A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand


sunny 27 °C
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Day 1
We got to our hotel at about 1:30pm on Sunday (UK time 12:30am Sunday). My room was ready which was great, and meant I could shower and stick the air con on really, really low, as it was about 26 degrees already! Once we had dumped our stuff and refreshed we walked down to the ferry terminal and got on a short ferry ride to an Auckland suburb called Devonport. Compared to the city centre it was so peaceful and quiet, and you could see why people may want to move there. The views were beautiful. We did consider walking up the North Head reserve however once we started the small incline to even get to the bottom of the hill my legs protested and pretty much refused to work.
So we slowly wandered back to our hotel, picking up a burger for dinner on the way. I was in bed by about 9!

Day 2
The next day in Auckland was very full on. We went on a free walking tour at 10am which took us through many different parts of the city. It was cool seeing how things are joined together, plus we saw someone bungee jump off the sky tower (it's a guided jump as you wouldn't be able to properly bungee down with skyscrapers either side of you...). There are also loads of green spaces around where you almost forget you are in the middle of New Zealand's busiest city (about 1/3 of the population live there or in the surrounding area!).
DSC_0027.JPGDSC_0031.JPG ==This is to celebrate the fight for women's votes.


Later on we walked up Mt Eden which gave us amazing views of Auckland and we could see just how big it is.

Posted by pkaplicz 22:03 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)


Road Trip time!

sunny 29 °C
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Day 1
We got to the car rental agency at just past 9 to collect our rental car. We had been upgraded to a fancier, bigger car (a Toyota Corolla) with a reversing camera and everything! It was a very useful upgrade as Laura brought a large and heavy suitcase with her. I was the first to drive, and I have never driven an automatic before, so before even starting we had to look up in the booklet how to change from park to drive... I kept reaching for the gearstick and trying to press the clutch. Driving out of Auckland was a little stressful but I did it! Our first stop was Mangawhai heads which is a beach area with some large cliffs. The waves are great for surfing and we saw loads of people either surfing or body boarding. At first it was quite cloudy however within 15mins sunshine came out and this set the precedent for our whole trip

Our next stop was a quick stop to buy food and then just 5 minutes from the centre of a small city are Whangarei falls. What was great was that there is a pretty view from the top and then you can walk down to the base of the falls too.

Waitangi Treaty grounds is the place where the first treaty between Maori people and the British Crown was signed. It was one of the places I really wanted to come to on this trip, however unfortunately we only had 40 mins there so we didn't get to do a tour or see the cultural performance. The museum was great and really informative.

The last stop of the day was Haruru falls, another beautiful waterfall.

On the drive to Mangonui Laura pulled over to let some people pass, and I spied this church through the window, so had to take a picture!

More views on the way:

We stayed the night in Mangonui, was really lovely peaceful place with a fantastic and well known fish and chip shop. I had a fish called hoki. On the walk there we saw the harbour, which was absolutely stunning.

Day 2
I got up really early today as we were leaving at 8am to drive up to Cape Reinga, another important place in Maori culture and also at the tip of the Northland. Waking up so early meant that I got fantastic views of the harbour.

The drive up was long but very pretty (also very windy in places a bit like on a rollercoaster). Cape Reinga is said to be 'the place where spirits go home'.

There is a tree at the bottom of one of the cliffs which survives despite sticking out into the sea, which can get very rough at times. It is said that spirits use the roots as steps into the underworld.

Cape Reinga is also cool as you can see the point where two oceans meet, leading to the waves you can see in this picture.

We took a brief little side trip to Rawara beach which was absolutely stunning and much nicer than I had expected. It's the sort of place that you could spend all day at, but unfortunately we didn't have all day!

We broke up the drive back with a quick stop at Omapere just to see the harbour.

Our final stop was the Waipoua forest to see the kauri trees, which is another stop that I really wanted to do. These are ancient NZ trees that are currently endangered due to 'kauri dieback disease'. This means that many of the pathways through the forest are blocked off, and when they are open there are stations for cleaning and disinfecting your footwear before and after you enter the forest. We got to see Table Mahuta, the largest kauri tree in New Zealand, also known as the 'lord of the forest's. Tane is known as the 'life giver' and all living creatures are his children. The total height 51.5 m (with a trunk of height 17.7m and girth 13.8m)!!!

Once we arrived at the holiday park we had a quick dinner of soup and bread, and then went to the beach for sunset. Baylys beach is part of New Zealand's longest drivable beach (obviously rental cars are not allowed). The cliff walk was already pretty special, but sunset was something else.

Day 3
This was the last day of our car hire, and we had to get back to Auckland. We stopped off first after 2 hrs of driving just to have a little break at a waterfall called Omeru falls. It was quite weak due to the lack of rainfall around recently. A woman with a dog started chatting to me, and she said that she is moving somewhere where there is a waterfall and water hole nearby!

We got to Karekare at about lunch time. First we walked up to the waterfall which was really tall. It was an easy walk for such a great view.
We were going to go to the beach too, a black sand beach, but I injured my foot a few days before and so had a wound that I didn't really want to get sand in (I'll spare you all the slightly gory details...).

The final stop of the day was another surprise hit. We stopped at the Arataki visitor centre which has amazing views over the Wiatakere ranges, which are absolutely beautiful. We learnt lots more about the Kauri trees and the problems the forest's have faced, as well as all the work being done to preserve this amazing environment.

I was so exhausted by the evening that I didn't go to the Chinese lantern festival on in Auckland. Instead I crashed at about 9 (after very nearly choking...) ready for the long journey tomorrow.

Posted by pkaplicz 22:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged cape_reinga mangonui baylys_beach arataki_visitor_centre Comments (0)


sunny 24 °C
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We said goodbye to Auckland and caught the intercity bus to Rotorua. It wasn't as bad as people have described even if the bus was 30mins late picking us up! The drive was pretty uneventful, and I just listened to music most of the way. Once we got to Rotorua it was so hot (30!) and our hostel obviously doesn't have air con, so we didn't really feel like doing much. Had a great lunch/dinner at the Fat Dog cafe, then did some shopping. Managed to stay up until about 9pm then went to bed, as it was going to be an even earlier morning the next day...

Day 2
Woke up early to meet at 6:20am for our tour to Waitomo caves. This is a set of 3 caves that are open to visitors, and a very popular choice for people coming to New Zealand. Our tour was for 9:15, but when we arrived at 9 they were having a fire drill, so obviously had to go through all the formalities including getting the fire brigade out to clear everything. We got in very quickly though and it was a nice cave to walk through. The best bit though was the boat ride at the end where you get to float in the dark under loads of glow worms.
The next cave, Ruakuri, is the one where you can take pictures. It involves walking through a cave for about 1.5 hrs, and there are loads of interesting formations, plus glow worms too. I took so many photos. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip so far, and I'm very glad that I chose the 2 cave option rather than just doing Waitomo on the drive through to Rotorua (this is an option).
After the cave I had a 1.5 hr break whilst waiting for some people to get back from their cave experiences, and Laura went with another group to Hobbiton. We had to stop back at Hobbiton anyway to drop of some luggage, and then was finally back in Rotorua by 5pm!

Day 3
Today we had a much needed leisurely day. We went to breakfast at the Fat Dog cafe, which had massive portions and very tasty food. It was very busy (especially as it's a Sunday). Then we wandered around Rotorua, going to the lake and then to Kauri park, which is a free thermal park at the edge of Rotorua. It was really cool to look around.

We went back to the hostel for a bit of a rest and then headed to government gardens, a very pretty part of town also at the lake's edge. Finally, we got ice cream at a place called Lady Jane's.

Really we needed more time in Rotorua. Even though we saw a lot it would have been nice to go to one of the bigger thermal parks, but on Sunday's the public transport isn't as good. I also would have wanted to go to one of the Maori cultural evenings, as that's one of the things that really interests me about New Zealand.

Posted by pkaplicz 00:03 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rotorua waitomo_caves Comments (0)


An Art Deco City

sunny 29 °C
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Day 1
We had a nice bus journey down to Napier, arriving at about 3:30pm (left at 11 - so had a lie in!!). The weather was nice as it was hot and sunny but there was a gentle breeze from the sea which helped cool us down. The first thing we did was go to our motel to dump all of our stuff. The motel was surprisingly nice and we even had a 'spa bath' which was absolutely massive. I sat in it and my toes only just reached the end if I pointed them! We went for a walk to the supermarket to get supplies for the next few days and had an early dinner of garlicky tomato pasta and garlic bread. In the evening we went for a walk along the sea front and got a lovely feel of the city. I already liked it and only saw a tiny bit!

Day 2
Today we had a tour booked in the morning with the Art Deco Trust. Napier is a city that was hugely damaged by an earthquake in 1931, and they rebuilt the whole of the centre in just 2 years, meaning that it is mostly in the art deco style. We found out that we had just missed a huge art deco festival that they hold every year by 1 day, which was a shame as it sounded incredible especially as I love that style and time period. Never mind. The tour was absolutely fantastic, even if we were the youngest on it by about 30 yrs! The tour guide was very informative and pointed out lots of features of the buildings that we wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

We quickly popped back for lunch and then headed out again to see the Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans murals which are dotted around the city. They are absolutely beautiful and also hold a very important message.
Finally we went for ice cream which was absolutely delicious. The guy at the counter was very nice and even recommended some things for us to do in Wellington, which is where we are headed next.
I absolutely loved Napier, far more than I thought I would, and would definitely suggest that any goes there!

Posted by pkaplicz 23:15 Archived in New Zealand Tagged napier art_deco Comments (0)


The Capital

overcast 21 °C
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Day 1
Today was mainly a day of travelling. We left Napier in our bus at 8am and finally arrived in Wellington at 2pm. What a change in weather! It was very windy and clouded over. After such a long journey we didn't feel up to much... We simply got to our Airbnb, did some food shopping and then spent the evening chilling out!

Day 2
I got up early this morning because I had to do my laundry! Laura had a bit of a lie in, so whilst she showered I went out for a quick wander around. I walked around an old cemetery that is set in a wooded area underneath a motorway pass. It is the city's original cemetery, opened in 1840, but was surrounded in controversy in the 1960s when the motorway route was proposed. Around 3,700 burials had to be exhumed. There was a lovely peaceful feeling to the place despite its busy location.
I managed to have a little time to pop up to the NZ parliament, but unfortunately we didn't have enough time to visit them this time (a running theme).
Laura and I then got the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens. By then it was quite warm but with some clouds in the sky. This made it a pleasant journey, and we wandered back down to our airbnb via the gardens.
After a quick lunch we went to see the Te Matatini Kapa Haka festival which was going on in the Westpac stadium. This is the event that I was really excited to see and the reason why we were in Wellington on these dates. Teams from all around the country perform and compete, and it was amazing to watch them (even if we didn't understand what was being said).
Finally we went out into the city centre for nourishment! Firstly we headed to a cocktail bar that had been recommended to us by the guy in the cafe in Napier. It was called The Library and was nicely furbished with a lovely atmosphere. I only had one cocktail but it was delicious, and I particularly liked that they brought a glass of water to your table and kept refilling it. Next was dinner. We went to a really tasty Malaysian place called Little Penang. I had a dish called claypot rice and it was so delicious.
After dinner we wandered to the 'performance arcade' happening on the waterfront. It was very abstract artsy and also had a live band performing. We decided to head back quite fast though as there were ominous looking clouds in the sky in the direction we needed to head and a forecast of potential showers.

Day 3
Today was dedicated to one thing really, the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. We had a bit of a lazy morning (well deserved after the busy day before) and headed there just after lunch. We managed to get tickets to a temporary exhibition with the Terracotta warriors (also recommended by Napier cafe guy) at 2pm, so we went up to the 6th floor of the museum and then made our way down. The viewpoint over the city was pretty cool, although the strong wind made us quite quickly go inside!
My favourite part of the top two floors was the piece of art that was created by the first Maori artist to get a fine arts degree.
Then we headed to the Terracotta warriors exhibition.
It was very interesting and there was lots to see, but it wasn't the main reason why I wanted to come to the museum. I loved the rest of the exhibitions on the 4th floor, as they were about the history of Pacific people in New Zealand, stories of immigrants and refugees, and the world of Maori. I absolutely loved learning about Maori history and way of living. Unfortunately (but completely understandably) you can't take photos in this part, so you will just have to go and see it for yourself).
The rest of the exhibitions were also cool, with one about how New Zealand's landscape and environment has and is changing, a celebration of 125 years of women having the vote here, and New Zealand's involvement in WWI.
We spent a total of 4 hours in the museum but easily could have spent much longer, as we had to hurry through seeing the exhibitions to leave before closing time!

Posted by pkaplicz 23:26 Archived in New Zealand Tagged wellington haha capital_city Comments (0)

Christchurch - Twizel

Start of the South Island Road trip

semi-overcast 17 °C
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We made it to the South Island!!! After a very relaxed time at Wellington airport, where some lady asked me where my trousers were from, we boarded our Air NZ flight to Christchurch. We picked up our hire car (and got upgraded to a Toyota Corolla again) and were making our way out of the airport by 10:30am! Today our destination was Twizel, as a half way point between Christchurch and Queenstown and a way to get to Aoraki Mount Cook the next day. Shortly after leaving Christchurch we got to a viewpoint where we pulled over. On a nice day you would be able to see the Southern Alps from there, but unfortunately the weather was not on our side. I did find a familiar place though!
Thankfully as we drove on the clouds cleared and we got some more of that lovely sunshine that we have gotten so used to! Our first stop was Rakaia Gorge, which was much nicer than I expected and definitely worth not going via the main highway.
We went for a walk to get a better view, however about 3/4 of the way there was a section where you had to climb over some tree roots with a fairly steep drop on the other side, so I let Laura go ahead. She got all the way to the second viewpoint - which is supposed to be 1 hr from where we were and she did it in about 30 mins!
We stopped in Geraldine to pick up some jam, and then at a bakery in Fairlie to get some pies for dinner (they were absolutely delicious - well, I know mine was)! We pulled over a few times to take some photos of the view, which was fantastic.
On we went to Lake Tekapo. This is a very popular spot to stop and there were so many people around. But, once we walked a minute or so further, there were very few people! The sunshine made the lake show its famous beautiful blue colour and it was stunning to see.
We also went inside the little church, which had a gorgeous view and was so peaceful (you can't take photos there).
Finally, we got on with our drive to Twizel. Along the way we stopped at a few viewpoints, which was definitely worth it for photos of the blue Lake Pukaki and the snow capped mountains in the background.
We had an early night (again), to be ready for our much anticipated visit to Mt Cook.

Posted by pkaplicz 00:04 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes lake_tekapo road_trip christchurch twizel Comments (0)

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)

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