Thursday, August 31, 2006

Combatant 3

We have a new member of the team. Liz Holt, aged 17 (according to Supermarket attendants after she tried to buy wine on NZ) from Ealing formerly Kettering.

She was a former housemate of both Combatant number 1 and Combatant number 2 at University and even studied the same course. This qualifies her for geek status, again adding to our moments of shame when asked by new friends what we did for a living.

Strengths at the moment seem to be spotting live animals that move very little and thinking they are dead. She also screams loudly at these animals and has been known to laugh at them at the same time. The ealry riser of the troop is first to bed and first in the shower (the fool, everyone knows it takes time for the heating to kick in in hostels). Also the most gadgeted of the team, the mobile/PDA/GPS/Internet/Filofax is constantly to hand and checked minute by minute in case of 'certain' texts from 'certain' people. Adventure wise she has opted out of skydiving, WHICH IS ALLOWED! But is looking forward to the bungy jump. There is an overwhelming need to read the trashy magazines of this world with this one, which is rubbing off onto the other members of the team (I can't believe Tom Cruise!).

Highlights so far have been laughing at horses, bringing cool stuff for us out here. Talking about work (a nono that we've let her off of for the first week). Tripping over things. Whinging about phones not working, internet not working, pictures on the blog and being able to drive the car.

A true asset to the team, unfortunately just a temporary member, but things can change...

Contender 1 and 2.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Random picture if it lets me!

29th August - Wellington the non home of the gum boot

Wellingtons were not made here in wellington, in fact they call them gum boots here
in New Zealand and they were invented miles from here in the town of Guma Bootee a
Maori phrase for silly yet practical shoes.

Wellington is a great city from the looks of things. Unfortunately this place has
been sacrificed for time and energy. All 3 of us are pooped, and we could tell that
from the 11am rise this morning. It might have had something to do with the fantastic
beds we are in and the wine we had with the lovely native Teresa as well, more on
that later.

The girls headed off to Te Papa museum to sample the delights of the culture in NZ
and they had a great time. I had a bit of chilled out day on my own which is a
valuable comidity when travelling. I've been lucky enough to have 1 full time
'gorgeous' travel partner and now a second 'gorgeous' one to go with that means I am
truly blessed, but alone time is nice... And I had some. I bought an awesome DVD and
watched it, Cube, then wrote some script. Perfect.

Last night we met up with Teresa, a friend of Liz's from work. BetFair is is name,
gambling is its game and it has served me well throughout the world cup. If you
gamble you should use it and no one else... plug and say Liz sent you
and they will sort you out with a laugh and a virtual pat on the head.

Anyway, we had a great night in the local pub with the four of us. Wine all around
and a dizzy head for the one mug who had to get up early to move the car at 8 am the
next day, i.e. me. Did I get any thanks... did I hell!

Hopefully Teresea will come over to the south island with us to do a spot of wine
touring before her brand new job starts. Applausing for her please now!

Other than that we have sucked at travelling over the last 2 days.

Leaving now


P.S. As there is internet I will taunt my work colleagues with this photo. Smug mode

27th August - Lemming day

Well for our last day in Taupo, Sarah has chosen it to be her day, and why not, she is allowed after all. First on the agenda is your average run of the mill activity - the Skydive!
She loved it! She came down with a big smile on her cheeky face. Pictures show all the evidence. Her instructor was called Des and has done over 15,000 jumps apparently, so well versed in the stupid act of jumping out of a plane.

You may ask yourself, "Where is Liz and Geof's pictures of jumping?" and you can keep asking that one. Excuses generated so far have been, money - $150 or about £50, potential nose bleeds, too cold, average views (wrong amazing views - S), somebody needed to stay on the ground to take pictures, Liz's mum gave her a note, saving ourselves for the more dangerous activity later on in the day and chickenitis a world debilitating disease caught by many and big in NZ at the moment. Well done Sarah, you champ!

Next on the list was Horse Riding through the countryside and up to the edge of the Craters of the moon. Now, Horses and I have never seen eye to eye, but I thought I better give it ago anyway. They don't have brakes, steering wheels, indicators and the power is just one horse power so not much, but I got on Zach, lucky him. The others also got their mules, Sarah got Eno and Liz got Autumn. Before everybody got on, some poor women was bucked off because another horse bit hers, but like the cliche she got back on. Much more dangerous than skydiving. So we trekked off and back again with only 1 more casualty as some guy went over the head of his and it trod on his arm. We survived with only sore muscles to complain about, some much more than others.

Then was mini-golf to round up the day. Of course yours truly whooped ass as they are meek girlie girls but the two competitive beauties were neck and neck on the last hole, but Liz clinched it with a hole in one, also winning her a free game.

Also, forgot to say that we went to the cinema last night to see Snakes on a plane. This is a truly great film, you must see it. It never pretends to be anything other than cheesey and horror and it gives everything. So funny! Go see it now!

Tomorrow is a long drive to Wellington. Nearly one island gone...


Monday, August 28, 2006

26th August - A quick sulphur bath and off to Taupo

We said goodbye to the Skydive pushing Chris at the Crash Palace (see link on side of blog) and headed off to Lake Taupo.

As we are disgustingly smelly travellers, we decided to stop on the way at Kerosene creek to have a quick dip in the naturally bath temperatured river, as it was there.

It was so nice, just the right temperature and the currents and bubbles from the mini waterfall made it the most natural jacuzzi in the world, and also the smelliest. As great as it was getting in, the fun soon evaporated as we got out much like our body heat. But we braved it and got back on the road.

Next stop was the Huka Falls, a fast flowing river that has been bottle-necked and now forms a big waterfall. It is so powerful that it is said to chuck down 62,000 gallons of water per second, strong stuff or as the Kiwis say, strong as. This is where one of the power boats comes and does its tricks in front of as well, we didn't do it as we have one to do in Queenstown.

The Prawn Park was the toilet stop of choice for us, but the 15 dollar fishing fee put us off for just one prawn. We continued on to the honey centre, I think that from this next picture you can determine why we spent an hour and a half here.

Finally was the Craters of the moon. More holes in the ground that have shed loads of steam coming out of them with boiling mud pools and thundering noises. I think it is getting a bit old hat at the moment... But still an amazing place to visit. Looks just like a Lord of the Rings set.

After that it chucked it down so we got to our hostel, watched a movie then went out to the cinema. Movie du jour was the much anticipated 'Snakes on a plane'. This is such a bad movie it is great, fantastic even. The script is so implausable that it works fine and Samuel L Jackson is as cool as ever. The death scenes are truly genius as well, go see it.

Right tomorrow is a another day, sunday I think someone said to me, perhaps. Only 2 days left of the north island to enjoy. Sadly 2 and a bit weeks till Liz has to go. But 2 and a bit weeks till the next Moto GP in Melbourne. Liz or bikes... tough choice but we all know who would win...

Laters for now


P.S. We passed two towns of note, Uretiti and Ramarama.P.P.S. I fooled Liz into thinking a horse was dead and stuffed, she cried with laughter till it moved.P.P.P.S. Motorbikes don't cry at dead horses!

25th August - Luge-ing and the Tamaki Village

Just a quick one today as we are filling up this blog rapidly, and I have to write three of these now as I am behind. So please bear in mind my supposed past tense might not be grammatically correct.

We are currently (lies I know, just go with it) still in Rotorua. The place still smells like sulphur but that is understandable as it is pretty much on top of volcanic springs and such, but it isn't that enjoyable. Anyway, we headed out to the Mountains to do a spot of Luge-ing. We took a gondola ride up to the top where Liz and I hired two suspect looking sledges for a one way trip to the bottom. All a lot of fun and frolics. We then got the ski lift back up and the pictures resemble us looking like idiots with our hats on.

The World mountain bike championchips were taking place at the same time on the same hill as the luge so we got a good look at that too.
After that we headed back into Rotorua for a spot of internet and coffee time, then picked up some souvenirs.

In the evening we had booked a trip to go see the Tamaki Village, a recreation of an ancient Maori village. Though overly touristy, we did get to see and learn a lot of Maori customs and traditions and dance. I was a bit deturbed by the 'all hold hands and sing' moments but took solice in the awesome buffet that was available. We also got to see some more Haka.

We have to leave tomorrow, so off to have a few beers with Chris before we pack up.



Friday, August 25, 2006

23rd and 24th August - The Crash Palace

We left Paihia early in the morning. A great hostel with a nice and warm room and an awesome shower, just what we needed. The town itself was a bit sleepy but it is winter there.

Stopped off at the Waitangi Treaty house on the way down South. There was a big ceremony there ages ago where the Maori and the Westerners signed a peace treaty. More culture for us, we're doing pretty good with the NZ history as it happens.

Then was a big driving session for us. The Toyota Corolla was more than up for it. A 6:50 drive took us through Auckland again and down past Hamilton onto our stop in Rotorua. There we stopped off at the Funky Green hostel as we were booked in there already. It was cold, real cold there, the heating in our room didn't work. Not great at all!

Though we did manage to catch up with our friend Chris, who we met at Mantaray Island in Fiji.
You might remember him from the previous Haka pictures with Captain Nemo. Anyway it just so happens he owns a hostel of his very own and we went wandering over to check it out. Not only did he get us 2 awesome rooms for the remainder of our stay in Rotorua, he also took us on numerous (drunken and undrunken and free) trips. He didn't have to, but went out of his way to show us everything he could, we can't thank him enough for what he did! So here's a blatant plug -


Thanks Chris!

Firstly, the night we weren't even staying at the Crash Palace, link above, we were taken out to see the Glow Worms. An unexpected and awesome trip, those little fellas are really cool, not to mention they glow at night. We were going to head down to the caves but torches kind of ran out and we had to head back in the dark, glow worms lighting the way... I'd put a picture of them up on here but they didn't come out to well, on 1 picture there was darkness, the next just one worm and the last one we got 2. So the worms didn't get camera justice.

The next day we checked out of the cold hostel and headed over. Chris was ready to go again and off we trekked volcano stylee. First stop was the bubbling mud pools, where we got an excellent video of one of them erupting but I can't put it on here unfortunately. The sulphur was pretty strong around there.

Following that, we hit the Lady Knox geyser, sneaked in at the end of it for free. Normally the geyser is set off by soap flakes in its holes at 10:15 but if you go at 10:45 you can sneak in for free. Again we got awesome pictures and videos.

After the geyser we went to a few rivers that are geothermically heated. We will hopefully go back tomorrow to go in them. They are just like baths and are just naturally amazing.

Following that, more car expedition into the forest to go to a Lagoon called Echo Lake that was also purely picturesque. We had to leave the Toyota and walk into it, the colours there were all green, blue and purples.

Yet more scenery followed, we trekked up to where the volcano blew up. The big crater was massive, it must have been a big explosion. The rocks were all different colours, reds, whites and greens, that is why it was called Rainbow Mt.

Lastly, we went down to the Lake front and saw an old Maori church, meeting place and graveyard. The people believed that you should be buried above ground as they cook in ovens under the ground, so they felt it would be like cooking you if you went underneath. We went to a carving shop and took a few cheesey photos too to round it all off.

We did all of this by lunch time too. Such a good day, we learnt so much and saw amazing things that would never happen in the UK.

Just to finish off the day, we had G & Ts and wine in the hot tub before bed. Quality.

Laters for now

P.S. Big props to Chris again. Cheers buddy.P.P.S. Happy Birthday to big Martyn of Edinburg-ishire!

22nd August - A hole in the rock and a town called Russell

For the first time in a while, we slept in. Liz's jetlag was pretty good but did get her up a tad early, but we made it till 10:30 today. Fantastic.

During a little bar time last night we won a 2-4-1 offer on a bay of islands tour so we decided to honour that prize today. The Bay of Islands is a miriad of Scenery, the whole thing is just beautiful. England does miss out on things like this badly. Island after island, geographical phenomenom after geographical wonder. The peak of which was the hole in the rock feature. A massive rock erosion on a small island that turned into a cave then a complete hole, big enough for our ferry to back right into.

The ferry tour started off nice and sunny and warm but took a turn for the worse with one of those. Nice and sunny and freezing: -

On the way back we stopped off in a small town called Russell. It did indeed remind me of the enigma that is Russell Smither. Like Russ the town was quaint, dull, strawberry blonde in colour and with not much substance to it. It also prouded its self on its reputation of being 'Romantic Russell'.

Unfortunately there were some laws in Russell that can't be popular

Other than that there wasn't much to the place. But it did have a sordid past did Russell, it used to house the first Whore house in all of Nz and was nicknamed the 'Hell hole of the pacific'. Any explanations Russ?

Again, we visited Happy hour before going to bed, this time at the Mako shark bar that did indeed have a shark over the bar.

Sorry for the lack of communication at the moment families, friends and the American Express man that Steve kindly and wisely linked to us here. We are suffering intermittent internet and the pay phones are not very phone card friendly either but we are alive. Also 'Hello Nan' your postcard is on the way! Miss you loads!

All the best

Pricey and others.

21st August - The 90 Mile beach

A fun packed, scenery packed, culture packed day! We felt like easing Liz into the sight seeing extravaganza.

An early start for us, 6:30 in the am, meant we had to hightail it to the Ancient Kauri Kingdom near Kaitaia a mere 120 km away from Paihia where we were staying.

The Ancient Kauri kingdom was a bit of a museum and a bit of a dead tree graveyard. The people there use the NZ Kauri tree to make big works of art and furniture. The Kauri trees are big like the redwoods. One of them they cut a section of and carved a spiral staircase that went up one floor. Pretty amazing. Another section they carved out a jacuzzi, but most of them were made into tables and chairs or souvenirs.

Then we picked up the bus to take us to the 90 mile beach. The driver was a weird old Maori guy that sung a lot of songs to us. First we stopped off at the Gumdiggers museum. The gumdiggers were the guys who harvested the tree sap from the Kauri tree that could be used as gum for all sorts of things like amber or wax. The Kauri trees we saw were really amazing. Some that were huge and were 30 to 40 thousand years old were still alive and standing, but because the land was swamp land and there had been ice ages there, there were some trees that had been found buried under the ground for 150 thousand years. These things were incredible, about 20 metres in diameter and 40 odd long. These were the ones the museum used to make stuff from and apparently there are loads buried around the farmlands.
Enough about the trees.

Next we went to Cape Reinga, the northern most tip of Nz, where there was a lighthouse and a spot of lunch.

After we hit the 90 mile beach. Admittedly I fell asleep on the way and was mocked. Once there we got to the sand dunes and did a spot of tobogganing. Pictures to follow, some were more graceful than others.

Then we took the bus onto 90 mile beach. Again the scenery was incredible and the beach was one big highway of sand and ocean that went on for nearly 90 miles.

We got back after a long day and like small children we were knackered and went to bed early.

More of the same tomorrow.

The travellers

P.S. It has come to the attention of the blog writer that there has been a rival blog that has just been started by Chris Scott, an acquaintance of Liz. After being 'disgusted' by the travelling Liz he has started a 'not a travel blog' website. Fun for all the family I hope. This should link it hopefully.

P.P.S. Liz says 'Hello Chris'

Saturday 20th August - Back to busy

Well back to the basics, see as much stuff in a day as possible. And boy did we see as much today as we could!

First was the Aquarium, founded by Kelly Tarlton, a dude, who liked fish. We got to see some more penguins, this time really big ones. They were king penguins which can grow to 2m, normally 1.5m so there I knew there was really big penguins and nobody believed me. Even the chicks were about 1m tall. Picture to follow: -

Then we saw some stingrays get fed by a guy named Keith, who told us not to stand on them or they will sting us and he nearly did a lot. To be fair though, the mother was a 2m monster who liked to use her fins to wrap around Keith to sense where he was, not a job for non fish lovers: -
Then we saw some sharks, some eels and some guy feeding tonnes of fish. All very educational.

Big thanks to Liz for our next outing. We did get interrupted by a big 'awareness march' through Auckland but we did end up at Eden Park for the All Blacks V The Wallabies rugby match for the Trinations cup. (That is Nz V Oz for the uninitiated). Quality game seeing the All blacks come from behind to triumph in the last 10 minutes 31 - 27. A superb game: -

We were not finished by a long shot. After a 2 hour fight to get back to the Hostel we legged it up to the SkyCity Tower for a fancy meal at Orbit the revolving restaurant. Quality views all around the city, and gorgeous food and wine, all very pleasant. Not very apt for backpackers but what the hey. Wasn't too 'comfortable' again that high up, but then neither was Liz, only Sarah showed true muscle with the height. None of us showed too much enthusiasm to jump off it with the SkyCity jump though. I much prefer the horizontal speed thing myself. Just so happens we pick our car up tomorrow. But here is a view from the tower: -

The third member is settling in very well, jetlag is supressed and is up for the walking. We will enter a '3rd combatant' piece shortly after she has made her solid impression on the adventure 'Team eh?'. (The Nz-ers say 'eh?' after every sentence be it a question, statement or insult).

Right 90 mile beach and Paihia awaits us along with trucking in our Toyota.

Pricey, outnumbered, out gunned, and having to pay for everything!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

18th August - And now there were 3

Liz has made it to New Zealand! She's got through all manner of security at Heathrow, all manner of hours on the plane and she's toughed out the Aircity bus from the airport.

She did very well and lasted till 8pm our time till the tiredness set in and sleep took over. Which was a mammoth effort as we trapsed the streets of Auckland to find warm clothes for the journey again. But now after a solid 12 hour sleep she is back to the land of the living nearly straight away.

Sarah and I feel like hosts in a way, teaching the ancient art of travelling to another. Invaluable tips like eat when you can, go to the toilet whenever you can and always keep a spare toilet roll near you at all times.

We have a busy day tomorrow so I shall rest too.


Geof, Sarah and Liz

17th August - The bird is in the air, Roger over!

Well there are a number of announcements to make, most importantly... HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Miss 'My', Miss Amy Louise Price! (Queen of the blue rinses... she'll have it blue!). And also to her freedom in the 'Real' world with her new flat, boy is she in for a rough time after ladying it up at chez 5* Price household. I bet the Jones clan are taking bets on how long it lasts, mine is for the maximum as she is too stubborn to let them win. We also found her shop in Auckland: -

Second announcement is that the chicken has flown the coop. The eagle is airborne. The bird is in the air. Eujabethal Holt is New Zealand bound. And what she doesn't know is that we have a big banner prepared for her on arrival to the sky tower. We have booked her up solid so we hope there isn't any jet-lag or flight complications. Firstly there is the aquarium, then beer, then rugby matches of the All Blacks V the Oz kind, then a dinner for 3 at the sky tower's revolving restaurant 167m in the air, followed by an ice bar made of ice, then a bar where there are mermaids in tanks. So she is in for a treat, especially as we have exhausted all free things waiting for her to get here.

Walking has been a major factor again. As is free-ish things. 100% culture day here in NZ for us, we got to see the Museum with all of its Maori history along with the pacific islands. Sarah also got a picture with a penguin.

Then we went to the art gallery for some objet d'art and paintings and stuff. Proper culture and most of it was a bit poop, but then there were some Picassos that turned it all around again. He's not bad at all.

After that we took a look at some of the waterfront property and bars, all very very nice. This place seems so deserted, the busiest place in NZ and half of it is empty. It is hard to believe that there are only 4 million people in NZ and 1.5 are in Auckland. There is so much space here.

We did go to see some comedy last night, another 10 comedian line up. But this time they were all good, unlike the Americans. Some more so than others, but they all did well, I think it was because they all used jokes, which seemed to be the Americans' downfall.

Well better get ready for the royal arrival tomorrow, I hope she can put up with our weird idosyncrasies we've developed over the 2 months away.

Laters for the moment


P.S. Sol Campbell is a great buy, have some of that!
P.P.S Well done Andy Murray for stopping Roger 'the Fed Express??' Federer.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

15th August - New Zealand, next to Old Zealand

Boy it is cold! Our tropical climated and tanned bodies are just not prepared for this sort of battering. Auckland is suffering something called winter which apparently includes some frosty air and rain, they obviously didn't get the memo that we were coming! But it is an awesome city.
We left the Fiji main land of Nadi pretty damn early in the a.m. for the airport and caught our flights after a touch of duty free shopping. Whilst in the airport we got to see some up and coming Fijian pop artists' music videos. Let's just say that they resembled something your dad would make as a home movie in the back garden, but funny none the less.

Then we were off to Auckland. Back to reality so to speak, hot showers, no sand, internet, TV and shops that sell more than wood and suncream. We promised we wouldn't but we were tired and hungry and it was the closest and cheapest, we had to go to McDonald's for lunch. Damn fatty goodness.

The view from our hostel is incredible -

We are staying right next to the SkyCity tower and it is directly out of our window. From here we can see idiots jump off the outside of it attached to bits of rope. One was even sporting a Portsmouth shirt.

Liz will be joining us very shortly. This Friday by all accounts as long as the airports are back up and running. I'm sure she is at the peak of her 'I'm going on holiday to New Zealand' annoyance zone at the moment if anyone wants to catch some of that vibe...

Right off to buy some warmer clothes. Sarah is looking even shorter today as she has stolen my fleece and it looks like a tent on her. Then we need to wash everything else as it generally really really really stinks. Especially the towels that seemed to have some coral growing in it still.

Laters for now 'eh' (learning the lingo already 'eh')


Monday, August 14, 2006

Small blurb

Hello or Bula!

We are back from the wilderness of Fiji. I have put quite a lot of posts up covering it all so scroll down till you see something you have read before then continue.

New Zealand is cold AND rainy but the beer is flowing.

We said we'd show a picture of Joanna and Graham but never got the chance... so here they are in full technicolour: -

Some other pictures may follow later hopefully of the islands in Fiji.

Mr Geof... as pronounced in Fijian

Saturday 12th August - From Pants to Paradise

Sarah has struck gold again. Ok the last one was more fool's gold but we have the real thing again.

Oarsman's Bay is fantastic, probably the most hotel-like of all the places we have been to. The sand is sandy obviously but also fine and white. The sea, blue obviously but with shades of turquoise and purple and you can actually see through it and go in it unlike the idyllic shores of Bognor Regis. There is also life in them tharr seas, tonnes of fish and coral.

They say that cultures are diverse and the people from Fiji are so different to the English, but we saw one striking resemblance... One Fijian working here goes by the name of Nigel, wears very tight vests, is the campest thing around, calls out 'Afternoon tea' around 4pm everyday and does no other work whatsoever. I feel he was separated at birth from one Sunderlandian/Romfordian.

We have hot water! We can take a decent shower, and go for number twos with confidence again. It's the small things in life sometimes, even though those small things can come in the shape of cockroaches the size of Mars Bars.

Exercise has been back on the agenda, kayaking some more, snorkelling some more, Sarah wanted to climb a volcano but my lunch disagreed with me. It disagreed with me in the 'Not climbing up that near vertical shenanigan' kind of way. But we might go tomorrow morning instead.

The Fijian stage is nearly at an end and I think we are ready for New Zealand. Though sitting on the beach eating fish and fresh fruit is awesome, you can have too much. We are itching to see something else now. The Fijians are such a nice people, they are all friendly, even the ones trapping you on islands. The phrase 'Bula' meaning hello/goodbye/beer/whassup/anything has now been etched on to our souls so that if anyone ever says it we immediately scream it back at people with a big smile!

Our new favourite game is to befriend new New Zealanders to get addresses and things 'in case' we need something to eat or somewhere to stay. We could avoid hostels entirely at this rate for the next part of our trip.

Right, our last Island happy hour awaits us... to Fiji Gold and beyond!


9th to the 10th August - Deserted...

Ok, out of 5 places to stay, Sarah did so well organising it was unbelievable, top marks all round. Except for Manuka island!

We heard from an Irish couple that it was BAD and that we should rebook somewhere else, we should have!

I got a little worried when the boat wouldn't stop there on it's journey north and we had to turn around and come south for a second go at it. We got on with two other English girls, Clare and Zayba. Again we got worried when we travelled for 20 minutes on a crappy boat and nothing to be seen. More worry as we got to a hut with no other people around. It was just us and numerous Fijian villagers. One hut, no electricity, no running water, toilets were flushed by a bucket of water, and showers were the same bucket of water.

To make things worse, it rained hard for a day, a whole day.

Anyway it was time to move on and we had read nearly everything and played a lot of cards, I have even learned 4 card tricks now. So we had to get in the small boat again. We were late as the idiots had no idea when the taxi boat was coming, but we got to the meeting point. The taxi went right past us in the distance, the fools hadn't told them we were coming. Suddenly their English got bad and we HAD to go back and stay with them for more nights. NO WAY!

In the end we were conned into going to the village to buy more petrol for the boat at some extortionate price to get them to take us to the next resort. The villagers lived better than we did at the resort. After lots of bartering and messing around we set off for an hours small boat ride to another resort, where we waited a further hour in the boat for the taxi. They cocked up BIG time. The taxi could only go south now and we lost our money and accomodation at our next resort, we had to pay even more to get in somewhere else before getting back to the mainland. I lost my sense of humour that day! Enough said. They tried to trap us and con us and it could have got nasty. DO NOT STAY AT MANUKA ISLAND RESORT EVER!

We ended up at an ok place called Sunset Waya and at least there was a rickety cold shower there to clean up and have a cold beer, not just one that came from a fridge that wasn't turned on at the stupid island before. Humour has returned, and we can now go to our good place tomorrow (Oarsman's Bay) for the remaining two nights before flying to NZ...

Yours rustically


8th August - The Wanataki Cruise

After Sarah's verbose description of the awesome Mantaray bay resort I will keep this one very short...

We were booked on a one night cruise on the taxi boat's sister ship the Wanataki, which docks about 200 yards from the coast of Mantaray bay. We got on about 4 in the afternoon, watched a bit of fishing, had a spot of dinner with a nice couple, Gwen and Steven who were going the same way as we were around the world. After a few beers we went to sleep and woke up to some breakfast. We hadn't moved an inch.

Our pickup for the next island was at 11 so on we got... not much of a cruise but at least we got to see some TV and the people were a lot of fun.



6th August - Mantaray Island Resort and Mantaray.

Although Bounty Island was awesome and beautiful, we were feeling pretty ready for our next island after the 3 days (although leaving the private hut, the ensuite and the animal roommates was a wrench). We prepared ourselves for a bit of a step down in quality as we set off on the big yellow boat to our next and significantly cheaper resort - Manta Ray Island.

Happy to report that Manta Ray Resort is excellent in pretty much every way. Particularly all the staff here are so friendly - the activities guy, Captain Nemo, keeps the enthusiasm levels up all day long. The food here is top notch too - loads of variety and fantastic fish!

First afternoon here we made the most of the sun, lazing around. In the evening we took part in our second Kava ceremony of the trip. This time Geof was feeling clued up enough to volunteer to be the spokesman for the proceedings. This was a relatively painless job involving saying one word - "Taki" (we think!) - to open the ceremony. This was a bit of a let down as Geof had been hoping to get grass skirted and greased up in coconut oil like the guys who had 'volunteered' for the kava distribution job:

The night ended soon after and we retired to the suprisingly quiet 32 bed dorm for a good night's sleep. Despite cocooning myself in the massive (and completely intact) mosquito net and dousing myself in Jungle Formula I still managed to wake up with a multitude of mosquito bites. Current score is Sarah 9 Geof 2.

Day 2 and we woke up ready for an action packed day. Unfortunately strong winds scuppered all water based activity, and painful blasts of sandy wind rendered sunbathing futile. Much book reading ensued. Come afternoon though we could set off for our kayak escapade, slightly choppy but good exercise. Next was snorkelling - we didn't think off the beach snorkelling could get much better than Bounty Island but oh yes it can. There is a full aquarium down there.

After all this activity we thought we deserved a few happy hour Fiji Golds, so a few we had. We met a Kiwi guy called Chris who partook in several more with us. The evening's entertainment was a crab race - the 8 crabs (all representing a different country) were auctioned off to the highest bidders and 3 rounds of hardcore crab racing followed - each time the losers would be unceremoniously flung out of the window. Seeing as we'd had a few beers by now, this whole event was wildly exciting. Jonny Wilkinson (England crab), Steven Seagal (representing USA although we suspect he is Canadian?), and some NZ rugby player crab made it to the final and NZ emerged victorious. We had a few more beers watching Oz play South Africa at rugby, then moved on to the beach for a bonfire. We drank some Baileys on the beach which just seemed wrong - not really a campfire drink. Well it tasted good. The guitars came out and we sang some songs, Captain Nemo jumped in and out of the fire like a lunatic and we all got drunk under the stars.

(Geof has taken over of this because a) it's getting long, real long and b) someone got bored and left it.)

We woke up with sore heads the next day and were happy to just have a read in the hammock for a while. But we got the only call of our stay for the Mantarays. Obviously they have their own timetable in life so they have to go whenever there is a chance. So we panicked, got some snorkels and jumped into the boat. We then got dumped in the crisp morning sea and swam for it. After 2 mis-manta attempts the boat finally dropped us right on top of him. The thing was roughly 2 to 3 metres wide and so beautiful. She was doing backflips for us whilst feeding and incredible to watch, then she bolted and I was lucky enough to catch a wave after her. But she just flapped her wings like a bird and she was gone. A great hangover cure!

The rest of the day was chilled, we said goodbye to our mate the Kiwi, Chris, and he did a load of the 'Good-bye' song with the Fijians, followed by a Haka.

Volleyball followed and I won 5 games on the trot with some English and Swedish boys, then some guy wiped his back out and put a stop to that game. He didn't look good after that and had to be shipped back to the mainland. Sarah also followed her good luck for the day and got bird poop on her face for the second time of the trip so far, nice!
Leaving for the Wanataki cruise soon.
Laters for now
Sarah (and Pricey)
P.S. Sorry for the length... bad help these days...

3rd August - Bounty Island, home of the once Celebrity Love Island

Yaarrrrr we be on Bounty Island. And it really is an island in the middle of nowhere. Population, 1 hotel of about 40 people and staff. Beaches all the way round, which if you walk takes about 30 minutes or by Kayak 20.

The place is awesome, very idyllic. Just what Madame wanted for her birthday.There isn't that much to do here compared to what we have been used to, for example the 10 mile treks around the surrounding areas, so we have had to chill out which has been great. Sunbathing has been a key factor of late. As has kayaking and snorkelling and walking round and round the island. Just a few feet off the beach there are coral reefs and the fish are awesome.

On the other side of the island is the setting for the first Celebrity love island, not the current one. Unfortunately it has been just left as it was and is in need of some serious repair. But some of the buildings are still there which makes for a good picture, though the jacuzzi doesn't.

We have also had a bit of Fijian culture, we attended one of their ceremonies they do called Kava, where you drink the Kava juice (made from a powdered tree root) and your mouth goes numb and your head goes light. It didn't taste so great (a bit muddy) but that isn't really the point. A mild form of marajuana I think, the locals love it. We also had a Lovo meal that was cooked from ovens under the ground for hours. It was damn tasty. Unfortunately after that we were strangely overcome by tiredness and slept for 12 hours. Another side effect of Kava!

Other than that we are having an awesome time, building some proper tans to make Liz jealous when she meets us in the much colder town of Auckland. There has also been giant spiders, families of geckos (that leave little presents for us on our bed) and ants living with us at all times of the day, you get used to them...

More to come from our next island, Skull Island...

Pricey and Sarah

1st August - Fiji

After a panicky day of trying to get a few last minute things before we flew, we finally made it back to LAX with an unbashed rental mini van. It's tough to find a pharmay on a Sunday in a place that is huge and you don't know where you are. It was even tougher to find a beach towel in a place where there are beaches EVERYWHERE! But nevermind...

First celebrity spotting instances happened today. We saw almost the entire Chelsea squad (minus Crespo and Ballack and Jose himself) as they boarded their bus out the back of the Adidas store. Not being huge Chelsea fans, Sarah was most excited by seeing the England boys - Frankie, John and Joe.

A few bad things happened on the way to the plane, nothing major just annoyances. We weren't on a Quantas flight like our tickets told us we were but actually Air Pacific in a different terminal, no biggie I suppose. The other minor casual thing was that the Air Pacific desk was right next to the Air India desk, now I love the Indians and their cultures, but they do love to bring the whole family to the airport to say goodbye, the place was jam packed with people. We went through passport control to get some evening dinner to find no food shops at all. And lastly there was a massive American who got up to go to the plane right after our number got called...

A few good things... Second celebrity spotting instance - Will Mellor (of Hollyoaks and two pints semi-fame) was spotted around our departure gate at LAX. As we doubt he has much of a Hollywood career our theory is he may have been on our flight to join the Love Island losers? We got awesome seats on the plane, at the back of a cabin in the middle, with seats that went all the way back guilt free. The large guy got 3 seats to himself in the row to the side. And as the 11 hour journey was overnight for us, we zonked out and woke up about 2 hours from the end of the trip for breakfast. We got off the plane quick, our bags came quick, there were plenty of taxis and we managed to get to the port of Nadi, Fiji, by 6 a.m - just slightly too early for our boat at 8:30. We made the most of it and watched the sun come up. Small panic ensued after an hour of patient waiting when we were on the verge of something and this happened -

But luckily with mere seconds to spare it got out of the way -

So we made it in one piece.

First stop for us is Bounty Island! For those of you who are Monkey Island fans, that would be funny, for those of you who aren't... just laugh maniacally for fun.

Laters for now