Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 11 – 27/28 February 2017

(Look! The elusive consecutive day update thing! Yay!)

So, guess where we went today? No. Nope. Wrong again. We visited Hobbiton! AND IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME!

It was a bit of a drive and we had a stop or two along the way. It mostly involved a certain someone getting stuck in a certain modern toilet. Luckily, as we neared our destination, one of the busses from the nearby (unpronounceable) town turned into the road in-front of us, so we could just follow it.  We arrived slightly in the nick of time, but that was fine in the end. We got our tickets and off we went on in a bus. It was just Migaél and I going on the tour, as the entrance fee is pretty steep. We stopped at the entrance of The Shire – which really is just a little fence with a gate in it – and off we went for a guided tour.

We saw the many Hobbit Holes™ (it’s trademarked apparently) and had a good drink at The Green Dragon Inn. We walked around Frog Pond and stopped to admire the massive pumpkins the maintenance crew are currently growing. Interestingly, all the vegetation on the film set is real, except the tree above Bag End, which is made of steel, silicone and about two hundred thousand plastic leaves. But the veggie farm is real and the produce gets distributed to the staff and crew.

All in all, it was a good experience. The gift shop was nice, but overpriced (although the Mumzi thought it is the most boring shop ever), the service was excellent and the bus driver was a comedian. Unfortunately, I cannot remember what his name was. The only thing I was a little disappointed in, was the fact that there was no random Hobbit walking around or a random Gandalf appearing on a cart to take us on an adventure. But oh well, maybe that will come.

 

P.S. If you are reading this and you work at or are the manager of said Hobbiton, give the bus driver of the 13:00 tour (28 Feb 2017) a raise. And sommer the guide too. Becca is her name, I believe. Just tell her not to leave the free zucchini in her car for two weeks…

P.P.S.S.OR.WHATEVER. New Zealand is a very pretty country. Whilst we drove to Hobbiton, we saw beautiful landscapes that ranged from the Cape area to near the Sabie area, all in a matter of minutes. It is really a beautiful country. Almost gives SA a run for it’s money…

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 6 – 21/22 February 2017

Yes I skipped another day. Boo hoo.

 

So I have been busy studying for the past few days whilst the young Branckens are doing school. I quite enjoy it. Luckily with doing home-schooling for eight years of my schooling career, I learned to work in various places. Heck, now I even blog anywhere. I once blogged whilst walking when my mother was shopping in IKEA. (Think it was Little Aston + Big Heart = Lots of Fun)

It has been quite a few days since I said anything about cars, so here goes…

New Zealand has cool cars. In the five-odd days since we’ve been here, I have seen some really cool cars. On one day, I saw three different Nissan R33 GT-Rs and a relatively stock Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII. Along with that, all the Chevrolets in this country – and I imagine Australia as well – are Holdens. Plus, I bought a magazine called NZV8 that is like our Speed & Sound, but all the custom cars in it has V8s. In this NZV8, there is a brand new Holden Commodore HSV GTS-R. It has 435KW and 740NM from a Chevrolet 6.2L Supercharged LSA engine that you find in the Camaro ZL1. The example in the magazine is orange with matt-black accents and it looks positively menacing. There is also a more track-focused version called the Holden Commodore HSV GTS-R W1 that has various changes made to it in order for it to accommodate the LS9 engine from the Corvette ZR1. This one produces 470KW, but just like all American V8 motors, it can easily be upgraded.

The price for this is quite a bit high. The W1 version is NZ$190k (R1.8m) and the ‘normal’ GTS-R is NZ$130k (R1.25m). But both come with manual transmissions in cars as and more powerful as than many supercars. But unlike most supercars, you get to scare the s*** out of three people at once.

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 4 – 19/20 February 2017

I skipped a day, shhh.

So today, we went driving about. We drove to the north of the north island to go see a small patch of land that our friends bought. On our way there, we stopped at a place called Sheepworld. Sheepworld had exactly five sheep, all of whom were pink – and a broken tractor. This place also had flags about it with ‘sheep’ on them, but that actually looks like clouds with legs. My parents and I had some expensive lasagne and some of the best ginger beer we’ve ever tasted.

Also, the Holdens in this country are awesome! Yes, most of them have V6s, but the odd one has a mighty ‘Murican V8. I decided that I will buy one one day and ship it to SA. It shouldn’t be a problem as it has its steering-wheel on the correct side and everything.

 

Later…

I am currently writing this from a bench at a petrol station somewhere on the North Island. The reason for this is that our car, the trusty Toyota TownAce NOAH, has decided it needs to charge its batteries with something other than it’s own alternator. I find this all hilarious. Here’s how it went…

We drove up a hill and the car started to shake a bit and lose power. It kept losing power until it had had enough. The revs went down and down and down and I was amazed that it could idle at 200rpm. Anyway, we stopped under a tree and waited a bit. Oom Abe called for help and everyone decided to go find coffee. Me, my mother, tannie Leoni and the kids walked a kilometre to the nearest hotel-ish looking building, but upon closer inspection decided to walk a bit further to the petrol station across the road. The hotel looked a bit dodgy. We waited about an hour before finally deciding to buy a new battery and risk driving back to Auckland, which the mechanic said we might not make. The 120km drive that would have taken us about an hour and a half, took about 3 with all the stopping without us even reaching our destination. Instead we half-drove half-freed our way back to civilisation.

So, in the end, rather than reaching our destination, we have another hilarious story to tell with the Branckies.

P.S. It is currently five in the morning (4pm crazy time). I am laughing inside.

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 2 – 17/18 February 2017

Well, it is currently 00:00 at night normal time, but eleven in the morning crazy time. Had a good night’s rest and I believe that jet lag won’t be a thing. Hopefully. Was slightly dizzy when I woke up, but that is probably just from being upside-down the entire time. (Hehe.:))

The internet here is a lot better than anything in Cairo, but that was to be expected as this is a first-world country and not a bit of dusty buildings stuck in a never-ending pit of warm sand. Hmm, that’s not depressing at all.

Later…

Ok so, in the time before the visit to New Zealand, I was preoccupied with the long flight. However, I didn’t really anticipate the weather this side. The weather being hot. Hot and humid. We came from a relatively cool Cairo to an unbearably hot Auckland. Quite a shock.

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 1 – 16/17 February 2017

So. New Zealand. It’s an island in the Pacific. Well, islands. With a nice bridge in-between. It is currently 10:30 in the morning, New Zealand time, which is actually 23:30 in normal speaking (GMT +2). The flight here took forever and we are literally the diameter of the planet away from either home. It’s weird. I have never been out of GMT or GMT+2. Now the days and nights have been swapped around. Luckily I slept on the 15-and-a-bit hour flight. I am now just waiting or the jet lag to hit me. Many people say that it only comes the day after, but I wouldn’t know as I’ve never had it.