Tuesday, 25 October 2005

First pics of new house

Here are a few pictures of our new house.

The Living Room

You can just see the patio doors to the left. There is a wood-burning stove on the opposite wall.

Part of the garden

The patio doors lead out here. The larger shed is the sleepout, which I'm planning on turning into a yoga room.

Exterior view of the other side of the house

We're so excited - we can't wait to move in!

Sunday, 23 October 2005

Bought a house!

...subject to contract and all the usual guff, we've bought a house in Wanganui. Hooray! We'll post again in a few days and give you the low-down, but in short, it's an Edwardian wooden 'villa' with two bedrooms and a sleep-out in a lovely English country garden-type setting. It's in a really nice neighbourhood, and is only a short walk to the park and river. We've got some little pics the estate agent gave us, so we're going to have a go at scanning them in later.

Our second visit to Wanganui just served to confirm our first impression of the place - in fact, we liked it even more the second time round. It's a lovely town, with a really laid-back vibe, and a thriving arts scene. We're due to complete on 10th November (things move really quickly here) and take possession on 2nd December. Of course, the blood-sucking lawyers haven't got involved yet, so that could all change!

Bye for now,

I & H

Friday, 21 October 2005

Spirit Visit Part 3

After looking through a huge pile of leaflets from the tourist information office, we decided to spend Tuesday morning doing the ‘DUKW tour’. A Rotorua company has bought up and renovated several amphibious craft from World War II, painted them yellow (presumably to make them look like rubber duckies), and kitted them out with manic drivers and a job lot of plastic duck whistles. The word ‘DUKW’ is an acronym, but none of us can remember what it stands for. Suggestions welcome.

Note added 04/01/06:
My sister Diana has found out the answer for us.

D indicates the model year 1942
U refers to the body style, utility (amphibious)
K for all - wheel drive
W for dual rear axles

Cheers, Diana. :-)

The DUKW did a tour of three of the lakes near Rotorua. The first lake we went on was the largest, Lake Rotorua itself, where the driver told us the (supposedly true) love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai who came from two different tribes – one lived on the lake shore, and the other lived on the island in the middle of the lake.

We then set off a few kilometres down the road to Lake Tikitapu, also known as The Blue Lake. Lake Tikitapu is quite small, with a short, sandy beach, and is surrounded by hills covered in native bush. The lake is extremely deep and its waters are a striking greeny-blue. Legend has it that it got its name, (meaning ‘sacred Tiki’) after a Maori princess accidentally dropped a good luck charm in the shape of the god Tiki into its waters.

The final lake on our trip was Lake Okareka, which is absolutely stunning. The water is crystal clear and the lake is surrounded by gorgeous bush-clad hills. The lakeshore is lined with beautiful houses and exclusive, home-stay-style hotel accommodation. The houses were HUGE and they all had their own jetty and boatshed. Our driver told us that one of the houses rents out for $6,000 (£2,400) per night.

Unfortunately I’ve run out of time to tell the rest of this story; it will have to wait until Tuesday. This weekend coming up is a long holiday weekend, and we’re going back to Wanganui to have another look round and to have a look at some houses. It’s one of the areas we’re considering for the ‘big move’ in January.

Catch you later.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Spirit Visit Part 2 - miscellaneous pics

Phil, Sally and me at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland

The Champagne Pool at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, near Rotorua

Phil in 'Little Mermaid' mode at Mount Maunganui Beach, Tauranga

The motley crew of the Rotorua DUKW
- those things round our necks are duck quackers (oh dear)

Will write more about our trip on Sunday (we're off out on a day trip tomorrow - not sure where yet.) It's sunny now that P & S have buggered off. Typical!

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Spirit Visit Part 1

Phil and Sally flew back to Sydney on Saturday evening, after an eventful week in New Zealand.
They arrived on the previous Saturday afternoon. Their plane touched down half an hour earlier than scheduled, due to a significant tail wind. A strong wind across the Tasman Sea usually heralds wet weather in New Zealand, and, sure enough, the rain started almost as soon as they landed, and it’s still raining now! On Saturday night we braved the elements and walked to Toby’s, a local restaurant, which we’d heard good things about but had never been to. Toby’s is a small, shed-like building with a black metal cat on the roof. Inside it has wooden floors and low ceilings, and the tables are closely spaced, with lots of pot plants and wooden sculptures wedged in between them. The atmosphere was lively, with live music from a guitarist, and all the tables were full. However, people started leaving early, and by nine o’clock the place was almost entirely empty! I know that most Aucklanders get up early in the morning to avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic, but the next day was Sunday, for goodness’ sake! Maybe everyone was hurrying off to a nightclub, but I doubt it.

On Sunday we did a few of the things on our wet weather itinerary. I can’t remember what we did in the morning. Maybe either Phil or Sally could help me out here! We spent most of the afternoon at Auckland Museum, and lost Phil amongst the aeroplanes in the World War II gallery. In the early evening we went to the viaduct harbour, the beating entertainment heart of central Auckland, but the torrential rain, coupled with the fact that it was a Sunday, meant that the usually lively bars and restaurants were almost completely deserted. It was a real washout. Nevertheless, we got to see the ice bar, and Phil took some pictures of the ice sculptures.

On Monday we went to Rotorua for a few days. We stayed at the Prince’s Gate Hotel, where Iain and I had stayed before. Like the Hotel de Wheels in Wellington, this hotel isn’t on it original site. It was built in the 1880s in another town entirely, but was moved to Rotorua during the First World War, where it was used as a military hospital.

We spent the evening at a traditional ‘Maori village’. This is the sort of thing that we probably would never have done if we’d been on our own, but we’re glad we did it because it was excellent. We watched a concert with traditional Maori dancing and singing, and the ‘chief’ told us a few traditional stories and explained some of the weapons, as well as the meaning of his ‘moko’, or tattoos. After the concert we had a meal that included meat and vegetables cooked in the traditional way, in a ‘hangi’ or earth pit oven. After the meal, which was very good, we went for a bush walk. Our guide told us about some of the trees and how the Maori used them, and we saw hundreds of blue-green glow-worms and a freshwater spring containing a family of eels. We had a really enjoyable evening. Here are some pictures of it.

Scary Haka

The Chief gives a graphic explanation of the use of the greenstone club

Beer, puddings and jetlag catch up with Phil

You may be thinking that because we’re updating our blog properly, that we’ve now got the internet at home at last. You’d be wrong. This blog entry is courtesy of ‘cut and paste’. We’ve been waiting for ten weeks now, and Telecom have put our connection date back EIGHT times. It’s getting beyond a joke. Iain rang them yesterday afternoon and managed to speak to a senior manager, who told him he had no idea when we would get connected as they were having technical problems, so it looks like we’ll be making daily visits to Starbucks for a while yet! ☹

I’ll post the next instalment of the visit report some time in the next few days.

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Online soon!

Telecom have told us that we will be connected on Sunday, October 9th. We think it might actually happen this time. As soon as we're connected we'll be updating the blog properly.

We've been having lots of fun with Phil and Sally, who are over here for a week. Well, as much fun as we can given that the weather has been awful - pretty much constant torrential rain!!

Looking forward to uploading the pics soon...Phil beware!