A Travellerspoint blog

March 2019

Mt Cook

all seasons in one day 10 °C
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Today was a very busy day (aren't they all though), as we had to drive to Queenstown but also wanted a trip to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Aoraki/Mt Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand.
When I opened the curtains I was created with a beautiful view.
It was chucking it down as we drove along, although we still got a couple of peaks at snowy mountain tops, which was very exciting. We stopped at a viewpoint along the lake but didn't get to see the famous view. It was still very cool though and instead just looked gloomy and foreboding.

By the time we got to Mt Cook it was going between drizzle and heavy rain, and apparently only 5 degrees outside. I was very glad to have brought my walking boots and wind and waterproof coat! We got going on the Hooker Valley track, one of the most popular short day walks in New Zealand. Walking the fill track takes about 3 hrs return, and unfortunately we didn't quite have time to do the whole thing. Following some advice I found online we did walk just past the second swing bridge to a viewpoint. Along the way the weather cleared up. I took so many photos, and none of them really do the place justice.

Next we did a walk to the Tasman Glacier viewpoint which included walking up about 330 steps (we counted but lost count a few times). It was incredibly windy at the top but worth it (and the walk) for the view. We even saw some of the glacier floating in the sea!

Sadly it was time to move on from Mt Cook. First we stopped back at the same viewpoint at lake Pukaki and what a difference!

Our route to Queenstown took us through Lindis pass, which was not as winding as I expected but had lovely views, and made us feel so small.

Our final stop was in Cromwell, where we wandered along the old historic precinct. It was very cute, and much better than I expected given I had mainly planned it as a toilet stop!
Finally we made it to Queenstown, and I was quite looking forward to having a day without driving...

Posted by pkaplicz 22:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountain aoraki/mount_cook wind_and_rain Comments (0)


A flying visit

sunny 18 °C
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We only had one full day in Queenstown, which was just enough for us as we weren't planning any of the adventure activities it is famous for. It would have been nice to have some time to go up to Glenorchy, or do a few of the walks that surround Queenstown.
Thankfully we got sunshine back again!
Our first trip was up the gondola, which actually wasn't as bad as I thought it might be as long as I looked forwards and not down! The views at the top were amazing and we even saw some people paragliding off the top! It made me want to do it!
DSC_0653.JPG A jelly bean map of the world.

We popped back for lunch and then we wandered along to the lakefront. It was very nice, and you could see how popular Queenstown is with young people! Best of all I liked the walk we did around the Queenstown gardens where it was much more peaceful.

Posted by pkaplicz 22:48 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown views city Comments (0)

The journey to Manapouri

A quick visit to Arrowtown

semi-overcast 19 °C
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Today we left Queenstown and headed to Manapouri, our next 2 night stop. On our way over we stopped at Arrowtown. It was much cuter than I thought and I enjoyed our two hour trip around. We visited the old Gaol and then saw a pretty church. Plus, we also bought ourselves some sweets from an old fashioned sweet shop.

Walking up the the war memorial gave us some lovely views too.

At the edge of Arrowtown are the restored huts of an old Chinese settlement. In the 1870s Chinese gold-miners came to the area and were made to live in small huts on the edge of town. It was interesting to learn about a different side to Arrowtown, which was fairly prosperous at the time, and there were lots of information points that painted a clear picture.

A few photos from the drive:

Finally we got to Manapouri where we are staying for our trip to Miford Sound tomorrow!!!

Posted by pkaplicz 23:02 Archived in New Zealand Tagged arrowtown Comments (0)

Milford Sound

So many photos!

all seasons in one day 15 °C
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Milford Sound was one of my top things to do in New Zealand and it was finally here. We had to leave at 7am to get to Te Anau where our tour started from. Once again, on the day of one of our most anticipated trips, it was raining very heavily!

Thankfully, as at Mt Cook, we were lucky and when we stopped at most places it was only drizzling or had cleared. Unfortunately, because of the rain the mirror lakes did not actually show a mirror reflection, but it was still pretty and nice to stretch our legs for a few minutes.

We went for a walk up to a waterfall which was very pretty, plus a little robin (according to our guide) stopped and posed for photos!

Thanks to the rain there were loads of waterfalls along the mountains as we drove along (most I couldn't take a good picture of).

We also stopped at Gunns camp for hot drinks, biscuits, and scones!

Finally we got to Milford sound and I was very excited. We were on a small boat tour and it was probably only half full (maybe 30-40 people max)! Even though it was raining for parts and windy too I spent most of my time outside and even chatted to the captain at one point. It really was 4 seasons in a day, as it even hailed for about 2 minutes! There were lots of waterfalls (including the one the boat went nearly under) and the changing weather meant I got lots of beautiful photos. We even saw some seals chilling on a rock!
DSC_0823.JPG 'kissing turtles'


The cruise was sadly over, and we got on the bus to get back, when we discovered that the minibus wouldn't start! It gave us a chance to pop out and get some more photos, and we were finally on the way.

On the way back we got to take some more photo stops, and even saw and heard a tui bird! One of the great things about being on a minibus tour, with only 8 other people, is that our driver could pull over if he saw a nice view or if we wanted him to stop.

Posted by pkaplicz 23:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes waterfalls nature milford_sound sun_rain_hail Comments (0)

The Catlins

semi-overcast 19 °C
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Day 1

This was the last day of summer, and we were leaving to get to the Catlins. This is a part of the country that is less explored by tourists, but great for seeing wildlife, vast scenery, and great beaches. Not long into or drive we pulled over to a viewpoint over the Redcliff Wetland reserve and the view was beautiful (I've used that word a lot but it's so true! it) especially with the low clouds and sunshine shining down.

Monkey Island beach

We drove to Bluff, which is the end (or start, depending on how you look at it) of the SH1, the highway that goes he length of New Zealand. The public toilets at Stirling point spoke to us and even played us jazzy music!

Our final stop was at Waipapa Point, where there is a lighthouse and also a beach where sea lions are often seen. We walked up to the lighthouse which gave quite a good photo, and then walked to the beach where yes, there were two sea lions! It was absolutely amazing walking onto the beach and seeing them there, so close to us.

Walking back to the car I took a photo of the tree, which show how strong the wind can be in the Catlins.DSC_0971.JPG

We got to our holiday park site, where we had a cute cabin which even had electric blankets! I dumped my stuff for my final stop of the day; the cathedral caves. These are another of the most popular places to visit in the Catlins and can only be accessed 2 hours before and one hour after low tide, which was at 5:15 today. I got the the car park just 20 minutes after the gates opened and there was already a queue to get in. After a speedy 20 minute walk down hill I got to the beach, which in itself is very beautiful. The caves were amazing and you could walk through one entrance and get to the other. It was super busy though.

On the walk back up I took lots of photo breaks and it was a lovely walk through bush.

Day 2

It's officially autumn here in New Zealand and our first full day in the Catlins. Again it drizzled as we set off but by the time we were 15 mins away the sun was out, so we quickly grabbed a photo at the Florence Hill lookout, where we could also see the beach we would move on to later.

Our first proper stop of the day was Surat bay, another place that sea lions sometimes hand out. It was a very pretty beach and we got to see two sea lions chilling in the sand. One even waved to us! It was good we left when we did though as the tide was coming in and we would have had to wait or walk far too close to the sea lions to get back out.

Next up was the Purakaunui waterfall. It was a quick and easy walk in to view the falls, which were pretty but not too strong.

Another waterfall was up next, well, it was actually two. Matai falls and Horseshoe falls are only two minutes apart, and pretty again, even if there were two American girls who sat in the way whilst I was trying to take photos!

Papatowai: Tahakopa river estuary and beach.

We finally made it to the beach we had seen from the Florence Hill lookout. Tautuku Bay was absolutely gorgeous, and a long stretch of golden sand. It was lovely to walk along it, although we didn't walk too far as the wind was blowing us in the other direction!

The final place we headed to was back the way we had been the previous day, Curio Bay. There are two walks that we wanted to take; one going up the hill to lookout at the sea and the other to the beach. I saw a dolphin jumping in the waves by the beach so our decision was easily made! Hector dolphins are often seen along Curio bay and Porpoise bay and sometimes even swim up to and with people in the water. There were two people in the sea when we walked along the beach, and it was so exciting trying to spot the dolphins. Unfortunately you only get a peak at them from my photo.
The walk up the headland showed us the strength of the wind and sea, as we saw waves crashing against the cliffs and some pretty spectacular crashes.

Day 3

Today we headed away from the Catlins. Our first stop was for coffee and breakfast for Laura, which she got at a cute trailer in Owaka. Next we headed to Cannibal Bay. After a roughly 20minute drive across a gravel road we reached the beach. I'll admit I was dubious about whether it was worth it, but when we got on the beach we saw 11 sea lions. Most of them were just chilling out, but there was one in the sea. He would move a few meters and then flop on the beach, as if it was lots of effort, before going up a bit further up and repeating the action.

The drive:

Next we drove up to Nugget point, another of the most visited parts of the Catlins. There is a lighthouse at the end overlooking the 'nuggets'.
My favourite part though was seeing (and first hearing) the seals down on the rocky bays down below. It was incredible to see them, and so many too. I wish I had a better camera to take photos, but you'll just have to believe me!

Both of us were pretty tired by this point, so we took some photos just after kaka point of the beautiful and vast beach, and made our way to Lawrence, where we are staying the next two days as our base for visiting Dunedin (The Eagles are there tomorrow so everything was booked out when we looked!).

Posted by pkaplicz 23:35 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sun seals sea_lions catlins Comments (0)

An afternoon in Dunedin

sunny 26 °C
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Today was the day of our day trip to Dunedin. We had a very lazy morning and didn't arrive in the city until about 1pm. It was finally sunny again!
Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island, and has a strong Scottish heritage.
We wandered from the car work via some nice churches to see the famous train station.
It is indeed very pretty!
Seeing the word 'Cadbury's' made us crave a bit of chocolate, so we bought some on the way home!

Our next stop was the Otago Settlers museum which has a lot of information about the social history of the area. It was really interesting, and we could definitely have spent more than the 2 hours that we did there. I particularly liked the display about woman's suffrage (again) but it was all very interesting, and great too that it differed from what we had seen at the Te Papa museum in Wellington.

We also went to the Chinese Garden, which again was something very different to all the other places we have been. It is one of only a few such gardens outside of China, and possibly the only one in the southern hemisphere (I don't remember exactly but I feel I read this somewhere).

Posted by pkaplicz 23:09 Archived in New Zealand Tagged city new_zealand dunedin sunshine Comments (0)


sunny 21 °C
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Day 1
We drove to Wanaka today. Our very lovely Airbnb host said that we could check out a bit later as they had no one staying there that evening, so Laura got another lie in.
There wasn't a huge amount to see on the drive, but we did stop in Alexandra to see the Clutha river and had a gorgeous view, plus we pulled over a few times.

We stopped at Puzzling world, as it was very cheap and illusions interest me a lot. It was very interesting, and featured lots of things I have heard about, such as the Ames room. There is also a crooked house which has a 15 degree incline and really messes with your head. I felt rather dizzy after it.
DSC_1235.JPGDSC_1242.JPGlarge_DSC_1247.JPG I felt small for once!

By the time we arrived in Wanaka it was late afternoon. I went down to the centre to post some postcards and get a view of the lake. I really liked the feel of Wanaka, it felt a lot more laid back and quieter than Queenstown. Very excited this evening as I booked my paraglide for tomorrow morning!!

Day 2
Unfortunately I got a message this morning telling me that they had to cancel the paraglide today as the winds were reading far too high. I was quite disappointed although I had known that it was quite possible. That meant that, whilst Laura went off to do her kayak, I had time to do my laundry in the morning, and also to relax a little doing my crosswords. I also managed to get a photo of the morning sun over the mountains, which made them look absolutely stunning!

I decided to treat myself to lunch and went to Big Fig, where you can choose from a range of hot and cold dishes to fill your bowl. It reminded me of Alpha Bar in Oxford and I had forgotten just how much I missed it!

After Laura returned from her kayak we went for a wander around lake Wanaka. We walked all the way to the end, to 'that Wanaka tree', and then walked back through the town centre as I wanted to see if I could buy some souvenirs or gifts, and get myself an ice cream.

Posted by pkaplicz 23:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged wanaka sunshine that_wanaka_tree Comments (0)

Wanaka to Fox Glacier

Up the West coast

overcast 18 °C
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I woke up this morning to little wind and calm weather, which was nice as it was going to be a busy day and it had been predicted to be rainy. We left at 9, and our first stops were at a couple of viewpoints along the way.
Hawea lake viewpoint

DSC_1276.JPGDSC_1277.JPGWanaka lake

Our main stop along the way was at the Blue pools. Thankfully the weather was on our side so we managed to capture the beautiful blue of the pools! The walk was also really pretty (and very busy).

The next stops were all waterfalls, which I still haven't had enough of! The first was Fantail falls, which is just a 5 minute return trip from the main highway!

Thunder creek falls are also just a five minute return walk, which I think it is so amazing that there are so many things to see with such easy access.

The last waterfall was the most impressive and we could hear it a fair bit before we could see it (definitely deserving of the name 'Roaring Billy').
Unfortunately it is also across a river and fairly high up, so doesn't look as impressive in the photo!

We stopped next at Ship Creek beach and it was our first real glimpse of the wild west ocean.

We had planned to stop at another lookout point, but it was so foggy and cloudy at the time, that when we drove up alongside it there wasn't actually anything to see, so we made our way on to Fox Glacier where we would stay the night. We chose Fox as it supposedly has better and quicker access to the glacier and it is close to Lake Matheson which has cool reflections of the mountains on calm mornings. Unfortunately just a few days before we arrived here was a big slip on the glacier access road so it was closed off. Thankfully I have already seen a glacier in Iceland, and we saw some in Aoraki Mount Cook NP too, so it wasn't too much of a disappointment. I had also considered booking a helicopter trip up to the glacier, but the forecast showed lots of cloud and so I decided not to try as it would probably be cancelled anyway.

Posted by pkaplicz 23:28 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains glacier fox_glacier haast_pass Comments (0)


The West Coast continues

sunny 20 °C
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Today we continued our drive up the West Coast to Punakaiki as part of our overall aim of reaching the Abel Tasman National Park.

Even though it was raining Laura still wanted to go to Lake Matheson. As was expected we didn't get the famous reflections. In fact, we couldn't even see the top of the mountains as the clouds were so low! At least we got a little bit of sunshine.

Our next stop wasn't really until Hokitika Gorge, where we saw the lovely cloudy blue waters that make it such a popular stop, and definitely worth the 40 minute(wish) detour.

We also stopped in Hokitika at a place called Sunset Point, a place well known for shipwrecks.

After dropping our stuff off at the hostel we headed to Pancake rocks. They are named after the layers that make up the stacks, which resemble stacks of pancakes. I was stopped by a German guy who asked why it was named this, and I don't think he was convinced! I really liked it here as the geology was really interesting, plus it was sunny but there was a great breeze - my type of weather!

Posted by pkaplicz 23:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged ocean punakaiki west_coast pancake_rocks Comments (0)

Marahau/Abel Tasman National Park

A drizzly welcome

semi-overcast 20 °C
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Day 1
We were finally on our way to the ATNP, an area we were very excited about visiting.
The morning had a very moody atmosphere due to the low clouds and a bit of fog, which made it pretty cool to drive through.

Our next stop was one I was very excited about, as we were driving up to Cape Foulwind to see a seal colony. I still have not got bored of all the wildlife that you can see in New Zealand. The beach was also beautiful but the best bit was seeing the seals, including some young ones which were playing in the water. We also saw quite a few Weka although they did their best to avoid my photos as much as possible.

We drove on, stopping along the way, where I got this photo of the Buller river.

We stopped at a Maruia Falls.

We also visited Lake Rotoiti, one of the Nelson lakes, and it was quite a nice break. I could imagine spending a week in the area just visiting the different lakes.

We finally made it to our lodge for the night, Kanuka Ridge, at 5pm. The people there were absolutely lovely, and very talkative. Stu helped us book our tours in the ATNP the next day, giving us some fantastic advice as it might have been rough. It was just such a friendly feeling that I had to mention him.

Day 2
Today was our day in the Abel Tasman National Park, a day we were really looking forward to, in an area that has a critical water shortage due to months of little/no rain, and we woke up to drizzle and rain! Laura and I had different plans for the day, as Laura wanted to walk part of the track back to Marahau, whereas my foot had been bugging me since the Catlins, so I just did a boat trip up and down (as I hadn't really rested it for the trip so thought that might help). Thanks to Stu's advice the previous day we had booked to get the water taxi from Kaiteriteri as it was a bigger boat. This was definitely good advice as even though it wasn't too bad today, one of the staff members said that the previous day they had had quite a few seasick passengers and hadn't been able to get past Awaroa due to the swells!
Whilst it would have been great to at least walk a small section of the park, at least I got to see it on the boat. The rain and drizzle definitely did not stop me from going out on the deck to take photos. The beaches and water were beautifully coloured (and the water was so clear), and I imagine on a sunny day it would look just as spectacular as the promotional photos!

Posted by pkaplicz 00:10 Archived in New Zealand Tagged atnp Comments (0)


semi-overcast 22 °C
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Day 1
Today was the first day in quite a while that we didn't have to leave by 8:30/9am, so a bit of a chance for a lie in. The sky was a beautiful colour so I took a quick photo.

At 10am we got on our way to Picton, our next two night stop.
We stopped at Pelorous and walked down to the river as well as doing a loop track through the forest. It was a nice easy walk, and yet we didn't see anyone at all!

The journey to Picton is pretty short, so rather than taking the main route via the SH1, we followed online advice I had found on TripAdvisor to go via Queen Charlotte Drive. This is a fairly winding road, which Laura very much enjoyed driving, and we got some beautiful views of the Marlborough Sounds even though it was cloudy!

In the evening we went for a quick walk around before dinner, and got treated to some more lovely views.

Day 2
This was our full day in Picton, and we chose to do a few walks rather than take a boat cruise through the sounds (which also sounded cool but we had to choose). I managed to persuade Laura to go on the long walk in the morning, and so we drove up to the car park of the Snout Track. It's good we did as it was quite a hill to get up, and there was more uphill walking to come. In the end we walked the return walk to the Queen Charlotte Lookout, which is halfway along the track. We chose this as it gave us some great views of the sound along the way and at the end, and it was still over 1.5hrs return with quite an undulating track. We even saw some people running it! It was definitely a good idea to do the walk in the morning as the track got busier later on and much hotter too. The views made me long for a week or 2 in this area, cruising along on a small boat and visiting different bays every couple of days. Maybe next time!

After a bit of a rest we went on a shorter walk in the evening. I was quite hungry so only walked part of the way to Bob's Bay before returning to make our dinner of soup and toast (still about 1 hr return) whereas Laura walked all the way to the beach. The sun came out for us and showed us some lovely views!

Posted by pkaplicz 00:32 Archived in New Zealand Tagged views picton sunshine sounds Comments (0)


semi-overcast 20 °C
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Day 1
Today we made the short drive from Picton to Kaikoura. It was nice as we didn't have to leave as early as the past few trips, so it definitely felt more relaxed. As we drove off it was raining quite a bit, but thankfully the rain stopped before our first stop. We stopped at Monkey Bay, which was a short walk from the car park, but so quiet that there wasn't anyone around. It looked very beautiful and felt quite peaceful, however I had to make a hasty retreat as sandflies were gathering around me!

Our next stop was another beach (there is a theme here) which was just a nice way to split up the journey a bit. We stopped at Ward Beach as the sun started to come out, and again it was fairly quiet with only a few people around. We went off for a wander down the beach, which was not easy with all the little stones around. The 2016 Kaikoura earthquake exposed a lot of interesting rock formations around the area, including on this beach.

The next stop along our way was definitely my favourite of the day. It was at the Ohau Point Lookout, which is well known for seals. Before the 2016 earthquake there was a walkway that led to a waterfall and stream that you could see seals playing in, however this has been closed for safety reasons. The road along this way was still full of roadworks, but things moved fairly quickly. Once we got to the lookout point I could see small dots on the rocks, and when we got closer I noticed that there were seals everywhere! It still amazes me how easy it is to see wildlife in New Zealand. There were probably up to 100 seals just at the main lookout point. Laura and I ventured out a little further and I was awarded with a cute spot of a seal looking up at us. There were some just lounging around, others playing in the water, and some chasing a seagull that was clearly teasing them! efa4e960-449c-11e9-a441-fb870b56e4dc.JPGDSC_0136.JPGfeeca7a0-449c-11e9-a441-fb870b56e4dc.JPGDSC_0141.JPGlarge_DSC_0143.JPGlarge_DSC_0146.JPG

We got to Kaikoura just before 3, which was good as we had booked a whale watch flight at 4. We had a quick lunch and then made our way there. I looked at the little plane and felt a little unsure, however I am so glad we did it as it was an amazing experience. The pilot told us that so far they'd had a 100% success rate that day, so he was hopeful we would see some whales. We climbed into the plane (not the easiest thing) and got on the way.
It was a surprisingly smooth flight, and soon we were treated with an aerial view of a pod of dusky dolphins. 5049d140-449d-11e9-a441-fb870b56e4dc.JPG
Pretty soon we spotted our first whale, and it was a sperm whale too! We managed to see three whales on our trip, which for half an hour is very good and it was great as we could quickly get to the sighting, whilst the people on the boats often didn't get there in times. We also had some beautiful views of Kaikoura, the peninsula, and the ranges too. Sorry if the photos of the whales aren't the best - I only had my one lens with me and it was quite far away, but you'll just have to believe they are there!

Day 2
Today we headed over to Hanmer Springs, but before doing so we stopped off to walk part of the Kaikoura peninsula walkway. We were treated to a glorious day of sunshine, which even at 10:30am was pretty strong! It was a fairly easy walk once we actually got up the hill and we also wandered around the beach area, where there were more seals!
DSC_0181.JPGDSC_0180.JPGDSC_0185.JPGDSC_0187.JPGlarge_DSC_0188.JPG 7fda9750-4e6b-11e9-b7a7-510ee9d85855.JPGDSC_0192.JPG DSC_0196.JPGDSC_0193.JPGDSC_0197.JPG

Posted by pkaplicz 11:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged whales kaikoura seals Comments (0)


Spotting Kiwi, Kea, penguins and dolphins!

semi-overcast 19 °C
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Day 1
After Kaikoura we headed to Hanmer Springs, however I didn't take any photos there so have skipped over that day.
We headed to Akaroa next, past Christchurch (which we would visit last). Our first stop was a beach near to Christchurch. It was lovely to just sit and watch the waves for a little bit, however it was a little bit cold and we still had to get on!

Our next stop was one that had been added quite last minute. It was at a wildlife park and nature reserve, and we chose to go in order to see some Kiwi! They have a mixture of animals here, and there is a dark house with Kiwi in so we got to see two that were active (no photos as it is dark and their eyes are very sensitive to light). It was much better than we expected, and we enjoyed seeing all the animals.

The drive to Akaroa was very picturesque and we some nice views.

Laura and I parted ways for the night in Akaroa. I wandered around the town for a little bit and booked a nature cruise for the next day (Laura was going to do a walk). My B&B had a very pretty view.

Day 2
I woke up today to the sound of quite heavy rain which didn't bode too well for my boat cruise. Thankfully by the time I left it was only spitting a bit, and I wore my raincoat and walking boots to stop myself from getting too wet. I got on the boat, and we soon got on the way. There were only 6 of us on board (pus the skipper and one staff member) which was really nice as we could move around easily. The main aim of the trip is to see Hector's dolphins, which are the smallest and rarest marine dolphins in the world, and only found in New Zealand. Akaroa is known as a good place to spot them, and trips are usually successful. Our boat featured a dog called Buster, who can apparently detect the sonar of the dolphins and so can help spot them, however Buster isn't fond of rain and preferred to nap for most of the trip! Within about 20/30 minutes though we had spotted our first dolphin, and everyone ran outside to the bow of the boat to see it . Along the way we also saw mothers and their calves. It's amazing as the dolphins swim along with the boat, underneath the bow. We also saw four little blue penguins, which are native to New Zealand and the smallest penguins in the world. One of them even put on a show for us as he preened himself in the water!

Before our dinner of fish and chips Laura and I went for a wander around Akaroa. Akaroa is a small town just south of Christchurch with a rich history of British and French colonial buildings. It is also very busy in the summer with cruise ships.

Posted by pkaplicz 12:36 Archived in New Zealand Tagged penguin dolphins akaroa kiwi Comments (0)


rain 18 °C
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Day 1
We travelled to Christchurch on the 16th March, less than 24 hours after the attack on the mosques. We had heard about it in our hostel the previous night and, along with everyone else, were shocked by what had happened. We were greeted with a gorgeous day as we made the drive down, giving a lift to another girl from our hostel too. Taking the scenic route meant that we got some great views too.

We headed into the city itself and to the botanic gardens, as we still had the car so thought we would make use of it. The gardens were absolutely beautiful, and there were lots of people around, including families with children. There was a sort of sombre sense in the air, especially at the world peace bell which hangs in the gardens.

Day 2
This was our one full day in Christchurch, and it was drizzly for most of the day! We walked into the city centre and saw the transitional cathedral, which at the time had lots of media inside and out, so we didn't hang around too long.
We saw the damage that occurred after the earthquakes 8 years ago, and walked past memorials to victims of the earthquake and also the attack. We spent some time in the Quake City exhibition, which gives an insight into the earthquakes that happened, and includes stories from people on the day. This really made it real to us, as being on the other side of the world meant that we knew about the earthquakes, but I certainly didn't understand quite the reality of it. It also highlighted the resilience of the people of Christchurch, and the strength of community here.

Posted by pkaplicz 13:15 Archived in New Zealand Tagged christchurch Comments (0)

Sydney Day 1

Falling in love with a city

overcast 24 °C
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Day 1
Our flight to Sydney left at 8:30am so it was an early day for us. I was sad to leave New Zealand, and if I'm honest there was a part of me that was just thinking it would have been so much easier to just head back to the UK, rather than having to learn a new city and country all over again. I was very tired, and when we arrived at our Airbnb just after 11:30am, all I really wanted was a nap. Thankfully we had been provided with a very big and powerful fan, which was great as it was so hot!
I had a bit of a nap and then, with Laura still deeply asleep, I went out for my first wander around Sydney.

I headed over to Mrs Macquaries Point, where I got the iconic view of the Sydney Opera house and the Harbour bridge.

I wandered around the botanic garden for a little bit.

Heading back towards the Airbnb I walked past St Mary's Cathedral. I did go inside too, however there was a service going on so I didn't take photos inside.

I also walked past the ANZAC memorial, which was much bigger than I had expected!

Posted by pkaplicz 13:40 Archived in Australia Tagged opera_house sydney Comments (0)

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