Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Kiwi

10 things I learned in New Zealand

I know, I know another bloody blog post about New Zealand, well I’d forgotten that I had started this one so you’re having it whether you like it or not. Here are my 10 top things that I learned in New Zealand.

  1. New Zealand drivers are in no hurry; the speed limit in New Zealand is 100 kmh on everywhere outside towns, this is pretty slow on a quiet open highway but no matter the Kiwi drivers on the whole went much slower. Apart from the lorry drivers who steam around like they’re formula 1 drivers. Not only do the locals drive slowly they will also pull out in front of you on a highway and then ever so slowly get up speed. It’s not as though the roads are busy and they need to grab their chance, but they seem determined to join the road when THEY want.
  2. You soon learn how to manage your activities on a 3 hour cycle; that is Matilda’s time clock and woe betide anyone who tries to change it. Any time we wanted to drive somewhere or do an activity it was finish her feed and then go go go! Maximise the time before her next feed was needed.
  3. How to cook the best 1 pot meal; when you are cooking in a camper van with a small hob and small sink to wash up you soon learn how to minimise the use of pans. I am now a master at making pasta with a tomato sauce and bacon, with just a frying pan and a fork.
  4. Matilda is fascinated with eyes and if you’re not careful will poke you in them; there we were having some quality time at the campsite, rubbing noses, smiling and laughing when WHAM finger in the eye.
  5. How to eat dinner in the dark; Matilda goes to bed at 6.30pm, the van was our home and transport, so once in bed torchlight was our only option. Certainly heightens your sense of taste, although sleeping in sheets covered in pasta sauce isn’t so glamorous.
  6. New Zealand is where old brands go to die; if you’ve ever wondered where companies take old brands to die wonder no more, I have found the place and it is Pack and Save in New Zealand. I’m sure this branding was in the UK in the early 90’s?tea 2Tea 1
  7. Nowhere is open for dinner at 4.30pm; as above having to have Matilda asleep in the van by 6.30pm means if you want to have dinner out it needs to be early. But have you ever tried to find somewhere serving dinner at this time? And no, bar snacks or ‘just starters’ doesn’t constitute dinner. We soon learned to have lunch out and a light dinner in the van.
  8. You realise how much water you use when you have to fill up each day; seriously, all we used it for was drinking and a little bit of washing up, yet we got through GALLONS. It was pretty bloody scary, imagine what it would be like if we had a toilet and a shower in there also? Really makes you think about what you use at home when you have a dishwasher and a washing machine also. No wonder there is a water shortage.
  9. Don’t lean forward on an automatic flush toilet; I learned this very valuable lesson in Singapore airport, if you are sitting for the performance as it were and lean forward for say extra leverage then there is a chance the toilet may flush all by itself. Then really it becomes a bidet doesn’t it? It is also a mighty shock to the system when you have been on a plane for 13 hours with a baby and are knackered I can tell you.
  10. Kiwi’s LOVE venison; or at least I assume they do given that there were miles and miles of deer farms throughout the country. A very odd sight, seeing so many massive deer penned it by big wire fences. My only encounter with deer on the trip was a rather tasty ‘Bambi’ burger in Queenstown.

The great New Zealand adventure – warm streams and stinky mud

DSC_0139Yes that’s right this title can describe only one place in New Zealand – Rotorua, or as the locals like to call it Roto-vegas, in a very ironic way of course. This is a town that smells of rotten eggs all day every day, but people come because everywhere you look there are plumes of steam coming out of the ground from the thermal mud pools and streams.

Many of the streams have been commercialised, I think there may even be one with a grandstand around it so you can watch it bubble and spit. Thankfully we had some inside knowledge from my brothers Kiwi girlfriend and headed 100m past the main car park at Waikite hot pools, parked on the side of the road and climbed down the bank to a little stream. This is no ordinary stream though, it’s as hot as your bath, quite a bizarre feeling when you expect it to be freezing cold. We took Matilda down with us and as you may have started to gather she loves water and was suitably thrilled to splash her feet in this stream. So glad we didn’t pay someone $40 for a similar experience.

DSC_0195Rotorua is also home to Rainbow springs which is a nature park who have a big Kiwi conservation project. That’s the birds and not the people. The place is very well done and didn’t feel too much like a zoo even though effectively that’s what it is. We had fish food but decided that actually the baby ducks were cuter so we gave them the food instead. Besides when the trout are this bigthey’re clearly getting enough food already. 


After being in the country for over 2 weeks it was interesting to learn about some of the wildlife that we had been seeing. The behind the scenes Kiwi experience was well worth the extra money, we got to see how they incubate the eggs and then hatch them. Then we got to go into a dark enclosure where they had 3 Kiwi’s, there is no way we would see one in the wild and with such an iconic bird it would have been strange to leave the country without seeing one.

Rotorua was our last night in the camper van, a slightly bittersweet feeling. As much as we were looking forward to being in a ‘proper’ bedroom again and not having to go outside in the freezing cold to use the bathroom we had really enjoyed our time in the van. It was the perfect size for the 3 of us, it was surprisingly comfortable to sleep in and also was the place we had spent the last 2 weeks DSC_0012relaxing in with Matilda. We’d loved the evenings just chilling out once Matilda was asleep reading, surfing the internet, drinking wine and snuggled under the duvet to keep warm. We’d woken to some spectacular views, watched many miles of scenery pass by the window, laughed until we cried, made grand plans for the next few years and had some moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I feel like I have really got to know Matilda in these past few weeks, I know what her different cries mean, I can make her laugh out loud, I’ve had my eyes and face poked and watched as she learned to sit. I’ve taken hundreds of photo’s and lots of videos to record those moments and memories for ever. This has been the best holiday. EVER. Me and my girls, who could ask for more?