Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tauranga Day #7


Today we just went shopping and chilled out. We were feeling lazy, so we didn't plan any activities. So, tomorrow we take the long journey home (24 hours of travel), but we are so excited to go home! See you in the States! We're out...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Tauranga Day #6

1/1/08 – New Years Day

So, after last night, we were obviously hung over, so we were pretty lazy today, which was good because so many places were closed. It’s not like the U.S. where only professionals have the day off. Most of the stores and even some of the cafes and restaurants were closed, and the restaurants that were open charged a 15% surcharge because it was a holiday! Man I miss the U.S.!

We ate Burger King for breakfast, and finally we got out of bed at 1:30, showered, and then Jenny and I went to eat lunch and Paul went to the internet café to play WoW since our internet connection in our room is pretty low.

After lunch, Jenny and I came back to the room and watched a couple of movies. Around 7:00, we went to pick up Paul and he was coming back anyway, so then we went to dinner. We had planned to go to Volare, an Italian place that is supposed to be really good, but it was closed! I guess we’ll have to go tomorrow.

After dinner, we came back to the hotel, watched some tv, and went to bed. What a great lazy day.

Tauranga Day #5

12/31/07 – New Years Eve!

Today Jenny and I went to Mt Maunganui to go to the beach and check it out for New Years Eve. We found out that they were having a free live concert along the beach road, but there is no alcohol allowed, so if you want to drink you have to buy tickets for the Sand Bar, which is a bar across the street from the beach. Unfortunately, you have to be there in person to buy the tickets, and since Paul wasn’t with us, we decided to go back to Tauranga, get Paul, get ready, and go back.

So on our way to the bus stop, a piece of glass got on my flip flops and I stepped on it really hard! I had to try 3 times to remove it because it was so lodged in there! Thankfully we had towels with us, so I was able to clot it. We got back to Tauranga and started getting ready. Then we got back on the bus and went back to Mt Maunganui.

We bought tickets, but we only stayed for one drink because we wanted to get something to eat. Almost all the cafes were closed because they didn’t have enough people to work! Thankfully, we found an open restaurant and ate there. Paul made friends with a Kiwi couple and then a Canadian couple joined us too. We had a lot of fun talking, but eventually we all went to the Sand Bar to hang out for New Years. The Canadian couple was here with their teenage kids, and the girl was at the Sand Bar with some guy. It was really funny to see then hanging out together.

At midnight, they had fireworks over the bay. They were pretty good, but not awesome. Soon after midnight we went to the bus stop to catch the bus back to Tauranga, but it never came! So we started walking through town looking for where it might be because we knew it was supposed to be somewhere. I was so drunk that I started crying because I had to pee and we couldn’t find the bus. What a drama queen! :-) Finally we found a secluded spot on the side of the road, so Paul covered me and I was able to go. I was much better after that :)~ Am I really 29?

Finally we saw a policeman and he told us where the buses were. On our way to the buses, Paul stepped on my flip flop and it broke, so I didn’t have shoes anymore. Thankfully I didn’t step on glass again :) We got so lucky. We got to the bus right at 2:00 and were able to get on (with tons of other people) so we had to stand, but it was the last bus, so we were so thankful. We got back to Tauranga and Paul let me wear his flip flops to walk back to the hotel, since his feet are so calloused that he didn’t have to worry about hurting them. What a night!

Tauranga Day #4


Today we drove a rental car to Whakatane, which is about 1.5 hours away from Tauranga, to take a cruise to White Island, which is an active volcano! The last time it erupted was July 2000, so it’s still pretty active. It doesn’t actually spew lava, but it spits out huge rocks that are still somewhat liquid when they come out. Before it erupted in 2000, the whole island was very smooth. Now it’s covered with ash and rock. Some of the rocks that came out actually landed in the bay, which was really far. The island was used to mine sulfur in the early 1900’s, but they didn’t extract enough sulfur from the rock to make it profitable, so they shut it down.

The tour guide walked us around the island and showed us various places that were steaming and “hot spots”. It was really cool. Then we got to the center where the volcano erupts from. It was a huge lake that is super acidic and hot. The acidity of the water is -0.5 on the pH scale. We didn’t even know you could go negative on that scale! Originally that lake wasn’t there, but erosion in the crater and landslides caused the lake to grow from a small puddle of water. The water level rises and falls constantly based on the amount of stem coming up from beneath, and at one point it almost overflowed. Also, the color of the water apparently changes too. Today it was a grayish green, but sometimes it’s all gray, and sometimes it has been red!

The eruptions and landslides cause the landscape to change continuously. In the hot spots, there is water that is boiling because it’s so hot. Also, there is a stream that flows across the island. The water is very warm and is apparently safe (they told us to taste it but we didn’t!) but it’s hydrochloric acid with a pH of 2 (which is the same pH as Coke!).

After the island tour, they took us back to Whakatane and on the way we saw dolphins! They weren’t as big or as playful as the ones that Jenny and I saw on the cruise in Paihia, but we got some pictures and Paul got to see them, so that was really cool. When we got back to Whakatane, we drove back to Tauranga and dropped off the rental car. It was a long day, so we passed out when we got back to the hotel.

Tauranga Day #3


Today we went on a Tasting Tour, which included a stop at a local brewery called Brewers, 2 wineries, and a bar for cocktails. The brewery tour was okay. Our tour guide had to do the tour because the brewery owners had forgotten that we were going to be there! But our guide was very knowledgeable, so that was nice. Then we got to taste all the beers and they were really good. We all liked the Pilsener a lot, so we actually bought a 12-pack of it. Jenny and Paul really liked the Dark beer too, but I can’t drink much of that.

After the brewery, we drove out to Morton’s Winery. All the wineries in the region don’t actually grow their grapes here because the soil is too fertile, so they own vineyards in other areas, like Marlborough at the northern tip of the south island, and the Gisborne region in the north island. Morton’s had a lot of different varieties of wine, so we got to taste a lot, both whites and reds. We ended up buying Viongier (which we really like in Virginia too!), Chardonnay, Mercure (a red wine), Merlot Cabernet, and Montepulciano (an Italian-style red). We were all pretty buzzed after that stop.

Next we went to a little restaurant to eat lunch. The lunch was really good (Paul and I had open faced sandwiches that were really good). After lunch, we drove across the street from the restaurant up to a really nice lookout point that gave us great views of Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty. It was beautiful!

Next we drove to the other winery, Mills Reef. They seemed to specialize more in the red wines, but they were all pretty good. They had a lot of dry red wines, so Paul was in heaven and could hardly decide which ones to get. We ended up getting the Reserve Chardonnay, Reserve Pinot Noir, Reserve Syrah, and the Reserve Merlot Malbec. They had 3 labels, and the Reserve was the label in between. Their best label is Elspeth, which is actually sold in the U.S., but we actually liked the Reserve label ones the best, which is actually nice since they were cheaper. But at least we know this winery sells in the U.S., so hopefully we can find some.

After the winery, we drove back to Tauranga and went to a bar called the Naked Grape for cocktails. That was nothing special, but it was nice. That’s where the tour ended. That night, we went to dinner at a pizza place, which was actually pretty good because it was real Italian, and then we went to bed early.

Tauranga Day #2


Today we booked some activities for tomorrow and Sunday and then we took the bus to Mt Maunganui to see the Mount and go to the hot saltwater pools. The Mount was really high, so we only climbed about halfway to the top, but it gave us a really nice view of the Tauranga Harbour. There were sheep everywhere on the Mount, and they kept bah-ing. It was really funny. I think they wanted to attack us, but they sensed our physical power and realized it would be useless :) New Zealand sheep are known for their crazy demeanors. Check this out:

Too funny.

After climbing the Mount, we went to the hot saltwater pools. There are several pools that are just like swimming pools, but they are warm and salty. Kind of strange, but it seems to be really popular.

After that, we walked around some more and then took the bus back to Tauranga. That night we went to a restaurant called Coyota, which has southwestern food and I got tacos! They were pretty good for New Zealand, so I was very happy. After dinner, we just chilled there to drink because we heard that the Coyote was one of the hot night spots and it had a dance floor. Around 11, people started showing up, but they were all so young! I haven’t felt that old in a long time. It looked like they were all 18-20! Needless to say, we didn’t stay long, so we went back to the hotel around 11:30. That was long enough for me anyway. I’m so sad :)

Tauranga Day #1


Today we flew into Tauranga and got acquainted with the area. We didn’t get in early enough to do any activities, so we just ate dinner and hung out a little. We went to a restaurant called Lone Star (not the same as in the U.S.) and I got a burrito. It was pretty good, but not great. After dinner, we went to an English themed bar called Crown & Badger. They had a live band, but they were playing some old music and old people were dancing to it, which was actually pretty amusing, but we eventually went back to the hotel because it wasn’t amusing enough to keep us there.