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Apr 9, 2006 - NEW ZEALAND
Land of the Kiwi's, Lord of the Rings,
and one Big Ape

Reported by JoMar All rights reserved.

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Well we are almost done with New Zealand and will be heading to Tahiti in two more days on the 12th of April. We flew from Brisbane into Auckland and spent a few days there before heading down to Wellington. Auckland was nice. We did a free backpackers tour of the city which was nice, visited some long dormant volcanoes, watched a girl bungee from their version of a space needle. We also went to a mixed club called Family and danced to some really good music till the wee hours! Then we boarded a bus and headed down to Lake Taupo, expensive and uneventful, but pretty. Then off to Napier.

Napier was fun!! This is a city that was completely destroyed by earthquake in 1931 and was re-built completely in the Art Deco style of the period. Very cool. This was also the place were we stayed in one of the most interesting hostels of our trip! Former Napier Prison! We were picked up at the bus station by Bonnie, who runs the prison with her mom. Bonnie was very accommodating and friendly as was her mom. We stayed in the former Psycho ward. How appropriate huh? This place had been a prison for 150 years and just became a hostel about 10 years ago. In the former exercise yard there is an area where they used to hang the prisoners. In fact there are still 4 executed men buried in that yard; including the headstone of a man who murdered his entire family, wife and four children! Creepy huh?!! It was "in prison" that we met Kelly and Laurens. Marc and Kelly hit it off immediately as soon as he said he was sick for Asia and she is also. They both CANNOT WAIT TO RETURN TO LIVE IN ASIA FOR FOREVER AND A DAY!!! We went out with Laurens and Kelly to a jazz club and later found ourselves in what we later found out was probably the dodgiest and most dangerous bar in New Zealand! We had a BLAST just the same!! No I can't remember the name of the pub, just be grateful I can remember it at all!  :-) Anyway the next morning, about three hours later, Marc and Laurens and I dragged ourselves onto the next bus out to Wellington. Almost forgot, Marc had to sleep in Laurens' cell that night because I went to bed at 3:30 am and the other three stooges stayed up for another hour and Marc couldn't find our cell!!

In Wellington we were picked up at the bus station by Tracy. Tracy is the sister of Jody who is the girl we met in Cinque Terre, in Northern Italy earlier in the year. Seems like so long ago to us!! The girls opened their beautiful home to us in the hills of Wellington and we had so much fun! Tracy and Jody, you guys didn't know us very well and still you were so accommodating and we are so grateful to you for showing us around and being our tour guides to Wellington. Thanks for the great home-cooked meals and pizza from Hell, and Charlie's Angels, and clubbing, and foul language and the most offensive jokes we have ever heard!! We enjoyed every single minute of it!!!!!   You guys rock and we hope to see you in Canada soon :-)  Wellington is also a very pretty city. Oh yeah, thanks for the ride to the ferry terminal also!


After Wellington it was off to Christchurch. We took the ferry to the South Island and then a train journey from Picton to Christchurch. This train ride was one of the most picturesque journeys of this whole trip. Very beautiful scenery. When we arrived in Christchurch Rebecca was there to greet us. We met Rebecca in South Africa when we did our tour. She drove us to her house and just let us make ourselves at home. Her home is charming and very pretty with a big yard and greenhouse. We loved just relaxing in a house for a week and doing no travelling and doing laundry and cooking meals and not living out of a knapsack for a change. Very therapeutic!

I know it seems like we haven't seen too much of New Zealand and that's because...  we haven't!!  We choose very carefully here what to see and not see. We checked our guidebook and only visited those places where we would not be repeating ourselves by seeing sights that we have already seen a lot of in our past travels. We did this for a number of reason. One, we were just exhausted and really just felt like vegging and doing nothing. Two, we realized that as beautiful as New Zealand is, and it is beautiful, it isn't a lot different to British Columbia, Canada.
We had a wonderful time playing house with Rebecca in her lovely home! Just grocery shopping and doing laundry and going to movies and to the market. Rebecca's Dad took the three of us for a wonderful drive into the Banks Peninsula. A very beautiful region just a few hours drive out of Christchurch. We went for a hike and stopped in the charming town of Akaroa for a visit.



Rebecca, it was so nice to see you again after so many months. Thank you for opening your house to us and making us feel at home. We really appreciated just being able to relax and do nothing but explore your charming city.

On a long trip like this there comes a time when one has to just say enough, no more travelling for a while and take a break. Thank you for providing the opportunity for us to do just that  :-) We can't wait to see you again in Vancouver.

We did do a side trip to the town of Dunedin while in Christchurch. Saw some beautiful scenery on the 6 hour bus drive to this, fifth largest city in the world and home to the steeped street in the world! Dunedin was a really great town. Very pretty. It was here that we met Lee and Becky, from England. We had one of the most fun nights with these guys. A few drinks at the oldest pub in Dunedin and then dinner and then a night of dancing and drinking in a really fun club that was apparently having a cheesy 80's music night. Becky loves cheese  :-)   Oh yeah, we also went on a tour of Cadbury's chocolate factory with our new English pals, and a visit to a pretty boring art gallery. Ian and Becky it was really nice meeting you guys and we can't wait to see you in Vancouver when you get there in May. We just hope we are there in May at the same time as you!! If not we will see each other again when we return to England which we both loved so much!!

Well next stop is Tahiti. A place that Marc has wanted to visit his whole life!

See you guys there :-)

Love

Marc and John

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