So from Franz Josef we needed start heading back towards the North Island, we followed the coast most of the way up with frequent stops taking in the breathtaking views and still on the lookout for more penguin action. It was another beautiful ferry crossing back to the other side. Thankfully Emma felt less sick this time so when we docked we headed straight to see Mount Taranaki. This is located on the westside and is the mountain we could see when was up near Mordor towards the other side. We did a walk towards it but had to turn back as the path was just full of snow and ice.
So we thought something was missing in our lives and we found it. A Shakespeare themed glockenspiel in Stratford! This place was more Shakespearean than the real Stratford. Even the drain covers were engraved with Shakespeare’s face and who knew you could do puns with Shakespeare and CCTV. You’ve excelled yourself New Zealand.
We found a cute freedom camping spot by a lake and a farm but we found out we were in the middle of a professional caravan club meeting. We arrived with Pam who sticks out like a sore thumb next to the grand caravans on display. We didn’t see anyone under 50 in the fanciest caravans. So we flew our flag of Northamptonshire’s finest.
This was our last night in Pam so we treated ourselves to Prosecco before visiting the shire the next day.
Hobbiton! Would be rude not to visit one of the most famous attractions in New Zealand. Finally nice to see some houses designed for our size! It’s a brilliant concept from a business point of view from Peter Jackson and the farm owner. It was great to see the set up close and see how much detail had gone into it all. You even get to enjoy a drink in the pub from their own brewery.
We dropped PAM off, which was a little sad as she had looked after us well on our little journey around.. We had a little while left in New Zealand so we picked up a hire car for the last part of our trip.
Once we’d picked up our hire car we headed into the centre of Auckland for an ice cream! We’d read amazing things about these ice creams, you can have a selfie frame, octopus and many more. We settled for a deluxe cone since we had to move the car from the most expensive parking ever, thanks Aukland! The ice cream was delicious. Our friend Alicia did an ice cream making session there, which we wish we had done now! Next time!
We stayed in a couple of Airbnbs and this was just the nicest treat ever. We didn’t have to run out in the cold in the middle of the night to pee and not have to wrap up in loads of layers to stay warm. We absolutely loved our time in Pam and definitely want to do it all again. But it certainly made us appreciate the comforts of a real home!
The North is just as beautiful as the rest of this country! The bay of islands is particularly impressive. We made it up to Cape Reinga, where it is considered to have the separation point of two seas, the Tasman Sean and the Pacific Ocean, so you get to see lots of swirls and large clashes out at sea.
The tough bits about being away is when our nearest and dearest are unwell. Emma’s mum has been an absolute warrior this year. My mum also found out the date for her heart operation which was while we were also away. Both of them have been keeping us on edge at different moments and have been trying to be as supportive as we can while we’ve been away. Unfortunately my mum had some complications after her surgery. We ended up having to fly home last-minute, which was literally the longest flights we’ve ever done and definitely felt it emotionally. We found a last minute flight, said goodbye to our lovely Air bnb hosts and drove the 4 hours to the airport. Pit stop in Dubai, a phone call at 36000 feet to my dad as he doesn’t like texting and we made it to England. Huge thanks to all the support from everyone and to Alex for picking us up and taking us straight to the hospital. Was lovely to see a friendly face and we’re truly grateful.
We arrived marching through the wards with our massive rucksack’s to immense relief of finding out mum was going to be ok, so while she slept on the ward we enjoyed the beer garden near the JR.
We stayed a couple of weeks and managed to catch up with a few wonderful people. Got to give the give the biggest hug to Shirley who we’ve been worrying about basically since we left. Thankfully the mums are still fighting strong and there was not a lot more we could do, so we decided to carry on our trip, just skipping out Fiji. Plus I’m sure my mum was glad to get rid of her overly attentive son who had not been around her feet for 6 months to annoy her constantly. Love you mum!
Time to hit west coast road trip in The USA. We flew with Thomas cook who honestly have probably been the poorest flight we’ve had since leaving. You had to pay for everything extra. You don’t have to do that on a 30 min flight in the Philippines. We were sat next to a lovely couple Stacey and Bryn who were doing their own road trip but were seasoned in the USA and gave us awesome tips. Plus they were equally shocked by the poor service. Thomas Cook pulled it out the bag last minute to show us how generous they really are, by serving the largest ice cream in history…
We arrived in LAX and went to picked up our hire car to begin our road trip adventure! We were prepared for the good sales tactics and know the stereotype that Americans can be over the top. This had to be the best one yet, we were advised to pay extra for a larger car as our car would probably melt going to the desert… brilliant. Let the road trip begin.