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|
|me and my little crew - I think their smiles tell the story|