so one night after such an event, half the hill decided to give way and destroy the house at the lower level and wash all the new house building materials out to to sea so that someone in the Antarctic now has a cosy wooden palace. He lost everything inthe flood and nearly bought the farm himself. He was trying to get out and the quadbike turned on him and he was up to his eyes in water literally. Anyhow as he said he got loads of help and his son ensured that he got up off his backside and start again. I for one am delighted he did so as he has one of the most uniques places that I have ever stayed in. There was a huge procrastination re moving out this morning and I just said go for it now and be done with it. I left with David giving me a huge bear hug and sending me on my way. It was madness really.. I slid my way down the bloody path and kept falling out of the flaming flip flops. Can I tell you there is no such thing as decorum as sliding, falling swearing and sloshing your way down an decline of 45 degrees and falling out of the dangerous footwear. I was thinking there were all having a laugh looking out over the verandah at me so I kept stum and my dignity........ well anyway until I was just out of sight and earshot.
By the time I had got through Westport, the day had improved dramatically and the sun shone beautifully. I was delighted as I was going to do the Ocean Drive to Punakaiki Pancake Beach and the fantastic rock formations. SOmthing like the the Giants Causeway at home is definately memorable but my only gripe is that there were too many tourists.The Tasman sea is amazing and each bay and beach looks like a surfers paradise. Some of the places you pass on the way include.. Foulwind and Woodpeckers bays.. some one was def having a laugh naming some places here. Still though I am finding increasing difficult to remember some of the bloody place names.
Got to Greymouth by 14.00 to pick Andrew my "1st cousin once removed" who is going to keep me company and an eye on me for a few days till we get further south. He is looking fantastic and in great form from his hiking, walking and time in Oceania so far. I have been yapping since I met him so I think that the time that he will spend with me will be his penance for the next year! Got our shopping for dinner and another 3 litres of vino and headed off to Hokitika to our hostel called the Birdsong..hmmmm I wont comment on this name... I am in Fantail room.. yikes. and the decor leaves a lot to be desired. Picture this if you will... A huge mural of 2 fantail birds (brown) nesting on an orange wall.(huge eyed birdies that keep starin at ya no matter what part of the room you are in.) Add to that the wine coloured curtains and the floral blue bedspread and maybe this is why my head is beginning to ache.Thank you Lord I am not in Andrews Puketa themed room!. Just inside where the lightswitch should be in my room some bright spark decided to put the fire alarm break glass thingy there instead. Now you add one tired driver who has had a skinful trying to get themselves to their leaba  late at night could result in 30 people careering through your room out the door to the road outside.. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that there was a door to the outside from Fantail room which was the main FIRE EXIT !.
Andrew and myself went off to have a look at the Hokitika Gorge ( very nice and very few tourists ..horray and again got savaged by the sandflies and then back for the long walk up the beach opposite the hostel. Got a few pics of guys out rugby training on the sand..huge guys and now have no surprise as to why the Kiwis are so good at the game. Delicious meal of NZ lamb and now writing this up. Now to a game of Trivial Persuits and the competitivness that ensues.. Andrew and Alice watch out!!
By the way we were having a dicussion re rude nationalities....I have a list and will let you know with my reasons why over the next few blogs! Watch this space but all I can say is that I will not be popular in several countries in the world..... or maybe several continents!!