No more driving around! So we’re going to go fishing instead! Aside from fishing a large wild gold fish out of a village pond in Swindon in the heady uni days of 2005, this will be my first proper fishing trip…in the sea! Hopefully I’ll catch something bigger! Not quite sure how I feel about having to kill these beauties tho, that will be the hard bit. Continue reading “Fishing in The Far North”
MAKANA CONFECTIONS – KERIKERI
Having said our good bye to an awesome year and tided in an equally good one, with great company, it was now time to head north, even further north. Because of where Russell was situated, and the road we needed to reach, it was quickest to take the ferry back across (earlier on in the Coromandel we had decided dirt tracks were out of the question). A good tip off from our friends lead us to the most amazing chocolate shop and factory in Kerikeri – The Boutique Chocolate Factory, part of Makana Confections. This was essentially elevenses, having cooked an epic fry up storm for our hosts to try and cure our hangovers before we left. Continue reading “Happy New Year – Happy New Chocolate”
Next morning, after a much-needed lie-in, we were off on a (very bumpy) ferry ride to Urupukapuka Island. We were warned when we arrived on the island and before we left Russell that due to there being no natural predators or pests on the island could we please help keep the island pest-free by checking our bags for rats, mice, stoats and seeds before disembarking along the litchen covered weather worn pontoon to the shore.
After a restful sleep in Tokoroa we were up at the crack of dawn, with the dew still fresh on the grass and a long drive ahead of us, we said our goodbyes and hit the road, to make a quick pit stop to fill up on gas, pies and coffee before the long journey ahead. It’s worth noting that here in New Zealand, service station pies (and coffee) are an art form, nothing like the ‘Wild Bean’ cafe’s you get at service stations in the UK with watery coffee and soggy pies, no, these pies are like gourmet pies and the coffee even features latte art!
Waking up amongst plush pillows in a log cabin to bird song and the gentle rush and sigh of the sea outside was the perfect welcome to New Zealand. Stepping outside to breathe in the fresh sea air, I knew that despite the long drive ahead of us and the jet-lag beggining to creep into the corners of my brain, today was going to be a good day. The first stop today, after stopping for poached eggs and a flat white to get us going, was Mount Maunganui. Formed from the extinct volcano Mauao that rises above the town, a climb to the summit offers breathtaking views of the town below and the bay stretching out into the ocean. The name of the extinct volcano – “Manau” means ‘caught by the dawn’ in Maori and is based on Maori legend.
Touching down in Mordor (sorry, I mean Auckland, New Zealand) I really do feel, strangely, like I’ve come home. Even though I’ve never been here in my life there is a strange similarity to the place. Our first stop, having picked up the car, was to head out to The Coromandel. A beautiful peninsula east of Auckland, encompassing Coromandel Forest Park, Hot Water Beach (yes, really, due to volcanic activity in the area, the water on a stretch of this beach is hot, very hot, and if you dig a hole and sit in it it’s like having a bath – only a very salty, sandy one).
Using Split as our base camp it was now time to test out the Croatian public transport system, with a self-planned trip out to Trogir (formerly known as Trau, short for Traugurion as it was coined in 3rd BC by early Greek settlers) – one of Croatia’s most famous medieval walled towns, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to boot.
Having explored much of Malta over the last two days we couldn’t leave without hopping across on the ferry, past Comino, to Gozo – Malta’s even smaller cousin island. Although markedly similar to Malta in terms of style and appearance, Gozo is in fact noticeably different, one of the first differences you will notice is it is much much quieter…well, ok, it’s basically deserted at this time of year!
After experiencing Shanghai by day – discovering that the markets are much better in Beijing, but much cooler in Shanghai (they even have underground markets in disused storm tunnels) – and by night discovering strange grimy bars by the names of ‘Logo’ and ‘The Shelter’, marvelling at midnight dumpling makers hard at work on our way home and living out our Eurovision dreams at numerous KTV bars. It was now time to rock the suburbs.
And we thought hard sleepers were evil…we quickly re-assessed this thought when we sat down on these hard seats…and remained there for the next 6 hours!