Monday, September 25, 2006

Day trip to Akaroa

One of the few things left for us to do here within the Christchurch region was Akaroa – It was beautiful! We picked a really nice day to go and although it clouded over towards the end of the day it was still warm. We had a nice coffee by the sea and then hopped onto a harbor cruise to see some of the local wildlife.

Rolling green fields and the bays in the background..

We got to see a couple of small blue penguins and some seal pups (very cute!), sadly we didn’t see any of the hector dolphins that everyone sees here as they were having a few days off (thankfully we had opted for the dolphin watching tour rather than the dolphin swimming tour as I’m sure I’d be much more miffed if we’d togged up in smelly wetsuits and had motored around the harbor for an hour looking for the dolphins!). A great day out all round really.

That, in the middle of the photo, believe it or not, is a tiny blue penguin hiding under a rock! Awwwww.

And that's a seal. :)

Sunday was spent spending money on stuff for traveling in a few weeks – I can’t wait! It was actually a lovely sunny and warm morning – but then around lunch time the temperature dropped from 22 oC to 14 oC in an hour! Fingers crossed the weather gets a little better for when we start traveling!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Well – we actually did something this weekend so I can update! Whilst Rob was under the impression we were heading to Kiakora for the weekend to play with the whales and seals, I had actually arranged for us to go to Samoa for the weekend instead. It was extremely difficult keeping it a secret and I almost slipped up more than once over the six weeks before we went!

So Thursday after work I went home and packed and waited (for waited read paced around the house far too excited!) for Rob to finish work – when he got in I gave him his first present (lonely planet guide to Samoa) and second present (tickets) and told him we were getting picked up in an hour to go to the airport!!

I picked Samoa for no particular reason other than we have tickets to Fiji, Cook Islands and Tahiti so it couldn’t be one of them. Vanuatu was also on the list, as was Tonga – although I’m glad now I didn’t pick Tonga as their King just died and they have three months of mourning. But Samoa worked out best for dates and money so I picked that. So so so glad I did as it’s possibly one of the best ‘holidays’ we’ve ever been on! Highly recommend it if you get anywhere near this area.

Day One…

We arrived in Apia – the capital of Samoa – and had decided that we would actually move straight onto Savaii (the other main island) so we hopped in a taxi and went to the ferry port as the air hostess on the plane had told us that the ferry leaves at 12 which meant that we made it just in time.

After feeling a little queasy from the ferry we took a taxi to the market for some food (great little bananas and a bag of tomatoes) with a view to getting the bus from the market up to the top of island to the village of Manase, where we thought would be a good spot to stay. The local busses were crazy! Packed with people, they don’t go until every space in the bus is taken and people are spilling out the space where the door should be! After the early start, the flight, the ferry, the heat (a lovely 29oC with a healthy amount of humidity – so nice!!), the fact that we were both wearing trousers and wanted to get to the beach – we wimped out of the bus and got a taxi! We both thought that the bus would be a good experience so we vowed to take the bus back down to the ferry port.

I’m not sure that I actually had time to develop what I thought Samoa would be like, I was so pre-occupied with trying to organize it all in secret (along with birthday presents and everything else too), keeping everything secret, organizing time off work for both of us (in secret) and getting money exchanged, no preconceptions were developed. Which can only be a good thing. Samoa is typically South Pacific. Lush green landscapes, thatched huts, white sand beach and, of course, the beautiful turquoise ocean. There were chickens, pigs, dogs running about on the roads and horses tied up outside of the huts. Samoa’s traditionally don’t bury their deceased in a communal grave yard, but at the front of their house/hut complete with gravestones – a good idea really, but not one that I can see catching on in the western world!

It was a long taxi ride (hour?) up the east coast of the island and along the North shore to Manese where we found accommodation at Vacations Beach Fales. A fale (far-lay) is traditional Samoan accommodation which is a hut with a thatched roof and blinds that you can let down in case it rains. It was beautiful, each night we let down the mozzie net and fell asleep to the sound of the waves, then woke up to the sunrise over the beach.

It seriously does not get better than this.

The Ferry...

The sun rise..

The fale and the beach..

The beach...

Day Two…

We decided to go diving seeing as both of us were missing the fish – there’s only one choice of diving operations on Savaii which made it easy to decide who to go with! Two very relaxing dives with Flavia and Fabien (and Siaki) so a big fa'afe tai lava to all of you!

We managed to pass the rest of the day by sleeping and playing on the beach. Ahhh the hardship!

Savaii from the dive boat...

A couple of toby's...

A little crab with pink nippers!

This is some sort of anemone that has an electric blue light pulsating through it - never seen that before and Flavia didn't know what it was - but was very pleased Rob and i saw it as she's pointed it out to people before and they have looked at the rather large banded coral shrimp sitting in front of it! ID anyone?

Day Three…

We were up early again and went along with a few of the medical students we had met the day before at diving/dinner to help out with the local kids who were cleaning a section of land by the dive shop that people had started to use as a dump (which in turn was making the village look a bit messy). There was about 30 local kids, the reverend of the village church and a few other local people, plus Rob and I, four or five of the med students and Flavia & Fabien.

The kids...

The rubbish...

By ten o’clock the area looked so much better and we hit the road to find the famous Timote waterfall (actually called Afu Aau), an ancient mound called Tia Seu (don’t ask) and the Alofaaga blow holes.

Walking to the mound...

Tall trees..

The waterfall. Photos so do not do this justice!


The gang.

Day Four…

Well we decided today to head back to the main island (Upolu) to stay in Apia for the night to make sure that we didn’t miss the ferry / connection for our flight the next day. We braved the local bus – the first one we got on was packed. Just packed – I have no photos as I could not move! After we’d been on it about 5 minutes we passed another bus (going in the other direction and the driver told us to get off and get on that bus. A little worrying seeing as it was going the wrong direction but we were glad to actually have a seat (and our bag inside the bus rather than bouncing around on the shelf behind the bus!!). I started to get a little worried – if we missed the 10am ferry we would have to wait until 2pm to get the next one which would mean we wouldn’t have time to visit the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve to snorkel for the afternoon! But after we passed the place we were picked up by the first bus, we turned around and headed for the ferry port. The ferry, just like the outbound one, was packed – but cheap ($9 Tala ~ 1.70 pounds) which made upf or the fact we sat on the floor!

Once we got to Upolu we grabbed a taxi to Apia town, found a cheap place to stay for the night (both of us noting how much warmer it was when you weren’t effectively sleeping outside on the beach) and headed off for food before snorkeling. Great snorkeling and a bargain at $2 Tala (40p) to get in!

A fancy building

Some sort of pipehorse

For the evening we had a lovely meal (possibly the best meal we have had since we left mum’s roast dinner back in the UK in Feb) at a restaurant where Robert Lois Stevenson apparently first stayed when he got to Samoa, called Sails. It was so good. Being that we were in Samoa and when in Rome and all that business I actually opted for the Tuna (a traditional chili lime onion concoction) and it was delicious! Rob had Oka for starters (a local dish) which was so good (apart from the raw tuna bits that I didn’t taste) we got the chef to write down the recipe for us!

Day Five…

The weather matched our moods (pissing with rain) as we made our way to the airport and checked in for our flight back to cold NZ.

An awesome trip. For Rob’s first dip into Polynesia and my second (after Hawaii), it has made us both really look forward to the South Pacific bit of our trip coming up in January. We are spending a month in Melanesia, and then some time in Cook Islands and a few (expensive) days in Tahiti. Can’t wait! Before leaving for the weekend we both handed in our notice to our respective works – lasting only three months we’ve decided that NZ isn’t really the place for us right now, though we are going to spend the next 3 months after we leave work traveling around and getting some walking in.

That’s it. Back to reality for a month…

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The 9-5 life...

Well, we haven't really done much over the last couple of weeks, we've moved house (much better than our last place!) and eaten plenty of good food!

Spring has arrived in Christchurch, there are now warm sunny days (a high of 22oC) inbetween the bitterly cold wet windy days!

Last weekend we went with our new flat mate Steve to the driving range and then on Sunday went for a nice walk up the hill behind where i work....



Bobs walking up a hill...

View from the top (Christchurch and the ocean).

Little hut thing to show you've got to the top (oh and some historic meaning too).

View on the other side (Lyttleton etc).

Unfortunately Rob has to work this Saturday so any plans to do a 'weekend' trip are cancled and we'll have to find something interesting to do Sunday (probably end up shopping). Next weekend is Rob's big 30! We have a weekend away planned to Kiakora to swim with the animals (dolphins / seals) so i'll be posting photos when we get back from that.

After travelling and living in the Carribean for over two years now, it's strange living a 'normal' life again. We both have 9-5 jobs and weekends off (mostly), we have weekly food shopping to do, weekly washing to do (in a washing machine that washes your clothes rather than wetting them and pulling off buttons / adding rips). Our bags are unpacked and said bags put away. We have house keys and car keys and we know where we are sleeping each night and we haven't had a panic about tickets / passports / visas / wallets / hotel reservations for over two months now. I'm aware of the story line in Home and Away, Shortland Street, House, Boston Legal, Prison Break and a number of other trash shows. Everyone speaks English and it's become a novelty (even if a novelty that envokes some happy memories) to eat Thai food again. Emails are recieved from a friend of mine who has spent the last two years exploring South East Asia and Australaisa and i have to say my feet get itchier every time i get a new one.

Check out Sam & Andy's blog for an interesting read (link on the right) - they are currently in China having a great time.

I miss it, each and every panic, each and every dodgy meal, each and every crap bed, each and every new memory. And the feet get itchier as each day passes.....