It's been so long I've almost forgotten how to blog! My excuse is excellent though - last week I got back from three weeks in New Zealand! It would take several of the longest blog posts ever to write all about our time there. My friend challenged me to pick 10 photos which I thought characterised our trip the best, and I almost managed it: here are but 15 of the 550 I took!
The Moeraki boulders
There wasn't all that much to do here, but despite being a tourist attraction, this was a relatively quiet beach with excellent views and these curious boulders! They form in the cliff behind here I was taking the photo and as the cliff erodes back toward the shore they sort of 'plop out' and make for a very pleasing photo opportunity! And here you see the first evidence of the amazing weather we had despite it being autumn.
Taieri Gorge Historical Railway
This was just a lovely trip through old gold rush country - unfortunately the best place to see the fab scenery was on a platform at the end of the carriage which was very crowded with other tourists hogging it! I managed to sneakily outsmart them after one stop to get a few good shots though.
Hulmes Court B & B, Dunedin
One of my favourite places that we stayed. A listed building, with a turret room no less (which we stayed in) at the top of the steepest hill I think I've ever seen, which we had to walk up a good handful of times before we moved on.
A view of Lake Wakatipu
This was a view from the top of a gondola in Queenstown and it was amazing - I wanted to just keep taking photos. Queenstown is an extreme sports mecca so there were lots of people paragliding (looked terrifying) and bungee jumping (looked plain dangerous) and I managed to catch this pic! Having a couple of goes on the luge was as extreme as we got!
View of some snowy mountains from the tiniest plane ever
Sorr,y my geography is poor - I'm terrible at remembering what places were called, so I don't know which mountains these are. We decided to sign up for a Fly-Cruise-Fly trip to Milford Sound as we had such limited time in Queenstown and by road it was 5 and a quarters hours each way. When we arrived at the airport, we were the only ones flying and pretty much just wandered across the tarmac (escorted by the pilot) to find a plane with just 4 seats!! The plane trip was actually better than the time actually at Milford and these photos are the only ones that capture what we were seeing. Absolutely amazing. And ok, ok, I'll admit; having what was essentially a private plane made me feel pretty important.
We visited Joe's friends Mark and George and their gorgeous daughter Pippa (who we had never met before!) in Wellington and after a nice lunch at a local Mexican, we got a tip off to check out this street where we encountered Hobbit filming! You can see the tops of the houses in Laketown (for film 2 presumably). We were closer (very near the gate) and could see cast/extras going back and forth. Don't think we saw anyone famous, but there was still lots of excitement. And the security guard was lovely - he let us get very excited before a wry smile sent us on our way (further up the street where we could take photos unseen)!
The Weta cave
This is the official shop, and mini-museum of the effects company Weta. "What a shit photo to include in your top 15?" you say? Yes, it is, and it was such a small part of the trip but I was pretty excited to be here (yup, I'm a geek).
And the geekery doesn't end there....
This is a pic of MrP in the position of Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin from the Fellowship of the Ring in the 'get off the road' scene. Where MrP is sat they constructed (I think, not sure if it was CGI) a tree stump for the hobbitses to hide in while the black rider tries to sniff them out. I've never seen Joe run up a hill so fast! (We were all nomming extremely tasty pies at the bottom - mine was a steak and cheese one WITH A HASH BROWN INSIDE IT!).
Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland!
We didn't actually spend much time at all in Rotorua where all of the thermal stuff is; instead we stopped just outside at this place, which proclaimed itself to be the 'most varied' thermal site in New Zealand. It was a good old walk round of all of the thermal 'wonders' but it was fascinating. Unfortunately thermal pools are not very photogenic.
We stayed at a fab place just outside Rotorua called Doone's Country Retreat which was awesome - quiet, welcoming, nice room. AND we got to feed their donkeys! They were cheeky, as you can see.
Tirau tourist information!
Tirau was a gold rush town. When the gold was gone so were the people so it became a ghost town until some bright spark made it a tourist attraction once again by making a feature out of roofing sculptures. This is one of the first ones, and is a Sheepdog Tourist Information Centre! Yay!
This was probably one of my favourite trips. After they rebuilt the set for the recent hobbit films, the owner of the land did a deal with Peter Jackson to keep Hobbiton and allow people to visit, so I can actually say that I have been to actual factual Hobbiton. I took about 40 pictures of hobbit holes, and the weather was amazing. Great stuff.
We visited Joe's friends Mat and Amelia and their two lovely little
girls Violet and Mathilda (I had my eyes opened about Angelina Ballerina
that's for sure) who were, like Mark and George, excellent hosts and
showed us the sights! It was a pretty miserable day when we visited this beach in Auckland but the beach itself was very cool. It had a gannet colony and weird blue-black sand with so much iron in it I had to use a magnet to get it off the magnetic clasps on my bag!
This a view from Mt Eden in Auckland. It was fascinating that Auckland is the sight of so many (now defunct) volcanoes and that they really break up what is otherwise obviously a large and built up city. I found these views really cool!
This is probably not what you were expecting from an NZ post but I've tried to point out the things which I found memorable, rather than just pic after pic of scenery - the stunning scenery is everywhere you go and the photos I took certainly didn't do it justice. So there it is. To finish, here are some things I learnt about New Zealand
1) Kiwis are LOVELY. Even the customs people are lovely - cheery even!
2) NZ does pies well, but pizzas poorly.
3) Flights to NZ are every bit as awful as you expected them to be.
4) Most of the NZ wine I have been drinking in the UK is rubbish!
5) There will never be enough time, or enough film, to capture how beautiful New Zealand is.
My holiday's over now for the year (maybe for a few years - it's bloody expensive going that far away!). Where are you planning to get away to?