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'Kia Ora'
New Zealand - JUL 2002
'Look at my wedgey thingy'
Monday 1st July 2002 Auckland

Kia Ora, Kia Ora, I'll be your dog!!! Can any one remember that advert!!!

New Zeal! - as the airline advert plugs. I hope so. Australia was fantastic it took me quite a few months to get into it but by the end of our 7 month stint there I had developed quite an affection for the little place. But now I had arrived in the land I had always dreamed of visiting, the crystal lakes, the magnificent fijords, the snow capped peaks, the deserted beaches, the clean air, the lack of people, the horrible,grey, polluted, congested, wet and cold place that Auckland seems to be. Maybe a slightly unfair judgement after just 5 minutes in the city but enough to blow the wind out of my sails.

The airport shuttle bus was handy(ish) it is supposed to take you from the airport to your desired destination in the city center, but whatever backpackers I suggested to driver that I wished to stay at he said. 'No mate you want to go to ACB'. In the end I relented and he took us to ACB.

ACB - Auckland Central Backpackers. A huge new sterile backpackers in the heart of the city with no heart! Our room was like a prison with no windows. We had to get out of the place by the morning so we walked around town and booked a room at another backpackers for next day. Which actually happened to be the one I wanted the shuttle bus driver to take us to.

Did nothing much in the evening except mope around and piss Sarena off.

Wahey arrived in NZ at last!!

We caught the coach from the Airport into town and found the first BP that we fancied or should I say the one the bus driver kept on insisting we went to, must have got commission.

The ACB Backpackers place was huge and we were really tired so decided to get a double room which turned out to be a shoe box with no window but it did have a fridge, very useful for storing my moisturiser. We dumped our stuff and had a look around the City for a bit and went to check out another BP hoping it would be better than ours. We found a really old place around the corner which was cheaper and a lot homelier so we booked up for the next day then headed off for something to eat and an early night.

Tuesday 2nd July 2002 Auckland

We checked out of the horrible sterile backpackers and moved into a more cosy affair a block away then we returned to ACB and spoke to their Job office and travel office and got very little assistance in our questions about IT jobs and skiing options.We took a walk around town and headed to a motorbike garage to feed our fantasies on touring NZ on some big old Trail bikes. Got a great cheap lunch opposite the train station and then decided to get out of stinky old Auckland as soon as possible so booked a train ticket to Wellington for the morning.

We where both feeling pretty low. Auckland is a pretty nondescript city, or at least what we have seen of it so far, and I think all our excitement and expectations of New Zealand at been somewhat knocked out of us. A bit of travelling and a plan of action was needed to get us fired up again. So we have decided to travel over land to the ski fields on the south island as soon as possible so that we could get a feel for NZ and some inspiration in finding a spot to make a base and some wages for a few months.

I was determined to get my first fix of a television show called 'The Osbournes'. Which is all about the disfunctional family of Heavy Metal freak Ozzy Osbourne. Everything I have seen and read about it looked hilarious so no-one was going to deny me my first viewing. I spent the evening guarding the backpackers TV and by 9:30 was happily laid out in front of the mayhem of a drug abused father figure. It didn't disappoint.

The ACB had a travel agent and a job centre which was really handy so in the morning we went down to the job place to find out the best thing to do. We had come to a decision that we would be going skiing ASAP so the lady whom we spoke to told us to come and see her when we got back and she would find us a job easy. We both didn't really want to work and live in Auckland though as it was just another City like any other and didn't really hold any appeal for us so we thought we would have a quick looksy in Wellington and Christchurch on our way down to Queenstown in the South Island.

Toby booked a couple of train tickets for our journey the next day and then we went and checked into the new BP. It turned out to be cheaper and the room was a lot nicer, after that we went off to find a Motorbike place that sell and hire used bikes. We didn't find anything we liked in the shop so walked back the BP, in the rain... hadn't stopped since arriving in NZ. I then walked back into town to buy a coat as it was soooo cold and wet my 2 jumpers were just not ample, ended up spending £100 on a really cool coat that would be great for skiing as well

Later in the evening Toby finally got his chance to watch the Osbournes which turned out to be truly hilarious then I went down stairs to the bar for my free bar and ended up chatting to some Japanese people before going to bed.

Wednesday 3rd July 2002 Wellington

A nice early wet walk to the train station and boarded the 8:30 Tranz Scenic train to Wellington (the capital of NZ). It was a 10 hour journey and we where entertained by the scenery, the little girl in the seat behind us and Sarena ripping the bum of her jeans and my attempts to sew it up with a donated length of wool from the small girls grandma.

As soon as we got off the train I instantly had a great feeling about Wellington. We checked into the nearest backpackers which was quite a surprise. It was massive and used by the dreaded OZ/Kiwi Experience backpackers but for some strange reason I liked it. The central heating and the fact that the reception staff instantly booked a ferry and train ticket for travelling to Christchurch in the morning and affording us a small lie-in probably helped.

Auckland just seems like another big dirty city but Wellington has some class and homeliness about it. Yep I could stay here for a while. I wonder if they have many IT job vacancies available here. Got a great cheap dinner and then headed back to the bar at the backpackers for some sleeping fluids.

Got up early and set off to a really good cafe for some b'fast then went and caught the train which took 12hrs to get to Wellington - really good journey though. The scenery was the best I have ever ever seen in my little life, I knew it was going to be lovely but I was still gobsmacked at the sheer and wonderful beauty of the place.. At 7pm we arrived in Wellington and checked into the BP just opposite the station which turned out to be a really really cool place so we dumped our bags in the dorm room, again the nicest dorm we have seen specially as it was warm - something we hadn't had in a while. We walked around the town for a look at the place and to find a Mexican restaurant, we really liked the feel of the place and thought it would be a good idea to find a job here. It really reminded me of the posh parts of London and had a good buzz, full of restaurants and interesting places the only draw back is that it was the wettest part of NZ ..........

We found a Mexican but it ended up not having any Mexican food? so we headed off to another place down the road from it which turned out to be the best meal I had eaten in bloody ages and the cheapest! I caught a taxi back whilst Toby walked then went and checked out the bar in the BP which was huge, and had a big open fire and a great atmosphere.

Thursday 4th July 2002 Christchurch

Sneaked out of our dorm room early and boarded the ferry that took us from Wellington and across Cooks Strait to a small picturesque town of Picton. The last part of the ferry journey was amazing as it took through fijords similar to those in Norway. A bag of fish and chips later and we where on the Tranz Coastal train to Christchurch. I don't want to bore you with endlessly listing the beautiful scenery that we passed along for 5 hours...so I won't.

Once we where on the platform in Christchurch I gave a Kiwi friend, Ben, a ring. He came straight out to meet us, showed us around Christchurch bought us a beer and got us a very nice room at a backpackers. Cheers Ben. We arranged to meet up with him again after we have been skiing as he will show us around Christchurch which may help us decide where we would like to find jobs and settled down for a few months.

Again had to get up early to catch a coach which dropped us off at the ferry terminal for our 3 hr journey to Picton. The ferry ride was really lovely for a change and took us through the most amazing scenery again looking at snow covered mountains in the distance and plush green mountains in front of us, I was disappointed we didn't see any Whales though.

We all bundled off of the ferry in Picton and went and had a quick lunch before getting on another train taking us to Christchurch. The South island is definitely prettier than the North from what I have seen and if I thought the scenery was great the day before then this just topped it. The back of the train had an open carriage which had no windows so you could take photo's, well I didn't know where to start because all around we were seeing the greenest hills and huge majestic mountains then rivers and aqua blue lakes - wow. We arrived at the train station at 7pm then Toby rang Ben, a great bloke we met when on the transiberian train at the beginning of our journey and had kept in touch with. He very kindly came and picked us up and took us into town where he then found us a BP to dump our stuff, we ended up having a really nice room because someone else had cxl and it was like having a basic hotel room with TV as opposed to a freezing cold box room with nothing but a bed. The weather in Christchurch was the coldest I had felt since Mongolia and was really glad about my new snugly coat... We all went out for a drink to catch up with everything and to find out about Ben who was really excited about being a father soon!! He gave us a quick tour of the town and then left us to get some well earned sleep.

Friday 5th July 2002 Queenstown

Another early start and a brisk walk through chilly Christchurch's town center. I gave the patronising bus driver a few put downs and we started the next leg of our road journey south west and through the Southern Alps. Wow it is actually just how I envisaged New Zealand. Its perfect. Clear blue lakes with lush rolling green hills backed with jagged snow capped mountains. All that was need now was Frodo to scamper in front of my camera lens with a few nasty trolls in tow.

We arrived in Queenstown by 4. Ooh dear, all ski runs are open, its the school holidays, and the winter festival is due to start next week. This was the hardest time we have had trying to find a cheap place to stay. We had nearly given up and booked ourselves into a motel when a cancellation at a backpackers meant we finally found some cheap beds. The 'Lakeside' backpackers is in a beautiful spot, although every spot seems to be beautiful in Queenstown, but was a slightly run down and dowdy looking building. Inside though it was pretty cosy and all the people seemed very friendly. I had to stay in a different dorm to Sarena but not to worry we could sort out some different accommodation for tomorrow.

We went for a walk around the town. Its the usual resort town and the main one in New Zealand so as you can imagine its crammed with bars full of beautiful and drunk people hanging out of every doorway, window and alleyway...fantastic! We took in the atmosphere and went for a Chinese to ponder on our accommodation choices. We didn't have many so decided that we will stay at the Lakeside and move into the same dorm in the morning.

Again got up early and caught a coach to Queenstown which took about 8hrs with a few stops on the way, one being a little place over looking the most wonderful colbolt blue lake in front of a huge range of snow covered mountains - crystal clear blue sky and clean air.

We took a few pictures then got back on the coach and onto Queenstown which turned out to be a lovely picturesque place nestled into hills sweeping into the shore of the huge lake. We got off the coach and then walked around trying to find somewhere to stay for the night but everywhere seemed to be busy, it looked like we would have to stay in an expensive place or sleep out in the cold but we luckily went back to a BP which had been previously booked up only to find a couple of people had cancelled.

Fanbloodytastic I was freezing my arse off and was really pleased to find myself in a warm room that had a radiator !! We spent the evening having a look around the town which was just like being in a European skiing resort townie place with bags of atmosphere and people walking around with snowboards and ski's. It was like being back in England at Xmas time - you know that cosy late night shopping kind of feeling when it's really cold but the shops are all lit up and inviting etc. We found a Chinese restaurant which had a set meal special but turned out to be a bit crap because the portions were children's size between the 2 of us.

Went back to the Lakeside BP which incidentally was perched on a hill right next to the lake and the white mountains, what a wonderful view to wake up to every morning. I found that I was sharing my room with a really nice lady called Julia from Wales and we just clicked straight away.

Saturday 6th July 2002 Queenstown

My room was full of snorers (probably including me) Sarena could hear us from her room with her ear plugs in so she decided that she would stay in her 'Girl Only' dorm for the duration of our stay in Queenstown. I am very smelly! a tub load of washing improved that complaint and then we headed into town to sort out ski and clothes hire and lesson and transport for a few days on the slopes.

Sarena got some new jeans (again) and we then went for a Mexican meal and watched Men in Black II at the cinema (pretty disappointing). We stayed up pretty late at the backpackers and talked to some of the residence. Probably not a good idea as we had to be up pretty early in the morning.

Spent the day doing some washing and then sorted out a starter skiing package and ski clothes, oh it's getting exciting now but getting a bit worried just incase I make an arse of myself. Didn't really do much else apart from buy a fab new pair of jeans as mine had ripped leaving a nice hole in the botty area - not good but a great excuse to buy some more!! We then just had a quiet night watching TV then went to bed but stayed up till gone 2am talking to Julia and having a bloody good laugh it was just like being a child again and having friend over to stay the night and you end up getting in trouble cause you can't stop laughing......

Sunday 7th July 2002 Queenstown

On the piste today. Have to get up early but I didn't mind as I am very excited about skiing even though I haven't done any for 17 odd years and am not sure how much of it I will still remember. The bus ride to 'The Remarkable' snow fields was cool as it had snowed over night so they had to put chains on the tyres. Its been years since I have been in snow. Hampshire seems to of missed out on snow fall more and more over the past 10 years or so.

I signed us up for a beginners course as Sarena has never skied. She learned very quickly and I found that it didn't take too long for me to remember most of the techniques all though not much of the panache. By the afternoon I felt confident to hit the proper slopes already so I sneaked a few runs in during lunch. A nice big wipe-out into a snow drift instantly reminded me how to do parallel turns and after a few more goes I was bombing down the green run. I then rejoined Sarena in some more beginners lessons which helped in fine tuning my style and we got away from the slopes by 4.

I was feeling very achy by the evening, but managed to nuke myself a jacket potato and soon sloped off to bed. Sarena however stayed up till the early hours with a bottle of wine.

Well we had to get up early to catch the coach taking us into the remarkables which wasn't very easy seeing as I didn't have much sleep..... but I was all ready and waiting for our coach in all my ski gear and looking cool. The trip up the mountain was really scary because of the windy hairpin bends and the amount of snow on the road, we got higher and higher into the clouds so I just had to close my eyes and hold onto Toby until the coach dropped us off.

Wow real snow! not just a couple of cm we get in the UK but deep white snow everywhere the eye could see - we were in the mountains!! After getting our ski's and boots sorted out we met up with our instructor for our first lesson. It was a really good couple of hours and I was surprised at how good I turned out to be and how much harder it is in practice, it looked so easy though. view video (688 kb)

We had some lunch then spent the afternoon practising my new moves, Toby on the other hand had done skiing before when he was younger and got back into it straight away. At 4pm we caught the coach back and then went out for a Mexican meal then I stayed up late again talking with the lads and drunk a bottle of red.

Monday 8th July 2002 Queenstown

Day two of our skiing experience! Sarena, after a late night, was particularly miserable and just didn't seem to want to ski. I did my best to try and annoy her even more, which happens to be extremely easy.

We did a lesson in the morning, which I wish I hadn't done as we didn't progress off the learner slopes. After lunch however I convinced Sarena that we should go up to the top of the first green run and work our way down. She did very well, fell over a few times but didn't loose any confidence and by our 5th or 6th time down the slope she was bombing down (and scaring the hell out of the queue for the chair left). She still didn't feel very happy by the end of the day and gave up by 3 to catch the bus back into town.

Oh dear not feeling so good today because of a hangover and feeling really tired all my own fault. I was absolutely crap on the snow today and could not get to grips with any of it........ so ended up really frustrated with myself and angry especially because Toby was doing so well, he always seems to do everything very well and I get so competitive. Clare and Beau will know exactly what I'm talking about when I say that Toby seems to be good at everything he turns his hand to.

Anyway I went up the big slope in the afternoon with the big boys and didn't do that bad but had a bit of a nasty fall so I gave up early and we caught the 3 pm bus back to the BP and then went to bed.

Tuesday 9th July 2002 Queenstown

Out last day of skiing (booooo) but also our last day of having to get up early in the freezing cold (Yeeeeaaa). I am getting a bit bored of the lessons as all I want to do is go down all the big slopes now. Even so we did a lesson at 10:30 which finally took us up the first slope and down a green run. As it was our last day I boycotted lunch and kept going down the slope and trying out new ones until my legs gave in. The weather closed in and the afternoon was spent skiing through blizzards. It was pretty cool although made visibility pretty hard and it took all my concentration to differentiate the snow of the run to the snow of the 50 ft drops! My legs finally gave out by 3 at which point I met back up with Sarena who was looking pretty expert on the slopes by know and we caught the bus back into Queenstown.

Time for some Apres Ski...but not before a cheap slap up curry and I got my weekly dose of 'The Osbournes' on tele. This week Ozzy does a promo tour in New York, Kelly gets a tattoo and Jack goes on school camp! Then we met up with a Canadian from our backpackers, Adam, and went out for a few drinks. I was feeling very tired but after a handful of whiskey's and Tequila's I felt quite spritely.

Well it was the last day on the snow today so once again we were up really early, had our porridge and caught the bus up to the mountain, I'm glad we don't have to that journey again! Our lesson was at 10.30am and I really enjoyed our last one because the group was a lot smaller so he could spend individual time with us and give us some really good tips. Of course Toby was way ahead of us - surprise surprise and he was being taught how to ski using more advance methods. 2 hours later we were on our own so we hit the slope with a bit more confidence than before, I was actually quite good!

We split up in the afternoon to go off and do our own thing which I found easier cause I didn't have the pressure of Toby, ski master extraordenair watching me ...... Soon enough though it was nearly 3pm and time to catch the coach back down the mountain, I was really sad that we wouldn't be skiing again and really feel I did well in the amount of time we had but all good things come to an end. In the evening we went out for a curry which was at happy hour, $15 each which was only £5 and was really nice. The 'Osbournes' were on tonight so we watched that and then went out for a drink with Danny the Canadian lad who was staying at the BP with us. Well what started off as a quiet drink ended up a pub crawl with me drinking 6 tequila's which for some reason didn't affect me and just didn't get drunk!! the boys thought this was amazing as they were feeling pretty rough by now so at 3 am we wondered back home and went to bed.

Wednesday 10th July 2002 Queenstown

Sarena spent the day catching up on her diary. Whilst I tried to sort out our next plan of action. Buses/lifts back to Christchurch, Job Searches, CV updating. And things.

Spoke to a contact, via e-mail, Andy. Who may be able to help me get an IT related job. He works at a huge company called Computerland which accepts job applications via the Internet. You couldn't apply without a contact phone number so I bought a mobile phone (+ 64 21 2359999) and I spent the afternoon applying for jobs and the evening working on this web site.

Woke up late and then went into town to use the Internet then caught up with my diary which we were really behind. Whilst Toby went and e-mailed a contact about a job and then updated his CV - lot more opportunities for someone with his skills I just hope I find something as well.

Thursday 11th July 2002 Queenstown

Beautiful clear crisp morning, Managed to get through to some girls that are offering a lift in their campervan to Christchurch. Actually woke Linzi up so said I would call back later. I had to send my CV off to a new friend in, Andy, Wellington who works in IT and has offered to help get me a job as well as put us up for a few days in his house. Great! We haven't even met this guy. Getting the CV off my computer was a bit of a hassle as I had left all the important cables and bits back in Auckland. It took we 3 hours but finally I got it sent off.

We then spent the rest of the day doing touristy things. First we took a ride up the Gondola to the top of a mountain behind Queenstown. As expected the views where spectacular and the mountain offered the usual adrenaline activities, Bungy Jumping, Luge, Parascending and Wedges. We opted for the potato wedges and decided to save the adrenaline action for another time. At the bottom of the Gondola was a Bird & Wildlife park. This was our opportunity to see our first Kiwi. What strange old birds.

That evening we went out again with Adam and met up with three girls from Sydney. To conserve funds we smuggled cans of Red Bull into the bars and spent a fortune on Vodka. The girls where really nice and one of them was the exact look-a-like of a friend back home, Sarah Guard... Spooky.

Toby is doing well sorting out all his job stuff whilst I will have to find out where we will be living before I can start looking as his job will be more important than mine, I really fancy working with animals for a change but I just know I won't get much money for that.

We then went out for a walk and for a trip on the gondola which went up a huge mountain, not very good for people who don't like heights like me! shit my pants ... The views from the top though were absolutely breathtaking and worth the trip so we had some lunch and watched some people on the Luge run. I had never heard of this before and it was basically like a sledge thing that went down hill on wheels on a concrete track that wound around a steep hill, I thought it looked like great fun. We watched the parascenders float around us whilst we took some photo's then went back down and straight into a bird sanctuary. It was a really nice couple of hours being followed by a tame duck whom you could stroke and seeing our first Kiwi's that were just like big balls of fluff with large beaks. Toby had arranged to meet one of the girls who we were catching a lift back to Christchurch with, in the bar. At 10pm us and Adam wondered up to town. Ended meeting with lots of Aussie girls, one of them looked just like Sarah from England who is going out with Keith We drank lots of Redbull and Vodka and having fun - again!! went to bed at 2ish again.......

Friday 12th July 2002 Queenstown

Got into bed in the early hours and the next thing I knew Sarena was waking me up. It took a few minutes to rise from bed but when I did I found Sarena selfishly munching on a bowl of porridge without making me any. I'm in a bad mood for the whole day now!

Did some more diary work then Sarena and I went to play a round of Golf. Indoors mini Golf that is. It was very childish but great fun. Sarena beat me, thank god, I would get a very hard time if I had won.

Spent the rest of the evening at the backpackers as we have to leave at 7 in the morning and shouldn't really spend the evening in the bars again. A bit of a shame as its the first day of Queenstowns winter festival so I should imagine that the town is going mad.

I got up early cause the girls who had descended in my room the night before woke up at 7am and weren't ready until 9am - what they were doing is anyone's guess but it consisted of doors banging and the light going on and off etc. I have to say it takes me no time at all to get myself ready in the morning now so if I can do it then they should bloody well learn.

I thought at 10am I should go and wake Toby as I was now bored sitting on my own and he was still fast asleep, bad move though as it made him in a bad mood all day. After he had woken up a little we went and had a game of mini golf which was really good fun and I have to mention for the record that I BLOODY WELL WON !!!!!!! yes I actually beat Toby at something (only just) and was very very happy, mind you if I hadn't double checked adding up the points Toby would have got away with saying he had won - cheater.

We then just dossed around the town for a couple of hours and went on the Internet and then spent a quiet evening in watching TV and packing as we had an early start in the morning.

Saturday 13th July 2002 Christchurch

Chilly. I had to give the ski jacket back that I hired and am too stubborn to buy a coat just for a few months of cold weather. We met up with the two girls, Libby and Linzi, who where giving us a lift back to Christchurch in their campervan, 'Moony the magic bus'. Also picked up a guy called Ben. Sarena and I stayed in the back and slept on the bed for most of the journey. Very comfortable. The weather was pretty nasty, Wet and foggy, but we got to Christchurch by 2 pm after dropping Ben off at the airport. We said goodbye to Libby and Linzi who had tickets to the All Blacks vs Australia Rugby match and trundled off through town. Sarena then realised that she had left her glasses in Moony, So gave them a ring but as we walked around the corner we passed straight in front of Moony parked outside of the Post Office... Bonus!

It was a little tricky to find a room at a backpacker as we fancied our own space, but everywhere was booked out with people going to the Rugby game so we settled with a dorm room again. Sarena went 'Op Shopping' (Charity shops) whilst I hunted for Job and housing agencies.

In the evening we popped into the Grumpy Mole, which was recommended to us by Libby and Linzi as they where going there after the game. It was packed. We managed to take in 10 minutes of the second half, then Sarena realised she had lost some money from her back pocket so we retreated to the backpackers.

Met the girls at the BP station at 7am and then waited fo another lad called Ben who was also catching a lift. Toby and I just fell asleep on the bed in the back straight away and didn't wake up until 9ish when we had to get some petrol then i dozed off again for most of the journey. It must have taken about 7hrs in the end to get to Christchurch with only a couple of stops on the way so after they had dropped Ben off at the Airport they then dropped us off in the centre of town.

It was then time for us to say goodbye and made tentative arrangements to meet up in a pub that evening after they had gone to the Rugby match. They were only 21 and were really fun girls, I wish we could have met up with them before as I think we could have had a couple of good evenings with them!! We said goodbye then realised 10mins later that I had left my glasses in the van and so phoned them on the mobile only to realise that I was stood right next to the van and having a conversation with her for ages to find out where they were...... funny at the time

Anyway we found the backpackers that we stayed in last time and sorted our stuff out and then phoned up Ben to say we were back. I then went out around the OP shops ( second hand shops) to find some boots, low and behold found a new pair of high sexy boots for only $24 - £8 which is a bloody bargain! so I thought I would wear them out for the evening down the pub, only problem was I had forgotten how to walk in high heels. The pub was packed that evening and we only stayed for one drink before heading back with me tootling along behind in my silly high heels - well it has been 10months since wearing the buggers.

Sunday 14th July 2002 Christchurch

Slept like a baby! We just relaxed in the morning and moved into a double room. Ben phoned us at lunch time having just woken up from a night out on the booze watching the Rugby and said he would come over in a few hours and takes us for a Sunday drive around Christchurch.

He came over at about 2 and we finally met his girlfriend, Rach, who is 7 months pregnant or very fat as Ben claims! We first went back to there house in Avonhead for a great lunch. Then we all went for a leisurely drive. Unfortunately the weather was pretty shitty so we didn't get a good look at Christchurch. I was quite surprised at how big it was though and very grateful to Ben and Rach for taking time out to show us around.

Spent the evening in our glorious double room with the TV on.

Didn't have much sleep due to sleeping in a dorm with loads of other blokes who snored and farted all night........ mooched around in the morning then waited for Ben to come over and meet us after lunch. Ben and his lovely wife, Rachel who is now 7 months pregnant took us on a little tour around Christchurch bless em, and we had a lovely afternoon. They took us over their house first and Rachel did us an afternoon tea with sandwiches and cake then we went for a drive so we could see some of the surrounding area and get an idea of where we could live. We said goodbye later in the evening and had an early night, we now had a double room to ourselves with a TV - luxury!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday 15th July 2002 Picton

Left our bags at the Backpackers and took a walk around Christchurch city centre. I was amazed at how quiet it was, but the weather was pretty miserable. Christchurch is definitely very English like (as they advertise) but it doesn't give me the same feel as Wellington did.

We watched a Maori film in the afternoon, 'Once were warriors', it was pretty vicious. Then we caught the coach we had picked pack to Picton. It took over 5 hours but where entertain with music video's and 'The Nutty Professor II' so the journey wasn't too bad. I had pre-booked a room in Picton which turned out to be a smart move as the Ferry service to the North Island hadn't be operating so every where was full up. We stayed at 'The Villa' which is a great little backpackers with loads of character and a spa.

Tiger the residential cat decided to come and keep us company in the morning....

Handed our bags in behind the reception so we could have a walk around the town for the day and sort out some stuff. I went to some more OP shops without success then went and had a look at the current rental costs on property in the area. Still wasn't that madeup yet on the area, so was open minded about going Wellington where we were thinking to settle. At 4.30pm we went and caught the coach that took us to Picton - where we were going to catch the ferry the next day to the North Island. We arrived about 10ish and found ourselves in a wonderful backpackers, it was like a lovely warm friendly house, best bit was the double room we had - just lovely.

The place was was sooooo nice and even had a hot tub in the garden which we were to tired to go in so just had a couple of drinks and went to bed.

Tuesday 16th July 2002 Wellington

The Ferries where running as normal today and as an extra bonus we had been upgraded to 'The Lynx' which is a catamaran that does the crossing 45 minutes faster than the standard ferry. We got into Wellington by 4pm and I got in contact with a friend of a friends friend, Andy and Charlie, who not even knowing us have invited us to stay at their house until we sort out Jobs and accommodation. VERY VERY KIND. Andy is also into IT and had already distributed my CV around.

Andy guided us to the nearest train station and picked us up straight away. We were introduced to Charlie and the cats, made a lovely pasta dinner and settled down to watch 'The Osbournes'...This week some snooty English neighbours started a fight with the Osbournes by playing echo music till the early hours of the morning.

Woke up and had a free b'fast which was fab then left our bags and had a walk around the little town - such a pretty pretty place, I would like to stay around this area as it would be nice to stay and work somewhere that was so different from the UK.

The Towns/Cities in NZ are just what you would expect anywhere which is defeating the object of working in another country for me.......... I fancy working more in the countryside of NZ where you can see the mountains and greenery but also need to find Toby an IT job?

We caught the Lynx ferry at 1.30pm and were back in Wellington at 4pm where Toby then rang a friend of a friend, Andy, whom we hadn't' ever met before but had invited s to stay with him and his wife, Rachel. Can't believe how kind people are in OZ and NZ, it's just unheard of in England to turn up on someone's doorstep and say 'Hi, I met your mate Jo Blogs the other week and he said we could come and stay with you when in this neck of the woods - so here we are!' We went and caught a train and Andy came and picked us up from the station then they both fed and watered us and made us feel very much at home for the evening. Osbornes tonight

Wednesday 17th July 2002 Wellington

Intended to get into Wellington centre today, but by the time I had applied to 20 jobs via the Internet and got some replies back straight away. We looked at the awful weather and decided to take a walk around the neighbourhood in Petone rather than catch a train into Welly. We ended up at the supermarket and got some food to make a Chilli.

That evening we decided to go out for an Indian to celebrate Andy's New job that he had started today. My Madras was pretty hot but pretty good. Delhi Belly tomorrow.

I caught up with some diary then checked out the job situation on the net which is a bit difficult at the mo until Toby finds what he wants then we know what area we will be staying in. The weather is bloody awful so decided just to have a walk to the supermarket and get some food for a Chilli then got a taxi back.

We all went out for a curry in the evening which was really nice, they are such a sweet couple and I can't believe they just let us drop in and stay with them!

Thursday 18th July 2002 Wellington

Yep Delhi Belly all right. I got some more phone calls regarding jobs in the morning and arranged to meet some agencies in Wellington. Charlie is an A&E nurse and wasn't starting her shift until 3 so she gave us a lift into Wellington. Our first task was to open a bank account. Sarena was being particularly anti-distablishment and was giving the bank clerk hell. 'I suppose will get charged for farting in a bucket too'!!!

After releasing the poor bank clerk from the hellish world of Sarena we went looking for some very cheap Interview clothes for me, which proved decidedly easy and then I went for my Interview. I don't think it went as well as I hoped as Its amazing how much technical jargon you can forget after 10 months out of the industry. I was getting quite stressed out about it all. In fact I have been pretty stressed for the last month or so and very preoccupied with finding an IT job. On the train back I apologised to Sarena for my attitude and decided that an IT job wasn't that important, we should just find a really nice place to live for a while and base our jobs around that.

Sarena cooked the Chilli that night whilst we spent the evening updating our diaries.

Ha ha Tobes got a bad belly .....

Charlie dropped us off in Wellington as Toby had an interview with an Agency at 3pm so first thing was to get ourselves a bank account where we could put our bankers cheques at last. The first bank 'ASB' were absolute tosh and needed 3months worth of bank statements just to open a basic savings account, we didn't want an overdraft or a cheque book etc just somewhere to put our wages!! and we didn't have 3months worth of statements on us anyway............GOD I HATE BANKS. ...............

So we went to the 'National Savings Bank' which was owned by 'Lloyds' and had the same logo etc, must be sort of OK I thought...... WANKERS

Charge us for absolutely everything, so I got all bloody uptight and to hell with banks, the leaching vampires bla bla. Then started on about how we all have to live in the system and how impossible it is to live in todays society without a bank account and how everyone's details are on computers for all to see - Yep I've seen the Sandra Bullock film 'The Net'. So after raving on for a bit and stating that we couldn't fart in a bucket without being charged Toby dragged us out of the bank and away from the poor bank teller 'Glenn'. I had now got onto the topic of politicians and taxation, and was stating that they all sleep with loose women and shag dogs with all the money they make....... he actually agreed with me on that one so couldn't be that bad a bloke.

We walked around for a bit and found Toby some work clothes then he went off for his interview whilst I had a look around.

He seemed a bit despondent when he came out of the interview and was miffed all the way back on the train. I kept telling him it wasn't important and that he shouldn't worry, he will find something ..... He said sorry when we got off the train and said he will chill out a bit more from now on. I cooked a huge chilli in the evening for Andy,Toby and myself then waited for Charlie to finish her night shift at the hospital. I spent the evening playing with Molly the cat who loved plastic bags!

Friday 19th July 2002 Wellington

Spent the day searching for more jobs on the Internet and being generally lazy. I took full advantage of Andy and Charlie's generosity and spent a good deal of time spread out on their couch.

Sarena stressed most of the afternoon as she hadn't seen one of the cats in the house. I said that they where cats and don't stay in doors all day like us but she was certain Molly had been run over or something. She even went out looking for her and came back with a story that she thinks one of the neighbours may of catnapped molly...yeah OK!!! It wasn't long though and Molly strutted back into the house.

I have got a potential job interview in a place called Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. It sounds like a really good job and a great place to live so we have decided to hire a car and go up north to take a look. We can also collect all of our belongings up which we have seemed to of scattered around New Zealand already.

Stayed in for the whole day and just chilled out because the weather was really crappy. In the evening we went out and got a takeout Chinese for dinner, didn't realise it was going to be such big portions though! had enough to keep us going for the next day. We went out looking for Molly the cat as she had disappeared for ages and it just wasn't like her. Andy was out drinking with friends and Charlie was working until 11pm. I thought Molly had been hit by a car or something else had happened to her, but the little bugger just turned up as soon as we got back indoors. Toby sorted out hiring a car for a few days as we had decided to go up to Auckland and Te Puke to collect our bag from the Backpackers and to go visit Van's parents and sister. We had sent some of our stuff from Oz over to Clarity (Van's sister) so that we didn't have to carry it all over with us. Bless her heart had kept in under her desk all this time so we had to go and collect it.

Saturday 20th July 2002 Cambridge

Apparently a car crash had blocked the road so our hire car was late in arriving, a pain as we had a lot of driving to do today. We didn't leave Andy and Charlie's house until 11 and had intended to drive to Auckland to pick up one of our bags and then onto Tauranga where I hope to get an Interview for a software job.

We drove straight up the center of the North Island along the Desert Road, the views where fantastic as we drove through the 'Tongariro National Park' with all the snow covered volcanoes.

We didn't even make Auckland before we felt knackered so we pulled up into a bit of a dead end town, Cambridge, and stayed in a motel for the night.

The car was delivered late so by the time we had all the paper work sorted out it was about 11am. We bundled in the car and headed straight to Auckland which took us through the most stunning scenery and we saw the most wonderful mountains and volcano's. The only thing that let the country down was was the the towns and City's they just seems to be industrial kind of buildings and really not very attractive. Not all places are like this as some of the villages are pretty but you have to go out of your way to find them.

We stopped off in Cambridge for the evening in a Motel which was nice, we had a TV in the room and a bathroom - wonderful. We stayed up and watched a couple of films then conked out.

Sunday 21st July 2002 LOC

We got into Auckland by 11 and was out by 11:15 with our bag - good job it was a Sunday I reckon. Anyway we drove onto Tauranga. Initially I had mixed feelings about the place there are some nice areas but it is also the busiest port in New Zealand so there is a lot of ugly industrial buildings to. nevertheless everything we need is here and its a great place to be based so that we can visit places at the weekends. Lets hope I get this Software Job...Just the interview would be a start though.

Didn't get a call from the agency regarding an Interview so we looked into Houses to rent and booked into a backpackers that was full but had an empty motel room that was very smart.

Left at about 9ish and headed into Auckland to pick up our bag from the Backpackers which we did really quickly then headed straight off to Tauranga. The drive took about 3hrs and when we arrived we parked up and went for a walk . The place seemed nice but quite built -up on the outskirts but when we waked in the mall part down to the sea front we seemed to like it a bit more. It is a beachy kind of place but also a working docks area and has as a population of about 50.000 people so isn't really huge. We had some lunch in a little cafe which wasn't so hot then went and bought some papers for Rental houses

We then went and found a Backpackers in the area but they were full, they had a motel room which we took. We went and did some food shopping then cooked dinner in our lovely room before hitting the hay.

Monday 22nd July 2002 LOC

We finally get all our stuff back together today! Spent the morning visiting a few Estate Agents in the area to get an idea of fully furnished homes to rent. Then we headed east to the Kiwi capital of the world 'Te Puke' to pick up some parcels from Clarity. We had sent her some of our stuff from Australia to save us carrying it around and she had been looking after it for us by keeping it under her work desk. This was very kind of her considering that we have never met her and got her phone number from her brother, Van, in Alice Springs. After we had met up with Clarity we then went to visit her Mum and Dad down by the beach. I got quite a shock when I met Clarity and Van's dad as he is the spit of Van but really deaf so he shouts when he talks. I have never met someone who's son is so alike.

We where treated to Tea and biscuits and the Lyall showed us is work shop full of vintage motorcycle parts. It instantly reminded me if my grandpa's workshop with bits of bike and the smell of oil everywhere.

We left Te Puke and decided to go to Rotorua for a look around whilst I wait for news of an Interview in Tauranga. We didn't get there until quite late but we knew when we got there as the smell of rotten eggs from the volcanic sulphur pools where everywhere. It was poring with rain so we booked into a motel that had its own spa and sulphur pool, then went out for a curry and returned with a bottle of wine to the spa.

Packed up our bags then headed off to Te Puke so that we could collect our bags from Clarity. It took us about 30mins to get the town which again was like all the others but we stopped off and got some flowers to say thanks then found her place of work. We met her in reception and she was really friendly just like her brother Van, we stayed for a little while and had a good chat about houses etc. Clarity also introduced us to her friend, Jackie who originally came from Manchester, she gave us her Tel number in case she heard of any jobs or accommodation for us, which was kind. We stuffed our boxes into the car and said our goodbyes. Clarity said we should stay in touch and that we were welcome any time to come and stay with her if we needed a bed - really kind bless her.

We then went on to visit Van's parents, Pat and Lyall who lived right right next to a beach, they had the sea one side and an estuary in their back garden. They turned out to be a wonderful and warm couple, we chatted about absolutely everything then Lyall went and showed Toby his vintage bikes he is currently restoring whilst Pat did some Rieki on my back (healing), it had been quite bad the last couple of day. A few hours later we said our goodbyes, had some hugs then set off for Rotorua for a look around. Now this place stank! quite literally as it is full of thermal springs so when we first drove into the area we were taken aback by the smell. The Lonely Planet book said about the bad smell but I didn't realise it would be this bad!

We found ourselves a lovely little Motel that also had a hot spa in the garden - bonus. We went out for a curry and then back to the Motel to change into our swim wear for a dip in the spa.

Tuesday 23rd July 2002 Katikati

Sarena didn't sleep very well due to the sulphur smell, so obviously my sleep had to suffer too. 'Toby it smells' - so we won't be living here then. We soon packed up and headed back towards Tauranga, Katikati to be precise. Sarena went to a few estate agents and came back with a list of houses in the area so we went for a drive.

We are after a full furnished house which seems to be a bit tricky but we had 3 to look at. The best one was a house at Tanners Point, it was on the edge of a cliff with great views of the sea, had 3 bedrooms and 50's decor. We went back to the Estate Agents only to find that the owner had rented it out privately last week. Bugger! in fact all the ones we looked at had tenants, probably not such a bad thing as we should probably be looking for somewhere a little closer to Tauranga.

We booked into another Motel for the night, the are more expensive than backpackers but its Tuesday night and essential that I have a TV so that I can watch 'The Osbournes'. This week Ozzy is in training for his tour and gets to rehearsals to find that Sharon has included a bubble blowing machine In the stage set. Not the done thing for the prince of darkness!

I didn't sleep well because it was lying in a pool of bad farts all night, the smell kept waking me up. I could see this was going to a problem if we ended up living here! We checked out our room in the morning then headed out to Katikati for a look around the area and to look for some houses. This was a small town which had a lovely feel about the place, it was a bit far away from anywhere but we thought it was worth a shot. Toby stayed in the car whilst I went around the Estate Agents to ask about rentals. I ended up talking to a lovely lady called Meri who was very helpful and gave me a couple of addresses to check out, she couldn't get hold of the landlord to find out if the property's were free or not but we thought we should have a look anyway. The first house was great but had tenants living already so we went and had a look at another really pretty place which again had tenants, but were supposed to move out in the next couple of weeks. We didn't want to get our hopes up about any of the places but when I saw the last house it was hard not to! A wonderful looking property that was built on a hill over looking the sea, the house looked like a bungalow as you approached it but then when you walked to the rear of the house it turned into a huge 2 storey place. It had a massive lounge with panoramic windows so that you could view the sea from all angles. The decor was terrible though and looked like it hadn't been touched since the 50's which was a bit nasty, but bearable. We went back to talk to Meri, who had now found out the property had been spoken for - oh well!

We went and found ourselves a Motel for the night as they didn't have a backpackers, dropped off our bags then went and got a takeaway before settling down to watch 'The Osbournes' We then had a spa next door before going to bed.

Wednesday 24th July 2002 Tauranga

Got the phone call I was waiting for. Great! an interview for a software developers role in Tauranga. We checked out of the motel and drove back into Tauranga. I was actually feeling quite nervous as my last interview didn't go so well as I had trouble remembering things after 10 months on the road. We got some lunch then I changed into my cheapy trousers and shoes and went to the Interview... It went really well - I think. The company seemed really good, just a small business and pretty laid back. They have some projects that are right up my street so I hope that I will be able to work with them. Unfortunately they said that they won't be able to make a decision for two week . oooh the wait, unbearable.

Sarena booked us into a backpackers whilst I was in the Interview, so we went to look for some houses to rent and then put our bags in the room. Saw Blade II in the evening, it was pretty good, if only for the gore.

Drove back into Tauranga so that Toby could go for his interview he now had set up for him by the agency. He was very nervous and quiet so we had a lazy lunch and then I left him to go and get changed into his interview clothes. I wished him luck then went off to have a walk around the area. I went and sat down on the port to read my book and to soak up some of the sunshine. We met back up a couple of hours later whilst I was walking around the town, he seemed very happy and optimistic which was a relief. I had booked us into a backpackers for the evening so we went and collected the hire car and checked ourselves into the double room which, I have to say was pretty horrible. We went and watched 'Blade' at the cinema which I really really enjoyed because of the amount of blood and nasty flesh ripping scenes!

Thursday 25th July 2002 Wellington

Left Tauranga pretty early and made it to Lake Taupo for lunch, or an all day breakfast. Just as we left the town we stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. Neil was just travelling back from Auckland as he is trying to get a job on a cruise ship over to Columbia so that he can see his girlfriend. He was really cool and made the journey to Wellington pretty entertaining. It took my mind of the state of my stomach as Sarena bombed round the mad mountain corners at least. We dropped Neil off at a town called Wanganui, then 2 hours later we arrived back at Andy and Charlie's house in Wellington.

Big journey back to Wellington today, so got up early and were on the road heading for our first stop of the day, Lake Taupo. We stopped off and had a cooked b'fast in a little cafe noting that the weather was an awful lot colder than in Tauranga. After we had our morning fill we set off again, only now it had started to rain so when I saw a young man hitching on the side of the road I suggested we picked him up. He turned out to be a lovely young man called Neil who was looking for a job on the liners down in Auckland so that he could get over to his girlfriend in Columbia. He told us of his 2 day stay at a Buddhist monastery near Wellington which sounded fantastic. So we made a note of the place so that we could maybe give it a go in the future. We finally got back to Charlie's and Andy's in the evening to cadge a room off them again.

Friday 26th July 2002 Wellington

Spent the day car hunting, We got to see loads of them, Most where in really bad condition. I am quite keen to get a diesel as they are loads cheaper to run over here and if its Diesel I thought we should try and get a 4wd just in case we want to spin it round on the beach. The most common being sold where older model Mitsubishi Pajero's and Toyota Hilux Surfs. The surfs all seemed to be bashed around by boy racers though and pretty expensive. The Pajero's where all pretty tidy but also pretty old. decision's, decision's. Its all very tiring. in fact by the end of the day hunting I was ready to drop.

We have decided to start looking for a car now as we have to give back the hire car very soon and we can't look for a job and a house without wheels. Toby suggested on getting a 4wheel drive as the diesel over here is an awful lot cheaper than anything else. So it makes sense. We spent all day looking at big ole trucks which weren't much cop apart the very first one which was a Pajero 1988 and was in really good nic. I thought it was a good buy and could probably get the owner. a lovely bloke called Garth to drop the price. We were both knackered by the end of the day so had a quiet evening and early night. Charlie had gone away for the weekend to visit her parents so we said our goodbyes to her and then Andy came back late in the evening all stressed out and tired, he had to catch a plane early in the morning.

Saturday 27th July 2002 Wellington

Car hunting again today, We have decided that the very first car that we saw was in the best condition so arranged to take it for a drive. Garth and Sue the owners and Garth took us on a bit of a site-seeing tour. The Pajero drove really well for its age. It looked like this will be the car for us, but I had decided to delay the decision until after we had been to a 'No Reserve' car auction down the road... just for a look...

...famous last words. All the cars where in mint condition so where sure that the 4wd diesels would go for far to much money but we waited around until the bidding started just out of interest. There where a couple of cars we where interested in but hadn't bothered to check them out properly as we didn't intend to bid for anything. Crikey these cars are going cheap. It wasn't long before one of the cars we liked came up for auction, a Isuzu Mu 2.8 diesel Turbo 4wd. All blacked out with chrome, it looked really smart, even if it seemed a bit of a Rap mobile. Anyway, bidding started at $8,000 but the price dropped to $5,000 before someone bided for it. ME in fact I couldn't believe the price drop as I have seen this model for sale between $10,000 and $15,000, so after a nod from Sarena I stuck my hand in the air. This then set someone else off and the battle began. In the end I bided up until $6,100 (£1,800) still a great price but not really in our budget. I was certain that someone would bid higher, but no the hammer fell and this car that we hardly looked at was ours. Bugger. I do hope that its good.

We where both a bit shell shocked and flustered at what we had just done so I paid the deposit straight away and we left the auction. We had to find the rest of the money by Monday or risk being sued e.t.c e.t.c.

Spent the rest of the day in shock and left a message for Garth saying we wouldn't be buying his car. That evening I started writing a computer program for a test I was given from my Interview a few days ago in Tauranga.

We went and gave the first car we saw, the Pajero a drive out so that we could decide. Garth took us out up into the hills so that we could have good feel for the car which turned out to be really very good. We went back to Garths house where he and his lovely wife gave us coffee and we had a lovely hour talking about this and that. I think we had both decided on getting the car but thought we should stop off at a car auction we had seen in the paper just out of interest

So in we went, registered at reception and then went for a look around at some really very nice vehicles. We saw a lovely 92 Pajero which was in fantastic condition but probably way out of our price range so carried on looking around at some more. Toby pointed out a nice looking little thing called a Isuzi MU which was all black and chrome with blacked out windows. I didn't spend any time looking at the car and didn't bother looking inside but moved onto looking around the rest of them. Everyone was taking out the cars for test drives etc but we just went and sat down and waited for the start of the auction. It was thrilling to listen to and watch, and the cars were being sold at ridiculous prices! The Pajero was lot 41 and we were only up to lot 10, so it was going to a very long morning but before we knew it the Isuzu was up for auction - starting price was $8000 and soon dropped down to $5000 when no interest was shown. We couldn't believe it! so before we could think Toby had stuck his hand in the air and we were in the bidding game. We then had another bidder against us but we carried on for some strange reason not thinking for one minute we would end up with it. Crikey we didn't even know if we wanted it! but then next minute the hammer went down and the van was ours.......

We actually didn't say anything to each other for a good 5mins but just sat with our mouths open and felt very sick - what on earth had we done?

The van was ours for $6000 which was about £1800 - not bad! Toby sorted out the paper work and we were told to pick it up on Monday. We waked out of the auctions and sat in the car still without saying anything to each other... We went back to the house and spent the afternoon very quiet and still in shock.

Sunday 28th July 2002 Wellington

Finished off doing my VB test from the job interview I had in Tauranga, I really enjoyed doing it (sad-do), but it took me a while to remember how to code from just 10 months on the road. We didn't do much else in the day.

I went for a drive around the coats to a small town called Eastbourne. It would be a really cool place to live, but very expensive. Never mind!

Charlie returned home in the evening, but then had to go to work in A&E at the hospital at 11 for a night shift. Crikey she will be knackered tomorrow.

Toby spent the day finishing his computer programme he had to write whilst I pottered around the town and did a bit of shopping, bought some flowers and chocolates to say thanks to Charlie and Andy for being so damned nice to us.

Charlie came back in the afternoon after a long drive back then had to get ready to go to work at 11pm for her night shift at the hospital - bless her socks she must be tired

Monday 29th July 2002 Wellington

Have to pick the car up from the Auctions today. Actually quite nervous as we don't have a clue what its like. Popped into the bank first to sort out some cash for the wagon and then when to pick it up.

Its a pretty smart looking machine, and drives really nicely even if it is an automatic. The Auctioneers are very organised and the car was all ready to drive away with new number plates, 6 months registration, 6 months WOF (MOT) , 1000km free diesel tax and 4 days free insurance.

Spent the rest of the day looking for excuses to drive the Isuzu. I am dying to put it into 4wd and take it off the road but Sarena says that we can't get it dirty - WOT!!! Diesel is really cheap in NZ - about 20 pence per litre. Good job too as I'm sure the 2.8 turbo engine will guzzle it a bit.

Sarena and I went out for some food in the evening and left the house to Charlie and Andy who hadn't seen each other all weekend. We drove to Wellington city centre and got some cheap food at a cafe. Then went to an Irish bar to find lots of locals (14) gathered round some tables playing traditional Irish music. It was pretty cool.

Well we were both excited about having to pick up our Black Beauty from the Auctions after first getting the cash from the bank - we now had our cash point cards so had to get PIN numbers.

I unfortunately asked how much the Pajero was sold for - It went for only a little bit more than what we paid for the Isuzu so we maybe should have waited..... but when we say our little number we were both happy with it. They stuck the number plates on and we were covered for insurance for 4 days so could drive it straight out. Toby let me drive first and I was pleased how well it drove which was bloody lucky.

Drove around the town for the rest of the day playing in our new hot wheels then went out into Wellington for the evening for some food then went to an Irish pub for a few drinks. The pub had some live Irish music which I love. 14 people all playing an assortment of instruments kept us entertained for a couple of hours before we headed back home.

Tuesday 30th July 2002 Wairoa

Got up nice and early to say goodbye to Andy who was just off to work and goodbye to Charlie who was just returning from work. We thanked them for being so kind to us and the packed up our bags in our new car, very exciting, to head back up to Tauranga as we have decided to stay up there for a while just in case this IT job comes up. Hopefully I will do some fruit farm work in the meantime.

We took a different route back up to Tauranga, along the East side of the North Island this time. It was very bendy and hilly and we only made it to a small town called Wairoa after stopping in Hastings for lunch. We found a deserted camp site and checked into one of there cabins for the night. Driving the new car was fun but we where both quite stressed by the end of the day and kept snapping at each other. I think we just need a place of our own and some stability for a while... fingers crossed for the Tauranga job.

We got up early and said our goodbyes to Charlie who got back home at 7am after another hefty night at work and to Andy who was off to work for the day. We thanked them and wished them all the best then packed up our stuff and set off on the road.

Had a phone call from Meri who worked at the Estate Agents in Katikati who said she might have a fully furnished property come up next week if we were still interested. We took the route on the East side of the Island making our way back to Tauranga as this is where I think we will settle regardless if Toby gets the Job. The scenery was beautiful but the never ending winding up and down the mountains were really tiring so we decided to stop off in Hastings for some lunch then on to Wairoa to find a place to sleep for the night. We found a little cabin in a campsite to stay for the night, 7hrs on the road today so were pleased it had a TV room so that we could watch 'The Osbournes' and chill wahey!

Wednesday 31st July 2002 Katikati

More driving around twisty turny roads. It took an hour to get to the town of Gisborne but the journey was pleasantly broken up by a call on our mobile from Clare and Beau. Clare had been trying for a while but I missed of the last 9 of the number on the website. duh!

We filled up with fuel at Gisborne and then just out of town we picked up another hitchhiker. Ronald is a Maori lad who travels up and down the North island doing forestry jobs. Is was really nice albeit a bit smelly and we gave him a lift all the way passed Tauranga to Katikati. At Katikati we popped into see a really nice lady at an Estate Agents who has been looking out for places for us to rent. She had two properties. One which is not vacated yet and the other is a huge 3 bedroom flat above the owner, a very old lady called Freda, from Sweden we think. The flat was huge and cheap but unfourtunatley not furnished. The other problem is that it is over 60 km from Tauranga which would make travelling a pain if It get this job.

We drove back to Tauranga and checked into a backpackers that was full so took one of their posher motels rooms for a couple of nights.

Shminky Clare Bear called on the mobile!! could only get a couple of sentences out though before the mobile lost reception due to the surrounding hills. Really good to hear her little voice and will ring her as soon as she emails me her home phone number.

We stopped off to pick up another hitcher called Ronald who was good bloke, quite quiet but decent enough. He was really interested in hearing about the UK and asked loads of questions - he had never even been to Wellington. He was wanting to get back to Auckland, so after a lunch stop we drove onto Katikati where we were to meet Meri the lovely Estate Agent, we also dropped Ronald off so he could get a forwarding ride. Meri gave us a couple of address to go and have a look at, the first one we had already seen through another agent. The other was a beautiful fully contained flat in a large house owned by a sweet lady called Freda. She lived below so that was something we had to take into consideration and the fact it wasn't furnished. It was a huge place and only costing $80 per week including power! that is about £27 a week....... but Katikati is quite far away from Tauranga so would cost to travel everyday and to buy furniture bla bla - what are we going to do?

We carried on to Tauranga in the evening and went and checked into the Motel we stayed in before, we had been on the road for 8hrs and were very tired.

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