Saturday, 25 April 2009

Home ... and the 5 best things about our trip

Yeah we're back after an arduous 2 days of planes, buses and cars - and a lot of waiting around at airports. Its really good to be back!

The top five best bits of our adventure in New Zealand:

at 5: Driving - any sort of road you can think of, we travelled it (with the exception of anything
like the M25 or M4!)

at 4: Walking up the Fox Glacier

at 3: Seeing our first Whale in Kaikoura

at 2: Realising our home is the best place in the world ...

at 1: Seeing Jo and John, and celebrating their wedding day with them

Last few days ...

Spent the night next to Lake Punakaiki watching the sunset over Mt Cook - beautiful...

Next few days were pretty hectic, making our way, via Lake Tekapo, across to the volcanic peninsula just south of Christchurch and in to Akaroa, originally a French settlement and now a very lovely little harbourside town with a lovely lighthouse and full of nice eateries overlooking the bay.

Next day we headed back to Christchurch, through all sorts of roads over the peninsula, to take the van back to Wilderness Motorhomes: Cheers guys we had a great time in our van...

Spent a couple of nights with the rellys in Christchurch and had a great time meeting the other cousins and playing on Grant's Quad.

Thanks both it was great to see you. Can't wait to show you our spot when you come over ...

Sunday, 19 April 2009


After glacier country we headed back in land, to warmer and less wet climes again and reached lake Wanaka. Rhys decided to take a dip - it took him 2 attempts to get in, and he didn't stay in long! The water comes down off one of the glaciers .....

Mooched in Wanaka for the afternoon before deciding to head on to Queenstown. Arrived in Queenstown and high tailed it straight back to Wanaka. It was just too busy.

For those of you wondering how long I could go before finding a horse to ride, the answer was quite a long time! Got a ride at Backcountry Saddle Expeditions - learnt a lot but not quite a cowgirl yet!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Fox trotting in the rain...

Yeah its raining and we are going to walk for half a day up Fox Glacier. Brilliant!

Apparently one of only two glaciers in the world that you walk through rainforest to get to (yeah even more rain!). We got absolutely soaked, but it was good. Rhys absolutely loved it - especially getting wet. I liked the glacier but not the getting wet!

Anyway it was spectacular, would definitely recommend, and apparently if you go up when its raining its even better cos you see all the waterfalls etc. I think they just say that to make you feel better, as in all fairness you are probably going to go up there in the rain!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Living it up in Franz Joseph

Woke to real west coast weather today, just perfect to see the coast in, apparently! And it got worse and wetter as we drove south. We stopped in Hokitika on the way down, but not for long as we were getting drenched. The roads were getting wetter and wetter, as more and more of the rivers starting to stream onto the roads.

Arrived in Franz Joseph village early afternoon, and couldn't see anything for the misty and drizzle. By late afternoon the mist lifted a little and the rain stopped and we caught our first view of the glacier from the village. We are stopping here for the night to enjoy the Glacier Hot Pools and a bit of avant glacier nightlife, and a curry, before our hike up Fox Glacier tomorrow.

ps the pools were lovely

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


En route from Christchurch in the East to the West Coast we stopped at Castle Hill Rocks. Amazing limestone rocks which we had a ball climbing - spectacular views too ...

We then went on up through the mountains, through Arthurs Pass and the Otira Gorge till we got to Greymouth on the West Coast.

Following the rock theme we headed north up to Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks. Unfortunately the tide wasn't quite right and the weather not bad enough to see the blow holes in full swing but the rocks were cool anyway...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Whales in Kaikoura

What a wonderful day. During the night the van was getting buffetted by the wind and we thought we wouldn't be able to get out the following morning. When we woke, it was to a beautiful calm day, perfect for Whale spotting.

We went out with Whale Watch. Boat was amazing and they had all the kit to give you the best chance of finding the elusive whales. Because of the continental shelf, there is a resident pod of Sperm Whales, which makes life a little easier when no others are passing through.

Spotted ....

Wandering Albatross
Cape Petrols
Sperm Whale
Dusky Dolphins - loads of fun!

Yeah the tail shot! ....

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The long road south

After meeting up with everyone for a quick spot of lunch we headed off on the long journey south from Napier to Wellington.

Rhys was happy though ....

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Wedding

Friday morning we took a dip at the Ocean Spa - well worth dropping in if you have the time, although a couple of the pools were for the really brave, the majority were warm or better! Then had BBQ with eveyone at Jo's temporary house.

Saturday dawned as a beautiful mediteranean day. We popped up to the church Road Winery for a quick tour, which was interesting but didn't tell us how to make wine! Then headed off to get ready for the wedding at the Mission Estate...

Had a lovely time. Jo and John looked gorgeous, and Beth was beautiful as Maid of Honour ...

Thursday, 9 April 2009

From Mount Doom to Mordor

As we headed south from Lake Taupo we decided, after Rhys's dip to head off to Tongariro National Park and take in some of the dramatic LOTR scenery - Amazing, but we reckon Frodo made quite a meal of it ;)

After Mount Doom was conquered we headed off to Mordor ....No Orks spotted but we couldn't see much for the snow and mist!

Then back down the mountains to sunnier climes as we took a back road (!) towards Art Deco City Napier...

Unfortunately it took us a while longer than expected so we missed doing the vineyard tour with Jo and John - we did catch up with them just as they were doing the tastings though!!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The van, the road and the hidden valley

Picked up the Basejumper van from Wilderness Motorhomes - awesome bit of kit, a place for everything and everything in its place!

Headed south to Waitomo Caves to say Kia Ora to the Gloworms - really good! We just did the one cave and it was brilliant. Would have liked a go at the black water rafting version through the other caves, but the road was calling so we pressed on towards Rotorua

Then had our first night wilderness camping by a lake just west of Rotorua - cool!

The next morning we headed on to Sulphur city and took a dip in the thermal pools at the Polynesian Spa before going for a jet boat ride at the Huka Falls, near Lake Taupo.

The day was a bit showery at times and they said they didn't go out if it was raining - we didn't understand why until we were on the water and it started to shower, it really hurt!!!! You go so fast the rain was like stones. Thankfully the shower only lasted a couple of minutes, and when you are doing 360 degree turns and getting wet from the spins you don't mind to much! The view of the falls was amazing the water is bright bright blue ...

After that we headed slightly north again to the Hidden Valley to explore the geothermal reserve. Awesome ...

Spent the night camping by the side of Lake Taupo

Monday, 6 April 2009

Auckland and our first dip in the Pacific

Touched down in Auckland last night, and it was lovely to be greeted by Jo & John. We actually managed to stay awake quite late too, although still didn't manage to sleep all night! Maybe tonight...

Got up early this morning to a lovely view over Browns Bay, we headed out for a little walk as it was very early and funnily stumbled upon this:

After breakfast we all headed down to Longbay Beach for a splash and game of frisbee, and the finale of the Browns Bay Ultimate Deathball playoff (John and Hugh - rolling a ball in leisurely fashion to score points - rather over zealously named, but I feel it might make a come back later in the week!)

Tomorrow we pick up the van and head south ...

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sydney Airport

Ok, so the last post was a bit brief, and now we have a couple of hours to kill before jetting off to Auckland I thought we should give you a bit more info ...

The Grace hotel was great - a lovely Art deco building although you have to crane your neck to see it really as Sydney is very high rise and not quite like anywhere else we have been.  Its a really nice city, clean and very well cared for - and despite the large numbers of tourists not overcrowded or pushy at all.  We felt as though we had the frontage of the Opera house to ourselves a couple of times - you wouldn't get that at Buckingham Palace!  The weather has been fine, yesterday was pretty windy but it was still warm although a bit overcast, probably just as well as we spent the whole day out and about on the Harbour Express and wandering through different parts of town.  Needless to say today is much sunnier!

This morning we headed to the Botanical Gardens for a wander before breakfast (I did say our timing was way out still and end of summer time last night didn't help  much either!).  what a gem of a place. They were absolutely beautiful, and immaculately kept - full of all sort of wonderful plants and trees and some interesting birds, plus of course the massive bats (see previous post). 

Its a shame we don't have an extra day - it would have been nice to head down to Bondi Beach - Next time....

Hope all is going well at home and that the tomatoes are coming along nicely. I will post some more photos as soon as get another chance.  

Saturday, 4 April 2009


Yeah we're in Sydney! We got here... sadly we'll be off again soon but we have enjoyed our stay despite still feeling like we are continually swaying from the plane movement and being totally messed up with our sleep!! Flights were fine, had an hour stop in Bangkok airport which was nice just to get out and stretch. Sleeping on the plane was virtually impossible. But we did get some amazing views on the first leg, especially of the Himalayas - once we get home we'll figure out if we managed to get a pic of Everest.
We have covered a lot of the city though.  First off we went to the opera house amd strolled around the city and yesterday  the compulsory harbour cruise, stopping off at Watsons Bay and Darling Harbour, and finished the day with a wander (very tired) through the Rocks market. This morning we headed off to the botanical gardens which were amazing - we thought we had a lot of bats at home, this takes things to a whole new level with flying foxes everywhere. just a couple of pics to whet your appetite ....
Anyway, later today we are off to see Jo and John in Auckland. Can't wait to see you guys ....