In a VW Combi Van!
Much screaming in frustration as she goes round in circles!
12.01.2013 - 12.01.2013 32 °C
Mel was first up this morning as she had an appointment with the estate manager,Dave to be shown how the dogs on the property are put to work.
Not wanting to miss out on anything Aimee quickly followed her.
Ollie and I took the more leisurely option and lay in bed until it was time for breakfast.
As we drove up to the main lodge we spotted Mel, Aimee and Dave working the dogs.
Mel was absolutely loving it, with a pair of German Shorthaired Pointers called Rufus and Radar bounding around the field. Apparently we'd just missed the dogs stalking a pheasant around the bush.
Anyway Dave was showing Mel how he trains the dogs to point. It was amazing to see them doing this and how they have such a natural instinct for it.
If only I could train my kids in such a way!
Ollie was calling out for his breakfast so we left Mel and Aimee to it.
They later joined us with Mel saying that working with the dogs in this way was probably one of the best things she'd done all trip.
Unfortunately today was our last day here so after arranging a late check out we went back to pack up.
While Mel and I started clearing up and packing the cases the kids were cleaning Big Blue with hose pipe before going off exploring.
With the van all ready we headed back to the lodge to settle the bill and grab a few last photo's. Everyone was a tad sad to leave!
Next stop was Rotorua to see the geysers and bubbling mud at a place called Te Puia.
It was roasting hot when we pulled up, and hot springs and geysers weren't top of the list of things to do.
We grabbed a bite to eat before going to watch a Moari cultural show. It was great to see and Ollie finally got to see a real Haka up close and personal. Pretty amazing.
The Prince of Wales geyser was the next stop, so called because when it erupts it looks like the three feathers on his coat of arms.
The geyser did look good but the temperature was so hot and with no shade anywhere no-one wanted to stay for too long.
So we moved onto the bubbling mud, also great to see but with the smell of rotten eggs in the air we headed off.
It was around 5:30 and we now had a 3 hour trip up to Auckland for our last night in New Zealand.
We pulled into the centre of town and checked into the 29th floor of the Auckland Oaks Apartments. We had an awesome view of the harbour and sky tower. This looked a great city but we were never going to have long enough to explore it as we were leaving tomorrow.
Since we were right in town we were amongst all the bars and restaurants. So under the advice of the staff we walked through some back streets to find something to eat and drink.
Walking around this looked a cool city for a night out.
This may sound weird but Auckland; or at least the bit we saw, reminded us of Manchester, if only on a very hot barmy night!! Maybe it was all the tall old buildings or the busy bars that did it, I don't know but Mel and I both thought the same thing.
We found some back street bar that was still serving food and sat down and had a family chat about our holiday, since this was our last night party!
First up, what was everyone's best bit?
Seeing the dogs at work at the Treetops lodge
Aimee and Dad
Mount Cook, the flight around, the walks and swimming in the lakes
The day Mum bought him some Lego online with his Christmas money. This was to be delivered when we got back!!
What was everyone's favourite accommodation?
Aimee and Dad
The cottage we stayed at in Renwick, run by Kay and Gary
Probably the cottage, although it was a very close call with Treetops
This place in Auckland. As I get to go home tomorrow away from the threat of earthquakes and pick up my new Lego!
We did ask if anyone had any bad bits but to be honest we couldn't find anything bad at all.
The place was fantastic and the people are extremely friendly. The Aussies may not like to hear it but the people here are far more friendly, sorry!
With a final cheers together we unanimously agreed we'd had a superb time, it just wasn't long enough, there's much more to see. Maybe next time hey!
Tomorrow would be a case of dropping off Big Blue and heading out to the airport for our flight home.
So this will be my last blog entry!
Hope you enjoyed it and apologise for the poor grammar and spelling, it's bad enough at the best of times but this tablet device keeps using predictive text and so keeps changing things round!!
Blog to be continued on next break........... possibly!
11.01.2013 - 11.01.2013 30 °C
All up pretty early as we'd got plenty of activities planned for the day. We were picked up and driven for breakfast at the main lodge.
I can't think of many places where you get driven for breakfast in a Range Rover! Anyway breakfast at the lodge was fantastic, with the kids being fussed over by the staff. I'm sure Aimee and Ollie were milking it!
Our plans for the day were for Aimee and Mel to go horse riding, then all head for a forest hike to a huge waterfall where we'd have a picnic and then for Ollie and I to go for a spot of fly fishing while Mel and Aimee went to the spa for some girlie treatment.
So first up was the horse riding. The guy running the stables, Diddy is a pretty amazing guy, he looked about 60 and was in pretty good shape with a lot of experience with horses as well.
We only later found out that he was 85years old!!! I can only hope I'm in that good a shape at his age.
So with Mel and Aimee saddled up they headed off into the country. Ollie and I would follow some way behind in Big Blue and pick up Aimee after an hour or so. Mel would then carry on with Diddy and do some real hacking.
The weather was superb and they both looked like they loved it. The hack was through some stunning countryside so Ollie and I turned it into a photo safari, with Ollie leaping out of the van to grab a shot anytime we saw something interesting.
After an hour or so Diddy, Mel and Aimee pulled over and Ollie and I caught up. It was time to pick up Aimee and take her back, apparently her horse would simply follow Diddy's for the rest of the trek.
Aimee was a tad upset that she couldn't carry on, I can't blame her it did look good. So the three of us headed back in Big Blue along the tracks to our lodge.
We took our time with Aimee and Ollie taking it in turns to sit on my knee and steer Bluey. They loved it.
We were even treated to one or two wild deer coming up close to the van! We also took the time to stop at the field of Alpacas to grab a few shots.
Before we realised it, it was time to meet Mel back at the stables after her ride.
She'd had a great time out in the country with Diddy telling her all sorts of stories about some of the characters that've stayed here. One of his most recent was Sigourney Weaver!
So with Mel on a bit of a buzz after her hack we picked our packed lunch and started our walk to Bridal Veil Falls. It's a great track we walked that followed a stream up through the forest. It was real Hobbit country so we told the kids to keep their eyes out for Bilbo Baggins!
There wasn't a sole around and when we arrived at the falls they were stunning, hopefully the photo's show that. They're called Bridal Veil falls as the look like a brides veil and it's easy to see why.
Treetops have built a little deck along side the falls with a table and chairs on it, so we sat down for our lunch. Couldn't think of a better place!
Now that we're on a bit of a role with swimming in lakes, rivers and glaciers this one wasn't gonna be missed. Since no-one was around I stripped off and got under the falls in the buff!!
It remains to be seen if the photo's will ever make it onto the internet!!
So we headed back through the forest to the main lodge as Ollie and I had an appointment with some bloke called Mr J R Hartley for a spot of fly fishing. He claims to have written a book on the subject, but from I can see it's mighty difficult to get hold of!!
Anyway we met him by Lake Reflection and he asked me if I'd ever been fly fishing before.
I said 'If you take the word fly out of that sentence that just about sums up my experience!!'
Fortunately he saw the funny side of things and certainly thought we were the coolest family around travelling around in Big Blue. So we got along great.
He sorted Ollie and I out with rod and started giving us some lessons in the art of casting out with a fly rod. As a complete novice I honestly thought the wiping to and fro with the rod was some way of mimicking the fly over the water and that the fish would leap out and grab it.
Seems I'm a complete idiot on this subject, as this is purely a way of being able to cast the line further out as there isn't much weight at the end of the line!!
So educated further and having picked up the knack; or at least I thought I had, we headed to the lake.
Ollie was loving it and Callum(turns out Hartley is his pen name!) Was taking time with him to get his line properly cast out. He kept telling him to leave it out, but a 5 year old lad only ever wants to reel his line in again and again to check if he'd caught a fish! Callum was extremely patient with him.
So I had my first go at casting out with the wiping action. Our aim today was to try and land one of the many trout in the lake.
All I seemed to be good at was hooking my line round the plants behind me. Definitely more practice needed.
I can only imagine what Brian Skeer would've been saying at my poor effort. no doubt Mel will take great pleasure in telling stories of my exploits, still it must have been funny to watch. Anyway I eventually managed to get my fly out there, and so began the technical part of fly fishing, the bit I find hardest. Sitting and waiting!!
At this point Mel and Aimee took Big Blue up to the main lodge to go and use the hot tub and spa and the boys were left alone in manly pursuits!
After 30mins of staring at each others fly's, Callum announced that nothing was happening at this lake and we should try the other over the hill.
So the three of us moved and got set up a the next location. Next to this lake was a tub with a load of fish pellets in it, so Callum threw some in to see if anything was happening.
Crickey, it was like a shark's feeding frenzy, trout were leaping everywhere. This was looking very promising, you could actually see all the trout swimming around, I might actually get to catch my first fish!
Ollie and I got our rods set up and cast out expecting the fish to literally jump out of the water to grab the fly's. How hard could it be??
Unfortunately Callum had to leave us to take another group on a 4 wheel drive safari, so father and son were left alone to fish!
It was great being out there by the lake however we were failing dismally at catching a fish!! We could see literally loads of fish and every time we cast our line, it was like the dividing of the red sea with the fish moving either side of the line and fly!!
When ever the fish pellets were thrown in, no problem the trout were climbing over each other to get fed!! So after an hour of no bites Ollie and I decided to attach fish pellets to the fly in an attempt to land something.
Seems these trout in NZ are pretty intelligent, well certainly more than me. We didn't even get a nibble!! The only thing I succeeded in catching were rocks and reeds. Still it was a most enjoyable afternoon.
Since it was getting late we packed up and started walking back to our lodge and picked a lift up off Mel and Aimee, as they were returning from their beauty treatments.
We'd booked a babysitter for the kids tonight and they were looking forward to spending the evening with Jody;who they'd met at breakfast. They were all going to watch the film Ratatouille together eating pizza's.
Mel and I were chauffeured up to the main lodge for canapé's and cocktails and got stuck into it.
This evenings crowd were all very sociable and we got chatting to several of the other people staying at Treetops. In fact we all ended up on one big table for dinner and had a great night.
We were sat next to a couple from Auckland who were down on a short weekend break. Since they were both into sailing and rugby(well at least he was) the conversation flowed easily.
We were the last to leave at the end of the night and were given a lift back by the leaving staff.
Once again without a cloud around we were treated to a spectacular night sky's with the Milky way clearly visible. It was so good we nearly woke the kids.
As Mel kissed Aimee good night she woke slightly to tell her that she'd got carpet burns on her knees from all the rat impressions she'd been doing from the film, very amusing.