A Travellerspoint blog

January 2012

Auckland Anniversary Weekend Shenanigans

Red Pandas, Giant Bottles and Birthday Parties

sunny 25 °C

Today I had to go back to work after more than 6 weeks off. Luckily for me this weekend was a long one, Auckland's Anniversary Weekend (celebrating the founding of the province), meaning I have a 4 day week to ease me in gently! Gerald and I spent Saturday in the sunshine at Auckland Zoo. I had got Gerald a Zoom Tour for his Christmas present. We got to spend time with Maya the Red Panda in her enclosure and even got the chance to feed her grapes and apples! She took each grape really gently from our hands, occasionally reaching out with her HUGE paw to pull our hands nearer to her! For as long as we had food Maya was happy to hang around in our presence waiting for the next tasty morsel we would offer her. Once the pots were empty she slowly wandered off, making her way up into the branches where she spent a considerable amount of time washing herself. She was absolutely beautiful and it was a lovely experience.
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Sunday found us making our way towards Paeroa - a small town famous for producing a soft drink called Lemon & Paeroa.
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We were in the area for our friends' daughter's 3rd birthday party. The kids enjoyed swimming in the pool and playing in the sunshine while the adults ate, drank and chatted the hours away! After a hearty breakfast the next morning Gerald and I decided to head back to Auckland a different route for a change. We headed towards Miranda and followed the road along the coast, stopping off for a few photo opps and, of course, geocaches.
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We got home around lunchtime and the weather was still glorious so we dumped our bags and headed down to the end of our road to St Heliers Bay for a bit of beachtime to finish off our lovely weekend.
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Next weekend is also a long weekend - this time it's Waitangi Day so hopefully we will get up to more exciting things.

Posted by bumblebum 22:19 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Sunset over the city, Windy Wellington and Movie Magic!

Out and about in New Zealand

sunny 23 °C

Time for a catch up…

With the school summer holidays coming to an end, I have spent the last couple of weeks catching up with friends old and new. On Monday I spent the day on the beach at St Heliers Bay with Kirsten as we have had days of cloudless, blue skies recently. It is so much nicer down there than in the garden as there is a lovely sea breeze all the time. All the gorgeous weather has brought on some pretty spectacular sunsets over the past couple of weeks so I couldn't resist taking a couple of snaps.
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We had a weekend trip to Wellington for Gerald’s sister’s (Jenni) birthday and housewarming. The flight there was pretty scary as we approached the airport. Neither of us has ever experienced turbulence like it! The last 15 minutes felt like we were on a rollercoaster as our stomachs kept rising up to our mouths. Every passenger seemed to be gripping hold of the chair in front and when the pilot landed us safely back on land everybody erupted into cheers and applause. I guess it has the nickname of Windy Wellington for a reason!
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With the arrival of summer Auckland always puts on lots of free events. This weekend we made the most of a free outdoor cinema event sponsored by Jetstar. It was a screening of Boy – a hilarious kiwi film set in the 80’s. We went along with our next door neighbours (Jordan and Mike) and it was a case of perfect timing. When we arrived, there was already a crowd of people sitting on beanbags so I headed over to a stand to ask where to get them from….it turned out that the first 6 people to approach them at 7.30pm with a flier got VIP treatment. Lucky for us it was bang on 7.30pm so the four of us not only got comfy beanbags to sit on but also a whole heap of freebies – crisps, popcorn, chocolate, cookies, jellybeans, crostini, drinks, blankets, cameras and more….. a short while later two more of our friends (Cheryl, who I work with, and Darren her husband) also joined us so it became a nice social evening.
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We also hit the sales this weekend to buy bits for the new house that we needed. We bagged ourselves some good bargains but the bank balance didn’t like it too much!!! The only problem with buying a bigger house is that we don’t have enough furniture to fill all the rooms but I’m sure it won’t be long before that is rectified. Just 5 weeks til we move in - yippee!

That’s about it for now, we have an exciting weekend coming up so watch this space!

x

Posted by bumblebum 14:37 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

We survived the 19.4km trek!

semi-overcast 22 °C

Friday was HOT!!! As we made the journey south to Ohakune the car was displaying an outside temperature of 27 degrees. Shame that we were stuck inside the car for 5 hours! I couldn't resist a few photo opportunities along the way though....
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We arrived at the Powderhorn Chateau just before 8pm with amazing views of Mt Ruapehu in the background. IMG_1123.jpg
The Powderhorn has gained a bit of fame as it was where the cast and crew stayed when The Lord of the Rings was being filmed in the area. People get very excited to discover they are sleeping in the same bed as Orlando Bloom!
We had an early start the next morning with a 6.30am breakfast before getting on the shuttle to take us to the Tongariro Crossing starting point. When we got off the shuttle it was cold, windy and raining - not ideal conditions to participate in a 19.4km trek in the mountains. Many people decided not to continue and headed back to the hotel but we had bought all the required gear to get us through such conditions and decided to go ahead. Within minutes of setting off the wind dropped, the rain pretty much stopped and as we started walking we soon warmed up and began removing all our layers.
The first part of the walk was an easy lead in with a nice, flat boardwalk alongside streams and with a waterfall in the distance. IMG_1127.jpg P1020198.jpg
Then the terrain suddenly changed, we were at the bottom of the Devil's Staircase. Aptly named as it is a steep climb of 200m from 1400 to 1600m. I could definitely feel my legs working hard to get me up there. When we got to the top there was a big crowd of people all catching their breath before continuing the next 13km. We took the opportunity to have a little rest before continuing whilst searching for a geocache that we knew was in the area, we knew that there were several along the route and decided to find them as we went along. Once at the top of the Devil's Staircase we could see Mt Ngauruhoe aka Mt Doom. The cloud was low but we did get to fully see it for a few minutes. P1020219.jpg
From here we crossed the South Crater P1020238.jpgwhich is flat, desert like terrain however it was only a brief respite before another steep climb leading to the Red Crater, the highest point of the trek at 1886m. Once again I could feel my legs working really hard to get me up to the top and my heart was thumping! At the Red Crater there is a huge vent letting out steam and it smelt pretty strongly of rotten eggs. Steam was coming out of the ground and the ground was very warm under our feet. At this point we should have had stunning views of a huge part of the North Island but there was so much cloud that we couldn't see very much at all.
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Just a little further and we got to see our first glimpse of The Emerald Lakes. At first it was cloudy and you could only just see them but fortunately for us there was a moment where the clouds rolled away and revealed just how beautiful these lakes are.
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As the clouds came back down worse than ever we started our descent. At this stage we should have been able to see The Blue Lake but the cloud was so low we could see nothing and didn't even know the huge lake existed until we were looking on a website afterwards! As we followed the track down the terrain changed a lot, it went from lava flows, rocks and desert to ground covered in shrubs and alpine flowers.
The track continued like this for some time but as we got lower it suddenly changed yet again. The last part of the trek turned into rainforest and raincoats were needed as the skies opened as we completed the final kilometers.
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We completed the walk in around 6 and a half hours with 8 geocaching stops along the way, the last find was very close to the end and was tricky to get to without anyone wondering what we were up to as so many people were finishing the trek at the same time as us!
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It was a brilliant day despite the fact that we didn't get to see all the amazing views. The weather really took a turn for the worse on the journey back to the hotel and when we got back the hotel staff informed us that the trek had been cancelled for at least the next 3 days so we were lucky that we got to do it. I had a nice long, hot bath when we got back to the room but it still didn't stop my legs from aching the next day (and they still ache a little now!!!). We finished the day with a delicious meal and a few drinks in the Powderkeg bar/restaurant and had an early night. It is easy to see why this trek is so highly recommended and I am sure we will do it again one day.

Posted by bumblebum 14:23 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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