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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.
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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.
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We drove on, stopping along the way, where I got this photo of the Buller river.
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We stopped at a Maruia Falls.
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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.
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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!
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Posted by pkaplicz 00:10 Archived in New Zealand Tagged atnp Comments (0)

Picton

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.
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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!
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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!
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In the evening we went for a quick walk around before dinner, and got treated to some more lovely views.
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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!
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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!
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Posted by pkaplicz 00:32 Archived in New Zealand Tagged views picton sunshine sounds Comments (0)

Kaikoura

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

Akaroa

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!
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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.
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The drive to Akaroa was very picturesque and we some nice views.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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Posted by pkaplicz 12:36 Archived in New Zealand Tagged penguin dolphins akaroa kiwi Comments (0)

Christchurch

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I headed over to Mrs Macquaries Point, where I got the iconic view of the Sydney Opera house and the Harbour bridge.
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I wandered around the botanic garden for a little bit.
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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.
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I also walked past the ANZAC memorial, which was much bigger than I had expected!
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Posted by pkaplicz 13:40 Archived in Australia Tagged opera_house sydney Comments (0)

Sydney Day 2

sunny 23 °C
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Laura and I split up again this morning as she wanted to explore some of the places I had been yesterday, whilst I was eager to go to the zoo (mainly to see some koalas)!
This was my first taste of the Sydney ferries, which were very easy to use and give some great views of the city.
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The zoo was very easy to walk around, and had plenty of information available. They are doing quite a lot of work there to open a new Savannah enclosure, but there was still plenty to see, including a platypus and wombat!
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Once I got back I explored the Rocks district a little bit. This is a much older part of the city centre, and had a nice feel. From here I got a really good view of the harbour bridge.
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My last stop of the day was to walk up to the Opera house itself. From afar it actually looked much smaller than I imagined, but close up you could see the size of the building.
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Unfortunately my foot was really hurting by this point, so I hopped on the train to cut 20mins off my walk back, and rested in the airbnb a bit whilst preparing for tomorrow!

Posted by pkaplicz 13:27 Archived in Australia Tagged opera_house sydney zoo Comments (0)

Sydney Day 3

Bondi bound

sunny 24 °C
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Today was the day of our walk along part of the coast. The Bondi to Coogee walk is supposedly one of the most popular walks in Sydney, and is really easily accessible. It is a 6km walk, however with my foot still playing up a bit we decided to walk a slighly shorter section of the walk. We got the bus to Clovelly and got our first glimpse of the golden beaches and waves that Australia is known for.
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We moved on to Bronte Beach where we cooled ourselves down by walking through the water. It was absolutely lovely, and really showed that Aussie beach vibe that is so well known. There were quite a few people about, but it wasn't crowded (it was a Wednesday midmorning).
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Our final destination, Bondi beach, was now in sight, as was the famous Icebergs club. We settled at the beach for a bit, watching people surfing (a skill I would love to have but don't think would work with my balance...). It was really beautiful and nice to just chill out for a bit.
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Posted by pkaplicz 13:40 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney bondi_beach sun_sea_sand Comments (0)

Sydeny Day 4

A rainy ending

sunny 24 °C
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Woke up today feeling sad that our trip was nearly at an end. It definitely didn't feel like I had left home 6 weeks ago, in fact it felt like no time at all. The day greeted us with rain absolutely chucking it down. After dropping off our bags for storage at a hotel near the train station I donned my raincoat to head to the Sydney Opera House in the hopes of booking a tour for later in the day. Tickets were available for the afternoon, so we chose a 2:30pm time and instead headed onto the ferry to Manly. Thankfully the clouds started to part at this point, and we were treated to more sunshine.
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We had to head back quite soon in order to get on our tour of the Sydney Opera house. I was surprised by how much I loved the tour. It was really interesting and a great chance to see inside the building, plus our guide Suanne was really great and made the hour fly past.
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Sadly, it was now nearly time to head to the airport. We collected our bags and headed on the train a bit early in order to try and beat rush hour. I absolutely loved my time in Sydney and definitely want to go back one day, despite the idea of another 28hrs of travelling!

Posted by pkaplicz 13:55 Tagged sydney sydney_opera_house manly_beach Comments (0)

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