Travels {Melbourne – our final destination}

August 8th, 2011

So after saying goodbye to Karen and leaving Adelaide, we caught an early flight to Melbourne, our final destination. Melbourne is well known for its shopping, so the last two days of our trip were spent meandering around the city picking up any last bits we felt we were missing, and also enjoying good food.

For a city, Melbourne actually felt quite nice and for someone who hates shopping, I found it rather pleasant and not too stressful!

Exploring the city a little further we discovered Union Lane, which is basically Read more »

Travels {Adelaide}

August 1st, 2011

From the rainy city of Auckland we jumped on a plane and headed back to Australia. When we touched down in Adelaide we were met at the airport by my friend Karen who I hadn’t seen for about 16 years. This part of the trip was about catching up with Karen and her family, and as Ian had already heard so much about them, it felt really nice that he would finally get to meet them. She hadn’t changed a bit (apart from the Ozzie twang!), and her smiling face transported me back to being about 10 years old and us running around the streets having water fights.

As we stepped out of the airport and made our way to Karen’s car, it felt so nice to be back in the warmth of the sun; something I had missed so much in New Zealand. That afternoon we headed into Adelaide for a quick tour of the city, as well as to pick up our Green Day tickets for later that week!

People watching at Karen’s sailing club…..

Karen lived about 40 minutes outside of Adelaide in a place called Strathalbyn, and our time here was relaxing. We ate good food, met Karen’s friends and spent time just generally catching up. When we were kids we were inseparable, so it was nice to finally see the life that she had been living in Australia.

A peacock at Adelaide Zoo…..

Everything was so chilled out, it was a completely different way of life; so easy going. It was at this point in our trip that Ian and I started to discuss the changes we would make when we returned home. It made us stop and think about the areas of our life that we were unhappy with.

A meerkat at Adelaide Zoo…..

Heading to a Green Day gig with Karen and her sister Stacey, it was interesting to see how different the gig was in Adelaide, to the one we’d seen in Manchester about five weeks earlier.

On the last night, we were invited to Karen’s parents for tea and it was just so lovely to catch up with them and hear their stories and experiences since moving to Australia. It was a fab end to an overwhelming part of out trip…..

The next day we had to catch an early flight to Melbourne, this would be our last stop before heading back home to the UK…..

Travels {Auckland}

July 19th, 2011

We left Taupo for Auckland, the last leg of our New Zealand adventure. The torrential weather that had been with us for the past couple of days in Taupo, followed us to our final destination.

We dropped our bags off at the hotel, and then took the car back to the hire place a few blocks away. The rain had eased off and when we were asked if we needed a taxi, we declined. BIG mistake. Within minutes of setting off back to the hotel, the heavens opened, and even now, I still struggle to describe how bad it was. The nearest thing I can compare it to, would be standing underneath the shower fully clothed. It was relentless. We arrived back at the hotel to check in, and as I stood in a puddle of water, with my hair wet through and dripping down my face, the receptionist took pity on me and gave me a towel to dry off a little.

We checked in and made our way up to our room to get changed and dry out. We waited for the weather to calm down, and then we headed out to explore and grab some food. One thing we were still struggling with, were the celebrations on the run up to Christmas. When the sun did actually shine, it felt wrong to see Christmas decorations everywhere.

…..some of them were larger than life!

Our room gave us a view of the Auckland Sky Tower, but due to the weather conditions it was closed for most of the time we were there, so we only saw a few people do the Skyjump. Ian was well up for us jumping off the top, but after the bungy episode, I was quite glad that the weather prevented us from doing it!

On our last night we booked a thai massage, and it was SO good! After the walking, climbing and bungying it was needed…..

….the next day we were ready to fly back to Australia. We were heading to Adelaide to catch up with one of my oldest friends, who I hadn’t seen for about 14 years!

Travels {Lake Taupo}

June 27th, 2011

From Wellington we made the drive over to Lake Taupo through torrential rain. It was so bad that the windscreen wipers didn’t go fast enough and every car we passed was crawling along at a snail’s pace.

By the time we reached Taupo we were glad to get into our apartment, the weather was so bad that we couldn’t even go anywhere. I was bored. So bored, that I lay on the floor taking photos of the sky through the patio window.

The sky went from this…..

….to this in a matter of minutes!

I don’t do bored well. I get annoying when I get bored. So I then turned Read more »

Travels {Wellington}

June 15th, 2011

As we flew from Nelson to Wellington, I was nervous about how low the plane was flying. To this day, I’m pretty sure it didn’t go nearly as high as the one we skydived out of! It was a 25 minute flight and for the whole journey I was fixated on the view from the window. The landscape, the sea; so clear and so beautiful. We were sat near the wings and when I saw the wheels drop down whilst we were still over water, I went into a panic! Luckily due to the position of Wellington runway and the short flight this was normal!

View of Wellington from our balcony….

We touched down, went through customs and then headed over to the shuttle bus. As we made our way to the hotel, I realised just how close to Wellington harbour we were staying. I love the sea, and the fact that we were located so close, made me feel better about being in the city.

We checked into the hotel, made a coffee and then stood out on the balcony; I gazed out across the harbour and Read more »

Travels {Nelson Lakes}

May 19th, 2011

I was totally in love with New Zealand. The landscape was breathtaking. As we drove from Lake Tekapo up to Nelson Lakes National Park I was totally in awe of the open countryside. Off in the distance we could see snow capped mountains, yet all around us we were surrounded by luscious green fields.

We drove for hours on the open road barely passing another vehicle and it was on this journey that we experienced the rain in New Zealand for the first time. It was bouncing nearly as high as the car and it was so heavy the windscreen wipers wouldn’t go fast enough; we slowed down to a crawl as we tried to see through the window. It was looking doubtful that we would get to explore Nelson Lakes if the weather continued.

We arrived late afternoon and headed indoors, hoping that the weather would clear up by the following day; luckily it did, and the next day we headed out ready to walk Mount Robert Circuit. Being an alpine location the scenery was amazing but along with the views came the extreme weather; we experienced sun, rain, gale force winds and hail stone. When we reached the top of the circuit the wind was violently strong and we had no cover, we held onto each other as each step forward took every ounce of strength that we had. To top it all off it started raining as well and we had to take it in turns to find our waterproofs in the bags and then try to put them on. After about 15 minutes we reached a hut and were able to take shelter until the weather died down.

As we headed back down the other side of the circuit, the clouds cleared and bright blue skies emerged and the sun began to shine. The wind wasn’t as kind though, and although it eased off slightly, it stayed with us for the rest of the walk. We stood and admired the view on the way back to the car and breathed in our surroundings. This was the last part of our trip on the South Island, as the next day we were flying to the North Island of New Zealand and into Wellington.

Wellington was an important part of the trip for me, as I would get to see one of my oldest friends, who I hadn’t seen for about 6 years.

Travels {Lake Tekapo}

May 3rd, 2011

From Queenstown we drove to Lake Tekapo; it was only a stop over unfortunately on our way to Nelson Lakes. I was determined to see it though and make it part of our trip; I’d seen some stunning images in guide books and on the internet and I longed to see the bright turquoise waters.

It didn’t disappoint. As we pulled up at Lake Tekapo Scenic Resort, the bright blue water shone in the sun. It was glorious.

We checked in and then stood on the balcony of our apartment and looked out towards the snow capped mountains. The landscape of the South Island of New Zealand, blew me away.

The drive from Queenstown to Lake Tekapo was filled with the most beautiful landscape I’d ever seen, and now here we were, looking out across Lake Tekapo, admiring it in all it’s beauty.

The Church of the Good Shepherd is situated on the edge of the lake, so we headed out to see if it was open, as the view from the altar window attracts many people from around the world. Unfortunately it was closed, but as we soon realised, we didn’t need a window to see the lake in all it’s glory, the views were stunning wherever we stood!

As I stood on the shores of Lake Tekapo I smiled to myself. The sun was shining, the water was the famous bright turquoise that I had longed to see and off in the distance I admired the snow capped mountains. It was a moment of disbelief where I wanted to pinch myself to check that I wasn’t dreaming…..

We headed back to the apartment, grabbed a cold beer, and sat on the balcony watching the sun go down…….

Next week: Nelson Lakes

Travels – Queenstown Adventures

April 19th, 2011

When we landed in Queenstown I was shocked at how cold it was; we had just left Sydney where the temperature was around 34° and I had been able to walk around in shorts and flip flops at 10pm! As we sat and waited for the shuttle bus, I opened my case and pulled out as many long sleeved tops as I could find. I missed the sunshine of Australia…….

When we arrived at our apartment, I knew we had made the right decision to treat ourselves to a little luxury on this part of the trip. It was stunning. We had windows all along one side of living room that gave us the most amazing view of Lake Wakatipu; the first night we were there I wrapped up warm and spent hours out on the balcony.

We were greeted with the most amazing sunset; it looked like the sky was on fire. I felt so overwhelmed by such a beautiful sight.

I completely fell in love with Queenstown; it felt like us. Like our kind of place. It’s the adrenaline capital of the world and we had both been looking forward to this part of the trip so much. We went skydiving, bungy jumping and rock climbing; I could have so easily stayed there.

The skydive was sensational. 45 seconds of freefall followed by a peaceful descent spent taking in the clear blue skies and breath taking scenery. As we floated down over Queenstown, I couldn’t quite believe what I was doing. It was surreal. Amazing. As soon as I landed, I jumped up, clapped my hands together and shouted “again, again”!

The next day, the bungy jumping wasn’t quite as enjoyable, and as soon as I reached the edge of the platform I froze and went into freak out mode. Luckily Ian and I were doing a tandem jump because we feared this situation might arise! The idea was, if one of us bottled it, the other one would just jump, dragging the other down with them. I was given a pep talk by my “hero” Jase, about how the feeling of walking away would be far worse than the actual jump, and how no-one was stopping me from doing this……apart from me. This is where “standing on the bridge” came from. Whenever Ian and I are about to embark on something a bit scary, something unknown, we refer to it as standing on the bridge. We can jump and see what happens, or stay on the bridge and never know. I wrapped my arms around Ian and hung on for dear life – my jump wasn’t brilliant, but at least I did it, and that’s what counts. As I opened my eyes at the bottom I realised it wasn’t actually that bad…..!

After the bungy jump we spent the afternoon down by the lake rock climbing; it was the perfect end to the day.

The following day we wandered down to the harbour; the sun was shining and it was so peaceful.

As we sat and drank our Starbucks, a girl surrounded by her friends, picked up her guitar and started singing; along with everybody else we sat and listened to her soothing voice. It was the perfect end to an unforgettable part of our trip.

 Hand in hand we headed back to our apartment ready to pack everything up. The next day we were driving over to see the bright blue waters of Lake Tekapo……

Travels – Adventures in Sydney

April 11th, 2011

After being in the rainforest, I thought that Sydney would be slightly cooler, but the first thing that hit me when I got off the plane was the heat! We also figured out pretty soon that driving in Sydney, was worse than driving in London; our taxi driver was going so fast out of the airport that when the bottom of the car hit a speed bump, it actually cut out! As we made our way out into the city, the first thing I noticed was the amount of traffic; it was rammed with cars, ALL of them ignoring traffic lights and queuing across junctions. When we arrived at the hotel, I couldn’t wait to get out of the taxi!

That evening we found ourselves a small vegan café to eat at, and then headed over to the Sydney Harbour Bridge to do the bridge climb. Before I’d even reached the top I was wearing ALL of my layers, including a fleece and a hat – it was freeeeezing!! The view was amazing though; seeing Sydney all lit up in the darkness was a breath taking sight.

The next day we got up bright and early to use the gym before heading off to explore the city. The heat was exhausting. There were Christmas trees and decorations in all of the shop windows and we couldn’t get our head around people celebrating Christmas in the sun! We saw workmen in the street putting up the main Christmas tree and placing a star on top; it just didn’t feel right.

There were so many park areas in Sydney that it didn’t feel like a city, and when we headed into the Botanical Gardens there were cockatoo’s everywhere, rather than the pigeons that we get here in the UK.  Leisurely strolling around the gardens, taking in the sun and the landscape I realised that I really liked Australia but couldn’t believe I was actually there! We’d been planning the trip for quite some time, and now the reality had finally set in. When we reached the Sydney Opera House I wasn’t prepared for how magnificent it would look; it was such an awe inspiring building. We spent two nights down on the harbour taking photographs and the exploring the city by night.

On the last night we found a small Italian restaurant not far from the harbour, and as we ate our evening meal, we toasted to the next part of our journey…….we were leaving Australia and heading off to Queenstown, New Zealand………

Travels – Nocturnal adventures in the rainforest…..

April 7th, 2011

I’ve been a busy little bee over the past few days, so this is a little later than expected this week………

We flew from Brisbane to Cairns, and then from Cairns we drove up to Daintree Rainforest. We had been panicking about getting across the Daintree River. What if we missed the ferry? There’s no other way across the river. People we met along the way laughed at us and just told us not to worry as the ferry was regular and there was no way we would miss it. When we reached the “ferry” we realised why everyone had laughed at us. It was a car ferry. It held about 4 cars, it was on a pulley system, and the journey took about 2 minutes! I was quite grateful really, because the one and only time I’ve been on a ferry from Dover to Calais, I was really sea sick. 

As soon as we left the car ferry and entered the rainforest we had no phone signal. When we checked into our Motel and realised there was no internet access either, it was quite clear our rainforest adventure had begun! It was peaceful. We drove around exploring the walks and beaches that the rainforest had to offer. Luckily just before we arrived, there had been constant rain for a few weeks, so the rainforest was just coming to life; before that it had been dry for months. Apparently, it had been one of the worst droughts for a number of years.

We went out snorkelling to the Great Barrier Reef one day. It was beautiful. As the boat made its way through the clear blue water, I suddenly felt so small; so tiny and insignificant. I looked around, and for miles in every direction there was nothing. Just open water. Luckily I didn’t get sea sick on the boat! We got to see two sea turtles which is quite rare; we had been warned beforehand that we might not get to see any, so it was an amazing sight. As we relaxed on the boat and headed back towards the rainforest, we were greeted with the sight of Cape Tribulation. It was another beautiful sight to put an end to a perfect day.

The night before we left Daintree, we headed out onto a nocturnal walk of the rainforest. Murray, our guide, gave us flashlights each and then we headed out under the cover of darkness. It was amazing just listening to the sounds of the rainforest, trying to figure out which animals were making the noises. When we turned off our torches, we were met with the sight of a group of fireflies circling above us in the night sky. Throughout the walk Murray pointed out all the creatures of the rainforest, some of which only came out at night.

The next day we headed out of Daintree and back to civilisation; we drove down into Cairns to continue onto the next part of our journey; we were flying to the vibrant city of Sydney…….