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New Zealand

a travel blog by Susie Sue

I spent the best year of my life in New Zealand travelling and working.
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Auckland...for the last time : (

Auckland, New Zealand

After a 6.30am flight from windy, wet Wellington, I found myself back in Auckland for one last time. As soon as I got on the plane I felt relieved and excited to be leaving Wellington behind me and once I landed in Auckland I felt like I’d arrived home.

As I walked around the city, I took in all the sights for one last time – those crazy diagonal crossings which used to drive me insane were now such an amazing concept and Queen Street which once horrified me was now a sight of beauty! Walking through the city, I remembered all the fun experiences and adventures in New Zealand, particularly my times spent living at Pentlands and all the people I’d met, who I’d now have to say goodbye to.

I remembered the bad times of living and working in the dreadful holiday park on the north shore and then being shown the door. At the time, it felt like the end of the world, with little money, no job and nowhere to go but within 24 hours I managed to turn my life around and discovered Pentlands, which would be my home for the next six months.

I had a fantastic time and met so many fantastic people (some “specials” obviously) and experiences I’ll keep with me for life! I remembered the times when Tom the Frenchman would walk round in next to nothing offending all the guests, when Matt set the fire extinguisher off leaving us all choking, English night and camping in Piha when Donkey stripped down to those briefs! The hardest thing about travelling is growing close to people. You think that they are going to be with you forever so saying goodbye is heart breaking!

That evening, as it was my last night and I was living in Wellington at the time, I asked Caroline and Laura to organise for everyone to go out in fancy dress. I arrived back at Caroline’s house to find a smillion people all dolled up in their costumes from Jack Sparrow to Braveheart and from a ladybird to a cheerleader! I wanted to dress up as a mermaid, so Caroline and Laura went all out and hired me a mermaid outfit. Caroline said the outfit just fitted her and thinking we were about the same size she thought it would fit me. However, I tried it on and may have been able to wear it with the zip undone and not sitting down all night or going to the toilet! It was such a beautiful costume with a long green sequinned skirt with a silver tail and erm…a teeny purple sea shell top (which would probably have only covered the boobs!)

Unfortunately, no amount of liquid dieting was going to reduce the size of my hips so we had to think quickly, so off we went to St Lukes to find a costume which we could adjust to be a mermaid. First stop was Glassons where I found a leprechaun green beach dress which we were going to attach a tail to if we could find some material. With the clocks against us, we raced into Kmart to the kids section where there were numerous fancy dress costumes. Laura held up a fairy costume, stretching it out and turning it upside down, “this would work as a fairy costume, upside down -but it could work.” So there I am in the middle of the kid’s aisle trying an age 5 years costume on upside down…after criticising all the specials day after day, I felt like a bit of a special myself! Then I spotted a pirate outfit, age 5-6 years, it was perfect and best thing was it was only $15! Job done, so we headed back and began the preparations for the night. With Laura as chief make up artist and Caroline on hair duty we managed to get into town and to Danny Doolans for one last time.

The next morning, Caroline, Laura and I sat in bed looking at all the photos of the night before. We then made our way in Caroline’s little bomber plane of a car to the airport. I couldn’t believe I was really going and it really didn’t hit me until it came to saying goodbye. I cried all the way to the departure lounge and most of the way on the plane to Sydney! It was so horrible saying goodbye to people but suppose all good things have to come to an end eventually and lots to look forward to for my next adventures in Australia 

permalink written by  Susie Sue on November 4, 2005 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand
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Finding my Feet

Auckland, New Zealand

After a year of planning the trip, the wait was finally over and we'd arrived in New Zealand. To look out from the plane as we arrived into New Zealand, we could have been in England!

We met with the IEP representative, Nalin who gave us a mini tour of Auckland. We stopped off on the way back at the top of Mount Eden which had great views all over the city. We then made our way to the ACB hostel convenientally located in the centre of Auckland on Queen Street.

Once we were settled in at ACB we all went for a walk to explore Auckland and to find a restaurant as we were all famished! Walked past lots of massage parlours and strip clubs, where we knew we'd find work if we got desperate! We headed to a little pub called the Queens Head on upper Queen Street but Helen, Hayley, Nick, Amy and I decided to head back to the hostel to get some rest as we were really jet lagged!
On the Tuesday we went to the IEP office and were introduced to the delights of the Peanut Slab and L&P and were given useful tips for finding work and accomodation in New Zealand.

In the evening Helen, Hayley, Nick, Amy and I went to the pub meet which was arranged by IEP and was a great opportunity to meet other people who were also on work and travel programmes. We met an American guy called Dustin and headed to the Empire Tavern on Nelson Street and took part in the pub quiz. On our way out of the pub we met Jonathan and Erin, two Americans who asked us to come to a karaoke bar called the Fiddler.

After a few pineapple juices...yes just pineapple juice, I decided to have a go at karaoke. Amy said she's sing with me but then as I went off to the toilet the crafty girl wrote me down to sing solo to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive!" Have to say I think I cleared the pub out pretty much! Amy also sang on her own and Nick and I sang the best version of the Righteous Brothers "You've Lost that Loving Feeling." Everyone was in hysterics!
We then all headed to Globe, the hostel bar but me and Amy decided to head back as we were shattered! Hayley, Helen and Nick stayed in Globe and got back in the wee hours where I heard Helen's drunken tales of Nick pole dancing with a guy! She honestly must have told me about three times!

On the Wednesday, Rowan, David, Jo, Rich and Stuart left to go upto the Bay of Islands. Helen, Nick, Amy, Hayley and I all then moved into the same room, it was like a little family!
We spent the rest of the first week in Auckland exploring the city and testing out the White Russians in Auckland! On the Friday we went on the free Kiwi Experience tour of Auckland. The bus took us to Devonport beach where we tried our first ever Hokey Pokey ice cream - yummy! Great morning out for a free trip!

In the afternoon, Helen, Hayley and I went to a lovely Belgian bar called Occidental, just off Queen Street. We met Nick and he introduced us to a Belgian guy called Jerome who he was staying in the dorm next door to us.

Before leaving the UK, Helen had spoken to a girl in a shop who had been to New Zealand and had given her a load of contacts. We met up with one of the guys called Tommo and his friend Marti in the Palace.
Marti, Amy and Nick went on the Bungee ball, just near the sky tower and Marti strangely asked Amy to marry him as they were leaving the ground!! How bazaar!!

All in all a good first week in Auckland!

permalink written by  Susie Sue on November 7, 2005 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand
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Christmas at Mt Maunganui

Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

Helen, Hayley, Nick, Jerome and I spent Christmas Day on the beach at Mount Maunganui. We bought a little BBQ and spent ages trying to light it because of how windy it was! We also did a Secret Santa where we spent $10 on one person so that everybody gets a present.

There were some random things turning up! It's amazing what you can get for $10! I got Helen a table tennis set (which we tried to play on the beach but the ball kept flying away!), lots of chocolate (which melted on the beach!), a photo album containing pics of her best bits of New Zealand so far (including highlights from the drunken night in Rotorua!) and a truly bargainous hair removal thing bought from the $2 shop! Nick's presents to Hayley included a ceramic money box (hardly light when you're backpacking!) and an old lady blouse he bought from a charity shop!

We spent about eight hours on the beach, cooking the BBQ, going in the sea and generally lazing about. We then walked up to the top of the Mount, which had some fantastic views and took some amazing pictures. Helen and I walked to the bottom of the Mount together but got lost! It was getting darker and darker and then Helen was telling me comforting stories about people getting killed in the Mount which helped! Finally we reached the bottom and we were in so much pain and realised that the eight hours we'd spent on the beach might not have been such a great idea!

We got back to the hostel and tried to climb up to the top of the bunk but it was a struggle because our legs were so swollen. It was 24 degrees outside, yet I was freezing and had to put my coat on under the duvet! I've never experienced pain like it, we both had to stay in bed on Christmas Day night because we couldn't physically get out of bed!

Meanwhile, a drunken Hails was out with the rest of the hostel and returned back in the early hours scrambling up to the top of her bunk muttering, "where's my phone gone, oh... no I've left it downstairs" She just kept giggling!

permalink written by  Susie Sue on December 24, 2005 from Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand
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Whitianga Adventures

Whitianga, New Zealand

Prior to the sunburn incident we had been invited by our friend Tommo (I say "our friend," we have actually only met him once and the only way we know him is due to Helen chatting to a girl who sold her a jumper in a shop in Manchester who gave her a list of contacts in New Zealand!)from Auckland to stay in his Bach in the Coromandel.

We had got it into our heads that a "bach" was a tent and because my legs were so swollen that I couldn't walk properly I decided it wouldn't be a good idea to stay in a tent. So, Helen text him and said that my sunburn was too painful to stay in his tent! Then a few days later we read in our guidebook that a "bach" is actually a holiday home - how stupid did we feel! We spent the few days leading up to coming to the Coromandel trying to hint to Tommo that I was much better but we were finding it difficult to find a place to stay! Unfortunately, we think we may have been uninvited!

We arrived in Whitianga and began phoning round all the hostels but everywhere was booked up. We realised we had our sheets from our duvet covers and so the only thing we could think of was to sleep on the beach and build a den! Eventually, we got booked into a hostel called Bushcreek Cottage but were warned that it was quite far out and we would need to get a taxi.

After the twenty minute taxi drive and a $30 bill we arrived at Bushcreek Cottage, which although pretty was in the middle of nowhere! We had absolutely no idea how we were going to get back into town the next day, especially with our big rucksacks! We went to pay for our accomodation and got very excited when we saw a sign saying "shop" as we had no food and shops if they existed around there would be miles away. The owner of the cottage Ann, asked if we wanted to buy some food, we took a look at the shelf which had a tin of beans, some soup and some noodles and literally emptied the shop!

Helen asked about signal from a Mobile phone and she led us to the top of the hill and said we needed to position ourselves near the washing line to get a signal. We went back inside the hostel and cooked a feast of beef instant noodles and cup a soup. We were unable to drink water from the tap because it was filtered from the river and so we had to boil the water and refridgerate it, so there we were putting a pan of water in the fridge for the morning!

We decided against having showers at the cottage because you were only allowed a maximum of five minutes so there would be enough hot water for everybody. Going to the toilet was an adventure, it was outside and most of the time covered in spiders - yuck!

We went for a walk around the beautiful surroundings of the cottage, there was a gorgeous river which you could swim in on a nice day. We ended up getting bitten by little creatures so decided to head back to the cottage and get an early night. There was no heating in the cottage because it was built in the 1800's so we were absolutely freezing!
Although we had to contend with the cold, lack of food and water and being miles from anywhere, it was quite an adventure and all we could do was laugh!

permalink written by  Susie Sue on January 1, 2006 from Whitianga, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand
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Tripping Over

Auckland, New Zealand

After returning from the Bay of Islands, Helen, Hayley and I decided to return to Auckland for a couple of nights before facing the reality of working and living in Rotorua!

The night started off quite civilised in a lovely little pub called the Palace, just off Queen Street. We met up with Amy, (who is living and working in Auckland on a placement for the year) Jonathan, Erin and one of their friends (can't remember her name!) Amy and I decided to start on the White Russians (so yummy - kahlua, vodka and milk) and then we all decided to walk to another few bars near the Viaduct.

I felt a bit woozy but I stress - I was not drunk!! We were walking down the hill and I slipped over on one of the hazardous drains, and skidded along the pavement and winded myself! It was quite dramatic actually - I screamed and everything, blood was dripping from me and it was all tingly!

Amy and I started walking back to her flat to get some plasters and cotton wool but saw a hotel and called in and asked for the first aid kit. There was a grumpy old bat on the desk, who couldn't have cared less if i'd dropped dead in front of her! Luckily a nice chap helped us and gave us everything he could find to mend my finger.

After refusing to go to the hospital, we headed back into town and carried on with our night. Turned into quite a good night considering the drama and Jonathan made my night by saying, "You handled that very calmly!" Haha!

permalink written by  Susie Sue on December 4, 2006 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand
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Sun, Sea and Sandflies

Paihia, New Zealand

Helen and I set off on our Stray trip upto the Bay of Islands at 7.50am, our Dad aka Nick waited with us outside ACB until our coach arrived. At this time in the morning there seemed to be quite a few strange looking people wandering the streets after a night on the tiles, including many he/she's and other specials!

The idea of going on the Stray bus was to meet lots of people and socialise with others but in actual fact we both spent the whole journey sleeping, think we were still recovering from jet lag! The first day was spent travelling up to the Bay of Islands and stopping off at the Marine resort which had a protected beach called Goat Island.

We arrived in Paihia in the afternoon and soon settled into our hostel - Pipi Patch which we thought was called "Puppy Patch!" We shared our room with a girl from Haggley, Birmingham, a Swedish girl called Malin who were both lovely and had met on the stray bus and began travelling together. We also shared with a girl from the Netherlands called Ingrid who was travelling with her boyfriend and a girl from Germany called Umpa (yes, as in Umpa Lumpa!)

Hayley set off the day before us on the Intercity bus and was staying in the Saltwater Lodge and so we met up with her in the bar next door to our hostel called bar Salty. We met a guy called Brian from South Carolina, USA who Hayley had been chatting to in her hostel. He was quite amusing, but we were so tired from the coach trip and decided to get an early night.

The next morning, Helen and I decided to walk into town and as we didn't know the way we asked a guy for directions. He seemed unsure but said he thought it was to the right, so we trusted him and went for it! We walked and walked and walked but it didn't seem like we were going the right way and so we decided to admit defeat and text Hayley to ask her the way and she said we were meant to turn left!

We eventually got into the town centre, which was a pretty little place with just a few shops but enough for a little beach town. We met up with Hayley and went and enquired about the various activities available in the Bay of Islands.

We all headed back to Hayley's hostel, Saltwater Lodge and met up with Brian and decided to go on a walk to the nearby Haruru Falls. At about 1pm we set off on our walk, which took us along the beachfront which was stunning, it felt like we were really on holiday! We eventually reached the falls and Brian wanted to jump in, despite us warning him not to because there were rocks below and even though there was a big sign which read, "caution: do not jump." Just as he was about to jump, some locals yelled at him not to jump and showed him a safer place. We honestly thought we were going to have to witness his death in front of us! He's like Mowgli from Jungle Book!

It took us ages to walk back because we decided to walk along the road instead of the track suggested and without a map we took a guess as to which way to go. We saw a jogger on the way and he told us we were going the right way but he said it was going to take us ages and we should have walked back the way we came!

We carried on walking and just a Paihia was coming into sight, we decided we could walk no further so did what your parents tell you not to do and tried to hitch a lift. Luckily, we waited no more than five minutes and got a lift with a guy who turned out to be the jogger we had spoken to earlier!

On the third day of our trip we went on the Dune Rider (more like Death Rider!) which took us up to Cape Reigna and the ninety mile beach. We stopped off on the way to look at trees (they love looking at trees here!) and then headed up to Cape Reigna, which is the furthest point north. We then went to the ninety mile beach, where we were told that we might see wild horses but unfortunately we didn't!

The bus was very jerky and made us feel quite sick, it didn't feel very safe at all. After leaving the enormous beach we made our way to the sand dunes to do some sand boarding. It was tremendously difficult to climb up the sand dunes, I kept falling down! I eventually reached the top with my body board in tow and was all ready to go and lay down on the board but because of the height I was at and the jerky bus I felt like I was gonna chuck so unfortunately didn't get to go! It was a horrible feeling - really wanted to do it, just wish I could get over my fear of heights.
We then headed back towards Paihia and stopped off at apparently the best fish and chip shop in New Zealand and this soon cured the sick feeling!

On the Wednesday we went for a wander around Paihia and met up with Hayley. We went on the dolphin watching cruise which took us through the famous 'Hole in the Rock." Although we didn't see any dolphins, we did see several killer whales which was exciting, they came so close to the boat and we got some great photos. Apparently killer whales eat the dolphins so they were probably a bit to scared - hopefully we will get to see them at some point in New Zealand.

On our last day, Helen and I decided to go and sit on the beach in Paihia while we waited for the ferry over to Russell. We were just relaxing reading our magazines and enjoying the sunshine when we saw people in Maori dress running towards us pointing and shouting. We looked into the water and saw two killer whales about ten metres away from the shore! It was absolutely amazing, couldn't believe how close they were - I'm just glad I didn't go for a paddle!

After all the excitement of the killer whales we travelled over to Russell on the ferry. We were lucky enough to see the killer whales again, apparently it's very unusual to see them as they are only seen every six weeks or so.

Later that afternoon we headed back on the Stray bus back to Auckland. Helen and I noticed that our feet had swelled up and thought it must just be sunburn but later found out we'd been eaten by sandflies! It was so painful I couldn't walk properly and Helen wouldn't help me, she just kept giggling!

We arrived in Auckland and stayed the night in Base backpackers, it was horrible! The staff were so rude and messed up the rooms we had booked the night before and we had to share a room with snorrers!

permalink written by  Susie Sue on December 4, 2006 from Paihia, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand
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Hello everybody! After spending a wonderful year travelling around New Zealand, I am now in Australia having more adventures.

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