The Interislander

Just time for a quick post before the ferry to South Island sails. Lovely couple of days in Wellington visits to Rivendell and the Weta workshops really rounded off our North Island Lord of the Rings experience. 

The vessel is about to sail but before we go… Twizzles got the cutest tattoo yesterday at Dr Morse Tattoo studio 

Much love 

Z xx


Some time in a volcano

In between Hobbit hunting we had the pleasure of staying in the crater of a volcano, Rotoura was our base for the night after Hobbiton and the next morning I drove us out to Wai-O-Tapu thermals as Zombie wanted to see a geyser erupt. Admittedly it’s the only driving I’ve done so far because reasons but I can say I’ve driven in a foreign country within three months of passing my test 😉. 

So you get your tickets from the gift shop (they’re very encouraging of gift shopping in NZ) and drive back round the corner to a car park next to the Geyser. A nice man explains the history of how this one was found and the chemical found which induces an erruption, washing soap of all things. And then he pours in some soap and off it goes!

Whooosh! 🐳🇳🇿 #geyser #thermals #landscape #nz #newzealand #honeybobs

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 As the tickets include it we walked round their “wonderland” which is basically a bunch of flatish land which is all thermal, so it smells a heck of a lot like sulphur and water/mud bubbles a lot. It was all pretty cool and we both enjoyed the walk (of which we’ve done a fair amount so far). The route itself probably took about two hours including photo stops and just enjoying the views. We bought some magnets on the way out and then it was back into Rotoura centre for our Māori experience at Te-Puia. 

Te-Puia is run by the Māori tribe who have lived on the ground for many many generations, Cinni our guide was fantastic at bringing to life her family history and telling us about the Māori crafts. We learnt about who there was originally no mammals opinion New Zealand so they had to make their clothes out of flat reeds and that the carvings are based on their family members. 

We were treated to another geyser erruption at the end of the tour as there are many thermals in the area, this one going off about every hour. After the tour we milled around and had some lunch then it was time for the daily show of the cultural welcome & Haka war dance. 

Before anyone visiting a Māori Meeting House is allowed to enter they have to be greeted by the warrior of the tribe & display their intent, friendship or battle. Doing so by not flinching when the warrior dances towards them and either spitting on a leaf (in war) or lifting the leaf high (in peace). There is also an amount of ritual singing as part of the greeting and response. 

Once this is through we were ushered inside and watched the most moving & wonderful performance. The ladies traditionally dance with Poi and the men do the Haka dance (lots of body slapping and tongue waggling). The purpose of the poi dancing and some stick throwing dances is to increase hand eye coordination and flexibility of the wrists, all grounding in good battle prospects. David even got up on stage with the men folk to be taught a basic Haka, he really wants to learn the full thing. I wouldn’t mind giving the poi dance a go either!

From Te-Puia we had a slightly hair-raising drive across the country to PioPio (Pee-oh Pee-oh or pewpew for short) to our motel the quaint Owls Nest. It was only so bad because paths sat nave took us on the shortest route which is usually only used by the locals who know the area, to says it was wiggly is an understatement. And it was quite wet and dark, that’s the weirdest thing getting dark at 17:30 in July! But Zombie did an astounding job and we got there safely in time for a takeaway dinner. 

The next day was our other Hobbit adventure you’ve already heard about and then onto the glow worm caves of Waitomo. We couldn’t take any photos as we would disturb said glow worms but it was very beautiful as you’d expect, and the river ride under the caves was so pretty in the dark with the glowy ceilings. A drive back in the same direction, though this time skipping the wiggly road, and we were in Taupo to meet Gregg the man who Zombie fenced with that night (see previous post).

Again another morning (Wednesday this time) Gregg kindly cooked us breakfast and then took us out to his other favourite passtime: pistol shooting! Now I must say its not something I ever thought I’d do but it was actually loads of fun! We started small, just a 22 caliber to get the feel of it and then worked our way through, including a glock like you see open tv! We had a little competition at the end, our clusters were both quite tight, unfortunately mine were a bit high so scored mostly 3-7s and Zombie really got his eye in scoring 7-9s. But it was a huge amoungpt of fun, we were out there for a fair few hours! Though my shoulder didn’t enjoy waking up the next morning much from that recoil! 

I leave you now with the promise of a Weta Cave tour, cable car up the hill and Rivendell walk to come. 

Fencing with Taupo Swords

Before we came out here Twizzles had planned for me to join a fencing class in Taupo for an evening, the idea was for me to get a little time fencing because I was going to be so long between fencing classes. This escalated rather quickly because when their coach found out I was qualified he asked me to teach a lesson! And so I did… A compound attack is an attack in fencing that includes one or more feints… 

This was the basis of the lesson taught, I won’t go into more fencing speak though lol.

The group were of various skill levels but had not had the typical training that most British clubs have had. But it was an enjoyable experience and felt really good to teach and pass on my knowledge so far from where I learnt. 

Actually I thought I’d have more to share about this but I don’t lol… I’m so grateful to Twizzles for arranging this for me!

Middle Earth 

Kia Ora!
What an amazing few days! I have no idea where to begin, It began…well, it began as you might expect. In a hole in a ground…

After a long drive from Auckland we came to Rotorua and checked in to our Motel.. A lovely little place called Ann’s Volcanic Motel (more later). But we were on our way to that hole in the ground.. Bag End. 

The Hobbiton film set is located near Matamata and forms part of a huge sheep farm, turns out the scouts selected it for the famous Party Tree, if it hadn’t had that then they would have gone elsewhere. Now when you enter the Hobbiton set you come through the stone passage that Bilbo runs through shouting “I’m going on an adventure!”

Now Kelsey, our guide, encouraged us to do this and since no one stepped forward I decided I wasn’t passing up this opportunity.. The whole group chorused “Where are you going Mr Bilbo?” And I ran (waving my scarf in lieu of a contract) and shouted “I’m going on an adventure!!!” To a resounding cheer!

Hobbiton itself is a real treat to walk around, especially when you see things you recognise. Now above Bag End is an oak tree which is fake, the trunk is made of foam and paint and the leaves are plastic. Kelsey said that the leaves occasionally blow off and if you find one you can keep it. Well, I was determined.. I scoured the path and hedgerows for them when I noticed over the ledge about 1 metre down was one of these leaves! As I said, I was determined so I used two umbrellas to pinch it and lift it up to the path.. So I own a genuine piece of the LOTR set!!! And after all that would you believe it.. I found another in a hedge! Now at this point an English girl nearby was saying out loud that she would love one for her scrap book and her boyfriend muttered “stop finding them” to me lol. It was obvious that I was going to have to save his neck so I used my chopstick method to retrieve another leaf that had fallen over the ledge… She was happy and he was relieved lol. 

I’m skipping the Volcanic region of Rotorua to put in another post.. Let’s keep this strictly LOTR.

The next place was from the filming of The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey 

This is called the Hairy Feet tour and takes place near the small town of Piopio. If you are staying here, check in to the owls nest motel BTW, really nice there.

Now up on the farm we were so lucky to be the only ones (it’s off season and it hasn’t been going long enough to really get big.. But it will, Suzie and Warwick are sitting on a gold mine!) 

We were shown where the derelict farm house was before the trolls. The entrance to the troll cave and the place where Bilbo stands when he first looks at Sting. But the wider shots where they first meet Radaghast are by far the most beautiful! Huge limestone bluffs rise straight up from the ground as though the hill side we were standing on had slipped down about 100m. The valley below us disappears off into the low hanging cloud in the distance… It’s so hard to put words to any of it because like my wedding vows.. The feelings just won’t turn into words! 

Wow… This has gone on for so long we’re in Wellington now lol. Twizzles will add a post about the Volcanic region of Rotorua and perhaps something about us shooting handguns!

Much love

Z xx

First Days in NZ

Kia Ora from Auckland! Ok so I have always dreamed of going to New Zealand… Ever since I was very very young I wanted to go… Why? I hear you ask; and I answer. Because I wanted to see the Southern Cross.. For those of you who don’t know Crux (to give it its proper name) is a constellation that only appears in the southern sky and has been a point of navigation for years. As a child I used to stare at the picture of it and yesterday evening I saw it… “Achievement Unlocked: Southern Cross 100LS”

So the journey then.. 30 hours took us from Portsmouth to Worthing, then on to Heathrow. Quick conversation with the lovely lady in red and we had seats with more legroom for our Virgin Atlantic flight to Hong Kong. Now Twizzles’ Sister (and mine now lol) swears by Virgin, in fact I believe she won’t fly with anyone else (apologies if I’m wrong on that). But I don’t really see it.. It was OK, the people we’re nice but I wasn’t blown away by it all. Still, we were comfy and we had a fairly good sleep.

Hong Kong looked like it would be nice to visit but no time for that now; we grabbed a quick meal and a fridge magnet (so we can officially say we have ‘been’ to Hong Kong) and ran for our plane… Which was delayed lol!

Not their fault, this was on the airport. 

Speaking of… Have you ever had your name called at an airport? We have! And it’s actually quite unnerving; everything is supposed to go well at the airport but when they say “there is a message waiting for you at the gate” it does make you wonder. 

Happily it was only some admin required to enter NZ. But we were away in fairly good time.. Now it is here that I have to tell you about the first level of awesomeness of Air New Zealand.. Ants, who greeted us as we boarded asked how we were and I told him we were fantastic because Honeymoon. He was really excited to hear about it and I thought that was that but no! Once we were up in the air he came along with champagne for us to toast the honeymoon and he addressed both by name even though he only saw my boarding card for just a few seconds! And then he wanted to hear about the wedding and how it went…. You jus don’t find that anywhere! 

Now when we arrived in HK there were border guards with face masks and huge temperature sensors searching for anyone with a higher body temperature. There’s still a big concern about bird flu and sars there and they take no chances.

But when we arrive in Auckland there is no red or green channel at customs.. In fact it isn’t even called customs; it’s Bio-security and they take it very seriously. Anything that could potentially damage their ecosystem: fruit, meat, eggs, honey, plants, animals even hiking equipment.. It’s all banned and if you don’t declare it or ditch it before Bio-security you get a $400 fine. 

No problems tho, we got through the guards, sniffer dogs and x-ray machines so we headed into Auckland and we are seriously tired.. Desperately in need of a shower lol.. Our lovely spacious apartment was ready so we crashed for an hour before forcing ourselves up and off to find some dinner.

The Crab Shack is much nicer than it sounds with some great food and a lovely atmosphere. I ordered the “Lobster Burger” which comes to you open and the Lobster Tail split and finishing cooking on your own individual mini BBQ! How awesome is that?! 

So we ate and came home.. Crashing out for a good 12 hours sleep.
Ah! Much better!

First full day in NZ; and after a nice relaxing breakfast we went in search of Thirteen Needles.. A tattoo place recommended by our server at Crab Shack… And I got my first tattoo in several years.. It’s representation of NZ with the southern cross around it but the stars are red with blue shading as if they had been taken from the flag and not the sky. I love it and it’s a far more permanent souvenir than any fridge magnet. 
Right, enough.. I have a long drive to Rotorua tomorrow so I’m going to sleep 
Much love 

Z xx
PS. It’s now 0650 tomorrow morning, I’ve been awake since about 0300 this morning. Guess my body clock is still not quite there


I never did manage to put a post on here about us planning ourselves a wedding but that wedding happened this Tuesday!

#ZombieTwizzlesWedding was everything we could have hoped for and so much more. We wanted something pretty low key but still a teeny bit fancy and with much fun, we certainly had that as we were in a castle but neither of us are the sort of people to not have a bit of a mumble to each other no matter the occasion.

Getting to Portsmouth was quite a mission as you would not believe how much stuff we had with us, both for our wedding, decorations for the reception and actual people, but we got there in the end. Picked up the cake and went to drop the decorations off at the reception venue. Where bff Jimmy & I then had to put some of the centre pieces together too (ginormous thank you to her Nan who is literally the most masterful person with ribbons). But then we needed one final book for the centre pieces so we had a quick dash back to the same street where the cake came from and then back to the hotel to check people in. Then a quick change and onwards to the festivities.

To start off the “weekend” we had a lovely family dinner at The Wave Maiden in central Southsea, highly recommended if you like craft beer but not if you can’t eat cheese (turns out there’s one thing you can eat on their menu if you are allergic). We milled around talking to the family, catching up with a few we hadn’t spoken to for a while and then sat upstairs at their 10 people “German ale house” table. Much wineing and dining was had and then Zombie made me walk aaaallllll the way back to our hotel, how very rude ;)

We woke up together on our wedding morining, I know, shunning tradition as usual packed up and went to find a jet wash for the car and breakfast. Good news was we bought breakfast and found a jet wash, bad news was the jet wash was broken so we just bought come car wipes and got rid of all the bird poop. It’s not like the car was dirty but it seems the birds of South England are quite prolific with their pooping and one doesn’t want to drive to their wedding in a messy car. Continuing on we ate breakfast and dropped me off to get my hair done whilst Zombie attempted to check in to our wedding night hotel early in another luckily he got the lovliest little room with a sea view.
Any way boring stuff aside we both went our ways to get ready, I had my lovely Best Lady Jimmy and very good friend Jess to boss me around and get me clothed as well as his Best Man Anya (yes, a girl) to make us all up with pretty. I must say they all did a superb job, everyone looked gorgeous and Jess well kept us on track with the timetable and the dressing. Our photograher James was around from 10:30 and he was brilliant at capturing the moments without being too in our way or making us do posed photos too much, he even went out for a cheeky smoke so I could get my dress on with just us girls. Which was a mission and a half let me tell you, turns out the main part of the dress was shorter than I had expected and my hold-up stockings had to be pulled very up to not show the tops underneath. And the overskirt I had altered was a little hard to pee in! But once we got there it was great.Anya, Jess and James left me at 12:30 to get the last of my bits together whilst they went to take some photos of Zombie man getting ready and in to his suit with Anya.

A photo posted by Jessica (@dukeofwesselton) on Jul 21, 2015 at 6:48am PDT

I have to say that I’m a little glad that the last hour was just me and my bff because I did have a little bit of a “holy crap am I doning this?” moment and it was nice to just put my earrings in and necklace on with her. As we were leaving to get to the Castle we ran in to my future mother- and sister-in-law and had a couple of photos outside the hotel. Here’s the fun part: I had to drive myself to the wedding :) no-one was insured on the car who was with me and it was a bit of fun too, except someone blocked me in and turns out heels are pretty awkward to drive in so I did a naughty and drove in just my stockings!

A photo posted by Vicki (Jimmy) (@drowsyzebra) on Jul 21, 2015 at 1:00pm PDT

Getting to the venue we were met by my parents and James the photo man. Jess was doing an impecable job wrangling the people and keeping Davey and I apart, no spoilers for us now. There were a couple of panicky moments when someone told me they were making Davey wait at the wrong end, I knew I had to walk down the aisle with him next to me, starting it as we meant to go on but luckily they let him move so the crisis was averted. Some photos were taken and then it was my turn to talk to the registrars just to make sure I knew who I was and who I was marrying! Must say I didn’t think my shoes through when I was picking the venue, so many cobbles!

And then it was time! I walked up the stairs with my Best Lady and the wonderful venue coordinator Sharon holding up my skirt. Then there we were, all grown up getting married to my best friend. I’m so glad that he ass standing near the door, with all the people we love watching us it was a little nervy for us but we had each other and our pretty song “Concerning Hobbits” from the first Lord of the Rings movie and all was great. The ceremony was quite simple, just some words of confirmation that we wanted to be married, no one objecting and the I take yous before we spoke our vows to each other. We had both written them out on cards so that we could read them then have to keep after and what a debacle that turned into, we both ended up just reading them and tossing them on to the table and my main quote was split across two cards! But it was so lovely to hear what we had to say to each other and yes we did have a bit of a happy cry each. We were told by a few people later that there wasn’t a dry eye in the room at all. Achievement unlocked: Make 40 peole cry at once.

And then we were Married! We signed the paperwork to the Moonlight Sonnata  because we couldn’t seem to pick anything else and left the room together to Another Girl Another Planet *our* song. We did some meeting and greeting with our guests and had photos with everyone who asked. Then many many posed photos from our list.

Also to please Mr Fencer a guard of honour was held for us by his fencing coach and included family and friends, a well as a group of them doing a salute together.

It was quite strange being the centre of attention, everyone wanted a photo with me and it felt a little like they didn’t want as many with Davey, even though he looked so dapper in his tails and bow tie. But I’m glad that everyone had a great time and so many people said how beautiful the ceremony was, we didn’t want anything fancy and that’s exactly what we got.

A photo posted by Jessica (@dukeofwesselton) on Jul 21, 2015 at 10:17am PDT

We all went our separate ways then as we had to have some more photos taken with just us and everyone else needed to find themselves the way to the party and some dinner. We walked along to the pier, pushed some pennies, sat on a carousel and of course stood on the beach! Then we hopped in a taxi to the reception. I admit I got a little snappy when it was 5pm and not only were some people not actually there yet but no one was even in the reserved room for us to meet them. But that got sorted quite quickly and all was well. We entered and the drinks began, of course I did nearly trip over the dress as we entered but I suppose it was bound to happen at some point.

The food was great, the chatting was great and I could finally get out of the floaty long skirt and heels! And then we cut the cake, had some awesome speeches and then a wonderful first dance. Everyone danced, the photo man went home and we had the time of our lives. There was absolutely disco dancing towards the end but I’m not sure who got pictorial evidence…

So many people have told us since how much they enjoyed our day and we really couldn’t have done it without each one of them be it for the help, the ideas, the fixings, the love or just plain turning up. I could keep waxing on about how lovely it was and such but let’s be honest, the people most likely reading this were there with us. So thank you to everyone and I leave you with my words from a photo I posted the other day after opening all our wonderful cards.

A single step

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step ~ Laozi

I suppose today that is quite literally true. When we leave home today we shall be coming back the long way around. But in a more philsophical sense; I started this journey long ago. It was in what I now dub as “my previous life”; a girl walked into my shop…

We didn’t stop and stare into each other’s eyes in a moment of “we both knew”. But in that moment both our lives started a new path, it took a number of years for us to even know it. 

How many choices, how many decisions led to us both being in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time? 

So today we begin our greatest journey… We begin a new phase in our lives together… When we next sit in this room together, we will be married and we will have been around the world. 

“In that book, which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you appear the words, ‘here begins a new life'” ~ La Vita Nuova