Saturday, June 14, 2008


To the north Island!

This is me driving onto the ferry to the north island. All through my childhood I have been on car ferries between England and Ireland and always got excited when my daddy drove on the boat. Well this time I was driving and I was just as excited!!

See!! I don't think I mentioned it in the last update, but the main lens of my camera died so a lot of the photos from now on were taken with either my other camera or gugs.

Doing a bit of shopping in Wellington. We arrived the night before and got some sleep, so when we got up the next day we had time to have a wander and have a look around.

Segways. Not cool in any way but I still wanted a go on one!!! Wellington is a great city and it happens to be the capital of New Zealand. It was also a great introduction to the north island, but time waits for no man so it was back on the road to see what else was in store for us.

Now im not the smallest person in the world, but holy crap that is a small caravan.......

This is myself and Charlie having to use our jerrycan as we didnt take the type of roads into consideration when passing the last petrol station. We would have been fine if the roads were kinda flat, but they were massive steep hills and our fantastic van started downing the diesel when we started climbing the hills...... that jerrycan was a great idea!

Spa road. For Sasha, the Spa.

We arrived at Lake Taupo with one thing on our minds and that was to jump out of an aeroplane............

Not likely to be seen on the catwalks around the world........

Mr Clarke Kent.

Slightly tight around a "certain" region..... We didnt get any photos of the actual jumps, but its something that the 3 of us will never forget..... It was actually much calmer than we expected it to be and somehow not as scary as the bungie jumps. Although when your at jump height and the door of the (very small) plane opens and the guy strapped to your back tells you to stick your feet out the door, Its seems like a very silly thing to do...... but we survived and made our way to the next town. Rotorua.

This is a pretty wierd place. Rotorua is an area of the north island that is very well known for its geothermal activity. It also is the smelliest place I have ever been to..... The entire town and surrounding area stinks like rotten eggs..... I mean STINKS. The area is very unique as you can see from the photos. All the colours you see are 100% natural and are like that because of the activity underground!

How crazy is that? These pools were extreamly hot and some of them were bubbling at the edges. An Amazing place, even if it did stink to high heaven.

Most people get up in the morning and get into their car or onto the bus to go to work, but not our fitzy!!! Himself and Johnny Heff are over in Auckland learning how to fly helicopters!!! We had about a week left in New Zealand so Brian let us stay at his gaff to sort ourselves out before we left for home.... it took a lot of presure off us as trying to sell the van and pack everything up while staying in a hostel would have been a nightmare. So a big thanks to Brian and Johnny.

Now back to the Helicopters! Both of the lads have been over here for a while learning how to fly all the different types of choppers. Brian has his private licence which means he is allowed to take passengers.......

Its not everyday one of your good mates gets to fly you around in a helicopter, so myself and gugs jumped at the chance!! This is Brian doing his pre-flight checks. Very important.

Gugs keeping an eye on fitz at the controls.......

Keep her steady Fitz!

The is the view from the helicopter above where brian lives and where we were staying and that white blob parked on the street is our beloved van!!!!

Snowboarding!!! This is Snowplanet just north of Auckland city. As you know Charlie and myself are nuts about snowboarding and so is Brian, So we headed out to this indoor snowboarding centre for the evening. Gugs had never been snowboarding so this was the perfect chance for him to try it out. After a few basic hints and tips from us he was flying down the "mountain"

Charlie, Gugs and myself taking a break at the top on the run. We had not been boarding since August, so it took a few runs to get back into the groove of it, but after a while we started getting a bit braver and with a bit of encouragement from Brian (who is much better than us) Charlie went for the funbox!! I was at the bottom of the run and didn't know she was going to go for it, so when I saw her grind over it I was a little more than shocked!! Well when your girlfriend starts showing you up like that you have no choice but to go for it as well!! So both of us are loving the fact we are now able to grind (with a few falls here and there) and are dying to go away this winter to see what the European mountains are like. Serious respect goes to Gugs as well, after a few "loose" runs he was flying down the run and was loving it, I think we have another addition to the snowboarding gang!!

Gugs, Johnny and Brian playing online poker. All of them seem to be slightly addicted!

Brian sitting on Charlies lap after a few beers!! Sorry man!!

Heff getting a little camera shy........ aaaahhhhh. Gugs is a seasoned pro at this stage, he just does his standard "stop pointing that bloody camera at me" pose!

Stuck in traffic in Auckland city. That us in Brian's jeep reflected off a building...... It was a bit snazzier than the Van, but did it have a bed and fridge? No......

Time was running out and we needed to sell the van, So we cleaned it out and got it looking fresh and clean. We drove it into the Backpackers Car market in Auckland city and booked it in there for 3 days. Its basically a large car park where sellers and buyer of vans and cars meet. Not to sound too cocky, but we felt pretty confident as it was, by far, the best van in the whole place. So we stuck up an A4 sheet in the window with our numbers on it and left the van there....... We dint get any calls at all, so we were getting a bit worried, but Brian said he would sell the van for us if it didn't go before we flew out, so it took a little bit of pressure off us.

We were flying out on the Sunday at 7pm, and against better judgement we went on the piss in Auckland the night before....... Auckland is a great city and has a serious amount of character (and characters!!)

Sky tower in Auckland at about 4am.... We didn't get home till around 6am and we went straight to bed........ Until at 9am my phone started buzzing, I answered the phone and a Dutch guy said he wanted to have a test drive of the van. So just to recap, its Sunday morning, we are VERY hungover with about 3hrs sleep and we are flying out at 7pm that evening. Oh and we are about 30mins away from the van. Nasty. I pop my head into Fitzs bedroom and without lifting his head off the pillow he throws his car keys at me. Myself and Charlie head into town to the van to meet the Dutch guy (In the state Gugs was is he would have been more of a hindrance than help selling the van - Sorry gugs!!)

Charlie stroking Growler...... The couple took it for a test drive and they seemed very happy with it, the asking price was nz$3500 and I was, despite being very hungover, in my salesman mode ready to barter and bargain with the guy, Well he obviously isn't used to haggling, because he offered $3400....... I was almost speechless, I expected a $2800 offer, after a quick kick from Charlie I blurted out "$3450"................. SOLD!

On the last day in the last few hours we had managed to sell the van, by anyone's standards that's cutting it pretty close.....

Saying goodbye to Growler Wildcat, it may sound stupid and it could have been the high levels of alcohol in our blood, but it was pretty sad seeing the van for the last time. It was our home for 8 weeks and it was pretty much flawless (apart from the alternator.) I would like to say as well, that without Brian and Johnnys help it would have been a very tough last few days in New Zealand. Thanks Lads!!

Even with all the hype and the expectations we had about New Zealand, It surpassed our expectations by along way, It truly is the most stunning country I have ever been in, its country side is stunning, the people are brilliant and its climate is as close to perfect as I can imagine, but of course that's not the whole story as we only saw it as we drove around doing all the cool stuff, From talking to locals its a bit harder to live there full time as the economy is not really the strongest and the populations wages is not in line with other western countries. So the plan is to make a load of money here in Ireland and buy a house over there....... some time in the future anyway........

Los Angeles. I have never been to the states before, but a few hours of a stop over in LA doesn't really count, but some of the views coming into LAX were pretty amazing.

We had heard loads about US Customs, so we were prepared for searches and a lot of time wasting, but it actually turned out that they were pretty cool and it was painless going through LAX. We arrived in England after 24hrs+ travelling in a pretty bad state, I could barely stay awake and was falling asleep all over Charlies parents house...... but we had made it and were glad to be out of the plane, we had a week in England before we headed back to Ireland, but ill leave that for the next update!!!

OK, One last photo! This is Oscar, our new doggy. How gorgeous is he?

See you next time.

Sean, Charlie and Gugs.

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