Mice? Not Nice...
We arrive in New Zealand again - rather earlier than usual!
Mice? Not Nice!
It is the middle of October and, due to a slight mistake by the booking clerk (me) we are back in the land of the long white cloud – many long white clouds in fact, a month early. The flight over was as good as can be expected apart from a slight incident of Flight Rage with me and a Mongrel (Kiwi speak for idiot) sitting behind me. I just knew when he got on at Los Angeles that he would be an awkward so-and-so and when I failed to act upon his command to remove my stuff from the side of my seat so that he could put his leg there, proceeded to kick my seat at regular intervals. I retaliated by dropping onto his leg my admittedly large handbag, full of essentials like the book I always take (but never read), a couple of magazines which I WILL read cover to cover (one day), bag of sweets for sucking on landing and take off, various bags of currency, wet wipes, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, eye spray, moisturiser etc etc. – gave me a certain amount of satisfaction, but no respite from the kicking needless to say!
We had a few hours wait in Auckland for our connecting flight to Wanganui – a flight in a tiny plane, only one seat either side of the gangway, where I had taken the precaution of booking our seats, as on the way back last year, being the first to book in, we had seats right at the back, which for claustrophobic me wasn't so good. So.... I had booked seat 2A and 2F. Yes, they were right at the front.... the only seats on the plane that had no window! We did however get a great view down the runway as we took off and landed and could watch what the pilots were up to!
Pete and Robin were away when we arrived so we got a taxi to our converted bus, called Bertie, everything looked fine, smelt fine, WAS fine until I spotted two little mouse poos on top of the duvet cover.... followed by a veritable PILE of mouse poo UNDER the duvet, Further investigation found mouse poo all over the bus – we were mystified as to why it should be blue poo, and for a short while unfairly thought that Pete (a well known practical joker) had “manufactured “ the poo from BlueTack and scattered it artistically around, however a quick phone call to Pete soon put us right and we had to face the awful truth that we had had mice in Bertie! The reason the poo was blue is because the poison was blue and we were very lucky that the mice/mouse hadn't done any damage, apart from a slight hole in a sheet. Thankfully there were no little corpses either as the poison dehydrates them and makes them go outside for water. Since the big spring clean we have seen no sign of mice thank goodness!
The next couple of days were spent getting Bertie ready for the road. New tyres had to be bought and a C of F obtained (Certificate of Fitness – a bit like our MOT – but required every six months). Food had to be bought – around $300 worth but at least it got us 20c per litre off our fuel. Diesel is currently around $1.23 per litre (.62p)). We were invited to join friends at Porangahau (Pa wrong ga how) which as you will know is close to Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu – a few letters longer than our Llanfairwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwillllantysiliogogogoch.... However, while Llanfair.... is attached to a village, Taum... seems only to have a plaque with “Worlds Longest Place Name” underneath – apparently it means the 'place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as land-eater, played his flute to his loved one.
There were 8 buses and we all had a great time – it was good to meet up with old friends and make new ones. The boys all had their toys.... There were quad bikes, Blokarts (land sailor) and Kontiki's which were all brought out and oohed and aahed over. Trailers were attached to the quad bikes and made a few trial runs up and down the long sandy beach (most beaches in NZ are also classified as roads) and then a Kontiki was loaded on and we all made our way up the beach to watch. Now, for the uninitiated a Kontiki is a device that pulls a fishing line out to sea (can be a kilometre or more). As it sets off the angler gets prepared with around 25 ready baited hooks which are attached to the moving line. The Kontiki is on a timer and eventually stops, it is left for around 20 mins and then pulled back LOADED with fish. Well, that is the idea. It seemed to me to be a very time consuming way of fishing – and not without its dangers. Poor Len got attached to a hook through his leg, and hopped quite a way through the surf before the thing was brought under control and the sum total of fish brought in? One......! I think the entire weekend haul was 6 fish. They also went Whitebaiting. Whitebait is big over here (well, the fish are still the tiny fish we know, but a BIG NZ delicacy!). The idea is that you have boards that you position in the river (you are not supposed to “herd” them) and encourage them into the huge net waiting for them. Again the sum total of the weekend was 5 Whitebait (not even enough for a sandwich!) However, much fun was had.
On the Sunday, a windier day, out came the Blokarts – like dinghy’s on wheels. They get up to around 50kph so quite speedy. Jeremy had a go and soon got the hang of it after a couple of abortive attempts when he got stuck in soft sand. I declined but part of me wishes I too had had a go!
We left on Tuesday morning, driving up towards Hastings. We stayed that night at a favourite POP of ours on an orchard. Last year we came away laden with plums, nectarines and peaches – a bit too early for that this year but a very warm welcome from Ellie and Dick – we shall go back towards the end of December and hopefully pick some lovely fruit. We did buy, from a fruit farm just down the road, some delicious fresh picked strawberries, asparagus and broccoli. The next day we headed up towards Lake Taupo (generally said with the “au” bit said like ouch, without the ch....). However the radio presenters seem to fall over themselves to find new and exotic ways of pronouncing place names and it made us laugh to hear it pronounced “Torpo” on the weather forecast.
On Thursday and Friday we stayed with our good friends Bill and Jeune at Ngongataha (non guitar) near sulphuric Rotorua but usually away from the "rotton egg" smell. We were welcomed with one of Bill's famous fish and chip suppers – eating fish they caught at Papaaroha on the Coromandel last year. Delicious as always and followed by one of Jeune's home-baked apple pies!
The weather got better all the time, mostly warm and sunny but with a cool breeze. However things were going to get hotter for us - after a couple of nights of being looked after by Bill and Jeune we drove up towards Auckland Airport – because on Monday we were flying to Australia - sweet as!