North Island tour begins

We really spoilt ourselves for our two nights in Wellington with accommodation at the Museum Hotel. Craig and I are both huge fans of Wellington and came very close to deciding to move there. We found the best Indian resturant we have ever been too (and we have been to many). We did a little shopping and then decided that we wanted to meet some locals. We posted an email to the SCA group in Wellington and ended our stay with fish and chips and lovely company (with other enthusiastic 14th century peoples).
After leaving Wellington, we headed to Taupo, it was a lovely drive that (as always) included a dip in beautiful Lake Taupo. I was sitting by the lake watching Craig swim around when I noticed what looked like a huge rock, floating in the water, I soon discovered (from the encylopedia that is my husband) that it was pumice stone. I was fascinated by the pumic stone everywhere after that, picking it up, breaking it open and throwing it into the water to watch it float, I was entertained 🙂

Once we reached Taupo we found ourselves some accommodation at a lovely Tudor style hotel across from the lake, compleate with our own private plunge pool, the hot water was fed straight from the surrounding hot springs and apparently has great healing potential. That day Craig decided to try and teach me to windsurf. It was a lot of fun (I have much better balance then him and if I could just figure out the whole direction thing I’d be great at it).

Most of our North Island tour ended up being unplanned activites. We ended up visiting the falls in Taupo. Somehow Craig convinced me to get in a jet boat! ***WARNING THIS IS A VERY FAST RIDE THAT IS FOR THRILL SEAKERS! THE BOAT DOES NOT ONE BY MANY MANY MULTIPLE 360 DEGREE TURNS, SWEARVES RIGHT NEXT TO TREE TRUNKS STICKING OUT OF THE WATER AND RIGHT UP TO THE EDGE OF CLIFFS! NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED** and thus not for me! I hated every minute of it except when the boat would stop (like at the foot of the falls) and Craig had a blast.

We really began to notice how much more energy I had these days when we did a walk around “The Craters of the Moon“. This was about a 45 minute walk around earth that oooozzzzzeeeeeddddd steam from everywhere. The space of land consumed by this rising heat expands every year. It was really something to see.

We left the next day and headed for Rotorua (with only one wrong turn to add another 1 hr of travel to the day *sigh*). Now Rotorua didn’t sound so bad, there was some very interesting things to see and do there, but WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME ABOUT THE SMELL! I spent the night with my head under the blankets because I couldn’t get to sleep from the smell.

But we did have a “cultural experience”, we saw bubbling mud, a geyser, a kiwi’s bum, and watched a welcoming ceremony. It was all very fascinating stuff. Oh and there was a really cool little paddle pool infront of the information centre with benches to sit on where we could rest our tirede footsies after long days of shopping and sight seeing.

Finally we headed to Auckland, where we would be spending our last two nights.

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On to Christchurch and Canterbury Fair

After flying ontop of the glacier we packed up and headed out of town. The intention was to find somewhere to stay in Arthurs Pass for the night and then drive the rest of the way to Christchurch. However, after getting over the 1 lane bridge that is used for both directions of traffic and the train (and today – workman), stopping a few times to admire the view (and trying to see the giant rock but ended up just seeing huge piles of them created by the former gold miners), before finally arriving in Arthurs Pass we decided it was boring, had some munchies, Craig (of course) had a swim in the freezing cold water (seriously, Bill & Kelly had their drinks in it to keep them icy cold), we finally decided to keep on going to Christchurch which we discovered was onloy another 2 hours drive away.

We arrived in Christchurch (which is a city we quite liked) and spent a long while looking for suitable accommodation. Our first stop was a backpackers set up in an old hotel, and it stank – literaly! The beds where awful, the place was dingy and I hated it, so we left. We ended up staying the night in a brand new hotel, (much better). The next day was loads of fun. We left our hotel, stowed our luggage at the airport and returned our car (all in preperation for the shuttle bus to Canterbury Fair), but before the bus arrived we had to fill several hours so we went off to explore the Antarctic, well the training centre any way. If you have several hours to pass near Christchurch airport, go and visit the Antarctic Centre, it was fun and educational (make sure you where pants!). We had a ride on the vehicles they use to move around on the antarctic, got to experience the freezing cold temperatures and harsh winds of a mild storm. Kelly and I actually waited out the storm inside an igloo but even then we got some of the wind, and of course we were sitting on ice and snow. I (stupidly) had on only a short skirt so tried very hard to pull me legs up under my wind jacket, it didn’t really help. The Antarctic Centre was the kind of place you would expect to go on a school excursion, but we all really enjoyed it.

After leaving the centre we then spent a few more hours laying around the airport waiting for our ride to Canterbury Fair. Craig, of course, insisted on getting changed at the airport so he could arrive at the fair in garb. Finally we arrived at Canterbury fair where we were to stay for the next 5 days.

I spent a lot of the even sleeping, or sitting around the Mangy Mong (outdoor tavern) drinking hot chocolate, turkish coffee (thick and sweet and the first coffee I have really drunk). Craig managed to borrow a bow, Bill managed to borrow some armour and thus the boys got to fight and play to their hearts content. Their was feasting and crafts, entertainment and court. Bill managed to win and archery award and Craig managed to win the wrestling competition (my hero) (video footage to come at some point hehe). But alas, all good things must end and so the 7th of Feb arrived and we departed from the Middleages and returned once more the the 21st century and headed to Hanmar Springs for a night of luxury.

We stayed at a really delightful B&B, lovely decour, beautiful gardens and a pleasing view, (and ducks). It was pure luxery, we spoilt ourselves compleatly for the night, topping off the B&B with a visit to the Springs (a bit smelly but still really nice – don’t expect Hepburn Springs-like facilities or you will be disapointed).

After a stunning breakfast the next morning, we drove Bill & Kelly back to Christchurch and put them on a plane home to Melbourne 😦