Rotorua, New Zealand

November 1991

Well we finally saw the swirling mudpools of Rotorua yesterday. By the way Rotorua stinks(Sorry I was only talking about the sulphur smell, everything else was great.)  I finally saw a geyser. I had always wanted to see a geyser ever since I had seen a picture of Old Faithful as a child.

geyser I was really excited. The mudpools are amazing-really intriguing to watch. The bubbling streams were incredibly noisy.

I do remember being told that they did not bury bodies underground in Rotorua, as they had a habit of reappearing. They have above ground mausoleums instead. I also remember having to pose for photos right in the smelliest spots. I loved it there (I had a brilliant natural steaming spa bath.) but honestly the smell would certainly clear any nasal congestion.




Mystery of the Day-Why I Miss Letterboxes

Delivering free newspapers with my brother was brilliant fun. I was thinking about this today, when my mind had  wandered onto the subject of letterboxes.(mail boxes)

Letterboxes vary around the world. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other country but the UK, who gets their mail delivered through a slot by their front door. When we lived in America, we had used to virtually stalk the mailman at times. We would hide out of sight, anxiously awaiting news from home.  The sight of that little red flag had filled us with excitement. The thing I had loved about America was the fact that they did not just deliver the mail, they would also collect it from our mailbox.

I went on a mail run with a New Zealand mailman. It was an experience I will never forget. I saw toilets being used as mailboxes.  The mailman, had simply lifted the lid and deposited the mail. There is something appealing about the concept of having all your bills deposited in a toilet. We had also had the thrilling experience of visiting an actual Maori village. The Marae /Meeting House had been particularly magnificent. I have a vague recollection that my friend had been propositioned by the son of the village chief.

In the UK, post is deposited directly into people’s homes, via something called a letterbox. My brother and I had had endless fun delivering the free newspaper locally. In the UK there are a lot of jokes about dogs and postmen, with good reason. There was one particular flat(apartment) which had always caused us issues. I think I had tended to be the one saddled with delivering their newspaper. Their dog had been particularly terrifying. It would crouch under the letterbox, ready to grab the newspaper and if at all possible, also my hand. Occasionally I would give this dog a dose of its own medicine and play tug of war with the newspaper. We had had a dog at home with whom I had often played tug of war with an old stuffed sock so I had been used to this. I think I had finally given up on delivering to this flat, the day I had shoved the newspaper through the door and run, only to hear the sound of it being torn to shreds before it had even hit the floor.

I just found this video, apparently this is not an isolated experience.

Dog Vs Letterbox

My mother had been encouraged to use a walking stick. She was deeply unhappy about the idea. I had thought how I would have handled the issue. I knew I would have gone out and bought myself the most brightly coloured and garish stick, I could find.

bright sticks

I had found Mum, a beautiful walking stick, decorated with delicate flowers (I had known she would not have gone for fluorescent colours like me.) I had then gone to the post office and posted it off.

I will never forget my mother’s thank you email. She had thanked me profusely and mentioned how she had proudly walked down the street with her new stick, immediately upon receiving it. However I had also discovered how out of touch I had become with some of our British ways. Apparently my mother had heard all these noises coming from her front door and had listened perplexed. She had eventually realised that the poor old postman was trying to stuff a big, long parcel through her letterbox.

Yes you guessed it. It was the walking stick.

I doubt he had  needed a workout that day.

90 Most Creative Mailboxes

Source:Most Amazing Pictures:



Taupo to Wellington-Another Misadventure

New Zealand

November 1991

Sunday was our day for travelling to Wellington. It was a long day. We set out at 11:45 am. The bus headed initially for Taupo. When we had had a half our break in Taupo, we had to change bus to catch the one to Wellington. We sat down in our allocated seats, only to be told one of the coaches four brakes had gone and the coach was going to sit there until it had been repaired, which could be a long while. After about twenty to thirty minutes we were told we would not be leaving for at least another thirty minutes. So my friend and I had headed towards the shops.

Well you’ve guessed it – less than half an hour later we had returned, only to discover that the bus had already left. We rushed into the office and were told it had left ten minutes previously. Panic set in as our rucksacks were still aboard…

They were able to contact the driver on his mobile phone(fortunately) and he said he would wait for us  while we chased him in a taxi. Five dollars later we climbed, somewhat embarrassed, on board the bus.

The Taupo to Wellington bus journey by Matthew Rowe


Moral to this story:

Stay within running distance of your transport at all times.


Having A Whale Of A Time

November 1991

One of the highlights of my life, not just my trip was seeing the whales in Kaikoura.

I remember being somewhat perturbed when I had first seen the size of the boats we were catching, I think there were about eight of us on each boat and they were tiny. I also had the distinct feeling that the boat captains were to say the least characters. We had zoomed through the waves at a terrifying speed. All I remember of the trip out to sea, was staring determinedly at the belt on the lifejacket of the person in front of me, to distract myself. Although I do seem to recall the thrilling dusky dolphins on the way

Source:Dolphin Encounter,

Catching sight of our first whale had made our hair-raising boat ride worthwhile. From memory I believe we had seen sperm whales. I understand the area is a nursery occupied by mothers and their calves. I think we saw about half a dozen. Our guide/kamikaze pilot had mentioned that the previous day they had seen many more. ( I remember the excitement back at the hostel when those travellers had returned.) He had explained he thought there had been killer whales in the area at the time and the sperm whales had huddled together for protection. Although sperm whales are huge, he had mentioned how a killer whale had once taken a bite out of one and it had died.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

I have been out to see the whales three times now. In Australia I have seen the humpback whales twice. Once one of them had come up right to the back of our boat, while I had stood there. They had also put a microphone in the water for us to listen to them singing. I do not think I will ever tire of  seeing and hearing those beautiful creatures. The sound of them expelling air through their blowholes is ingrained in my mind and my soul.

Two beautiful humpback whales dance.

Source: BBC Earth.

Whale-Watching-Cat Balou, Eden, NSW


Horse Riding in New Zealand

It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.

Adlai E. Stevenson

November 1991

Kaikoura, New Zealand

We drew back the curtains and what did we see but sunshine. Suddenly as if out of nowhere there were snow-capped mountains. They are absolutely beautiful. Now for the really important part. We were picked up at 9am by a landrover and driven to this guy’s farm for our two hours of horse riding. Well I struggled a bit getting onto the horse…Understatement

I got on on my third attempt, My friend mounted first time. My horse Flicker was a bit wily. She decided all she really wanted to do was eat grass.

She clearly knew she had a novice on her back and had decided to have some fun.

It is really unnerving the first time you are holding a horse by the reins and it decides to eat grass. I wasn’t very firm with old Flicker really. I felt a bit sorry for her- a great big bit in her mouth and an amateur like me on her back. Going up and down steep hills and through dense woodland was a bit daunting at times, requiring us to sometimes hold onto the horse’s mane for dear life. We had climbed up and up. The view from the top was fantastic. However seeing it from the top of the horse was a little unnerving.

horse riding


Things to do in Kaikoura

Source: MustDoNew Zealand