17 November 2008

New Zealand - Part Two

The next day we headed for Northland, specifically a place called Waipu (pronounced Wypoo). We left Auckland about 9 am and at around 10.30 we stopped at Warkworth for brunch...which was delicious. A little further on, after our stop, we came to a place called Sheep World. It's a demonstration of shearing and sheep husbandry for those who aren't familiar with such practices and is very popular with overseas tourists. We arrived towards the end of the demonstration and Gabbie was able to bottle feed a lamb and also have a cuddle. We then wondered around the rest of the farm where we came across a very tame rabbit who, as soon as he saw us, hopped over and stood on his haunches begging for something to eat. All the animals, as soon as they saw us, came over hoping we'd have something for them...ducks, chooks, guinea pigs, donkeys, horses, alpacas...however there were signs asking people not to feed the animals, so they missed out.

I did take some photos, but they're on Gabbie's camera and when she emails them to me, I'll put them up. But don't hold your breath, it's her 17th birthday on Wednesday and I think she has better things to do at this time.

We finally arrived at Waipu around 1.30 and as we thought there'd be no one home, we had a drive around. We drove further along to Lang's beach and just as we were going to look at the beach it started raining. It was also very windy and cold. Back in the car, we drove into Whangarei (pronounced Faangaray, with the ng pronounced as in sing) to find an information office to get some pamphlets on what to see. Harry was having the next day off school so as his father would be at work all day, I decided he could show us around. However, we found a pamphlet on the lion park about half-an-hour's drive north of Whangarei and I thought that would be a good destination for us.

We drove back to Waipu, through the little village and back to where Harry lived with his father, in time we thought, to meet Harry off the school bus, only to find he'd been home all day waiting for us. Poor Harry. Still he was really pleased to see us and he'd grown, too. Peter, Harry and Brooke's father and my youngest daughter's ex partner arrived home about 4.30. He said he was taking us out for pizza and I thought he meant something like Pizza Hut or Domino's. But no, it was much more classy.

The Pizza Barn was an old post office converted into a licenced restaurant. It had that olde worlde ambience with a large open fire and all sorts of artefacts hanging from the beams and grouped in various corners. The menu featured not only pizzas, but nachos, steaks and "fush and chups"...as the Kiwis pronounce fish and chips. Yes, it was actually spelt like that in the menu and when Peter told the guy behind the bar we were from Australia...well, you can imaging the cheek we got. However, we gave it right back...as you do.

I ordered a seafood pizza, although it had some other name which I can't remember. It had calamari, prawns, mussels, and heaps of other yummy ingredients in the topping on a lovely thin pizza base which was more like pita bread, really. Peter also ordered kumara fries. Kumara is the New Zealand sweet potato and is so delicious baked, boiled, mashed or cut into chips (fries). Gabbie had never tasted it before and she loved it so that everywhere we went, she had to have kumara. Gabbie is vegetarian and they had lots of vegetarian choices, much to her delight. She had a vegetarian pizza which she pronounced absolutely delicious. After all that, and a couple of wines for Gabbie and me, bourbon and coke for Peter and a raspberry and lemonade for Harry, we went home.

Now in New Zealand, being so far south and also having daylight saving, it wasn't dark until about 8.30 pm. So Peter got out the quad bike and he, Harry and Gabbie took turns tearing around the house while I took photos from the balcony.

I must tell you about the farm. Peter's parents own it and he lives there rent free. It's on about 120 acres. The house is built on the side of a hill and on about 20 acres. Across the road is the rest of the farm, 100 acres, and it goes right down to the sea. The view from the balcony is absolutely magnificent and I can see why Harry and Peter love living there. Apparently they're always having visitors for the weekends.

The next day, I did a bit of washing and then we headed off for the lion park. Craig Busch, who is known as the Lion Man, has his own tv programme in NZ and also markets DVDs of his work with the lions and tigers he has. I had made a booking for the 12.30 guided tour and we arrived about 20 minutes early. It was very cold for Gabbie and I but we managed to find a picnic table by a tall wooden wall which cut the wind. Eventually one of the staff came up and introduced himself as Dimitri. As soon as he opened his mouth, Gabbie and I relaxed. He was Australian...a familiar accent.

Unfortunately, I had to sign a waiver not to take videos or put any photos on the internet. I could understand that in a way, because this is a business for the Lion Man and if everyone put photos on the net, he wouldn't sell any DVDs.

First of all, we saw a beautiful black leopard. What a gorgeous animal he was. Then Dimitri showed us a couple of cervals. What beautiful cats they are and they are one of the few big cats that purr. Their markings were so pretty.

We were told the difference between Barbary lions and the African lions. Barbary lions have a very dark mane that goes halfway down their backs and right down their bellies to between the hind legs. They are the most magnificant animals. In fact, the lion who played Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, was Craig's favourite lion, Zion.

We saw white tigers and they are not albino. They have black stripes and the most gorgeous blue eyes. Dimitri had warned us that like all cats, their's can spray so that if one of them turned their back to us, to just step to one side otherwise we'd be wearing cat spray perfume. One of the white tigers looked as if he was thinking about it but something caught his attention and he trotted off to investigate it.

We saw cheetahs and leopards as well as the usual African lions. It was a wonderful experience and believe me the only thing that was separating us from these big animals was a very tall fence. It was a very close up and personal look at wild animals.

They also had lots of deer roaming around who just watched us, chewing their cuds, as we walked around the place. Harry was absolutely rapt. He is a nature lover...bugs, birds, animals, fish, you name it, he's hooked into it, so the lion park was a fabulous day for him.

The tour took an hour and as we hadn't had lunch, we were starving. I thought there'd be a cafe or something at the park but as it's fairly new, there was a shop that sold souvenirs with only soft drinks and icecreams for sale. So we drove back to Whangarei and found a pub called The Jolly Judge where we had toasted sandwiches and a drink each. It was a great day but we were glad to get home and rest.

Harry is so happy in New Zealand and doesn't want to come back to Australia to live. He misses his mum and sisters but as his father said, has never had a melt down over it. He's also doing a lot better at school...it's only a small school with 400 pupils and Harry is in a composite class of years six and seven...he's in year seven. Next year, he will be in the secondary level without having to change schools as Bream Bay College, where he attends, goes from year six to year 12.

After two days in Northland, we drove back to Auckland for one night so Gabbie could stay with her godmother. Unfortunately, she came back to Mum and Harold's with a migraine, so we stayed another night to allow her to sleep it off. Actually, I didn't mind too much because the night Gabbie was with her godmother, Mum, Harold and I had quite a good night having a few glasses of wine...I may have been over the limit the next day and I didn't want that. So I took advantage of the time and did some more washing and had a bit of a rest from driving.

Okay, that's it for now. The next segment is at my brother and sister-in-law's "beach shack" at Whangamata.

This is the view from Peter's balcony. It's only part of the property as I don't have one of those cameras that take wide angle photos. However, it's enough to show you how the farm goes right to the beach. The islands in the distance are called the Hen and Chickens and are a very good fishing area. If you double click on the photo, you can actually see the white caps on the water.

Harry on the quad bike.

Peter showing Gabbie the gears.

Some of the deer at the lion park, including an albino.

Foxy a retired circus baboon.

I snuck one photo of a tiger on, just to show you how close we were. There was no zoom lens used here. Isn't she beautiful?


Merle said...

G'day Robyn ~~ Very interesting post about your holiday in NZ. Look forward to more. Sounds like you all had fun.
Thanks for your comments and I hope you did read that Pet owner's thingo to your cats and posted it on your fridge. I have got the Panadol Osteo tablets and don't find them much better than Panadol.Maybe, when I have been on them awhile.
Peter and Warren were about an hour before Brisbane and got into that awful storm -& could hardly see ahead. It did a lot of damage I saw on the News. Take care, Love, Merle.

Jellyhead said...

Sounds like everyone had a wonderful time (well, except for poor Gabbie when she had a migraine). The tiger IS absolutely beautiful.

Flip Flop Floozie said...

Robyn, I was hoping for some pictures. I never leave home without a camera....I know that is the blogging person in me!!
You had a great time. But I need to understand relationships a little. How is Harry related to you...nephew? Mixed up...

Gattina said...

Must have been nice to see all these animals ! We have a camel here at the beach, lol ! Tomorrow you can see the first pictures !

angelo said...

Hey Robyn! You were making me hungry there with all the talk of gourmet pizzas... I could never tell the difference between an Australian and New Zealand accent, I'm sure there is one though... I never knew there was a Canadian accent for that matter.... hey I learned something, I didn't know that those lions with the dark manes were called Barbary lions, thanks.... glad to snuk that tiger shot, hope to see more pics from your Kiwi adventure...

Anonymous said...

Isn't Peter's property beautiful? I must admit I'm a bit confused with the relationships between you and the people you mention.

It sounds like you were making the most of the time and getting in a lot of sight seeing. Those pizza's sounded delish and I think I will go and make a much less tasty version myself for lunch.

PEA said...

Welcome home, dear Robyn:-) I've so enjoyed reading your last two posts, it sounds like you had a fabulous trip! Oh wow, I can't get over the view from Peter's balcony...how awesome to be able to see that view every day!! I would have enjoyed that lion park...what a great picture you got of that one tiger. xoxo

Walker said...

Nice pictures and I bet you loved the scenery as you drove around.
That tiger is close, gotta love fences.

I have had Kumara, it was very interesting and different to what i have tried before. I had it mashed.

Liz said...

Your trip is sounding fantastic. You certainly fitted plenty in! Good food too!

Peter said...

"It's a demonstration of shearing and sheep husbandry"

So all the story's are true, they actually teach "sheep husbandry" in NZ!!!!!
That'll teach ya to call us reprobates!!!

Lifecruiser said...

Now you're really making me envious. Both the farm and the animals would have been wonderful to visit. I still think that they could at least give you the right to use 1-2 photos of their own in that case - that would only be a teaser for people to buy the DVD or to come there. Sometimes I think they overdo things...

LOVE the photos, the view and the animals are so beautiful.

DellaB said...

Hi Robyn.. sounds like a really good trip.. and that's one of the things I miss about NZ.. the long long twilights where it's still almost daylight till 9.00 and later. Here in Queensland, no twilight at all, light one minute, dark the next.