Leaving Easter Island for Tahiti and Auckland NZ
09/02/2008 - Pacific
So we hired a car today to see the rest of the Easter Island before we move on. Its quite nice, some Suzuki Jeep thing but lacking in promised Air Con! Phew! There are no road signs on the Island, they assume you know where you're going, which meant frequent stops to turn around and double back as you realise you've been heading up someone's drive for the past few mins! Our first stop was the Ana Te Pahu caves, these are underground lava tunnels/holes in the lava crust that randomly appear in the middle of a flat field, quite cool and you can wander in them for a long way (if you have a torch!). Cameron's nose hurt after a few wrong turns! Ahu Akivi was next with its 7 Moai facing out to the distant ocean, its nice to see these places without the hoardes of tourists there at the same time. We stopped next at the Puna Pau quarry where the red stone Topknots were carved out. Like at the Moai quarry they are the undelivered few lying around where they were abandoned. We spent a lovely hour back at Anakena beach playing in the warm waters and then drying off on the sandy beach. On our way back to town we stopped again at Tongariki and the Moai quarry, fantastic to have these places to ourselves to wander about undisturbed. Back at the hotel we planned to just shower, grab our luggage and head for the airport but it was not to be. The hotel informed us that the flight was delayed and wouldn't even arrive on the Island until 0130 ( we were supposed to depart at 2230). So they suggested we head for the Tapati festival. This was a great idea, we wandered around the festival, drank some beer, watched the dancing, drank some beer, ate some candy floss, drank some beer and had a lovely evening. The whole town (all 4000 of them) seemed to be out enjoying themselves! Finally got to the airport at midnight, and the plane left around 2am.
Anatepahu S27.1340, W109.4259, 22m
Ahu Akivi S27.1150, W109.3951, 104m
Punapau S27.1481, W109.4046, 176m
Anakena Beach S27.0729, S109.3224, 1m (!)
Tongariki S27.1256, W109.2770, 8m
Day 31 (GPS Sofitel S17.5766, W149.6153, 20m - the 7th floor!)
So it was 3am when we arrived at Faa'a Airport, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia!! An expensive short taxi to the Sofitel Resort, and then it was sleepy-time till early afternoon!! We have a balcony this time, and bath robes! Woo-hoo very posh! Used the hotel facilities for lunch and that meant a hamburger and a pizza cost over 12 pounds each, Ouch! However we have a stunning view from the swimming pool out over the lagoon to the next Island. Found we had a Carrefour just down the road, so we bought sandwiches for dinner (cheapskates that we are!).
Lazy morning spent lying on sunbeds by the beach, this IS the life! Then we headed out on a tour of the main Tahiti island we're staying on in the afternoon. It was great to escape the hotel and see a bit of the place. Our guide, Cookie, took us to some lovely view points, showed us VERY hot black sand beaches (like walking on coals), and stopped at a great blow-hole where he demonstrated how wet you could get! He also pointed out many film locations from "Mutiny on the Bounty", and took us to the Paul Gauguin museum and a gorgeous spring gardens filled with all kinds of fruit trees and flowers. Last stop was a small cave where Cameron posed for a photo and narrowly avoided being hit on the head by a falling fruit! Dinner this evening was a very civilised baguette, doughnuts and beer on our balcony - classy us! Top marks Carrefour for Tahiti bargains.
Lighthouse and hot black sand beach S17.4956, W149.4954, 2m
Blowhole S17.7605, W149.3668, 1m
Day 33 (Microbrewery S17.5362, W149.5681, 4m)
Another lazy morning, this time by the pool (and it rained! but it was tropical so we didn't care!), before we caught the bus in to Papeete for the afternoon. Its a tiny place for a capital "City" but we spent an hour or so walking about, and then found a micro brewery to while away the rest of the afternoon! For dinner we had decided to try the highly reccommended Roulette vans which come to the harbour every night, basically they are just up-market burger vans cooking all kinds of food with you as the audience, and serving them to you at plastic table and chairs nearby. We had a chinese which was very good! Getting home was trickier as we had no idea where the bus stop was for the return journey, but eventually we found a bus coming along the road, we flapped our arms frantically, and luckily they took pity on us and we hopped on board! I don't think either of us have been impressed with Tahiti, it's been a disappointment to be honest - too much 'stereotypal French attitude' there ; service is poor, and prices are horrendous! Our best examples being in the supermarket 4 normal yoghurts were over 10 pounds & a Day trip to Bora Bora 300+ quid each. Still it was a nice relaxing few days and the scenery is stunning.
A rather bizarre day, its Thursday in Tahiti and we were up at 4.30 am to head to the airport for our flight to Auckland. This would take about 6 hours in the air. We took off an hour late, not sure why, but anyway off we went and when we landed.... It was FRIDAY lunchtime! We had crossed the International Date Line and lost an entire day, and it was as if our flight had taken 28 hours! WEIRD!
Day 35 (YHA : S36.8556, E174.7634, 78m, Skytower S36.8485, E174.7629, 35m (at base!) )
Half the day gone, and we never even got a chance to see it! Arrived New Zealand in time for lunch! It's great to be back in the English speaking world after so long away trying and failing to use a handful of words of Spanish. Airport bus took us in to Auckland and dropped us off near the YHA, our en-suite room is fine. Headed out in to the big smoke, and decided our first stop had to be the Skytower for great views, and to orientate ourselves. We headed up to the top via a glass elevator as mad fools hurled themselves off the outside - and with the aid of a couple of ropes flew 300+m to the ground below! Stunning views from the top of the tower, its was a really clear and sunny day which obviously helped. Afterwards we took a stroll along the water front which was lined with hundreds of bars and cafes, chose one which seemed nice, and settled in for beer and food. Nicky found a cider for the first time in a month, Wahhey!!
Took an early ferry out to the Suburb of Devonport, just 12 mins away by boat, yet its like stepping back in time 50 years. A Really quaint waterfront, old style houses with loads of land and fabulous views of the Auckland skyline. We followed a walking tour around the place, past beaches, up hills, and around the old fort site with it's tunnels and battlements. A very pleasant way to pass a morning before catching the boat back to the city. A quick shopping trip for more memory cards for the cameras, was followed by us heading off to Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium. We were driven there in a small transit van with a huge plastic shark and penguins attached to the roof! NICE! Inside (the aquarium, not the van) was pretty cool, they had a large penguin tank which we visited in a Snocat, then we watched the stingrays, they were huge and went inside the shark tunnels (This site had the world's first walk through tunnels like this). An excellent afternoons entertainment, particularly when the stingray knocked over the lady giving us a talk about them, SPLASH she went! Ha Ha Ha, we went (guiltily). Dinner was at Tony's Steak house, not far from the YHA, and again with good food. Nicky went all out NZ ; with NZ Camenbert and NZ Lamb washed down with NZ Sauvigon Blanc. Back to the YHA for more photo and blog action - and here it is!
Thanks for all your messages, it's great to hear from you all when we get access to our email, and good news is that both our phones are now working for texts, so you can message us that way too. Congrats to Mark & Gail & glad Rach came through her op OK, and happy birthday Finlay for tomorrow the 10th (on our time-zone anyways!)
Tomorrow we pick up the camper van and head off to the great NZ unknown...