27.4.2017 Wellington to Hastings

An early morning start, 6.30am, and we are on an Intercity bus to Hastings going via many small villages, through valleys and over the hills of North island. New Zealand is such a beautiful country.

Guy’s Mr Perfect socks, sadly left in Wellington as they have too many holes

We get to Hastings and have a long walk with our heavy bags to our next Air BnB hosts. This is slightly different in that we are glamping on someone’s driveway. The woman at tourist info warns us it will be cold tonight, 6 degrees. We are slightly apprehensive. Our hosts are also (practically) vegan and cook for guests, they run bike hire from the garage, host seasonal travelers, another couple in a caravan on their drive, and have 2 small kids as well. It is a totally different household to the quiet ones we are used to so we were looking forward to this. 

We arrive sweaty and dump our bags in the small tent abd greet our hosts. We then makebour way back into town to get our bearings. We have a late lunch at Madeleine’s cafe, spelt correctly.

We get back to our tent and meet some of our fellow residents, dinner is a vegan feast of soya bean rissoles, tomato and veg soup, salad, tomato bake.

Pudding is frozen bananas and soft red fruit wizzed up with coconut cream and topped with nuts, cinnamon. It is absolutely delicious and something to try at home.

26.4.2017 Blenheim to Wellington

We are on our way home from the furthest point in our journey, it has taken us 232 days to get here and it should take 8 days to get back 😨.

Our fanciest air bnb yet, the kitchen view with wisteria covered terrace

We had a great start to the day (if you avoid the struggling to get all our crap into teeny rucksacks) and went to Ritual for salmon and eggs for Guy and a small savoury muffin for little ol’ me. The music being played was excellent, Tame Impala, Alt-J, Foals, Maccabees all courtesy of a bloke from Sunderland.

The bus took us from Blenheim to Picton in about 25mins. Easy. 

We had 2 hours before the ferry so as soon as we saw a Whitehaven vineyard umbrella we were sat there with a bottle of savvy wondering just how the hell are we going to adjust to life in the UK? Apparently it hasn’t changed so much that this is acceptable behaviour at lunchtime, every lunchtime.

View from cafe

We boarded the ferry and got settled, in the bar, where we spent sometime chatting to a guy with a Mancunian accent who has lived here​ since 1964. He had some tales to tell. 

View from ferry
Selfies – Roberts style

Arrival in Wellington was prompt and soon we were in a scabby backpackers thanking our lucky stars it was only one night. It felt grimy, dirty and the bathroom was so rank we didn’t shower. We feel like travellers again. 

Waterloo Backpackers, Wellington

Scrubbed up, via the sink, we went to our favourite wine bar and tried a mystery tasting. The deal is to try and identify the grape, region and vintage of each of the 3 wines, we were hoping we could get maybe just one grape right!! 

All that wine drinking has paid off….my parents will be so proud!

After much deliberation and pontification we decided on our grapes. We got 2 out of 3 right, the French chenin blanc evaded our tastebuds and I even got the producer right for the chardy (Chardonnay). Feeling pretty chuffed we celebrated with another glass of red then headed off for burnt dumplings at Dumpling’d in town. 

Steamed dumplings
Burnt dumpings

We had bought a bottle of Yealands savvy thinking it was BYO at the dumpling house. It wasn’t. The posh Yealands wine was drunk, back in our scabby hostel room, out of paper cups. I am not sure the winemaker had this scenario in mind when he was perfecting his craft on this lush wine.

Posh savvy and cheap cups

20.4.3017 Wellington to Blenheim

Early morning to Wellington train station via bus, with all the commuters staring at us, and us staring back thinking ‘shit, that will be me in 3 weeks time!’.

Anyway, our ferry crossing was flat and calm, a relief after the last couple of cyclones passing through Oz and NZ, especially as I was feeling a little jaded (alright, hungover) from the night before. Mince and cheese pie was eaten, tea drank and cheese scone munched (without the cream offered by the kiwi attendant??!!)

Calm seas
This is such a beautiful country

Onto our Intercity bus which was waiting for us at the ferry port. This travelling lark​ is so easy here.

30 mins later and we are in Blenheim. Easy, although our Air BnB place was the other end of town, so a 1km walk was required, hardly difficult though. 

Our new home…..in our dreams and air bnb land

Our new home is fabulous, seriously fabulous. No one is home so we let ourselves in and out, dropping stuff in our room. The decor is stunning, the cookbooks are Ottolenghi, the bed room is spacious and so comfy. I do not want to leave, especially when we find out they have chickens and a veg patch.  All this in the middle of a wine region……..

We explore town.

Good pantry name

It is walkable and has plenty to keep you here a few days. Guy buys some socks.

We have a comfort dinner of fish and chips and pint.

Orange food

We go home, watch tat TV and I am asleep by 8.30. 😴😴😴

19.4.2017 Wellington and it’s Club

Seen on walk into town.


Cuba street looking cool.

Hipster enough for you?

We treat ourselves to brunch at Fidels in Cuba street. It has had queues outside it most times we have passed by. There is no queue so we dive in and share a vegan and a Spanish breakfast, decent coffee, and are fuelled up for the​ day.

Non vegan option…..ummmm butter…
This is all vegan…and lush

We wander down to the waterfront, to look for a bar me and my friend Colette visited last time we were here. We had come back from the south island on the ferry and dived into a posh bar and drunk proseccos like a couple of ladies that lunch.

I think this was it???
Cool piano

We then have another trip down memory lane and go into the Wellington Club, where we waitered back in 1999/2000. The woman on reception was Rochelle, and she was also there when we worked there, so she was happy to show us around, tell us what had happened to our work bosses and colleagues, Yurgen, Dominic, Gail, and give us an update on the changed that have gone on. Jeans are allowed! It was so kind of her to do it and we so enjoyed our trip down memory lane.

Wonderful memories

Next was a bus journey around the bays on No 24 bus which runs every hour, just like the No 10 bus used to from Rudd to Bridgford!!! We killed half an hour looking for hokey pokey ice cream and getting a sweet creme egg gelato instead.

Hipster with gelato

The views around the bays on the bus were beautiful, we even got commentary from the bus driver when going past the old prison. 

Unfortunately we were not able to make the whole journey as there was a gas leak near the end, so our lady bus driver had to reverse a long bus back down a steep, narrow road, do a 3 point turn and head back over the hillside. It was amazing to see.

We stopped for cake/sausage roll and wine at Peter Jacksons cinema in Miramar, a gorgeous 1920’s restored building which was just stunning. 

Afternoon tea Guy style
Stunning 1920’s foyer
Some wizard….

Bus back into town and we stopped at Noble Rot for a wine or two.

White wines tasted
Red wines tasted
Posh French wine, still not convinced it is worth it

Then back to ours for tat TV.

17.4.2017 Wellington

A first today, I really didn’t want to get out of bed as it was cold. We found the heater and turned it to max, within 10 mins we were toasty and warm, after 15 mins we had to turn it down. Able to cope, we got up and went for a walk up Mt Victoria again, with much better views and weather than the day before.

View from Mt Victoria 

A very steep decent off the mount and we were down on Oriental Parade, the posh part of Wellington admiring the architecture of the local houses.  

Which one do you want to live in?

And eating a home made sarnie.

Cheesy grins please 

We didn’t eat the local mushies (mushrooms to us Brits).

How dangerous does that look?

We found an Asian food court and lots of sales on warm clothing which we took advantage of and I am now sporting a new, breathable jacket, bliss.

Arty shot of Wellington

Dinner was Japanese again, different restaurant but just as good dumplings.

Okonmyaki and seaweed salad
Dumplings in a box
Sashimi don buri

We get home to have a Skype call with our nieces and nephew to tell them we are coming home, they were very, very excited.

Red wine and watching the next installment of The Bachelor and What really happens in Bali, which is very different to our Bali experience 18 years ago!!!

16.4.2017 Easter in Wellington

Our morning hike was Mt Victoria and a little more than a 15 mins sprint uphill and we were at the summit. It was a refreshing and breathtaking walk as it had to be done quickly as there was a southerly coming in. 

Pre Southerly photo.
Southerly inbound photo

You could see the wind and rain approaching and within 5 mins of it starting we were drenched to the skin and wishing we had got our arses out of bed earlier!!! Still we are waterproof, and at least I hadn’t choosen to wear skin tight white jeans like some poor lass had, she was caked in mud by the time she was at the bottom of the hill.

Dripping wet we trudged through Courtney Place alongside other tourists who had been similarly caught out in the rain and stumbled across a VW campervan and Beetle show. I happily peered through all the windows and started dreaming of our next adventure. 

Statue next to campervan.

Teeth chattering we went for some food at a Japanese restaurant, a bowl of miso soup has never been hand hugged so much. We ordered hot sake just to keep us warm, as it was a public holiday there was great discussion as whether we had ordered enough food to warrant the alcoholic sake. Jeez!!! 

Raman, gyoza, tempura veg.
Hot, hot sake…..

Much, much more walking later we found a wine bar that allowed drinking and eating in reasonable quantities. We tried Kiwi wines and had an excellent meat platter and had a really enjoyable few hours. 

White wines
Red wines.
Guy before drinking wine

20 mins walk home and a chat to our host and we were in our room watching The Bachelor and My Kitchen Rules (MKR) cosy and warm with red wine and some excellent Kiwi chocolate biccies.

More red wine
Kiwi biscuit selection, closest we got to an Easter egg

15.4.2017 Wellington reminiscing

Arrival at 5.30am in Wellington was a little early, too early for buses, so we walked 3km, with the last km being uphill to our Air BnB place. Luckily Anne, our host, was ok with us getting there early and didn’t call the police thinking we were breaking in.

We caught some zzzzzz’s before having spiced apple hot cross buns.

Supermarket hot cross buns with lashings of butter and honey

We then set off on a day reminiscing around Wellington. 

Bay Hotel where were spent NYE 1999

We had lived here for 9 months over 1999/2000 and loved it so much we applied for residency only to be one point short. Still, no regrets as we cannot complain about the past 17 years and where we are now.

We walked through Courtney Place, noticing the Irish bars we used to frequent, and dance like mad drunk leprechauns on small dance floors, had sadly disappeared. The kebab shops are still there though and Cuba Street is as cool and hip as before. 


Water buckets on Cuba Street. Tourists always take photos of these.

We drank a craft ale which was gorgeous (and should have been for £8 pint)

Expensive craft ale…..is there any other type?

A restaurant which did different dumpling fillings caught our eyes, we were seated and another craft ale in hand before you could say ‘Cuba Street hipster’.

Seafood dumplings in a thai coconut broth
Beef and carrot dumplings in consomme
Beef brisket with sourdough, mustard and pickles

We may have had another beer to watch the Hurricane’s vs Blues rugby match and may have had a kiwi kebab on the way home, just as delicious as 18 years ago, and this time I didn’t get it thrown at me……

Me ordering kebab, hoping it doesn’t end up whizzing past my ear.

Then we were home for an early night.

14.4.2017 16th Wedding anniversary….. Auckland to Wellington

We had packed and vacated the room early as a jet lagged English couple had landed after an overnight flight from Japan so needed the room more than us!!

We have really enjoyed staying at Mt Eden and Richard’s house, and today when we went for coffee and the sprightly Italian owner said ‘the usual’ we were dead chuffed. Coffee was swigged along with a small shot of amaretto as a ‘happy anniversary’ present from my wonderful husband. 

Amaretto, the slightly more obscure 16th anniversary gift

We sauntered up and down Mt Eden one​ last time. As it was Good Friday there were many more people that the previous few days and Cyclone Cook was a distant memory, the views were fab.

Just to prove I did make it to the top

We finished all our food off in one massive brunch style dish and decided we didn’t need to eat ever again after that.

We had picked up a horned melon from the local fruit and veg shop, $3.99 each, and all of us who tried the fruit agreed it was a one off experience, not to be repeated. Fresh, green tasting with lots of seeds, not sure you would sprinkle it on a pork chop….

Spikey little fruit
Green pips inside…..from the cucumber family

Our final overnight bus journey of the trip is tonight, so we have another day of killing time. We dropped bags off at Britomart station and wandered down Auckland downtown with the intention of having a leisurely pint or glass of vino to celebrate 16 wonderful years of marriage. However we had not taken into account the stringent public holiday drinking laws here. Unless we had a full main course meal each then we cannot be served any wine. Wow! What do you do on a bank holiday weekend if it isn’t meeting your mates in the pub for a sesh? 

We couldn’t face any more food so wandered, chatted, wandered some more.

The overnight journey was quick, with food stops at 11.30pm and 3am. People got off and ate on the 3am stop!!!