The penguins at Kelly Tarltons, always keeps my groups fascinated. As an attraction it never disappoints.
Today an Auckland tour although some opted out of the museum part.
We finished tonight with a farewell function at the top of the Sky Tower in the Orbit Restaurant. Lots of speeches in Swedish which I found I could get the gist of. But one speech in English. In fact the first speech where I was thanked. A tear jerker for a few. I guess they enjoyed our tour together. Haha
Tomorrow after breakfast its off to Yam Cha for my Chinese sons birthday. 21 again. He seems to have a more than a few 21sts now. Then my mate who has specially come down to collect me will take me the four and a half hours home. I look forward to seeing Xiaoli. Its been a while. And I know the four dogs will mob me.
The penguins at Kelly Tarltons, always keeps my groups fascinated. As an attraction it never disappoints.
Today we visited Hobbiton but I will not post photographs of the venue. I am very tired of visits to Hobbiton. So today I shot a Monach butterfly at Hobbiton so post that as a photo.
Now Auckland. Tomorrow a sight seeing tour. Tomorrow night the Orbit Restaurant at Skycity. Sunday my Swedish group go home and so do I. The tour season now over. Feet swollen. Mentally and physically exhausted. Its time to go home for a rest. Maybe some fishing
This morning I sat through the farm show at the AgroDome in Rotorua. Often I don’t bother. A very hot topic of conversation was the ‘horror’ hotel we are in. Its not good. The ‘Four Canoes’. Yes it is 3 star as claimed but very old and very run down. My group are not impressed. My thoughts are no better. My bathroom had hairs in the sink and shower and wait for it, an old small towel slung over the far side rail of the shower. Obviously unsighted by cleaners. The curtains in my room have a number of hooks broken so a huge sag. Not at all good, and I could go on. The consultant who I work for this tour I assume in unaware but I will tell them and I know my group will tell their travel company back home.
Someone needs tell them the sound system needs better acoustics as even I even struggled with listening. And my poor Swedish group really struggled.
The show is as always, well done. No denying that and people are herded through like sheep. Pardon the pun.
Tonight it’s the Maori concert at Mitai plus the hangi meal. A nice change for me as all others this summer have been at Te Puia. And bonus is we are being collected so I don’t need drive the bus as we are being collected. Its about 30 degrees here so no driving means I can enjoy a cool beer. That will be good.
Tomorrow its off to Hobbiton. That place is really not growing on me but I do acknowledge Peter Jackson and his team did it well. Then on to Auckland for 2 nights
The pictures I share today are not from this current tour. Why you may rightfully ask? Well the west coast of New Zealand has 40% of its weather as wet. And today it was a really wet one. Not cold though.
We departed our Fox Glacier hotel at 8.30am for breakfast at the Lake Matheson café. And what a beautiful breakfast it was. But as for the planned walk after breakfast or the beautiful views of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman you often get from the café, forget it.
68mm of rain forecast and I would swear all 68mm fell on our trip today and probably a lot more.
The walk to Fox Glacier was out for my 16 Swedish guests. The walk to Franz Josef was rained out although some did go to ‘The Sentinel’ lookout and found nothing to be seen. The helicopter was grounded for those booked on that. Altogether a rather wet tour day.
Lunch stop was Hokitika where I added another 30 minutes on to the normal hour long stop. We are running well ahead of schedule so let them go eat then go spend some money on our greenstone jewellery on offer.
Greymouth an early arrival at the Kingsgate Hotel. 3pm. I am never that early in to a night stop and I even timed it badly with a larger coach arriving 5 minutes before me so I ended up being driver, guide and now porter lugging suitcases up the stairs. My arm muscles now really strong following this tour season.
Tomorrow its off to Nelson. A long days driving for me and a long day in the bus for my Swedish group. Hopefully the weather will be better. Then its over to Wellington just for the night before I face the 520km trek through to Rotorua. A horrific day for me as driver/guide and for my Swedish passengers. But not my fault, I didn’t come up with the agenda.
Counting down to the18th when the tour season for me comes to a close. Body and mind are exhausted but we will make it through the tour. Not sleeping well. Tired of living out of a suitcase and exceptionally tired of restaurant meals
I am too exhausted to write blogs on the current tour. Body telling me this season has taxed me physically and mentally.
A great group of 16 from Sweden now. Lots of laughter and they are loving New Zealand.
Today was Te Anau to Milford Sounds including a cruise, then back to Queenstown.
Enjoy my little video of the cheeky Kea today. The worlds only mountain parrot and unique to New Zealand
Christchurch rest time/sleep time
This morning I slept until 10.30am. Not like me as I am a morning person. But even now as I write this brain seems lethargic.
The great thing was I booked a motel far away from everything including some of my last tour guests who have stayed on. Monday I start the next 14 day tour. I needed this time out to let the body recover. Tours started early November with just a 5 day break mid December. And the body is saying its tired. Mentally and physically.
My tour just completed the group were great. I couldn’t have asked for better and they got on well as a group the whole 18 days. And I know already the reviews I will get as a guide are going to be great which is always rewarding.
Yesterday I bought myself a new cell phone. My 5 year old Samsung which was a hand me down from Xiaoli required regular rebooting to keep it going. I should have bought a new one earlier but I hate spending money on phones. Refused to buy top of the line but I assured the Samsung A5 I bought is well advanced on my antiquated phone I was using. Its taken me all morning to programme in wechat, Instagram, emails etc etc but I believe I have finally conquered it.
The memory on the previous phone was always full regardless of cleaning it out daily. It was frustrating. I cant believe I have waited this long to update. And Xiaoli has had 3 new ones since this one was donated to me.
The computer for whatever reason is not allowing me to load my USB sticks with photographs. Maybe like me its just tired. It meant I couldn’t give my previous tour party my photographs so today I need try figure out what the issue is. Reality its probably just me pushing wrong buttons.
A computer buff on my tour just completed has recommended I look at ‘lightroom’ software for making my movies end of tour. I had been using Picasa. So I need look at that.
And now Xiaoli has volunteered my services to book rooms for another tour guide because he is to busy on tour. I guess she feels I am not busy or maybe better able to multi task. Women, you cant live with them and you cant live without them!
Today amongst numerous other things, I have studied my agenda for the tour starting Monday. One horrific day of 520km which will be hard on me and the group. But I guess the consultant that planned the tour thinks its achievable. Just not going to be much stopping or in my case tour guide talking.
February 18 tours are complete for me for this current tour season. Finally I will get back home and put feet up for a while. And then it will be time to start our own marketing for Peter and Xiaoli Tours for the 2018/19 tour season. Maybe some new tour routes. Well, modified from the past, so not entirely new. Add some new activities and walks I have discovered this tour season. And start the search for some new overseas agents we can work with. Last year we did the push into China and I know business will come from that. Maybe for the 2018/19 season we look at pushing into the European market. Time will tell. In the to hard basket right now
The photos – a few memories from the just completed 18 day tour
A tour guide, a driver and now a bus mechanic!
What was always going to be a very long day became a day my group are all raving about.
Departure 8am from Nelson. First stop Hope Lookout 1 hour south of Nelson. A quick 15 minute stop for photography plus for those needing a toilet to use the rather pungent long drop toilet. Apparently today not as bad as I have known it to be but full of bees. They had been warned!
Go to get in the bus and no electrics. Totally dead. Damn!
Phone the consultant who the bus belongs to and they instruct me to drive it to the nearest workshop. Yeah right! Its dead!
They have a mechanic phone me and he has a brainwave. Check the battery connections. Now that I had thought of to but the very limited tool kit has 20 suitcases packed in front of it. Bugger! Unload the 20 suitcases. Access the very limited tool kit. Climb over the drivers seat to get to where the battery is as the drivers door needs electrics. I over rode that part but open the door and we are invaded with bumble bees. So work in an oven to unscrew the bolts holding the battery cover on. Low and behold the positive wire is not on the terminal. Bugger!
Worse, it was obvious the terminal to connect it had somewhat shrunk which I found out next stop meant it had been shorting for quite a while. So I could not attach the positive lead so one of the group I asked hop in the drivers seat why I hold the lead on. We got it started so all hop in and we head for Murchison.
A drama start to the day. A mechanic in Murchison packs behind the lead so it connects with a caution warning but hopefully it will last the tour.
The stop Murchison was obviously longer than planned so by now with the breakdown we are over 1 hour behind time.
Lunch in Westport. A beautiful café/bar. Slow on service but to be fair they never expected a bus group to pull up for a late lunch.
On to Cape Foulwind. A very hot day so I warned all to put more sunblock on. All completed the walk fine why I devoured an ice cream at the other end. I had checked out the Tauranga Bay seal colony. Not that many there but I think most mums were out at sea as there were many seal pups.
On to the Pancake Rocks. All are starting to look weiry and a little burnt but all still did the walk.
Next stop not on the original agenda was Monteiths Brewery. My addition. Everybody appreciated and partook in the beer tasting.
Final arrival Hokitika 2 hours later than intended at 7.30pm but a very happy group.
For me I am exhausted. Cut my head open getting at the battery. Cut my arm on who knows what.
Tomorrow in theory an easy day. A slow start Hokitika why the group look at greenstone. Then down to the glaciers finishing tomorrow night at Fox Glacier. We all need an easy day
In theory just 2 hours driving today
We departed the Wellington hotel 7.30am. A few grizzles about the early start from some of the group, but they had been prewarned. And as the tour progresses now in the South Island, there will be a few more early starts.
Today we all boarded the InterIsland ferry to the South Island as passengers. We left our bus in Wellington and collected another in Picton.
Superb weather once away from Wellington. A few burnt faces from being on the top deck to long, but they had been warned.
For me I spent most of the journey across in the café. Seemed a pleasant place to sit with some of the group.
Picton a 15 minute walk to collect the bus why the group collected our bags. From there on to the Queen Charlotte Sounds Drive. A number of photograph stops before we arrived Havelock for a lunch stop and a refuel of the bus. Then on to Cloudy Bay Vineyard which I added into the days agenda. I did ask the group and said a majority decision rules and it was 100% for the extended driving time. On tasting they all felt not only the atmosphere but the quality of the wines was far superior to either Church Road or Mission Estate Vineyards we had stopped at in Hawkes Bay. I agree the atmosphere was far superior but as for the wines unfortunately being the tour guide and driver, I could not partake. SAD!
On to Nelson. A quiet bus, many sleeping even with the many bends and the 2 big hills.
Tomorrow all the group are off to the Abel Tasman National Park why I enjoy a bit of a rest plus do a bit of laundry. Getting down on clean clothes left to wear.
Thursday its off to Hokitika. A long days drive for me as driver and the group as passengers
It appears a very popular wine of ours in the UK is Cloudy Bay. So today a detour not on the agenda but appreciated by the whole group after we reached Havelock, was to head to Cloudy Bay Vineyard in Renwick (Marlborough). Added to my driving for the day but happy to accommodate my friends sitting behind me in the bus.
Napier to Wellington. Seems to get longer each trip!
Weather is perfect. Finally my group are getting to enjoy a New Zealand summer. Long may it last!
A late start today so the group had chance to wander around Napier city. First stop on route, Norswood Woollen Wear factory shop to buy as they wish, plus the essential toilet stop and coffee break.
From there on to Mt Bruce Native Wildlife Park run by our Department of Conservation. All paid the money for the shorter 30 minute walk around the aviaries and through the nocturnal Kiwi house.
A 1 hour 20 minute stop over so they could not only enjoy the park but buy lunch in the café. And low and behold a friendly native Kaka Parrot decided to try join us to share the lunch. That I made sure did not happen but lots of photographs taken. Then 2 of the critically endangered Takahe wandered out on the lawn below us. A great experience for all.
The long drive continued with a stop a top of the Rimutaka Hill. Traffic over it was really busy today so lots of stops for me today to let the faster vehicles past.
On into Wellington and head for Mt Victoria. I always seem to find the narrowest road up but most spectacular. Such a clear day today and little wind so cameras working overtime.
Tomorrow Te Papa museum then the cable car up and walk back down through the botanic gardens. Yet to decide if I will do as in theory it is my rest day which I may just take advantage of before we head across the strait to start the South Island leg