Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Friday, 26 March 2010
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Saturday, 13 March 2010
Our trip north started off slowly with our first stop being Alexandra Headlands on the Sunshine Coast. Here we enjoyed wonderful fellowship with my home church in Brisbane on their Family Camp. We also had some refreshing & challenging studies from Bill Forward on the topic of Spiritual Gifts. Sunday straight after lunch we set off for Bundaberg & spent a couple of days there catching up with people. Joshua attended Playgroup & again thoroughly enjoyed it.
Next stop was Gladstone to visit Kylie, Dale & Family. We again had a great time there & the mozzies had a feast (natural mozzie repellents do NOT work!!!). Joshua picked up a few tips from their 10mth old on crawling (still in the practice stages – see latest achievements), Sunday morning after attending church it was time to set off West, our destination, Emerald. Joshua travelled quite well with only a lunch & afternoon tea stop required. Our time in Emerald can be best summed up by the following phrase, “the joys of camping”. Setting up the tent itself went smoothly but then the fun began. First the pump we had didn’t have the right attachment for the air mattress, so we ended up blowing most of it manually, though Tom did end up creating a makeshift device with one of the original attachments & a rubber band. But all our hard effort was wasted when we came to go to bed that night, there was a leak & half the air had come out of the mattress already. It was too late to get the pump out again & we couldn’t be bothered blowing it up manually again, so we just made do. By 1am there was almost no air left & we were sleeping on the hard ground. This combined with the myriad of bugs that had snuck into & the heat made for a restless & uncomfortable night. However that wasn’t the only thing to go wrong. When I came to cook dinner, pasta & tuna, I discovered that the camp kitchen had no stove, only a BBQ plate. So we ended up having tuna & cheese toasted sandwhiches. Our breakfast, pancakes, was also a disaster as the BBQ ran out of gas halfway through. On the positive side, it didn’t rain, the tent stayed up & Joshua slept well. As they say, “tomorrow’s a brand new day”, & once we were packed up & on our way we had a good day travelling, arriving in Longreach where we enjoying the hospitality of Stephen & Lorraine Cavill. On the way we stopped at Jericho for lunch. This is a quaint little country town, pop. 180, that interestingly not only has the same name as a Biblical city, but also is built on the Jordan River, located south of the Sea of Galilee. After a quick stop at the mural decorated public toilets, it was back on the open road. A brief stop in Barcaldine to snap a shot of the Tree of Knowledge & then on we continued. 30km out of Longreach we came to the town of Ilfracome, Joshua was starting to have a meltdown so we decided to stop for a break & wander down Machinery Mile. As interesting as it was it did nothing for bringing the thermostat down, so we decided to dig out our swimmers and have a dip in the artesian spa. Refreshed we continued on to Longreach.
I’m so far behind in blogging about our trip that I’ve decided to combine our whole time in NZ into one blog & just mention the highlights. I haven't had time to upload photos yet.
So the first place we went to visit was Waitomo Glowworm Caves. These are limestone caves that used to be under the sea, but due to volcanic activity got pushed up. They have many stalactite & stalagmite formations. As the name suggests there are also many glow worms living in the caves & our tour ended with a boat tour through the cave where the ceiling was just covered with them. The second cave we toured had an awesome lighted spiral entrance, though after that was much similar to the first cave.
The second weekend we were there we stayed in a holiday house at Tauranga on the east coast. In general this was just a relaxing time away with Mel & Peter & the kids. On the Friday Tom, Peter & the kids, minus Naomi; went hiking to Kaiate Falls. While Mel, Naomi & I stayed back at the house & watched a girly movie. This was not because we were being lazy; I had a migraine & actually ended up just going & lying in bed. While I think Mel’s reason was to allow Naomi to sleep. Anyway the fellas & kids had a great time on their walk, especially the swimming hole.
Sunday I was feeling much better so Tom, Josh & I decided to climb Mt Maunganui (which the locals thought was a pretty impressive accomplishment!!). It was a fairly tough climb, especially the last bit, but we made it & the views made it worth it. When we made it back down 2hr later we jumped in the ocean for a well deserved swim & cool down.
Another day we headed off to the Hamilton Zoo with Joanna. It was pretty much a normal zoo, but we did see some interesting things, like the keepers calling the rhinos so they could check them out.
One day we went hiking in Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, up this mountain that had 1500 steps!! I was pretty dead by the time we got to the top. On the way back down though, we saw a huge tree that was pretty impressive. After that effort we treated ourselves to a soak at the hot springs.
Our last week we decide to do a bit of touring, so headed over to Rotorua, where we visited Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland to see some steam & bubbling mud. Then we stopped by Rainbow Springs Trout Park. Tom was most impressed to see all these trout swimming around, though a little frustrated that he couldn’t try to catch any!! We had been hoping to go on the Kiwi tour, but it was completely booked out by the time we got there, so we had to come back the next day. The tour was really fascinating as we got to see a kiwi hatching & another being fed & then we saw some others in their natural environment. Then we decided to connect with our adventurous sides & experience the thrill of the luge. Not the traditional luge like in the winter Olympics, but flat cart things on wheels that you steer down a track. Even Joshua got in on the excitement & by the 3rd ride down was squealing with glee. Not even the rain dampened our spirits, in fact it just made it that bit more exciting.
The next day we headed up to Auckland, stopping on the way at Katikati to visit the museum there where we met a couple of eccentric locals. It was interesting though to learn how the Irish settlers came over & settled in NZ. It ended up taking us the whole day to get to Auckland & we got there just in time for peak hour traffic & then had trouble finding our motel. So by the time we got settled we just wanted to get some dinner & flake out. The following day we had planned to visit Rangitoto Island (an extinct volcano) in the morning, but we got times mixed up & missed the boat, so had to wait for the afternoon one. In the meantime we decided to walk up to North Head & have a look around, but it was closed off for the morning because they were removing a large dead tree. So it was back to the wharf to have some lunch & then catch the boat. Because we had missed the morning boat we only had 2.5hrs on the island before the last boat left, & the walk to the summit of the volcano was 1hr each way. So when we got there we powered up the track & managed to make it to the base of the volcano in 30min. Here there were some lava caves that Mel had said were worth seeing, so we decided to do them first & then continue up to the summit if we had time. The caves were quite interesting, especially crawling along through them. I was feeling quite pooped by this time, so Tom continued to the summit on his own while Josh & I sat & waited for him at the bottom.However I’d over done it already and ended up with a huge migraine. This was not helped by the fact that Joshua was not happy about being in the car & screamed the whole 2hrs from Auckland to Hamilton.