Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vodaphone Answered - 12 Days Later!

Here is their reply to me...

Hello Robyn,

I have discussed your case with my manager.

We have come to a conclusion stating that we would be able to provide you with $10 off your broadband service if your home phone line rental is with us .Since your home phone line is with a different provider you are currently paying $50 for your broadband service. If your home phone line rental is through us you will be eligible for a $10 direct dial discount, Hence your broadband service will be charged at $40 and your home phone line rental will cost you $42.50 inclusive of GST. We have decided that at this stage if you decide to bring your home phone line rental to us we will provide you with 3 months of free double your data. We will not be able to extend this offer at the moment but there could be newer plans or promotions sometime next year.

Alternatively you could also check out the ideal pack we offer. Below is the link to the ideal pack.

We also have the double your data option.

How much does it cost?

Double your data on the easy pack (get another 1GB) - $5 per block( same for broadband 1)
Double your data on the ideal pack (get another 5GB) - $10 per block( same for broadband 2)
Double your data on the ultimate pack (get another 20GB) - $30 per block

Please let us know in what you would like to do.

If there are any other further queries please respond back to this email.

Kind regards,

Vivek George

and here is my reply to them....

Dear Vivek George,


This doesn’t really suit. For one – I have phone two lines, not 1. Someone else uses the telecom line and that can’t be changed.

Telecom, Orcon, maxnet, Xnet are all offering 10gb data plans at the same price that you offer me only 5. I can go to any of those companies RIGHT NOW, and get 10gb of data allowance for the same price I’m paying you now for only 5gb. Your double your data plan only gives me 3 months. I need something more long term than that. ONLY one of those companies want my phone for that, and that’s Telecom, of which I already have my phone with – the others don’t care, and I still get MORE data allowance for the same price.

Why should I have to move my phone to you when I can’t USE a phone to get that discount. That is simply discrimination – I CANNOT use a phone so why do I need to change it? I realise you are not the only broadband company that is offering discounts like this, but when it comes to DEAF customers, it really does smack of discrimination. I don’t actually want a phone. The only reason I have it is because I need broadband. You need to start thinking laterally and offer customers what THEY want, not what YOU want them to have. AND have a pro-rata price plan accordingly.

Not only this – your customer service leaves a lot to be desired. Firstly, it took 10 days to answer my original query. Your reason for being late is simply not good enough. Vodafone is supposed to be a leading telecommunications company, specializing in broadband/internet which actually encompasses email, and both the auto response emails full of useless and conflicting information makes you look unprofessional. Secondly, I’m sorry, but 10 days to answer an email ? There is simply no excuse whatsoever. Further, when you replied to me 2 days ago, you said you would get back to me that night, or at the very latest the next morning. You did not keep that promise and took another 48 hours to respond. Again, that is simply not good enough. If you put something in writing to a customer, then that is what the customer expects, and then when it doesn’t happen, then the person/company that comes off looking stupid when it doesn’t happen, it once again looks totally unprofessional.

Like many ihug customers, I see that the time has come to move companies. You are simply not being competitive enough, both with correspondence or data plans. Further, you need a help desk that actually helps people. In New Zealand there are approximately 200,000 people that are deaf and hearing impaired, that a). either can’t hear well enough to get through your 0800 number phones, and/or b). need to contact you through email. Yet you treat these people as second class citizens, by not catering to their needs, by not responding to emails. We expect equal opportunities and equal access. So an email/fax/letter is like a phone call to us.

Perhaps you should give a dedicated email address for deaf/hearing impaired customers so that they can access your company.

I would like to see this complaint go further, not just to your case manager but higher up the chain. So to make sure this happens, I will be printing off this, and posting it in to the CEO of Vodafone, with copies to the local papers, and to the Deaf Association of New Zealand.

Robyn Carter

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It's now been 10 days since my original email to vodafone. Since then I've sent another three, one to a vodafone manager.

Nothing. Nada. Zip - they haven't bothered replying to anything.

What's the point in paying a company when you get no service? How can I force them to answer my queries? They obviously don't care about their customers, or their customers needs whatsoever.

I've also contacted Fair Go - NZ's consumer rights TV programme, and I'm about to do it again.

Vodafone - SHAME ON YOU. I can't make a phone call - I cannot hear on the phone. - Your helpdesk is so unprofessional that it doesn't reply to any queries. You're in the business of technology - internet, email - now why can't you actually use your technology to answer a simple query. 10 days is simply not good enough for a reply. Especially for 4 emails.

You suck bigtime.

Actually - they just sent me another autoresponse email to say that they are experiencing delays and that I will be contacted in the next 10 days. What an absolutel JOKE! I contacted them over 10 days ago, and I haven't had a reply yet.

They should change their auto response to...

Don't bother using this website as we won't reply to you!!!

Time to contact Telecom I think.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 4 - Havelock to Picton - Havelock

Day four dawned cold, but sunny. It may be cold but the sky is this brilliant blue. There's no humidity, just clear crisp air. It feels fantastic.

Once again our fantastic tour guide Carol, showed us around the area. We headed to Havelock first for morning tea. Then we drive to Picton via the Queen Charlotte Sounds, getting back to Blenheim around 4pm - so another good day trip and seeing the sights.

Havelock is located at the meeting point of the Pelorus and Kaiuma Rivers on the coast northwest of Blenheim. It calls itself the "green-lipped mussel capital of the world". Once a gold mining settlement, the town has many quaint colonial buildings which today house boutique galleries and eating places (be sure to order the mussels). The Havelock Museum has interesting displays that explain the town's past. At Havelock's marina there are water taxis and charter boats ready to take you fishing or show you around Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds. Sea kayaks can also be hired here for guided or independent paddling tours. Local accommodation includes private holiday homes, a camping ground, lodges, B&Bs, homestays and motels.

The population of havelock is approximately 470 people. So it's a 'small' town!

The first thing that catches your eye when you arrive in Havelock, is the art gallery...

Brightly painted, it draws you to go and explore. Inside is just as good with a wide range of artwork available. I could have stayed in there for ages. Over the road from the art gallery was a Scottish Pub. I was fascinated in this, as I've seen plenty of Irish pubs all over the world, but never a Scottish one. The Manager was raising the flag as I was taking he image. It was a bit too early for a Haggis and a beer though, so we didn't go in!!!

While Carol, Nikki and Logan (we had Logan with us as he was sick), wandered around the art gallery, I headed up the road to have a look and take photos of some other buildings. I wonder what happened here...

Probably too much beer and haggis at The Clansman!

I met up with a motorcyclist in colourful garb. He seemed to fit in with the decor, so I asked him to pose for me. He was more than happy to and I was very appreciative of this. I know you're not meant to talk to strangers but I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity!

Even with a population of only 470 people, Havelock still boasted a reasonable sized town hall...

The crime rate is obviously not that big though, because in comparison, the cop shop was small...

It's said to be the Green-Lipped mussell capital of the world. So we headed to the Mussel Pot Cafe for morning tea. I didn't feel like mussels though. I was beginning to get a sore throat and I wasn't that hungry.

Instead I had a drink and some chips. Beautiful gold chips - the big ones, not like the tiny french fries that you get everywhere in the USA. If you look closely, thats a cup of coffee, and the plate is twice the size of the coffee cup. Now look at the length of that chip!!! Huge! That's why I took the photo!

No wonder the cop shop is small - look at the size of their church!!

Anyway - thats the Havelock part - I will some more tomorrow. I have now done 123 photos for Blenheim, I only have 505 to go!!

The Hunters Garden Marlborough Christmas Tour Recipes

I had no sooner than put the blog up about the Christmas tour when I got an email from one of the homes with the recipes we got to try. So I'm putting them up here. I really really really recommend the fig slice, but not sure which one it is - so you'll have to make both!!!

Faye's Christmas Cake

500g butter
500g sugar
10 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon essence
1 tsp almond essence
2kg mixed fruit
500g Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spcie
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Slosh of Brandy

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time.
Add all essence and brandy, sifted flour followed by fruit, mix well.
Cook slowly 130 deg for 5 hours.

Craisins and Almond Biscotti

2 cups sifted (300g) plain flour
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup Craisins
2 ½ tsp vanilla
1 1/5 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 Cup Blanched Almonds
4 Eggs

Place all in a bowl and mix to form a dough.
Turn out onto floured surface, Shape into two 25cm x 5 cm logs and press to flatten.
Bake for 35 minutes until golden.
Cool and slice into 5 mm thick slices and bake a further 20 mts or until crisp.
Preheated oven 160.

A Slice of Spice

100g pitted prunes
100g dried apricots
100 g natural almonds roasted
300g mixed dried citrus peel
1 TBS chinese five spice
100g dried figs
100g pitted dates
100g dark chocolate chopped
100g plain flour
icing sugar to dust

Chop fruit into pieces slightly smaller than an almond, add all ingredients and mix well.
Stir in 180ml water till well combined.
Line 18cm x 27cm slices tin. Press mixture.
Cover sheet baking paper and bake in 160 deg oven for 45 mts.

Spiced Fig Roll

375g dried figs roughly chopped
50g glace ginger finely chopped
40g pistachio kernels finely chopped
½ tsp mixed spice
150g pitted dates chopped
45g blanced almonds chopped
70g dark chocolate chopped

Process figs and dates until a rough paste forms, then transfer to bowl process the rest of ingredients and mix.
Roll into two logs 23 cm long.
Wrap in plastic wrap and put in fridge 6 hours.
Cut 1cm slices.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blenheim - Day 3 - The Hunters Garden Marlborough ChristmasTour

It's taking me ages to get through my trip to Blenheim - Heck - I'm only up to Day 3 still, and I've been back several weeks already. I have processed 93 images so far, and still have 575 to go. It's going to take a while. The good thing about doing the blogs and the images, is that it forces me to delete more photos, and be ruthless, only saving the best.

Anyway, after the daytrip to Kaikoura, grabbing a bite to eat, and saying bye to Alexandra - Nikki, Carol and I headed back into town for the first tour we had booked. The Hunters Garden Marlborough Christmas tour.

This tour encompassed 5 houses that had been dressed up especially for Christmas around Blenheim. Some were out in the vineyards, and others were in the suburbs. There was a real mix.

It was freezing cold that night, so we dressed warmly, and casually. I was still hobbling on crutches. On queueing up for the bus, we noticed we were the only casually dressed people on our tour, everyone else had dressed up to the nines. Oh well. We were dressed for comfort and warmth.

The Blenheim and South Island people on the bus that we met were lovely. I wish I could say the same thing about the Waikato Group, but unfortunately they were so up themselves, their behaviour almost came across as rude. I can't stand uppity and unfriendly behaviour like this, it's pointless and unnecessary. It really doesn't hurt to smile and be friendly.

We were hoping that we might get some hot mulled wine on the tour, but apart from half a glass of wine at the first house, that was the only drink we got offered during the whole of the tour. That was disappointing considering the tour itself was $80 each.

However, the Christmassy decorations, and the people opening up their homes were fantastic. Friendly, and informative I can't fault them. I'm not sure if I would want to put a tour bus load of people through my house at any time!! They all had gone to an incredible amount of work.

I took some photos but because I had no tripod, and it was evening, not all of them turned out well.... But a few i was pleased with...

The images above and below are actually the image. The above one is the original, of Christmas lights in a star, which looked fantastic above the mantelpiece. This particular decoration was in several of the houses we visited. I think it looks stunning. The image below has just had the levels in photoshop pulled back to make the background darker. This in turn made it more red and christmassy.

Christmas would not be christmas without cake. At each house there was a Christmas cake made and beautifully decorated giving me ideas for my own cake that I hope to make sometime before Christmas. This one I really did like - and the decoration doesn't look too hard...

This one below is more traditional, and is very similar to what my Mother makes. I live in hope that she makes one for me each year so I don't have to slave over the oven!!

These candles were a centrepeice of a beautiful table set up for Christmas. I was really pleased how the image turned out. I did ask the owner if this is actually what her table looked like on Christmas day. She said yes - but there was always more food on the day!!

Lastly the below image were of little wooden toys against a white wall in the house. It looked really effective.

We got back to Blenheim around 9.30pm, very cold and dying for a hot chocolate or coffee. Unfortunatey, Blenheim is a small town, mainly rural, and doesn't have a cafe culture. In other words, nothing was open so we headed straight back to the farm to warm up in front of the fire.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vodafone - Shame - Another Deaf Unfriendly Company

I'm not very happy with Vodafone. I have to deal with them because ihug (Internet Home Users Group), sold themselves to them. When it was ihug, I had a great service there, if I ever needed help, I used to email someone, and give my MSN details and a helpdesk attendee would add me and we would sort the problem via msn, seeing I couldn't hear on the phone. This was fantastic and a service all companies should offer to deaf clients.

Anyway - Vodafone is now my provider of Broadband services. I don't like their plans, they favour phone users - if you take phone and tolls out with them, then you can get cheaper broadband. Well - what about the people who can't use phone and tolls and dont want them? Their data allowance plans are funny too. They have 1gb, 3gb an 5gb data allowances, but then the next one is 20gb. Well - how about a 10gb plan? Something in the middle. But no.

Anyway - I looged onto the Telecom Broadband services and notice they're offering a 10gb plan for the same price as I'm paying for a 5gb plan at Vodafone.

So before changing, I decided to contact Vodafone to ask what they could do for me, a long time user since 1996. They probably don't care as they only bought the company recently, but those existing users are important, as that is what was in their purchase price, and if they don't cater for the existing customers, then they will lose them.

Anyway - I sent the email last weekend and got an automated reply. This reply was really weird. First it said...

Do NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. This email message was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming email.

If you need to add information, or cancel your question, you can do so through the 'My Help' section of this site.

Okay - automated response. I can live with that. The next part of of the email starting to be a bit weird. Firstly, it was filed under a separate heading called 'auto response'.

Dear Robyn,

Thank you for your feedback.

We are extremely grateful that you have taken the time to contact us with this feedback. This will be channelled to the appropriate department(s). Please keep in mind that they may not be able to contact you directly.

Well - why won't they be able to contact me directly? I furnished my email address didn't I? Most companies have email, and if you didn't forward it that on to the department - then why didn't you?

But now comes the really weird stuff....

In the spirit of the Silly Season our secret santa gifts are intended to make customers smile by celebrating great things about summer and the silly season.

Whether it is because of an amusing phrase on a fridge magnet, a fun colour on a beach towel or a weekend away to a sunny part of New Zealand.

The gifts are allocated entirely randomly. They range from the silly to the spectacular and we feel that each of the gifts embody something fun and friendly.

Well - what does this have to do with my data allowance. I have no idea what sort of Santa gifts the company is offering, and quite frankly, I would rather the company spend their money on a decent helpdesk service that could cater for the likes of me. And - why would I want to know about this in an auto response email - it doesn't make any sense whatsoever for me. If you really want to send me a gift - send me money, or offer me a free month of Broadband, or extra data allowance.

Finally, the ended with this little gem...

If you have any further questions please reply to this email or call our Customer Contact Centre on 777 from your Vodafone mobile or 0800 800 021 from any other phone. From overseas you can contact us on +64 9 355 2007.

Yours sincerely
Vodafone Customer Support

Well - WTF??? Please reply to this email??? Didn't they say up the top of the email DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE?? This makes the company look really dumb and unprofessional in my eyes. We're dealing with idiots!!

To date - I have NOT had a reply back from my query. At all. Nada. Zip. I have waited 5 days. And NO I cannot ring their 0800 numbers or any other number they state. If they're going to offer an email service for customers - then they need to use it and treat them as important like a phone call.

Come on Vodafone - you are so Deaf unfriendly. It's time to pull yourself together and work for your customers.

I have been onto the website again under the 'My Help' section and there is NO, absolutely no reply to my request for help. Useless - why does it take 5 days to reply to an email?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blenheim - Day 3 Kaikoura Town

I was about 22 years old when I was last in Kaikoura - just a few years ago! I travelled down on the train from Picton. I actually remember that train ride really well, as I was reading a novel that was so sad I couldn't stop crying!! Sobbing! Then laughing knowing the rest of the train would be looking at me wondering why I was so upset, then bursting into tears again. Shame I can't remember the book. Back then all Kaikoura had was a cafe and a railway station. The train actually stopped at the cafe and we had enough time to get a coffee and something to eat. Coffee was only instant back then too, nobody knew about cappachino's and flat whites or anything like that. I feel old.

Now Kaikoura is a bustling seaside town with a population of 3485 (2001 census) that has grown really quickly. A place where tourists, both national and international, stop to go swimming with the seals, whale watching, swimming with dolphins, helicopter rides, you name it if you want eco-tourism and adventure, this is the place to be.

The town boasts hotels, bars, pubs, restaurants, supermarkets, art gallerys and is brightly coloured and has a lovely fun feel to it.

This photo was taken just south of the town looking back towards Kaikoura. Kaikoura itself is to the left of the bay. The mountains were spectacular.

At the point was an interesting chimney, all that was left standing. The original building now obviously reclaimed by the sea, and would make a great bbq area in summer :)

Kaikoura itself, with the mountains in the background. The same mountain range as the in first image.

The town was full of brightly painted buildings and buildings painted with Murals...

And like any town or city - they have graffiti artists!

We picked a Thai restaurant to have lunch which was offering a $10 menu, and we all ordered a glass of wine. Lots of laughter as per usual, and I had to drink most of Carol's wine as well as she was driving. That was so hard too!

After lunch Carol drove us up to a lookout point so we can view the whole town in all directions. I used a program called autopano pro to stitch these two images together in one, and to give you an idea of the layout of the town. Those small dots on the water are boats. The weather was clouding over and looking to rain. It was so cold that on the way down I said to Carol it felt like it was going to snow. Two seconds later it started hailing!!

Carol wanted to stop at the quilting shop as it was a good one, before we headed back to Blenheim, so while the others were browsing in the shop I found another interesting building nearby that was the local drama club hall. Once again, it was brightly painted. The murals seemed to keep to the theme of the town.

It actually started pouring with the rain this image - I guess you can tell by the colour of the sky! So I joined the others in the quilt shop. I bought a quilt pattern to do when I finish the other quilt I have started. The problem is I don't have a sewing machine so it all needs to be done by hand. It takes so long. I think a sewing machine might be on the cards to purchase.

We ended up in the quilt shop for far too long and we suddenly realised it was getting late, and that we would have to skidaddle to be home in time for Carol's kids coming home from school. So we literally flew out the door back to the Landrover. I was quite sad to leave Kaikoura, it's a place that really needs more time than a few hours to explore. There's museums, seal swimming, whale watching, quilt shops, and a whole other host of things to see and do. We've decided to go back next year but have one overnighter there as well.

The drive home was uneventful, and Carol very politely stopped the car several times so I could photograph a few more things that I had seen on the way down. Like this Crayfish shop at Waipapa Bay... (yum)

And a very interesting Church. The sea is directly behind it but hidden by the trees.

The rest of the photos were grab shots as we were on the road...


And yet more Grapevines...

And the last image is the winery just up the road from Carol which I did a grab shot because the sun was on it - not a terribly good image, but it's the Grove Mill Winery, and thats the building where I bought my crate of wine from!!!

We arrived home not too late, had dinner in the form of a toasted sandwich, said goodbye to Alexandra and Jimmi-Zac, then we headed to the first of our Garden Tours from Hunters Garden Marlborough - the Christmas tour where all the houses are dressed up for Christmas.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Seals

Ok - I couldn't resist showing you just a few more photos of these amazing wild seals. After the images I took in the last blogpost, we climbed back in the car and we stopped at another place a bit further down the road where there was a viewing platform. Here we could see yong seals as well, and not just the big male ones.

This one is quite a bit smaller than the others so it's either an older pup, or a female. Note that the sea was really choppy, but the seas along the coast are often big.

They were everywhere - lying in the sun on the rocks, on the beach, and even in the grass.

Back in the car we went further along the road, through Kaikoura and about 2 or 3 kilometres south of the town, so Carol can show us the gorgeous vistas just south of Kaikoura. She pulled into a carpark but we couldn't park the car due to this..

Of course I jumped out of the landrover sans crutches to take more photos. This one was amazing - didn't even complain if I got too close, so I got closer...

I changed to my Macro lens and got closer..

And Closer...

Carol, Nikki and Alexandra were in the car waiting for the seal to rear up and fwap me one, injurying me further. Nikki even got out to take a photo of me taking a photo of the seal to show how close I was...

But after that photo I got even closer...

and closer still...

I was so close I could have stroked him/her and I was simply amazed tha he/she let me get so close to him/her. However, I knew it was a wild animal, and that he/she had teeth and could inflict a nasty bite - so I resisted the urge to reach out and stroke that lovely fur. I was very very happy with the photographic opportunity and I must say he/she was a most obliging model. Better than some humans even!!!

Blenheim - Day 3 - Kaikoura Road Trip with the Girls - Part 2 - The Seals

The Seals were quite something. Again - despite being on crutches I was climbing onto Rocks to get closer to them - the closer the better.

If I got too close - they would bark at me to warn me off. Or they would simply slide into the sea. Some didn't care either way!!

I guess the sun was too warm, and they were too full of fish to care. I googled this information to learn about them - but thought it would be good to put in here too. The photos in between are all mine!

The New Zealand Fur Seal is only found on the coasts of New Zealand and it’s sub-Antarctic islands with a few colonies on the south coast of Australia. Unlike true seals they have visible ears and do not have a blubber layer so they have fur for warmth. The fur is in two layers. The outer layer of stiffer hairs is silvery brown when dry with the inner layer of soft water proof fur being reddish brown.

Male Fur Seals grow up to about 2 metres in length and weigh up to about 200kg. They have very thick necks and appear to have a mane. Because of this they are sometimes mistakenly called “sealions”. Females are of slimmer build and only weigh up to about 100kg.

During the breeding season, November to December, they are territorial and become very aggressive if approached to closely. Extreme care should be exercised if there are pups about or when you are between the sea and the seals. If a seal decides to make a run for the water it is not about to stop for you and a 100+kg of seal on top of you is no joke! They also have very large and dirty teeth. which can and do inflict serious injuries which WILL infect.

They have only bred in the Kaikoura area since about 1985, the population here being a transient one of approximately 2,000 with the greatest numbers occurring in winter. There are four main haul out areas along the Kaikoura coast.

Today seals are again finding themselves at the center of interest to commercial operators but this time it is in a passive way that the seals themselves seem to find very entertaining. Once in the water the seals are extremely agile and nosy creatures that love to show off their skills to the clumsy invaders of their realm. Seal Swimming with an experienced guide is highly recommended and a truly amazing event. To mingle with wild animals in their own environment is something few people will ever forget

We did get very close to one seal which started heaving and heaving, and then regurgitated up some orange sputum or fish. Luckily I was not too close - one more step and I would have probably worn it!

Going back to the car, I found some 'fur' on the beach and picked it up. Incredibly soft with a beautiful texture. I really enjoyed this part of hte trip. Be thankful I only uploaded this many pics of them - becuase I took 10x as many as on here!

Blenheim - Day 3 - Kaikoura Road Trip with the Girls - Part 1

This was such a great day - but it would take forever to write it up with all the photographs, so I'm going to split it into three parts. Part 1 - the trip down. Part 2 - the Seals of Kaikoura, and Part 3 Kaikoura itself.

The morning was crisp and clear - blue blue sky - but it had snowed overnight on the ranges so it was very cold too. But South Island weather is fantastic - cold crisp weather but fantastic blue skies and sunshine. It's what I really like about down South, compared to Auckland where often humidity is part and parcel of the blue skies, especially over summer.

We loaded up the landrover with Carol (our driver, Alexandra and Nikki in the back seat, Me the wounded walking in the front with Carol, and Jimmi-zac in the boot. Well - not really - he was in a little seat in the back part.

The scenery going down was fascinating. I wanted to stop and take photos every five minutes but realy held myself in check - partly because my leg was so sore, and partly becuase I know how annoying it can be if others aren't photographically inclined. So my first photo was way after the Awatere Valley, past Seddon, and when we hit the coast. Over the hill and Wham - look at this view...

I hopped out of the car and went down the bank a bit (and hurt my leg in doing so), but I wanted the shot so didn't care about my leg. The train tracks go all the way down the coast to Kaikoura and in summer they have an open carriage so people can get the fresh sea air, take photos and generally drink in the view. The colour of the water was amazing. My friends were a bit concerned I got so close to the train tracks so Nikki got out of the car and looked the other way in case a train came suddenly around the corner and I didn't hear it. To see what she means - I did take a shot of the view behind...

It's nice to know your friends don't want you to be killed by an oncoming train. Not just yet anyway!!! Here's that view again on a slightly different angle. I could have just sat here all day - the sun was warm, the breeze was gorgeous, and those mountains in the distance shone!

I finally managed to pull myself away and climb back into the Landrover. As we drove down the coast my eyes were just glued to the views - it was simply stunning. We stopped for coffee not far from here at the Kekerengi Store. A beautiful cafe set in gorgeous gardens right on the beach...

Here we are getting our caffeine fix - From left to right is Nikki, then Alexandra, then Carol. I likened our road trip to the movie Thelma and Louise and confessed that I would love to blow up a petrol tanker like on the movie. Carol expressed that she wished she had known about that desire BEFORE we set off because she would have left me at home!! No sense of adventure! Sigh!

Despite being on crutches - I climbed down those stairs to look up at the Cafe and to look around on the beach. The pain was worth it!!! What a magical place - so peaceful. The coffee was fabulous too. Well worth the stop there.

This is what the Cafe looked like from the gardens - apparently they hold weddings there. I'm not surprised at all as it's a perfect setting.

This is the view from the carpark as we left the store. There's nothing quite so majestic as a mountain peak covered in snow. A bit further down the road I made Carol stop again for another few pics...

How could I resist? However, parked behind us was a truck full of sheep/lambs about to go off to the meatworks. I went over to take a closer look, and took one last photo of them. Quite sad really - they looked at me in the eyes and begged me to let them go - I was sorely tempted!

But then again - my favourite meal is Roast Lamb with Roast Spuds and Gravy.. Yum!

We carried on down the coast until we were approximately ten minutes from Kaikoura when Carol started pointing out the seals on the rocks. I couldn't see any - all looked like rocks to me - so she then pulled over into a rest area. Wild NZ Fur Seals!!!!! A photographers dream. At this point I would have been quite happy to stay there on my own, with the rest of the crew going on to Kaikoura, to pick me up on the way home!!!