Tuesday, September 26, 2006

26th September - Dive this!

Cairns is here, heat is with us, all 26 degrees plus humidity. Fantastic, though we have to acclimatise again. The place is pretty cool, shorts and bikins are mandatory clothing as are thongs. No, no, not the underwear kind, no those crazed buffoons call flip flops thongs, idiots! I mean some other fools call them jandals!

First things first, we need to book dive courses, the only reason Carins is on the map really, a great big living city called the Barrier reef. We pimped around nearly every shop in the town as well. Sarah needs to do her open water padi course and I was going to go along for the ride. So before we book anything, medicals...

That's right... I failed the dive medical, the B******S! Asthma apparently can really kill you under the sea in many ways. AND they told me I was 'Permanently unfit'... PERMANENTLY???... how dare they! Do they not know who I am! Did they not get the memo. Damn them all! Also I can't dive for 5 years after I am cured!? Damn doctors! Cost me $48 to find that out, some other guy wants me to see a specialist for another crack at it for $110, shoved that up his a**. Rant over.

So... Sarah is booked on a 4 day dive course, I am booked to go snorkelling with her on the 5th day, and I get to go on a Motocross bike tour instead to keep me happy. Oh well.
Apart from that everything is pretty chilled out. The Blue Lagoon pool by the jellyfish infested ocean is fantastic and our tans are part way topped up by now. The jealousy on Liz's face will be huge and green.

Laters for now

Pricey landlocked and never to meet Nemo up close which is a good job because I'd punch him in his stupid face, I think I'm still seething over the whole 'Permanently unfit' thing...

PS - We also saw something funny out and about this evening. A group of rowdy uncouth youths were having a kickabout along the pedestrianised shopping strip when their ball went astray. A passing middle aged tourist lady kindly took a swing at it to pass it back, knobbing it straight through a shop window. Oh the shame.

25th September - The great ocean road of rain

Unfortunately for the first week, well 4 days really, in the entire time since I quit work all the way back on June 2nd, we have had bad weather. We all have to have it sometime and we haven't had our fair share, even in New Zealand it didn't rain that much, it was just cold. But it did and it is miserable. Hailing in fact.

But on the plus side I'm feeling much better thanks, and we stayed at a SUPER-ECO hostel in Apollo Bay. A newly built, $3 million hostel by YHA and it is quite impressive. Big bay windows overlooking the bay, 2 massive kitchens and 2 massive lounges. We had a double with a balcony AND there was a bath in the blokes. Awesome, we haven't had a bath for months... showers yes, I'm not that stinky!

Stopping on the way to Apollo bay, we took a detour to the lighthouse at Cape Otway. The lighthouse wasn't much so we gave it a miss, but instead slowly drove along the road with Sarah looking up at the Eucalyptus trees looking for wild bears. Low and behold around a corner there was a parked car with two other english girls staring at a tree, so I sent Sarah out to investigate with 'Chris Kamara' the camera. The conversation went a little something like this and in such a high pitched excited way that it couldn't possibly translate into anything digital: -

Girl - 'Can you see the Koala?'

Sarah - 'Yes it's up there!'

Girl - 'Can you see the baby with it'

Sarah and Girl - 'Awwwwwwwww'

There were about 4 on the way back to the main road so the diversion wasn't entirely wasted. One more native species to cross off the list, in the wild too which is double points. More from these critters later.

We had to cruise back along the Great Ocean Road as we have flights up to Cairns and some heat for the Monday afternoon. So we pelted up the twisty ocean roads going up and down mountains looking at the massive waves in the microscopic Hyundai Getz rental, the americans would never allow this into their country. Anyway, we took a corner a little quick, nothing dangerous, just saving time, but the following conversation took place -

Sarah - 'Look out!!!!'

Geof - Swerves car away from object in middle of road, good job the Getz is tiny we had plenty of space.

Sarah - 'Oh my god what IS that?'

Sarah - 'Awwwwwwwwwwww'

Yes, that is the sound of a lazy assed koala bear crossing the road randomly and very slowly having just climbed a cliff face. Cool though, nearly had some endangered species roadkill. I also slowed down to see if the massive Ute I'd just overtaken didn't get it either, fear not the Koala bear lived.

Right we are off to Cairns. Heat will be with us once again, maybe even sunshine.


Pricey and the Bear hunter

23rd September - South Coast World

Bonza indeed, we have hired another car and left Melbourne. This time a Hyundai Getz, a 1.3 micra style machine just big enough for some bags and us to fit in.

Not so bonza is that I have achieved 'cold' status, some might have diagnosed it a near death experience but I battled through it. It sucks being ill whilst travelling, all you want to do is sleep and your nose gets sore from blowing it 300 million times a day. Then you have to go on walks to see remarkable stuff that is windy and cold.

But we travelled on regardless, mostly through English towns like Burnley, Torquay and Peterborough, but the first place we stopped at was Lorne. A cool place right by the beach with massive rolling waves crashing into the sand. A surfer's paradise, nearly. We stayed in this hostel that had 100 wild Cockatiels flying around the tree tops around it. Awesome you might think, at 6am with a cold and a running nose and a bad night's sleep those little b*****ds had something to answer for. Could have become the next extinct species.

More travels followed as we high tailed it to Port Campbell stopping on the way to see the 12 Apostles, of which there are now 9, must have been a day off for the other ones.

(We could only see six at the time)

We also stopped to go for a treetop walk on the Otway Fly. More heights for me to handle, but it wasn't too bad actually, the big metal structure stretched out through the trees and you could see loads of the forest. May not have been worth the $17 dollars each for the 15 minute walk but it was kind of worthwhile.

Port Campbell was quaint, local and quaint. There was also a massive storm that night so we stayed in and watched the semi finals of the Ozzie rules. Would probably have stayed in anyway due to the crippling cold that has been attacking me if I hadn't mentioned that before.

The morning after we set off for the oddly named Port Fairy to stay. On the way were more coastal features, the arch, the Grotto, London Bridge (that had fallen down), the bay of Martyrs and the bay of islands. All of which are amazing sites made purely from the mother earth and the seas of adversity.

Port Fairy also gets the quaint moniker and we hope tonight that we can go out for dinner as my extreme illness has subsided somewhat. I have also gained an unusually sexy husky voice that has had hostel receptionists double take me.

Laters for now


20th September - A generally weird day

Today was just a weird day. Did some celebrity spotting in the morning, one Randy Mamola of Moto GP fame, he does the commentary on Euro Sport and does the tandem bike rides for those that know nothing! Then we got picked up just after 1 for our Neighbours tour. You have to do it if you come to Australia!

The guy driving the bus was a hyperactive Neighbours loon and filled us all with sweets and really bad old pop songs sung by current and ex Neighbours cast members. The best being the song 'Make you feel good' by Stephen Dennis other wise known as Paul Robinson, cringeworthy. After that we were up for anything.

Then we went to this really downtrodden shop in Melbourne to sort out vouchers and money and to buy souvenirs. About 16 of us were in this small shop when some geezer with a beard walks in off the street, no one really noticed till the guide says 'And here is Alan Fletcher who plays Dr Karl Kennedy'. WEIRD. So we all got photos with him.

By the way he has a beard as the story line he is in at the moment requires it. He accidentally murdered 5 of the current cast members and is now on the run but is hiding out in Bouncer's old dog house. Will they catch him? He doesn't know yet.

Then we all got back on the bus and were just about to leave when Karl or Fletch hops on and says his goodbyes, then gets off and just walks off down the street like a hairy hobo. WEIRD, just imagine walking around and bumping into strange Neighbours cast members.

After more pop videos and sweets we went to Erinsborough High and then Ramsey Street which is actually called Pin Oak Court. The place is much smaller than it seems on TV and there are only the 5 houses there. We got pictures of all of them and of the makeshift sign too. We also got a shot of where Harold ran over Bouncer all those years ago.

The whole thing was just WEIRD. Went home straight to sleep!



Thursday, September 21, 2006

19th Septmeber - Pounding dem streets

We are definetly getting the exercise, we have nearly walked all of the Melbourne city centre. Monday we made it over to the MCG and the Rod Laver stadium (tennis) before pounding back over the other side to Docklands.

There we went to the Leonardo Da Vinci machines museum and got a lot of culture for us. He was a remarkable man whose ideas and techniques were hundreds of years before his time. Though it was funny that one of his machines, a tank no less, they tried to recreate was flawed badly, but he had only made sketches not proper details of it.

After that we went all the way to the market to find that it was shut before heading home for a bit of a kip before the free comedy night. That was fun, but the comedians weren't the best, at one stage there was nearly a fight with one of the crowd. Strange Aussie humour! But it was a good free night out apart from the beer obviously.

The next day we got the running shoes on again and went to see Chinatown and Brunswicke street, a street that the lonely planet said we had to see. Both were very dissapointing as there wasn't really anything there, but we had got tonnes of exercise getting there. We retired for a long lunch and a bottle of wine.

After we headed to the Picasso museum to see some more culture (free of course). When we got there we headed to all the doors inside but they were all locked. The museum workers were all there working but nothing was open. We tried to get to the 2nd floor but both escalators were going down. It was only till I asked someone that they said it was shut today. SO WHY DID'NT YOU TELL ME AND WHY ARE THE FRICKIN DOORS OPEN?

We retired for a drink by the river. An unsuccesful day of sorts.

Tomorrow, the neighbours tour! I'm going to punch Harold.



17th September - Moto GP mach 2 - Phillip Island

Yes, that's right it was Moto GP time again, more motorbikes for us to endure!

Melbourne is actually 2 hours away from Phillip Island and the race so we had to get a bus there a touch early in the morning. 6 am early to be precise, but you have to sacrifice some things for your love of bikes like time.

It started off well, but then we got hit by some fog, a lot of fog. So much so that cars and bikes were drving across some roundabouts because they couldn't see them coming. Seriously foggy. So that was the main weather factor we were dreading, at Donnington last year we had terrential rain, at Laguna Seca we had scorching desert heat and in OZ we had blanket fog.

But about 11 o'clock ish the fog began to lift and we could see the track, racing was only delayed by 40 minutes. We pitched our stall up on the back curves and had some chips for breakfast. I then went for a walk to find some free goodies while Sarah lazed in the emerging sun. There wasn't as much free stuff as there was in America but managed to grab a few goodies here and there and see some custom bikes. I managed to wal around the whole track in the end which was fun.

On my travels I'd found a better spot so we moved the tent over to the other side of the track. Just in time for the start of the 125s. We cracked open the box of wine we had illegally smuggled into the venue and set about our subway lunches to the sound of racing bikes. The sun was beating down as well, a lesurely 25 degrees.

Just before the Moto GP race, an F18 fighter jet did a display for the crowd which was loud and impressive. But then just as the bikes started we got some spots of rain. It was a shame because Shinya Nakano and Rossi had got off to a flyer so that would have been an interesting race. But they used the new rules that when the rain comes down the riders must do a pit stop, Formula 1 style, where they change bikes with wet tyres. All alot of fun and other riders came out on top after the changes.

Marco Melandri came in first with the Australian, Chris Vermulen, in second to the delight of the crowd. Valentino Rossi just pipped Sete Gibernau on the final straight for the 3rd place making the standings very interesting for the last 3 races of the season. The championship could be anyones.

After the race we managed to get on to the track, whcih was very cool. We got under the podium and watched the prizes get given out. I got a really cool video on the camera of them spraying the champagne everywhere.

All on all a fantastic day, it took a while to get home but we slept very soundly that night.




Saturday, September 16, 2006

15th September - OZ landed (Geof and Sarah 4 - Countries 0)

We have made it - we are in Melbourne, Oz. We are now 4 countries down with only 2 to go, 1 of which we have been to already and the other is England, yuk. Better make the most of these next couple of months then.

We've been busy right from the start, we are staying in the centre of the CBD of Melbourne so street walking has been done already. First day down and we have done nearly a 1/4 of it. Saw a street photo gallery and went up the Rialto towers, the tallest building in the Southern hemisphere 'apparently' (the Auckland sky tower may have something to say about that) though the one across the street looked bigger.

If we haven't already had enough of heights...

Then we went to the Victoria Market to get some food, then traipsed back to look at all the motorbike shops (more on that to come), followed by a movie in the evening at their entertainment plaza, which is huge and awesome. Saw DOA which is exactly the same as StreetFighter the movie so if you liked that you'll like this.

Today, saturday, is planning day... that's right MOTO GP AT PHILLIP ISLAND is tomorrow! Yes! More bikes. Sarah is so excited.

Big post coming soon about that probably.

Yours anticipationately


PS - Sarah is awesome.

PPS - Charlton play host to Portsmouth tonight, if Portsmouth lose then Geof has agreed to do a bungy jump. If Charlton lose, Sarah has agreed to do a bungy jump. If it is a draw, then both parties are doing the bungy jump. Sounds fair.

14th September - Christchurch and beyond (Liz Holt - a tribute)

Franz Josef is 500 km behind us, we took a 170 km journey in the car to Greymouth to catch the cross country train to Christchurch another 300 odd km away.

The journey was picturesque nearly all the way, with the train going through about 20 tunnels leading onto big viaducts with nothing on either side of the train, and always supported by massive mountains in the background, some with snow. The only thing that spoilt the journey was some miserable cow (not Sarah or Liz this time) sitting at our table of 4 group that had a face like thunder and played her mp3 player of Madonna's early hits too loud. She also slept and missed most of the journey. Luckily she moved seats 3/4 of the way.

In Christchurch, we hit the streets and used the tram to see what we could. Went to a musueum on Maori culture again but strangely enjoyed it. Then we got all packed up ready to fly and went to have our last meal together as a threesome. We went to a fancy bar where we all had lamb or steak or venison with a New Zealand red.

Thursday morning we had to say goodbye to Eujabethal 'Liz' Holt. She was off to Singapore before bracing herself for England and the 'W' word on monday. She was a prized asset of the team, one that has introduced a whole red onion and a clove of garlic to every meal, one that used sarcasm as a way of communicating, one that cried with laughter at animals that appeared dead, one that got up way too early and one that made the trip much more enjoyable. We have lost a third leg...

But with the loss of a travelling buddy comes a new country... the land of OZ. We too leave New Zealand thursday afternoon.

New Zealand is great. It is so untouched and spacious that evil human ways haven't spoilt it yet. Get there whilst you can!

On to other things.


Pricey plus 1.

P.S. Liz will be in Singapore if anyone needs any designer knock off moody goods. I've put in for a watch and a whale!

11th September - Franz Josef and his glacier

Queenstown is now history. We got up early as usual to get packed and to move on out. Queenstown is a real ski bunny/snow bum party town. But also just a nice chilled place with tonnes of crazy things to do like bungy, powerboats, the gondola and the Kiwi park.

Sarah and Liz went to the Kiwi park whilst I tried to buy new jeans as the old ones had a rather embarrassing hole in the crotch. Anyway, Kiwis come out to play at night time so the two girls went into the make shift night time hut to see them. Apparently, it took a few minutes to get your eyes used to the nightvision. Thinking to herself after 5 minutes, 'This is rubbish, I can't see anything!' Liz got up and came towards Sarah and removed her sunglasses for her. All was revealed. Apparently the Kiwis are pretty big.

Then we set off for our biggest drive yet, a 7 hour monster. This time to a town called Franz Josef where he harbours a lot of ice. From here Sarah and I split off from Liz as she went on a fancy smancy helicopter ride over the Franz Josef glacier and we got to do a half day hike to it and up it.

The glacier is truly a powerful and huge thing, it rips rocks off of walls and there are massive chasms in it. The guide kept saying things like 'Don't stand over here like an idiot as you may fall in' he then chucks some ice in and after 10 seconds or so there is a massive crashing/avalanche sound that appears to be the glacier breaking up. It didn't, but he then says 'I'm not coming down after you!'. Thanks buddy.

Here are some glacier shots: -

The trip was a long one and we were pretty knackered by the end of it. Liz had a great time too as obviously she got to go in a helicopter over the thing.

In the evening we kept up our pretences as the three wise people and won $30 in a pub quiz coming in second. We stupidly helped out the first team as well which was not in our interests but they looked in trouble early on. Damn liars!

Christchurch tomorrow!


Pricey and co.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Haven't put any stupid pictures up lately!

Some more captions to caption on. Please use the comments at the bottom of the entry... Last winner was a Mr Tristan Anthony Jones of Bognor Regis/Oxford. Well done, you get some tat. The winner this time will get a bottle of wine all the way form New Zealand.

I love my new spidey onsie. It was even padded to make my guns look bigger.

Sarah was struggling to match the Super 'Psychic Sarah'

Liz always played peek-a-boo with a hint of sarcasm.

I tried to give Sarah a big hand whilst she was looking over the chasm of doom.

Sarah took her big hand theme a little further.

9th September - Queenstown full of queens.

Welcome to Queenstown, home of this years gay ski week, there are queens nearly everywhere here. I am not one of them, got it! But the other two sometimes boss me around like they are...

Queenstown is definitely the party town of the South Island. Tonnes of snow bunnies of all descriptions are drinking themselves to death nightly. As more mature travellers, no lauging, we have indulged only in the restaurants and early happy hours. Reasons being that we are knackered and hungry by the time we get to 9 due to the day's activities and that happy hours are great and we drink too quick. £1.50 a pint is fun.

Yesterday we went snow boarding up Coronet Peak which is only half an hour from Queenstown. All 3 of us got up there for a brisk 9am start for our lesson with the lovely Marmar. By lunch we had mastered the falling over and the getting up. After lunch we moved onto turning left and right. Success was had by both Liz and myself, though Sarah had to pull out due to some nasty foot problems. Don't be alarmed the red wine sorted them out and there have been necessary measures taken for our glacier walk later on next week. But snow boarding was awesome, would love to doit again, when I get the chance. Very simple to learn and a lot of fun as long as you don't wipe out too much. I only had a couple of big offs to speak of but still alive to tell the tales.

Again, scenery is a big part of life here, one which I've missed out on so may move here temporarily when we get back.

Today we shopped a bit, Sarah bought an Australian rugby top in New Zeland, and generally whinged about all of the bruises and aches and pains that we got from yesterday. We also went up the gondola ride to the top of another peak where there was some awesome views of the town and the surrounding mountains, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables.

Not long to go unfortunately now. Tomorrow sees our biggest drive yet, a 7 hour thriller through some mountain passes to Franz Joseph, a glacier of immense proportions.


P.S. Still haven't seen a bloddy Kiwi yet! The Kiwi zoo was shut damnit.

6th September - Wired for sound and unloved...

Unloved, because Liz spends a lot of time on the phone most evenings and when we phone home the answer machine sends its love after the beep obviously... (I think 6 am might catch parents at a suitable phone answering time)...

We are still in Te Anau, proboably because we haven't been to the Milford Sounds yet. To the uneducated, yes you Nigel, Sounds are big hills around rivers that are created by glaciers. Though to be picky Milford Sounds aren't sounds they are Fiords or Fjords for the herdy gerdy Europeans like the Dutch, damn crazy people.

So Fjording we went. All in all a dull day, we were in a minivan with old people and we stopped every 30 minutes to go to the toilet. BBBBBBBBBUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTT

The mini bus was personal, the driver was great and took us to the greatest scenery alive, including Lord of the Rings fields and massive chasms.

He also made the day really easy. We got shoved onto a boat at Milford and set out to see the sounds. They are just amazing. Geology people would have needed new underwear, especailly when they would have seen the glacial striation and the rocks that looked like gold but apparently weren't gold but harboured gold somewhere underneath...

Even the people on the Kiwi Experience bus, those that were treating NZ like a different Ibiza, were bored of the journey but perked up for the sounds. This place is just so different it is unreal. Beautiful and untouched in every way, very, very, very rare for this world. 98% clean water from the snow and tiny remaining glaciers, as well as a sheltered area for rare penguins to breed alongside seals. The place speaks for itself.

After we got back to the hostel, with a little snooze from all 3, we met up with an Irish couple, Fergus and Jill, who we'd met in Yosemite national park. Another chance happening but a good one none the less again.

Queenstown tomorrow. Queenie rocks!



P.S. I saw a place called Mirror lake and saw a sign upside down. I complained until I looked at the water where the mirror image made it clear to all, other than the coach load of Japanese people behind me. I got mocked.

P.P.S. Sarah wanted to go to the Moose Bar and Resterant, she then then pointed right at it and said 'I want the Moose' just as an unfortunately ugly lady passed between her pointing finger and the pub.

5th September - Leaving Lake Wanaka and meeting the Cornish

Lake Wanaka is a cool snow boarding community, really busy for the winter due to the mountains and the snow. Apparently Shania Twain also has a mini mansion around the area.

We had a quiet night in the bar monday after a lazy internet fest and cooking session on Monday. It's probably the only day we have taken off this month and it was good. Too much talk of what to do when we get back to England though...

Tuesday was back on track. First things first westopped off at the internet place to check a few emails about the stuff we booked up the day before. In the cafe some weird english guy walks in seeming kind of familiar... it was none other than the Legend that is Ed Cornish, Lancing old boy and now regular snow bum. Amazing to see him after so many years and in New Zealand too. So much so I forgot to introduce Sarah and Liz, so they say hi Ed!

After that quick bit of random nostalgia, we headed to the lake for some motorsport action. One tiny powerboat with a massive engine, a only 3 passengers. We pegged around Lake Wanaka in not much time whatsoever, we also got to go up some rivers and play near the rocks and bridges. Fun fun fun. The powerboat could also do 360 turns and the driver let all 3 of us have a go at some, awesome. I want one, only 300,000 NZ dollars so about 30p really.

Then we said 'laters' to the Lakes and headed south to Te Anau, momentarily stopping on the way due to some sheap in the road.

There were a lot of sheep, a veritable moving banquet of mutton. Rob would have been salivating.

That's it for now, Milford Sounds tomorrow. Bloody tourists!


P.S. We are staying in a dorm with a weird German guy who doesn't like to do up his flies. What more can I say...

P.P.S. I can't remember if I have forgotten/done it already to big up the triatholon running/swimming/cycling man, Chris Waldron on his birthday. Sorry buddy if I forgot but never too late hey? He is apparently only half an iron man and is as ugly as Iain Dowie his new manager for the Charlton this year. Happy birthday dude.

Monday, September 04, 2006

4th September - Scenery, lots of scenery, get back damn you!

Well, I'm not sure how much more breath taking scenery I can take. I mean one is great, 2 lucky but 4 in a day is just dangerous! New Zealand should come with a health warning of some kind - You'll go blind!

Right so first of all was Lake Tekapo and a small church over looking the thing. The church didn't bother with a fancy alter or anything, it just had a big bay window overlooking the lake and the snow capped mountains the area had to offer.

More driving took us past yet another scenery bashing lake Pukaka, (the names are just dirty in this part of the world, we also passed Knobs Pass as well...). Then we headed up to Mount Cook for a spot of trekking. Again Mount Cook is a postcard just waiting to happen. Snow everywhere but still hot enough for just a T-shirt. We did a walk up a river for about 2 hours which was great exercise, also with Indiana style rope bridges.

Then much more driving again, as this place is huge. Straight roads obviously, I wish England was like this, top speeds have been pushed on open stretches... don't tell anyone.

Our final stop of the day is the Snow bum town of Lake Wanaka (again with the dirty words), and yet again with an amazing lake to look at, kind of bored at this stage. Anyway, the town is great, an up and coming snow resort as the ski valleys aren't too far away and it is different to Queenstown. A good place to invest if you can.

As we got in quite late, we walked around a bit then got a bite to eat and did the sunday night pub quiz which we came 3rd in. Not bad but not great, though the questions were mainly on American sport, law and history which made it hard.

Today is an internet day, hopefully some wine tasting in the afternoon, no ski-ing as we hope to do some from Queenstown.


2nd September - Hamning it up in the springs

More driving, another 5 hours!

Just a quick stop in Hamner Springs, yet another geothermally heated area in the hills, this time with snow on the mountain tops around us.

Had a quick bite to eat in the evening where I nearly choked to death, the others didn't seem interested as a bit of bacon attached to some bungy cord was bouncing up and down my throat. Eventually Sarah whacked me on the back though I wasn't sure if it was to save me or just meaness but I was saved, HOORAY!

In the morning we went for a dip in the outdoor baths, Hamner Springs. Frickin freezing out of the pools in your trunks, but the 35 to 40 degree pools warmed you up again. Fantastic, Butlins needs some of those bad boys.

Back on the road now for Lake Tekapo - let me give you the phonetic way of saying that - Lake Take-a-poo.



P.S. Just had one thanks.

1st September - Welcome to the Whale way station

Driving has been a big theme over these last couple of days. We've done quie a few 4 to 6 hour stints on the long and very straight roads, sometimes seeing other cars but not often. Every now and again we get the very twisty mountain roads instead, and the occasional sheep or two.

Kaikoura was our next destination, home of the whales and a few dolphins too. On the way in about 20 km out was a Seal sanctuary, which we stopped at as Liz shrieked of joy at seeing a live one, not dead and stuffed. They were pretty cool but didn't do much, though we did get a small video of two fighting.

After that we got to the town and had a walk around, Sarah had to replace a pair of jeans with 2 new ones. Typical girl. Then we hit the hay early as some fool booked us in for the early whale watching the next day - 7:15 be there!!!!

Anyway we got up and went to the Whale way station. You see what they did there! It was also a train station as well. One Mr G Jones of Bognor will be peed off that they stole his joke though...

On the boat well early after a brief announcement that the ride had a 'Sea-sickness' caution on it, joy. Went out in the roughest water I've ever seen for about 30 minutes and saw nothing other than a passing Albatross laughing at us and our earliness. Whales don't get up until 9:30 damnit!!!! Anyway, just before we got too green the one of two engines broke down so we had to turn back to port. The worst whale watch ever apparently.

Back on dry and still land we were told we could have a full refund or go back out with the next boat at 10:30, a far more sensible time which I had previously suggested, not wanting to sound bitter. But we had to weigh up the odds as it was ROUGH, yes with a capital ROUGH. We chose yes though, for some a mistake, for others not so much.

Just as we were about to get back on the bus at the Whale way station (It's not that funny any more Gareth! Happy retirement though!), a mummy Southern Balin whale and her baby calf were literally 5m off of the shore next to the road. It was impressive to say the least, what wasn't impressive was the fact that the bus left, rather than letting us watch the whales which were just there, frickin idiots it's your job to let people watch whales not take them from them!

Anyhoo, rant over, back on the boat and more rough sea. This time was not so fortunate for the travellers, as it was even rougher and a few passengers were barfing 10 minutes in. An hour later and we stopped, everyone made a dash for the fresh sea air outside, more barf was had. I was not in the greatest health at that stage and turned a strange shade of green/white, but a sip of Sprite and some fresh air managed to keep breakfast where it was meant to be. Sarah was also struggling but again braved it out. Liz on the other hand made a new friend, one of the cabin crew Jamie, who was kind enough to hand her sick bag after sick bag and some tissue to mop afterwards. I think she described herself as the Chunder Monkey who'd been sitting next to the Chunder King on the journey and had caught his side effects, she had sat next to some German guy who'd started 10 minutes into the journey.

Right after all that, we saw a seal and dolphins - Dusky ones X2, common ones X6. AND whales - sperm variety X5. We were lucky enough to see a pod of sperm whales which are rare as the adult males normally travel alone. There were no females or baby sperms as they need warmer water this time of year, so are in Fiji which is where we should be too. An average sighting is about 1 or 2 so 5 was a bonus. They are big animals, though you only get to see 2/3 of the head which is 20% of their body mass out of the water. They were still big though. We also saw one big tail dive too. But afer a half an hour of this we wanted to go back to land... It was still rough. The whales were awesome though. I hope the pictures come out ok.

We did get back in one very wobbly piece, some more wobbly than others, one girl was still barfing an hour after we got back to the Whale way station (tm) (not Liz!). We needed at least an hour or so to recover as well.

After feeling normal for 20 minutes we decided to head back out to the seal place as we had heard that the baby pups lived in a waterfall just upstream of the seals on the beach. Off we trekked, got there, saw the waterfall, but the damn little critters had peed off for food in the sea with their mums. Damn pups, did they not get the memo we were coming. Nice waterfall though.

Off to Hamner springs now.

Pricey, Sarah and Chundy Monk.

31st August (just) - North Island be damned we're off to drink wine!

South Island bon jour / North Island laters loser!

Not true really, the north island was awesome and we had one of the best times ever, the girls will back me up on that too. But islands run out of land at some point so we left...

On to the South, which I am looking forward to as Southerners rule, those northern monkeys know that deep down. It is a tad weird going south and it getting colder but at least everyone is getting better looking.

We got the ferry early, 8am early, but excitement was the key so much so that I took a bit of a nap whilst we waited to way anchor. Again, I'm sorry to say, we hit wall to wall or horizon to horizon scenery. When we hit the south island we had to traverse through the Marlborough Sounds, full of green hilly pastures and picturesque mirror lakes. Stunning.

After getting the breath back from the oxygen starving landscape we hit Picton. From there we picked up the new hire car, yet another Toyota Corolla but this time with a whole 200cc's more power, mwahahahaha.

Then we hit Renwick, wine capital of well, Renwick. Unfortunately we got in around 3 but at least we'd travelled two islands today. We hired bikes and peddled our hearts out to get to 3 wineries in an hour and a half. Forrest Estate, Seresin and Grove Mill, all of which were fantastic. We started off at the first tasting 7, then next was about 3 then the last we lost count. But all were fantasticobeautilicious.

We stayed in a really great hostel, the place was great but there was one hitch. One guest was a little on the whacked out side and could have been a touch creepy. Anyway, we went to bed 'early' to get away from the fool but he was kicked out early in the morning because he was trying to rewire the internet PC and broke a bunch of stuff. He seemed nice but nuts.

Setting of early AGAIN, we high tailed it to Kaikoura stopping on the way for some Crayfish (a poor version of the lobster, same but without the cool claws) and some seals that Liz also thought were dead until they moved.

Tomorrow, fingers toes and all bodily parts crossed, we are off to see some Whales and Dolphins. At one with the nature once again. But the wind has picked up and it could be a touch choppy for tomorrow. But we will still have to get up for our 7:15 am boat. Frickin EARLY!

Heres to exotic floating foods...