A Travellerspoint blog

Easter Island/Papa Nui/Isla de Pascua

sunny

We arrived on December 30th to our lovely family run campsite called Mihinoea run by Marta and Roger who were also lovely. The site was just off the coast and had fab views of the sea. It was a gorgeous little spot. It was also a bargain at 3000 chillien pesos (560=£1).
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Easter Island only has 1 town called Hanga Roa. But there is the odd house dotted here and there. The campsite was only about 600m from the airport but surprisingly very quiet. It was such a cute airport though!! Apparently the runway has been built big enough so that if a space shuttle entering the Earth's atmosphere is in trouble and because Easter Island is the most remote place in the World, the tarmac is suitable for it to land safely there. That is what we were told anyway!!

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First things first- New Years Eve.

The campsite had put on a huge BBQ with ribs, fish, chicken, sausages, and a load of salads and it was amazing!!!!!!! No marinades used, just cooked really slowly over ash for about 2 hours. They seem to do everything a bit slower here. They wait for the wood to burn right down away from the BBQ then transfer the ashes underneath the huge grill. We were looking at the meat and thought that it would be so overdone but it was just done perfectly and really yummy.
The local or common drink here was Pisco and coke, but combine this with wine and beer to make me forget a lot of the nights antics!!!!!!! I dont think I have been that drunk in AGES!! We met a Dutch couple called Anita and Frank and also a group of Chilian girls on holiday from Santiago. I was very ill and dont remember being put to bed and cared for by Darren at all. But I do remember seeing in the New Year and playing cards and also remember waking up in the middle of the night and wonderihng where Darren was- he had had his own little drunken adventure by going into the town to sample the nightlife!!!!!! Apparently men ride to the bars on horse back still here!! Darren knows this because he nearly got mowed down by a couple of mates who were racing each other on horseback through the middle of town when Darren was stumbling to the club!

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When the hangover finally went we thought we had better get on and see what we had come here to see!! So we hired a car and went around the Island.
All of the Moai (heads) that are upright now have been re erected in the last century. A combination of natural disasters-earthquakes and tsunamis- and bloody wars between clans resulted in these huge head being toppled off their Ahu (ceremonial site) in the 17th and 18th century.
It's quite interesting how this island became virtually inhabited. After the clans had done damage to each other and over population had taken its toll on the limited resources, the Europeans then found the island. But this was nearly the end. thousands of islanders were kidnapped by various countries as slaves and especially when thousands were taken to go and work on the guano deposits in Peru's Chincha Island. By the time the authorities had ordered their release 90 % had died from hard labour and disease. The opther 10% homeward bound then were struck down by smallpox, which killed most of them, but it also meant that smallpox then took hold of the island. This resulted in only a few hundred survivors on the entire island! For the next 100 years or so the island was governed by a wool company after it was annexed by Chile, but then taken over by the Military until a commercial airlink between Santiago and Tahiti was opened in1967 which used Easter Island as a fuel stop and opened it up to the rest of the World.
Since 2008 the island has been a 'terratoria especial' which means greater autonomy for the islanders.
50000 tourists come through the island each year which of course brings it benefits for the island but also brings problems. But new regulations and measures to protect this heritage site will hopefully be introduced.

So history lesson is over!!

The Ahu to visit for sunrise is the Ahu Tongariki. The sun comes up behind 15 moai and looks amazing. These were all re erected in 1992 by a Japanese company. We got there at about 0630 and sat in silence waiting for the sun to show us what it could do. Pretty special.

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The Ahu to see at sunset is Ahu Vai Uri which is quite close to the museum. It has 5 Moai and again is very cool.
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Near this is the Ahu Ko Te Riku which has eyes and is quite scarey!!!! Not many of them have eyes and I'm glad because they give me the creeps!!
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There is also a Moai called Ahu Tahai which stands inbetween the 2 Moais above and that is also very impressive.

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There are a few national parks to go to but they wanted $100 each to go in so we just got as close as we could and put the lense on full zoom!!5325260985_ff95a18a1b.jpg5325252019_b168504e32.jpg5325873556_14f0d7f612.jpg5325835234_51f4632992.jpg

These are just a few of the Moais which we passed
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Posted by downbhoy 14:26 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Mo'orea, Tahiti

sunny

We left Auckland after a sad fairwell to my little brother who promises to come home for Christmas next year!! Yay!!
Heading to Papeete or Fa'a (as the locals call it) the capital of Tahiti we gained a day which was an experience!! We left NZ on the 28th and got into Tahiti on the 27th December!!
Papeete we had been warned about. And so we were only expecting the worst really. All I'll say is that Im glad that we only stayed 1 night and then went onto Mo'orea. Papeete just feels really seedy and not really that safe. Its a harbour town so doesnt really have the looks of a beautiful island which is a shame. Having said that we had to bring our whole trip back because flights to Tahiti were all booked up for the summer holidays in January but its because everyone gets connecting flights to any of the other islands around Tahiti but dont actually stay in Tahiti itself.
Mo'orea was ok though. A nice but expensive camping ground ($22 per person per night!!) Camping Nelson was probably the cheapest place we could find. So we just spent 1 night there before we left to go to Easter Island. All the photos are from Mo'ore.a5321128129_02865944be.jpg5321771212_bb154da2e2.jpg5321182759_d4cd5e15b5.jpg5321046639_e75d3c6928.jpg5321664714_90756e28e8.jpg5321677892_8122755464.jpg5321090055_6b661ab676.jpg5321680754_7911a5ab26.jpg5321145723_d0dc776c27.jpg5321117367_f6c2a3be22.jpg5321050911_6625f93f57.jpg5321575898_3c3eafd1ae.jpg5321589078_13c16d2bd6.jpg5321770376_a5869bcc47.jpg5321145755_ae8768e5b5.jpg5321194121_0c5d4fa947.jpg5321152437_982b4ce149.jpg5321010077_b87e38d973.jpg5321020899_ebf005378d.jpg5321249815_1060f5b78d.jpg

Posted by downbhoy 12:40 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

Christmas in Methven

sunny

There were loads of us at Josh’s for Christmas. There was about 11 of us in total which made it quite nice really. The tree went up on Christmas Eve after we went out and bought baubles and lights etc. Josh and Mat went to locate a tree that they had seen when they were at work in the middle of the countryside, but unfortunately someone had already spied it and lobbed it down before Josh got to it! So they went in search of another one and succeeded!

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Christmas Eve we had a BBQ and then went to the pub for a few.
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Of course Josh had to have a stocking so I had bought one and embroidered his name onto it and filled it with stupid stuff and put it on the wood burner.
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Christmas Day morning we all opened our present which we were really grateful for from everyone at home! Felt very spoilt! And did it all on skype too which was really nice!

Because there were so many of us we had to borrow a table so Frank went to the local school who were on holiday and borrowed 2 picnic benches which were in the playground!! But it did the trick perfectly!! Mat did a good job at the dinner which was roast pork and all the trimmings. The weather was so good that we all ate outside in the sun and needed to put on sun cream! For pudding I had made some mince pies which were not bad for my first attempt!
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After dinner we went up Mount Hutt which is really close to Josh and stood looking at the fab views in the beautiful sunshine. Definitely an alternative Christmas!! But very pleasant!
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Afterwards we had a BBQ and quite a few of us ended up in the huge paddling pool!!
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Posted by downbhoy 12:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

NZ Road Trip Part 1

all seasons in one day

After we had visited Josh for a few days in Methven we headed off on an adventure!! Josh’s landlord had a 1991 Toyota Hiace who we named Betty Blue! Mate’s rates meant that we got her for $20 per day which was so cheap compared to all the other rentals. The last row of seats had been taken out so there was room for the mattress in the back.

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Our first stop was Oamaru where there were huge round boulders on the beach. They are there from when the sea erodes the cliff and exposes them, but they are perfectly spherical. Inside they are like honeycomb from the cooled lava and some of them have cracked open. There used to be loads of little boulders but unfortunately tourists have removed them as souvenirs and have left the massive ones behind.
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When we get to Dunedin later in the day we find a camp site about 15 km from the centre in a place called Mosgiel. It was an A&P showground but hadn’t officially opened as a campsite but it was really quiet with 1 other camper. We told John the campsite owner that we were going into town for a while and wouldn’t get back for a while, like after dark, so he said he would leave the gate unlocked. We head off into town but not before filling up our DIESEL Betty with PETROL, doh! $37 full to be precise! (nearly £20!) Ah well the mechanic at the garage was amazing and drained it out for us just for the gift of a 6 pack!! Darren had found that there was a brewery in Dunedin called Speights so we headed off to that. The tour was $22 and you got loads of beer at the end, good for the history of the brewery but Darren informs me that he was disappointed because they use sugar in the beer which is a no no apparently!
Dunedin is a Scottish town and the weather suited it today- rain!! A few nice old buildings and a nice Christmassy feel to it with the decorated tree in the middle of the centre.
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When we finally got back to the campsite at about 1030, yes you guessed it, the gates were locked!! Grrrrr. As it was an A&P showground the entrances have to be quite big to have room for the trailers etc so we ended up parking in the entrance bit! The next morning John knocked on our window and was mortified that we were parked where we were!! He said that he had closed the gates but purposefully not locked them and of course we didn’t need to pay anything for parking on the driveway! As it transpires it was the other guest who had locked them!! So after we had used the showers and cooked bacon on our little stove we headed off.

291km away is Te Anau, a small town on Lake Te Anau surrounded by beautiful hills. It’s used as a base to do loads of walks over hydroelectric dams, through forests, following the river. Infact we saw some leaping brown trouts right where we had stopped for lunch, it was really cool! They were trying to catch the dragon flies! We did a 7 hour walk which was lovely, we followed the lake for a bit then around the wildlife centre which lead onto the Dam. After the Dam we were in the forest for most of the rest of the walk which was a really nice temperature and all very green!
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We satyed the night in a DOC site (Department Of Conservation) which was $6 per person. There was a toilet but no running water but the locations on the DOC sites seem to be beautiful. This particular one was right on the river and really quiet. The only thing was that there were loads of black sandflies which bit us to death!!! We have never had bites as itchy as these!!
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The countryside is amazing and we were really lucky with the sun late in the day and the lilac Lupins in full bloom.
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Next stop was Milford sounds. Betty was starting to struggle with the hills- actually she had always struggled!! But we were nervous about going to Milford because the roads were REALLY steep. The tunnel was meant to be quite bad in that it was the steepest that a road could legally be! What ever the gradient is, it was pretty hard going for Betty! And it’s a good job we went before the coach loads otherwise we would have been holding everyone up, and that was mostly downhill!! Unfortunately the weather was rubbish this day. When we got to the ferry terminal thing we were in 2 minds whether or not to go on the ferry, it was working out at about £100 which on our budget was going to really stretch it. So we decided that as the weather was bad we wouldn’t go on the ferry. Photos of this huge waterfall and lake that we have seen are amazing especially if the sun is shining. The boat takes you right up to the waterfall and you see people with cups catching the very fresh water. So I’ll pop some photos up of what this place should have looked like!
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The road out of Milford was the hardest! All of the downhill roads are now zig zagging UP!! Poor Poor Betty. But we took our time and made it!
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(December 12th) 290km was our next stretch of road- to Queenstown. Amazing scenery coming into the town. 5286997024_618406f68c.jpg5289211364_82dcd51ab7.jpg5288617711_dd3fc7d118.jpg5289239740_53f616a300.jpg5289228384_a559900df1.jpg5287001716_f566c886f5.jpg
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The Lake is just turquoise with the mountains as a beautiful backdrop. You cling to the lake as the road snakes up and down the cliffs, just gorgeous. We stayed with our lovely friend Fee who we know from Uni who’s been out here since 2005 (I think) as a primary school teacher. She lives in a part of QT called Fernhill. I know I keep going on about it but roads are sooooo steep!! And the last few roads up to Fee’s house were no exception!! I think we averaged about 18km/h going up them in 4WD in the lowest gear!! Poor poor Betty!! But it was worth it, the views from Fee’s house were just stunning. It was really good to see Fee and her gorgeous man David.
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And what a welcome we had with none other than Furgberger!! They are legends here in QT. There were 6 of us eating and we had 4 burgers and 2 chips between us all and we really struggled to finish the lot! With names like cockadoodleoink,(chicken&bacon) bambi burger(veal), bun larden (falafel). QT is a lovely town and quite hikey with loads of walking shops and full of tourists but it feels really nice and friendly. Our friends Will and Steph had lived in QT and recommended going to a restaurant called Flame which had a fab rib and steak combo. YUMMY!!!!
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That night Fee had had the Christmas tree delivered- all 3 foot of it but we found some lights and baubles and listened to Christmassy music as we set Christmas up!!
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Next day we climbed Ben Lomond which is 1748m. The first bit was via a gondola (cable car) and then the proper walk began. It took us 3 ½ hours to get to the summit with the last hour being properly scrambling up craggy bits with loose ground. And again it was worth it, that beautiful lake on one side and snow capped mountains on the other but with stunning 360 degree views to see all round.
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Afterwards I went horse riding with Fee, well I went riding on Desiree whilst Fee walked Casper as he’s got a bad back at the moment and is having acupuncture. Very very enjoyable evening! Cant express how gorgeous it is around there.
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When we had got back Darren had shaved his head!! He had borrowed David’s trimmers and after 12 months of growing his hair he was now bald again!! Actually him and David were now sporting similar looks!

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Next stop was Wanaka about 70km from QT. But when you average at about 60km because of the hills (again) it took us longer than we thought. The main attraction was Puzzleworld! Amazing! There was a room with inverted faces filling the walls of famous people like Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela. When you move around, the faces look as if they are properly turning and following you. Next is the wonky room where everything is at an angle- walls, floors, ceilings, it really makes you feel see sick! And is hard to stand up! The next one was mind boggling. Using techniques used by Lord of the Rings, just look at the photos…….!
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There were loads of other little bits and bobs and a big maze outside so it kept us occupied for a while anyway!!Apparently the owner was quite a synic and had burried a load of money within the grounds, I think it was around $100,000 or something. They money is in 2 different areas and thery have to find both .So he has challenged all psychics to come and try to find it. They are allowed to sit in the same room as the owner but behind a screen for a while and then they have to find the money. There have been 7 people who have tried and failed!!

Part 2 of the road trip on the next instalment.........

Posted by downbhoy 13:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Around Methven, South Island, New Zealand

sunny

After Josh came to pick us up from the airport we were stranded in the carpark for about 3 hours because the immobiliser decided to break so we couldn’t start the engine! Poor Josh, he’d only had the car 2 days!
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But anyway when we got that fixed and went back to Methven and chilled for a few days we borrowed the newly fixed beast and off we went on a day adventure just locally.

Some really beautiful places around there, really really special.

Enjoy!
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Posted by downbhoy 10:24 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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