Everything was going so well!

Seems that our two guides haven’t been getting along. Ever since they got back on the bus after a break in Wellington, things have deteriorated on the bus. As we sped towards the Bay of Islands, the weather got progressively worse and although we managed to put up 4 tents in the dry, and the 5th we put up in the wet and were completely drenched in the process.

We were yet again numbering 30, which none of us was very happy about, and throughout the 2 days we spent just outside Pahia, we had the driver constantly undermine the guide (or assistant, as our male driver insisted on calling her). So we never knew what we were supposed to do, as we had 2 conflicting messages. Good start.

It rained, it poured. The streams and rivers were swollen and there was a good 2m swell out in the bay. I went sailing. That was a good experience. 8 of us went – in a single hulled boat – many people have been on catamarans elsewhere. So we started motoring out through this 2m swell and once into the bay we were in calmer waters and passed by Cook Island. We stopped off at a small island – one of the few that are grazed by sheep and took some photos from the 100ft cliffs. The cloud base was low during the trip but we didn’t really get rained on.

We then stopped in a sheltered cove for a bite to eat before hoisting the sail and heading back to Pahia. Some of us were given a chance to steer, and I was last up so had to steer back to near the landing wharf, with both sail and engine. That was a bit odd.

There were also a couple of cultural options we could have done – but the event I wanted to go to was cancelled due to poor attendance. Ah well. I shall learn about Maori culture from the museum in Wellington.

From the Bay of Islands we headed back to Waiwera (sp?) via Sandboarding and a coastal walk and also via some Kauri trees. I didn’t find these impressive as most other people did – think I’m a tad spoilt by the baobabs I’ve seen. Our visit to the hotpools was pretty much overshadowed by the following unfolding events.

During the 2 days we spent in the Bay of Islands, it appears that (we have conflicting stories) our driver turned round to our guide and said he didn’t want to work with her anymore. He apparently turned round to some customers and said she’d handed her notice in. I don’t know which to believe but what I do know is that our driver is not the nicest person.

On our return from the Bay of Islands and at one of the stops to see Kauri trees, he drove into the carpark that even with a trailer he should’ve been able to do a 3 pt turn in (I know our driver on the South Island would’ve managed it). He completely and utterly made a pig’s mess of it. One kind, helpful lass on the bus was told to shut up by our driver. Who, on earth, tells a paying customer to shut up? I was livid.

He thinks he’s the bee’s knee’s, God’s gift to women, that women should be in the kitchen, etc, etc, that any single woman on the trip is fair game (even tho he’s apparently smitten with someone wherever he lives). I have been counting the nights left on this tour simply because I have had enough. I seriously thought about jumping off the tour on our return to Auckland and hiring a car and finishing it off myself. But I do know that I wouldn’t have got any refund from Flying Kiwi as 3 couples who joined our tour and came with us to the Bay of Islands all left in Auckland instead of continuing round. They’re getting pitiful amounts of refund. As 2 of them are tour guides themselves back in Alaska I really hope they get more than what they’ve been offered.

So in Auckland our guide was told, by our driver that he’s had enough of her, and she didn’t know if she was going to continue to Wellington with us, or not. He drove off, leaving her with people’s luggage that should have been in the trailer, but he couldn’t be bothered to put it back. Some good souls continuing on the tour helped her bring it round the corner to were the next set of people were waiting. Our guide got back on the bus determined not to leave us in the lurch, and managed to only get as far as Rotorua. Our drive through the Coromandel Peninsula was fast, way too fast. Our drive back from there was way too fast. Windy roads with signs of recommended speed limit for bends, which our driver seemingly ignored. I had words with him. I was told, “well you know, I drive over the speed limit, that’s what I do. I was only 5km over the speed limit.” I didn’t accept that, and told him that to drive at that speed with 20 paying customers on board, round those bends at more than the recommended speed limit was foolhardy. I am also going to make a formal complaint to FK because I don’t believe that someone who drives as recklessly as that should be allowed to drive a big bus, with paying customers, with no seat-belts, and a huge heavy trailer containing 20 people’s luggage.

So in Rotorua after our guide did the shopping, our driver turned round to her and said that she may as well go, now. So she did. Our driver really is a nasty piece of work. Last night we spent at a bush camp, and one couple who had paid for upgrades every night had to sleep in a tent, because our driver didn’t want to take them to their upgrade place.

This morning, (now in Taupo) we had a new guide come out to our campsite, and I’ve already spoken to her about the heavy footed acceleration of our driver.

I am going to do the Tongariro crossing tomorrow, the only thing I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had hired a car as I would’ve needed it at the start and the finish. Seems most of the group is doing it, and it will give us a break from being in the bus. Tonight I am upgrading – for only the 2nd night this tour and tomorrow we sleep in a motel anyway, before heading to Wellington. Not a good ending to the tour. And the events I shall make quite clear to da management of FK, so they don’t get a one-sided monologue from our driver.

Rant over.