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City of Sales

25 April - 2 May 2010 A sad update: R lost her battle with cancer a few years ago. There doesn't a day go by that I don't think of her. I leave Wellington on Sunday morning on the 7.25 am on the ‘Overlander’ train to Auckland and the journey takes 12 hours taking in 681 km, 352 bridges and 14 tunnels. The train is much smaller than the Transalpine and is reasonably full, which unfortunately includes a small whiney Italian child and a man with BO (luckily the latter doesn’t stay on the train for very long but the former does) It’s also Anzac Day and I hear the guy sitting behind me telling his girlfriend that there has been a helicopter crash outside Wellington killing three service men on

Windy Welly

22-24 April 2010 My final night in Kaikoura is a ‘sweet’ as one the owners of the backpackers makes a hot chocolate pudding for us to share as ‘it’s a cold night’ and we eat it with ice cream in front of the fire. All the people staying there are English, which is unusual as I haven’t encountered many and it seems to be more mainland Europeans travelling at the moment. I have been joined in the room by another girl but she is fast asleep by the time I get to bed (10pm) and I hope that it stayed this way as I had a sleep taking night and woke myself up by shouting ‘short bread’. Fortunately, my roomie had left by the time I got up and this saved any awkward moments or recipe sharing.If you ar

Moby Sick

19-21 April 2010 Update: K & J and I lost touch for a bit but reunited last year. They are now married and have a lovely baby boy! As predicted, as I am stiff as a stiff thing the next day and it takes me ages to get down the flight of stairs from K and J’s flat when I finally venture out for a hobble on the beach and to get some food as I have elected to cook tonight (lucky K and J!). I think my 93 year old Grandmother can walk faster than me at the moment and it reminds me of how I felt after the London Marathon, which co-incidentally is nearly a year ago. That also means that I have been unemployed and out of the ‘real world’ for nearly a year and unsurprisingly I haven’t missed it one b

Weekend Tramps

16-18 April 2010 As the British founders had intended when they arrived 158 years ago, CHCH remains steeped in colonial heritage and the tree-filled parks and old stone buildings ensure that CHCH is likened to England. It’s a beautifully sunny day and K very kindly drives me around CHCH and we have lunch in a vegetarian cafe and according to their website: ‘The Lotus-Heart is independently owned and operated by students of Sri Chinmoy. We aspire to create a small corner of the world that is inundated with the spirituality and philosophy of our meditation teacher and to offer a peaceful oasis with music and videos to inspire the heart’. The food is amazing (when it arrives as the service is a

7th Dwarf (grumpy)

15 April 2010 I am super grumpy this morning. This is in part because the English boys in the rooms next to me were incredibly noisy last night and kept smoking outside their rooms, and the acidic smell seeped into my room and also in part because I am hormonal (too much information?!). Yes, I know that I sound like a grumpy old woman but I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep for ages. Anyway, rant over. A lot of the people who were on my coach from Queenstown are now on the coach to Greymouth. I chat to a guy from Malaysia and he’s booked on the Tranz Scenic rail at 1.45pm but I didn’t book this as I thought that we may not get back into Greymouth in time but in hindsight, it would have been

Fabulous Franz

14 April 2010 I meet up with P for a final drink and he takes me for a drive to Arrowtown which is famed for his golden past but now is a quaint tourist town with original buildings and tree-lined avenues. We have a few beers in the local pub in front of the fire and then I head for an early night as I have to get the 8 hour bus journey to Franz Josef. When I wake up there’s a lovely pink tint to the sky and it looks like it is going to be a nice day in Queenstown the day I leave but waiting for the bus to arrive, the sky starts to cloud over. The bus is packed, mainly with Korean/Japanese/Chinese tourists on their way to the glacier. The bus is a normal intercity like a National Express but

Quirky Queenstown

11-14 April 2010 R and V drop me off at the bus station in Lawrence and I get the bus to Queenstown and again, the drive is dramatic through glacial mountains and rivers and it takes 4.5 hours to get there. I check into my yoff hostel called ‘Hippo Lodge’ and try not to take offence when the shuttle bus driver refers to me as ‘Miss Hippo’. He’s actually very lucky to have escaped the Mapp wrath. Queenstown has a reputation as a party town and this is confirmed when I am unpacking my stuff in my 4 bed mixed dorm and a young bloke comes in wearing only a small towel (to hide something small, perhaps?) and gets into bed and promptly goes to sleep (it’s 7pm in the evening). He stinks of booze bu

Eggs-iting news: Lawrence , South Island, New Zealand

8-11 April 2010 It’s a beautiful sunny day in Sydney on the day I leave. I get the distinct impression that Oz is sticking two fingers up to me and quite frankly, I am happy to reciprocate. My journey to the airport is quick and easy and even though it’s ‘rush hour’, the trains are virtually empty. My Air New Zealand flight is fully booked as it’s the skool holidays and I have an enormous woman sitting next to me and her lard arse thighs spill onto my seat, but it is only a three hour flight, so I try and put up with it. Air New Zealand have the most hilarious safety video I have ever seen: I was thinking that their uniforms were very tight when I later learn that it’s body paint. I have nev

Carry on Sydney

4-8 April 2010 I leave Newcastle with a sparkling hangover and Mr and Mrs G dropped me off at Cardiff station (yes, that’s what is it called) to get the train to Sydney. The train journey wasn’t as spectacular as I was hoping for but it went by quickly and I managed to get to Milsons Point where my ‘lodge’ was based. On their website, they proudly state that the lodge is situated 6 minutes from the station and this turns out to be a blatant lie as I struggle to drag my luggage over quite steep hills and then a steep flight of stairs to the reception. The lodge has a bizarre statue outside but the good news is that I am on my own in a 4 bed dorm and whilst the shared bathrooms are a bit furth

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