Wednesday, September 18, 2002
"Crikey!" As a certain Crock loving Australian might say. Joanne and I have come to a firm & complete stop in Sydney. We've only been here a couple of days and have been pretty busy. Our biggest success has been in finding a lovely flat in the centre of Sydney. I was dead chuffed because I thought we'd get a grotty old flat or shared house out in the sticks - but we've got a fantasic flat right in the centre.
"So how did you end up in Sydney?" I hear you asking, "the last time you wrote you were leaving Aukland for the Northland of New Zealand!"
Thanks for being so observant. We travelled up along the Northland's Twin Coastal route. The West is famous for the fabulous Kauri trees - absolutely ancient trees which grow to an amazing size and we visited the Kauri museum www.kauri-museum.com and Ancient Kauri Kingdom www.ancientkauri.co.nz which has this amzing kauri tree inside the shop, and a giant internal staircase has been carved out of it. After visiting the ancient forests in Trounson KAuri Park & Waipoua forest we stopped at Opononi. The town is famous as the home of Opo the dolphin - a friendly dolphin who used to swim by the shore and play with the children (Unfortunately he died a few years ago).
We continued on to the far north of NZ to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. We stopped at 90 mile beach - a long stretch of sand that can be driven along and used as a road. Jo drove on the sand a little bit - mostly threatening to run me over. That night we stayed at Manonui in Doubtless Bay where we met one of the freakiest people that I have ever encountered - think Will at his weirdest & multibly it by a number of your choice). "Nice guy" Johnny gave us a 3 hour monologue on his life story - his harsh upbringing in Prague, his clearly insane parents, his time in the Israeli army (when he pretended to be insane to leave it early - i don't think he needed to pretend too hard), his womanising, horrific bike accident, thoughts on God, and recent motor troubles. He was stuck in the middle of no-where because his car broke down - and going mad while the local mechanic kept on finding new problems.
We escaped Johnny and contined back down along the East coast of the Northland. We stopped breifly at Kawa Kawa, which is famous for it's ornate toilets designed by Frederick Hundertwasser. Not an especially nice town - it's odd that anyone (apart from George Michel maybe) could envisage a town where the toilets are the highlight. The Bay of Islands area was next, and we stayed in "Romantic" Russell (as it promotes itself), a pituresque little town. We played scrabble again, whith me turning the game around with "avenges" scoring 36 , very apt i thought.
We arrived back into Aukland & the sunny weather made the city seem much more appealing than on our previous visit a few days earlier. We visited Kelly Tarton's Antartic Encounter Underwater World www.kellytartons.co.nz which was very cool. They have a wonderful Antartic temperature Penguin area, as well as a aquarium that is viewed from underneath , along a moving walkway. We took in various other sights including Mount Eden, an extinct volcano which offers magnificent views, with a crater 50 metres deep that you can walk down to, and Victoria Market www.victoria-park-market.co.nz (NZ's version of Camden I guess).
We checked out the views from the Skytower www.skycity.co.nz and met up with Davey (Will's friend from Cornwall) & his girlfriend Frankie. We chilled out in Devonport area & saw Xena the Warrior Princess' ship in the harbour (they film most of it in NZ).
And that was New Zealand. An absolutely lovely place, but with little city life. My highlights were definitely Dolphin Swimming in Kaikoura, and the beautiful Milford Sound. We arrived in Sydney and busied about trying to do all the things we needed to do (and not saying yes to the first flat we looked at, thank goodness). The plan now is to stay here for about 6 months before seeing some more of Australia and Asia & coming back home for September '03.