A Travellerspoint blog

Days 5-9 Snowboarding on Mount Ruapehu then 10 – 12 Waitomo

all seasons in one day 0 °C

Up at 7.20 for a 2 course breakfast of Cereal then Sausages, eggs, baked beans and toast. The owner Bruce came in during breakfast to give everyone a weather report for Mt Ruapehu. We made some friends in Ben and Jasmine from Auckland who were at our table.
After that scrumptious start to the day we made our way up the mountain to Whakapapa Ski Area. Upon arrival we booked a couple of snowboarding lessons. We raced down to the Happy Valley area to drop off our bag and go to our lessons.
Our Snowboarding instructor Daniel then proceeded to try and teach us how not to fall over. He was moderately successful at this. Having passed his instructor exams 3 weeks ago, I’d say he did a pretty good job. After our lessons we went and grabbed a snack at the Café near Happy Valley. We the spend most of the afternoon practicing standing up and turning heel-side and toe-side. With bit of confidence up we decided to try a blue run called Rock Garden. We ran into Ben and Jasmine while we were up there. A couple of nervous runs on this trail and we decided to head home and warm up a little.
For dinner we thought we would try walking to the local pub. After some shoddy directions from the GPS we started walking in the direction it told us. After a long walk we ended up at the Railway Café Restaurant(not the pub). This wasn’t too bad however as we had delicious roast dinners then banana spring rolls and chocolate parfait for dessert.
The next day we started off with the same breakfast except sausages and baked beans were changed with bacon and tinned spaghetti. As the forecast for Whakapapa was miserable we decided to head over to Turoa and have some fun there. There were longer beginner/green runs so it was good fun and left us feeling a bit more confident.
After finding out where the Pub we were looking for actually was, we walked in the right direction 300 metres to it. We sat down for dinner just when Ben and Jasmine came in so they joined us and we had a good chat about our adventures of trying to slide on boards in snow.
They next few days consisted of us going down blue runs on Whakapapa and getting some balance about ourselves. One clear afternoon Debbie did decide to go and take some cracking photos up the mountain however accidentally left her gloves in the car, this may or may not have contributed towards her getting sick.
The last day at the mountain the weather ended up turning bad so we decided to make our way up to the Bed and breakfast near the Waitomo caves a bit earlier than originally planned and left later that morning. The B&B was really nice.
We woke up the morning of our day in Waitomo and Debbie wasn’t feeling very good at all, but we had a booking for a caving adventure and there is no way we were missing out. So we ate at the B&B then headed to the caves. It was a 4 hour guided tour from between 30 to 90 metres underground. The tour took us tubing, caving (climbing through itty, bitty holes in the cave), checking out glow worms, abseiling and rock climbing to get in and out of the cave area. It was a lovely 1 degree in the water which made Debbie worse with her sickness! We did have a great time and would recommend caving to anyone heading to NZ (if you are not claustrophobic).
The next few days were a blur. Debbie was getting sicker and sicker – our travel insurance recommended that she head to hospital for a look over – turned out it was a nasty viral infection and she was put on panadene forte and nurofen plus, so she spent the last few days in a drugged state and slept for nearly the whole time. So we were hotel bound for the remaining days.

Overall it was a great holiday!

Posted by debbiehowitt 16:11 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 3 & 4 – Hamilton to National Park

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On our full day in Hamilton, we were planning on visiting the local hot springs but the weather outside was just too cold for us, so we decided to visit the movies instead. I know this is something you can do at home, but it’s exactly what the weather called for. And we just wanted to totally relax before we hit the slopes for 5 full days.

Movie – Crazy …. Love. A Steve Carrell movie. We went in with apprehension, as neither of us are Carrell fans, but we were really surprised. The movie was absolutely hilarious. It was witty, highly inappropriate, full of swearing but side-splittingly funny. It had plenty of awkward moments which summed up the finale of the movie. I would definitely recommend this movie if you’re looking for a funny movie that isn’t really about romance at all.

Dinner for the night was Indian, Debbie’s choice. Venue – Bombay Dhaba. Dinner choice – Debbie went for Chicken Tikka Masala with steamed rice, Jaime chose Butter Chicken with Garlic Naan. When I say Garlic Naan, we mean GARLIC naan, the garlic could still be smelt coming out of Jaime’s pores for about 2 days later (maybe only for a few hours after, but it felt like weeks). I wish we got a photo of the naan bread as there was about 3 cloves of garlic on each piece. Don’t get me wrong, Jaime enjoyed the naan bread thoroughly. Butter Chicken was perhaps the best Butter Chicken that we had ever tasted. Debbie had major food envy as the Tikka Masala was perhaps the worst Tikka Masala that we had ever tasted.

That night we decided it was probably safest to watch the Tri-Nations final at our hotel. Sadly, we won and we were in our hotel room and couldn't really celebrate and rub it in the Kiwi's faces... We'll have to save that for another time. :)

The following day we left Hamilton at around 11 after lunch and a quick stop at Countdown (in Australia it’s called Woolworths). Brekky was picked up from Countdown as well as lunch and the snacks for the long drive to National Park, our home for the next 5 nights. Once again the scenic route was taken which took us into the town of Taupo, home of the great lake Taupo. We stopped at as many tourist attractions as we could along the way, which ended up turning our simple 2 hr drive into a 4 hour trip. We also fuelled up the car for the first time at over $2 a litre. Ouch.
At Taupo we managed to get some nice photos looking over the massive lake. Made the drive worthwhile.

On arrival into National Park and Pipers Lodge we were pleasantly surprised by the hospitality. We were given a personal tour of the place by Bruce, one of the owners, who pointed out the food hall (brekky supplied each morning), hot tubs x 3 for relaxing after a day on the slopes, drying room for our icy boarding gear, common room, bar, games room and our room. It was quite decent sized room considering that Pipers sleeps 150 people. Room had ensuite and wardrobe with was perfect size for 5 nights. The double bed was quite small however, and a comfy night sleep could not be had for both of us in the tiny bed, luckily there was a bunk bed in the room too, so we just combined the beds for a mega king size bed and resulted in better sleep for both. I would definitely recommend Pipers if you were thinking about visiting Mt Ruapehu and it’s amazing skiing/snow boarding facilities.

Posted by debbiehowitt 01:46 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

NZ Day 2 - Auckland to Hamilton

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Today we had a lazy start to the day with Breakfast in bed. We enjoyed the Pulman - New Zealand breakfast for 1 that definitely served 2 with a bit to spare! Eggs, hash browns, tomato, mushrooms, bowl of fruit, 4 x bakery goods, 1 hot and 1 cold beverage. Yum! Served on our very own room service trolley that doubled as a table. Very nifty. We struggled to finish it all.

Then off shopping for the morning. Jaime was very keen to get some snow gear so we took advantage of the end of season sales and found him a sweet Oakley jacket that was +$700NZD marked down substantially! Was a steal. We then just walked around a little bit more and saw Rugby World Cup signs on every shop and street corner. The sun decided to disappear behind the clouds so we then decided to start our trek to Hamilton (by trek I mean only 2 hrs drive)..

Once again I drew the short straw and was doing the driving for the morning. Thankfully we have an amazing Tomtom that pretty much does the driving for us. We ended up going the scenic way (by choice) as there was a beautiful river running along side of us for quite a while on our journey. We saw some very interesting things on that river. Massive houses, palm trees on the river bank, and a 5 story slide from one house down the river bank that landed in the river and by slide I mean the hard plasticy type slides that you'd see at a water theme park. They also had an inflateable air bag that doubled as a trampoline I bet. Very happy kids or adult-kids in that family.

The journey kept going then for quite a while, when we were close to Hamilton we managed to come across a chocolate warehouse... As I was driving, I chose where we stopped, and the Chocolate Factory happened to tickle my fancy so we veered off the road in a scene reminisent of a movie by the name of Up!(Instead of "Squirrel" it was "Chocolate") {amended by Jaime}. We did manage to pick up a fair bit of delicious chocolate to last us for the rest of our road-trippin' around North Island NZ.

On arrival into Hamilton and the Novatel, we were informed that our room had a lovely river view and had been refurbished 3 weeks earlier. For dinner that night we made our way to the Casino next door. We made our way to the bar for a couple of drinks, Debbie ordered a cocktail and after waiting about 10 minutes we had a look over to the bar and just happened to catch the sight of the waitress shaking the cocktail shaker which resulted in herself and another waitress behind the bar to wear my cocktail when the shaker split in two. It made the wait worth it.

We then had a few more drinks, dinner, a bit of a flutter on the pokies and the roulette table. We managed to break even for the night. And then finished off with an amazing layered chocolate mousse cake for dessert. Great end to a great night.

Posted by debbiehowitt 01:24 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand trip day 1


sunny 11 °C
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DAY 1: Early start out of Brisbane- 5.30am wake up as we had a 9.30am departure.. Debbie - being the highly organized and never wanting to be late- kinda person she is decided with the direction of Jaime that being on the road before 6 was a good idea. Little did we realize that the horrible gateway roadworks had been complete so there were 3 flowing lanes which meant that we were at the airport, parked with our luggage out and walking into the terminal no later than 6.30am... Promptly 3 hrs before our flight was due to leave..
So we checked in to our Air NZ flight with no hassles, under weight by about 12 kg between us (without being asked dangerous goods questions I might add) for a long wait at the airport! Duty free purchased. A little baby slobered and put teeth marks in my brand new carry on luggage but whatever-we're off to NZ!

Air NZ flight BNE-AKL was pretty good. We paid for a seat and bag which didn't include food but did entertainment for the 3hr flight. Entertainment did not include movies however- this was an additional $10NZD... But we paid and watched Arthur (hilarious movie - like Get Him ToThe Greek funny) which helped pass the time.

Arrival into Auckland went smoothly- quickest immigration and customs experience I've had.. Even more so than coming home to Australia. Clearly they are well into World Cup mode as everywhere we looked there was a picture or a wall poster or a banner or an archway. Even the immigration card asked specifically if you were in the country for the Rugby World Cup or not.

Go Rentals supplied our rental car for the 11 days. Our mode of transport- 1999 Nissan Sunny (aka Nissan Pulsar).. Old and massive (like really bulky).. But it gets the job done. Somehow I ended up with the first drive from the Airport into the city. We remarkably made it without any tears or accidents. It was quite embarrassing however showing up to a 5 star hotel and asking for them to valet park the old old box of a car..

First night - Pulman Hotel, Auckland. Nice rooms, beautiful view of the city- would definitely stay there again.. In fact.. We are, right before we leave. Great service too.

We had a nice stroll through down town Auckland, it was pretty cold though, so we retired pretty early and prepared for a big day of shopping!

Posted by debbiehowitt 23:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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