Archive for November, 2006

by Squage
on Nov 27th, 2006

North of the South

Island that is. Yep, Pat, myself and the rest of the Kiwi Experience gang made our way into Wellington – New Zealand’s capital city and southern most dwelling on the north island – yesterday evening.

It’s a nice place. Smaller than Aukland yet with a feeling of more space as you walk around the streets. Probably because the streets are a bit wider here. Yes, I guess that’d explain it. (Note to self: delete this line, it makes you look like an idiot. As would leaving this bit in brackets in the blog entry).

Anyway, more about this place later but for now let’s catch up on the action since I left you last:

Friday 24th November: Taupo
Following a mammoth net cafe session Pat and I made our way back to the hostel for a lovely gourmet lunch: two succulent slices of the finest (cheap white) bread delicately toasted (until a bit burnt), with a mouth watering splash of soft fondant (cheap peanut butter) drizzled (spread with a crap plastic knife) on top of each slice.

Following that rather wholesome and filling meal, Pat had a chat with some of the other guys and gals before setting off with them to ANOTHER net cafe. This time to burn some CDs.

As soon as we got inside the net cafe it started chucking it down, but all was made good by the excellent selection of music pumping out courtesy of the English guy running it (Pat was merrily tapping his feet and singing badly-er, I mean beautifully). Eventually it stopped raining, luckily before we’d finished so after everybody’s CDs were done we trundled back to the hostel – via the delights of KFC and Subway.

Pat had a chance to use his slightly-broken-due-to-sand-getting-in-the-mechanism camera to take some lovely sunset shots of Lake Taupo (they’ll be online once Pat’s managed to catch up with his photos – currently he’s uploading ones from LAST Sunday… hooray for teh speedies internets!) before his camera decided the top half of the lens cap wasn’t going to open any more.

It’s still busted. Two camera shops haven’t been able to offer anything other than a four week turnaround. Pat’s planning on wedging it open… what could possibly go wrong?

Anyway, after a nice foot long Veggie Patty with all the extras (no olives though, thanks and can I have chilli sauce with that? Ta.) and back at the hostel the party commenced.

It was dutchie’s leaving do so, well, obviously we needed to have a party. Also, it was Friday. Also, it was a day.

Following everyone having their photo taken wearning Dutchie’s trademark hat, Pat had a few beers watching Duthie play a rather tipsy Chris (apparently having 8 beers whilst sitting in the sun can do that…) at pool. Rather than a typical, quiet pool audience Pat and t’others were having great fun cheering and jeering (slow, rising, goalie-about-to-boot-the-ball “ooohhhhhhhh”s being commonplace prior to each shot). Really added to the game – perhaps this should be incorporated into professional snooker touraments…

After that, we wandered to a bar called Mulligans, whereupon lots of slightly merry singing to the jukebox was performed (along with some consumption of fine ale (well, Tui)) and before long we were all in the wonderful club-type-place called Holy Cow!

Lots of drunk dancing was performed by all – despite the crap DJ whose idea of mixing was to just start the next song with 10 seconds to go on the current one (no beat matching) and whose idea of a playlist was to play songs in a seemingly random, genre-irrelevant order.

Pat, of course, didn’t complain as he never moans about DJs when he’s out. No.


Finally hitting the sack at 3:30am, we both looked forward to getting up at 8am…

Righty, I’m running out of time to carry on blogging, which is a bit sucky. So… I’ll have to fill you in on the details of Saturday and Sunday later on.

Until then… toodles!


by Squage
on Nov 24th, 2006

Sweet As!

How’re ya goin? Havin a cruisy day? Sweet as, bro (/sis).

Yes! Whilst Pat’s been spending most of his time doing crazy activities and drinking, I’ve been dedicating all my time to learning the intricacies of Kiwi colloquialism.

And blimey, what a load of stuff Pat’s been getting up to.

As you might’ve guessed, this blog is going to be a big one so I recommend going to grab yourself a beer, coffee, tea and make yourself comfortable on your chair, sofa or beanbag * before reading this.

* If that’s how you choose to life your life **
** By the way, anyone found any out of character easter eggs on the Dark Place DVD yet?


Excellent. Let’s start:

Wednesday 15th November: Aukland
After waking up to a lovely, sunny morning, Pat and I wandered into central Aukland (via a bus this time, rather than a 45 minute walk) with the intention of buying a nice new pair of shorts, having a couple of beers and sitting around in the sun.

After a short bus ride – whereupon we enjoyed some great New Zealand advertising (see below) – that’s basically what we did

I love this place

The one addition being a wander into the cinema to watch Jackass 2. I’m not 100% sure why Pat decided this would be a good idea, but he seemed happy to accept the recommendation of the shop assistant in the shop he bought some shorts in (he mumbled something about “so fit” and “would” – not sure what he meant by that).

Was Jackass 2 funny? Well, if you call an hour and a half of watching people do wholey childish and dangerous stunts funny, then yes.

So: yes. Go and see it :-)

That evening Pat and I wandered back to the hostel – at around sunset:

Bamber House hostel by sunset

We vegged in front of the telly – sadly, someone was watching White Chicks – and enjoying every moment of it(!!!!).

I almost didn’t blog this part because it’s so embarrassing to admit it was watched by us, however I feel you need to be made aware that if you watch it, you will hate the world. Gutter humour, shit acting, incomprehensible situations and characters… it was as if I was watching something written by a dirty minded 10 year old boy. STEER CLEAR!

After that mind numbing experience, we then headed off for an early night, to prepare for getting up at 5:45am in order to pack and catch the Kiwi Experience bus from central Aukland at 7:15am.

Thursday 16th November: Aukland – Bay of Islands
Upon waking up at Stupid O’Clock, Pat just about managed to pack all of his random bits and pieces (chucking out various things that he’d decided he no longer needed) and made his trek to the bus stop in the early morning sunshine.

We were slightly concerned by the mental woman who joined us at the bus stop just before we got on the bus, who spent a few moments mumbling then, on noticing her bus was running late, let out a wail.

Slightly disturbing.

Still, once the bus arrived and we’d got into the city centre, we had recovered from the slightly creepy experience and trudged from the central bus station to the Kiwi Experience pickup point, arriving *just* on time.

Bag thrown into the coach, we got on (saying hi to Ginny the coach driver) and vegged in a seat.

After a fairly quiet start of sitting going “nnngh I’m tired” in the coach, Pat got chatting with a few people on the coach. Some of the peeps:

  • Matt – From Maldon in Essex (under 10 miles from Our Home Town™), who works as a fireman and who reminded me a lot of Iain – a mate of Pat’s from, you guessed it, Maldon.
  • John (“Welshy”) – From Newport, and proud of it.
  • Abraham (“Dutchy”) – From Amshterdam, who’s a teacher, very amusing and wears his hat whereever he goes
  • Mark – From Preston, a down to Earth fella who’s decided to live and work in New Zealand – but holiday for a couple of weeks first
  • Volsch… Voltsc… Vol… German dude – From South Germany, works in IT for HP doing Java based entertainment
  • Chris – From Scotland, just graduated in Computing with Geography (yep) and looking to enjoy himself for a bit before getting a job in IT or something good :-)

After a fairly long coach journey we arrived at Paihia (the Bay Of Islands), checked into our hostel (The Pipi Patch) and made our way to the water’s edge to board The EXCITOR (with lots of sarcastic comments from Pat about being too excited to cope).

It was actually really good – a big-ass speed boat that seats about 20 (“so hurry up…”) with 1600HP between its two engines, bombing it out into the ocean over quite big waves – it was rather like a roller coaster, so Pat couldn’t help but hold his hands and legs out in his usual, inexplicable, “Wooh, I can’t possibly be hurt” roller coaster riding style.

It stopped by the “Hole In The Rock” for a quick chat by the captain about the history of the “Hole In The Rock”:

We then trundled through it and made our way to another one of the Bay of Islands (whereupon several large waves splashed into the boat and covered Welshy – but noone else (we didn’t find it funny, of course, no)), which included visiting a Yellow Submarine:

# We All Live...

Apparently a Beatles Song (I think it was “Mean Mr Mustard”) was inspired by that particular sea vessel!

After making our way back to the coast, we went to the Pipi Patch bar and spent the evening drinking and chatting. Pat pretty much stayed with the group of guys above, which I guess is what happens on the first day of something like this – something to do with Storming, Norming, Performing, Swarming or whatever that crappy group behaviour theory stuff is about.

Here Dutchie shows off his free Pint and Pint Glass, which he won by spinning The Wheel Of Fortune (drink four Export Golds and you get the chance to spin and win, for the…er… win!):


Foolishly Pat slept listening to his iRiver, meaning that it would be out of batteries for the next day’s bus trip up 90 mile beach to the top of New Zealand…

Friday 17th November: Bay of Islands – Cape Reinga – Bay of Islands
After an early start we sauntered out of the Pipi Patch into a Fullers Bus (owned, as Kiwi Experience is, by the lovely, friendly and not at all big, faceless, soulless sounding Tourism Holdings Limited) for our day up to Cape Reinga – the northern point of New Zealand.

Twas a rather long journey up there, not helped by the lack of an iRiver and the coach driver talking in great detail about Maori stories for just about every thing we went past (quite interesting, yes, but after a while you end up losing track of which of the brothers of the gods of the sea or land or sky or whatever it was was angry at the tree or forest or small olive grove god for doing something bad to do with splitting up some other gods in order to, er… something) which meant that sleeping wasn’t much of an option.

Still on arriving a Cape Reinga via lots of winding gravel tracks (Pat was convinced that the coach was going to break down at several, rather shuddery points) we weren’t disappointed by the views:

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga

Pat and Squage at Cape Reinga
(A little wind swept)

After that we made our way to some feck-off great big sand dunes to take part in some sandboarding! I sensibly stayed on the coach but Pat braved it up this:

Big Ass Sand Dune

Pat informed me that it was almost worth it – yeah the ride down on the mini surf board, head first was fecking brilliant fun – fast, a bit scary and very exciting – however this was outweighed by the bastard-hard climb up the sand dune (very soft sand) and being blasted in the face with sand at the top, such that seeing and breathing was nigh-on impossible.

Pat has now gained a great respect for people who live in desert conditions. To be honest, I think Pat might’ve been better off if he’d, say, worn sun glasses and something to wrap around his mouth… not that this isn’t a sexy look:


Sadly the whole trip was marred when Matt careered down the smaller of the two dunes, hitting a minor dip at the bottom of the dune and smashing his face into the ground. He was unconcious for almost a minute, mumbling and incoherent for a few minutes and bloody groggy, in shock, sleepy and with a fecking great big swollen patch under his right eye. Pat felt awful as he really didn’t know how to help out in this sort of situation, luckily the coach driver looked after him so it was ok.

Still, Pat’s vowed to get a refresher on basic First Aid ASAP.

Note: Luckily Matt was fine in the end, after being taken to hospital that night and discharged in the morning – he’s now wearing sunglasses to try and cover the rather impressive black eye…

The coach journey back was quite crap as Pat and others needed to make sure Matt was ok, concious and not konked out for the duration… still, we got back ok in the end – via 90 mile beach, which was an odd experience to be part of:

Driving along 90 Mile Beach

This, apparently, is a road. Nice.

The coach had a bit of trouble getting off the beach… fortunately as this seems to happen a fair bit another coach was waiting to help:

our coach getting a helping hand


After a quick stop off at a Fish and Chip shop (apparently really great but Pat wasn’t massively bothered by it for some reason), we made our way back to Paihia.

That evening was another Pipi Patch bar experience, with a bit more socialising in the wider group – meeting some more folk:

  • Jennie – from Oop North, just graduated from Nottingham Trent Uni in Teh Law and travelling around with her Uni mate Kate…
  • Kate – also graduated from Nottingham Trent in Teh Laws
  • Chris 2 – a freelance “Research Engineer” who does work for such shows as Scrapheap Challenge – nice guy who’s a typical Keen Media Type™
  • Amy – also an Oop Norther, she’s been travelling for ages and from what I gather rather looking forward to getting back home, which is fair enough!

After a rather late night of drinking and chatting, Pat flaked out in the dorm.

Saturday 18th November: Bay of Islands – Aukland
After having a rather rubbish sleep due to co-dorm-inhabitant snoring, Pat grumbled his way to check out at 10am, dumping his ruck sack in the storage room in wait for the 4pm pick up bus.

It was raining outside but Pat figured he should get a bit of exercise so had a wander around a bit – not getting too wet – bumping into Mr German and Chris after a while and heading for a spot of lunch at the bar next to the Pipi Patch. They do the most AMAZING burgers, Pat tells me – yes, that’s right, an AMAZING VEGGIE burger. Who’d’ve thought?

After lunch we trundled (well, more “waddled”… it was quite a large burger) back to the Pipi Patch, where a game of poker was just begining between Chris 2, Kate and Jen. Pat, Chris and Mr German joined in and the game commenced (with rather high stakes – matches – being involved).

Amazingly, despite Jen wiping most people out and almost ending Pat’s game, he somehow came back via a selection of rather good hands, potentially foolish bluffs and blatant luck and won the game!

He said something about going to Vegas but I’m hoping he just meant Bas Vegas and not the other one. Actually, I hope he meant neither.

Eventually the coach picked us all up and we made our way back to Aukland… 4 hours without a charged iRiver to listen to was hard going but Pat just about made it through having bought the high brow magazine known as For Him Magazine to purve at look at for some of the journey.

On the coach Pat met John (“Jersey”), from Jersey (funnily enough), who’s a gardener for the local goverment and also fireworks display technition, which is pretty cool. Had a good chin wag, which helped speed the journey up and took Pat’s mind off the ill feeling that came from a) too much burger and b) reading on the bus…

On arrival at our destination Aukland hostel (the nice-and-central ACB) at 8pm, John and Pat wandered over to Base Backpackers Hostel to meet some of the other guys, then we trundled to Globe (something of a meat market, right below ACB) meeting up with some more Kiwi Experience folk.

Twas an entertaining evening of drinking, dancing and chatting (albeit in a slightly shouty way over the loud music (“YEAH… I CRY MYSELF TO SLEEP EVERY NIGHT…”</AdamAndJoeReference>)) and at about 2am Pat finally decided to make his way back to the hostel (albeit without John, who was – how shall I put it? – “occupied” following meeting a scottish girl called Debbie) and crash out.

Sunday 19th November – Aukland
The Kiwi Experience coaches don’t leave Aukland on Sundays, meaning the whole day was free to do whatever we needed.

Unfortunately (well, that’s debatable I suppose) Pat’s plan of catching up with blogging and photo uploading went to pot as he and John spent most of the day at Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World (no points for guessing which faceless, soulless sounding company owns this…).

It took a 90 minute walk from Aukland city centre along the harbour road to get there. You’d think there’d be some kind of free shuttle bus, wouldn’t you?

Well, you’d be right. It passed us approximately 1 minute from our destination. We were so impressed (mind you, between you and I think Pat needed the exercise so he can’t really complain).

Inside KTUW was really good – lots of interesting information about various sea creatures, a big penguin enclosure, an underwater walk way to view sharks, sea turtles, sting rays and various types of fish, a mock up of a hut used by Scott et al on their many Arctic adventures… plenty to read about and see, and all for about 8 quid.

Pat took LOADS of photos, but because this Taupo-based internet cafe sucks a bit he’s not had a chance to upload them so you’ll have to check the usual place in a few days.

After a quick ride back to central Aukland via a free shuttle bus (apparently they have one, who’d’ve thought?) Pat wandered into an Italian restaurant for a nice, civilised meal before heading back out to Base (meeting some of the guys), onto an Oirish pub called Father Ted’s (no coincidence) and back to the Globe (meeting Jen, Kate, Chris et al) for far, far too many drinks and lots of bad dancing (from Pat (who thinks he was dancing brilliantly but I’m not sure anyone else would agree)).

On the way back from the Globe, an unfortunate diversion occurred… well, it was unfortunate for John, Jen, Kate and Chris as the meat was really dodgy – on the other hand, Pat really enjoyed his 3:30am McDeli Veggie Sandwich.

Sleep then beckoned… a whole 4 hours before the coach was to turn up to take us south.

Monday 20th November: Aukland – Mercury Bay
Pat had 2 hours sleep (hooray for snoring dorm-sharers), but managed to be awake enough to check out and get on the coach for 7:30.

After a 1 hour coach journey around Aukland city centre, picking people up from various hostels (honestly, can’t people walk 500 metres?), we finally set off, with 47 other passengers.

This time our bus driver was Flea, who’s really friendly and has spent most of her life living at her folks in a forest valley in the North Island, although now lives in Aukland but with her folks place as a kinda holiday home (she’s got an old Kiwi Experience bus converted into her own mini house!)

First place she took us to was Mount Eden, which was nice as Pat and I had enjoyed it very much last time – sadly the weather wasn’t quite so nice this time but it was still cool to see the views again.

After that we went south, travelling for a while (with a charged iRiver to make things a bit easier for Pat) and after grabbing some food to use at a rather special BBQ (I’ll explain in a sec) we went to Mercury Bay.

Some folks headed straight to the hostel however many of us took the option to do some Kayaking to see Cathedral Cove (of course, I stayed safe in Pat’s bag on the coach).

Pat’s group’s guide for this was possibly the most stereotypical surfer dude in the ENTIRE WORLD. “Totally awesome!”, “Killleeeerrr!”, “Sweet AS bro!”, “Nooooo waaaaay bro!” and a whole load of funky hand slapping, punching and sliding were pretty commonplace. Pat found it very funny.

Pat and John took their two man Kayak out, with Pat navigating and John steering at the back… twas quite tough work (particularly on the wrists, which are still hurting Pat today (Friday))… but Pat enjoyed being out in the water.

What was enjoyed less was the almost inevitable capsising, which occurred on trying to land on a beach by Cathedral Cove. All was fine, but just as the kayak almost touced the beach it started to move to the right… just in time for a fecking big wave to spin it, John and Pat over in the water a couple of times.

Wet Passport in a supposedly dry pouch of a Kayak? Bring it on!

Still, it was an excuse for Pat to show off his flabsixpack whilst he let his T-Shirt dry and given the lovely weather that didn’t take too long. Pat wandered into Cathedral Cove (a big, impressive cave) and admired the lovely scenery as Surfer Dude made everyone some hot chocolate.

Once back in the (rather damp) Kayak John and Pat made their way out into the water again, getting rather tired now but still slogging on, before they all finally came back to the starting point.

Several crazy hand shakes, sweet as bros and killleeerrrs later, Pat and co made their way to the hostel (Turtle Cove), which was FULLY LOVELY.

That evening Flea took us all for a BBQ at her cool place in the forest, which was really ace – particularly wandering out into her “back garden” (a large, tree enclosed field) and staring up at the plethora of stars, visible without the glare of man made light for miles and miles. Amazing.

Following that we trundled back to the lovely, comfy beds of Turtle Cove.

Right, that’s MORE than enough detail for now. My hands hurt (oddly my wrists do too even though it was Pat who did the Kayaking… who’d’ve thunk it?) so I’m going to do a very quick summary of the days between Tuesday and now:

Tuesday 21st November: Mercury Bay – Rotorua

  • Pat had a poor sleep so was KNACKERED all morning and in a fairly cheesed off mood (as he gets when fully knackered)
  • Pat’s camera was a bit screwed through being put in a pocket full of sand – but it got better with some blowing and gentle smashing (contradiction?).
  • Wandered around some cool disused mine shafts at the karanga Lake Scenic Reserve
  • Went to Hobbiton and Pat posed as Gollum next to a Gollum statue
  • Went to Rotorua and did luging, which was HILARIOUS fun – like go karting but with no motors and more speed!
  • Ended up in a bar drinking again – really good night though, lots of amusement (you’ll have to see the photos later but they are quite amusing)!
  • Rotorua smells of rotten eggs

Wednesday 22nd November: Rotorua – Waitomo

  • Pat had a great sleep so felt much better
  • Lovely sunny day
  • Went to the Tipau Hot Springs + Mud Pools, which was amazing to see – there were big geyzers too, so Pat got some great photos!
  • Stopped off on the way to Waitomo at a town with two buildings designed as a Sheep and a Dog. Rather, uh, odd, but they looked comically bad. Pat, again, got some great photos!
  • Chilled in hostel for a while – Hostel was lovely, with nice balconies overlooking the countryside and a pool table
  • Lots and lots of drink was had by all, along with a BBQ
  • Amazing evening, including live acoustic guitar songs from two of the Waitomo Caves guides who happened to be around
  • Lots more amusing photos
  • Pat can’t remember getting to bed

Oh, and on this day Pat booked himself on a 12000ft tandem sky dive. He kinda needed the drink…

Thursday 23rd November: Waitomo – Taupo

  • Pat woke up at 7am, following getting to bed at god-knows when, feeling rather bad:
    1. “Nnnggh I’m Hungover”
    2. “Nnngh I need to check out and be ready to go to the Waitomo Caves by 8am”
    3. “Oh shit… I’m doing a sky dive today”
  • Pat managed to get out of bed despite of the above making him want to not leave it
  • Waitomo Cave Black Water Rafting was hilarious fun – wearning wetsuit, sitting in a rubber ring, floating around caves and occasionally jumping off waterfalls into the blackness, alongside staring at the amazing lit up cave ceilings thanks to the glow worms… it’s a great way to cure a hangover!
  • Pat spent most of the day bricking himself about the Sky Diving
  • Pat went to the Sky Dive Centre
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat got in a Sky Dive outfit
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat walked onto a Sky Dive plane
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat got strapped to a Sky Diver
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat watching the ground get further away
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat stared at the plane side door opening up
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat watched Amy disappear
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat was moved to the edge of the plane
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat looked up at the camera man who was co-diving
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat stared below in disbelief
  • Pat felt scared shitless
  • Pat fell from the plane
  • Pat couldn’t believe how UTTERLY AMAZING it was
  • Pat and his Sky Diver spun around a bit
  • Pat couldn’t believe how UTTERLY AMAZING it was
  • Pat felt the wind smashing into him
  • Pat couldn’t believe how UTTERLY AMAZING it was
  • Pat felt the rush of free fall
  • Pat couldn’t believe how UTTERLY AMAZING it was
  • Pat felt the parachute open and felt like he was flung up
  • Pat couldn’t believe how UTTERLY AMAZING it was
  • Pat slowly glided down 4000ft, taking in the awesome scenery of Lake Taupo and the surrounding area
  • Pat couldn’t believe how UTTERLY AMAZING it was
  • Pat landed
  • Pat couldn’t believe how UTTERLY AMAZING it was
  • Pat couldn’t believe how UTTERLY AMAZING it was.

So yes, Pat enjoyed the Sky Dive a little :-)

  • Pat and t’other folks went to Pizza Hut to celebrate our Sky Dives
  • Pat had an early night

Friday 24th November: Taupo

  • A 17km hike across the mountains has been cancelled due to high water levels in the trek route, so Pat has a free day.
  • I’ve hijacked his time to sit here and blog
  • Pat is starving
  • Pat’s hands are sore through typin watching me type
  • We’re going.
  • BYE!


No Updates. Correct. No. In that order.

Fact is I’ve been really busy out and about on the Kiwi Experience doing all sorts of fun activities during the day, partying into the evening and not really getting a great deal of chance to use the net for long enough to write-I mean, er, for Squage to write the massive amount of catching up that needs to be done.

Anyway, to summarise:

  1. I’m having great fun
  2. There are lots of cool people
  3. I’ve been drinking a lot
  4. I’ve been doing lots of cool activities (including – shock – exercise to try and cancel out the beer)
  5. I’ve probably not been getting enough sleep
  6. Luging is fuh-kin great fun
  7. Rotorua smalls a bit of rotten eggs

I’m in Rotorua today, having come down from Aukland via Mercury Bay. Before that I’d been up to the Bay Of Islands and up 90 Mile Beach.

It’s been very hectic but I’m hoping to have some more time over the weekend to do a proper catch up.

Please don’t fret if you don’t hear from Squage or myself for over a week or so, it’s not because I’ve forgotten about you, it’s simply because a) I probably haven’t got time inbetween grabbing coach rides at stupid-O’Clock in the morning, doing activities during the day and socialising in the evening and b) I really hate computers :-)

Hope all is well back in Good Ol’ Blighty ™!



by Pat
on Nov 14th, 2006

Auckland So Far…

…is captured in the photos I’ve uploaded in the usual place.

It’s been an odd couple of days. I woke up on Sunday morning in LA, then spent all day in LA (Hard Rock Cafe for the win!), got on a flight to NZ at 20:30 and arrived in New Zealand this morning (Tuesday) at 06:00 after a 12.5 hour flight.

I managed about 30 minutes of sleep on the plane, but managed to get a few hours in this morning in the hostel. Still, I’ve no real idea what day or time I think it should be.

Hooray for travelling long distances, staying up for over 24 hours and generally being too tired to think!

The hostel (right next to Mount Eden) is lovely, the bed massively comfortable and the people there friendly, which are all Ace Things ™. The weather’s also splendid – sunny skies and around 20 degree Celcius. Hooray!

Just been up the Auckland Sky Tower, which was pretty cool – scary too due to the continuation of Pat’s Phear Of Heights – but I’ve got some good photos of the view (and
of a couple of nut jobs participating in the “Hey, why not pay $200 to jump 192 metres from the top of the tower?” Sky Jump thing… I swear some of these type of people are actually clinically insane)… and aside from that been wandering around a bit taking it all in. Had a nice trip up Mount Eden too.

Photos, as I say, are in the usual place. I’m too lazy to link to them directly :-)

Got the Kiwi Experience starting on Thursday morning, which should be a whole range of fun, insanity and (largely) drinking. Can’t wait!

Speak soon!



Sorry, did someone say Southend BEAT Man U?…

by Pat
on Nov 14th, 2006

New York

Well, that was a very good 6 days!

As Squage as bored you to tears with, we got up to lots of things. A quick (actually, this time) summary of the things I’ve observed about New York is below:

Whilst a bit brash, New Yorkers seemed to be a generally friendly bunch.
They seem an honest and generous group of folks – irrelevant of their particular background (there’s a LOT of cultural diversity in NYC)
Waiters/waitresses were much keener to help than I’m used to in England, but I think that’s down to the culture here surrounding tipping etc.

Whilst not as ridiculous in size as I was expecting, New York food portitions were certainly sizeable, such that after a couple of meals I learned it really wasn’t worth having starters as you’d generally be full after them.
There was a wide choice, I think helped by the cultural diversity, but of course the good ol’ chain restuarant favourites were very much apparently whereever I went.
New York Pizza places rock.

Everywhere in New York wants your money. It’s bloody expensive.
Tipping is pretty much mandatory everywhere, and generally ranges from 15-20%
ATMs charge you for withdrawals
It’s bloody expensive.

The subway network is really pretty good. It covers most of Manhattan and there are frequent trains on all of the lines.
One of the few “great value” things in New York, I’d say. For instance, you can get a 7 day subway(+bus) pass for $24 – which allows you to get anywhere in New York – not just Manhattan – so, for example, you could go from the Bronx, through Manhattan, through Brooklyn and pretty much to JFK airport every day for a week with that pass… Oh and also they seem to have tie-ins with various stops/attractions/restaurants, so that with a subway pass you get various discounts. Now why can’t Transport for LondON do something similar?

Programme wise it’s not awful and there’re plenty of movie channels around.
Adverts, however, are TERRIBLE. What’s particuarly annoying is that lots of them seem to take the approach of showing the ad, then repeating the whole damned thing again. Nnngh.

It’s almost like English but different. I still don’t understand why somewhere you go to take a crap is called a Rest Room.

Anyway, my eyes and fingers are hurting (despite Squage doing all the typing previously, how odd… so I’m outa here)



by Squage
on Nov 14th, 2006

What Else We Did In New York

Howdy Blog Fans!

Sorry about the lack of updates over the last few days. The more astute and/or impatient of you may have noticed that Pat uploaded even more photos on Saturday, but aside from that we’ve been avoiding PCs for a bit, which is nice.

Anyway, we’re now in New Zealand but I’ll come onto that in another blog entry. This one’s a quick (ahem) review of What Else We Did In New York:

Went on a Bus Tour
We decided to give up on the “pretending to not be tourists” thing and go for the Gray Line open-top bus tour of Manhattan.

It was pretty interesting, plus got a couple of seats to ourselves and the tour guide himself – a jewish guy who’d been in Manhattan for about 40 years and was as stereotypical a New Yoiker as I could imagine – was quite funny.

Dunno if he’d’ve understood irony, but there didn’t seem time to investigate.

Here I am soaking up the infotainment (shudder):

Squage On A (Muthaf***in) Bus

Went to the Empire State Building…
…and were talked into taking the “New York Sky Ride + Empire State Viewing Platform” package, as by the time we’d to there (about 6pm) the queues were over an hour long – but if you went to the sky ride you skipped the queues for only blah blah blah more plus you get blah blah etc, etc.

Anyway, first stop was the Sky Ri-actually, no, first stop was getting through an airport-style X-Ray machine (over the top security? In America?? What???), then onto the Sky Ride, which itself was quite cool.

It was basically a simulator ride (one of those pneumatic “throws you about in your seat” jobbies), voiced by Kevin Bacon (for some reason) of a helicopter-type ride around New York, starting from and ending at the Empire State and occasionally going into crazy “out of control, passing through crowds of people comedically falling out of the way” mode… quite funny.

Sadly this was marred a little by the New York City promotional video, which preceded it. I can’t quite put into words how cringeworthy it was for a cynical English person-er, I mean Squagé-to watch a video soundtracked by enthusiastic (and no doubt holding headphones passionately whilst in the studio) Americans, crooning “Iiiii Aaamm New York… Ooooh Yeah… Neeeww York… I Aaaam New Yorrrk…”

I honestly thought it was a spoof at first. Hey ho, nothing wrong with being proud of where you come from I suppose (an Essex upbringing didn’t provide Pat or I a great deal of experience of this, sadly)…

Anyway, after all that we skipped the long queues and made our way to the top of the Empire State.

It’s an odd feeling being in the Empire State lifts. You get in, it all seems normal. It starts to move up, you feel it accellerate quite fast. You watch the floors count up… 1… 2… 3..4..5,6,7,8,9,10….. then after two seconds: 20… then 30… 40… etc. My ears actually popped twice on the way up!

Once at the top, Pat had to put on his bravest “I’m not crapping myself, really” face to pose for this photo:

Pat and Squage at the top of the Empire State Building

It almost worked.

The views from the top were amazing… you could see for miles and miles and New York City lit up at night is a wonderous sight to behold. Amoungst lots of “Scared and Shaking” blurry photos, Pat managed to take one particularly nice one:

NYC from the Empire State

Oh and hello to the two guys from Bristol (hope you recovered from The Phear) and the mum and two daughters from the midlands who I met and got chatting to. Was nice to have a chin-wag with some peeps from home!

Ate Food
After that we wandered into TGI Fridays, which has even less Veggie stuff than TGIs in the UK, but still managed to make Pat so full he could hardly walk.

He’s going to be SO fit for the Kiwi Experience activities in New Zealand.


Washed Clothes
YES! Live the dream! Mainly this is being mentioned due to the lovely Thai lady in the laundret-sorry, Laundromat close to our hostel, because on getting chatting with Pat and finding out he was going to Bangkok on the way back she gave him a big book all about Bangkok city! It really made Pat feel chuffed about the kindness of people, that did.

Saw the Statue of Liberty
Went on a boat tour thing, which was good – Pat got lots of photos during it of the Statue herself:

Statue of Liberty

Manhattan Island:

Manhattan Island

Brooklyn Bridge:

Brooklyn Bridge

And we convinced someone to take a photo of us:

Pat, Squage and the Statue of Liberty

Met a couple of cool ladies from Dublin, who were over on business. Again it was nice to have a chat with people from closer to home…

Saw Another Film
This time it was The Departed. Some great acting, a good plot and overall a big Thumbs Up.

Went to a Broadway Show
Well it was technically an off-broadway show, but it’ll do. Pat heard you could get half-price tickets to various shows via some people at Times Square, so he went up to one of them and bought some tickets for the show the particular person was promoting. It was called Altar Boyz. It’s a musical comedy about a religious boy band group.

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry! On arrival Pat was relieved that this was clearly a very manly thing to be watching, as he was surrounded in the seats by:

  • Couples
  • Women
  • Gay guys

Still, twas a very very funny musical and Pat’s presence as a single straight bloke gave for some amusing banter between Pat and Colin/Mark, a gay couple sitting next to us.

Anyway, after that we went back to the hostel and got to sleep.


Uploaded lots of them.

Went there, sat around a bit, got on the plane, got to L.A.

I would go into further detail but I’ve rambled on for about 5 times too long already :-)

Right, now over to Pat to write a bit of a summary of what he dun learned from his past week…



by Squage
on Nov 9th, 2006

Pat’s Uploaded Some Photos!

Check them out here!

That’s all for this update, other than to say that a) New York sucks in the rain (didn’t really do anything last night other than go to a restaurant called Josies, which served very tasty organic food), b) New York is great in the sunshine, c) Central Park is LOVELY, d) the CNN tour is being stopped in December because it’s a bit shit and content free, e) the “Tuck Shop” cyber cafe is great (we’re here now).

Anyway, yes, check the photos out!

Y’all have a good one, now,


by Squage
on Nov 8th, 2006

Rain Sucks

Not as much as getting up at 4am, but it sucks anyway.

Yep, today the heavens opened at about 7am and it’s not stopped chucking it down in the Big Apple since.

Still, that’s not stopped Pat and I having a good wander and finding indoory things to do. I’ll come onto that in a sec… first to fill you in on the last day or so:

Note: Pat’s managed to find the one net cafe in NYC that doesn’t have computers with USB ports so for the purposes of this blog entry, please just imagine that the pictures I’m describing are there. Ta

Yesterday afternoon Pat and I wandered to Grand Central station, which was really quite amazing in its size:

[Here I am in Grand Central station – the main concorse. Yet again you *might* not be able to guess the country we’re in… ;-)]

Breathtaking, huh? (Work with me on this)

After wandering around the main bit we wandered downstairs to the food court, which is as far a cry from, say, Liverpool Street station’s 2 pasty shops and a Maccy Dees. This was a biiiig room with loads of chairs +tables in the centre, with catering outlets taking up every bit of wall space – and wow, what a selection. Just about every type of food you could imagine.

On Stu B’s advice, Pat grabbed a massive slice of a Junior’s cheese cake. I’m told it was, to coin a phrase of Graham “Croc” McGibbon – Gooooooooood.

Anyway after that we went on a wander around the streets, Pat having to stop occasionally to lean against something as the Vobble Radio show he’d been made by Bobince was too funny to walk to (I’m not even going to go into the features/fake ads etc, but let’s just say they were a) bad taste, b) sweary and c) utterly awesomely hilarious).

Bobince, Pat tells me you’re an insane man.

to cope we went to the New York Public Library and after some possibly slightly unnecessary storing of Pat’s bag (complete with me in it, damn it) in a cloak room “for security”, Pat read about some Japanese art or somat in an exhibition, some of which were apparently very early Manga art.

He’s probably now planning coming up with some stupid cartoon creation on the back of that. For shame!

By this point it was dark and as we left the library we noticed an open air, free to use ice rink, decorated with lots of christmas trees and accompanied by some funky New York jazz music… twas really lovely sitting watching people skating around, listening to the music – felt like something from a cheesy 80s christmas movie.

After chilling out (eh? eh?) there for a bit, we wandered to the amazing Times Square:

[The amazing sights of Times Square – check out that massive LCD screen!]

I wonder how much electricity the bit on the right must use… Still with me? Good

Went into the Hard Rock Cafe and Pat had a massive veggie burger and a few wheat beers (all of which were Gooooooood), and the lovely waitress (who was possibly the most helpful I’ve ever met… I thought New York waiters/waitresses were supposed to be grumpy!) took a photo of Pat and me:

[Pat and myself at the Hard Rock Cafe]

Blah blah blah something about an item in the non-existent photo.

After that, we subwayed back uptown to the hostel and had a very good kip.

Today we woke up to the sound of rain and angry drivers honking horns, and made our way downtown (via the subway this time, none of that crazy walking for 3 hours) and so far today we’ve a) grabbed a nice chinese lunch, b) seen a film at the MASSIVE AMC cinema at Times Square (for you Essex folk, imagine a multi-floored cinema complex with each screen as big as Screen 12 in bas vegas) – “Bable” – twas v. good actually, quite odd, with a bit of shifting around between stories, but I recommend seeing it.

Not really done much else. Went to Macy’s, which was as horrible as Lakeside, just in New York… and browsed some cool T Shirt shops (no purchases as yet though).

Anyway, must dash. Some idiot in this place things that a lift music version of My Heart Will Go On is unfair for even deaf people to be in the company of.

Have a nice day…


by Squage
on Nov 7th, 2006

Great NYC Shop Names

Home from home:


(we didn’t go in)

Oh My God @ this one:

OMG JEANS!!!11one

And the classic:


Heh heh.

Have a nice da-ay,


by Pat
on Nov 7th, 2006

Start Spreading The News…

…I’m blogging today…
…I’m gonna tell you all about…
…New York… New York…


Hello! Yes! I’m blogging! (So stop moaning in the comments! :-) )

Well, what a couple of days. It’s been very surreal!

Starting at 4am yesterday did indeed suck, but after a nice Wetherspoons breakfast in Heathrow Airport with my family I was feeling a bit more alive (of course, the drink I had to wake me up (a caffine free Sprite) didn’t *quite* do what I was hoping it to…).

Following a rather emotional farewell with the folks (it rather sunk in on saying goodbye to them that I was really going away for a year) I made it through security with surprising speed and easiness and managed to get a pint in before heading off onto the plane.

The plane journey was good actually, with nice comfy seats (I was on an isle seat with two free seats to my left, which was goodness), a bump-free ride and Talledega Nights, Pirates 2 and 3 rather awesome (and in some cases piss-myself-laughing funny) Radio Vobble shows to keep me company.

Once at the hostel (via a 50 minute taxi ride (which was a lot less insane/scary as I was expecting – I guess my trip to Rome a few years ago means no driving is scary anymore…)) I unpacked and then trundled for a walk to Central Park – wandering around the reservoir (yep, Central Park has a reservoir) I watched the sunset over the New York horizon, which was truly lovely (beats Pitsea Oil Refinery by sunset – who’d’ve thought it?):

Central Park at sunset

Squage at Central Park

After a nice walk around there I trundled back to the hostel (via Subway, ho yes (old habits die hard)) and crashed out in front of the telly.

I was fast asleep by 7:30pm (12:30am UK time).

Today, after a 13 hour sleep I grabbed some food from the hostel kitchen (free food for the win) and started my epic trek to the south of the island.

94th street to south of Wall Street in 3 hours, via a Virgin Megastore and Tower Records (both stores I went in and browsed before realising I have no CD player or DVD player for the next year) and, ahem, Maccie Dees.

Amazingly, McD’s portions were about normal… although they were about two-thirds of the price in the UK.


I didn’t eat anything there so I wouldn’t know.


*looks left and right and scarpers*

Anyway, with tired legs I wandered into this lovely Burger King (no food, just using the net cafe)… ready to go up to Grand Central Station, have some Junior’s Cheese Cake on recommendation of Stu B and go up the Empire State building for sunset.

I think I’ll use the subway on the way back :-)

Right, enough typing.



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