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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Day 334-337: Adventures on a tiny island

And then it rained. And rained. No, that's not fair, on the afternoon that we arrived in Taveuni and checked into a little wooden hut at Beverly's Campground the sun was shining and we were soon scraping ourselves over the coral in low-tide. That evening the owner of Beverly's insisted we have dinner with the family...and then it rained.

For the best part of 2 days.

Fortunately also staying at Beverly's was a lovely Spinnish [Finnish/Spanish] couple who eased the disappointment of constant wind, heavy rain and no electricity and provided some much-needed direction. They even had a guide book! Preparation indeed! And so just as the rain was clearing we jumped on the bus to Lavena.

A note on the buses; before coming to Fiji we'd heard a lot about “Fiji time” an expression that basically means (I think); we'll do it some time but there's no telling exactly when and it'll probably be later than you think. A kind of nice, acceptable expression of inevitable lateness. So when our flights arrived bang on time, early even, we figured the aviation industry might be apart from this trend...but then the 10:30 bus arrived at 10:30 and the 2 o'clock return was waiting patiently at 1:50 … what's happened to Fiji time?! It's not going strong on Taveuni I can tell you that much.

Anyway, the bus rumbled through small villages, crossed swollen rivers on very dubious-looking bridges and climbed steep hills through lush greenery and along coastal paths to deposit us, about an hour later, into the little village of Lavena. There is only one guest house in Lavena and – to be honest – if there was another it would have a tough time taking custom from The Lavena Lodge. With turquoise walls, super friendly staff and a breath-taking view out to see the lodge also provides tour-guides and conservation assistance to the local sight-seeing spots.

It was here that we learnt of the cyclone that had been bringing all the lousy weather our way – fortunately it was in Tonga and heading away from us so, we were told through a high whooping laugh that it seems is the birthright of Fijian women, that though it was windy “you won't blow away from here!”

Another day of mostly-indoor relaxing with Kimmo and Fatima (the Spinnishes) before Friday morning greeted us with blue skies! There were ominous looking clouds lurking over the mountain but it was time to seize the moment and take the beautiful Lavena Coastal Walk to the Wainibau waterfall. And boy was it worth the wait! The walk there was fantastic but the real highlight was sliding down the fast-flowing waterfall into the whirling plunge pool. It took a bit of a tricky climb up the rocks next to the fall but what a rush!

The rain even held off and allowed us to enjoy the walk home – via a short serenading session by some of the outrageously adorable local kids - and some more snorkelling too.

Such is the way with fate sometimes, that the day we were to leave Lavena the sun came out and lit up the bay in that picture-postcard kind of way that you might expect from Fiji. It was a shame it didn't look like the first pic (above) all the time we were there but it did give us the opportunity to take some great pictures. Actually, because Robs camera died in Suva, we have to say a big gracias to Fatima for sharing her snaps with us.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Day 331-333: We're on Fiji time now (we were before we set off)

If preparation is the key to success then the beginning of our excursion to Fiji is probably most akin to locking yourself out of the house in your pants, just as it begins to rain. We could see that shiny key of forward-thinking and thorough itinerary-making but it was just out of reach.

Never on this trip have we arrived in a country with such a vagueness of intentions or lack of research. We had in our possession a short message of recommendations from a friend – but even that was only recovered from the internet and scrawled into a notebook (from which we could regurgitate our intentions to disappointed-looking airport attendants later) at the last moment - thank you Auckland Airport for 15min free internet.

When we touched down in Nadi we were greeted by a 4-piece band in bright Hawaiian shirts that broke from their cheery tune only to shout the traditional Fijian greeting “bula!” as one passed. Oh how the false sense of security warmed us. Once through baggage and customs we were directed by a very large Fijian man towards a his smaller female counterpart to “help us with our holiday” - hang on! we'd only shook his hands and already he knew we were British and we were here for a week from New Zealand...these guys were good.
The disappointment in our assistant face was clearly visible when we confirmed that we intended to go to Taveuni – a small island to the West of Viti Levu - and not to the Yasawas Islands – the usual holiday hotspot.
“We'd like to get there as soon as possible, maybe today?”
[broad smile] “Ooooooh no, not can go to Yasawas today”
“We really want to go to Taveuni – what would be the best way to get there?”
“Why you want to go to Taveuni?”
[white lie] “We're meeting a friend there” - if India taught us nothing else; you always have a friend already waiting for you in the hostel / bar / town you want to go to. Eliminates so much hard-sell.

And so, to cut a long story short we ended up almost buying plane tickets to Taveuni for the next morning, then deciding they were too expensive and so reverting back to our friends original suggestion of getting an overnight boat from Suva to Taveuni. Then we missed a bus to Suva. We eventually caught another bus to Suva about an hour later, arriving in the total darkness of 8PM to be told that we'd also missed the overnight boat. I had remembered one guest house's name in Suva from a glance in the Lonely Planet book in an airport shop (thus completing 365's Fiji research) and so we were dropped at Raintree Lodge, about 7 miles outside of Suva centre.

Fortunately, when we woke up in the morning, as has seemed to often be the case on this journey; everything – somehow - fell nicely into place. Raintree Lodge is a beautiful guest house; our room looked out onto a lily pond, there was a lovely swimming pool and the super-helpful staff pointed us in the direction of the best way to get the most out of Taveuni.

We were to fly the morning after and then fly directly back to Nadi on Sunday to catch our flight back to Auckland. Though the more expensive option, it turns out the boat is both long and fairly unenjoyable and since we'd only a week in Fiji we didn't really want to spend 4 days of it in transit. Plus, this meant we got to spend the day in Suva...which is no bad thing.

The town is a crazy kind of mix of traditional and modern. We caught the bus into town, a beautifully ricketty ride with perpetually-open windows and cramped seats that deposited us into a dusty bus stand. Food stalls, drink vendors ( cold juicy) and people everywhere – so far, so familiar from Asia BUT turn the corner and a huge silver building plays host to flashy coffee shops, designer clothing outlets and Liquid nightclub.

Predominantly a harbour town, the views out to sea are just incredible. Take a wander through town and some fairly tired-looking gardens and you'll reach the Fiji Museum [canoe above, clock tower, left]; a wonderful way to catch up on the history of the country that we now found ourselves so unprepared and standing in. Thanks to the large Indian population, we even managed to find ourselves a delicious Thali lunch. Yes, it had been a bit of a stressful start but I could tell we were going to love it here in Fiji.

Moral of the story here? A one-week holiday cannot be treated the same as the kind of lengthy and relaxed jaunts around countries that have become our habit these past 11 months...some planning is advisable.

Or is it? What is the least prepared you have ever started a trip? And did it make or break your trip?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

10 reasons you MUST visit New Zealand

1. The art & architecture

With landscapes and history like this it would be a crime not to record it.
Where? Check out the mural-covered walls of Katikati and the Sea to City bridge designed by Māori artist Para Matchitt in Wellington

2. The feeling of freedom

270,000km2 of land a population just smaller than Liverpool's (4,500,000); you do the maths. Sit on a secluded beach, climb a deserted mountain at sunrise or gaze at the incredible array of stars from one of the best vantage points in the world – feel tiny, feel amazed, feel free
Where? Golden Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, St John's Observatory at Mount Cook

3. It's not all liquefaction

I was lucky enough to see beautiful Christchurch before Feb 22 and while it may need support more than it needs tourists right now, the rest of NZ would make a trip across the Pacific more than worthwhile
Where? Almost everywhere

4. The adrenalin rush

This is the nation that invented the bungy. Two blokes got bored and a little bit tipsy and bang! the world had zorbing. Where could possibly be better for getting your heart pumping in simply stunning surroundings?
Where? Bungy in Queenstown (we're the little dots just below the platform) Sky Dive in Franz Josef, Zorb in Rotorua

5. Beer is cheaper than milk

Any country that endorses those kind of priorities is OK by me
Where? Everywhere

6. Everyone in your brother

“haaaaws it goin, bro?” “yeah yeah yeah yeah sweeeet as, bro, sweet as” No sentence is complete without the affectionate “bro” suffix
Where? Everywhere

7. It is breath-takingly beautiful

Want white sandy beaches? Snow-capped mountains? Crystal-clear seas? Rolling green hills? Steaming waterfalls? Ominous mountains? Emerald lakes? I could go on...but you name it, NZ has got is
Where? Everywhere [Tongariro Crossing & Rotorua above]

8. You can do it on the cheap

NZ was made to be explored – and driving around doesn't have to cost the earth. We think it's the best way to see all NZ has to offer so we weighed up the costs in this post
Where? Everywhere

9. The burgers are MASSIVE

Probably the most famous independent burger joint in the world, no trip to NZ is complete without tackling a Fergburger
Where? Fergburger in Queenstown

10. The cultural variety

Maybe it's the friendly Kiwi spirit? Maybe it's the spectacular landscapes? Maybe it's because everyone – and I mean everyone – owns a kick-ass BBQ. Whatever it is, people from all over the globe call NZ home and really add to the flavour.
Where? Wander around Wellington

Monday, 21 March 2011

Driving around New Zealand; the RENT vs BUY debate is settled here

New Zealand was just made to be explored in a camper van, and millions of tourists do just that every year. We bought our Toyota Townace, Emilio, and have loved cruising around NZ in it for the last 3 months...but was it the best way to do it...?

The debate ends here! This post adds up the most enjoyable / cost-effective / generally best way to get around these beautiful islands

[our calculations are based on a 3 month trip, all prices are in NZD]

Buy a Van
Obviously what you buy and how much you pay for it / sell it for is going to be different in each case so we'll use ourselves as a case study of what is quite a normal deal.

Buy van: $4000
Spend on van: Insurance ($250) renew reg ($77) and WOF ($50) and fix starter motor ($300) = $425
Petrol: $1500 (this is an accurate rounded-up count...we're geeks)
Accommodation: real purists could easily spend nothing at all but we stayed in a few DOC sites along the way (always much cheaper than private camp sites) and we treated ourselves to the odd hot shower when freedom camping wasn't possible (Milford Sounds, Dunedin and famously, Wanaka) so est. total: $100
Sell Van: $4000

TOTAL spend: $2277

Risk: 4/5 – of course when we were looking at vans we were thinking about selling it on. Some might say we were unlucky with the starter motor expenditure but I'm just glad nothing major broke. Not being able to sell your van on would make this option very expensive

Enjoyment: 5/5 – there is simply no better way to see NZ than to take time exploring in a van.

Hire a van
Wicked are probably the biggest name in campervan hire in NZ so we'll use their prices here as a guideline. Prices here are for the standard camper van which come with gas stove, folding bed and all the pots and pans you'd need (same facilities as our van)

Deposit on Van: $500 – I'm pretty sure someone we met said this was their deposit, but I may be mistaken, either way we're assuming that it's all returned so it doesn't really matter...
Rent of van per day: $41 (it's $75/day for bookings of less than a month) so total for 3 months: $3690
Spend on van: 24hr Road-Side Recovery is included
Petrol: doing the same journey as above, $1500
Accommodation: as above, $100
Deposit returned: $500 – presuming nothing went wrong

TOTAL spend: $5290

Risk: 2/5 – we've heard some dubious things about the quality of Wicked vans beneath all that spraypaint but for us the biggest risk would be driving around in a truly hideous van...would you really want to pay to be driving around with “free breast testing here” on your bumper?

Enjoyment: 5/5 – apart from the dodgy slogans, as above – there's no better way

Hire a fancy van:
Oooh there were some serious bouts of van-envy on the road at times. Jucy seem to do the best of these, so below is the price for the Jucy Condo – it comes with sink, water tank, 2 fixed double beds, fridge, gas cooker and a flat-screen TV with DVD player

Deposit on van: 20% on camper vans, none on smaller vehicles, so $774
Rent per day: $43/day = $3870 for 3 months
Spend on van: 24hr Road-Side Recovery is included
Petrol: doing the same journey as above, $1500
Accomodation: Once you've got the extra facilities you may as well get full use out of them...and this means being plugged-in...though this doesn't have to be every night it does sensible to re-charge fairly often. So at an average of $35 per night for a powered site, staying 1 in every 3 nights, the total for 3 months is $1050
Deposit returned: $774

TOTAL spend: $6420

Risk: 2/5 – the risk here is lowered by having to always stay in proper places, which usually aren't down dirt-tracks

Enjoyment: 4/5 – yes life inside your van is bliss but aren't you here to explore the wonderful land outside your air conditioned box on 4 wheels? At least for us, camping out in the wild was part of the fun (most of the time) but this is the perfect thing if you're more of a flashpacker

The Kiwi Experience
I'm including this only in the interests of thorough journalism (yeah, because that's what we're all about here :) ) - in fact you couldn't pay me to get on the big green fuck bus and share tiny, prescribed portions of the country with a bunch of drunk British 18 year olds...apologies, that's harsh, I've never been on the bus but I do know I drive the other way when I see one pull-in somewhere
Anyhoo...Price: its $2200 for “The Full Monty” pass “This is the bus pass for the traveller who wants it all, and doesn’t want to miss a thing!”
Rent per day $0
Petrol: $0
Accomodation: $25 per night for a dorm room, total for 3 months: $2250

Total spend: $4450

Risk: 0/5 – you know exactly what you're going to get. You'll definitely miss out of seeing anything “off the beaten track” - but that's not really a risk, that's for sure

Enjoyment: 2/5 – rushed timetables and structured fun? No thanks...for me at least the '2' is for the glimmer of hope of meeting the kind of great people we met while driving and because you will see all of NZ's big attraction – which shouldn't be belittled by my biased against this option


to conclude – the good news for us is that our 3 month trip was the cheapest – staggeringly it was less than half the price of doing it in a Wicked Van with the same facilities.

Hiring an all-singing-all-dancing Condo was only marginally more expensive than hiring a standard camper van – it's just paying for electricity and water on the way round that brought the price up...those who like comfy beds and the ability to stand up inside vehicles but don't mind washing up in streams would do well to consider this option.

The Kiwi Experience was actually much more cost effective than I thought it would be – a perfectly reasonable option for solo-travellers and/or gap yah students

Of course, time is a factor too – a week spent buying and selling a van on each side of a visit would ruin a 1 month trip to NZ...short term visitors can quickly and easily pick up hire vans anywhere at all. There is so much choice that with competition and return-legs to be had, there must be cheaper deals for the time and money conscious traveler

There is also a 5th option that I have not yet mentioned; Hitch Hiking – it gets you to anywhere there are roads and sometimes even where there aren't (if some of the hitchhikers we picked up are to believed) – of course it's totally free and, apart from the standing in the rain on the edge of a motorway every now and again, also incredibly enjoyable. The risks are high (rape, murder, incredibly dull conversation) but as long as you have a tent and a lot of time, it's another great option.

So that's it for today, apart from easing our minds (if not our bank balances) I hope that this post also helps someone somewhere who was thinking about driving around NZ, by which I mean...encourages them to DO IT, because it is truly amazing.

This post is proudly in support of Blog4NZ - a collective of travel bloggers and tourism industry folk who are dedicating these three days to supporting New Zealand which, in the wake of the Chrishcurch earthquake one month ago, is still very much the place to be...we think so at least :)

[all images stolen from Google Images]

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Day 327 - 330: Berkely Avenue Reunion

As Kat mentioned in the last post, our trip to the Northland came in the middle of a two week stay in Auckland. The reason for staying put in a single place for longer than usual was to spend as much time as we could with some old family friends of mine. The Graimes/Woottens (the family tree is a trifle convoluted, I won't bore with diagrams) moved out here about seven years ago after living next door to my family for a few years. Almost instantly it was clear to see why they are so happy here.

Although not the capital, Auckland has the biggest population of NZ cities, and, when taking a walk through the main town streets, is clearly the commercial and industrial hub of the country. The water front area, for example, clearly has a job to do; sky-high office blocks and trade ships obvious in even the most central and touristy of areas.

But, don't be fooled. There's more to it. Ginni and Martin live in one of the many suburbs of Auckland, a good forty minute dive away from the town centre. Here it's a totally different story, as the house looks over beautiful crescent bays with Rangitoto island, and joining it on a clear day, the Coromandal peninsula serving as a backdrop. We still love you Emilio, but with a spare room to stay in, access to the well stocked fridge, and even a hot tub, we were going to be mighty comfortable here.

And what a wonderful two weeks we've had. Of course the highlight was spending time with my friends again, catching up over the last few years and constantly being reminded why we spent so much time together when they were but a jump over a garden wall away.

We had an amazing day with Tom visiting a secluded but beautiful spot known as 'The old cement works'. There was a particularly perilous looking rope swing going into the water, which, wisely I think, we passed on. We maybe made up for it a couple of days later by jumping off one of the traffic bridges into the river below. “Jump off here” Tom said. “The area right under the 'do not jump – rocks below' sign has no rocks under”.

We also spent a few days with Tony, who lived a little closer to town giving us a good base for exploring a bit more of Auckland city. The Auckland Museum is definitely one of the best we've been to, and the views from the Sky Tower – the tallest building in the Southern hemisphere - are amazing. Me and Kat got to brush up on our baseball skills again (watch out America) and had a little golf lesson from Tony and his girlfriend, Kelly, too. Seems I'm turning into my folks a little early...

Shakespear park was great as well. We had a pretty full on barbeque, and messed about with the whole family playing cricket, rugby, and swimming in the sea. Maybe its just our London routes, but I really don't understand how you can have such nice beaches, so close to a major city.

We really had the best time staying here, and to Martin, Ginni, Ants, Suzi, Tom, Pete, Max, Josh and Bella – we thank you again for having us. Lets not make it seven years again, eh? ­

Thursday, 17 March 2011

36.5 days til 365 come home!

Maybe this is only exciting if you are number geeks like us...but midday today (UK time) marks thirty six point five days until your Team Three Six Five return from whence we came!

We're into the final 10% now folks...exciting times :)

Friday, 11 March 2011

Day 312-319: The only way is up (baby)

Well it's been a while since I let you lovely people know what we've been up to...apologies, actually we've done a fair bit. First we hit up the Coromandle – the smaller peninsular that stretches out at the north of Rotorua. Our first port of call was Tauranga, a lovely seaside town that sits in the shadow of Mount Manganui. It was getting late in the day so we opted for clambering on the rocks that afforded beautiful views of the sacred mountain and the South Pacific Ocean stretching out in front of it instead of a strenuous climb up the mount itself.

Next on our whistle-stop tour was Katikati, which was particularly exciting for Rob whose taken to calling me Kati / Katikati / Katikatikatkat /Kaaaaaatikatikatkat etc. and to see his chantings in writing was, as you can imagine, almost to much to bear. For me the tiny town was wonderful because it is covered in murals (below)...what a brilliant idea to cover any empty walls or shop-sides with portraits and old-fashioned vistas. Even if it did come with a soundtrack of my own name ringing in my ears.

The rest of our trip up the Coromandel was sort of rained off, we made it Forest Park but weren't really in the mood for walking around in the drizzle, so we departed shortly after. And this was a pattern that then repeated itself for the next few days in various locations.

[insert days spent in coffee shops / the back of Emilio / rinsing free wifi in McDonalds' in the Hamilton and Raglan area here]

After a brief stop in Auckland (which I will write about properly in it's own right) Rob and I took a few days out to continue of journey north. At Goat Island (not, I note, a goat in sight here) we did some snorkelling before camping up for the night just above Tutukaka on a gorgeous sandy beach that came with the added bonus of a beautiful sunset and a family skinny dipping. Good times.

Back in Highway 1 we were soon at Paihia – gateway to the Bay of Island, which is, as the name would suggest, a bay with many islands. We decided to indulge in some more snorkelling on Roberton Island since a company was running day trips there for $50 with all the gear included. And it is a beautiful island, sitting pretty in blue oceans it holds two lagoons and one retired man who apparently survives by having cruise boats bring in supplies for him every day or so.

We were dropped off by boat at 10AM when the sun was shining and dived right into the freezing waters, though there wasn't too much sea life about Rob did an amazing job in spotting a lazy Manta Ray lurking on the sea bed. This was brilliant! After all our diving we sill hadn't seen a ray and, for me, this really completes the under-water check list of must-see animals. Then a smaller, lighter one swam around below us for a few minutes. Two manta rays - magic.
We'd been told that we'd be picked up at around 2:30-3ish but by 4PM there was still no sign of our lift. We were, literally, stranded on an island. Which might not sound like such a raw deal but the clouds had rolled in and we had a long drive ahead of us...eventually after a phone call (“we haven't forgotten about you, we'll be over at some point” damn those relaxed kiwis) we made it back to shore at 5ish. The extra 2 hours did kind of take away from the enjoyment of the day, the lesson here? Do go to Roberton Island, but don't do it with DiveOps.

At this point we'd considered continuing up to the northern most peak of NZ, Cape Reinga, but it is a long drive on partially unsealed roads which we weren't sure were too healthy for little Emilio so we left it at that and returned “home” to Auckland.

We're now listed on As We Travel's Blog Directory

Good afternoon all

Just a quick shout out to those lovely folks at As We Travel for squeezing Three Six Five into their Blog Directory

We're in amongst some really exciting and inspiring company there - it's well worth having a browse if travel blogs are your thing

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Not Another Top 5 List; The cheapskates guide to campervan-ing around New Zealand

1. Public Toilet Loving (not like George Michael)
New Zealand loves its public toilets and you will come to love your time in them too. Whoever decided a lounge-jazz arrangement of “What the world needs now (is love sweet love)” was a necessary cubical soundtrack; I solute you. Wash yourself here, wash your dishes here, wash away the need to ever pay $40 for a campsite with facilities again

2. Beat the warden
Many DOC sites operate on “honesty envelopes” that allow campers to self-service payment before “early morning” checks by wardens. Leave the site by 6:45AM and never pay a penny (so we hear...)

3. Fashion forward / Cash back
Have you arrived from the blistering heat of the Asian sun completely unprepared for normal cold weather? Go 'op shopping' (2nd-hand clothes shopping) and come away with warming corkers like this for $2

4. Pam is your friend
New Zealand's ode to Asda's Smart Price, the cheapest of the cheap in basic food products comes with a friendly name here. Shall we dine with Pam tonight? Yes please.

5. The 'No Camping' sign
Don't be fooled by what may seem to be a clear statement – this common sign simply means, here's a nice spot to stay for the night if you are happy to maybe (probably not) be woken up and moved on at 4AM [see Wanaka]

Like this? There's more! Why not check out How to survive a night bus or How to achieve traveller chic (for the guys)

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Day 309-311: Rotarua stinks (literally...but not figuratively)

You know you are approaching Rotarua long before you reach the township. This is not because of the useful road signs - though this is New Zealand, every tiny thing is absurdly well signposted – it's because you can quite literally smell it coming a mile off. Wind down your windows and as you cruise through the wooded highway up from Taupo that putrid scent of rotten eggs will fill your nostrils by the time you reach Waipa.

Rotarua is a big attraction on the 'Thermal Explorers Highway' (see what I mean? Short of just signposting a road as Highway 5 it also gets the catchy-name signpost...see The Southern Scenic Route for further examples of this Kiwi-craze) and the thermal activity here means that sweet sulphuric smell abounds (boo!) and that you can dip your feet in naturally heated water from mother earth while waiting for the bus (yay!)

The town has really tapped into it's natural resources (well, there was no glossing over it...) and there are loads of spas / natural baths / hot water pools / geothermic hot water spa and pools in the vicinity, all charging something-or-other for the privilege of bathing in the magical waters or rubbing warm mud over your nearest and dearest...actually I would have rather liked to do the latter but our budget would not have ($140 per person?! You're having a laugh!) Instead we took a stroll around the free Kuirau Park, a glorious spot right by the town centre where mud pools bubble and steam spouts out of the ground right before your eyes. It really is quite something to see.

We also took a walk around the Government Gardens which sidle up to the south-west corner of Lake Rotarua. Not as spectacular as Lake Taupo before it, but worth a wander around for sure. We even came across a batting-cage (Rob assures me this is the right name for it, but just in's like a driving range, but with baseball bats and balls) where one bucket of balls soon turned into three and much fun and miss hits (mostly me) were had by all.

It may claim to the cultural heart of New Zealand (it does have the largest Mauri population and, to it's credit, even the whitest European-settler-types pronounce it rrrro-ti-rrrr-rua with real rolling r's in the classic Mauri twang) but it is still Kiwi enough to cater to the needs of adrenalin junkies such as it seems I have become. So after a childhood of wandering what it felt like when Hayley Duncan's hamster accidentally rolled down the stairs in it's ball; I went Zorbing.

And not just any Zorbing – Hydro Zorbing. And I am happy to confirm that it is pretty much like the best water park ride you'll ever go's so much fun. After diving super-man style into a big inflatable ball partially filled with water I had to walk it onto the down-hill track where I was washed around, splashing and sliding from one bump to another, until arriving at the bottom a minute or so later ready for this awful snap to be taken...that's pure joy right there. That's not what poor Sandy looked like after his trip down the stairs though, I can tell you that for nothing.

Rotorua had treated us well but there was one more thing that made us stay on in this wonderful stinky town for another afternoon...but I can't write about just yet.

It's very good and very exciting and I'm just waiting to receive the ...hmm... the documentation, and then I'll tell all :)