New Zealand

Rotorua - Wellington - Nelson - Fox Glacier - Picton - Mount Maunganui - World Map

It is the 17th December and our first nightmare journey. The flight from Dempesar was delayed which meant we had to take a later flight from Sydney to Auckland. This flight was also delayed resulting in our arrival in Auckland 5 hours later than expected. We were all pretty tired by the time we check in to the Centra Airport Hotel at 20:00 but me and daddy walked along the road to a campervan rental place to see if we could hire one for our stay in New Zealand.

It is very disappointing for all of us because there are no campervans for rental anywhere. It is the main holiday of the year here and camping is very popular. It seems that all the vans have been pre-booked so we are out of luck. Daddy has to hire a car instead although we hope to do some camping later in our stay.

We had planned to leave Auckland on the 19th December but I am very sick in the night so we decide to stay another day to catch up on some sleep before driving to Rotorua. We leave Auckland on the 20th and drive to Rotorua. Mummy is driving and daddy reading the map but the roads aren't busy and we have no problems finding Rotorua. We find our motel and it is brilliant because we have our own hot tub in the bathroom. It's nice to be in a motel because we have a little kitchen area so can cook some of our own food for a change. I have my own bedroom upstairs with 3 big beds to choose from.

Rotorua (town), town, central North Island, New Zealand. Located in the Bay of Plenty region, on the North Island’s volcanic plateau, the town is New Zealand’s best-known tourist destination. Primarily a resort, Rotorua is also a servicing centre for the local forestry and agricultural industries. Situated on the south-western shore of Lake Rotorua, the town is famous for thermal activity with numerous geysers, bubbling mud pools, hot springs, and silica terraces located in the area.
Rotorua is the centre of Arawa Maori and within the town’s environs are two Maori villages: Ohinemutu and Whakarewarewa. Europeans first arrived in the area in the 1830s. Rotorua developed as a spa town in the late 19th century, with the Government Bath House (the largest in the Southern hemisphere) opening in 1882 (see Baths). To the south-east of Rotorua lies Lake Tarawera, where in 1886 a volcanic eruption killed 150 people and destroyed the famed Pink and White Terraces.
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The following morning we cook a quick breakfast then drive to ‘Te Puia’ just along the road. It is a national park with geysers and mud pools. There is also a Maori cultural show. A pretty miserable day weatherwise – cold and wet however this didn’t spoil our day. There were bubbling mud pools all over the place and lots of jets of steam coming out of the ground. It was really smelly like rotten eggs. I collected lots of bits of sulphur.

After walking around the park area we watched the Maori culture show. We saw displays of the various handicrafts and were shown how to make traditional clothing. We moved on to the music and dance show which took place in one of the communal long houses. The traditional greeting seems to involve pulling lots of funny faces and sticking out your tongue. Later in the day we drive to the lake and have a walk along the bank. The weather is wet and miserable so we don't stay too long.

Next afternoon we visit Wai-O-Tapu thermal area. This was very interesting with the various coloured pools and hot mud bubbling up. A bit smelly too with all the sulphur. Unfortunately we arrived too late in the day to see the main attraction - Lady Knox Geyser - which we were told goes off at around 10:15 each morning. We did manage to get around the thermal park between rain showers which was lucky…

It is the 23rd December and we are driving to Wellington which is about 5-6 hours away. We have an early start to see the Lady Knox Geyser which we missed yesterday. We couldn't understand how the geyser goes off at the same time each day when we were told to return by 10:00. It was only when we arrived at the geyser that we understood. One of the park wardens pours washing powder down the spout which reduces the cold water surface tension enough that the hot water shoots out. It was so organised that there is seating all around the geyser and a big crowd gathered for the 'show'.

We leave Rotorua and drive to Wellington. We have booked a room at the Intercontinental Hotel as a treat for Christmas. I am a little worried that Father Christmas may not be able to find me but mummy has said that he will.

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It is Christmas Day and Father Christmas did find me. It doesn’t really feel like Christmas because it is a sunny day and we are not at home. We have a quiet day with just a couple of short walks by the harbour. We eat cheese and biscuits in the room for lunch then in the evening we walk along the road to the Chinese restaurant where we had supper last night.

It is the 27th December and we are taking the ferry to Picton today. It is a little late departing because there is some sort of delay with the offloading. The trip takes about 3 hours from Wellington in the north island to Picton in the south island and the ferry is very busy. The scenery is fantastic and the crossing calm. I make a friend and we play together for the duration of the trip. There is a children's play area and a man making things out of balloons. At the other end mummy drives us to Nelson which is about 140 Klm. We have a room pre-booked in a town called Tahunanui and arrive just before midnight.

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Daddy has a friend working in Nelson and we arrange to meet him for supper. He suggests that we take a drive along the coast and visit Mapua and Rabbit Island. We have a lovely lunch then a stroll along the beach at Rabbit Island. In the evening we go out for a meal with daddy's friend Paul and I have a giant steak served on a hot stone so it cooks on the table while I eat it - delicious.

We are off for Greymouth today, 29th December, and it is a long old journey because of the windy roads through the mountains. The scenery is lovely and we follow the Buller river for quite a distance. We head via Westport and a seal colony. Heading south from Westport we run adjacent to the sea with the west coast on our right and Southern Alps to our left. We stop off at a couple of beach lookouts along the way.

We continue our journey the next morning. The scenery is fantastic and we stop off at various places along the way. We are heading to Fox Glacier and pass Franz Josef Glacier en route. The nearer to the glaciers the colder it seems to get even though they are surrounded by tropical rain forest. Later in the day we even have to break out our cagoules and sweaters after carrying them around for so many weeks. Unfortunately it is raining very hard by the time we reach Franz Josef Glacier and we are not able to walk to it. We press on to Fox Glacier and find our motel.

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I made friends with the owners of the motel – Katy and Andy, and their baby daughter Emily – and the dog and cat. It really is a lovely spot here. It is New Years Eve and the weather has improved. It is a lovely sunny morning so we head off to Fox Glacier. From the car park it is about a 1 ½ hour walk to the glacier face and back. The walk to the glacier face is rugged and scenic. Waterfalls, streams to cross, and the glacier getting ever closer.

We can walk right up to the glacier. As we approach we can hear lots of loud creaks and bangs as the ice moves and giant pieces fall off. It really is a creepy sound as the glacier slowly moves down the valley carving out the rock. On the way back I go down to the river edge and collect big pieces of ice that have broken off the glacier. I even take a piece back to the motel and we keep it in the fridge as a souvenir.

It's New Years Day and we have a long drive again today. We are going to Twizel which is the other side of Cook Mountain and just a 15 min helicopter flight away. Unfortunately there is no road across Cook Mountain so we have to drive south then back north through the Buller pass. Tropical rainforest and loads of road-kill possums along route. We stop at intervals along the way and discover a super waterfall.

We finally arrive at Twizel at around 16:30 and meet up with Rod and his cousin Anna and her friend Michelle in the local pub. Rod has arranged that we stay at one of his other cousin’s holiday homes which is fantastic. Apparently Twizel built up as a hydro dam builder’s enclave and then the property was sold off after the project was completed. Twizel then became a super base for trips up to Mt. Cook and for lake stays. Property prices shot up and now the run down prefab type buildings are worth a fortune. We leave the car and our bags at the house then walk through the town Rod’s cousins – Richard and Ann - for a BBQ. We have a lovely evening and end it watching the NZ film Whale Rider.

Me and Rod get up early and walk back to Mac and Ann’s for breakfast. Mummy and daddy sleep in a bit longer then load the car up then drive to Mac’s house. They find the house much to the astonishment of Rod and his relatives. A quick cuppa and we say our goodbyes because we have a long drive today. We take Rod with us because he also wants to head north. Our time is running short and we decide to continue past Christchurch and on to Kaikoura. This means that we only have a couple of hours drive to Picton tomorrow to catch the ferry.

It is the 3rd January and we drive to Picton which is just a short way from Kaikoura. We have some time to spend in Picton while we wait for the 18:00 ferry. There is a lovely park and some rides that I go on. The weather is much rougher on the trip back to Wellington but none of us are seasick.

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Mummy drives us to Paraparauma where we spend the night before moving on to Taupo. There are hot tubs here too so I make the most of it.

We have all decided that we have had enough of spending long hours in the car and will drive to Mount Maunganui on the 5th January 2006 and spend our last few days in New Zealand relaxing by the beach.

Rod organising our next stage

Me and mummy helping

A relaxing drive today after leaving Taupo just after 10:00. We pass through Rotorua and stop off to show Rod the mud pools. We arrive at our apartment and it is rather nice with two bedrooms, large lounge / kitchen area, own washing facilities and bathroom etc. Also a balcony all round.

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We stay in a lovely apartment with loads of room. Rod, mummy and daddy take turns to cook each day so we enjoy lots of home-cooked food. It is sunny on most days and we all have a brilliant time in Mount Maunganui.

Here are several pictures from our stay. I was really pleased to find another bungee trampoline and went on it almost every day.

We have a wonderful few days then return to Auckland on the 10th January ready to catch our flight out the next day. We stay at the Centra Airport Hotel again and return the hire car. On the 11th Rod accompanies us to the airport and we say our goodbyes. Rod will continue his travels in New Zealand and we are off to Tahiti.

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