Sunday, 31 January 2010

Waitomo Caves and back to Auckland

This morning was a bit gloomy and overcast so we decided to get a move on so that we could get to the Glow Worm Cave for the first tour at 9am. Lonely Planet said it was the best tour – before all the coaches arrived. They were spot on – It was fabulous in the cave (no cameras allowed) which concluded with a boat ride in the dark looking at all the glow worms above us in the cave.
We decided to go back to Auckland today, rather than trying to rush tomorrow morning. We packed everything away and drove to our second cave visit which we had booked for 11am. Again it was spectacular – you have to be there to appreciate it.

We jumped into the van and started off to Auckland at about mid-day. We stopped for lunch at about 1pm.

(Note for Mark – You should come out here just for the carrot cake)

We made it back to our original (first night) site at Manukau at just after 3pm without getting lost this time!

We’ve packed our cases and been out for dinner and are all ready to hand back the motor home tomorrow at mid-day.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Whanganui to Waitomo Caves

No excuses for not writing the blog today – it’s p......ouring with rain. It was overcast this morning and as the day has progressed and we got nearer to Waitomo it got worse. It has rained for most of the day but we are hoping it is better tomorrow. We have booked to visit two caves ( tomorrow so will let you know what it’s like.

On the journey here it goes without saying that we stopped for a cake break but we only stopped to take a couple of pics because of the rain.

I think I will use this space to put some pics up that we have missed earlier in our journey.

Ironically, every site seems to have a paddle of ducks (thanks Emma and Rachel) except this one where the weather is ideal for them.

Wellington Ducks on the left                                                                       Whanganui Ducks on the right

A couple showing the inside of our mobile bed-sit.

Moo Moo sitting next to the driver's seat. By the way, if a member of our family is willing to look after Moo Moo, the New Zealand authorities said we can take him to England.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Saturday 30 January 2010 – Whanganui

A nice relaxed start to the day today – the sun was shining and we had the whole day before us. We drove into town and (eventually) found a parking space. We made our way to the market which was a bit like a ‘car boot sale’ market. We then headed into the main part of town because we needed, among other things, to get some cash from the bank. Banks are not open on Saturday so we used our debit card – no problem. We stopped at a bakery for our usual drink and cake (only me for cake today!) and continued window shopping. We bought a couple of sandwiches and ate our lunch in a lovely park by the river

Then it was time to walk across to the River Boat Museum to pick up our tickets for our trip up the river. It’s New Zealand’s last paddle steamer – PS Waimarie – and it has a really fascinating history ( It has been a glorious day all day – it couldn’t have been better. We steamed upriver for an hour or so and stopped at a little place called Upokongaro for an hour which gave us time for an ice cream and a look around a small historic church.

Then it was back into town – MacDonalds and back to our site. What a lovely day it has been.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Wellington to Whanganui

We left the site near Wellington at about 9am. It was a bit misty and drizzly but with the promise of better to come. After a while the road started climbing and became very narrow. This seemed to go on forever until we had the most magnificent view high up over the sea. I asked Sandra to take a picture but she said she was too busy hanging on but just around the corner was a viewing stop – So we did and took some photos. Then we started the descent and eventually got down to sea level.

All was going well and we started looking for a place for our morning cake stop. We nearly passed it because it like a chapel. It was a country cafe in a converted former Methodist chapel. It was absolutely fantastic – the tea and scones were nice too!! After that we kicked on and reached Whanganui at about 12:30 and did a bit of supermarket shopping before driving to the site.

This is a very peaceful site next to the river. Tomorrow we have booked a trip on a coal fired river steamer – I think we will enjoy that.

28 January 2010 – Wellington

We caught the bus to Wellington just outside the site at 9am. Beautiful journey around the bay took about 30 minutes to get into the centre. We had to get our bearings and then headed for the tourist information office. Very helpful people in there and we booked a city sightseeing tour – hop on hop off minibus. We had to wait for about 50 mins for the next one so guess what? – We had a drink and a cake while we were waiting. We decided that there were 3 things we wanted to see – Sheepskin Warehouse – Houses of Parliament – Cable Cars. After passing various notable landmarks we got off at the Sheepskin Warehouse. We were a bit disappointed at most of the prices but Sandra tried on some Ugg boots but they didn’t fit properly. There was a terrific WW2 leather & sheepskin flying jacket for about $1400 - £650 – I can’t understand why Sandra didn’t want me to buy it. Then it was on to Government House and we arrived just in time to join a tour. The MP’s weren’t sitting so we were able to go into the debating chamber. It was really fascinating and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. We ate our lunch in the grounds along with lots of other people doing the same thing. We continued our tour and finished at the top of the cable car ride. Time for a drink and a walk around the botanical gardens with some spectacular views over Wellington.

Then it was time to get on the cable car down into the city centre. It only took 4 minutes but it beat walking down!

We wandered through the shops & bought a couple of things – I bought a new pair of sandals in the sale to replace the old ones I was wearing. There were sales everywhere – One shop had a sign which said, “30% OFF THE BLOODY LOT.” We then caught the bus back to our site – it was rush hour and it took nearly an hour.

Tomorrow it’s Whanganui ( and our site is by the river.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Napier to Wellington

We knew we had a long day ahead of us so we were on the road by 8:30. The weather didn’t look too promising with clouds tumbling down over the hills ahead of us. It was OK though and the day got brighter as we drove south. We stopped for tea & cake at a little roadside cafe near Takapau at about 10:15. We continued through Dannevirke, Woodville, Pahiatua and Eketahuna before we stopped for lunch which we had made up before we left. The next big place was Masterton and then Carterton. We stopped there to look at the Paua World factory and shop. ( We finally arrived at our site, which is in Lower Hutt, just outside Wellington, at about 3:30. However, I must just mention the road over the mountains just before we could see Wellington Harbour – It was awesome – just like driving through the Alps – And they had roadworks!! One more thing – The road safety signs are great but the best one, approaching traffic lights, “RED MEANS STOP – END OF BLOODY STORY”

We will be catching the bus into Wellington tomorrow and spending the day there.

Stop Press

The Cuddly Cow has been named Moo Moo.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Rotorua to Napier

Overcast start to the day so we didn’t waste any time getting on the road. Got away about 8:30 and the roads weren’t busy. It was a long drive through lots of pine forest areas and something we have not been used to here – long straight roads. We were diverted at Taupo because of massive road works but eventually found the road to Napier. It wasn’t long before the roads became twisty and went up and down. We stopped on route for our usual drink and cake before continuing on to Napier. We finally arrived at about 1pm and did a bit of supermarket shopping before going to have a good look around the centre of Napier. – destroyed by earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in art deco style – see the photos. We are now booked into our site and will be having fish & chips for tea tonight.

Just one night here and tomorrow we have a long trip down to Wellington – just over 300k.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Rotorua - Wai-O-Tapu

We did get up early today so we could get to Wai-O-Tapu. ( The drive was about 30k but on good roads so it didn’t take long. Once we had bought the tickets we walked around two of the routes before we had to drive to see the big geyser at 10:15. Then it was back to see the remaining pools, bubbling mud, steam and ‘rotten egg’ smells. I forgot to mention that we did stop first for a tea and coffee – Sandra had a scone and I had a big wedge of carrot cake. By the time we had finished all the walking, climbing all the steps and taking the occasional breather it was about 12:30 and time to make a move back into town. We stopped at a Sub-Way for our take-away lunch, cashed some travellers cheques and back to our site. It’s been humid this afternoon and we’ve had a couple of claps of thunder.

That’s it for today – tomorrow we are going Napier ( – About a 3 hour drive.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Papamoa Beach to Rotorua

The weather has been lovely all day – nice and sunny with fluffy white clouds. Just a short journey today that took about an hour. By the way, since we left Coromandel, we have been travelling in The Bay of Plenty area. We arrived in Rotorua and parked in town (they have parking meters here but parking is free on Sunday – How lucky is that?) We had a mooch around the shops and found our way to the Tourist Information Centre. It is a spectacular place and the area is full of backpackers. We picked up some leaflets and had a drink and a piece of cake before more exploring and shopping. We drove to the campsite and booked in at about 12:45. It’s a lovely little site and well looked after. ( After a cup of tea we wandered up to reception to get some ideas of where to go today and tomorrow. We went to the Skyline gondola for a ride to the top of a mountain and fantastic views over Rotorua and the lake. We were expecting Rotorua to be smelling of sulphur but so far not a niff! Things will be different tomorrow because we intend to go to Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters) with mud pools and geysers. We need to get there early because the Lady Knox Geyser erupts at 10:15 every day shooting up to 20 metres high.

A view over Lake Rotorua from the top of the cable car ride.                                                        Above is Cuddly Cow enjoying the view.                                                      

Yesterday's Pictures

This is Cuddly Cow helping me with the blog last night.  It seems there might be a few experts around - we've already had one suggestion - Coro - it's short for Coromandel where she came from.

At the cafe where we stopped yesterday, there were some donkeys - Sandra fell in love with the grey one.

On the right is our view we had while having our meal lat night.

Sandra anticipating dinner.                                                                           Dinner

Friday, 22 January 2010

Shelly Beach, Coromandel to Papamoa Beach, Tauranga

Today started off overcast and not much promise of sun. We set off from Shelly Beach at about 9am and followed the road to Whitianga over the mountains. I’m sure there were some terrific views but we couldn’t take advantage of them because we were in the clouds. We continued down SH25 through Tairua and on to Whangamata. We stopped at a little country cafe for a drink and some lovely warm cake – I had plum cake and Sandra had a wedge of choccy cake. It was here that we became attached to a Kiwi Cuddly Cow! It seems that she likes us and has decided to travel with us. We don’t know her name but if there are any Cuddly Cow experts who can think of a name we would be most grateful. In the picture she is helping me write this blog.

We continued down the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping for lunch near Waihi and then the final push to Papamoa Beach. We arrived at about 3pm so it was a fair distance.

The weather has been showery with sunny intervals but the forecast is for fine sunny weather to come. We decided to eat out tonight & went to the local restaurant – the Bluebiyou. The meal was fabulous – we both had 3 Way Prawn, a bottle of rose – Sandra had fruit cocktail with sorbet and I pigged out with chocolate molten cake and ice cream. We are now back in our mobile bedsit relaxing after a hard day.

There seems to be a problem uploading pictures tonight so we will try again tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Friday 22 January 2010 – Summary and Shelly Beach

Since we have arrived in New Zealand this blog has been a bit rushed because of the time we have available on-line. Now that I am thinking a bit clearer, I realised that I can create this offline & then copy & paste (I know it’s obvious but it just takes time to trickle through).

Everyone we have met so far has been very friendly & helpful. At our first site, Manukau (, we bought a membership card for Top 10 Holiday parks which gives us a discount at each stop plus other benefits. On our first morning we were surrounded by loads of ducks (what is the collective noun for ducks?) looking for their breakfast.

Miranda Holiday Park really was in the middle of nowhere but like each site (so far) the facilities have been first class. Showers, toilets, kitchens etc. are all very clean and well managed.

Even though it was raining yesterday morning when we left Miranda, it soon cleared up and by the time we reached Thames it was bright and sunny. The journey from Thames to Coromandel stunning; for the first part the road hugged the coast (We videoed part of this and when I get time I will try & upload it – listen out for Sandra’s, ‘Oh my God’). After a while it went inland slightly and uphill. We pulled over at one point to take some photos – the views were tremendous. The picture of Sandra yesterday was taken at that stop. Eventually we reached Coromandel Town and parked up so we could have a look around – so far all parking has been free - I’ve not seen anywhere that has parking fees. We had lunch & I went into a bank to change some traveller’s cheques. In some ways it was like going back in time – The bank was modern & airy but the cashier actually had time to chat and seemed genuinely pleased to do that. She was able to give me directions to Driving Creek miniature railway ( which we wanted to see. When we arrived it was fully booked all day so we booked for the next day at 11:15am. Then it was on to Shelly Beach. After settling in and having a refreshing beer we walked down to the beach – it must be 50 yards away!! It was so peaceful that I went back to get our chairs (and another couple of beers) so we could sit & enjoy it.

It rained last night and today the weather has been a bit iffy – mostly overcast & threatening rain (sometimes succeeding) – occasionally sunny. We went on the railway and it was well worth it – and we got Senior’s Rates – How good is that? Then off we went into Coromandel for a relaxed walk & nosey in the shops but we didn’t buy anything.

We are now back at Shelly Beach – Sandra is having a kip – it’s been a hard day so far. We have booked powered sites for the next 3 nights. Tomorrow we travel down to Tauranga, staying at Papamoa Beach Resort ( and on Sunday to Rotorua for a couple of nights.

I think we are up to date now but watch this space. Thanks for following us and we do read the comments.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Miranda to Coromandel

It was raining when we woke up this morning so we had a quick shower, breakfast, tidy up and then on our way by 8:30.  Followed State Highway(SH) 25 til we got to Thames and did some serious supermarket shopping.  Back on the road again - What a fantastic journey.  I knew it was a coast road but didn't realise how close to the coast it really was - Sandra's face was a picture - all the drops were on her side!!.  We arrived at Coromandel and parked up before exploring the town and having lunch.  Shelly Beach Holiday Park is right next to the sea - as the name suggests.  We've booked in here for two nights so will have a break from driving.

Miranda to Coromandel

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Day 2 - Miranda

Last night we both went to bed early - 8pm Sandra - 8:20 Ian - I realised when I had read the same page in my book 3 times it was time to give up & go to bed.  We both had a good nights sleep and woke up refreshed ay 5am!!  Jet lag has got a lot to answer for.  After breakfast we packed up and made our way to Miranda - less than an hour from our last site.  We were too early to book in so we went along the coast a little to a place called Kaiaua which is across the Firth of Thames from the Coromandel Penisula.  Stopped & bought an ice cream each - Delicious - then parked up on a shell beach where we had lunch before driving to Miranda Holiday Park (  As soon as we had settled the motorhome we changed and were in the hot-spring pool.  That's it for today - just relaxing & trying to recover from the jet lag.

Monday, 18 January 2010

We've Arrived (at last!)

We finally made it into Auckland at 11:30am local time.  I guess our overall time was 24 hours, which is not too bad.  12 hours to Singapore - 3 hours in the airport - 9 hours to New Zealand.  Needless to say we are cream crackered.  Picked up our motor home - got lost - found a supermarket to get a few bits and on to our first site - Manakau Holiday Park.  Just going to up load photo & then get a shower & then tea.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

One More Sleep

That's it - We've finished packing.  It wasn't too bad really - we've got everything in the cases that we wanted in and the weight for both cases is spot on 20Kg - Mind you, our hand baggage weighs 50Kg !! (Only joking Singapore Airlines).
Our cats - Meg & Harry - are being looked after by our neighbours Robin & Celia.  There is a ton of food to keep them going and I know they are going to be spoilt rotten (especially by Robin).
We've already said goodbye to our grandaughter Caitlin - She is at Skegness this week-end with the Brownies no doubt having a fantastic time.
Our Son-in-Law Mac is driving us down to Heathrow tomorrow together with our grandson Luke. Before we go we'll say goodbye to our daughter Petra who is going to have the luxury of having most of the day to herself.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Just doing last minute things now. Both cases are almost packed. My rucksack with the tickets, money, passports etc is ready to go. We received a wadge of lealets & brochures from Roy & Heather (Sandra's cousin & his wife) in New Zealand yesterday and that seemed to bring the holiday closer.

I had a phone call from a very nice man at Dial A Flight. His name is Dale and I must say that the service we have had from this company has been absolutely first class. He just wanted to assure us that despite the weather, long haul flights were departing pretty much on schedule. By the way, he didn't pay me to say nice things about the company but credit where it's due.

We are looking forward to the warm weather in New Zealand. Today has been really cold and the roads & pavements have been lethal with black ice today. Believe it or not but Sandra & I have started taking long(ish) walks around our village - about 4 miles. The photo was taken at the back end of last week on the outskirts of Navenby.

After months of planning - emails - booking tickets - booking seats - motorhomes - campsites etc. we finally started packing yesterday. Quite how we will each pack everything we need and not exceed the 20Kg limit is beyond me at the moment. I think we have thought of everything - money - tickets - passports but inevitably there will be something we remember when it will be too late.
We fly out of Heathrow on Sunday with Singapore Airlines on their huge A380. We have a short stopover at Singapore before flying on to Auckland. We arrive in New Zealand at lunchtime on Tuesday and immediately pick up our motorhome. We are not travelling very far on the first day - no doubt we will be tired out.
Anyway - if you are following this blog we will let you know how thing are going and hope to upload some wonderful photographs.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010