A Travellerspoint blog

Wellington and the ferry story

sunny 20 °C

After wine tasting we drove straight to Wellington to spend a night there and catch a ferry the next day. We camped by a park on the waterfront and were cooking pasta with meatballs. As you can imagine all windows and doors were open because of the smell. Oh did I mention that Robert bumped that back of the van, while turning around in the park :-), hardly noticeable.

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After dinner, we went for a walk on the beach. At some point Robert realised that we ended up in Wellington a day earlier than we should have. By not going to Waitomo caves, we gained one day, but we were totally unaware of it. We are laughing that we were completely loosing track of days, weeks and months. Tough backpackers life :)

Anyway, we just decided to go to the ferry and pretend that we didn't know that we got there a day earlier. We got up at 6am and were almost the first in line (except for some people that probably camped there all night :)). The guy at the counter was very nice and let us take the ferry without any charges as they had some free spaces. That's New Zeland for you. Everything works and is so efficient.

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The ferry ride was unbelievable and so beautiful - different colour mountains, little bays and so on. We spent the whole time outside taking pictures.

We've arrived at Picton and stopped at this amazing view to have some coffee. I was loving it!

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Posted by Laima 06:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wine tasting in Martinborough

sunny 22 °C

The first winery where we stopped was called Margrain Vineyard. (http://www.margrainvineyard.co.nz/) People were eating overlooking the vineyard and a jazz band was playing - all very nice. We had to pay for a wine tasting, but their rose and pinot noir were very nice.

Everything was going smothly until Robert got us in trouble. He was asking whether they sell wine in UK and then he made a mistake asking if they sell it in supermarkets. She wasn't impressed with the comment, but it appeared that you can get their wine in Odd Bins - so I am not sure what she got bent out of shape about.

It might have been that Robert continued tasting and asked if they sell any table wine in 5l casks as they do in France.

The lady gruntled through her teeth:

- We are boutique winery and wouldn't be able to survive if we did that!

We ended up buying a bottle of rose and were in stiches with laughter. We decided that we should have a little more tact in the next place.

The next stop for tasting was Ata Rangi vineyard. ( http://www.atarangi.co.nz/). The staff were very nice and we got to chat with the owner, who was explaining the whole history and wine making process. Their red Celebre 2006 was amazing, which is quite surprising as it is a mixture of 3 wines (50% Merlot, 30% Syrah and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon).

We left without buying any wine as we already splashed out on the rose bottle.

Our lunch stop was another winery, where we made sandwiches and were sitting in the garden drinking their white wine.

We were driving past Ata Rangi and Robert stopped the car, ran inside and got 3 bottles of their red and white wine. We decided to keep it for special occasions and with our cupboards stocked up, we headed to Wellington to catch the ferry to the South Island.

Posted by Laima 06:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Lake Taupo & Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

snow 19 °C

From Rotorua we headed to Lake Taupo. It's famous for sky diving and was trying to scare
Robert by saying that I already booked the course. But it was too windy and too scary to do it :) Oh, and they had this Superloo thing where you can take a shower, $2.00 for 4 minutes. Apparently it switches off automatically, so we heard some stories of people being left with shampoo all over them and then needing to go to get some more tokens.

We kept on driving towards Tongariro National Park. On the way you could feel the temperature drop with snow on the ground. The scenery changed as well with mountains surrounding us.

We were planning to do the Tongariro Crossing the next day, so we were rushing to get there early so that we could speak to DOC (Department of Conservation) people to get some information. We got there at 5.30pm, but the office was closed.

We tried to call some numbers to arrange the pick up, but people thought that we were mad as all the walks were closed because of the snow. A bit dissappointed we found a spot in DOC campsite and spent a night there.

In the morning, we went to DOC information again and they recommended we take the Lake Tara walk. Tongariro Crossing was definately closed because of the snow. People were waiting outside to go skiing and snowboarding :)

So we made sandwiches and set of for the walk.

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The path was covered in snow and it completely disappeared at some point. We were just following wooden sticks and hoping that we were going to the right direction. We had to cross a stream a couple times and Robert tried not to laugh at me swaying back and forth on the stones. I didn't fall in, but for some reason wearing jeans for 17 km walk didn't look like such a great idea. :)

The views were amazing as we were surrounded by a volcano and mountains with a 360 degree view.

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The first lake had an amazing emerald colour.

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After reaching it and taking our pictures we set off to see the second lake. It was a good 45 minute walk and a very steep climb, I thought that I was going to die (pakratysiu kojas - how we Lithuanians like to say).

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However, the climb was worth the torture and our sandwiches have never tasted better.

On our way back, the snow had melted and everything looked so different, so I guess we were quite lucky to do this walk with the snow around us.

After finishing our walk, we went to take a shower in one of the campsites. I almost wanted to cry as the first drop of water hit my hair :) This one lady though wasn't too impressed with me washing my jeans in the sink :)

All happy and clean we drove to find that nights accomodation. We ended up by the river in the place called Vinegar Hill. We saw two guys camping and we asked one of them if it was safe there. He said that it should be ok, but sometimes local yahoos can be a problem. And he kind of said: by the way you see those marks, this is where they burnt a car.

We stayed the night with Robert cooking amazing dinner as always. But we didn't get too much sleep as we were listening out for those yahoos but ofcourse it was perfectly safe.

Next day, we were convinced that the guy just wanted the place for himself and didn't want to wake up staring at a 'Happy Campers' van in the morning. Swearing about the guy, we shot from Huntreville to Masterton and then Martinborough to some wine tasting! (I must say - I really needed it:))

Posted by Laima 10:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Mt Mauganui, Ohope beach & Rotorua, New Zealand

sunny

We then headed to Mt Mauganui. In our book it said that it has marvellous views over the beaches. But we weren't convinced as we hit the highway traffic and spent about two hours driving around the port. However, the views were quite nice and there were sheep grazing all over the mountain.

We then went to Whakatane to have the best fish and chips in the world at Wally's as recommended by a Kiwi friend of ours.

For that night we found a good spot in Ohope's beach. It was just at the end of the beach road, hidden by the sand dunes. We walked on the beach, but it was really windy and sand was blowing everywehre, so we watched the sunset from the van drinking wine. I was loving it! We got into the habit going to bed early at 9 o'clock, so we would wake up really early.

Next day, we drove up to the lookout point over the whole of Ohope beach. We finally got some coffee and had some muesli. It was nice to have that instead of the bread that we always had in South America. And of course, views were stunning as well.

At this point we realised that our fridge was not working. So we had to buy some ice and make a couple of calls. We got a garage's number in Rotorua and drove straight there. We expected to spend the whole day in the garage or even have to change the van, but they were so efficient and fixed everything in 20 minutes.

After the car was fixed, we went to visit the Rotorua gaisers. The smell was awful, but views were worth it. You could see the steam coming out from underneath the ground with amazing colours. And of course, the bubbling mudd. For some reason we thought that you could swim in them - wrong :)

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We were planning to go to Waitomo caves, but looking at the milage we decided not to go. I really wanted to see it, but the thought of going all the way there and doubling back was a little bit too much.

Posted by Laima 10:05 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

semi-overcast 20 °C

We got to the little town, can't even remember how it was called :) We were cruising in the street trying to find where to sleep. In the end we parked up by the sea in front of expensive houses. We were cooking fajitas for dinner and the smoke was coming out from all the windows, but it was nice to have some home cooked food and not to eat in the restaurant. The first night's sleep wasn't that great as we weren't used to the whole experience.

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Next day we got up early and spent the half of the day at the beach. Even though it was a bit chilly, it was sunny and views were amazing.

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Posted by Laima 10:13 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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