1/1/13 7:13pm

Just on the train back to Newcastle now should be there within the hour. I’ve rand in the New Year/Hogmannay in Stonehaven with Steph, Rachel and Steph’s parents. We saw the live bands play (Revolver a Beatles tribute band and The Red Hot Chilli Pipers). They were brilliant and the dancing kept us from getting frozen to the spot. We queued for over an hour to get a drink that we’d already paid for (there was a coupon system so the people running the bar in the square didn’t have to handle money), got to the front and found we could only have Tennants, whiskey or blue WKD! Alcopops it was! Just got out of the queue in time for midnight!

When I get back to my place I need to finish packing for my trip to New Zealand. I leave in roughly 24 hours. Ahh!! I also need to tidy up the flat so its in a fit state for me to return to in a months time. I know I’m going to miss my lil fluffballs as I miss them already but also so scared! But it’ll be worth it I’m sure, hope I can sleep tonight!


2/1/13 10:55am

Oh my God! So excited, still feel ill but so shaky with adrenaline and a touch of fear! Right must do the dishes then I can sort the last bits out.


3/1/13 8:24am local time (4:24am UK time)

Sat in Dubai Airport and there are birds inside – weird! This place is massive and really rather posh, had a weird where I wondered if I should have my head covered, I think that was part sleep deprivation and part flying over Iraq and Kuwait.

I’m knackered, I think I got in total an hours worth of sleep on the 1st flight and that was in little cat naps. Lots of young children (so lots of crying, although it could’ve been worse) and difficult to get comfy. Got just under 2 hours until my next flight and then I might get some sleep. Flying with Emirates is amazing! Met a nice guy (can’t remember his name) but he was headed for Sri Lanka for a holiday after the crazy busy holiday period (he’s a registrar – forgot when he said it, for a minute, that that meant doctor!)


4/1/13 (time not recorded, was roughly 3pm)

Couple of quick thoughts jotted down while on the bus from the airport.

Auckland could teach Heathrow and Sydney a thing or two about how to do passport control.

Love that, when queueing for passport control, I heard ‘Gollum! Gollum!’ coming from behind me from two girls that I think were chattering in German!


5:38pm local time

Checked into the hostel and had an epic battle with my bag, trying to sort stuff I’ll need out.

Met 2 girls that are staying in the same room at the hostel both from Sweden (I think, certainly Scandinavia). Further evidence that my brain is barely working, so tired! But I’ve gone out to explore the city (Auckland) and stretch my legs. The latter definitely needed after that flight!

Found myself a bar – as I was writing this the bar tender came across to check on me and have a chat. What I’ve been told about the friendly atmosphere here is certainly seeming true – currently drinking a pint of cider from ‘Macs Brewery’ and watching two birds (that look like sparrows to me) chase around the floor of the bar.No zoom needed!

I’ve just noticed that this place has lamp stands hanging/stuck to the ceiling reminding me the laugh I got on the first leg of the flight when watching Alice in Wonderland (the original Disney version) ‘what if I fall right the way through the earth to the other side where people walk upside-down!’ Also watched the start of ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ but had to stop after I almost choked laughing at the line ‘what’s that got to do with my knob?’. Ah such an old film, from a much more innocent time!

Gonna make a note of this place and finish my drink. I need to go buy more deodorant (stupid customs rules!) and some other supplies and I think I’ll use the free internet I’ve been offered by Nomads to check in on facebook and to reread the first few days of the tour itinerary by STA so I know where I’m at and what I’m doing. Might see if I can go see the downtown/harbour area. I seem to have found a second (or 3rd/4th/5th) wind, gotta love the rejuvenating effects of a pint!


5/1/11 11:38am local time (10:38pm at home!!!)

Ah the difference a shower and a sleep in a real bed make! Currently sat in Devonport (a ‘suburb’ of Auckland which is about 15 minutes ferry ride away from the central business district) in the cafe attached to the Navy museum. – mmm banana milkshake! –

Slept well (doubt much could have stopped me) think I went to sleep at around 9pm but I know I was awake at around 6am (noisy bin men!) and once I was awake that was it, so tried to get dressed and grab a few things as quietly as possible – fail!

Spent a bit of time reading in the common room. Returned to the room for my purse and meds (happy pills for me, paracetamol for the Norwegian bloke with a fever – hope he’s not got malaria, since he’s been to Indonesia.)

Escaped for a coffee around 9, went down to the dock region searching for a coffee shop and found the wonder of asking locals where they recommend to go, although going to a place frequented by the locals got me some odd looks when I started applying sun tan lotion! After my coffee (the advice I received before I came out here from my best mate’s mum was dead on, flat white coffee drools) I returned to the hostel to ‘check out’. Basically I moved rooms, to one with only 4 beds and its own bathroom (the bathroom bit being a relief after the communal unisex bathroom from the night before). Everyone staying in this room tonight is on the adventure tour. Met one girl – Natalia – who is a teacher from Australia.

Yum! Now that’s what an omelette is supposed to be like not that weird rubber thing on the plane!

Have to be back at the hostel for 6pm when there is a meeting to start the tour (apparently. Info is a lil scarce, the staff at the hostel seem to have never heard of G adventures….) for now I’m gonna check out this Navy museum, aside from anything else it’ll keep me out of the midday sun. Already got heat rash on my left hand!


(The next entry skips a fair bit so I’ll do the next bit from memory)


Found scratched into the wall inside the caves on Devonport

Found scratched into the wall inside the caves on Devonport

Navy museum was cool if quite maudlin in parts, but was interesting to see bits about the world wars from New Zealand’s point of view, not something I’ve ever really considered before. They were involved from the start as at this point in history their navy was almost an extension of the British one, but I suppose the threat of WW2 for them was when Japan joined in, and yet there is such a big Asian influence in New Zealand culture today, strange how it turns out. The people here have such respect for their veterans and I have even seen dedicated sheltered accommodation for veterans here.

After the museum I went up to the top of one of the extinct volcano hills (one of 2 in Devonport, I think there’s about 90 in the Auckland area!) This hill had been used by the military as a look out so it was a nice continuation of my learning that day. It was also brilliant for the tunnels that had been dug and the mixture of them and natural caves leading to a small labyrinth to explore. It was so dark inside them but fortunately I had my torch on me (random I know!) And I think I found a geocache note stuck to the wall of one of the tunnels. The hike I did on this first day proved to me firstly how unfit I was, and secondly that the nature out in New Zealand is amazing, so much of it thriving and such a great attitude to preserving and supporting it.

When I returned to the hostel I joined Natalia on our trek to the roof (7th floor!) and found that the meeting for the start of the tour was happening up there, and that we were getting fed too (always a bonus!) We did a roll-call where I had to explain about my double name, and we all found out each others’ names and nationalities. We then had a bit of an introductory speech from Nuc our tour guide/leader/driver or as the company likes to call them Chief Experience Officer (rolls eyes). He was obviously pretty nervous and explained to us that this was the first trip in New Zealand that G has ever run. This also helped explain the random extra folks that were at our little meet and greet BBQ as there were several of the big boss types of G adventures there to see the tour start and be present at this historic moment (again a bit of eye-rolling from me as they spoke about how we weren’t just making memories we were making history).

The BBQ then dissolved slowly into drinking at the bar downstairs. Before we got to the alcohol though I was introduced to L&P which I’d spotted on menus and in cocktail recipes but had no clue what it was. It turns out its a drink which is ‘world famous in New Zealand’ that’s sorta lemonade but not, very refreshing stuff and certainly gave me a pretty good alternative to Dr Pepper, which I drink like a fanatic at home but is barely available across in New Zealand. We descended to the bar, which was a different business than the hostel though the buildings were connected…. and the hostel had an alcohol-free policy (not that this was too strictly enforced!) Where the higher-ups of G adventures were mingling and pouring out pitchers of beer. Beer is not something I usually drink (not fond on the taste) but when something is free… So I had a couple of glasses and watched the random banter. The whole thing was made especially funny by the young daughter of a couple of said higher-ups who was running round the bar like a loony and trying to steal her parents’ glasses of beer! I didn’t stay very long as I was starting to feel the effects of the left over jetlag, so I excused myself and Natalia decided it was bed time for her too and we escaped up to our room.

We were up pretty early the next day so we could drive down to Raglan. On the drive Nuc said we had to try and decide on a ‘morning song’ that would get us pumped up and awake before we had our first coffee. We ran through a few suggestions including ‘How Bizarre’ by OMC and ‘Don’t forget your roots’ by Six60. In the end the morning song was chosen as the Six60 song but that wasn’t for several days and we spent most of this trip suggesting and listening to songs. So next stop Raglan….