Category Archives: Travel

Enough free wine I tell you. Enough!!

I have been like the living dead today so i’m suprised John is happy enough to let me loose on the blooog… bugger. Anyway, he’s distracted by amusingly dubious pictures containing the adventures of Speake in Thailand. He he. We are having much fun, we must share: Have a click on this little baby!

Anyway, are you all interested in free booze? I should certainly hope so. We are! Yesterday we hired bikes to trawl around winerys all day. We did free courses of wine tasting at 6 vinyards. We also managed to get free cocktails and free gin. One of the best days of my life! It was a little difficult not to veer of the road by the end. We were absolutely shattered by the time we got back to our temporary place of residence. With the ruler on my new swiss army card (ta Kat! 😉 we worked out that we’d cycled 29km while drinking all that wine. We still managed to have one of the worst games of Tennis known to man afterwards, nothing to do with us it was the wind. He he!

Anyway, we’ve been looking at seals today. The wonder of it all!

Hope all is well back in blighty!

Much love and catch you all soon!

Viv/Sev & John/J-Hob

An update on our future travel plans

Easy all,

Thought I’d update you all on our future travel plans as we now have a better idea where we’re going to be if any of you would like to come and meet up with us somewhere around the world.

Towards the end of this month we will be flying out to Brisbane and heading up the coast to Cairns. We reckon we’ll be in Australia for about 2 months (Feb – March).

From Cairns we’ll fly to Japan where we’ll be for a few weeks and then through China and then to the rest of Asia in an undecided order.

After Asia we will head to Africa and then the final continent on our travels – South America.


Well, New year was certainly ‘eventful’

New years eve wasn’t quite the long-promised blow-out that we had anticipated, not unless you count having an increasingly heated discussion with a racist white supremacist bigot who was also an anglophile. A few of his choice views were that all muslims were fundamentalists, that people with white skin are superior and more prosperous to those with darker skin. Viv was a star and had some excellent responses that left him stumped and his arguments failing on a number of occasions. After that conversation had gone on for an hour or so and we were clearly not going to change his views we made our excuses and left. It wasn’t really what we had envisaged as a nw year ‘celebration’ either. After another couple of drinks in half-empty bars (the only ones that were full were ultra-cheesy and given a wide berth) we saw in the New Year at the main celebration on the beach front. There was a bad rock version of Auld Lang Syne BEFORE the clock struck 12, then a bit of cheering and celebration when the new year arrived and then a superb fireworks display accompanied by more bad rock music. Bit of a damp squib really.

show_random($num=4, $tags=’napier’); ?>

We decided to have a proper celebration at 1pm the next day when the UK saw in the new year but this was rather spoiled by the speeding ticket that I got at 12.45pm. After that we weren’t really in the mood for festivities. After an afternoon kip we felt in a much better frame of mind and eventually saw the new year in properly at 6pm with a glass of wine and continued through to bed time – definitely the best celebration of the last 24 hours and we finally felt that it was properly 2006! 🙂

show_random($num=2, $tags=’palmerstonnorth’); ?>

Since then we have walked the Manuwatu gorge which was not half as impressive as claimed by the lonely planet, but a pleasant enough walk none the less. The last 48 hours have seen gale force winds hit the country making driving a high-sided van difficult and sleeping in it more akin to floating in a boat in rough seas such was strengh of the gusts.

We’re in Wellington today and off to the south island tonight, hoping that the 3.5 hour sea crossing isn’t too rough!

There’s new pics up on both of our flirkr sites.


John & Viv

It’s new years eve

Ay up you lot. Happy new year in advance.

We’ve moved on to Napier now. Many thanks to Ros and Tony for looking after us so well. Ros sent us off with some of her wonderful banana and chocolate muffins, happy days! Napier is a cool place, certainly our favourite town in New Zealand so far. It was totally destroyed in an earthquake in the 1930s and was then rebuilt in art deco. It has a great vibe too. Last night we slept parked up on a main road and still managed to get a decent night in, we’re very much adapting to the ‘roughing it’ lifestyle. It’s weird, every time we move on to another place we get a real buzz and start singing the theme tune to the littlest hobo. We sing it very badly and don’t know most of the words. I used to pretend I didn’t like that programme when I was younger and then watched it when my Dad wasn’t about. show_random($num=4, $tags=’napier’); ?>

We’re looking forward to tonight, the first time we’ve allowed ourselves to go out and get tanked. Hoping to wake up at some point on new years day…..

Since John wrote the last post we’ve been across the Tongoriro volcano range. It was used as Mordor in Lord of the rings, if you go onto my flickr site there are a few pictures. John’s are better but he’s not loaded them up yet so you will have to wait. Tongoriro was a good old climb to the top, that bit of the crossing is called the devil’s staircase. We really enjoyed skidding down the other side in all the scree though. It was amazing to stand in the crater of an active volcano although there were a hell of a lot of other people there which took the gloss off it a little.

show_random($num=4, $tags=’tongariro’); ?>

Anyway, we’ll wish you all a happy new year again and catch up with you in 2006!

Take care

Siv and Johnhob xxx

Christmas in the sun

Happy Christmas everyone!

We are currently staying at my Aunt Ros and Uncle Tony’s house hear Taupo which is where we spent a slightly odd-feeling Christmas in the sun. Christmas is strange over here, there aren’t the usual triggers that we get at home – decorations everywhere, Christmas shopping, going home to see family and friends and the cold weather! We have found ourselves having to remind ourselves that it is Christmas rather than having Christmas all around us. I also think for the first time that I realised how much I am going to miss my family and friends after hearing of social gatherings and news from them all. I also had the realisation that we’ll not be home for a very long time.

show_random($num=4, $tags=’wairakei’); ?>

That said we have had a very enjoyable time here – Ros and Tony could not have done more to make us feel welcome, we’ve certainly been well fed too! An honourable mention must go to Ros’s home-made coffee ice cream which must rank among some of the best that I have ever tasted! Since arriving here we have been for a few walks, been shown around the local area and also done a lot of relaxing at home with a beer or a wine interspersed with the comings and goings of local children to the house asking for Tony’s help in fixing bikes or to get some lemons from their tree for parents or just to wish them a merry Christmas – it can get quite tiring just watching them!

The highlight of my time here so far has to be the Boxing day bungee jump that did yesterday – it was a totally awesome experience! I was shitting it beforehand at the prospect of leaping off a platform 154feet above the river below and more than once I was questioning my own sanity in choosing to do it; I just made sure that I didn’t look down! It wasn’t very busy so I could jump right away and I went straight out onto the platform where my legs got shackled to the rope and, after having declined the offer to have my head dipped in the water, I was instructed to stand on the edge and after the jump master said ‘1… 2… 3… BUNGEE!!!’ I was to jump. I duly did as I was told and started accelerating toward the water below – it was such an amzing buzz! Your head is telling you that you are plummetting towards terra-firma at a scarily fast rate even though you know that you’re attached to the bungy – it’s an amazing adrenaline rush! After the first bounce I was just laughing like a hyena until the boat came to pick me up – it was so much fun, I really want to do it again!

On the way down to Ros & Tony’s we had stopped off at Kerosene Creek which is a little river with hot water – gorgeous to bathe in and made our heads go very light-headed. A bloke in the car park gave us a map to some hot waterfalls nearby so we went to look at them too, but came back to spend the night at Kerosene creek, the plan being to take a morning dip in the creek before the hordes of people arrived later in the day. We had settled down for the night and had started tucking into the usual bottle of wine when the bloke who had given us the map earlier turned up again in his car. I had thought it a little odd when he didn’t acknowledge me when I waved to him but he then came up to our window, I assumed to say hi. He had actually come to warn us not to park there as “it’s very dangerous”, “people get beaten up here”, “you’ll get all your stuff nicked” and “it’s not dangerous in the car park 100 metres up the road”! Now we didn’t for a moment believe him – people don’t generally go around randomly beating people up and an empty car is far easier target for stealing than an occupied one. We reckon that he resented people visiting what he considered to be his creek and that the map he gave us earlier was an attempt to get us away from his creek and so it followed that his dire warnings of impending danger to ourselves were another ruse to get us to move on. However ever false the warnings we still took it as a threat to ourselves and got out of there as soon as we could – the bloke was a nutter and the more distance we could put between him and us the better! Fortunately I had only had a glass of wine so was fine to drive. We eventually found a picnic area 24km down the road that, boy racers having dodgy meetings in the picnic area aside, was a very pleasant place to camp and was refreshingly free of nutters!

Also worthy of mention is the Orakei Korako geothermal area that we stopped off at on the way to Taupo. This is without a doubt the best geothermal area that we have yet seen, just take a look at some of our photos of it – the brilliant colours and land-forms were just awesome! There was a pond at the bottom of a cave where the water was so clear and still that you couldn’t see where the pond stopped and the land began, it really was cool!

show_random($num=4, $tags=’OrakeiKorako’); ?>

That’s all for now – we’re going to attempt the Tongariro crossing tomorrow and plan to head to Napier or Palmerston North for New Year.

Both Viv (a mammoth long-awited upload!) and I have some more photos up on flickr for you to gasp in amazement at – photographers of the year 2006 here we come!

Hope everyone had a good Christmas and we wish you all a happy new year!

Egg Fart City

Yes it’s me again! John is busy uploading more photos. Plenty more pictures of birds ;). I need a camera cable before I can do any of mine so you will have to continue waiting in suspense.

Anyway. Rotorua (city of rotten egg aromas) is our current location. It has sulphur rich thermal vents which may be bubbling mud pools or steaming vents and it has a few top geysers too (and also some hot spurting water thingies). We went to a thermal park yesterday and had a really good look around. I think we got used to the smell and spent a fair amount of time hovering over the vents trying to take a decent photo. You got a lot of foul smelling stuff down yer lungs but I think we were a bit too fascinated to take any notice. Got drenched by the geyser too.

show_random($num=4, $tags=’TeWhakawerawera’); ?>

When we left the park and the distractions of interesting frothy, bubbling, colourful, wet and smelly stuff had been removed I noticed that I wasn’t feeling too wonderful. I was about as close to chucking up as you can possibly be without actually doing the deed. John thought I was joking when I said ‘at least there’s some carrier bags in the glove compartment.’ Maybe you’ll not thank me for planting such an image.

Anyway, all of this is not going to stop us going to another couple of thermal areas. It’s all well cool! We’ve not even been here three weeks and it is truly amazing the amount of fantastic things you can see and do in New Zealand (and that’s just the north island).

Off to see a village that was buried in a volcanic eruption. Ok, ok. Partially buried. There wouldn’t exactly be much to see otherwise.

show_random($num=2, $tags=’wairoa’); ?>

Take care you all and take a look at the new photos on John’s flickr site.

VivSev and JohnHob xxxx

My first post for a while…

It’s been a while since I last posted – most of my internet time has been spent sorting other things out so not had a chance to get on here as much as I would have liked.

Anyway the last week or so has featured two of the highlights of our trip so far – caving in Waitomo yesterday and swimming with wild dolphins which was simply amazing!

It was fantastic to be in the water with the dophins – they were swimming along with me and twisting in the water beneath me, occasionally looking up and opening their mouth to me as if to say ‘Hi’! I hummed to them in the water as apparently they like that and it certainly seemed to work as I had one dolphin in particular swimming along with me for quite a while – awesome! 🙂 I could also hear their high pitched clicking to each other in the water which made it an even more immersive experience of being really ‘in there’ with them. It’s amazing that these wild creatures so willingly and actively like swimming along and playing with humans, it really felt like a privilege.

show_random($num=4, $tags=’dolphin’); ?>

Caving yesterday was cool. We were in Waitomo glow worm caves – there’s loads of glow worms in the roof which look like little green stars. Most of the way there were rivers flowing through the caves so we had to wade and swim down them as well as floating on rubber rings, other bits we were scrambling up rocks and through tunnels – it was a great laugh! show_random($num=2, $tags=’caving waitomo’); ?>

My internet time is running out so I’m going to have to cut this post a little short, I’ll promise to write more when I have more time.

Hope everyone’s well,


Up to 18th Dec.

Thanks for all the comments you lot. Looks like we’ll have to turn around and head back up North for more Gannet action!

We’ve had a bit of a slower pace of life this last week. This internet connection is certainly slow so there will be no more photos for the time being. You will be pleased to know that we have a couple more Pied Shags and some Red Billed Gulls to show you. I am sure that will get you checking the site on an hourly basis. The anticipation!

show_random($num=4, $tags=’gull’); ?>

Since I last wrote John has been swimming with Dolphins. This was earlier in the week and the permagrin is only just wearing off. The Dolphins were very friendly and acrobatic! I tried to swim with them but started choking on the snorkel. I am still happy though as I’ve now killed a total of 5 mosquitos. And yes, that’s an entire one more.

Today we’ve been to a Kiwi park and seen the funny little creatures. Yes, I know that they’re birds but we can hardly come here without seeing Kiwis!

We’ve also done a little walking etc. The weather’s been absolutely awful to be honest so we’ve been confined to the campervan for long periods. Gave us a bit more time to fix the silver bullets shabby curtains.

Take care you all!

Viv & John x

An update at last

Hello all!

Nice to see you all debating amongst yourselves. The Silver bullet has not (yet!) broken down although John has taken to covering the curtains in velcro. At least they close properly now! The downside is that the stuff keeps getting stuck in my hair.

We’re currently in Kaitaia and have just spent three nights with John’s cousin Fiona and her fella Kane. It was total luxury: real washing machines, shower and fried breakfast. We’re happy souls and have been very well looked after. John has just had all of his hair shaved off (on his head I mean). Was tempted to do the same ;).

Anyway, in the last few days we’ve managed to do quite a lot of interesting things. It’s true that we did bump into Mark and Martin and hope to meet up with them later in the trip! Small world eh? After we left Auckland we went across to the West coast and a place called Murawi beach. It has lots and lots of very tame Gannets! Yay! They were all full of character, doing a cute beak rubbing thing to greet their mate. There were some other interesting interactions too!

show_random($num=4, $tags=’gannet’); ?>

That evening we seemed to find a quiet camping spot. The Silver bullet has sky lights so you can see the stars! Well cool! As soon as dawn broke the place was over-run by Cockerels. One of them had a high pitched weak crow. Sounded a bit like David Beckham. At 7 am we realised we were parked in the middle of a horse tethering area for a riding school. Totally surrounded. Time to move.

Later we paid the Gannets another visit and went off on a walk. We came across some nesting Terns that dive bombed us and had some really impressive aerial battles with each other.

show_random($num=4, $tags=’gannet’); ?>

After that we headed north and found another nice place to camp by Pakiri beach. It was a little scary when you went to the loo in the night. Our torch isn’t all that good and there were Cows strolling around. You could hear really loud moos but not know where on earth they were!

show_random($num=4, $tags=’pakiri’); ?>

The next day we had a good lazy day at the beach. Got told off by a few bossy shore birds but it was pretty relaxing apart from that. Our evenings in the campervan are spent listening to music (always a debate as to who’s turn it is to select it… My turn next he he!) and drinking cheap wine. The cheap wine here is still really nice, it’s not like some of that nasty cheap stuff you can get back home.

Next we decided to spend a few days in Waipoua forest. It was more like a jungle than a forest. Well cool! The evenings were a bit mozzie infested though and there were some evil little biting beetles. Mozzie death squad before bed time. John is very good at it. I have killed four so far……

show_random($num=4, $tags=’waipoua’); ?>

We did a little walking around the next day and looked at some of the huge Kauri trees, very big but not quite as big as the Redwoods in the states. Also went for a nice walk around the Kai Iwi lakes. Very gorg, apart from one that was totally dead. You will have to see the photos to get what I mean (to follow when we can get them uploaded).

show_random($num=4, $tags=’kaiiwi’); ?>

Next it was up to Kaitaia and Fiona’s. Fiona has a bonkers collie called Guiness. We have never met a dog so obsessed with sticks. He even climbs bushes trying to retrieve them. If you are trying to hang washing out he puts the stick in the washing basket for you to throw. When the doors are shut he puts the stick through the cat flap! Ha ha!

show_random($num=4, $tags=’kaitaia’); ?>

We’ve been to a couple of nice beaches around here and been wine tasting! Tops. Although the bad news it that we got a parking ticket this morning for having the van parked facing the wrong direction! We didn’t even know that was the rule. It isn’t mentioned in the highway code booklet we got. That’s seriously anal! Going off down to the Bay of Islands this afternoon. All good.

Viv & John

P.S. We’ve uploaded loads of photos – check out our photo sites – links on the right hand menu.

We have wheels!

We’ve bought a camper van! It was surprisingly easy and, not wanting to tempt fate, but I reckon we’ve got a good un. It’s a toyota ‘town ace’, is pretty simple with just a mattress in the back, but has a stereo and some very funky skylights too. It has been monikered ‘The Silver Bullet’, a fitting title for a 20 year old van I’m sure you’ll agree! Pictures to follow once we’ve found an internet cafe that will let us upload photos.

show_random($num=4, $tags=’silverbullet’); ?>

Anyway, now that we have wheels we’re going to hit the dusty road and high-tail it out of Auckland and head for the hills. Auckland itself is a largely unspectacular achitectural mish-mash of mostly unispiring buildings, however the coffee here is awesome and the people very friendly. We’re looking forward to getting down to seeing some of the ‘real’ New Zealand now.

ta-ta for now, the dusty road beckons! [ed- Sev. I’m hoping that the van will kill vampires.]

J-Hob & Sev