lördag, november 18, 2006

English summary!

By popular demand, here is a brief summary in English of our journey so far - hope you can work out which pictures correspond to which part of the trip!

We left Sweden on the 12 of October for a few days in London with our friends Lotta and Joe and Johan. Highlights were the Tate Modern (although we didn't manage to go on the slides!), Johan dj:ing at the Swedish club Tack!Tack!Tack!, Regent's canal, Camden market and Greenwich. We were pretty lucky with the weather too.

The flight from Heathrow via L.A. to Auckland was pretty good - private film screens and views over Iceland, Greenland and Los Angeles!

We spent the first few days in Auckland, just recognizing all the old brand names, eating fish'n'chips and visiting Sky tower, Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic encounter and underwater world (the penguins were the best), trendy K Road and Ponsonby, the pretty parks and the Polynesian market in Otahuhu.

Then we left for the Coromandel peninsula in our very own little red 1988 Mazda! We've both coped pretty well with driving on the left-hand side of the road... The weather wasn't great but the beaches and cliffs were still very pretty and Tobias nearly burned his feet in the springs at Hot water beach. We also went for a 7-hour trek through native bush to the top of the Pinnacles - the bush is fantastic.

Next stop Rotorua where we were suitably impressed by all the geysers, thermal pools, bubbling mud, mineral pools, etc, maori carvings and the redwood forest (sorry Martin, we know it's an invasive species!).

Finally we were able to head north after that to do the open water diving course at the Poor Knights which we had been putting off because of bad colds (presumably caught in London...). It was well worth the wait though and we are now certified scuba divers! Lots of amazing fish, nudibranchs, eels and underwater plants but no sharks. ;)

The rest of Northland was good too with some highlights being the unbelievably huge and impressive kauri trees in Waipoua forest, fantastic sand dunes at Te Paki, driving on Ripiro beach, Cape Reinga and history and truly impressive maori songs and dances and haka at Waitangi.

Then back to Rotorua for Tobias to motorbike through the bush and paddocks and to look at kiwis! They are quite noisy but really cute and lay absurdly big eggs. Great to see!

Taupo was a bit disappointing as the weather wasn't good enough for us to walk the Tongariro crossing or for Tobias to skydive, but we did enjoy the powerful, turquoise Huka falls and the beautiful colours at the thermally active Craters of the moon.

Instead we headed east to Napier (the art deco buildings were pretty cool, shame about the rain though) and Waipukurau to stay with my cousin Neil, his wife Heather and their kids Kelsie, Sammy and Stuart. The weather finally picked up and Neil took us on an excellent 4WD tour round the farm, including sheep- and cattle-herding. The hills were beautiful too. Another highlight was the Waipukurau fair with sheep-shearing, motocross, trial-riding (climbing on a motorbike), wine-tasting and show-jumping. Thank-you for a great stay!

The kind hospitality continued in Palmerston North when we stayed with Martin's colleague and friend of the family Jill Rapson and her dad Lloyd. Unfortunately, the good weather didn't, but we did have a nice day at Castlepoint with cool rock formations and fur seals! We also enjoyed the bush at Totara reserve and the rose garden in town.

Our next stop was wild, wet and windy Wellington which lived up to its reputation and also had impressive queues during rush hour. Still, Te Papa museum was really excellent, especially the bits about the destruction of natural habitats, earthquakes, the history of New Zealand art and the maori and Pacific Island exhibits. Tobias' friend Kim gave us a tour of the town, and it seems really nice, lots of nice shops and cafes and not too big. We also saw the Beehive, took the cable car up to the pretty Botanic gardens and enjoyed the Wellington musuem of city and sea and the New Zealand Academy of fine arts exhibition.

Yesterday we took the ferry to the South Island and today we drove to Kaikoura. Our whale trip was cancelled due to bad weather, but we're booked tomorrow morning so fingers crossed! We did see dolphins just off the coast though, and also visited a beautiful little beach, so it's been a pretty good day today!

I'll try to keep any English readers posted, thanks for perservering!