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So... On Monday I went to the museum (again), which was nice. It was also very useful for last night's quiz. On Monday night there was a killer pool competition, which I totally sucked at but that was to be expected. I still had fun, though. Yesterday I did the harbour bridge climb again and then went to the quiz, which was awesome. Somehow my team managed to win, and I believe we swapped a 2-for-1 sky dive ticket for a couple of jugs of beer, which I'm kinda regretting today. My head, it hurts.
Today's trip is/was to Rangitoto so I decided it would be best not to do that one again, but I'll probably sign up for Devonport tomorrow. There may or may not be a trip to the west coast on Friday, so we'll see about that.

So yeah, I think I've decided not to go back to Rotorua/Hobbiton. Maybe next time.
So... watching the England game didn't happen. It's rather difficult to get up at 6am when your drunk dorm mates get in at 2am with their friends and sing Ronan fucking Keating songs at the top of their out-of-tune voices for a couple of hours. I did my best to pretend to be asleep but it was difficult when one of the girls in the dorm was shouting "are we keeping you awake Anna?" and one of the guys they brought back thought it was fun to shout right in my face. I came so close to punching him, and might do if I ever have the misfortune to be in the same room as him again. If anything's going to get me on the wagon permanently it's being exposed to how incredibly obnoxious drunk people are. I weep for humanity, I really do. At around 5.30am those that hadn't already passed out decided it was time to go to sleep, but by that point I was too tired and anti-social to go out to watch the match. It took a while before I could get off to sleep because someone had set their alarm so that they could get up for the match, but because everyone else was in such a deep alcohol-induced sleep it didn't wake them up and just kept me awake. Fun times.

So today I'm avoiding my room because I can't trust myself not to be a passive-aggressive bitch when I finally have to see the girls from my dorm again. Oh well.
Today's another lazy day in preparation for the World Cup. I'm super excited. This World Cup is going to be amazing, not least because I'm 12,000 miles away from the hype surrounding the England team. It's fantastic not hearing on an hourly basis how supposedly brilliant Gerrard and Rooney and Capello are, and how this is going to be "our year". Hopefully by the time I get back England will have been humbled and people will have learned to shut up. Hopefully. Unfortunately England have been given a pretty easy run to the semi-finals, but I'm still expecting them to under-perform (especially if James is in goal; Casillas was right about the goalkeepers being England's weakness. Well, that and Heskey). I'm not-so-secretly hoping that the USA will win the group, and it looks like they've got a good chance of doing so. We shall see.

I think I'll go and get some lunch and then have a nap; 2am kick-offs are going to be so much fun /sarcasm

Jun. 10th, 2010

Yesterday was okay, but I sucked. Heat + humidity + height + hypotension = rubbish Anna. I was fine for the first 2/5 of the hike but then I hit a wall (figuratively speaking). I managed to get to the half-way stage where we had a short rest, but had to tell the others to go on without me and that I'd eventually get to the top. I had a few moments where I had to stop as I was afraid that I'd faint if I didn't, but I finally reached the summit without passing out or throwing up. It turns out that slow and unsteady does not win the race. The hike back down again was a lot easier, as it was downhill (man, I really love downhill) and it was getting cooler. For some strange reason I don't think I'll be going on that trip again, even though I forgot my camera so I have no photos of the amazing view from the summit... Next time I'll do the SkyWalk instead or something.

I've booked myself into the hostel until next Thursday, giving myself a couple of days to go back to Rotorua and Hobbiton if I want to. I haven't made up my mind yet.

Now, though, I think it might be time for brunch. And if the weather holds I might spend the afternoon in Albert Park. We shall see...
Today was good.
Went on a trip to the bridge and watched mad people bungy jump. I'm definitely glad I wasn't stupid enough to sign up for it. We then went to the fish market and had fish and chips, which was nice. I was laughed at for my compulsion habit of eating everything in order.

Tomorrow's trip to Waiheke island's been cancelled, which is a bit of a bugger. I've been persuaded to go to Rangitoto island instead, so hopefully that'll be fun.

Now I'm going to go and prove what an ignoramus I am by failing miserably at a pub quiz. Good times.


Well, I'm back in Auckland. Which is nice.

Today I went out for a cup of coffee and stumbled across a Free Gaza/Anti-Israeli State protest. Luckily I didn't get hit by any shoes and the speeches were really good. It really made me miss Dan, though; he would have loved it. Still, I'm sure that wherever he is in the world he's kicking up a fuss. He always does.
I had a brilliant time yesterday, but it was very tiring (I got picked up at 7.15am and was dropped of at 6pm).

Due to the tides we first went to ninety mile beach (which is in fact ~64 miles) and drove in the bus along it for nearly an hour. We then got to walk on the beach for a few minutes and dip our toes into the Tasman sea. Then we drove up a stream (where we passed a sign that read "Danger, increase speed") to some sand dunes and I watched silly people nearly kill themselves (well, no one actually injured themselves this time but someone has broken their neck sandboarding in the past). We then drove to a beautiful beach for some lunch. Afterwards we went to Cape Reinga, where I paid $20 to plant a flax, which I've named Max. I think it has a ring to it. I've been told that his co-ordinates are: -34.42983, 172.68184
Apparently if I write to the people in charge of the project and give them the co-ordinates then they'll send me photos of his progress, which is nice.
After Cape Reigna we stopped off at a place that makes stuff out of 45,000+ year old trees that they dig up from swamps, which was pretty cool. We then had fish and chips for tea before going on a short walk around a forest, where I got to touch 1,000 year old trees. Finally we went back to Paihia.

It was a good day.
So... I'm in Paihia and it's incredibly beautiful.

I've booked a dolphin spotting/hole in the rock cruise for tomorrow morning and the Cape Reinga tour for Wednesday. Now I've just got to keep my fingers crossed for good weather.

The hostel's facilities are pretty expensive. Internet access is $5 an hour and has to be purchased from the mostly unmanned reception. So I've been a naughty girl and am using the hostel next door's wifi; I still have to pay for it but it's much, much cheaper.

I think I'll spend the rest of the afternoon lazily exploring the tiny town and finding some food.

In other news: I'm totally missing Auckland already.


Man, I ache all over today. I've discovered a bunch of muscles that I'd forgotten about.

Let's see...

Monday I went on a trip to the museum, which I think I've already mentioned. I then had a couple of lazy days.

On Thursday I went on a trip to Devonport, which was really fun. We walked up and down and around a hill (or is it a volcano? Who knows) and in military trenches before having a barbecue by the beach. We then explored the main street of Devonport, and most of us ended up in the UK shop buying ridiculous amounts of over-priced UK sweets. It was totally worth it, though.

Thursday night was the bar crawl. And because I can't resist a bargain, I signed up for $10 for 4 drinks at 4 bars. I only bought a couple of alcoholic drinks on top of that and made sure to drink non-alcoholic beverages in between to make sure I wouldn't be too hungover the next day. One of the highlights of the night was when our group (and there was probably around 40-50 of us) passed a (homeless?) guy busking and we all sang wonderwall together. That was fun. We also did the conga on our way to one bar...

Yesterday was a really good day, which is why I was determined to not be hungover. It would appear that I was the only one to be remotely sensible, as there were just three of us (plus two guides) on the trip. We caught the ferry to Waiheke Island, which could be a little piece of heaven on earth. We went on a small walk to the beach, where Kim and Ryan went in the sea whilst I took photos for them. We then went to a little winery and got to taste some wine and beer as well as sample some delicious chutneys and vinaigrettes. Kim didn't enjoy it too much as she was still feeling the effects of the night before. Oh to be 19 again. Anyway, after drinking enough to get me slightly tipsy we went to another beach and had a barbecue lunch. Then everyone was really mean and made me choose what we did next, despite my protests about being the most indecisive person ever. So I made them jump off a cliff. It probably wasn't the best decision I'd ever made as it involved a long climb around the cliff to get to the right spot and we only had 45 minutes of daylight left plus the tide was coming in, though I didn't know any of that. Still, I think the others really enjoyed it; I was left holding onto the dog, as it was liable to jump off the cliff with everyone else. The dog did manage to sneak past me once, scaring the shit out of everyone, but I managed to grab onto him before he sent us off the cliff. We had a little bit of trouble getting back, as the tide had risen quite a bit and we couldn't get back the way we'd came. Luckily I'd spent most of my school holidays planning how I would climb various cliffs if my parents had let me, so I was able to find a way around. The others were pretty sceptical at first but they all ended up following me and we all got back in one piece. I did not enjoy the 108 steps back to the bus, though. Still, it was a good day.

Tomorrow I'm taking a bus to Paihia, where I'll stay for a few nights. I've then got to work out whether I'll be staying in Auckland for a while or whether I'm going back to Wellington for a bit. Now that I've discovered the hostel's tours I'm more inclined to stay in Auckland, as it's less hassle and there's more to keep me occupied. I'll guess I'll think about it (and check the weather forecast).
I just had a Barney Stinson moment.

I was standing in Esquires, waiting for a hot chocolate, and to pass the time I studied their menu. I wondered how long it would take to go through the entire list of exceedingly delicious drinks when a little voice in the back of my head said "challenge accepted!"

Oh well.

In other news, tomorrow I'm going on a cheap trip to Devonport. Hopefully the weather won#t be quite as wet as the forecast is currently predicting.
The museum was pretty cool, though it was a quick tour so I didn't get to see everything. Perhaps I'll go back another time. It also meant that I was on my feet for about four and a half hours, most of the time spent walking, so I'm now a little tired. The hostel has a cheap tour every day to try to keep the backpackers occupied with something other than the television, which is good. Tomorrow's tour is to the bridge to participate in/watch the bungy jumping. I might give that one a miss as I wouldn't want to find myself accidentally on the end of a rope. But I'll check out what else is on while I'm here.

I went to reception and I think I sorted out staying here until Sunday. I'll have to check with reception at some point. The reason why I'm unsure is that when I was on my way back to my room afterwards it occured to me that the cost of staying here was probably too cheap to be true. The girl at reception spent about five minutes playing with a calculator before finally reaching that figure, so it may have been an error on her part or else she might have misunderstood when I wanted to check out. So I'll confirm when I'm due to check out without mentioning money, as I'd rather not be asked to make up the difference if a mistake was made. I might have to try to remember my contract law for this one...

May. 24th, 2010

So... I've finally made some plans. The weather forecast indicates that it should be nice and sunny by the end of the week, so I've booked a bus to Paihia for Sunday, where I'll stay for five nights. I'm hoping to do a couple of tours while I'm there: Dolphin/hole in the rock cruise and Cape Reinga tour. Despite the website clearly saying that the Dolphin cruise is all-year-round, it looks like it's currently unavailable :o(
I've emailed the company to ask about it, though, so hopefully I'll hear back soon.

Now I've just got to go down to reception and ask if I can stay until Sunday.

Oh, and I was hijacked by a guy at the hostel and will be going on a guided tour to the museum today. Which isn't a problem, given I was planning on going there at some point anyway.
So... I considered panicking over my lack of plans before deciding that was a stupid idea. Instead I cancelled the hostel in Coromandel (fortunately I'd paid the extra £/$1 insurance against cancellation so I didn't lose my deposit) and booked myself into the hostel that I stayed in when I was first in Auckland for three nights to give myself time to work out what I'm doing next. I then went to the Intercity Travel Centre to cancel the buses that I'd booked, only to find out that I needed to phone them. It would have been useful if that information had been on their website/flexipass brochure. Anyway, as it was a free-phone number I found the nearest telephone box and got that sorted out so I haven't lost any hours on my flexipass, which is nice.

I'd been looking at flying to Wellington and getting the Overlander back, but I'm having a couple of problems with the dates. Something's going on at the beginning of June because the hostel I want to stay at is fully booked and the Overlander isn't running. So that means if I do go to Wellington it'll only be for Tuesday-Sunday, though that ought to be enough time as I've already done most of what I wanted to do there anyway. THe main problem is that the weather doesn't look so good, but that's probably going to be the case wherever I'll be. I'm not going to rush into finalising anything, though. I've got another three nights in Auckland, so there's plenty of time to figure it all out.

I decided to treat myself for acting something like a grown-up and sorting everything out rather than wallowing in bed, and got a mocha and slice of banana and walnut loaf from Starbucks. It was good.
It's cold and wet. And the weather forecast for Coromandel doesn't look so good either.
So I'm thinking about cancelling my trip there, as it's a pretty rural area and there won't be anything to do in the rain. I've not got long to make a decision, and if I'm not going then I have to plan what to do instead. I could stay here, or I could pop back down to Wellington. The weather forecast for Auckland is slightly better than Wellington, but it makes more sense to go back to Wellington as I'll be spending so much time in Auckland at the end of my trip. I hate being indecisive.

I'm back in Auckland for a couple of nights. And even though it's raining I still love it here. It may not have the same kind of character that Wellington and Christchurch possess, being more of an anonymous 'big city', but I like anonymous big cities.

The hostel I'm staying at seems okay. My dorm's got an en-suite bathroom and tiny kitchenette ( with a sink, toaster, kettle and microwave). It's a little messy because the other occupant has been staying there for a while, but it's not all that bad considering. I'm not sure how much internet access is but I'm betting it's not going to be cheap as it's the same company as the hotel, which charged $5 for 15 minutes (if I remember correctly). I'll just have to use the internet less often and walk down to my favourite internet cafe where it's $2 an hour.

I had a really rubbish night last night, so it's lucky for Crash Palace Backpackers that I'm not able to write a review for Hostelworld until tomorrow, when I'll probably be in a better mood and far less bitchy. Probably.

I'm not sure if I'll do much tomorrow. I guess I'll see what the weather's like. The weather forecast indicates rain, so I might just have a lazy day in the hostel. I treated myself to a new Sudoku book and, because it was $10, a rather large copy of a Dalziel and Pascoe book that I avoided reading originally because it contains badly written emails. Hopefully I'll be able to look past the awful grammar (which, according to some reviewers, was so bad that some passages bordered on illegible) and be able to enjoy the story. And because the book was cheap I don't mind donating it to the hostel or whatever when I've finished.
I had a great time in Hobbiton and took many photos, but due to the confidentiality agreement that I signed I'm not really allowed to say or show anything. Sorry about that.

May. 18th, 2010

I'm getting better at remembering that when I'm feeling less than happy the best thing to do is to go for a walk. So I went for a smelly walk, where I saw smelly things that smelled. It was pretty cloudy and grey (though naturally the sun's come out now) so it wasn't overly pretty. Oh well. I took a couple of photos of the lake anyway. I then treated myself to a lamb burger for lunch, which was nice but couldn't possibly compare to the "lamb burger" I had yesterday, which was a burger roll filled with salad and a healthy portion of cuts from a big roasted joint of lamb. It was a taste sensation, and I'll be keeping an eye out for similar takeaways.

And because I keep forgetting to mention it, one of the highlights of Napier was seeing an old guy driving a proper vintage car down the street, which was cool enough on its own given that vintage cars are awesome and it was such a fitting setting for it, but to make the scene absolutely perfect the number plate of the car was WHATHO. That just has to be the best number planet on the planet...

May. 18th, 2010

Not a happy bunny today. Hopefully the Hobbiton tour will make it all worthwhile.
Let's try not to be such a negative nancy...

The better news is that my room doesn't smell too bad (at least compared to the rest of the building and outside), which is something. I also have wifi signal (although it's very low) in my room, which is nice as it means I get to browse the internet in bed.

The bad news, however, is that I can't stop telling my new bag how pretty it is. It's going to have such an inflated ego at this rate, not to mention that it'll place far too much importance on appearances...
Rotorua is, in a word, smelly. In two words, it is seriously smelly. I am so very much regretting the fact that I booked three nights here rather than just two. Especially since the only thing of interest to me other than the Hobbiton tour is the Gondola, which is an hour's walk (according to Google maps) from the hostel so if I can figure out how the buses here work then I might do that. If that fails then I've got nothing to do on Wednesday, which will be annoying. Or maybe I'll wander around in search of some smelling salts to try to rid my nose of the stench of rotten egg...

Oh, and internet access is rather expensive, too.
Bad quality photos of my bag/purse/whateverthehellitis!Collapse )

I went out for a little while and took some more photos, which was nice. Which reminds me, some random person left a comment on one of my photos yesterday and then deleted it an hour or so later. Weirdo.

Anyway, I'm off to Rotorua in a couple of hours, and if I don't want to fall asleep on the bus I might need to stop off at Starbucks first...
I think I might have finally found my second X chromosome. I bought a little bag/purse thing yesterday and although its size and small strap makes it rather impractical I absolutely adore it. As much as I hate myself for saying it, it's so pretty.

In other news, I had a pretty rubbish night and gave up trying to sleep at 5.30am. Rubbish.
As it's my last night in Napier I decided to make the most of the internet package that I purchased (although I've only stayed here for four nights it was most economical for me to get 7 days with a limit of 1000MiB) and have uploaded a few photos and a video:

I'll try to upload the Napier photos after I've had some supper.
During this trip I've had the question of emigration lurking at the back of my mind. Now that I've reached the half-way mark, I've started making a list of the pros and cons:

* Beautiful countryside
* Kiwis are generally really nice and friendly people
* Cheese rolls
* There are hardly any chavs
* There's generally a more relaxed vibe; people aren't nearly so stressed here
* There isn't a Con Dem coalition government
* It's much more environmentally friendly here
* Low risk of terrorism (which in turn means they get to have little luxuries like rubbish bins in train stations)
* Less crime in general

* It's a long way from my family
* It's a long way from my cat
* It's a long way from my friends
* New Zealand's youth may not be chavs, but they do appear to be pretty obnoxious and rude anyway
* So many tourists. Yes, that's slightly hypocritical given that I am one, but I remember how much the tourists annoyed me when I was living in Brighton and I expect the same would apply if I was living here.
* I can't tolerate the milk. And I love milk
* The cost of living is probably even higher than the UK; although property appears to be relatively cheap, food is reasonably expensive and wages are much, much lower than the UK
* It doesn't have that feeling of being "home". That might be something that happens with time, but then again it might never truly feel like home.
* High risk of natural disasters: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.
* Going to an Arsenal match would be a real hassle
* I'll miss the BBC and a lot of its programmes

I'm sure I'll add to the list as I think of more things. At the moment the best plan is to try to stay in the UK for the next five years, saving up some money, and then reviewing my options after the next election. I think that when it comes down to it the political situation in the UK may end up being the deciding factor. If the government continues to restrict our civil rights in the name of "the war on terrorism" then I'll have no choice but to leave. But until that time comes, I'll do my very best as a member of the Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party to spread the truth ;o)
Though really, if I could afford to be a candidate at the next election for the MRLP I would totally do it. And I reckon I could get more than 10 votes if I tried hard enough.