After leaving the central north island region we drove up to the Coromandel Peninsula and spent a couple of relaxing days at Waihi Beach playing a bit of Frisbee on the beach, Ste swimming in the pool and Cat sitting in the jacuzzi. On our way up through the peninsula, we stopped Whangamata which was a really cool town with a lush beach and loads of cafes and surf shops. It must be the holiday town for the rich and famous in New Zealand as there were some huge yachts and bachs (bachelor pads - kiwi holiday homes). We had the best carrot cake ever overlooking the estuary in the little town of Tairua. We parked the campervan at a little place called Ferry Landing before taking the ‘Ferry’ across the ‘harbour’ to Whitianga. The crossing was narrower then the Tyne river and the ferry was a very small converted fishing boat. Good fun and only $2 - bargain, it saved a 35km trip.
We drove to the top of Shakespeare’s lookout and got some gorgeous panoramic views out over mercury bay and all of the islands. We played a bit of Frisbee on the lovely soft sand and Cooks beach and even dipped our toes in the water, it was quite warm.
The next day was spent at hot water beach, where if you dig a hole during low tide in a certain spot, the water is hot and you can sit in it like a little hot pool. And that’s literally what we did with a little help from a Kiwi girl and French guy and Swiss guy. We built a huge pool, to the envy of everyone else on the beach, and sat in it for about 3 hours until we were shrivelled up. It was a lot of fun and the place was so busy, but glad we got there early.
We got up in the morning and did the 45 minute trek to Cathedral Cove, a tiny little beach only accessible by foot through a tiny little rainforest track. It was hard work (for cat) and it was really hot, but worth it as it was so pretty.
We continued on our way and got to Coromandel Town in the afternoon and took a ride on the scenic Driving Creek Railway up through a baby Kauri forest to the ‘Eyefull’ tower at the top. The views were spectacular over the Firth of Thames and the weather was lovely too.
We spent the evening, catching the last rays of sun on Shelly Beach. Aptly named because there were millions of shells on it.
We drove the three hours back to Auckland to head to the zoo. It was a good fun afternoon and we saw all the usual suspects including; Elephant, Tigers, Hippos etc. But what we really went for was to see the Kiwis. And we did, in their new special nocturnal night house. They were much bigger than we thought, like the size of chickens, really fast and very cute. They have no wings at all, unlike their cousins Emus and Ostrich and have very long beaks to forage for their food deep under soil. It was really interesting speaking to the keeper too as they are now so rare and they are doing a lot of work to protect them.
After the zoo we made our way to the west coast to Muriwai ready for a surfing lesson the next day. The surfing was a lot of fun and Ste was up on the board straight away after a bit of a refresher. Cat on the other hand, could not quite get the balance right and kept falling off and got battered by the waves and her board. She did eventually manage to surf on her knees, but still enjoyed herself, even if the sea water did make her sick.
Our last couple of days were spent in Takapuna, which is on the North Shore of Auckland. Relaxing in the hip little town drinking coffees and tidying the van ready to return it.
On Friday the next part of our adventure begins when we travel to Brisbane. We will spend the next two and a half months on Australia’s east coast soaking up the sun and laying on a new beach everyday. We have enjoyed New Zealand, it’s just a shame that the weather wasn’t that good and England lost in the Rugby, but you can’t have everything can you?
Cat drove again when we left Poverty Bay and headed towards the centre of the North Island to the volcanic regions of Rotorua and Taupo. On the way, through this crazy road skirting a gorge all the traffic was being stopped by the police as there had been loads of serious accidents on the road caused by fatigued. Cat was breathalised and passed!They had a little rest area set up and were giving out free coffee and sausage sandwiches which Ste was particularly happy about. After our little rest we headed towards Rotorua and saw 2 adult Kiwis and their baby crossing the road, which was brilliant, especially as their so rare and are meant to be nocturnal!
There are loads of lakes around Rotorua, all of which seemed huge to what we’re used to and they were very beautiful. We could tell when we were getting close to the thermal area as there was a distinct odour in the air, caused by the sulphur, a lovely whiff of rotten eggs. You soon got used to it though and we headed to The Polynesian Spa, which is a series of hot natural mineral pools overlooking Lake Rotorua, each with varying temperatures and elements, some were more acidic, some more alkaline, some with radium and some with Sulphur. It was very very relaxing in there, especally as it wasn’t too busy and we were in the adults only area. The view out over the lake with all the pretty birds and snow capped mountains in the distance was lovely to look at too. And the spa had been cleverly designed to look like a Japanese garden. We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon relaxing there and couldn’t be bothered to drive the 80kms to Taupo but just about managed to stay awake we got there.
Lake taupo was even bigger than Lake Rotorua and the Tongariro Mountains could be seen in the distance. Taupo town was a really cool place with loads of boutique shops and bars and cafes. The Macdonalds there was even cooler, it was a plane! We went on a river cruise along from the Aratiatia Dam and rapids to Huka Falls which was really good fun and lovely weather for it too. After a busy day of sightseeing the campsite had a heated outdoor pool to relax in, lush!
On our final day in the volcanic region we headed to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, on the road out of Taupo. What a brilliant morning spent watching a geyser spurt washing powder everywhere then walking around an area that look better placed in an old sci-fi film as another planet. There were Sulphur lakes, boiling mud, craters and loads of different brightly coloured pools caused by naturally occurring elements like arsenic and carbon. And again the smell of rotten eggs, but it was well worth it to see these incredible naturally occurring wonders.
We thoroughly enjoyed our flying visit to the volcanic region, the scenery and sights were amazing and you soon got used to the smell. Cat is now addicted to the hot pools so we’ll have to buy a hot tub when we get back.
After leaving Wellington, we headed up the east coast of the North Island, our first stop was the town of Hastings. We just stayed one night as there wasn’t a lot to see or do. In the morning we had a look around the little cute town of Havelock North before we headed up to the top of Te Mata Peak. From the top, the views were magnificent. Out over Hawkes Bay coastline and over to the Kaweka Mountain Ranges (they had a dusting of snow on top). You could see right down into the valley, with the lovely wineries skirting the river.
On our way to Napier, just north of Hastings, we stopped for lunch at a cute little grey pebble beach. With the white cliffs in the distance, it looked more like the south coast of England, rather than New Zealand. We got to Napier and drove through the town centre and Marine Parade. It’s a really cool, retro place, lots of the buildings are in the ‘art deco’ style, which Cat particularly likes. This is because there was a huge earthquake here in the 1930’s and they had to totally rebuild the town and that was the style of the day. They’ve since protected the style of building, mostly for tourist purposes. There is an art deco shop, playing 1930’s music and even the shop assistants were dressed in that style. They even had a old 1930’s car which you could take a tour of the town in if you have the dollar. We looked around the town, and took loads of pictures of the town square and buildings. There were loads of lovely shops too, you (Cat) could spend a fortune. We were a bit disappointed with the wine centre, Hawkes Bay is meant to be top class for wines in New Zealand, but the centre was small and more of a money making shop then a useful place for tourists. We decided to go the pub instead!
Cat drive for the first time in New Zealand, a total of 4km, to Ahuriri, then Captain Ste took over the journey to Gisborne. We drove up the “Pacific Coast Highway”, except you hardly ever saw the sea. But the views were nice of the lakes, forests and mountains. We prefer the Pacific Coast Highway of California.
We got to Gisborne in the afternoon and the sun was out, yey! We had a look along the main street and then went and found the statues of Captain James Cook and Young Nick, the surgeons boy who first spotted land. Gisborne is famous for being the first place where the HM Bark Endeavour dropped anchor for the first time in New Zealand. Cooks initial mission was to observe the transit of Venus across the face of the sun, from the southern hemisphere. When they had done this in Tahiti, Cook opened a sealed orders to find “a continent or land of great extent” and claim it for Britain. They came across some Maori natives and through a misunderstanding, their exchange ended in bloodshed and Cook and the Endeavour went on their way claiming the land to be called “Poverty Bay”, “as it afforded no one thing we wanted” from Cooks journal.
We had a few days in Gisborne and the weather was mostly good. We walked to the Cook national historic reserve and spent some time on the three beaches, Kaiti, Midway and Waikanae. On the Sunday, the Rugby World Cup came to a close with the French taking on the All Blacks in the final. We watched this at one of the nice local pubs and ended up sharing our table with a guy from Dunedin, who didn’t really follow rugby, but thought he’d ort to watch it, and three Americans (two of which sounded Irish) who didn’t have a clue at all! It was a good night and they were all nice people. It was funny watching the big Maori men getting really nervous and unable to watch, cheering them one second and swearing at them the next. Luckily, the All Blacks held on and everyone was happy, for about 10 minutes, then the pub emptied and everyone got back on with their normal lives!
Hawkes Bay and Poverty Bay were both nice places. It’s a shame Cook couldn’t come back to Gisborne now, and see that there is something he would want, nice wine!
We got to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital later in the afternoon, we were staying in a camp site in the suburb of Hutt City just around the harbour from the city centre. We had a drive around to the lovely area called Eastbourne and which had some lovely views out over the harbour and of Somes Island (a nature reserve in the middle of the harbour). It was a trendy little place with boutique shops and cafes and the houses were all up in the hills and very grand looking, some even had their own personal cable cars to get up there, very cool.
On Friday we took the bus into Wellington city as we heard parking was hard to come by, it took 45 minutes on the bus, went around the houses! It did drive right through Lambton Quay, the main shopping area, the shops are much better here than Auckland. We wandered around the nice wharf area and went in the Te Papa museum, the museum of New Zealand.Its and all singing all dancing place. It was really really interesting, especially for free! We got to see a huge squid and learn about the history of New Zealand. We went in the Oceania exhibit and learned about Cook and The Endeaver coming to New Zealand. It was really good. Spent a good few hours in there. When we were all history’d out we had a walk around the wharf and a look around the quirky shops of Cuba street, it started raining so popped in a nice pub for a pint or 2.
The next day Cat was really ill with a cough and a cold and couldn’t really get out of bed. Being in a campervan is probably the worst place to be ill, such a confined space with no where to prop yourself up on and keep having to go outside to go to the toilet, what a hassle. Who knows how Ste didn’t manage to get ill with all those germs flying around!
Cat felt a little better on Sunday and we drove into Wellington as couldn’t face the bus with a cough. It was true what they say about the parking, it was a nightmare. Eventually we gave up on parking in the centre and drove around the harbour slightly to Oriental Bay where we got parked straight away and had a nice ice cream on the beach front promenade. It was a lovely day but still a bit cool. We walked along the promenade a little way, the place was really busy with people out walking and cycling etc. The houses around the bay were beautiful too. We drove up Mount Victoria and got some fabulous views out over the whole of the harbour and there were some even nicer houses up there too, again with their own personal cable cars! Had a little look to the pretty botanical gardens. They were in Victorian formal style which really reminded us of the parks at home. In the evening we walked into Petone town to watch the All Blacks vs The Wallabies, in an Irish Pub called ‘Murphy’s Law’, that was a lot of fun.
Leaving Wellington for the east coast on Monday. We really liked Wellington, it’s definitely a good capital and there was lots to do, it’s a shame Cat was ill as we could have done a lot more, like riding the cable car.
After leaving Auckland the day after the disappointing quarter final we headed south west. A hundred and a bit kilometres on and we stopped in a place called Hamilton. A pretty place, we sat and had lunch next to the lovely Hamilton park and Lake Rotoroa. We then went and took some photos of the Riff Raff statue in the town centre, it’s there because Richard O’Brien, the creator of The Rocky Horror Show is from there (he also plays Riff Raff in the film). It was very cool, especially for Cat who loves The Rocky Horror Show, they even had instructions on how to do the time warp and a web cam to film people doing it. After that we had a little look around the beautiful Hamilton Gardens , it was a lovely day, you could easily spend all day there but we had to keep going to get to our next stop, Raglan, the famous black sand surfing town. We thought the sand looked more grey than black, apparently its due to the iron content, still nice though, had a little look around the pretty town then watched the rugby. Got talking to a welsh guy who was obviously happy about Wales getting through.
The next day it was raining, typical you can’t get a few nice days together. Drove around to Manu Bay, the famous place for surfing, except this morning there was no-one surfing which was a shame but the water did seem very calm so no wonder. We headed on our way towards New Plymouth through some very pretty hills and forests and even a few tunnels cut out the side of mountains. Eventually got to New Plymouth and it was raining then we were told its the wettest place in the North Island, sigh. Braved the rain and had a look down to the lovely black sand beach before giving up for the night. The next day the rain had settled a little so we walked 3kms of the coastal walkway into the town centre, it was a lovely walked. Got to Len Lye’s Wind Wand but it didn’t look that impressive due to all the sea fret you couldn’t see the top of it. We went into the Puke Araki Museum and had a look at the exhibits, it was really interesting learning about the history of the Taranaki area. We watched a Maori cultural performance which was really really good and even got to join in. The boys got to learn The Haka, which Ste of course loved and Cat learned the girls dance, The Poi. It was a lot of fun. When we went to walk back the sea fret had cleared so you could see all along the beach, it was really pretty.
Cat woke up feeling really lausy as she had been coughing all night and the weather was crap again. We drove the inland route down to Wanganui, it rained all the way there. We had a little walk around the town and riverside and saw the cute paddle steamer but it really wasn’t the weather for any of that, which was a shame because it would be a nice place in better weather out on the river.
We left Wanganui for the long drive down to Wellington, but we got to make a few entertaining stops on the way. Our first place was at the town of Bulls, where all the signs for shops etc have Bulls in the title i.e. Const-a-bull for police station and read-a-bull for library, how they thought up of that we don’t know. Next we stopped at the town of Palmerston North, a cute little college town before continuing onto Levin where we had lunch next to Lake Horowhonua, a pretty spot with loads of ducks. Next stop Wellington.
We picked up our Campervan on friday, it was older and a bit tattier than we’d expected, especially because of the amount of money it cost us to rent but never mind, we’ll make do. Filled up on loads of food and headed just a little way up the coast to Orewa and checked into a Top 10 Holiday Park. Orewa was a lovely little town and the campsite was right on the beach which was gorgeous but a bit windy, good for the millions of kite surfers out there though. The place could easily be mistaken for the Northumberland coast. We had a nice walk along the beach and a look around the town and shops and thats when Cat found out she was officially an Auntie to baby Sophie Lee born on the 30th September at 03.09am weighing 9lbs 2oz!!
The next day we headed a little further up the coast and got to see some lovely views the hills and fields etc, it’s a shame it was raining. Had a little look around a couple of little towns but not much to see and went to a Honey Centre but Cat got a bit twitched that the bees might get out and attack her, lol. The campsite again was right on the beach and we had a lovely walk in between the rain showers over the rocks and in the tide pools. It was the big rugby match that night, England vs Scotland and the only pub for miles around was a scottish pub called the Salty Dog so had to watch the match with a load of Scots. It was really dramatic and at least England came through right at the end.
Northwards again on sunday, along the very windy highway 1. We stopped at some really pretty places, notably Leigh and Goat Island and Pikiri Beach. They were deserted too because it wasn’t very warm and kept raining. We got to Paihia just before tea and it was absolutely chucking it down so didn’t get to walk along the beach which was a shame, watched the All Blacks instead. Our first experience of Kiwi fish and chips tonight, they were alright, not as good as at home, they were basically frozen chips that had been deep fried, what a shame. The next day we stayed in Paihia but moved to a different, much better campground right on the Hururu Falls, which was a lovely spot and was lit up at night. We visited the Waitangi Treaty House and grounds and learn’t about New Zealands history and where the treaty between the British and the Maori took place which was an interesting afternoon. We had an early start the next day as we went on a bus trip up to the most nortnern part of New Zealand. We walked among the giant ancient Kauri trees at the Puketi Kauri Forest then drove up (yes up) 90 mile beach, on the beach, it was amazing and our driver/guide, Mike was very cool, so it was a lot of fun. We we got to the top you drove through a stream to get off the beach then we climbed this mountain of a sand dune and sand boarded back down which was very scary but very cool at the same time, Ste typically loved it and had loads of goes but Cat couldn’t be bothered with the climb up after the first go! Had lunch at a little paradise called Taputaputa Bay. The went up to where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet, Cape Reinga. A very spiritual place and the weather was gorgeous too.
We had had a great day, it was a real shame when we got back to the campervan that the water pump and electrics had decided to pack in. We decided enough was enough and called the woman we rented it from and arranged to return it the next day and got a refund. We spent the day and night back in Auckland and booked back into the hostel we’d stayed at previously because we knew it was so nice and Campbell the owner was really keen to help us out. We booked a new campervan with a different company which we picked up the next day. It was a million times better and the company were so much better too, really keen to make sure everything was okay, we even ended up with a free bottle of wine and refund for 1 days rental as we had to wait an hour while they fixed a lock, we didn’t mind, free coffee, apples and wifi. Once we were all sorted we did a big long drive up to the top of Northland to the Karikari Peninsula, didn’t get there until the evening.
When we woke up it was already a lovely day so we drove to the top of the peninsula to Maitai Bay, the most beautiful beach we’ve ever seen. And, even though it was a lovely day the place was deserted. It was fabulous! After lunch we drove around Doubtless Bay, took loads of pictures of all the gorgeous beaches then headed across the country to the west coast. We stooped on the way to see Tane Mahuta, the 2000 year old biggest living Kauri Tree. He ws magnificant. That night we stayed at a campervan site at Baylys Beach and watched the lovely west coast sunset at the 112km Rapiro Beach, very very pretty.
On saturday it was back to Auckland for quarter final 2 between England and France and we had tickets woohoo! We had booked into the special rugby campervan site at Epsom so right near the city centre. Went into the centre around lunchtime and the place was heaving and the atmosphere was really good. Even saw our childhood hero, Andy Peters, Cat was too star struck to speak to him though. Got all our gear on, England shirts, ties, wigs etc, got our faces painted and then got the fan bus up to the stadium. Everyone was talking to eachother and there were loads of camera crews filming everyone, it was really good fun. We were right in the cheap seats at the top of the stadium with the wind blowing etc but we didn’t mind too much. That was until England came out and played shocking, what a shame, we were obviously really disapointed but at least we can say we’ve been to a rugby world cup match in New Zealand.
We landed on time, it was 10 past 9 on Sunday morning, where had Saturday gone? We took the airbus into Auckland City Centre and walked to the hostel along Karangahape Road (K Road to the locals). The hostel is in the suburb of Ponsonby, a fashionable neighbourhood, with restaurants and boutiques along Ponsonby Road. By the time we had got to the hostel it was raining and did really remind us of England. We were starving, probably because our body clocks were all wrong. So we walked in the pouring rain, Ponsonby Road, when we came across just the thing we needed, Nando’s! It wasn’t quite the same at home, but pretty good and did the trick. We managed to stay up during the evening, even though we were shattered and went to an Irish pub, called the ‘Dogs Bollixs’ to watch Ireland vs Russia. It was a good game, and the beer was good too, it made a nice change.
The next day the sun was out, so we walked down into the city centre and had a look around the sky tower, it’s a giant concrete skyscraper, that you can see from pretty much anywhere in Auckland, and is New Zealand’s tallest structure, and according to some books, the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere, although we are not sure. Then we had a look around the shopping area, although there wasn’t much to see. We headed into the ‘Official Rugby World Cup’ FanZone called ‘The Cloud’ which was at Queens Wharf. They had big screens showing the games a shop, a bar, games to play, and free I-Pads to use. We walked along the nice waterfront area and got some lovely views over the harbour.
The day after we went back to Sky City, this time to collect our tickets for the quarter finals. As we were coming back down the building, we saw some of the Scotland team and then saw the coach, Andy Robinson, coming up the escalator on his mobile. We should have wished them good luck for Saturday. It was a nice sunny day, so we had a walk around the pretty Victorian Albert Park. We walked through the university to The Domain, which is a large open area with gardens and statues. We had a look around the pretty winder gardens with the lovely sunken courtyard and brightly coloured flowers. There was some gorgeous views over the city and the harbour. We then walked down into the Newmarket area, with all its different shops and cafes. Then did the long walk back, uphill to the hostel. We must have walked miles that day.
We took the ferry across to Devonport. Its only ten minutes away. It’s one of Aucklands oldest suburbs with grand houses and unusual bookshops and cafes etc. There are also a few exict volcanoes there too, what you would expect for New Zealand. It was a pretty little town, and the weather was nice, so we just had a wonder through the streets and along the waterfront. There was even a British shop, selling anything from Quavers to Ambrosia Custard.
At the end of the week, we will be collecting our campervan, home for the next 5 weeks in New Zealand. We are very excited it should be an interesting time living in a van! Auckland was an ok place, but we don’t think it would have been as good if the Rugby World Cup was on and having loads of people around. The parks are nice but it has a small town feel to it, and is very diverse, which probably doesn’t represent the rest of New Zealand.
Not much to say between San Diego and returning the car at LAX. We spent a couple of lazy days at Huntington Beach, but neither of us were very well so we didn’t do much apart from lay on the beach. We stayed in a nice hotel next to LAX the night before our flight, shame it was in Inglewood, but we ordered take away to our room so it wasn’t too bad. It was a long last day in America, as we had to return our car by 12 noon, and our flight wasn’t until 23:40. So we pretty much saw the whole of the airport, it was like that film with Tom Hanks, The Terminal. The one good thing about hanging around in the airport all day was that we did get to see, Mick Jagger in the flesh and wrinkles, he was coming of a flight and he walked right past us. We also saw, ‘Taub’ from House MD, who we later researched his real name is Peter Jacobson.
The flight was on time, and we had picked great seats, thanks to Ste’s research. Two seats, one window, one aisle, not too far from the toilets and with a wider aisle too so nobody would bump into us. The flight wasn’t too bad at all, considering it was 14 hours overnight and going across the date line. The seats were comfortable and the food was nice. Now we’ve flown qantas, we never want to fly with anybody else.
On landing in New Zealand, it was a refreshing 13 degrees, then it started raining. Just like home! We are staying at a backpackers hostel in the trendy Ponsonby area, the hostel is nice, could do with more heaters though. We are looking forward to the next leg of our journey!
On the drive from Hermosa Beach to San Diego, we stopped off at, Huntington Beach, it was an amazing place. But you’d expect that being called Surf City. It wasn’t even sunny, but there was still loads of people around on the beach, and of course, loads of surfers. We watched the surfers for ages, they were really really good. We couldn’t find the live, Hollister shop camera though. We had a look around the shops and bought a little present for the soon to be niece from a very cool shop, called ‘Born Punk’, Ste had to remove Cat from the shop so she didn’t spends loads.
We continued on to Newport Beach, and sat and had some lunch on the beach. We had a look around all the post houses and hotels, and around the Balboa beach area. We then passed through Laguna Beach, which also looked very nice, and very posh, but no time to stop. Eventually after getting stuck in commuter traffic, we got to the hostel in the Point Loma area. It’s nice and actually has a good kitchen for once. It’s only shame is that its right under the flight path, you can practically see the passengers overhead through the windows.
On our first proper day in San Diego, we got the bus into downtown. It took ages, as we had to change buses at the airport, apparently on the weekend, the buses run on their own special timetable. We eventually got into the city and got off at the Marina Area. We saw the hugest navy boats we’ve ever seen in our lives. We had a look around the famous Santa Fe railway station, then got the trolley to the Gaslamp quarter. It’s a really cool area, with good shops and bars and was really busy. The apartment blocks there got a really good view into Petco Park (where the Padres baseball team play). We picked up our tickets for the baseball and when you went into the park, we got a free long sleeve t-shirt and pet scarf. The stadium was huge and there was loads of pre game stuff going on. Our seats were good, quite high up, but near the home-plate. We had to stand for the national anthem again, sung by Mercyme (we haven’t heard of them either). Its a really entertainment orientated day, giving out lots of prizes. We started to get the hang of the rules, the Padres got two home runs, the first one we nearly died, because they set off fireworks and we didn’t know, it gave us such a fright. And the Padres won which meant everyone was happy. It was a really good fun day out, we really enjoyed it.
The next day we had a lazy one, as we were tired from all the excitement of the baseball match. So we walked down to Ocean beach, a cool funky area and had a relax on the beach that afternoon and watched some more surfers. In the evening, at the hostel, we had a bonfire, we tried their favourite treat called ‘s’mores’, we’d never heard of it. You melt your marshmallows over the fire, then squish it with Hershey’s chocolate, between two biscuits. It was lush. Ste’s addicted, he had about ten. Apparently, they are called s’mores because they say ‘after eating one, everyone wants some more - s’more’.
The next day Cat was very very excited because we were going to the Zoo (everyone knows that Cat loves a good Zoo). When we got there we had our pictures taken with a huge model bear, lol. Then took the 40min bus tour around the zoo. It was really really good and the guy narrating was really informative. We got to see: Tiger cubs, Flamingoes, Monkeys, Lions, Jaguars, Gazzelles, Elephants, Camels, Meerkats, Kangaroos, Bears, Giraffes, Rhinos, Wolves, Polar Bears, Pandas, Zebras and Koalas and loads loads more. Our particular highlights were the Koalas because they were actually awake and the Polar Bears and the fat Panda sitting eating Bamboo. There was even a Sea Lion called Harry that could understand what his trainer asked him to do. And Dogs that were best friends with big cats and wolves! We even went on the really high aerial tram that goes over the park (Cat was very scared but very brave, lol). It was an absolutely brilliant day, we took a million photos which you’ll see, shame the camara battery died, at least we had Ste’s phone to takeover the task.
San Diego was quite a nice place, the highlight was definitely the zoo, we had such a good time. And we’ll be bringing back the secret to the perfect smore!
We’ve got 3 days left in the US so have booked to stay in Huntington Beach for 2 of them as we really liked he place and want to enjoy our last few days by relaxing by the beach, even though we’ve been doing it loads already. Then the last night we’re going to stay near the airport so we don’t have to rush to return the rental car through all the crazy traffic.
On the way down to LA, we stopped off at Malibu to see all the huge mountains up in the hills. The beach was gorgeous and it was red hot even the water wasn’t too cold at all. After lunch we continued down highway 1 onto Santa Monica. The beach there too was lovely and we had a look around the famous Santa Monica Pier. We also went to Venice Beach, it was a real mixture of people there and seemed like a cool place, again another lovely beach, shame we didn’t get to see Muscle beach though. We headed down for Hermosa Beach and had to drive right through (literally) LAX with the planes taxing on a bridge over the freeway. The traffic was really bad with the usual terrible drives on the roads.
Hermosa Beach was a cool place with loads of shops, bars and restaurants. The hostel was right on the beach above some bars, so it was a little noisy. The next day we did go to the beach, shame it wasn’t very sunny. The sand was really nice, and beach seemed really clean. Ste went for a swim in the sea, but it was too cold for Cat, so she only went to her knees. It got a bit cooler in the afternoon, so we walked along the promenade, to Redondo Beach, and had a look at the lovely houses along the beach front.
Got up early the next morning to go into LA, it took ages to get to Hollywood. The roads were really busy and we established that American’s driving is terrible. Cat thought we were going to die (but we didn’t). At last we got to Hollywood Blvd and pretty much drove the length of it and got some great views of downtown (and the smog). We were a bit disappointed with the area, it seemed quite tatty, we thought it would be all glitz and glam. We got some good snaps of the Hollywood sign and had a look at the Kodak and Chinese Theatres and looked at a few of the stars on the walk of fame. We then drove up into Beverly Hills, its immediately more beautiful with huge mansions, palm trees and landscaped parks. We walked down Rodeo Drive, all the shops were amazing, there was even a yellow and mahogany Bugatti Veyron parked outside the Georgio Armani shop. We went into Tiffany and Co, to look at the lovely jewellery and the sales assistant, made Cat try on, a $38,500 diamond ring. Ste nearly died, scared Cat would drop it and he would have to pay for it. In the evening we went to a bar near the hostel, and cat had the strongest Martini ever and Ste got a nice pint for once.
Hermosa Beach was a cool place with its lovely little beach, Hollywood didn’t live up to the expectations that we had, but Beverly Hills was very nice.