Sunday, 14 February 2010


We set off from Singapore yesterday - at least I think it was yesterday - for a thirteen and half hour flight back home.  We arrived at Heathrow just before 7pm and finally emerged about an hour later.  Mac was there to meet us and we were soon on our way.  We arrived home just before 11pm and had a quick cuppa with Mac & Petra before falling into bed. 

We both woke early and eventually got up by 7am.  At 8 out doorbell chimed and there stood Luke.  It was fabulous just to see him again and then along came Caitlin and it was big hugs and kisses all round.  Petra and Mac came round so we were talking for ages.  I went with the children to pick up a paper and then went to visit our neighbours, Celia and Robin, who have been looking after our cats, Meg and Harry.

So, that's it.  The end of a fabulous holiday with so many wonderful memories.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Last Full Day of Our Holiday

We started the day with a nice leisurely breakfast and then took a taxi to The Singapore Flyer - very similar to the London Eye but bigger!  Our taxi driver was amused because he had never driven anyone to the flyer so early in the day - it was about 10am.  It was fantastic - so well organised, clean and the views were magnificent.  It took 30 mins to complete the 'flight' and we had a capsule all to ourselves. 

After a drink it was back to Pagoda Street market for more shopping and then back to the hotel.  Out again for lunch and a bit more ................ shopping.

Back in the hotel now - already checked in online.  It all seems to have flown by but I wouldn't have missed any of it for a minute.

Tomorrow morning we will be leaving the hotel at about 10am to drive to the airport for our 12 hour flight home.  I know it's cold at home but when I get there it will seem different from freezing in the air conditioned room on the 12th floor of this fabulous hotel.

Singapore (Continued)

After Sandra had finished the early morning ironing we decided to go for a walk.  There weren't many people about at that time but it was very warm.  Back at the hotel we waited in the lobby til breakfast at 6:30am and then back to the room.  Next we went to the Botanic Gardens - so beautiful and peaceful.

From there we took a taxi to Chinatown for some serious shopping!  We hit a major snag when we couldn't find a bank or money changer willing to cash travellers cheques.

We found one eventually just by chance and then onto Pagoda Street Market.  Back to the hotel to drop off the shopping and out again for lunch. By mid afternoon we were both flagging so Sandra had a kip and I sat and read a book.

 Early evening and we decided to take a stroll down Orchard Road - it was so busy! 

We stopped for a drink but we were so tired we came back to the hotel and slept for 10 hours.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


We arrived in Singapore after a 9 hour flight.  It was fine but there were two young kids who screamed most of their way over.  We just put on our headphones and watched the movies.  No problems at the airport and then into a taxi to our hotel - Royal Plaza on Scotts (  Fantastic room with views over the city.  There is a 5 hour time difference between New Zealand and Singapore so went to bed at 9pm (Singapore time - 2am NZ time).  We were both awake at 3am so I have got this blog up to date and Sandra has done some ironing (as you do).  Only pics at the moment are out of our hotel window at 3am.

Bay of Islands to Auckland

Today is our last full day in New Zealand - The time has just flashed by.  We packed our cases (and weighed them - spot on 20Kgs) and loaded them into Roy and Heather's car.  By the way, at this stage I must mention their number plate (they have a different system to us) on the Mitsubishi - just see the pic!

It's a four hour journey to Auckland and we stopped for pizza at lunch time.  A few miles further on the car had a warning light and was running a bit rough.  We stopped at 'Sheep World' where they have pink sheep - Yes really!!  We took some photos because we knew no one would believe us.

Moo Moo couldn't believe it either!

The car sorted itself out and the remainder of the journey was OK.  A Barbie had been organised and we met Roy and Heather's family.  It was nice to sit down, relax and chat among friends.  We were staying overnight in a house with a friend of Heather which was close by.  Next morning - packed and off to the airport.  We have had a fabulous time in New Zealand and leave with so many wonderful memories. 

Happy Birthday Roy - Monday 8th February

It's Roy's birthday today so it's a nice relaxed start to the day.  A leisurely breakfast, read the papers and then a short drive to the car ferry to Russell.

It's Moo Moo again!

Russell is just across the bay and was the original capital of New Zealand.  It's all been cleaned up now but apparently it was just like the Wild West in the second half of the 1800's.

The Police Station - Russell

We strolled around, window shopped and the stopped for tea and cakes.  Russell is a lovely, clean and neat little place.

Oh No!  Not carrot cake again!!!

Afterwards it was the ferry back across the bay and a short drive to Paihia.

A sailing ship in the bay

One of the gorgeous houses overlooking the bay.

A lazy afternoon was followed by a birthday dinner for Roy at the Seafood Only restaurant.  That brought a lovely relaxing day to a perfect close.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Waipoua Forest and Tane Mahuta

We weren't sure what to do today because the weather has been a bit iffy.  In the end Roy and Heather said they would take us to Waipoua Forest to see Tane Mahuta, the largest and oldest Kauri tree in New Zealand, over 2,000 years old.  On the way we just pulled off the road to look at Haruru Falls which were not at their best because there has been so little rain in the North this summer.

 We were soon on SH12 heading towards the west coast.  It wasn't long before we were driving alonside Hokianga Harbour and the views were magnificent.  We stopped for lunch at a little cafe in Opononi, right at the mouth to this natural harbour.

 After lunch we carried on to Waipoua Forest and just above Hokianga Harbour we were treated to spectactular views. 

At the forest, we parked the car and took the short walk to see Tane Mahuta. (Moo Moo came too)

 It is truly a magnificent tree and it's hard to imagine it has been there for so long.

Moo Moo getting in the picture again!

 After our visit we started back to Paihia with just a short break for a little snack.  Just as we were arriving it started raining with a vengence but now it is all clear again.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Waitangi Day

Up at 7am this morning so we could make our way down to the beach early to get a good spot for Waitangi Day. 

For Non-New Zealanders - The Treaty of Waitangi was signed by the Native Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and the British Government in 1840.  This peace treaty is celebrated every year on 6th February and the Maori Tribes sail their Waka's into the beach at Te Ti Bay.  Afterwards, the crews perform the Haka.

There is much more to it than that but it is a public holiday and watched by large crowds.  It is a very visual event so once again I'll let the pictures give a flavour of the day.

How did Moo Moo get there?

Moo Moo looking round the stalls.

Sandra - Roy - Heather

The Haka

Cape Reinga via 90 Mile Beach on the Dune Rider

We set our alarm for 6am but it didn't make any difference, Heather knocked on our door at 6:15 so it was a bit rushed.  A quick breakfast and Roy took us down to the pick up point in Paihia.  The Dune Rider Bus is cool - see pics.

After picking up more people we made our way north.  We stopped for tea and cake but I must stress that it was not done especially for us!  It wasn't long before we were driving along 90 Mile Beach - it was amazing (It's only 63 miles but that's another story).  Breakers were crashing onto the beach as we sped along the wet sand.

  At the top of the beach we came off and drove to some huge sand dunes.  We stopped and the driver was handing out boogie boards for surfing down the dunes.  I decided to go and Sandra would take the photos.  Three quarters of the way up the dune I thought I was going to die! - I was so knackered.  I did eventually make it to the top and I'm glad I did.  The ride down was exhilarating but I wasn't going up again without a chair lift.

 Then we drove to Taputaputa for a picnic lunch - just see the picture to see how fabulous it was.

  Then it was time to move on to Cape Reinga and the lighthouse on the most northerly tip of North Island.  Once again, the views were absolutely stunning - every time we turned a corner there was another fantastic view.

After leaving there it was on to Gumdiggers Park - site of an ancient Kauri forest.  Before we left there the driver took our orders for fish & chips and phoned the order in.  We duly arrived at the 'world famous' Mangonui Fish Shop and picked our order - it was delicious.  We ate them on board as we made our way back to Paihia.  We arrived back nearly 12 hours after we had started out, tired but fulfilled after a really great day out.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Paihia, Bay of Islands

After a 10 hour sleep we had a lazy morning - just a walk down the road with Roy and Heather - Wonderful views.
After lunch Heather too us down to the harbour so we could get on our boat for a trip around the islands.  We set sail at 1:30pm and travelled all around the bay.  Unfortunately, we were unable to go through the 'Hole in the Rock' because of the heavy swell.  We didn't see any dolphins or whales either so we received a voucher for another trip anytime we want to go.  The oldest voucher they have redeemed was 14 years old!!  However, we did have a wonderful afternoon.  We landed on one island and were given a guided tour by a Maori who was on board with us.  I'll let the pictures tell the story.