> September 2007

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Sunday, 30 September 2007

Day 12 - NOT the train again

Well - it was supposed to be.

I had booked & paid for a day trip on the Tranzalpine. "How nice" I thought - a day sitting comfortably on a train looking at the alps. There was no way the children were getting back on a train. "But I've paid for it and can only get half of it back" 3 sets of sad watery eyes looked bleakly at me. "Please mummy...don't make us get back on the train" Actually, they didn't put it that nicely. Alright, I'd weigh it up. ALL day locked on a train with whinging children....or find something else to do. I'll admit, I though only of myself as I rang and cancelled.

In retrospect...if I can move on from the fact that I lost money in the deal (build a bridge...build a bridge), it was probably the right decision. It was wet, miserable and foggy...and I seriously doubt we would have actually seen a mountain. Instead we spent a lot of hours at Science Alive...which was heaps of fun :) Even the redhead attempted the rock wall...but the newfound confidence did not extend to the vertical drop or the spin around and around then upside-down thingy. Tara, on the other hand, knows no fear.

Day 11 - One island to the next

We had to get up ridiculously early to catch this ferry from the North Island to the South one. Despite this, it was an excellent couple of hours of very smooth travelling. I'm sure it is not always that way. By the time we had a cooked brekkie and played in play area (# 233 I think we are up to), we were there with an hour to spare in Picton before the tranzcoastal train to Christchurch.

As an interesting aside, Grace was compelled to visit all the toilets that were on offer (not just on the boat, but EVERYWHERE in the Nth Island we visited). It took me a while to figure this out - how can one need to check out another toilet only 5 mins after the previous one? The answer is in the detail. Now I would not normally bother to read the toilet holder manufacturer labels. Grace Field is different :). I think she felt some sense of ownership!

We noted that a suburb of Wellington is actually called Gracefield....and if the taxi driver would have let me jump out at the roundabout in the main street I would have also taken photos of the many coloured flags bearing her name. Such a spoilsport.

The tranzcoastal is a lovely train trip down the coast of the south island. Again we visited the issue of pretty scenery holding the attention of small minds for about 15 mins. That left about 5 hours of "I'm bored. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I need to go to the toilet. Are we there yet?" ('Ask your father' is the answer to all those questions)

Nanny did her best to entertain.

Grandma and Grandad had obviously thought it through a little more carefully and booked their seats several rows back.

By the time the children realised (ie their father informed them) that they could in fact go back and spend quality time with Grandma also, Grandad had thought up a secondary plan and instead plied them with ice-cream. 10 points for keeping ahead of them. They maintained this tally by proceeding on with their own 10 day south island tour without any grandchildren. OK 20 points.

With only Nan left for comfort, we were staying the remaining nights in Christchurch.
The local Chinese restaurant was all we could find for tea close by. We walked in and knew immediately that this was a very good choice when the restaurant was FULL with only Chinese people....that meant the food HAD to be good. And it was. So much so that we went back again the next night - if only to see 'Lucky' the 17yo fish-of-some-sort. Check out those fish lips!! :)

Day 10 - Wellington

We REALLY liked Wellington.
I don't know whether it was because we had dumped the Maui and were now staying in a nice inner city motel... or whether it was just the weather was glorious.

We didn't have a lot of time, but we did visit the Te Papa museum. I was seriously impressed with this museum AND it was free. We could have spent all day there. (Dont take Grace's face as an indication of its worth!)

We met up with some great families here - ladies that I had met through SOF. They kindly brought their children in to play with ours & Gracie made special friends with Miss Jess.

A lovely evening of pizza and children. Thanks Bev & Donna :)

Day 9 Snow & Ice

Goodbye Lake Taupo.....

....hello Mt Ruapehu!
These massive supposedly dormant volcanoes tower up majestically from the farmland. I say 'supposedly' as we found out on our return to Oz that the Mt had a small dummy spit and flicked a boulder at a couple of skiers. Perhaps they had just annoyed it?

It is odd topography. The map calls the area along side the mountain 'desert'. Coming from the outback, we were intrigued to see the NZ definition of desert. I guess I would have called it tundra. There is a very defined strip along side that has stunted vegetation which backs up again onto lush farming areas, not too far from the base.

This was the girls first experience of snow. Their father felt it his duty to help them to understand the concept of being smacked in the side of the head by a snowball. All in good fun. I'm sure he will understand the concept of payback and that women have loooong memories.

We camped at Palmerston Nth for the night. Busy town. The camping ground didn't meet the quality of the past few. Think camping at Eugowra show ground and you'd about have it.

Day 8 - Lake Taupo

First up, Waitomo Caves.

Nice little cave walk. Quite expensive. No cameras allowed - you need to buy their pics of the glow worms. I didn't on principle -so there is no picture. I'm not sure my photography skill would have extended to capturing the experience anyway. It sort of looked like this.

All I got was a picture of where we came out. You'll have to imagine the rest :)

The girls perfected the art of coffee shop visits. It is a skill that will serve them well in life.

A quick look at the 'craters of the moon' just outside of Lake Taupo. We had been told that it was free - but alas, it was no longer that way. I decided not to fork out the entry fee to see more steam and instead made use of my telephoto lens. Bill notes this is the attraction that I was too tight to pay to see.

Huka Falls is also just outside of Lake Taupo. It is a huge mass of white water. Fortunately it was too late in the day for jet boat rides, so I couldn't be accused of being chicken. There is no way the redhead would have gone along for the ride.

Play area #(what number are we up to?) lets say 124.

Day 7 Rotarua

There's something to be said for a smelly place that has boiling mud, steam shooting out of the ground & people all too willing to poke their tongue out at you. I don't know what that something is though.
I'm not sure if there is a phobia of geothermal areas, but the lack of high fences around these features has me heading in that direction. I obviously impressed my point upon Gracie. If you ask her what she saw in New Zealand, her standard reply is " boiling mud, and if you fall in it you die." At least she is safe.

Tara mastered Poi dancing.

Bill attempted the Haka. He lacks the tatts to pull it off.

verdict: fascinating, but wouldn't want to live there!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Day 6 - Mt Maunganui

Ahhh. Papamoa Beach.

I look out from the Maui window to figure out where those girls have gotten to and I see this. I'm not sure what they were doing either (it wasn't cleaning their teeth as per instruction), but apparently it was therapeutic. Go figure.

maybe they were right - teeth cleaning doesn't look nearly as much fun, does it?

The beach is a good spot to view the mountain. It is only small from here. All were adamant that they could climb it. Sure, we'll take a 4yo to climb an old volcano. What were we thinking?

About 10 steps into the journey, we get this face. "How far up is it?" We should have cut our losses at this point, but no...we insisted they keep going.

And they did stoically.....just until they passed the point of no return. Why do children hide tear-wrenching fatigue until it is as far to go back as it is to forge on? And how do they instinctively know where that point is? All good questions. At least we learnt this lesson on the smaller of the mountains that we were to navigate on our trip.

Big Red stopped crying long enough for the obligatory photo at the top to prove that she had in fact climbed the mountain and was due the chocolate milkshake promised if she would just keep walking.

The small blonde considered giving her father a sharp shove at this point. But thought better of it when she remembered he would be required to get her down the other side to the milkshake.

Lesson learnt. No more mountains.

We finished the day with play area #84. I think we stopped at all 548 by the end.

Day 5 - Miranda to Mt Maunganui

Day 5. Onward and upward...or downward if we are speaking geographically.

First stop was the butterfly & orchid house at Thames. I had visions of the perfect picture. A butterfly landing slowly and gracefully on a gleeful child's nose. Nup. Didn't happen. These things flew flat out in all directions. There was an awesome black and vivid blue butterfly that I chased around and around but never got a photo of. Lots of fun trying though:)

And for my mottephobic friend - yes, this is a real condition surprisingly..
Carolina, this ones for you !!...if only customs would have let me bring it back.....

Through a mountain range. Slowly. Maui's handle excellently on corners. We arrived at Hot Water Beach. This is such an amazing place. At low tide, hot water comes up from some underground springs and you can dig a hole to fill up with warm water. Standing in the wrong spot can burn your toes! God's creation is just so full of surprises.

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About Willro&co Designs

Based at Jervis bay on the NSW South Coast. I work as a physiotherapist, but also produce fine art photography and digital resources for photographers and scrappers. Please feel free to browse around my Divine Digital shop to see my digiscrap designs, or email me at rjfield@bigpond.net.au if you are interested in photography services.

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