Friday, 29 February 2008


Hi folks, Lucy here.

Forgive the intrusion to Mum's blog.

I have been editing the blogs a little as you may have noticed. I have also created some maps showing where they have been so you get an idea for the geography of it all. (Yay - that geography degree coming in useful again!)

View Larger Map

I have put a few links on the right which will take you to the map. You should also be able to see the map above and notice there is a link to get a larger view - fun huh? It is essentially the same map - just with different zooms - so I have put in a world map and a New Zealand map so far - I will add more as I see the need.

The pin points are not 100% accurate as I am just guessing from the blog where to put them - but hopefully they are in the right area.

Each pinpoint on the map has a snippet of blog as well as the date visited. There is also a link back to the blog so hopefully you won't get too lost.

I will try and keep the maps as up to date as I can. Hope you all like them.

(Mother's little helper)

Up North!

Friday, 29th February 2008

Hi all! We're here on the outskirts of Wellington, a place called Lower Hutt, and the site for once is very pleasant. We had a very early start this morning to get to the ferry, and all piled on board. It looked rather nice to see all the vans together and going on board. The crossing was about 3 hours, and myself and another couple sneaked off to the cinema to watch "Charlie Wilson's War', which I really enjoyed. Richard, needless to say, was hanging off the front of the boat with either binoculars or camera attached to his face, and hanging on for dear life to his hat. It was just a little windy! They have terrific earthquakes here as the main harbour lies right across the the harbour. We managed to trump them with the English one this week.

We landed and managed to get off safely and follow our leader through the suburbs of Wellington to this site. We were then promptly shepherded on to a coach for a guided tour of Wellington, which is a lovely city. The parliament is here and it has many Victorian and Edwardian buildings, as well as the superb harbour setting. At the end of this tour we were brought to a Maori museum, but I'm afraid many of us dashed over the road to a supermarked (New World) as we are literally out of food, and had to eat out last night (a smashing restaurant near the site at Blenheim, set in a garden, with a couple singing and playing guitars, and fabulous food). Anyway, we're stocked up for a few days now.

Just as well - tomorrow we have another long drive up to Taupo, which will be about a 6 hour drive I think. From there we go up to Rotorua on Sunday to see all the Maori cultural stuff (have some chap stick his tongue out at us actually), before we proceed up to the Bay of Islands middle of next week. Should be more restful up there.

The weather is very hot again today, and there about a million crickets chirping in the trees here. As I sit here, I am swaying as though still on the ferry. My inner ears need some rest!

Back to the van - Richard is cooking steak and chicken kebabs for tea - and then another early night. I've never had so many.

Thanks for the comments about the wine, Wendy - we'll think again about that. And I gather Josie S is in Wellington just now - what a shame we won't be able to meet up.

Speak to you all from Taupo tomorrow

Christine and Richard

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Wine tour

Thursday, 27th February 2008

Hello all!

We're still in Blenheim, and we've done a tour of the wine companies in the area today. It was a lovely day, and we had a smashing lunch at one of them. Even managed to find a quilting shop at one, lovely place. Richard managed to buy 5 bottles of wine - just for tasting you understand! It'll be cheaper to buy it at Tesco than to have it shipped from here!

It's very hot today, I think the hottest we've had so far. Tomorrow, we're up at the crack of dawn to catch the ferry at Picton across to Wellington. It's quite a long crossing, so it should be very pleasant. We stay near Wellington tomorrow night before moving up north again on Saturday. The furthest north we get to is Russell on the Bay of Islands, which is quite a way up, and then we return to Auckland for our last night before the tour ends. Don't think we'll have time to see your friends, T and V, but we will try.

Talk to you all tomorrow from the north island.
Christine and Richard

Wednesday, 27 February 2008


Wednesday, 27th February 2008

Hello everyone. We've arrived at Blenheim, in the north of the south island. We had the most amazing day, going out in a super catamaran to see whales (we found 2 sperm whales) and then about 100 dolphins playing alongside the boat. They were gorgeous. Another boat nearby had people swimming with them. It was very hot, but the sea made things cooler. Another long drive from Kaikoura up to Blenheim, and then a rather grotty site here alongside a river. Lots of traffic noise and grotty grass. Looks more like a hippy encampment!

We're just about to have tea now and perhaps a stroll before turning in. I'm sitting here typing and I'm still swaying as though I'm out at sea.

Wendy - many thanks for your comments, but don't think we'll have too much time here before the ferry on Friday

Von - thanks for the email. So pleased things seem to be turning out OK. We were worried when we didn't hear from you yesterday - but thanks for today's message.

Love to all
Christine and Richard

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Heading to Hanmer Springs

Tuesday, 26th February 2008

Hello everyone.

Tonight we have travelled up to Hanmer Springs, a thermal spring/town northwest of Christchurch.  We left Mount Cook this morning in quite sunny, clear weather, and we had the delight of seeing Mount Cook absolutely clearly, as well as the surrounding mountains.  We travelled down Lake Pukaki and then turned east to follow the base of the lake and then north.  All the while, we could see the clear turquoise water of the lake and the beautiful snow covered mountains away to ou left.  It's something we'll never forget - glorious!  We had an extremely long drive in quite hot weather.

We travelled all over the place today, stymied by a closed bridge over the only bridge in the area, forcing us into Christchurch and route 1, the very place we wanted to avoid. To make up for that, we found a pie shop in a little town called Sheffield - absolutely delicious steak pies etc. Made us feel quite cheerful again.

We finally made it up to Hanmer - a thermal spring town that we're just off to investigate.
Tomorrow, we driving to the coast again to Kaikoura to go out on a boat to see if we can find some whales. After that we drive up the coast to Blenheim where we'll stay for two nights, and we will do an all day wine tour in the Marlborough area. After that, we go up to Picton to get the ferry across to Wellington to start our tour of the north island.

Report on the head - coming along nicely, although he wears a hat most of the time and looks quite dashing!  

Love to everyone
Christine and Richard

Monday, 25 February 2008

Relaxing at Mount Cook

Monday, 25th February 2008


We've spent a very pleasant and relaxed day at Mount Cook and the Hermitage Hotel. There is a museum here dedicated to Edmund Hillary, and it's absolutely fascinating. Richard really enjoyed that. And there are a couple of films of his life and the conquest of Everest etc.
The weather changed dramatically last night and we had rain and rain! Mountains rapidly disappeared, of course. This morning it was still rainy but we could just about see Mount Cook - although she still had her topping of snow, she now had a ever changing hat of cloud that never quite revealed the top.

Tomorrow we move back down the valley and then have a long run up to Hanmer Springs. I expect the weather will revert back to the heat and sunshine that we've had everywhere else.
Silly thought for the day - it's only 10 months to Christmas.

Richard's hair is growing back. He now has a white fuzz all over - it reminds me of our younger son when he was a baby! (Sorry, M)

Will be here again tomorrow night

Christine and Richard

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Mount Cook

Sunday 24th February, 2008

Well - we're now at Mount Cook - or Aoriki to give its Maori name. It really is the most beautiful place - it's like being in the Himalayas. We travelled up from Queenstown, through a lovely wine growing area and then through a fruit growing and agricultural area. We then following the Lindis river for many miles through a gorge, quite breathtaking literally! We then came to Twizel, past some amazing dams and lakes that were a lovely turquoise colour, and then we came to the foot of Lake Pukaki. And there just ahead was Mount Cook, topped with snow and wearing a lovely shawl of clouds. Absolutely amazing. 

We've driven up here and are staying in the grounds of the Hermitage Hotel in a lovely cabin. They have even put us next door to a little launderette. Who's a happy bunny then?

We had the most amazing journey up here.  We travelled north from Queenstown through a beautiful wine growing area, then to Cromwell which is the centre of a fruit growing and agricultural area, and then north following the Lindis river, through the most fantastic gorge, quite breathtaking literally!  Then we arrived at Twizel, which is at the southern end of Lake Pukaki, and there - in all its glory - was Mount Cook, covered with snow and with a lovely shawl of clouds round its top.

We're here for 2 nights, and tomorrow will be a really lazy day. Tuesday we move up to Hanmer Springs, which I believe is a 7 hour drive! We're just about to eat in the Alpine restaurant here, which a buffet, and tomorrow night we might upgrade to the posher Panorama restaurant. Why not?

Thanks for all the comments - they're great and keep them coming.

Guy - we can't be bothered to do anything with photos but we're really going to bore you to death with them when we get back!

Speak to you all soon

Christine and Richard

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Sheep Shearing and Knickers

23rd February, 2008

...and another exciting adventure. After a quiet day at the van at Queenstown, we set off on the TSS Earnslaw to the other side of this lake and visited an Edwardian homestead for a lovely dinner and then watching a NZ comedian shearing sheep etc. Quite an evening.

Tomorrow we drive up to Mount Cook and transfer into some rather smart cabins for two evenings.

Weather is hot, heavy, and quite changeable.

Lucy - you remember what I said about my underwear in New Zealand - well, I've started!

Quite embarassing actually - especially when a young backpacker asked me if I'd had a good night! Oh dear! Must do better.

Speak to you all soon

Christine and Richard

Friday, 22 February 2008


February 22nd February, 2008

We're now in Queenstown, after another long day. This morning, we were picked up and taken for a 2.5 hour drive through the mountains to Milford Sound, where we had a very pleasant cruise. We came back to the Te Anau campsite, picked up our motorhome and then drove for about 2.5 hours to Queenstown, a very large town on a lake which has a reputation for all sorts of extreme sports. The site we're on is quite horrid, but we're making our opinions felt with the management and we might get somewhere - you never know! Last night's site was so super, this one is a real let-down.

Richard and I went for a quick meal - an small Italian trattoria which was great. He asked for a grappa, and the lady-owner said 'Come with me!" Well, his little eyes lit up and he trotted off - for a grappa tasting, can you believe! Thought he'd died and gone to heaven. Back to the site now and time for bed. It's very humid here, so hope we sleep all right.

Tomorrow we're being by an old steamer - the TSS Earnslaw - across the lake to have a dinner at some sort of posh place on the other side. Easy morning - time to do some shopping and catch up with the chores. Sunday we move on up to the Mount Cook area, which promises to be fantastic. I'm running out of superlative adjectives - has anyone got any more. This country just seems to need them.

Speak to you tomorrow


Thursday, 21 February 2008

Te Anau

Thursday, 21st February

Sorry if I confused everyone with my hasty blog last night, but the computer was about to crash on me! More time tonight.

We're in Te Anau, the most beautiful lakeside town at the foot of the Alps, and the most modern, glamorous site yet. Tomorrow, early, we set off to do a cruise on Milford Sound, which is I understand quite spectacular. Then we're back to this site to pick up the vans and drive up to Queenstown before nightfall, where we stay for 2 nights. There, we're having a special meal on an old, restored motor vessel on another lake (something like Lake Wakatipu, if I remember correctly), and after that we move north again to see the rest of the south island. It's all mind-blowing, so much to see and places to go. We're getting to know the other people on the holiday, which brings me back to my babble of last night:

We got chatting to one other couple at a barbecue that the people escorting us around put on for us, which was very nice indeed, and it turned out that his name is Leo O'Brian and his grandfather, father and uncles ran the oil works business in Brunswick Road (for those who don't know, that's where I was born and brought up in Altrincham). I thought I recognised his wife's face, and I've obviously seen her around. They now live in Timperley Village. We got chatting about scouting (don't know why) and it turned out he was a scout around the time my brother was and my parents were involved etc. And he is a good friend of Judith and Brian Holly - who are good friends of my sister-in-law Ruth and her husband Alan! Then I asked him what he done all his life - and it turned out he was with Manchester Police for 30 years, did his training at Bruche (where I worked for 4 years) and knows Mark Linnell and Alan Jobson very well. Can you believe it? Such a small world.

We have met all sorts of people who are doing similar holidays. One couple we met this afternoon have been on holiday for 3 months now, starting in Thailand, Singapore, all over Australia - including a month at Melbourne with family over Christmas - and now 6 weeks in New Zealand. Then they go to Hong Kong and home. We're wondering why we waited so long before coming here - we should have done it years ago. Richard should have retired years ago, as well. 

Yesterday, we had a really mad day. We were taken up to a penguin reserve at the end of the Otaga Peninsula to see some really rare penguins that a farmer and family are looking after - that was amazing. Then we were taken to Lanarch Castle, further down the peninsula, to hear the story of the Lanarch family - that would make a great soap opera! And finally we were dropped off at the station in Dunedin to take the Taeira Gorge train. Wow - what a journey. We travelled I don't know how many thousand feet up this gorge on a single track, and it was so hot! The sun was just bouncing off the rocks. When we got to the top, there was really nothing there and we came back again. Apparently, the thing was built because there was a gold rush in the 1880's or something and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Certainly a tourist trap now! You can see that this whole holiday will be quite exhausting - we're certainly packing it in. We'll be glad to get to Brisbane and Jane and family to have a rest.

I'll finish now - there's a bit of a queue behind me to use this computer. Will speak to you all again as soon as!

Love to all

Christine and Richard from the Shaky Isles

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Can you believe it?

We've had another amazing day - trip to a penguin colony, visit to a castle and then a trip on a train to the end of the earth (or so it seemed). Tonight we were given a barbecue by the people organising things this end, and we got talking to acouple who are in the group. Turns out his grandfather started a business in Brunswick Road called F.E. O'Brien and I must have more or less grown up with him! Friends of Judith and Brian Holly! Just amazing
More tomorrow

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Dunedin, New Zealand

Wednesday, 19th February, 2008

Hello everyone. Hope I'm in the right place at last.

We're now in Dunedin. Picked up the motorhome this morning and drove for 5 hours south from Christchurch, through the most amazing scenery. We could just about see the alps over to the west, and we followed the Pacific down on our left, which was the most amazing glorious green colour, and the surf! We're parked up for our first night here, and it's a very busy site with lots going on. A full day tomorrow exploring this area - known as the Otaga Peninsula. We're going to see a castle, some wild life (penguins, seals, etc. and then a trip on a steam train. It's all go!

Useless fact for the day - Richard has had all his hair shaved off! Can't imagine why - just hope it grows back quickly. The electronic tag obviously isn't working properly.

Internet access here in New Zealand costs money - this lot was $2, yesterday at the hotel in Christchurch was $10. Cheeky beggars!

All for now - will post again shortly.


Saturday, 16 February 2008

Sydney Airport

February 16th, 2008

It's 7:00am and we're at Sydney Airport (what a dump) on our way to Christchurch - last leg before we start our holiday proper.  Can't wait!  We spent yesterday at Darling Harbour watching the celebrations for the Chinese New Year - great fun.  

I'm arranging to have your pa electronically tagged - I keep losing him and, of course, he wouldnt hear any loudspeaker announcements.  Great fun there as well!!  We almost missed our flight at Changhi Airport the other day!

Weather here is cloudy but warm.  Not as humid as Singapore, thank goodness.

Speak to everyone soon.

Christine and Richard (or Mum and Dad)

(Originally posted in comments - added here by Lucy)

Friday, 15 February 2008

Changi Airport

February 15th, 2008

We're at Changi Airport at the moment, waiting for the flight to Sydney (overnight - 7.5 hours - ugh).  We've been in Singapore for 24 hours now - an amazing, vibrant city with such flowers and trees - but my God has it been hot.  When we're out in the street, it's like walking through a tropical greenhouse and someone wacking you with a hot flannel.  Exhausting!

Hoping that Sydney is cooler and fresher.  We had a fabulous hotel and even managed to have tea at Raffles Hotel!

Speak to you soon.

(Originally posted in the comments section - added here by Lucy)

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


February 13th, 2008

We're all packed, doing last minute checks, and waiting for our lift to the airport.  The weather here is glorious - but I suspect it's going to be even hotter where we're going.

We'll be in touch shortly!

Christine and Richard