Hobbiton

With the release of the second trailer of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I feel there have been enough images of the movie set released, like these ones for example, that I can show my poor photos taken a year ago without worrying that I’ll spoil anything.

So, consider this post as a suplement for the Matamata post. This is what the Hobbiton movie set looked like few days before shooting the Hobbit last year.

mixtape

Welcome to my sentimental journey back to New Zealand through music.

Just as I remember some people, events, days or places by their fragrances, it’s a similar thing with music. Here are some songs which will always remind me my adventure in NZ.

UPDATED new link: Download my trip to New Zealand mixtape

ADDED 00. The Phoenix Foundation: Gandalf. I had listened to this song when I was packing for Australia and NZ. As I was doing it, I had this quote at the back of my head, something what Bilbo learned after meeting Gandalf and later tried to warn Frodo, It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

01. Flight of the Conchords: Bus Driver’s Song. My interest in NZ deepened when I started listening to FOTC a couple years ago. I must admit that they were one of the reasons why I wanted to go to NZ, but when I finally got there, started travelling around the country and meeting amazing people, it was even greater experience than meeting the Conchords. So when I saw Bret McKenzie at the Fly My Pretties concert in November, I wasn’t as stocked as I thought I’d be. In fact, I didn’t hear much of FOTC while in NZ and didn’t listen to it as well. The only time I heard their song was at the backpacker’s in Kaikoura. “Business Time” was played from the speakers.
Also, I’d like to dedicate this song to my friend from Australia who is a bus driver and all those special bus drivers from New Zealand who I was lucky to travel with, I’m thinking of James, Graham and the third one I don’t know the name of, but he remembered me too when he saw me for the second time.

02. Powderfinger: Burn Your Name. My Australian friend, P. played this song for me saying he liked the drum beat in it. I hope that was the only thing he wanted to show me in/through this song.

03. Talking Heads: Psychokiller. Even though I didn’t listen to much of FOTC, there were many other songs and things that reminded me of them. Psychokiller was one of those songs. I heard it soon after I arrived in Auckland while walking along Quay Street in the evening and immediately I had unintentional FOTC moment. Later on I heard this song many times in pubs and restaurants all around NZ.

04. The Woolshed Sessions: Only Your Arms. I got a headache from the noise at Nomads in Auckland and the amount of offers, choices and decisions I had to make at the beginning of my journey. The backpacker’s was in Downtown, close to busy Queen Street and I had nowhere to escape to find some peace and quiet. The Woolshed Sessions reminded me why I loved NZ and went there. They soothed my heart and gave me the peace I needed.

05. Garth Brooks: The River (Sail My Vessel). I already left Auckland, saw the beautiful countryside near Waitomo and spent amazing time with people in Hamilton. I was on a bus to Wellington. James was our bus driver and a Canadian tourist sang this song as part of the karaoke competition. The sun was shining and I had Lake Taupo and then Mt Ruapehu outside my window. I was getting more and more optimistic about my journey.

06. Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra: Sunshine of Your Love (live). It was the opening night of the Rugby World Cup 2011. I was in Wellington and saw them live for the first time. It was a big night seeing Age Pryor and the rest of the band, but Nigel Collins’ voice (and the legendary wind) swept me away.

07. Black Eyed Peas: Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night. It was always played before the kick off at the RWC matches. And then the countdown was starting and the thrill of watching the game live. Later when I was travelling around the South Island, J. the Spanish sang it all the time, mostly just a chorus. There was one more song played during the breaks in a match, but somehow I can’t remember it, nether others could. (EDIT: I remembered! It was Hey Baby, obviously)

08. David Bowie: Changes. The same story as with “Psycho killer”. One of unintentional FOTC moments.

09. The Phoenix Foundation: Supernatural (live). It’s immpossible not to include at least one TPF song in my mixtape. I felt like home when I heard their (and Lawrence Arabia, and The Black Seeds…) songs from the YHA Wellington speakers. It was my dream to see the band in Welly and I got a warm welcome from them. It was like the essential NZ dream to come true. They’re working on a new album and they played this new song. So many emotions and great memories I have listening to “Supernatural” that sometimes I can’t stop my happy tears from falling.

10. WIUO: Sweet Child of Mine (live). This Guns ‘n’ Roses song was again played everywhere in NZ from Auckland to New Plymouth by a cover band and to bars in the South Island. So, I wasn’t really surprised when WIUO played at their new EP release party. You can hear Age smashing the stool on stage at the end of this recording. He really rocked. 😀 It was a great pleasure talking to them after the concert and they loved the fact that they’ve got at least one fan from Poland.
The song is not on their new EP, but other awesome songs are there. I totally recommend buying the CD.

11. Fabulous/Arabia: The Ballad of State Highway 1. Mike Fabulous and James Milne, two awesome NZ musicians released an album together when I was in NZ and it’s so addictive and amazing. Their songs sounded even better live at Mighty Mighty, but the recording I have isn’t the best one, so I took the track from their album. I have driven many kilometers on SH1.

12. The Woolshed Sessions: Waterfall (live). You can guess they were one of the bands I wanted to see live and it happened during my unforgattable two weeks in Wellington. Sunny afternoon on Courtenay Place in front of the Embassy Theatre.

13. The Yoots: Nga Iwi E. Recommended by DJ Mike Fabulous, nuff said. The fact that he, Will Ricketts from TPF, Danny Yeabsley from WIUO and Toby Lang from Fat Freddy’s Drop play there even helps. I saw them live after The Woolshed Sessions.

14. Minuit: Aotearoa. Recommended by R. from Wellington when I was couchsurfing. At first I thought it was too alternative for me, but as it usually happens, Minuit grown on me and “Find Me Before I Die…” is one of my favourite NZ albums.

15. Ladyhawke: Magic. Starting from Ladyhawke till Fat Freddy’s Drop, these are the bands I was listening to all the time when I was writing my blog. I love Ladyhawke the most and I can’t wait to listen to her new album which is due to release in March, as far as I remember.

16. The Naked and Famous: Young Blood

17. Family Cactus: Fields and Fields

18. Fat Freddy’s Drop: Wandering Eye

19. The Black Seeds: Fire (live). The day before the end of the RWC and NZ’s victory. One big Kiwi fest in Queen’s Wharf in Auckland.

20. Gotye (featuring Kimbra): Somebody That I Used To Know. It was already big on the radio there. I had heard this song once before I went to NZ. I had watched the video and really loved it, but I thought I forgot the song. When I heard it again on the radio, I knew I had heard it before. It took me a while to connect the video with the song. It happened in a hotel in Wellington when I was waiting for the All Blacks victory parade.

21. Shakira: Loca. Don’t judge me! It was the song that stuck in my head when I was travelling along the West Coast of the South Island with my friends from Chile. Finally, not German tourists!

22. The Muppets: Life Is a Happy Song. “The Muppets” had its premiere when I was still in NZ and in my pessimism, I must admit that sometimes Bret McKenzie, who wrote this song, is right. Especially when you visit NZ.

23. Fly My Pretties: Journey’s End (live). It was ten days before my plane back to London (according to my first plan) when I went to see Fly My Pretties live. When Barnaby Weir introduced his song, I took it very personally. I was wondering where my journey will end.

24. Pulp: Sylvia. After FMP, I ran to see TPF in SF Bath House, but they had already finished playing. Luke Buda totally cheered me up “lamely” singing me a couple lines of this song before we said goodbyes and see yous in London next year.

25. Piotr Krępeć: Coromandel. I don’t know the name of this song, so I named it myself. I had recorded my friend’s performance when I was still in my home town and driving back to Auckland from Coromandel Town towards Thames I was listening to the recording having a beautiful sunset over the water on my right. His music helped me to say goodbye to NZ and prepare myself to my return to Poland.

26. Queen: Don’t Stop Me Now. I didn’t think of putting this song on my mixtape, but when I was already in London, I heard this song on the radio and automatically thought of this New Zealand advert I had seen so many times on TV. And… I think it’s a good song for the great finale. Or is it really the end of my adventure?

New Zealand in The Hobbit

The first official trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey let me refresh the memories of beautiful New Zealand. This country is like Lord of the Rings and now we should add “…and The Hobbit”.

New Zealand is Middle-earth and Middle-earth is New Zealand.

And I can’t wait to see the film. One more year to go… 😦

Do you think I could post my photos from Hobbiton now or I could still get into trouble? I’ve seen online some pictures from filming there already. Hmm…

there and back again

SATURDAY and loooong SUNDAY, 3rd & 4th December

I dedicated the morning for packing. I threw away all the folders and brosures that I had been carrying all around and they were making my bag pretty heavy, didn’t pack my warm fleece and jacket leaving them to hold in my hand and put on when I arrive in London. But I had to pack my warm shoes and travel in jandals, because it was really hot. Suddenly I got so much space and my bag was so light, that I was really surprised! It was about 1 pm when I finished packing. My friends weren’t at home. The whole family was taken over by the Christmas fever, like parades and parties. I went to the town centre to buy some more chocolate bars to fill up my bag and fish & chips for lunch. It was busy, because later J. told me that there was a Christmas parade which I missed when I was packing. I had no luck with Christmas parades in NZ.

The legendary Mr Whippy ice cream van

When I came back home, J. and the boys had already got home too, so I did have a chance to thank her and say goodbye before H. came to pick me up. My dear friend offered herself to drive me to the airport. It was again one more circle made in my journey. Just as H. was the first person to greet me in New Zealand, she was also the last one to wave goodbye to.

The flight back home seemed to pass quicker than the flight to the Southern Hemisphere, which was odd, because I flew to Australia then and it was a shorter trip. I guess going back home is always faster than going away.

If we go according to the calendar, my journey back home did look quick, because I got on a plane in Auckland at 18:50 on Saturday and arrived in London at 12:00 pm next day, so it was as if I travelled just for 17 hours. But it wasn’t like that according to the actual hours spent in the air and at the airports.

So here are some numbers:

AUCKLAND – MELBOURNE: 3 hrs 25 min; 2,639 km;
from Sat 18:50 to 22:37 Kiwi time (20:37 Aus time)
We had to stop by to fill up. Interesting that there were no Christmas decorations at the airport while in Dubai, there were lots of them. Melbourne is on my ‘to-visit’ list.

MELBOURNE – DUBAI: 12 hrs 50 min; 11,656 km;
from Sun 00:25 to 13:40 Kiwi time (from 22:25 Aus time to 4:40 UAE time)
We were chasing the night. I saw dawn in Dubai.

DUBAI – LONDON: 7 hrs 10 min; 5,504 km;
from Sun 16:45 to Mon 00:35 Kiwi time (from 7:45 UAE time to 11:35 UK time)
It was already the middle of the night for me and for my sister the day has just started.

I travelled for 29 hrs 45 min, so almost 30 hrs out of which 23 hrs 25 min in the air conquering 19,799 km. I did well staying awake for the rest of the day, not quite knowing what I was talking about.

the last day in Auckland

FRIDAY, 2nd December

I was proud of myself when I dropped off the car. Even though I got lost leaving Te Atatu, I managed to find my way to the rental in the centre of Auckland.

It was late morning and I was going to have ‘thank you and farewell’ dinner with H. in the evening. After I made a round around the shops, I went to the library to wait for H. there… and to use the Internet.

We didn’t actually know where to go for dinner and we hadn’t booked a table in the Orbit Revolving Restaurant in Sky Tower, so when H. finally came over, she took me to Mexican Cafe on Victoria Street near Sky City. It was quite busy and we had to wait about 15-20 min for the table, but it wasn’t that bad considering it was Friday evening. What else could I order in a Mexican restaurant in New Zealand if not fish tacos? 😉

I had been putting away my visit in the Sky Tower for so long that it was now or never (until the next time). As soon as we finished eating, we went to buy the tickets. As a backpacker (I had to show my BBH card), it cost me $18.

This photo wasn’t made on green screen and I wasn’t flying. I was standing on a glass floor. 38 mm thick, as strong as the concrete I was standing on. Main Observation Level, 186 metres (610 feet).

Sky Desk 220 metres (722 feet). One Tree Hill

Leaning on the glass wall was more scary than standing or jumping on the glass floor.

Auckland was getting nicer…

I didn’t know that Santa’s reindeers eat Weet-Bix.

Then H. took me near Ponsonby Rd to show me one more world famous in New Zealand street, Franklin Rd. First houses had already been decorated. People were walking up and down the road, just like us and admiring the lights. By Christmas the whole road will be glowing and very busy.

H. said that it all started from this house

Some of my favourites and more exotic: surfing Santa and a palm tree as a Christmas tree

dolphin and a tree that can be taken as pohutukawa

“Today is the Present”

The party is outside

the Christmas tree was made of suitcases

There was something missing… Oh, yeah! There was no snow! It would be much prettier with some snow and H. said that some people sometimes shoot fake snow from their windows.

And that was my last full day in New Zealand.

the first day of summer

THURSDAY, 1st December

One of my wishes while my trip to New Zealand was to see pohutukawa, New Zealand Christmas tree blossoming with crimson flowers, but I doubted it would happen this time, because I was to leave the country before its season. And again, thanks to certain circumstances I stayed a couple days longer and saw the first flowers on the trees near my hostel in Whitianga. And I finally remembered the name of that tree!

The road from Whitianga to Coromandel Town was mostly very narrow, winding and steep especially closer to town. That was a challenge!

I arrived safely in Coromandel Town at about noon and went straight to the Visitor Centre to find out what was there to see within one day. I booked a tour in Driving Creek Railway & Potteries at 12:45 and got a map with attractions on the 309 Road from Coromandel Town to Whitianga, which I hadn’t taken previously, because it was a gravel road.

I still had a little bit of time before the tour, so I took a short walk along the streets of town, bought my last hokey pokey ice cream. When I left the shop, there was Maori standing outside selling his book. He asked me if I wanted to buy one. He had tattoos on his face and said that he used to be in a gang and he wrote about it in his book and how he moved on and left the gang. He also said he was a Baptist. Small world.

I was right on time at the Railway & Potteries. It was created by Barry Brickell who was New Zealand’s first Kiwi-born fulltime handcraft potter. He had bought some land to make a place for other artists who would like to work together and then built narrow-gauge mountain railway to deliver necessary materials. When it became popular, he opened it to tourist. One of his projects is native forest restoration on the land.

One of many bottle walls

The view from Eye-Full Tower

Then I went back through Coromandel Town towards Thames and turned left and took the 309 Road. I passed the Waterworks, because I wasn’t interested in paying for the entry and probably it’s the best fun for kids or when you’re with a bunch of friends. But I stopped to see:

Waiau Falls (some couple was sitting on the top of the falls asking for attention)

Kauri Grove

and Siamese Kauri

Castle Rock

The morning was cloudy, but later afternoon it was very sunny. From the 309 I could go to Waiau Summit which would take me 2 hrs to get there, but I thought I’d rather find some nice beach and lie there the same amount of time than climb one more hill. When I took the road north of Coromandel Town to see more of the peninsula, I realized it was the first day of summer. I spent the whole spring season in New Zealand. I’ve had two springs in 2011 and the taste of my second summer. In Australia I was in my second winter, but I don’t think we can count that since it was warmer than Polish summer.

Nice picnic spot?

On this beach I met a nice German. He lived with his girlfriend in a camper van which looked like a bus. I thought of swimming there, but when we started talking, time went past quickly and then a group of young people with two adults came fishing and we talked to them. It was the end of a school term and the group was from high school. They were riding bikes around the peninsula. They had to catch something for dinner, so they came longline fishing.

Eventually, I didn’t get to swim, because I wanted to leave the gravel roads before it got dark.

I did a loop around the upper part of the Coromandel, which took me quite a while, because most of the road was gravel and I came back to Coromandel Town early evening. It was getting dark when I headed south to Thames.

The road was much better. It was still winding but mostly flat and along the coast. I was driving listening to music of my friend from my home town (he’s on MySpace and here‘s his official website) and admiring the sunset which looked like from Monet’s paintings. I was in two places at that time: first, in New Zealand and thanks to Piotr’s music I was already back home.

I was in Thames after 9 pm. There was only Chinese take away open, so I bought late dinner and went back on the road. I got to Auckland before 11 pm and had no trouble with finding my way back to Te Atatu.

The Coromandel

WEDNESDAY, 30th November

I thought my holiday was over, but there was something missing and the trip to the Coromandel peninsula and then my last day in Auckland became a satisfying closure, which gave me in some way peace about the fact that it was really the end of my awesome down-under journey.

I went to the city centre too early, because I thought the Immigration Office opens at 7 am, but actually they open at 9:30 am. I just looked at wrong hours on the Internet. I had to wait for over an hour so I went to the Starbucks for a morning coffee and to plan my trip out of Auckland. It’d be my first time when I drive on a highway in a such big city. I haven’t even driven on the roads like that in Poland!

A lady behind the counter at the Immigration Office listened to my story, checked out my files and said that there had already been something written and I had two options: either show my plane ticket or apply for a new visitor visa. The visa thing was very tempting, because I could stay maybe one more week, month or maybe even three months, but I had no money left and I didn’t want to borrow from my dad anymore. And I thought it was time for me to go home. I showed her my ticket and all was sorted.

I rented a car from Omega for two days, $49 per day with free insurance which meant that if something happened, I paid $1000. I could have paid extra $20 per day and the rental would cover everything, but it was an economic trip, so I took the risk again and hoped nothing bad would happen. Luckily, it didn’t.

Omega rental cars had their office on Beach Rd in the city centre, which was a big advantage. Most of the rentals had their pick up point at the airport. I took SH1 to get out of Auckland as quickly as possible and behind Bombay turned left to road no. 2 and then no. 25 towards Thames. But I didn’t start exploring the Coromandel from the west coast but, as I had been advised by a shop assistant from one of the shops on Queen St, from the east. I left sunny Auckland and the closer the peninsula the more cloudy it was. I hadn’t booked any hostel. I had thrown away my BBH book with phones and maps in Wanganui, because I hadn’t thought I’d use it again and I didn’t have much credit left on my phone card. I wanted to stay in Whitianga, so I decided to go there first to find a hostel and reserve a bed and it was again a good move, because when I came back later in the evening, it was all booked. It was about 2 pm when I checked in at On the Beach Backpackers Lodge.

I also went to the iSite to find out the hours of low-tide and what would be the best time to go to the Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. I was informed that the low-tide was between 4 and 8 pm that day and Hot Water Beach is the safest to visit during 2 hours in the middle of the low-tide. So after taking a short nap at the hostel, borrowing a spade from the reception and grabbing fish & chips in the town centre, I went back to Hahei to use my swim suit for the first time since I came to New Zealand.

Hot Water Beach. It was basicly a bunch of adults digging holes in the sand and then lying in them. I joined in. I found an abbandoned pool, dug a bit more and sat down to warm up my bum.

When I got bored and saw the Ocean destroying my pool, I went to dress up and head north to the Cathedral Cove. It was getting late anyway, the sky was getting clearer and I was hoping to have a nice light when I arrive there to take some good pictures. From the car park, I had to walk for a while. An information board said that it would take me about 45 minutes, but I walked for 30 min without derailing to any of the bays on the way.

the view on Cathedral Cove from the track; it’s behind that tall white rock on the left

It was really beautiful and I was so happy I had the chance to be there thanks to the Heathrow workers. 😀

Going under the arch was forbidden, because of the falling rocks and there were wires or ropes spread across making like a gate, but they didn’t stop me from going through anyway.

I think I know who destroys this place out of jealousy. They’ve got Urulu / Ayers Rock and they can’t stand that New Zealand has something amazing as well. They left their mark. That beige shape reminds me Australia!

I was struck by the beauty of the sail rock

Visiting Cathedral Cove in the evening in the middle of the week had this advantage that there were no people over there!

I was back in Whitianga when it got dark. Chatting with some girls from my room, I felt like a veteran at the end of my journey. I’ll have to go back to my first notes from New Zealand and compare myself from 3 months ago with myself after.

bonus days

MONDAY and TUESDAY, 28th & 29th November

My friend from England had texted me to watch out for the strike on Heathrow on Wednesday which was when I was supposed to land in London. I looked for any information on that on the Internet and they were warning the passangers about possible delays and getting stuck at the airport. The Emirates, the airline I was flying with, even said that we could change our tickets with no charge, so I thought, “Why should my holiday end with a nightmare on Heathrow after over 20 hours in the air?” I called the Emirates and the nearest free seat on their plane was on 3rd December. My visitor visa was to expire on 1st December, but I took the risk and changed my ticket. I got extra 5 days in New Zealand! 😀

First, I thought not to make such a big deal and not to call the Immigration Office. So in the afternoon I just went to the city centre to look for some Christmas presents.

My favourite Christmas decoration: bungy jumping Santa.

Giant Santa on the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets

On Sunday there was a Christmas parade, Auckland Farmers Santa Parade, but I was travelling from Wanganui then and I missed it. It was a really hot day, so I wonder how Santa survived that day, unless he was wearing just swim trunks.

The next day I thought that maybe I should call the Immigration Office, just to let them know I’d be staying two more days and if there was anything I should do to not to have any troubles next time I came to New Zealand. When I got to talk to a guy from the Office, he kept me on hold many times, typed my explanations in my files, but before I made sure if I should apply for a new visitor visa or just do nothing more but this phone call, the money on my prepay phone card ran out, so I wasn’t sure what I was standing on. I decided to go to the Office personally the next day, before I pick up a car.

“What car?”, you ask. Well, since I got some extra days, I didn’t want to waste them in the city. The weather was great, I had some emergency money from my dad, the Coromandel was close and I hadn’t been there yet, so what should I wait for?

from Wanganui to Auckland

SUNDAY, 27th November

Three sisters were leaving Wanganui on the same day as I was and when they had found out that I was going to Auckland, the younger ones had offered a lift to Hamilton and I could catch a bus to Auckland from there. I changed the booking on Sunday morning and was free to go with 2/3 of ‘Three Musketeers’.

Before B. got on her bus back to Wellington, we went to the Castlecliff Beach with black sand

Then B. went south and we took the north. Beautiful views along Whanganui River Road.

Raukawa Falls

We stopped for lunch in National Park

Te Kuiti, “the sheep shearing capital of the world and is host to the annual New Zealand National Shearing Championships”. The statue is 7 meters tall and weighs 7.5 tonnes. Three time capsules were sealed inside the statue in 1994 and are due to be opened in May 2024, 2054 and 2084.

Going through Otorohanga was like blast from the past. In September I saw real kiwis in the Kiwi House.

Near Hamilton airport we stopped at a strawberry farm and bought fresh fruit and strawberry ice cream for dessert. I had enough time before my bus to visit one of the sisters’ house and had delicious dessert. At 6 pm, I jumped on the bus to Auckland and in the evening I was back in Te Atatu at my friends’ having late dinner.

Being back in Auckland meant that those were my last days in New Zealand, but my mind wasn’t ready for that yet.

lazy Levin and windy Wanganui

WEDNESDAY to SATURDAY, 23th – 26th November

Porirua was my first stop of my ‘farewell parade’. I didn’t want to ‘waste’ my last week in New Zealand on going somewhere new and seeing more places, which after a while they might look all the same. I wanted to meet people who had been helping me during my stay and meant to me a lot.

I knew that C. from Levin worked in the morning, so I took a bus from Porirua to Levin in the afternoon. Until then I was helping D. in her garden. I’d love a life like this. The weather wasn’t nice and the rain made us go inside, but I loved digging in the dirt. We had some last pierogis for late lunch and then D. dropped me off to the bus stop.

One hour later I was taken over by C. in Levin. There’s not much to say about what I was doing there for the next two days, apart from spending time with friends, going for walks (the weather was very good!) watching tv and playing Skip-Bo. It was another home away from home.

On FRIDAY, I left Levin and went to Wanganui. I know I’d been there before, but it was one of those things I had to do and go back to that place. On a bus, which was from Wellington, I sat next to an elderly lady. When we started talking, she asked me where I was from. I told her that I was from Poland and she said that she had a friend whose mum was from Poland. They were neighbours and they both were members of a floral club. I remembered that D. from Porirua was a member of a floral club, too, so I asked the lady if her friend’s name was D., and she said, YES! Then I said, D’s last name and it was the same person! What were the odds?! I know that New Zealand is a small country and it’s quite normal to meet a friend of a friend, but I didn’t know it’d happen to me after spending only 3 months!

B. was going to Wanganui to meet up with her two younger sisters who live in Hamilton. They try to see each other every year and every time in a different place. This time it was a place where they grew up together. When we got off the bus, B. introduced me to her sisters who had just arrived by car. They offered taking me to my hostel which I accepted gladly, because it was quite a walk, although closer than last time. I stayed at Tamara Backpackers Lodge, which I really loved and can recommend to everyone.

We exchanged phone numbers and off they went to their hotel. I wasn’t sure if I was going to meet them again, but I had told them that there would be market near the Visitor Centre by the river next day.

It was late afternoon when I left my bag in my room and went for a walk along the river. It was busier than the last time I had visited the town. I did small shopping and then had dinner back in the hostel. I tried to work on my blog, but I was getting tired and sleepy and noticed that I was having some depressing thoughts, because of my last days in New Zealand. It was 7 pm when I took a nap till 9 pm. When I woke up, I thought there was no point getting up, so I fell asleep again and woke up at 9 am next morning.

Things looked much better when I got up next day. I met an Israeli guy at breakfast who was the biggest LOTR geek I’ve ever met and we talked about his passion almost till noon. I was afraid I was going to miss the market, but it was still on when I got there. It was the election day, as I was later reminded, so it was open longer than usually. On the way I passed Whanganui Riverboat Centre and I met the guy from “Waimarie” who I talked to when I took the trip on the Paddle Steamer last time. I actually wanted to thank him for the conversation we had had, because he had asked me some good questions I couldn’t forget. He was surprised with my thanks and we had a short chat. Then I went to explore the market.

Look at those motorbikes made of bottle tops!

Something I didn’t expect to see at the Wanganui market

And guess who I met there? Three sisters! They were happy to see me too and the rest of the day we spent together. First, lunch, then a visit in the Sarjeant Gallery. I liked Marian Maguire’s works which is a mixture of Greek and Maori art.

a snap on the windy hill with a Christmas tree in the background

Then Whanganui Regional Museum, which I enjoyed as well. After that we went to Durie Hill and I went on the Elevator Tower.

Then the sisters or ‘Three Musketeers’ as they called themselves (mind you, they were ladies in their 60s, 70s and 80s!) took me to Cooks Gardens, Virginia Lake and after we bought Chinese for dinner, we went to their hotel room to have a ‘party’, which was dinner when they made me feel like I was surrounded by three grandmums. B. was throwing some food from her plate on mine and the rest of them were making sure I wasn’t hungry sticking cake, chocolate and nuts under my nose every minute.

We watched the results of the elections. I squeed quietly when I saw Hayden East being interviewed on TV. I had met him in Wellington after Fabulous/Arabia concert. He’s a musicians, but he also studies politics. He was supporting left wing, but unfortunately, The National Party won the elections.

Nevertheless, it was a great day which I hadn’t planned. Days like that are the best.