We wasted a bit more time and then went to the hotel to get picked up.
We waited for about 10 minutes and then the bus arrived. It was a decent sized bus and the driver had the same name as Kim!
We waited for a while and picked up a few people én route before heading on the way.
It took about 45 minutes or so to drive up to where we were doing the swamp tour.
Our driver was very knowledgable and was telling us information about everything we passed and the difference between different places within New Orleans.
We got to the swamp tour area with the tour company (Cajun Encounters Tour Co.) and waited for a while whilst they organised.
We were finally called by the captain and off we went. There were 20 people on our boat and shortly after boarding we were off.
The first stop was to look at how they catch crawfish and we saw some in the trap also. They’re basically small lobsters.
We then moved on to our first alligator of the tour. This one was a decent size, around 10ft and the guide we were with fed it some sausage. It was happy with this and we got to see it jumping for the food.
We left this area and had a bit of stroll around the water. It was quite peaceful, until we turned on the engine and went pretty fast to get to the next area.
In the next area, we went through a bayou which was quite thin. After that, we stopped and waited for a long while to see if we could see any wild boars, but none appeared. We did see a baby alligator though.
We left this area and started heading out. As we did so, the storm started to roll in and then eventually, so did the rain, thunder and lightning.
We saw some houses which have no road access. They do have electricity and well water, but to get to and from the land they must use a boat.
We did a bit more fast boating and then headed back to the dock as the storm was getting worse.
We got back and got absolutely drenched…
We waited for a while for the bus to arrive and, once it did, everyone boarded whilst very wet.
All-in-all, the tour wasn’t that great. We were only out on the water for around an hour or so and only saw some trees and 2 alligators, and we got wet. But, of course, it is nature so you can never guarantee what you’ll see.
When we eventually got back to the centre, it was still raining but a little less bad then it was before.
We found a place called Oceana for dinner. They sell pretty much anything you’d want as well as traditional New Orleans food.
We took the tram to the city this morning and then had to take another tram to get down to where we needed to be.
We got there at exactly the time we needed to be and then had to stand in line for a while.
We eventually started to board the boat to Alcatraz Island (which means Pelican, by the way!).
We arrived at the island fairly quickly and there were a lot of people!
We first had to stop at the entrance and get a brief talk from a park ranger as Alcatraz is a national park.
The first building itself is quite daunting as thst isn’t even the prison! There is a cool sign at the entrance, too;
We made our way up to the theatre and got a seat whilst waiting for the introductory film to play.
The film was about 15 minutes long and just explained the history of Alcatraz.
We moved on from here to one of the workshops which was only open for a brief time today.
Along the way, we saw the power station, remains of the officer recreation hall and the former firing range.
We entered the workshop and it was pretty damaged. Most glass was smashed and there were sinks and toilets leftover, as well a sign, for some reason!
There was an art exhibition in another room in here, but it was pretty unrelated to the workshop.
This is the place in which prisoners would work, making things, sometimes for the military but also worked in the laundry area.
There were some incredible views from this island, especially with the weather we had for the start of the day!
We walked up to the prison, getting some awesome photos on the way.
We got to the start of the audio tour, which was in the shower block of the prison, where there was also clothes from the prison times.
We went from here up some stairs and into the main prison block.
The audio guide told us multiple stories and information about different cells and locations around the prison, including solitary confinement, attempted escapes, living conditions and more.
We moved through the library and we were then told about a part of the prison that has marks on the floor from grenade blasts which were thrown in during an attempted escape, via a hole in the roof.
We saw the visitation station, followed by the officer area and then the officer’s control room.
The final area was the most dangerous – The dining hall. This was where everyone ate and therefore had cutlery. A lot of the kitchen equipment is still there, along with a board of the menu for breakfast.
The food was the best here out of all the prisons, so much so that the guards ate the same as the prisoners.
There was a former inmate, now in his 80’s, who was signing books. He has written a book about being in Alcatraz. His name is William Baker.
We left the hotel nice and early, around 07:30 and then drove to McDonald’s to get a spot of breakfast.
After breakfast, we drove a car park over to the supermarket where we got some meat for the BBQ.
We left the supermarket and made the drive down to Bland Bay. A lot of the roads were gravel, but it was good fun! It was a straight road for 100km, so it was at least easy.
We got out to Bland Bay and just chilled out for a few hours in the blazing sun. It was delightful!
We were then told about a cave that we had to see in person as it was beautiful! With that, we all hopped on the boat and headed out there. The waves were causing our boat to bounce all over the place which waa great fun!
We arrived at the small, secluded beach and it was stunning!
We then had a look at the stream leading to the cave, which was also filled with rocks and seaweed, and it was quite choppy, with big waves rushing in.
That being said, we eventually started making our way out into the water, consistently getting stabbed by the sharp rocks. Josh then said he saw a stingray, which froze us both and we decided we weren’t moving!
We waited a while and saw nothing, so all got moving again. We swam the last part into the cave and it was well worth it! Unfortunately, we didn’t get any good photos of it, but there was a deep pool of water with light perfectly shining onto it from above. Beautiful!
We got in the water and chilled a little, before we got back out and had to make the treacherous swim back.
The swim was actually ok, but we did get stabbed by multiple rocks again.
We got back on the boat and headed back to the house.
We then got the BBQ going and Josh cooked up a storm! Once we ate our food, we had some games of Cards Against Humanity and Josh sent out the Contiki to catch some fish.
As they were bringing it back in, there must’ve been a shark on it, or two, as the power pulled the whole whinch down the bank and the contiki went underwater! There was a made dash to pull it in and it eventually relaxed, but most of the hooks were gone from the line! Another eventful weekend here so far!
We packedup the outside after this and then went inside for some sleep, after we got some great night photos!
We weren’t doing any work today, so we decided to had it out the house.
We had breakfast and got ready, then we got in the car and drove 30 minutes to Paihia.
Paihia had been recommended to us multiple times by many people, so we thought we had to check it out.
Once we got a parking spot, we wandered around the very small place. There wasn’t really anything of note, but we did get hungry so we stopped at a rib place for some lunch.
We got loaded wedges to share, which had bacon, cheese and pepper on.
We finished lunch, had more of a look around and then got on the ferry for the 10 minute journey to another small town called Russell.
We got to Russell and explored around a little bit. This is only a small place, so there wasn’t much to see again. It is quite old and French in places, so it was worth a look.
We then stopped in at a cafe for a coffee and relax.
We walked a little bit more after our coffee and then re-boarded the boat to go back to Paihia.
We got back and got in the car to go back to the house.
We got back and got some admin done and chilled. The family returned home and we then all helped make homemade pizza! We had a pizza each which was delicious. We all sat and had a chat at dinner and then after the washing up was done, Kim got to have the pet budgie on her finger briefly, until she was pecked!
We went to bed shortly after, along with a delicious whisky each.