A Travellerspoint blog

The land of flightless birds and big green buses

New Zeland

semi-overcast 21 °C

Lying in my hotel bed wondering what's the latest I can get away with, breakfast being btwn 7 and 8.30 (how ridiculous!) and checkout a 10am...sigh. Seriously considering missing the brekky for xtra winks...

In summary - and I know I'm writing in hindsight but had too much fast fun whilst in NZ to capture my blog as is - NZ is a geogrphers delight, so of course I loved it! Here was my journey:

Auckland - first thoughts- dull, hilly n some pockets of hipness, I was staying in one of these pockets in a cool hostel that as soon as you enter feels like home. The lounge is full of ppl watching tv or using free Internet (the only place in NZ with free internet!) all easy to chat too, a good vibe. Met up with Gav (we met in Cairns) my firt night, down by the river front in a cool wine bar that had grandfather armchairs n national geographic piled up high, naturally I loved the place and proceeded to take snaps! Nice wine too...

Second day Lisa (met in Sydney and again in Melbourne) arrived n we hired a car, which we drove that day to Paihia, then the next day to Cape Reigna where we saw the lighthouse at the most northern tip where the oceans meet- beautiful sunny day, icecream excuse! Then we went sandboarding down the massive sanddunes there, so muh fun! But got sand everywhere of course. Back to Paihia followed by a boat trip around the Bay of Islands, dolphins playing alongside us n kayaking lunch opportunities :-) Whimsical skydive from 12,000ft followed that to end the day with stunning views and adrenaline! Beautiful.

Back at Auckland, farewell to Lisa hello to the Kiwi Experience bus and my driver Briggsy who I shared the next 7 days with along with the other 50 passengers! We went to Hot water beach (used someone elses hole to bathe in, lovely- initiative!), Whitianga nice town n beach, matamata for the hobbiton tour - technically can't write about it or show pics but let's just say it was fantastic for all geeks like me who love LOTRs, Rotorua which I think is overrated but I didn't see much of it as I then went to an 'authentic' Maori evening where they stick their tongues out n eyeball you - u can't laugh outloud! Then onto Waitomo to go caving- I did the Black Abyss: abseil into the caves, silliness through the caves, river tube to see gloworms, exit by climbing up 2 waterfalls, total 3 hrs underground- I LOVED it!! Then to Curleys bar which ended up with rehydration sachets all round the following morning (read between the lines parents!)...onto Taupo where we had time to ourselves to relax, we went to the river and hot springs (literally that and it's free so imagine a public bath in a river?!) then picnic by the lake (volcano holding water, v deep) and drinks that eve with the gang.

Onwards to River Valley for horseriding through the rolling countryside and a bit of cattle mustering, I loved in of course! Then a nice massage to wind down, best I've had yet! Sad to lead such a beautiful place but onto Wellington to meet up with mates from uni.

Wellington - windy and rainy, reminded me of England weather - bleurgh! Nice to stay with friends n catch up tho - n get looked after (thanks again Jim n Erica!) got to see dan too which was nice as it's been a while! Wellington to Nelson, south island via the ferry which was an uneventul journey. New bus driver (Kane it) was nice, kayaking in the Abel Tasmen national park, got to see the split apple rock n meet some fun ppl who were on my bus for the duration :-)

Another new bus with Bodz the driver to Westport = Argentinian rugby players who ended up joining in our UNO game (I tell you, it's an international ice breaker, ha ha) for a few games before we went out. Then we had a private fancydress party in Lake Mahinapua, the theme: what do u want to b when u grow up?! I went as a burglar, with my very own swag bad n crown jewels! Very funny evening. Then onward to Franz Josef where I got to do my helihike up to the highest safet point on the glacia for a 2 hr hike!! Amazing, like a geogrphy field trip, I was like a kid in a free sweet shop! "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!" doesn't even describe it! I left the bus the next day for a new one - back to Kane it, to go to Wanaka n meet Mat from my original bus. We went to the cinema there n ate yummy icecream whilst watching the fighter (it was quite good). I left for queenstown the next day to catch up with the rest of my original bus- fun times out with them, then mat caught up then all my buses arrived so bit of a social week really! I stayed away from the bungy jumps n canyon swings, I wasn't that brave! Then me, Mat n Nat hired a car to go to Te Anu and onward to Milford Sounds, got a boat ride n explored all the way back to Queenstown. Gutted that we've all had to part but that's travelling unfortunatley. We will rendevouz again on our return to the UK.

I can see why people hire campervans to explore NZ but now I've gotten used to the bus, I'm glad I did it and I met some fab ppl from it. Now thoughts turn towards my lack of spanish and coping in south America! Hola!

Posted by RosiePony 16:57 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Fiji heaven to New Zeland, birdless

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

sunny 28 °C

Hel n i arrived in Nadi, got straight to the ferry people to buy a transfer to Nacula idland, only a 5hrs ferry away! Luckily for us i was sunny so we got a tan top up on the way there. Fiji scenery is stunning, it was constantly hot, and the food was lovely. We stayed at the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, and we had an amazing time. There were free activities most days (Im an expert at weaving now), including coconut demonstrations and casava drinking (tastes like clay). There was a retro party so of course the face paints came out and we had fun. Generally amazing times were had. The diving was fun and I got to see sharks! Met some lovely people who I hope to keep in touch with.
Back to earth with a bump tho as I arrived in NZ and had to say goodbye to hel (aka bird). There were tears but that was to be expected. Been so much fun travelling with her...great memories ;)

Posted by RosiePony 16:52 Archived in Fiji Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

A good $3 dollar wine bar n an Irish pint

Melbourne n St Kilda

semi-overcast 21 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

(Quick note - ill add photos later!)

We are staying at an Irish pub called Pint on the Punt where we have got 7 nights. The place has a friendly atmosphere despite being a bit tatty. Our room mates are nice enough, Gerty is pleasant but does like to remind you that breakfast will end in ten mins whilst youre lying in bed with a hangover wishing the world would end...slighty mumsy annoying! And kevin, well he's a funny irish guy who is from Cork therefore we have a very hard job understanding one another, I have to ask him to repeat himself at least 4 times before understanding clicks in...then of course I have a fit of giggles at the silly situation. I think he thinks I'm a bit mad?! The funniest moment tho (and u had to be here so sorry for this) is when he came home slightly drunk n couldnt find his toothbrush, so went downstairs to buy one (from where ive no idea- does an irish bar stock toothbruhes?! Dad, hope youre impressed with oz/irish dentalcare?!), came back n asked to use my toothpaste (obviously none of that for sale). Anyway I stupidly gave him the tube rather than dishing it out and lo and behold the enevitable happened- he squeezed the tube and the biggest blob popped out not only on his toothbrush. He handed me back the tube with splodges of paste all over it, giggling. Sigh...each time I brush my teeth I think of kevins big blob of paste! All good fun tho.
Now I had been told I'd love st kilda cos it's got a street of cake shops on it, and so in my head, I took it literally to mean there was a whole road with each shop being a cake shop. How my heart coped with the dissappointment I'll never know- there were only about 5 cake shops all sellig the same cakes n buns :( and when I had one it cost $6!!! so not worth it... my cakes are better!

Hel had read about a place called 'Lentil as anything' which relied on customers paying whatever they thought the meal was worth or colud afford - very new age and the food was om! We checked out the Sunday Market (street with stalls on all of which a traveller wouldnt buy anything from, bit dissappointed with it) then headed to the beach past Luna park (extortionate rather outdated theme park). We walked along St Kilda pier onto watch the Penguins come home at sunset after a hard das hunting and eating. Luckily we had brought some wine with us for the occassion :-)

We spent Australia Day (26th Jan) in the city- kings domain section of the park where there were food stalls, a parade of allsorts of ethnic grps, a car show, pack dog racing. The Red Arrow equivalents flew over Government House as we ate our kebab sar ie outside, having just been on the tourist trail I side the house and having seen a magic show, where I got to hold the bunny at the end - yey! Mainly because I squeeled like a kid when I saw him bring it out of a side door on a trolly table for his act. Young at heart eh ;)
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City explorations so far have been fun - we me up with Lisa our roomie from Bondi and had lunch down this cool lane of eateries, then visited a museum (we are cultured ladies, honest!) then sunbathed on the grass for a bit n had wine down by the Yarra River side (extortionately priced wine) which was rather lovely. My fave bit of exploring Melbourne so far is that I found a $3 wine bar - yummy wine too - which I realise makes me sound like an alcoholic, and despite this implication, I visit it each time I go to the city! Although I am sure Melbourne has more to offer than cheap wine. I just haven't discovered it yet! Certainly not icecream! Hel and I spent a good 2 hrs on her birthday trapsing round the city in search of a nice icecream parlour, but joyless we headed onto our evenin celebrations of wine, Mexican and more wine! We met up with Guy and Emily (who we had met in Newcastle on our Hunter Valley wine tour) and as it was Emilys birthday the following day, we all celebrated together. After the Mexican we happened across the Ice Lounge, yep. You guessed it. A 'freeze your ass of for fun' bar! We either had shorts or skirts on so were definatley gonna freeze... :s but the shot and cocktail helped warm us up along with the warm gear they made us wear, plus the dancing as fast as we could to keep our circulation going- seriously we were in there for an hr and are now on their wall of fame! Check us out! Cool dudes ...

We had to end St Kilda on a high so booked into the Neighhours Trivia night - where we met Karl Kenney! Wahoo! I regressed to a teenager and basically cuddled him for as long as I could (didn't wanna let go) before asking for his autograph (luckily for me I think he found me endearing rather than obsessive)... So now I can say I have hugged the doctor!

And after that there is nothing else I can write that surpasses a Karl Kennedy hug.. Oh wait. I guess there's the Great Ocean Road...

Posted by RosiePony 19:12 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

Sydney City

sunny 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Sunday - we got a taxi into town to our next hostel (Wake up!) to save us from the effort of dragging all our stuff across the city (I know, I know, that’s what backpacking is about...but I’ve done it for 10 months now and am an old lady so sometimes I need a helping hand!!). We checked into Wakeup!, or rather dumped our bags in an incredibly messy room (looks like its a party room) then went to wait til we could check in at 12. Once we'd checked in we walked to the botanic gardens to the Museum of NSW to be cultural and view art for afternoon. Hel went to see the Terracotta warrior exhibition (I had seen this in China so didn't bother) so I headed back to the hostel exploring a different route back. By evening though I was restless and I needed to be out of the hostel so I dragged hel to a pub for a glass of wine in the eve to people watch and write our diaries!
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The hostel we are staying in has 7 floors, 2 lifts and no stairs. We live on the second floor which has ten rooms each with 10 ppl capacity. It is a massive hostel in the city. It has it's own bar and cafe, Internet lounge and kitchen area which you'd think would be heaving all the time but I guess people must eat out cos the kitchen is never too busy. Our room is large and has three ceiling to waist height windows. There's nothing more really I can say but that it'd be a nice room to chill out in if two of the occupants (Dutch boys) didn't treat it like their bedrooms n have empty water bottles and crap spreading out like a disease from under their beds...agh!

Mon - the hostel provided a free walking tour of the city which took about 3 hrs until we got to the Sydney Opera house, where we split off to meet Lisa (Bondi) and her friend Emma. We went to see the Anne Leibovitz exhibition then walked back to hostel for dinner and drinks, which turned into a night out trying to avoid Gregory, a Canadian stalker :s Basically he edged his way onto our table and listen to our conversation until I introduced myself (out of politeness rather than wanting to). Little did I realise what a terrible mistake I'd just made. He then spent the rest of the night staring inappropriately at us and telling us we were beautiful (cringe). We ended up changing bars to get away from him only to return later (hoping he'd left) to find him on the dance floor (internally crying inside at the memory)... Agh!

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Tue - hungover (had to be to cope with Gregory) but still managed an afternoon in the maritime museum, where they showed Finding Nemo for free, the highlight of my day :) and the museum was good too. Lots of info on child immigration from UK to oz due to over population...and we did the pub quiz in the eve...
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Wed - we visited Circular Quays to explore the Rocks area, went into an art gallery- the artist is usually commissioned to do a piece for the sailing regatta so lots of boat paintings. Over the road was the Rocks Museum, which was really well done. Then which we ate lunch and headed to the Sydney harbor bridge south pylon to climb it for beautiful views of a panoramic Sydney. We walked to the observatory and had a look inside (lots of telescopic stuff) before heading home via the Queen Victoria building (shopping centre). Phew! Cuppa tea back at the hostel and an Internet admin eve...
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Thurs - it was a sunny day so we went to Manly beach, caught the ferry over there n saw beautiful views of the bridge and opera house, sunbathed and ate ice cream - double choc chip and white choc chip n caramel. Yummy. Then ferry back (same views but different light) to the city. We tried to go up the Sydney Tower for a drink at the bar but there is a dress code (no shorts or people who look like backpackers who have spent the day getting Sand everywhere!) so we went back to the hostel to get ready to go out...we met Emma in Kings Cross and went to a few local bars whilst trying to meet up with my mate Neil (I'd met him in Kuala Lumpor) but annoyingly I diet get I to the bar he was in cos I had flipflops on (this is Australia, since when were flipflops NOT allowed? That's like saying you can't have rain in England!)... Anyway. We found a late night bar n ended up getting in after 5?!

Fri - hangover day. Or really more like catch up on sleep day! We headed out to the Botanic gardens cos it was sunny n we had a picnic on the grass near the lake overlooking the harbor water. Neil made it down in the afternoon so got to catch up properly then we headed home via the cinema, where we watched Black Swan with Natalie Portman in - amazing, an emotional roller coaster that was gripping. A good finish to the day.

Sat - Steve and Sharni picked us up at 12 and took us for a drive around Sydney’s coastline. They took us to a tiny cove with a small beach that had grass all the way up the bank. We sat under a tree and ate our picnic accompanied with wine. Then a sea icecream boat sailed past, Steven whistled and it turned round n came back for us! We ran down to the waters edge n bought a magnum equivalent. Yum! It was very novel, a memory I’ll hold dear as I do love icecream (had u noticed?) n it's not everyday you can order it from a boat!! Afterwards there was a bit more driving which ended back at the hostel. We said our farewells (til next time!) then Solent the day on a 'go slow'.
Sun-our departure day to Melbourne. We have a nightbus journey, our last trip ever on the greyhound! It's served us well. So as it was a beautiful sunny day we spent it in the park opposite the hostel and finished off our picnic items from the other day. I think I read a good quarter of my book in that time before we had to get the coach. Onward to Melbourne!

Posted by RosiePony 18:10 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bondi, the Blue Mountains and the RSL

sunny 27 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Bondi beach, Sydney - Hel and I arrived off the greyhound and as we were going over the harbour bridge we became incredibly excited to finally be here, Sydney! Our first big city in Oz, my first big city since Jakarta (which i hated) and before that, Kuala Lumpur which is such a long time ago now. We got off at the central bus station and could immediatley feel the city vibe, people walking fast down the street to their destinations, the hubbub of a citys traffic, coffe mugs clinking and chatter. I didn't think I'd be so excited to be in a big city again...but I have a good feeling about Sydney. But, first things first, how to get to Bondi since this is to the north east of the city and about half an hour away from the centre. We got a train (that went underground for most of the way) to Bondi Junction the got a bus to Bondi beach where we walked up the hill to our YHA.
After a bit of a crap check in (don't think much to staff here) we met our room mate Lisa, sweedish, 26. We instantly got on and chatted away (you know what I'm like). Anyway we had arranged to meet up with Steven, one half of the couple we met at on the Fraser Island tour...and he drove us round Bondi in his VW Country Buggy (limited edition) which you could fold the windscreen down on it! I sat in the front and waved my arms in the air as we zoomed downhill. It was such a cool experience and many a spectater gave us a second glance, wave or smile as we zipped past :)
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The following day (Thursday) was the blue mountains trip. I am glad I went but I definatley got to see why the mountains are blue, although I think it's from fog not eucalyptus. They should be called the misty mountains, although that sounds American. And from a geographic perspective they look more like canyons not mountains. We walked down to the top of the oldest sister, and walked across a scary bridge to stand on her head (Im not keen on bridges over deep nothingness) which I did...and saw more fog! Back up the steps and Into the car to new location to see the sisters n valleys from new perspective. Still foggy! Anyway we ended up doing a walk to a waterfall (massive waterfall drop) which took us along a ridge in the rock with no railing n forest and drop to our right with moss above and to the left of us and mud on the floor so it was very slippy. Water was dripping off the moss overhead onto us as we walked along but it was a cool path and I really enjoyed that part of the walk. Then we walked down to the waterfall where there was a bridge running across it (with a railing thank god!) so we took some photos n hel had a paddle (i just couldnt be bothered to take my walking boots off). Then we headed back home to Bondi!
But not before Steven showed us a few city sights as we drove through. He drove us to the botanic gardens telling us to focus on a massive crane on the right hand side so me n hel are looking through the trees going 'which one?', 'what?', 'where?' and then bang! He says turn left n we see the harbour bridge n Sydney opera house, ha ha! It was pretty cool view. We drove through kings cross which doesn't look so bad in the day, not sure about the night...then onto Bondi.
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We keep getting told to eat and drink at 'clubs' in oz cos they're full of locals and do cheaper food n drink, or more probably that the food is worth the money cos it wasn't so cheap there... Anyway hel n I went to the RSL club to the north of the harbour for dinner n drinks. We sat outside n watched the Bondi lights whist eating dinner. I had chili calamari with salad n chips - yum! Best squid I've had yet! So soft n yummy. Om! So I'll def be eating in one of those again, the servings were huge. And it was $15...and for desert (once we'd taken advantage of the free mcdonalds wifi) I got an icecream - Ferero Roche flavour- yummy! Then back to the hostel for sleep...
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The following day we sunbathed on the roof terrace of our hostel, overlooking the sea :) I has an ice cream craving in the afternoon so Lisa n I took a walk into Bondi to get one, mint choc chip n hazlenut - yum! Sat by the beach trying to spot hunky lifeguards but they were too far away- note to self, take monocular next time ;) Then we went to a cafe for a fruit juice (balancing out the icecream see?) then explored the backstreet of Bondi with Hel for a bit. BBQ dinner that eve at the hostel and onto the film festival by the beach (open air) to see a range of films made by internaional film makers. All very good, and an enjoyable night. The following day was similar, sunbathed on the terrace, then shower n headed into Sydney central to the Botanic Gardens for a free music festival and picnic :) it was great fun, we met two of lisas friends and went for a drink after with them.
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Then Sunday came all too soon, we checked out and go a taxi to our next hostel in the city, Wake up! (name of hostel, not me telling you to wake up- this is an interesting blog... Right?!).

Posted by RosiePony 23:53 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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