Friday, December 03, 2010

Receding Flood

I decided to have alook and see what the rains had brought on Tuesday after work. I should have gone on Monday or the weekend and the water would have been much higher at both spots.

Yarra River: Fitzsimons Lane

Directly underneath Fitzsimons Lane. The things dangling over
the water are gates used by kyakists (I have no idea what the right
word is) in competition. There was a fair bit of wet, very slippery
mud overa meter above the water line, so it had been higher.

This is the view looking upstream from an observation lookout just near the carpark.

Plenty River: Lower Plenty

Taken at Lower Plenty. It was obvious that the river had been much higher due to all the flattened grass and mud everywhere. Today when driving over the bridge I noticed the river was much lower again, well inside it's defined banks.

The view downstream towards the Yarra.


Once again there is a lot of wet sticky mud.

Looking upstream under the Lower Plenty Road/Main Road bridge.

Looks like there has been a lot of water through here recently.

This is the old bridge, no longer open to road traffic but used by
pedestrians and cyclists. I took the first two photos from here.

To get to school I had to cross this river, but further upstream in Greensborough. It flooded on a number of occasions, often above the bridge that was most convenient meaning a long detour. In year 12 a flood actually wiped out the bridge. The bridge was about 1.5 metres wide with steel I beams and a concrete surface and steel cable hand rails. There must have been a few trees floating down to take that out.

In the end it took the council about 6 months to build a new one, meaning I had to go the long way to school for far too long. The failing of the bridge is that it is too low. In that section the Plenty River has very steep banks. When it floods it fills very quickly, and for this reason, all the other bridges over the plenty river in this area are much higher, most actually arch over. For some reason the new bridge (now 11 years old) was built in the same spot and is almost identical to the old one. I wonder if it has been destroyed again. Something to check out on the weekend...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Novembers Updaters Timers

I haven't really been in a blogging frame of mind lately. I just can't be bothered really. I intend to start up again soon though. I've got a stack of stuff I could cover. Plus I need to get out more.

Added to that, I've been sick for the last few weeks. First on the cup weekend/or the weekend before the Melbourne cup (the Melbourne cup is on a Tuesday so it's not really a long weekend) I came down with gastro and that knocked me out until Oaks day. Then last weekend I got a bad cold which I am still trying to shake. I went to work today for the first time this week and mostly regretted it.

I have started remembering what I did on my New Zealand trip. I was trying to make it brief, but the long winded day by day descriptions are coming along. Sorry about that. Lots of photos to resize for those.

Last week I also did something blog worthy and am working on that as well. Again with photos.

It's the story of my life really, I start lots of things but rarely finish them.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Now that I drive to work, things such as parking interest me. My workplace is in a major suburban centre that has all kinds of businesses and is a transport hub for commuters to and from other places. Most Office buildings, like the one I work in, have on site parking. Some have enough parking for all employees, some don't. Lets just say that I don't think mine does, because my company charges about $100 a month for the privilege, deducted from salary. Being a contractor I don't think I'm even eligible. A friend of mine who works for a different company up the road a bit gets free parking.

Now this forces most people to seek parking elsewhere. The council in their wisdom has created a buffer around the area ranging from maybe 500 metres to nearly 1 kilometre in some cases that is either metered, time limited or both. The time limit ranges from an hour in our street, which is also ticketed, to two hours in outlying residential streets. Often it is unlimited parking on one side of the street and 2 hour on the other. No matter which way you look at it the council rakes in the revenue.

This forces people like me to park in residential streets far away. I've walked upto 2 km in each direction between my car and work in the past. I don't mind the walk so much as for me it is pretty good exercise. I've become lazy lately and will drive past work in order to park nearer. I used to park in a spot that was on the way to work and walk the rest of the way, sometimes 2 km as mentioned.

Another effect is that the lack of parking also creates situations where people will squeeze cars into the tightest spots as shown in the above image, and I've seen this same car squeeze into this space on more than one occasion.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Back from NZ

Tonight I have only just returned home from a 12 day trip to New Zealand. I only went to the North Island though, so managed to stay away from any earth quakes. I Visited Rotorua, Bay of Islands, Auckland and Wellington. It was a great trip, can't wait to get to the South Island in the future.

I took so many photos it is ridiculous. I will select some to post very soon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Zealand Trip: Rotorua-Auckland-Paihia

Monday 30th August

This would be a long day. Not having time to muck around before checking out and getting the bus I went around the corner to McDonald's for breakfast again. Quick and easy.

I checked out from the hostel and rolled my bag up the street and around the corner to the tourist info centre, which is also the town bus stop. I tagged my bag and showed the driver the print out of my ticket, stowed my bag underneath and went aboard. This bus would take me to Auckland, where I would change to another that would take me to Paihia. This was the final leg of my travel pass.

All the front seats were taken so I went about 3/4 of the way back on the right, this was to be my home for the next three and a half hours. I just looked out the window listened to my iPod most of the way.

Cows! One seems to have her way up a hill.

It was on this leg that I had one of those freaky coincidences of life. I had my iPod on shuffle meaning any song could come up next. So one of the songs that came up was "Mean to Me" by Crowded House. At the time we were just coming into the town of Cambridge ( I think) and passed by a road sign pointing to a town called Te Awamutu. At the exact time we passed the sign the line of the song that mentions Te Awamutu played. It just so happens that Te Awamutu is the birth place of Tim and Neil Finn. Anyway, that was a strange moment.

After about 1.5 hours we reached Hamilton where we stopped for about 25 minutes. I made a point of getting off and stretching. I ended up buying a sausage roll from the cafe at the bus station. When I got back on more passengers had got on the bus, which was now very crowded.There was a woman in my seat. I showed her that I had left my things on the seat and in the pocket and she went and found a seat elsewhere.

When we stopped in Hamilton I took a photo of the coach.

Crossing the Waikato River on the outskirts of Hamilton.
She was just about breaking her banks at the time.

Onwards to Auckland we followed the Waikato River, and stopped at a small town before crossing the hills to south of Auckland and that is when we landed in downtown Manakau city. Actually we stopped outside a Westfield shopping centre, it was like Auckland's version of Paramatta. There was also a theme park called Rainbow's End nearby, which we passed on the way in. Back on the motorway through suburbia we eventually emerged in the CBD and parked at the bus station under the Sky Tower. I had only about 45 minutes to do whatever I needed to do in Auckland.

I can't remember what I did with my bag in the meantime but I know I didn't drag it around. I decided to try and find some lunch so went around to the front of the casino looking for a food court of something like that. Only I found nothing except more expensive restaurants. I ended up walking all the way around the block and back to the bus station. I decided that the best bet was a ham and cheese toasted sandwich from the bus station cafe. It wasn't too bad, although it had processed sliced cheese in it, which as a rule I don't eat.

Boarding the new coach was interesting, some young girls (European backpacker types) attempted to get on first in front of some older people. The driver took exception and pulled them aside and made them wait until the older people had got on. By the time I got on there were very few seats and the back of the bus had been blocked off (to save cleaning?) I was disappointed as the only rows on the right had the pillars between the windows. I was pretty sure there would be good scenery on that side and wanted a full window. I was quite annoyed actually as all the "good" seats i.e. those with a full window were taken by euro back packer types.

We began driving and were soon back on the motorway. We crossed the harbour bridge, which although it bears some resemblance to the Sydney Harbour Bridge actually looks nothing like it. The locals however assure you the two are identical in every way shape and form.

The poor cousin.
Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Auckland city skyline from the Harbour Bridge.

Mesmerised by clouds.

Woken up by helicopter.
A Robbinson R22.

For some reason the euro backpacker types in front of me moved after a few minutes of driving to the other side of the aisle. I immediately moved forward to the better window. Later I think they regretted moving. I sure didn't, as the various beaches, rivers and mountains we passed were fantastic. It really did seem tropical, up here in the "tropical north".

Beach scenery just north of Auckland.

Scenery A bit further on

Yes more scenery, a bit further north.

Once again dairy cows ruled the countryside, and it was at the Swinging Cow cafe that we stopped for a break. Like a lot of places in New Zealand, it was self serve. Open the door and pick what you want with the tongs. I chose a home made spring roll, which is simply the best I've ever had.

The sign says it all really.

Not a bad place to stop.


Oh look, more scenery.
Getting closer to Whangerei

The largest town we stopped at was Whangerei, where most people got off. The bus driver made a detour to a service station here to fill up with fuel. Another hour or so up the road and we wound our way in to the sleepy town of Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

Filling up.

I took a few minutes to find my bearings and then went and found my hostel. This time I picked the YHA. Once again I was the only person there, actually there was one other guest but I never saw them. After settling in to my room I went back into the town for dinner. The whole town was deserted, but it looked like it had a large carrying capacity for the summer holidays. There were a lot of choices to be had, any type of restaurant really. I picked a Thai place and had a Massaman Curry.

My lodgings for the next thee nights.

I got some supplies from the Four Square. Typically overpriced for a tourist oriented town (in a few days I discovered that the locals shop at a large supermarket on the outskirts of town). And returned to the hostel. I watched some TV before going to bed.

Needless to say I was blown away when I got here.

Across the waters.

The old church in Paihia.
I can't recall the denomination, niether catholic or Anglican though.
To me it looked no longer used.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Zealand Trip: Rotorua

Saturday 28th August 2010

Rotorua Museum, the former bath house

So for my second day in Rotorua I visited the museum which is the original bathhouse on the shores of Lake Rotorua. It was more or less like a hospital that used the various different spas for treating patients. Inside there was a bit of history about the baths, the local history including the volcanic eruption that buried a nearby town. The other part was on the local Maori tribes.

Closer View of the Rotorua Museum.
It really is an interesting looking building.

One of the baths inside.
Needs a bit of a clean before I climb in.

One of many steaming holes in the ground.

Steaming road.
It had just finished raining and the sun was out
Just in the right place at the right time I guess...

Finished with the museum I headed to a park on the lake and bought a hamburger from a small take away shop for lunch. From memory the hamburger wasn't too good because the bun was too soft, I like my bun toasted.

A float plane resting on Lake Rotorua.
It is in fact a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter.

After lunch I walked back to the centre of town and caught a bus out to the gondola. The gondola goes up the side of a hill on the outskirts of town. While the view is nice, the main attraction is the luge.

Going up, looking back

Looking forward, still a long way to go.

The lost world is in fact half located way up this hill.
Not sure why they are there though...

Not knowing exactly what the luge was when I got on at the bottom I only bought a return trip on the gondola, on getting to the top and watching for a while I wished I had have got one of the packages that included both. So I went and bought three rides on the luge.

Great view, the luge track.

While lining up for my first go

All I can say is wow. That was so much fun. Lucky I bought three rides as there were three tracks, a beginner or "scenic", intermediate and expert. So I first tried the scenic. Sure enough it was a scenic drive through a pine forest, and as I would later discover very long in comparison to the other two tracks. It allowed me to get a good feel for the luge. Eventually I got to the bottom and jumped on the chairlift back up to the top.

On the way back up.
The chairlift also transports luges back to the top.
(notice the luge hanging off the chairlift in front)
I thought this was quite clever.

The top luge station

Next was the intermediate. There I got a taste for speed. Finally was the expert track, where I am pretty sure I managed to get airborne. Surprisingly I didn't hurt myself. For safety they do provide helmets. The trick to not coming off is to lean into the corners. One wierd thing I noticed was that along the track there were discarded helmets and even a one point an abandoned luge, with no sign of it's lugist.

It really is as fun as it looks.
These are the two faster tracks near the bottom

After all that excitement I went and had a drink in a cafe and then got kicked out at closing time. Once again on the way down I had a gondola all to myself. Knowing that the buses run every half hour I knew one wouldn't come a long for a while , just as well as I had to walk a fair way just to find a bus stop.

One last look at the view before heading back down.

Once again I was pretty exhausted by the time I got back to my hostel. I just played games on my computer before heading to the kitchen to make some dinner at about 9 pm and watched a movie for a while. Once again I was pretty much alone. Well that is apart from the girls in the adjacent rooms who made a lot of noise coming back from some pub or nightclub at some hour of the night.

Sunday 29th August

This day I was going up to Matamata to visit Hobbiton,the hobbit village from the Lord of the Rings films. My ride which I organised the day before was picking me up from the tourist info centre at 1 pm.

From memory I had McDonald's for breakfast as it was more or less the only thing open on Sunday Morning. I walked up and down the shops a bit but they were still closed.

I headed to the town shopping centre, which was quite small by big city standards, but it seemed all the locals were there this morning. The main attraction was "The Warehouse". I remember there were "The Warehouse" stores in Melbourne a few years ago, but they were nothing like this. It is more like a Big W, but a bit more down market, from what I could see you could pretty much buy anything from hardware, camping gear, clothing, washing machines, toiletries, cd's, books and groceries. I bought a bottle of water and a bottle of coke.

By now it was getting on for 11:30 and not being sure when I would get the chance to eat during the afternoon I bought some Asian take away for lunch in the small food court. Big mistake. It was pretty awful. The other choices didn't look much better either.

I wandered back through the centre of town towards the tourist info centre. By now there were a few shops open. I stopped in a bookshop and newsagent. For some reason I also went into a Khatmandu store. Turns out their goods are more expensive than they are worth in New Zealand as well.

When I got to the tourist info centre my ride hadn't turned up, so I sat and waited. Soon enough a mini bus with Hobbiton written on the side pulled up and I went and introduced myself to the driver. He told me to get in and wait, and that I might be the only person going today from Rotorua. After a few minutes of talking to some one he came and got in the van and said that we would go past a few of the hostels to see if there are any other passengers.

The driver was a Maori also named Ben. He told me a lot about the local area and a bit about his family. The drive to Hobbiton was mostly back the way I had come two days previously but eventually we turned off the highway and went across the back roads. We pulled up at a roadside cafe, which was opposite the gate to the farm we would be entering.

Inside the cafe I had to sign a waiver. The reason is that they are rebuilding Hobbiton for filming of the upcoming Hobbit movie. Basically we were allowed to take photos for private use, but are not allowed to post them on the internet. So no photos of Hobbiton sorry.

Eventually another mini bus rolled up outside and this was the actual tour. On board were two couples, both backpacker types from Europe. We wound our way down the road past the electric fence and all the warning signs, they are serious about security here. Before we knew it we were in Hobbiton, it was all very familiar (even if you've only seen first film The Fellowship of the Ring you'd know it)

Basically we walked around looking at the various features of Hobbiton such as Bag End, the party tree and the lake. On the opposite side of the lake were the mill and the inn as well as the bridge. It was very muddy, my new shoes got very dirty. The tour guide urged us to take an umbrella, and it boy were they needed as several quite heavy showers passed over while we were walking around. She told us tales of groups who ignored her advice.

After a good 45 minutes of walking around we cleaned the mud off our shoes and piled back into the bus. Back at the cafe we were given the obligatory New Zealand sheep shearing exhibition in the adjacent shearing shed. We also got to feed some lambs. I managed to get the milk formula all over my shoes (they still have the stains on them some four months later)

Sheep show part 1: Shearing.

Sheep Show part 2: Feeding the Lambs

I got back in my bus with Ben, and back to Rotorua we went. On the way Ben was telling me about the Polynesian Spa, and convinced me to go when I got back. He also told me that Tamuera Morrison from 'Once Were Warriors' and the Star Wars prequels was his cousin. While possible, I'm still not sure about that...

After dumping my stuff at the hostel and resting for a bit I headed down the Polynesian Spa. I didn't bring anything to swim in. Luckily the spa will rent you a pair of shorts and a towel. Sold!

Don't let rented shorts put you off. They were actually clean as far as I could tell. I just tried not to think about it.

The spas are laid out so that the water cascades from hottest pool to coldest and eventually into the lake. It was a fantastic feeling to be sitting in a hot spa out under the moon lit sky. I mean it was probably only 10 degrees C, but that didn't matter.

I don't know how long I spent going from pool to pool, but I felt so good. So relaxed and so warm. Overall my favourite spa was the one closest to the lake. You could lie on your stomach and peer out at the lake. I should mention it was drizzling the whole time too, which just added to the atmosphere.

When I got out,dried myself and put my clothes back on, I returned my shorts and towel and wandered through the steamy streets back to the hostel. On the way I came across an Indian restaurant and decided to stop there for dinner. From memory I had a really nice butter chicken.

Needless to say I slept really well. Lucky as it was a travel day the next day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Zealand Trip: Auckland - Waitomo - Rotorua

Friday 27th August

After an early night I was up early again for an early start again. I had to be out the front of the hotel for a 7am pick up by Intercity bus lines. That means I rose at 6 AM which is 4 AM Melbourne time. Such an early pick up meant that I missed the hotel breakfast which I had pre paid for. So I ate the banana and yoghurt I had bought the evening before, and then headed downstairs.

After waiting for a few minutes one of the staff at reception approached me and said that the bus company had organised a taxi for me. Soon enough a taxi arrived and I was on the short drive to the Sky City bus terminal. As it turns out I could have walked it quite easily in the time I spent waiting. On arrival the taxi driver insisted I pay, but I told him the bus company said they would pay, so we went to the office and the great staff there arranged payment with the taxi driver.

Before leaving Australia I went online and bought a bus pass from the intercity travel pass website. The idea is you buy the pass, which is valid for a year, and then call the company to arrange the travel closer to when you travel. All in all it is a pretty good deal. The pass I bought was the "Geyser Glow worm Getaway" which entitled me to return coach from Auckland to Rotorua, with either of the legs going via the Waitomo Caves . So the previous night I called and arranged the travel. Travelling down the next day, Friday the 27th via the Waitomo and returning direct to Auckland on Monday the 30th.

The only problem was that the person I spoke to on the phone forgot to book the Waitomo Caves tour which is included in the pass. However the friendly and helpful Intercity Coach ladies soon sorted me out. The bus driver even approached me and offered to take my bag to the coach, and I obliged and went to get some drinks from the cafe before boarding the coach.

Generic New Zealand Scenery on the way from
Auckland to Waitomo. It is just so Green.

Soon enough all 5 of us, yes 5 were aboard and were making our way out of Auckland. I sat in the second row, in the first row were two girls from Houston and on the other side were a French speaking mother and son. The others were all on a one day tour from Auckland to Rotorua and back, I was the only one stopping in Rotorua. The bus driver seemed to have an intimate knowledge of each tree and bush on the Motorway South. Actually like all good tour guides, he seemed to know his stuff and I'm sure we all learnt quite a bit about New Zealand along the way.

After about 2 and a half hours driving we arrived at Waitomo at roughly 10 AM and immediately started the cave tour. For a cave it was pretty well appointed with stairs and low power lighting. The guide, a nice Maori girl explained a bit about the history and formations in the cave, as well as the life and times of the Glow worm. I correctly answered the question about what sort of rock the cave was formed out of, Limestone. No photography is allowed, due to camera flashes having the ability to kill glow worms so I can't show you what it looked like.

The Entrance to the Waitomo Caves

The story goes that the old entrance burnt down
a few years ago and this was recently opened.
Quite different, the roof is made of clear plastic.

As the guide explained, glow worms are the larval stage of a fly like insect. The larva cling to the walls and ceiling of the cave and drop a silk thread to catch any insects that happen to fly past (often the adult glow worm) using their glow as a lure. They spend most of their life, up to a couple of years, in this state before turning into the the adult, mating and dying in a matter of days.

After going through a few caverns, we made our way into the part of the cave that had a river running through it and boarded a boat. For this part of the tour we were made to stay silent as we glided along the water under the canopy of stars/glow worms. It was quite surreal. Occasionally we would crash into a rock, and at one point had duck to avoid hitting our heads on some stalactites. Above us I could make out the cables strung up in the cave that the tour guide used to guide the boat. When we emerged from the cave and got out onto the landing the tour guide dissapeared back into the cave with the boat and she was never heard from again.

The boat disappearing back into the cave

The river after it leaves the cave

The scenery at Waitomo, more green...

For the final leg onward to Rotorua, around another hour and half, we picked up an English girl who had come to Waitomo on the bus travelling in the other direction from Rotorua to Auckland. On reaching the outskirts of Rotorua we stopped to let of the day trippers at the "Agrodome", which is an agricultural display centre, where visitors can see things such as shearing, sheep dogs etc. We continued with the driver into town.

Passing through the small town of Cambridge.
Hometo some large animals and other
things made of corrugated iron.

A sheep


As it turns out the English girls was staying at the same backpackers as I was and she gave me a few tips of what to do in town. Kindly the bus driver dropped us off right outside the hostel. One thing I noticed while driving into town were the random steam plumes around the place, the smell while slightly annoying wasn't too bad.

The hostel was called Astray. On the booking website (Hostel World) it seemed to have the best location, right in the middle of town, and a pretty good rating on the website. From the outside it appeared to be an old motel. The biggest downside as I found out the next morning was the construction site next door. Other wise my single room was tiny, barely enough room for the bed, but more than adequate. I was on the top floor and I hared a hallway with 4 other rooms. We all shared two toilets and two showers. The kitchen was also on the top floor which was handy. Wireless internet was available but quite expensive.

After checking in and dumping my stuff in my room I decided to find the tourist information centre which was just a short walk around the corner. Right outside the hostel I found the main bus stop for the local town buses which was handy to know. At the information centre I decided that I wanted to see the TePuia Maori Cultural Centre and Geyser park. This was also where the tour I was on that morning was continuing to. I worked out that I could catch a local bus there.

I walked back to the bus stop and waited for a number 1 bus which runs every half hour. After only a few minutes it arrived. I followed a middle age couple who were obviously tourists on to the bus. I decided that if I was unsure I would get off when they did. The bus drove through some back streets and eventually to TePuia on the outskirts of town. Yes they got off there too. I decided to do both the Maori Cultural show and tour, it was quite expensive, but when I figured why not. I had half an hour before the show started so I had time for a wander around.

The entrance to TePuia

I found the Kiwi house but couldn't see any kiwis in the dark enclosore. I followed the path further and looked at a mud pool which was overlooked by a large hotel. As time was getting on I decided it was time to head back to the main area for the cultural performance. On the way in to the show after a traditional welcome I bumped into the two American girl's off the bus from that morning.

Steamy landscape

A pool of boiling mud

The hotel overlooking the above pool of mud.
I am pretty sure this sign once said "Royal Geyser Land Hotel",
I'm not too sure exactly what it is trying
to say now.
I guess it's seen better days...

The start of the cultural show was quite an experience, we were given the full welcome, including the haka. Our chief, an older man picked out of the crowd had the honour of performing an official greeting. I'm glad it was him, I probably would have done it wrong and started a war.

Entrance to Meeting House

Gateway to the entrance

Our welcoming party

Our "Chief" making contact.
If you break eye contact the deal is off.

The performance took place in the meeting house and consisted of a series of traditional dances and songs. It was quite good, although shorter than I thought it would be.


I forget what these are called but they are throwing
sticks, which I believe is a type of game.

A closer up view of the meeting house

A store house
Valuables, weapons and food were kept in these

A canoe

After the performance was the tour. The guide took us to the Kiwi house and mud pools I'd already seen, before we went down the valley to the Geysers. There was a lot of steam, but no Geyser. Unfortunately those who were going back to Auckland had to leave before it went off. The park was actually closed by the time it went off, but a security guard was kind enough to let those who were there stay to watch.

Alien looking landscape

The geyser pre going off

Steam everywhere

Is that it?

Thar she blows!
Now that's more like it.

On my way back to the exit it began to rain. Of course they make you walk through the gift shop to get out so after having a bit of a look around but not buying I went out to the bus stop. The next bus was due in about 20 minutes. Soon the tourist couple that I followed out here on the bus came and sat down next to me at the stop. The man promptly pulled out a pocket microscope and began looking at some seeds or something like that he had colleted. He also had an Oxbridge something or other backpack, so I guess he was an academic/botanist of some kind.

The rain got heavier, and it became quite miserable and cold in that tiny shelter. Eventually the bus arrived and we were on our way. This particular bus route goes in a loop, so we continued further out of town through a residential area and past the "polytech" (I'm guessing it's the equivalent of a TAFE) where many Indian students got on board. From there we went back into town more or less direct.

Remembering I needed to go shopping I got off near some supermarkets. Looking like a drowned rat I drew a few looks entering the "Pak'n Save", which as the bus driver had informed us that morning, is New Zealand's cheapest supermarket. It was certainly busy on this Friday night. It reminded me somewhat of a Bunnings more than a Woolworths or Coles.

The one thing I had forgotten to pack was a towel (I'm not a hoopy frood who listens to what the HHGTTG says), essential if I wanted a shower at a backpacker hostel. So my first task was to find some towels. Having secured a very reasonably cheap, yet quite soft, pale blue towel I set about getting some food. Bananas, some soft drink and water, some nibbles, and some pasta and sauce for dinner at some stage.

After finding the express lane and then packing everything into my backpack I set out into the rain. The glow from the adjacent golden arches was too much and I surrendered to temptation (the pasta could wait until the next day). Exactly the same as everywhere, but it was warm and dry, better than the walk through the cold wet streets. Surprise surprise, more netballers. I also made use of the wireless internet although it wasn't free, but still quite cheap. I had at least two people come up and ask if my Asus eeePC netbook was a real computer. I'm not sure if this reflects the population of Rotorua or the nature of McDonald's customers, possibly both?

Thank goodness for shop canopies, I made it back to the Hostel without getting too wet. I locked myself in my room and watched a movie on my computer before calling it an early night after two very big days.