Saturday, December 4, 2010

Doug is asleep, so I thought I would write to you all to let you know what we have been up to. We have been staying with my Aunty Yvonnie and Uncle Barry for the past three weeks whilst working to make up some funds to enjoy the summer. We have decided to work up until Christmas and then spend some time tramping.

 Doug’s been working extremely hard as a labourer digging ditches and washing down trucks. Last week he was taking apart office furniture built from aluminium which was being thrown out, so he stacked it up in our van and has taken it to be recycled, he got $70 for the lot. I on the other hand have not been doing “man” work.  I have been working in a nice, friendly cake factory where I get to decorate and pack thousands of cakes.

We wake up most morning around 4-5 am ready for work and finish around 3pm. Doug drops me off at the cake factory for 5am some days 6:30 then goes off to his job for 9am, I usually finish work around 3 so have been running home, whilst Doug gets home around 5pm with the van.  

We have been walking up the mount a fair bit on our days off and sleeping.

Yesterday we went to Rotorua where we watched the Christmas parade, the Christmas floats passed full of children from the local schools. It was very creative, the floats where mainly beach orientated with sprinkles of glitter and tinsel. The sun was beaming down and Doug was dodging the sun at every opportunity, soon as we got home he had a cold shower and seemed to be feeling a lot better.

Today we will be fixing up the van; we have made some new cushion covers for the bed and seats, put in new curtains and will now be painting the furniture with a fresh coat of white paint. Tomorrow Doug is not guaranteed work, which has worked in our favour as we have a muffler which needs replacing at the garage. Our van is slowly being renovated to bring it up to date and to suit our lifestyle.
So all in all, life’s been sweet down under so far, and our holiday time is about to begin, we hope you are all well and keeping warm. England’s been on the news and the snows looking very festive indeed, we wish you a merry Christmas and are thinking of you all through the festive season.
Much love to you all
Penny x

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hello all from Tauranga. We've been staying at Penny's Aunt and Uncle Vonnie and Barry's place for the last few days. they have been unbelievably generous, putting us up (and putting up with us) while we have been job hunting around the Bay of Plenty. We jacked in the tomato picking to give us the freedom to find some work that really enables us to grow and to take in New Zealand while building some great memories and forging new friendships.
  We start gutting fish on Monday.
  Oh, we went for our second whale and dolphin watching trip soon after our last blog. We found a pod of dolphins pretty quickly, thanks to flocks of dive bombing gannets, and it was a big one; they must have found a fishy motherload, because they were soon joined by a couple of other pods of comparable size. In total, there were about 3,000 common dolphins in that single hunting group. The only way I can describe it is like being in the middle of great fields of the things, as far as it was possible to see from the deck, travelling in huge leaping herds, or playing in the bow waves of the tour catamaran with that effortless agility and showmammalship that they have.
   We have also: climbed Mt. Maunganui 4 times, come joint 3rd in a pub quiz, and run several times into another prophet of the end of the world, who wears a bicycle helmet at all times and is well known to the locals. 

Monday, October 18, 2010


Tomato picking is pretty dull business. I mean, I thought there was nothing worth stealing at the Robinson's Fruit Shoot warehouse. Pick tomatoes, stack tomatoes, sweat, prune leaves, cut thumb off, turn sulphur-yellow, bin leaves.

But we have money now, allowing us to celebrate our 4-year anniversary by doing something we have always wanted to do together - whale watching. Not that we saw any whales, but we did get to go on a boat, so we were smiling. I think Penny was smiling, maybe her face just froze like that, I don't know. 

We saw Penny's Aunt and Uncle Bill & Jane, and cousins Brett & Joel last week. I probably had a bit too much to drink and ended up at the keyboard, jamming with Bill and Joel, who play drums and guitar. I was pretty terrible, but no-one seemed to mind.

We also met Penny's Nana in Whangarei, and we now know how and when the world is going to end, which is nice. Means we don't end up doing a big shop the day before.

We will upload some photos when we get the chance, and you can see it all for yourselves. in the meantime, I'll try to keep updating whenever I can.

Off whale-watching again now on our free sorry-we-couldn't-find-whales-and-everyone-was-sick vouchers. Wish us luck, eh?


Sunday, September 26, 2010

settled in

It has been a while since we last posted, and there haven't been any details of our time in NZ yet, so here goes:

Upon touchdown, we were picked up by Levi and Vicky, who let us use their shower, which was the best thing ever. We slept at a hostel in the city centre (slept was more or less all we did - 15 hours the first night and 11 the second). For the first few days we just lumbered around Auckland at 5am in a cloud of jetlag. Auckland is shiny and rainy. 

We're not really in New Zealand for the urban experience though, and we needed a van, which is where Jason comes in. That man has a serious generosity problem - after flying in from Australia to help us look at vans, he drove us to Tauranga (exactly one hundred thousand miles) to look at the van we're now in.
The van is older than us, but in great condition, although we did lose a headlight and one of the clips for the pop-up roof on the drive back, my first experience of driving in new zealand, in my first car. We lived, which is the main thing.

Our first night camping happened to coincide with the onset of the worst spring weather in living memory, featuring a storm the size of Australia. It was a tad nippy. Many lambs were drowned.

So, after an ill-advised outing to Orere point and back, a miserable beach on a very miserable day, we headed north to milford, where we sneakily camped for free for a few nights on a really gorgeous beach, and started to properly enjoy the country.

We just barely made it round the cliffs from Waiwera hot springs to Orewa to get groceries, and dodged traffic all the way back. We got stuck in the mud in Tawharanui, a spectacular wildlife reserve situated on a little spit of beack and dunes, and got rescued by a friendly park ranger on a digger.  

Yesterday, we woke up in Whangarei (fung-a-ray, crazy Maori pronunciation), and we saw our first kauris of the trip. Pictures really cannot prepare you for the sheer presence of a big kauri. They really loom at you through the forest, always standing up straight, imperiously. and up close... a living thing so indescribably huge and ancient and quiet...

I want to see more.

There are some great walks around here in whangarei, and I think we did them all yesterday. Whangarei falls, the A H Reed memorial Kauri park with canopy walkway (which did not harm a single tree in its construction. Despite being made of wood) and mount Parihaka, all in a few hours. My feet hurt. This is exactly what we came to New Zealand for.   

Us at Brunei Airport Very tired, 12 hour stop over

Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Blog

Okay then, we're one week in, and we've finally gotten round to setting up the blog. This post is mainly just to let concerned parents know that we're ok (hi Mum!), and to give anyone who wants to read an idea of how the year has started.
The flight
Was, as anticipated, a bit rubbish. This is an extract from my deranged scribblings, approaching my 35th hour without sleep:
  "It's about 3 hours until touchdown in Auckland, and I have run out of batteries, books, foreign films and fingernails. Penny has finally abandoned her green face/blue lips/ purple eyelids colour scheme which was totally clashing with her top, and is back to rocking pasty white & raynaud's. We have been wawshing when we can; but our clothes are saving our progress, and we have gradually become a multi-medium, pan-sensual airborne filth experience.
  Brunei was 12 hours in a booze-free duty-free. Perilously low on chemical sedatives, we took a tour.
  We now know that Bruneian Architecture consists primarily of 1. Put a dome on it. 2. Put some gold on the dome. If not happy with the result, return to step 1.
  The food, however, was a religious experience, if your chosen deity has more eyes than sense, and more tentacles than that. The dish was a refreshing fruit salad-based dessert, featuring juicy pineapple, crisp cucumber, tangy orange, earthy turnip and raw cuttlefish chunks, finished with crushed nuts and lashings of rich chocolate prawn gravy."