A Travellerspoint blog

January 2007

Leaving Australia - Hello New Zealand

Part two

sunny 23 °C
View New Zealand on Purdy's travel map.

4th January

So we left behind a wet rainy Sydney to head to the airport and fly to Auckland - we had an hour delay but that was nothing major.

We flew into a sunshiny Auckland which was nice considering the rain over the past few days in Sydney!

We grabbed a Skybus who took us on a back streets tour of Aucklands suburbs due to road works on the motorway! Still he was great and dropped us at the door of the hostel - Aspen House - Emily Place. This was a nice clean friendly budget hotel. We were able to get checked in and for NZ$9 we were able to leave in a huge bag of laundry which was back and dry for us by 8am the next morning.

We went for a wander around the extremely quite streets of Auckland - WHERE WAS EVERYONE?? Apparently it was summer holiday period and everyone clears out of the city! Found a Red Lion pub with a happy hour on - so had a pint of Speights - which l wasnt that impressed with it a bit bland for me!

Anyway we headed to Viaduct Harbour and Princesses Quay - where we were had dinner in Loaded Hog - for 2 steak dinners and drinks - it cost the equivalent of £20! Great!

We then went to an Irish Pub and found a bottle of Esk Valley Sauvigion Blanc, Hawkes Bay - this was actually the first NZ SB wine l had ever had so we thought it appropriate for our first night in New Zealand!

So we were due to go to Rotarua for the day tomorrow but decided as Auckland was so quite we would skip a city day and extend our car hire and get a room in Rotarua for the night.

5th January

Up early with an overnight bag and got our car from Hertz. It was no problem to extend our car hire and we were able to drop it off at the airport on 7th Jan.

We hit the road and headed toward Waitamo Caves. Now we got our first lesson in driving in New Zealand - although the distance didnt perhap seem THAT far but you simply cannot take you eyes off the road they are so windy, plus you simply have to take it slowly so you dont miss a second of the scenery!

Got to Waitamo around lunchtime and booked on a glow worm cave tour. This was pretty cool although we couldnt take any photos inside the caves. The main chamber of the cave was pretty amazing and fantastic acoustics too - apparently they hold concerts and Christmas carols there which must be cool to witness.

It was then a short boat ride out of the cave to see the glow worm larva glowing on and get bitten a few hundred times by the mozzies!

After lunch in the sun it was back on the road to head toward Rotarua. This was a fabulous drive the countryside was fantastic to see - it was like the West of Ireland coupled with the highlands of Scotland multipied by 100!

We got to Rotarua for around 4.30pm and we went to the tourist information to try and get a room - this was no problem we got a hotel sudima rignt on the rather smelly lake Rotarua! Would have loved to have time to visit Lake Taupo but unfortunately not!

It was a huge big room! We also booked the Maori Hangi show that night - we thought it would be rather cheesy but thought what the heck it will be fun for the night!

So we were met in the lobby by 2 Maori men who invited us into the show! This was fun - they went through the traditional greeting and Kaiora - and touching noses.

We then had a buffet which was rather good - lots of food and then desert!

The Maori concert - was excellent - l was surprised how good it was - lots of audience participation. We were both up on the stage at one point! Oh and of course there was the famous Hakka too - Paul gave it a go - not very well though!!

Maraoi_Rotarua.jpg

We went for a wander around the city - which again was very quite - it was only 10pm! Still we found a pub and had some beers!

6th January

Another sunny day which was good - so after a lie in - Paul was shattered from all the driving - we had breakfast at a great place in Rotarua called Fat Dog.

We headed down the geo-thermal highway to Wai-O-Tapuo Geo Thermal Park to see the bubbling mud pools and specatular coloured pools created by all the geo-thermal activity.

At this point l must point out the smell was totally of sulphur though you got used to it after a while! It was spectacular to look at! Amazing to think this is something created by mother nature herself!

Champange_..Rotarua.jpg

Bubbling_Mud_Rotarua.jpg

Mud_Pools_Rotarua.jpg

Wai-O-Tapo.jpg

It was then the long drive back to Auckland that evening - we had a fantastic Thai meal that night which again was a great price! So it was bed for another early flight to Wellington in the morning!

Posted by Purdy 05:40 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Sydney

sunny 22 °C
View New Zealand on Purdy's travel map.

30th Dec

We leave Melbourne really early in the morning but one good thing was l was able to see the most fantastic view - as the sun was rising there was a wonderful profile of about 5 hotair balloons floating along the city's profile - it looked amazing - l wish we could've taken a picture but we were in a taxi on a motorway!

We arrived in Sydney nice and early and after a bit of flapping about to get checked in we did - Macquaire Hotel on Wentworth Ave - it was fine - bit rough around the edges but great! Staff are brilliant!

We decided we would go for a walk - we wandered through Hyde Park, down the Botanic Gardens

Flowers_Bo.._Sydney.jpg

and low and behold there was the Sydney Opera House and the Coat hanger on display - how cool!Opera_House.jpg

In a moment of spontanous madness we decided to pay AU$450 for a prime harbour side view of the fire works for NYE - right beside the Opera House and facing the Harbour Bridge! It did include a seafood banquet and all drinks too!

We went for Thai food that evening - which conviently enough was located in our hotel! Very reasonable price and the wine list was good and again compared to the UK - very cheap!

We took a wander to Darling Harbour that evening and over and ice cream we watched the world go by!

31st Dec 2006 - NYE

As we had our spots on Circular Quay sorted and passes into the area - we were free to explore more of the city today. So we decided to get a bus to Cogee Beach and after an hour or so lazing on the beach we did the walk to Bondi.

This was a lovely walk - although l had a little freak out attack when Paul decided to take me along a cliff edge with a sheer drop onto rocks and the ocean!

We eventually got to Bondi after passing the cemetry.

It was straight back to the hotel and then down to Circular Quay to our restaurant to watch the evenings festivities!

The wine we received was nice but not amazing and the sparkling wine was not champange as it was sold to us! Still the oysters and lobster were good!

The fireworks were fabulous - l loved all the boats out in the harbour all lit up and we were able to capture the entire evening on video also!Fireworks_NYE_Sydney.jpg

1st Jan 07

New Years Day - after a long lie in we got up to have breakie and then headed down to the rocks.

Paul was booked to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb this afternoon so after l left him at the departure point l went for a wander around circular quay. It was a lovely sunny day so l had a coffee and read for a while nice and relaxed!

We had dinner in the Rocks - we found a BBQ your own steak place - called Phillips Foot - it was very good!

We headed back to bed for an early night - early start in the morning!

2nd Jan 07

Wonderbus tours arrived early in the pouring rain for our day trip to Blue Mountains! We had a tour guide called Tish - who was very good and very bubbly!

First stop was Featherdale Wildlife Park were you could feed Kanagroos and stroke Koalas! We enjoyed this - spent an hour here!

Feeding_Kanga.jpg

We had lunch in Leaura - a quaint tourist village before heading ff to Echo Point to see the Blue Mountains. We got a good view and because of all the rain the mountains were definately giving off a good blue haze.

3_sisters.jpg

We then headed to Scenic World and we did the 3 rides - cable car over a gorge with a glass bottom floor, another gondola type ride which was rather disorinating and then back up to the top on the steep railway - WOW it was definately steep!

We then stopped for a wine tasting at Tissara Winery outside Sydney.

Penultimate visit was to the Olympic Park outside Sydney (which was rather pointless to be honest!) before a river cruise up Prattamara River to Circular Quay - where l got sea sick! Typical me!

We went to the same place for dinner again - the BBQ place - Sydney Cut steak - delicious!

Our last day in Sydney and Australia tomorrow!

3rd January 2007

After a lie in and breakfast it was down to Circular Quay again to catch the ferry to Manley - thinking we would spend some time on the beach!

Yeah we did spend some time on the beach - whilst it intermittently rained on us! Didnt stop us and lots of other too!

I then popped into Roxy and bought some more clothes - just couldnt resist!

After a wait on the ferry we rushed back to our hotel to get changed and walk to Darling Harbour to meet Hun and her hubby Micheal (more people from Pauls work!) for dinner. Dinner was lovely - more Kanga - and Hun and Micheal were lovely!

They dropped us back to our hotel - where it was packing time for an early start for our flight to Auckland.

So this ended our 10 day visit in Australia - and l loved the country - definately want to explore it some more! The kindness and friendliness of the Aussies was unbelievable. I can really see why people want to emigrate to the country. Although Sydney didnt appeal as much as Melbourne it was a great city too.

Posted by Purdy 10:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Back to Melbourne

- boo hoo our last night

sunny 20 °C
View Australia on Purdy's travel map.

Our last full day in Melbourne - which was a real pity - Melbourne had really gotten under our skin - such a chilled relaxed city - somewhere we could imagine ourselves living to be honest. AND - the best coffee in the world is to be had in Melbourne - in my honest opinion!

We were up and about by around 9am (our latest lie in to date!) and we headed into the CBD again and caught the circle line tram (the free one!) around the city for a whirl wind city tour!

We were then meeting Fiona at Melbourne zoo with her daughter Milly. The weather had definately improved which was brilliant - we even were slapping on the suncream today as there was flesh exposed!

Melbourne Zoo was a good zoo but after you have visited Sinapore Zoo all others pale into insignifiance to be honest!

That evening we went out to St Kilda to meet up with Gill et al again for dinner on the beach side (Beachcombers) - this is where l had my first experience of Kangaroo steak - nice!

Luna_Park_..lda_Mel.jpg

Really liked St Kilda - another reason we wished we were not leaving Melbourne already - would have loved to explore more and spend a day in the sunshine chilling out on the beach!

Sun_Settin..t_Kilda.jpg

We headed into the city again to have a few drinks (well we had about 4 bottles of champange to be honest!) before l said goodbye to Gillian who l hadnt seen in a year and it would probably be another year before l see her again - better stop now lm getting tearful!

Loved Melbourne fantastic city - I WILL BE BACK!

Posted by Purdy 04:46 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Great Ocean Road

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Australia on Purdy's travel map.

Still the weather was up and down - but by all accounts this was Melbourne for you! Today was our overnight trip down Great Ocean Road.

We headed off to grab our hire car and started the trip - the sun was shining at this point - and we were stuck in a traffic jam due to road works trying to get out of Melbourne!

On an aside l really must say driving around Australia and finding where you need to go was so EASY - everywhere was really well sign posted - you really couldnt get lost!

So we drove toward Torquay - where l found a huge big outlet centre - where l forced Paul to stop! I was able to get Rip Curl Hoodie & top! There were so many cool wee dresses but l tried to stay sensible - l mean l was only travelling for a month and l was heading back to a northern hemisphere winter - not much call for wee dresses now really!!

Our next stop was at Bells Beach where Point Break was filmed - maybe cos it was overcast and trying to rain on us but l wasnt really that impressed with the beach to be honest! There were a few guys out in the water surfing (or trying to!)

We drove on out the road via Angelessa where we stopped for lunch, via Lorne and toward Apollo Bay.

The route was beautiful and the road was windy! I think the highlight for us had to be though find wild Koalas munching on eucalyptus leaves along the road side! And they werent adverse to getting their photographs taken either - quite enjoyed it l think!

Koloa_Gt_Ocean_Rd.jpg

Our final stop for the day was in Apollo Bay where we had booked a B&B for the evening (Hayley Reef Views - run by a lovely mad Dutch lady called Nellie!) - we had a fantastic comfy double bed and there was a huge spa bath too - bliss!

So l made reservations for dinner that night as we had been advised to, then we lay down and promptly fell asleep and missing dinner reservations!

We headed into the town around 10pm - everywhere was closing - we were lucky to find somewhere to feed us pasta!
So an extremely quite evening with lots of sleep!

Jet lag catching up on us!

28th December 2006

We were pushed for time today as we had to be back in Melbourne to return the hire car by 5pm so we were up and on the road by 8.30am. It looked as the weather was on the up - there was sunshine and not so many clouds on the horizon.

We made it down to the 12 Apostles and spent around half an hour taking photos and enjoying the rock formations. I dont actually think there are 12 of them any more but even still the do look pretty amazing!

12_Apostles.jpg

We stopped by Thunder Cave and then to Loch Ard Gorge before making our way to see London Bridge (which has slightly fallen down!)

London_Bridge.jpg

We drove on past the Bay of Martyrs toward Warnabool where we grabbed some fish and chips - which was pretty good but the Ozzies havent found the pleasure of vinegar soaking your chips or brown sauce! It was then back to Melbourne via the in-land route.

We found an amazing pizza place up the street from the hostel that night - BYO wine with NO corkage charge, and for garlic bread, a pizza each, and 2 beers it cost £20 - how good is that!!

Posted by Purdy 04:43 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Melbourne

- whats with the dang weather????????

overcast 16 °C
View Australia on Purdy's travel map.

My chum Gillian lifted us from our hostel (THE BEACH, 97 Beaconsfield Parade Melbourne - great no complaints, clean and friendly) and we headed to her house to start our Christmas celebrations, she had the Christmas food in and l was to help prepare it.

So all was good - well nearly all was good - the weather - what had happened to the weather????????????

Where was the Christmas on the beach - the BBQ turkey, the prawns on the barbie - that Australia was famed for??? It was blowing a gale and the weather was freezing - so much so l had to change out of my short pants and go to the bottom of my suitcase to find my jeans and a jumper which l had thought l would not need until l arrived in New Zealand! Apparently some the mountains around Melbourne had a snow fall!!! The Ozzies said they were grateful as it put out the bush fires and the temps the week before had been hitting 40 c - YEAH WELL THIS DIDNT HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!! It was apparently the coldest Christmas in Melbourne since 1935!

Typical l should have known - when in Thailand a few years ago the rainy season arrived early and we were drenched every day!! We are bad weather jinx's!

So Gill had turkey and all the trimmings arranged and a big pavalova for afters - we provided the booze!

Mid afternoon Paul and l started to feel the effects of long haul travel and went for a 4 hour kip - we got up had another drink and headed out into wet & windy Melbourne for a session!

Due to the Ashes being held on boxing day the pub was full of the Barmy Army (or as l like to say the entire population of Manchester and surrounding areas - honestly everyone we spoke to were from this area!) l dont think there was an Australian in the pub to be honest!

So the night ended with Bundy & Coke and us combatting jet lag with alcohol! Worked a treat - slept right through the night like babies!

26th Dec 06

We woke around 7am and got up - headed up the street and found a great place for breakfast - and a fabulous berry smoothie! The weather had not improved - still cold and rain showers!

The tram stopped right outside the front door of the hostel so we were able to jump on one and head into the CBD.

We decided to visit Old Melbourne Gaol first - famed for being the last home of that outlaw Ned Kelly. It was a nice way to pass an hour or so and quite interesting to wander through.

Heather_Ne.._Armour.jpg

We then wandered around Melbourne which was in the throes of the Boxing Day sales! Took a few snaps of the city then arranged to head out and visit Fiona - an old work colleague of Pauls.

Sunken_Library.jpg

It was on the tram ride out to Fionas place in West Preston we encounter the most amazing kindness and friendliness - we got out at the wrong stop basically and we had stopped a lady to ask for directions. Turned out we were around 10minutes from where we should have been! No worries - we would just hop on another tram (we had day passes after all!) and head out to where we should be! NO she wouldnt hear of it insisted we jump into her car and she drove us there - totally out of her way - l was gobsmacked - you would encounter such kindness like this at home everyday! So to that random lady in Miller Street, Fitzroy Melbourne THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

After our visit with Fiona and Dave and baby Ameilia we headed back into town to the Casino complex to meet up with Gill. Her mum and sister (whom we know!) had arrived over from Northern Ireland too so we all met up for dinner and wine! I was however starting to flag and feel very tired! Still l managed to stay up until around midnight!

Posted by Purdy 12:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The journey begins.......

From the evening before, from Belfast to Melbourne

all seasons in one day 14 °C
View Australia on Purdy's travel map.

Leaving Northern Ireland via London via Frankfurt via Singapore and at last MELBOURNE! Happy Christmas everyone!

The night before the journey starts and its a bit tense in our household - running around trying to get packing finished - lm trying to do the housework and leave home in a decent state, Paul hasnt really started packing so has just dropped off the travel money, taken a bag of tolitries plus camera tripod and lonely planet guided that he has to pack into his luggage!

Of course we are slightly stressed about the fact that domestic flights into Heathrow are hit by this fog we are experiencing! We have 3 hours to before our next connection to Frankfurt at 17hours and then another 3 hours before our Singapore flight!

On top of this we have a friends Christmas party to go to tonight and trying to get through to my mates l do not want to get blitzed before flying tomorrow just aint getting through!

I suppose l had better stop putting off the things l have to do and get on with it!

Thats it for now!

Heather

Saturday 23rd Dec - Monday 25th Dec

So our first flight of the day was not until lunchtime from Belfast - so we thought why not treat ourselves with a good breakfast that l dont have to cook and clean up from!

So we headed out to grab food which was lovely BUT when we got home l wasnt able to park outside my house!!!!!!!!

I was NOT amused - theres a football ground near my house - and as it was the last Saturday before Christmas there was a big match. So fans were parking EVERYWHERE - including outside my house! We didnt have time to wait obviously - luckily my friend Janine came to the rescue and moved the car for me later that day!

The flight to London was uneventful - although it looked like we were in for QUITE a queue in terminal 2 in LHR due to the back log from the previous days of fog but thankfully our frequent fliers cards helped us out and we were able to get through and jump the queues!!!!!

Otherwise it would be scary cos there were aimless queues seemingly pointing to nowhere in particular and there was NO ONE about to give advice - there were only staff on the main terminal doors barring entry!

London - Frankfurt - Singapore uneventful - slept a bit watched Little Miss Sunshine thats it.

Once in Changi we bobbed around the shops picking up some booze, perfume and SD cards for the camera. I then went into the Singapore Airlines Lounge and decided to have a shower. This was great l felt refreshed ready for my next long haul flight - getting ready l opened a drawer and saw a hairdryer - went to use it and didnt notice loose wires hanging out (l had no contacts in and no specs on - l was blind!) - yes you guessed it ZAP - an electric shock! Nothing too serious but wow it could of been! When l told staff they reacted to remove the hairdryer but l am still waiting for one to ask me if l am ok or do l need medical assistance! Note to self - write letter to SIA ref this issue!

Anyway - the flight to Melbourne pretty uneventful arrived in 6.5 hours which was cool, grabbed some bottles of champers on arrival and made our way to our transfers.

Posted by Purdy 12:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 6 of 6) Page [1]