Sunday, February 7, 2016

New Zealand

Just before Christmas a friend of ours pointed out that Virgin Australia were running a sale on flights to New Zealand and so I booked a short break for the three of us to visit our friends Pene and Mike as well as take a look at one of Australia's near neighbours.

I've always thought of New Zealand as being on the 'other side of the world' but from Sydney(!) it's only a short three hour flight making it much closer than other parts of our own country. It was the first time I'd travelled abroad on my Australian passport - and given 'Australian' as my own nationality. Fortunately I wasn't asked my cricket allegiance at customs.

Pene and Mike were fabulous hosts. They had a lovely house and the kids loved Missy - their placid labrador who adored the attention they gave her.

We were treated to a trip to Pallister Light House and a lovely pub lunch as well as a trip to the excellently appointed playground (which the kids loved) in Masterton not far from Pene and Mike's house.

After finding our feet I hired a car and drove north to Tapau (a vast inland volcanic lake) and then after we'd had a night there, further on to Rotarua. We completed a circular route by driving back through Napier.

We had an afternoon of white water rafting south of Tapau - which had so many thrills and spills and then the next day Audrey got to enjoy an afternoon pony trekking on a lovely mare (Cisco).

Rotarua was stunning - I've never really been anywhere like it before - it was full of geo-thermal activity and geysers spurted near to bubbling mud-pools. The kids were less keen on the sulphur smell which pervaded the whole area, but you did get (kind of) used to it after a while.

We drove back through the seaside town of Napier and visited the small but nicely presented aquarium where we saw our first kiwi bird!

It was a lovely break. It would be easy to spend weeks (rather than a week) in and around New Zealand. I really felt like we only scratched the surface of things and I left with the feeling that there were multitudes of galleries, museums and beautiful vistas just waiting to be 'discovered'. I'm sure we'll be back for more.

[A quick funny story was that while waiting in Sydney airport on the way out a "Mr Husair" was paged and the kids rolled around saying "Mr Husair?" and when I asked them why they (both) answered "Knock, knock...'Husair'" - who said travelling with children was dull!)]

Here's a few pictures (I took many more!)

Pene and the kids in Masterton

Cape Pallister Lighthouse
up close and personal with one of the many seals in Cape Pallister

Audrey on Cisco
Eli on the luge

Wairakei thermal springs

Sunset in Tapau (we stayed just over the road)
the kids enjoying(?) the smell of one of the mud pools

White water rafting on the Tongariro River

white water!
me and my little crew - I think their smiles tell the story

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