Tag Archives: New Zealand

Liebstar Award Entry

Thanks to Tamz Explores for nominating me for the Liebstar Award.

My answers to your questions are:

  1. How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Pretty quickly- it’s my name and writing.

  1. Who or what inspired you to travel?

My parents took me traveling from the age of 6 months and so I was always going to be doomed to a life of wanderlust!

  1. What is that one country/city that you found the most fascinating and why?

India- it’s just so different to anywhere else.

  1. What has been the most memorable interaction with anybody during your travels?

It would have to be with all of those I interacted with during our wedding week in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

  1. Five things you would never travel without?

Camera, day bag, a good book, snacks and a sightseeing list.

  1. Where are you heading to next in 2016?

Off to the Gold Coast to take my daughter to the theme parks.

  1. What is the best food you have had on your travels?

I had the best gnocchi in Budapest.

  1. What is your worst travel memory?

Getting ripped off in a hammock shop in Merida.

  1. Three destinations you would definitely recommend to fellow travelers?

Mexico, New Zealand and Spain.

  1. Name three of your favorite travel bloggers.

Emily Luxton, Jetsetting Fools and Independent Travel Cats.

My nominated bloggers are:

  1. Emily Luxton Travels
  2. Jetsetting Fools
  3. Independent Travel Cats
  4. In Search Of
  5. Global Grasshopper
  6. I Will Travel
  7. Travelling King
  8. Flights and Frustration
  9. Venga, Vale, Vamos
  10. Borderlass
  11. Mallory On Travel

My questions to them are:

  1. How did you made the leap from recreational blogger to professional blogger?
  2. What is one of your most favourite places you have been?
  3. What is special about your hometown?
  4. Where do you see yourself living in 5 years?
  5. Can you imagine ever getting sick of travel?
  6. What is your favourite city?
  7. What is your favourite small town?
  8. Tell me about somewhere you travelled that was undiscovered at the time?
  9. What is your number one tip on travelling with kids?
  10. Where do you see the future of travel blogging heading?

Marlborough to Akaroa, 2012

Before long, it was time to bid farewell to our New Zealand Sri Lankan family and catch the ferry back to Picton with no view of the Marlborough Sounds once again and a shared baby’s room with no private cabins. We didn’t realise just how spoilt we had been on our previous trip.

My husband and I decided to console ourselves with a rare couple of hours off from the newborn to sample some of the local Marlborough wines near the holiday park we were staying on river in Blenheim.

We started at Lawson’s Dry Hills, who suggested we visit a lovely new winery that I now see popping up in Australian bottle shops everywhere. Wither Hills had an undoubtedly modern cellar door and with old barrels for added character and a view of the vines to the hills.

The next day, we drove the East Coast to Kaikoura to see the seals. We didn’t have to look far as there was one lying in the car park in the sun when we arrived. We walked out onto the rocks and found a few bathing in and out of the beautiful healthy sea weedy water.

That night we stayed at Hamner Springs, a spa town in the hills. We visited the big water park with thermal springs the next day and soaked in the pine forest of the town.

Our final stop was Akaroa, one hour from Christchurch, for New Year’s Eve. Akaroa was a pretty little French inspired town and was my favourite place on the trip.

We stayed in a holiday park overlooking the town which had a comfy lounge building with TV. We walked down the hill into the town and discovered that a cruise ship had invaded for the day.

The French influence could be seen in the French bakeries, lovely heritage buildings and French signage that was dotted around the town. I bought some lovely earrings in a small gift shop and we walked out to the pier on harbour.

On New Year’s Eve we walked a little further to the lighthouse and had a yummy local seafood platter lunch. We were back in the van in time to see the lovely sunset. Our little family of three were all sleeping well before midnight, so tuckered out that not even fireworks hitting the van at midnight woke us up.

By the end of the trip, we had gotten used to our comfy little portable home and were sad to drop the campervan off in Christchurch before we boarded our plane home on New Years Day. New Zealand had turned out to be much more beautiful than I had imagined and I was so glad we had come.

Related posts: West Coast to Wellington, 2012, Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012, New Zealand, 2004

West Coast to Wellington, 2012

After Fox Glacier, my parents and I went for a walk around Lake Matheson which is meant to show a reflection of Mt Cook in the right conditions, which we did not have. Even so, we enjoyed the rainforest walk to the lake while my husband stayed in the café with our sleeping daughter.

Next stop was a viewpoint of Franz Josef Glacier which offered fantastic views of the blue ice and ended up being more scenic than the walk up close to Fox Glacier. I was glad that we had taken the time to at least stop and see a second glacier.

I actually felt like we were becoming desensitised to the amazing scenery as I found myself being blasé about the next stop at Okarito lookout which had a view out to the Tasman Sea.

But then I was reamazed with the drive up the incredibly scenic West Coast. I found the coastline similar to the west coast of Vancouver Island and could see what my Canadian friend Celina was talking about when she had spoken about her trip to New Zealand. Both New Zealand and Canada are countries where natural beauty takes pride of place in their mountains, lakes and forests and I could see the similarities between the two.

We stopped at the windy Pancake Rocks with its strange rock formations. Unbeknownst to me, my husband sneakily bought me a Christmas present of a beautiful wooden jewellery box and a brightly painted plate by local artisans here.

Our lunch stop was for fish and chips at Hokitika. That night we stayed in the windiest holiday park in the west- Westport Holiday Park- and watched How I Met Your Mother on the van DVD player while our daughter slept and the wind howled outside.

The next day’s drive through the mountains was a hard one, but also one of the most beautiful. High windy roads meant a new scenic mountain was around each corner dropping down to the rivers below.

We stopped briefly in Nelson at low tide and came out the other side at the beautiful sparkling Marlborough Sounds complete with bobbing white sailboats. I could just imagine myself on one of those boats enjoying the sun.

We stayed in Picton overnight and caught the ferry to the North Island the next day from Picton Harbour. The ferry trip has good views in good weather, which we did not have. However, we did have a private room with a cot, which was luxury.

We soon arrived at my aunt and uncle’s place in Wellington that overlooked a valley of ferns from their backyard. Christmas Day was the usual lazy affair with the ever-welcoming Sri Lankan extended family that I discovered extended as far as New Zealand.

After a Boxing Day filled with cricket watching, we caught the Wellington Cable Car past the cricket ground to the justifiably iconic lookout point. My cousins took us on a tour of downtown Wellington from the majestic old parliament buildings and the new ones, like the beehive, too.

Related posts: Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012, New Zealand, 2004, New Year’s Eve on the Island, Canada, 1997 

Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012

Our first trip with our daughter was to New Zealand when she was 3 months old. I had not left the Sydney suburb in that we lived in since she was born, so I was thrust out of my comfort zone to take the trip, which was very much needed.

My parents were joining my husband, daughter and I on the trip as it was over the Christmas/New Year period and the aim was to reach my aunts place in Wellington for Christmas Day. We had rented two Jucy vans for the driving trip around the South Island and planned to stop at various holiday parks along the way.

Landing in Queenstown, a well-known skiing destination for Aussies who tired of the unpredictable snow in Thredbo, we checked into the holiday park under Bob’s Peak and headed straight for the Skyline cable car to the top.

The view of Queenstown Bay and Lake Wakatipu from the peak was fantastic. We could even see the snow capped Remarkables and our bright green and purple van in the holiday park. We stopped for a baby rest stop at the café at the top and took a tasty local ginger beer with the view.

That night, we went into town for dinner at a great Mexican restaurant. Being a little ski town, Queenstown reminded me of Whistler in Canada.

The next morning, the drive to Lake Wanaka was one of the most beautiful drives of the trip. Driving between the two lakes of Wanaka and Hawea was simply gorgeous and we stopped briefly at the flat Lake Wanaka.

Regular baby feeding led to frequent scenic stops to take in the sights, which was a good thing as it forced us to slow down and appreciate the countryside we were driving through.

We got a tip from a van of German blokes to see the Blue Pools, so we stopped for a midday Baby Bjorn walk in the forest over suspension bridges to pools that really were very blue.

We stayed a couple of nights in the very tiny one pub town of Fox Glacier for an enforced rest day in a very comfy holiday park with a large living area and kitchen for the playing of cards and cooking. The rain had prevented us from seeing the glacier on our first day, but it had been nice to take a break from driving anyway.

We went to the pub for dinner for a change of scenery and my dad’s short order cooking cuisine of garlic and chilli. The next day, it was still raining, but we figured we had come this far, so braved the rain in pairs to walk to see the glacier anyway, leaving my daughter behind in the car.

On the drive up to the glacier, I was amazed by how much the glacier had receded in the last 30, and even 10 years. We passed a few flowing waterfalls on the walk up and it was a lot dirtier and rockier than I thought it would be. It was very foggy at the glacier itself, so much so that I had condensation spots on my camera.

Related posts: Australia vs New Zealand, New Zealand, 2004, The New Amazing Race Australia

Australia vs New Zealand

There is a long-standing rivalry between Australia and New Zealand that I am sure goes deeper than if you play AFL or Rugby.

The first time I visited Auckland, I couldn’t help but see similarities between Viaduct Harbour and Sydney Harbour. Both cities also have tall viewing towers and a park called the Domain. I thought Auckland was basically Sydney, about 20 years ago.

Many New Zealanders actually come to Sydney to work for a while, and it was through these people that I learnt what Pinky bars were and discovered the differences in our accents.

Of course, you should never compare countries, but it’s human nature to do so.

They have kiwi’s and we have kangaroos. We have the better beaches, but they have the better snow. Historically, the New Zealander relationship with their native culture- the Maori’s- has been much more progressive than our relationship with the Aboriginals. Part of the New Zealand national anthem is sung in Maori and the haka is performed before rugby games.

They have Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and we have Hunter Valley Semillon. We have desert and they have glaciers. Australia was a well-known filming destination for movies such as The Matrix, but it seems like New Zealand has now cornered the market with productions like The Hobbit.

Australians are often accused for taking credit for New Zealand talent, such as Crowded House and Russell Crowe; but can we help it if global perception naturally attributes these to Australia?

After recently exploring more of New Zealand, I have fallen in love with the city of windy Wellington and the small town of Akaroa. Driving around the South Island, I was struck by the natural beauty of the country, and of the west coast in particular which reminded me so much of the west coast of Canada.

I would love to go back and explore Milford Sound and Mt Cook.

I hope that the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand is just skin deep. Personally, I like both countries and can see the advantages of each culture. Isn’t it time we all just got along?

Related posts: People vs Place, It’s all in the Attitude

It’s a water thing

Growing up five minutes from the ocean, perhaps it was inevitable that I have an affinity with water. I love swimming in the ocean, particularly with dolphins, turtles or any other safe sea creatures I can get close (but not too close) to, and will take any opportunity to go for a dip.

I always enjoy going to the beach, walking along the sandy shores, dipping my toes in the water and running from the waves. I remember long summer days by the sea and had my first kiss on the beach.

Wide-open spaces leave me feeling restless for the feeling of the sea breeze in my hair again. I feel land locked and only sighting the ocean shore makes me feel at ease again.

I have been lucky enough to grow up near some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the world in Jervis Bay and visit other beautiful beaches in Mexico and Malaysia.

Even if you can’t get in the water, getting on the water by boat will do, or a walk down a promenade, or even a bar with a water view.

All of the best road trips I have been on have been along the coastline, like Big Sur in California, the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and pretty much the whole of the South Island of New Zealand.

My search for waterfalls is a bit obsessive. I have been to Iguazu and Niagara Falls as well as countless other less famous waterfalls. I plan not to rest until I see Victoria Falls, Gullfoss and a waterfall on the beach in Norway.

I also love a fountain, which is probably a lot of the reason why I love Spain, Rome, Versailles and all those other big gardens with lots of fountains. I mean, how can you not admire the Trevi Fountain?

Unless you were unlucky enough to go when they were restoring it, in which case there is always the Fountain of the Four Rivers and all those other gorgeous fountains in practically every square in the city.

So, yep, that’s me, water baby in search of any beaches, waterfalls or fountains I can find. I wander where my search for water will take me to next…

Related posts: It’s a French Thing, Random Public Holiday Ramblings, USA Road trip, 2007: Part 2, Malaysia, 2006, Canada, 2005, Argentina, 2005, Europe, 2003, Italy, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to Florence, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond BarcelonaEngland, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988

New Zealand, 2004

It was a last minute decision to go to New Zealand for Christmas with my friend who had family to visit there. The chance to visit a new country was too hard to resist and I figured my family wouldn’t mind as I had been overseas for Christmas before.

We landed in Auckland on Christmas Eve and it was dead. I expected it to be one of the most happening nights of the year, but I was wrong. Auckland turned out to be a pretty harbour city like Sydney, but about 20 years behind!

I saw the town hall, went up the Sky Tower and went to Mission Bay. Viaduct harbour was definitely the highlight for me as it had lots of waterfront bars and restaurants to enjoy with a view of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

We drove to Rotorua which was smelly due to the thermal springs, but you got used to it after a while. We visited Whakarewarewa thermal village which had the Te Aronui a Rua Maori cultural centre. We saw the Nga Mokai Akoko mud pool and the beautifully blue coloured Waiparu hot pool. The best bit was when the Pohutu Geyser sprayed water high into the air.

The next day we went to Lake Rotowhero which is warmed by thermal activity and the enormous Lake Rotorua. We caught the Skyline Rotorua gondola to the top of a Mount Ngongotaha and had a scary luge ride back down.

There were lots of sheep in green fields to be seen on the drive back to Auckland to catch our flight home. On the way, I went clay bird shooting for the one and only time I have ever shot a gun. It was harder than I thought and I got a strange muscle injury in my right shoulder that served as a reminder of my trip until it was cured by an acupuncturist a few years later.

Related posts: Canada 1997-1988, India 1987-1988, Part 1: The Road South

Random Public Holiday Ramblings

Today is public holiday Monday here in Oz, so I was going to take the day off from blogging too, but instead I thought I would just share some random ramblings for something a little bit different. So here we go- my first free style blog experiment…

Public holiday Monday used to equal a good excuse to drink lots and for an extra weekend day- now that I have a two year old- not so much!

What is the Labour Day holiday for anyway? According to Wikipedia it commemorates the achievements of the Australian labour movement. That is the eight hour day movement- which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

Sounds pretty good to me! So- what movement advocates a four day working week? Cause we really should get on that. Not that I can complain as I only work part time these days anyway.

This weekend also marks the start of day light savings. This indicates the start of summer for pretty much everyone on this side of the world and it kicked off with a vengeance this year with a 33 degree celsius day.

And who do we have to thank for the brilliant innovation of daylight savings time? A New Zealander as always- George Vernon Hudson- who first thought of it in 1895. I wonder if Aussies try to take credit for this too along with Crowded House and Russell Crowe.

I totally picked the Amazing Race Australia winner and the runner up for The Bachelor Australia. Does this mean I watch too much reality TV? Perhaps.

I was particularly impressed with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that Blake (the Bachelor), was 31 and 32 on the same day in separate articles. Fact checking much?

Apparently there is a big Bachelor scandal that is going to be discussed on The Project tonight and can be purchased in today’s Woman’s Day.

No- I haven’t rushed out to buy a copy because really- how scandalous can it be? More than likely it is all just a media beat up to distract from the fact that the show had poor ratings and an even poorer ending. And as they say- all publicity is good publicity.

The new Survivor has just started so I will have to predict the winner for that too. It is harder to predict, but hopefully I will get the trifecta.

And where are the now not so new US seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette? We are almost a year behind now! And what about the new season of The Originals that is supposed to start tomorrow?What’s going on channel Go? And you wonder why people download shows instead.

At least Fox 8 has had the foresight to buy Vampire Diaries fast tracked from the US so that it aired on Friday. Very happy Jan.

I saw Gone Girl at the movies last night. I read the book this year when a friend gave it to me for my birthday. It was one I never would have thought of  even thought of buying as I usually avoid the best seller list, but it kept me guessing and was very dark and intriguing. And I must say that the movie was even scarier without all the internal monologue that you get in novels.

I’m currently enjoying reading The Time of Our Lives by Jane Costello as it is chick lit set in one of my favourite cities- Barcelona. The characters are staying in Barceloneta- a place I only recently pleasantly discovered on my trip last year on the recommendation of some local friends. Top spot.

I’m loving Twitter at the moment- Twitter is where it’s at! Good quality networking for bloggers and great content- if you are following the right people for your interests of course! Instagram also seems to be a good one for the more visually inclined- I’m more of a words person, but do love a good photo too.

This summer I am looking forward to more beach time and it looks like a lovely day out there- so it’s time to get off the virtual world and enjoy the sunshine in the real world. Have a good long weekend peoples!

Related posts: The New Amazing Race Australia, The New Bachelor Australia, TV Replays and Movie Marathons, Books, books and more books

The NEW Amazing Race Australia

The new Amazing Race Australia premiered last month and I thought I would share some of my thoughts on this season.

As you know, I am a fan of the American Amazing Race. I love the travel around different countries in the world- seeing places I have been to and places I would like to go. I also like watching the silly contestants not even knowing how to pronounce the name of a country, let alone where it is.

I actually wanted to enter in the Amazing Race Australia myself, but was told by my peers that they would never let me in as I had travelled too much. It’s true that naïve travellers make the show.

This season on Amazing Race Australia, they are pitting Australian teams against New Zealand teams in an age old grudge match between us and them. The series even opened with a tug of war between the two countries. I wonder if the rest of the world is aware of this country rivalry?

I thought it was good that they went to Christchurch in New Zealand as the city has been devastated by earthquakes and is going through recovery and revitalisation. Thay are also going to really cool places like Africa and Russia.

But I thought that the sheep challenge in New Zealand, the Thai massage in Thailand and the Russian dancing in Russia were all a bit cliché. And making a fire as one of the challenges is very Survivor.

I like the funny Australian colloquialisms like “shot at the title”, “aura faffery” and “team Lorna Jane”. I wonder if watchers around the rest of the world will get them?

We are half way through, and the teams are continuing to make several rookie mistakes:

  • Checking in luggage
  • Not reading the whole clue
  • Giving up too early
  • Not buying a map
  • Helping other teams
  • Not waking up on time
  • Using an express pass too early and before giving away your second express pass
  • Being at the wrong bus terminal
  • Running past the clue box
  • Fighting with your team mate
  • Not finding the clue, not reading the clue, missing something really simple and then not back tracking straight away to fix it.

Tiredness also seemed to be getting to the contestants in the very early days by episode two.

My wish pick  just for pure niceness alone are the Foster Parents- Cat and Jesse. I don’t think anyone deserves to win more.

However, I suspect the winners will be Team Jesus- Dan and Ryan- they may not be the physically strongest team like Best Mates- John and Murray- but they are definitely smarter. Team Jesus are also cool under pressure making them the team to beat, but it could be a close battle towards the end as Best Mates are very competitive.

A final thought- you can never pick your cab drivers and sometimes, that’s all the difference between winning and losing in the final leg.

Stay tuned…

If you like what you just read- please vote for me on the Big Blog Exchange Competition 2014!

Related posts: The NEW Bachelor Australia, TV Replays and Movie Marathons