Christchurch – Away in a manger…

With a name like Christ Church, it is perhaps fitting that we were there in the lead-up to Christmas. We visited a live nativity play which was lovely – a lady as Mary, a man as Joseph, a real baby Jesus, and lots of (real live) sheep, a donkey, and a llama. It was precious!  We found Christchurch to be serene and quiet, and we spent relaxing days watching the boating on the river, and cooing over the ducks with ducklings in tow.

There was a great deal of vibrancy and life in the main square in Christchurch, with a giant chess set, and street performers. My boyfriend was picked out of the crowd to be one of four assistants to a street performer. I felt for him at first, Continue reading

Arthur’s Pass – on the road again…

We headed back from The Glacier, back to Greymouth and along the road to Arthur’s Pass. Our cute little car chugged up the hills – my foot was flat on the floor and still we could only go at about 10 mph.  Arthur’s Pass wasn’t what I was expecting – I thought it would be a high mountain pass, but the road was actually in a valley. Slightly less impressive than I anticipated, but mainly because my expectations were high. Like Sex and the City The Movie.

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Franz Joseph : Ice ice baby…

Franz Joseph itself reminded me of a ski-village, with lots of cute hotels, overpriced shops, and the view of snow-capped mountains all around. Despite being a magnet for tourists and backpackers, it managed to retain a peaceful air.

We made enquiries about hiking the glacier and were told that the glacier hikes had been cancelled for the last 5 days due to bad weather, so it was uncertain if the hikes would be running the following day either. We were gutted! We bought a ticket nonetheless and were told to turn up the following morning, and a decision would then be made as to whether the hikes would take place or not. We were nervous but all we could do was turn up and hope for the best.We arrived the following morning and were told that full-day hikes would not be running, but half day hikes would! We were overjoyed at our luck! However the guide explained that as the rain had flooded the river, we would only be able to access the glacier through “the bush” Continue reading

Greymouth – why so grey?

Greymouth was a bit grey, I’m sorry to report. There wasn’t a lot to it, and it was a little sad and unexciting. There was enough in the way of amenities for the passing tourist, eg. supermarket, petrol station, McDonald’s, and a few shops and restaurants. But I felt that the town lacked any real character.

The number of photos that I take is normally a sign of how exciting a place is. At the Machu Picchu I took around 250. In Greymouth I took 1. Now it would be unfair to compare Greymouth to the Machu Picchu – not many places can compete with that, not least places whose names start with “Grey…”. But I’m just saying… 😉 Continue reading

Hamner Springs : serenity itself…

Hamner Springs was a quiet unassuming village with some great little restaurants, a warm climate, and a sense of peacefulness. We had a stroll in the evening and I felt really content with the world. Which is rare. And then the next morning I remembered why…

The bank cut off our card!! One minute we were paying for petrol – No problem! Ten minutes later we tried to purchase paninis, but “Computer says No”. We found ourselves cut off from funds, on the other side of the planet, which is really not ideal! I’m sure the bank had a reason – “security” no doubt. But that’s not much help when you’re in an area of natural beauty trying to pay for paninis using your own hard-earned non-laundered money! Continue reading

Kaikoura : Whale Ahoy!

The drive to Kaikoura was the first (and only!) time I have been breathalysed. Not because I was drunk – the Police were breathalysing everyone on that road. They held something close to my mouth, which I assumed was a microphone, and they asked me to say my name. I said my name and was expecting them to explain what was going on, and then ask to breathalyse me. However apparently that was it – they must have breathalysed me when I said my name – so it was done without me knowing what was going on. I was miffed about that, but didn’t think it was worth complaining – they could have made my life a lot more difficult! So I walked away. Well, drove away, as I was sitting in a car at the time.

We went to Kaikoura for the same reason most people go to Kaikoura – for whale watching! Apparently the ocean floor drops off sharply just off the coast of Kaikoura, so the water is extremely deep relatively close to the shore.

Coastline near Kaikoura, NZWe took a boat out and I remember the guide saying that the ocean is so deep you could fit the Auckland skytower between the boat and the sea bed. Scarily deep! Continue reading

Tauranga – sea, sand and a couple of idiots.

Tauranga was a pleasant little town, and we spent a morning wandering around it. Before long we were stopped by two guys who said:-

“Do you know where the Bank is?”

We replied “No sorry mate, we’re not from round here”

“Oh right…..  Do you know where the Post Office is?”

“No sorry – we are not from this town so we don’t know where anything is, sorry!”

“Oh OK….. Do you know where the nearest post box is?”

Fearing this would go on all day, we suggested “Why don’t you try up there….?”

“Thanks!” and they left happily.

Honestly?!!

Anyway, Tauranga was pleasant and we enjoyed a salad for lunch and an ice cream. However we soon felt that we had seen all there was to see. Even though we had clearly not seen the bank or post office. Continue reading

Rotorua – can you induce a geyser?

Rotorua was truly exciting, unusual, and bizarre! It is a hot spot for geothermal energy, so you’ve got the likes of Geysers, bubbling mud, steam rising from the ground, and some very bright coloured lakes, due to naturally occurring minerals. I love things like this!

We went to “Wai-O-Tapu”, which is a “geothermal wonderland” south of Rotorua. It is basically boardwalks around a park with various geothermal things to see. You do need to pay to go in here, but it was worth it. However, we also found various spots where you can see bubbling mud pools for free – the best was probably the public park, where there was even a blue mineral lake! There is a Geyser in a different geothermal park, but we could see it over the fence from the garden of our hotel! We were told that they induce the geyser by adding soap to make it erupt on demand – whether that is true I have no idea! Either way it was exciting to see a geyser!  We enjoyed our time in Rotorua and could have happily stayed longer.

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Taupo and Huka Falls – the power of water!

We drove to Taupo. This is described in the guidebooks as – well, I can’t quote it as I’ve lost my guidebook, but I’m sure it was something along the lines of the fact that Taupo is stunningly beautiful with views of some Mountains or similar. Now I’m not sure what happened on the day we went, Continue reading

Waitomo Caves – Road Trip, baby!

We were excited to leave Auckland as it marked the start of our road trip!! We were a little disappointed on the motorway out of Auckland as it looked just like England. I don’t know what we were expecting – a magical land, clearly, but it looked to us like Devon or Wales. However, the further south we went, the more dramatic the landscape became (and the more excited we got!).

We slept the night in a motel in Hamilton, Continue reading