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Travel blog I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm intercontinental and I eat French toast (Beastie Boys) | | | Photos available at www.istockphoto.com/georgeclerk

New Zealand (...a-gain!)

NEW ZEALAND | Saturday, 28 February 2009 | Views [3914] | Comments [3]

It's been a while since I updated this blog, but I've been back in New Zealand since I last updated it (just before Christmas)...

Emily and Billy on boxing day, playing in a cardboard box!

This is a fantail.  They're very friendly, and confidently come into houses to fly around and catch insects.  This one kept coming into the spare room at Jules and Steve's, always carefully flying through an open window or door, and never seeming bothered if someone was in the room at the time.  It loved the mirror, and - after gobbling a few flies - would fly around the mirror, chirping away at its reflection.  They also sometimes hang around parked cars, so they can fly around the wing mirrors and check their reflections.

Christmas and New Year with Jules, Steve, Emily and Billy were brilliant, then I met Mildred and we decided to go off and set up a supermarket...

But as well as that, I went down to Queenstown where I bought an el-cheapo tent and gas cooker (both only £9 each) and rented a car.

Milford Sound from Sandfly Point (which really lived up to its name - there was literally a black cloud of bloodsuckers at times!)

The obligatory sheep photo

Mt Cook, the tallest in Australasia

There's no shortage of ferns in NZ!

Getting some forestry photos near Hanmer Springs involved walking up through tonnes of bone-dry and ultra-sharp discarded pine branches, which involved me - wearing shorts and woefully inadequate shoes - getting cuts all over my legs.  A week later, one of them was still a huge infected bump on my leg, so I did my best Rambo impression, and removed the scab to find and extract a chunk of wood... the infection went away eventually, but I don't think the photos were really worth the pain!

It can be hard to contain your excitement upon entrance to the Grey District!

Ten minutes after driving carefully through roadworks with light traffic, over a few KMs of newly chipped surface, I used the water squirter to get the dust off the windscreen.  As I was driving along, I saw a diagonal line spreading steadily across the windscreen.  It looked very strange, and at first I hoped it was just a droplet of water at a bizarre angle, but it turned out to be (as feared) a crack in the windscreen.  Since I hadn't taken the (expensive) insurance, I was worried that it was going to cost me a fortune, but it didn't turn out to be too bad - in the end paying to replace the windscreen cost me less than a third of what the insurance for the whole time would have cost!


The walk through bush up to here (just south of Kaikoura) also involved plenty lacerations to the legs!

In the Marlborough wine district, near Blenheim, you have to overtake lots of these slow-moving vine harvesters, but it's not hard, since you can see straight through them!

Part of the Marlborough Sounds

Unlike the car, my tent made it in one piece all the way up to Picton, but unfortunately no further... on my final night on the South Island, one of the poles snapped, so that was the end of that!

This is Mt Taranaki, which from most angles (not so much this one) looks just like Mount Fuji.  So much so that it was used as Mt Fuji in the film 'The Last Samurai'

On the 'Forbidden Highway' inland from Mt Taranaki is an unexpected whole different country... the republic of Whangamomona.  It's an area - including a small town and a fair bit of countryside - that decided to opt out of the country of New Zealand.  Apparently it started with a council boundary dispute which ended up with the people of Whangamomona saying, "Bugger this, we'll look after ourselves!"  I doubt that any bloodshed was involved in the Whangamomona Revolution!

I thought I was keeping a respectful distance from these bee hives, but quite a few of the bees seemed to disagree.  It was very hot, so they were full of energy, and flew into me at top speed.  Two managed to get down the neck of my t shirt and went berserk, buzzing around crazily as I did my best to get them out.  Incredibly, I didn't get stung, and lived to see another day!

They still can't fly, but some kiwis have learned to ski!

The middle of the North Island is full of volcanoes... this is the boss of them all, Mt Ruapehu

The 'Craters of the Moon' geothermal area, which unexpectedly got much more active in the 1950s when a nearby geothermal power station was built

Heading east from Taupo, I was on the quiet and narrow residential streets of a small town called Murupara, when a big guy on a Harley Davidson went roaring past me at very high speed, skidding around the corner in front as children who were playing by the street scrambled to get out of the way.  He was followed a few seconds later by a police car, struggling to keep up.  Around the corner was another police car was coming fast the other way, but the biker had vanished up a side street.  By the time I'd left the town, I'd seen five police cars, all in hot pursuit with sirens and lights blazing, but I don't know if any of them managed to catch him.

A silver fern (that's the underside - the top is green!)

East Cape, NZ's most easterly point

The most easterly, ahem, cinema in the world!

A Tsunami warning sign at Te Araroa

Coming south on the Pacific Coast Highway, I came very close to hitting a dog at speed.  The road was winding, but you could see that it was clear for miles, so I was going quite fast.  Approaching a house, I saw a collie dog lying in the grass, a few meters from the road, so I slowed down a bit.  But just as I was about to pass the house, it turned out that the dog wasn't lying down, it was crouching watching me, poised to leap at the car.  I've never seen a dog doing it before with cars (I suppose dogs that do don't last very long) but it pounced out playfully onto the road right in front of me, so I slammed on the brakes and swerved, and - only by a matter of centimetres - managed to miss it.   Thankfully the car had ABS, which did a good job of stopping me from skidding off the road!

This was my second tent and my third hire car (it's cheaper to get a different car on the North Island than to pay to take one over the Cook straight from the South Island)

With my little gas burner, a small frying pan and no fridge, culinary options were severely limited, but that didn't stop me coming up with (I think) a new way to cook eggs, which I might try to patent: behold the mighty Scromlette©™ - a cross between scrambled eggs and an omelette...

Pan fry a medley of seasonal vegetables, season to taste, then crack in two eggs.  Quickly stir until the eggs are cooked.  Drizzle brown sauce according to taste; Serve.

The result doesn't look very appetising, but tastes delicious!

The (second) obligatory sheep photo!

Captain Cook's ship first landed near Gisbourne on the North Island.  This statue at a lookout over the town was put up in 1969, but it wasn't long before people started asking questions about it... mainly because the statue man (apparently) bears no resemblance to Cook, and the uniform is nothing like what they wore in the British navy in 1769.   Under the statue is a long spiel about all that, followed by 'WHO WAS HE?  WE HAVE NO IDEA!'

After Hawkes Bay, I drove back towards Taupo, where I met Mum, Dad, Jules, Steve, Emily and Billy.  We rented a bach (Kiwi holiday home) in Pukawa for a week, then I had a lovely fortnight staying back with them on the farm, before flying to Kuala Lumpur, where I am now.

This campsite had a nautical theme throughout!

All photos © George Clerk.  All rights reserved.  Licenses available at www.istockphoto.com/resonants or please contact me at photos@foogaloo.com

Tags: camping, new zealand, on the road



Great photos as ever, especially the 1st NZ pic, makes you feel quite queasy looking at it.
Welcome home by the way - I think you ae probaby back........

  Richard Apr 7, 2009 7:12 AM


Hi Baz, Cheers... yeah taking it took several attempts, after that I felt quite queasy too, and in danger of gettting run over! I am back in Blighty now - still have one blog to do, but had a total laptop crash in Dubai, so getting any photos will take a while.

  George Apr 7, 2009 3:23 PM


Superb photos, especially the photos of the two little kids. Their innocent faces made me realize that there's always hope in life. Be positive!

  Brisbane Hotels Dec 17, 2009 2:18 AM



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