A Travellerspoint blog

Nugget Point

By Mark

sunny 16 °C

On the Peninsula just East of Dunedin is Nugget Point, a spot known for having several Seal and Sea Lion colonies, the only mainland Albatros breeding ground in the world as well as a home to New Zealands Yellow eyed Penguins - all well worth a look see we figured.

Driving up to the cliff top headland we had spotted several Albatros' circling but the $40 entrance fee to wander around their breeding grounds put us off investigating further (we've both discovered we're just not that into birds on this trip...sorry!). Strolling along the cliff top path we joined a group of people pointing and cooing over a number of seals far below us sunbathing on the rocks at the waters edge - struggling to make out the seals from the rocks, they blend in perfectly, whilst we were pleased to have glimpsed them we hoped we'd get a better view from them later into our journey.

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On the drive back down the steep and windy road i spotted out the corner of my eye a small group of people on the beach with their cameras out. Figuring there was spmething worth pulling over for, we skidded to a stop, waded through the native plantlife (no need to fear impromptu dashes through long grass over here, no deadly snakes or spiders to get you!) on the side of the road and were greeted by two large female Sea Lions frollicking in the shallows. We got close, but not too close, they were pretty large, and got some great shots of them.

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On the walk back to the van Kate thought she spotted some sand being thrown in the air so we wandered over to some rocks to investigate. We got within 5-10 metres of a seemingly large pile of rocks before a frikkin large male Sea Lion reared up for a stretch, backing off a little to give the fella some room and take a snap or two. I turned to remark on how well he blended into the rocks to see Kate disappearing into the distance at a great speed - I've seriously never seen her move so fast!

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<b>Cannibal Bay - Several non moving sea lions</b>
Bouyed on by our close encounters of the wildlife kind, we detoured around to Cannibal Bay home to more Seals and Sea Lions. Here scattered across the beach were more large lolloping Sea Lions doing very little but sunning themselves and having a wee afternoon nana nap.

All Sea Lioned out we set off for our chosen camp spot of the night, Purakaunui Bay.

The photo's within the DOC booklet made this look like a nice spot for the night and after a long bumpy drive we pulled into a quite simply stunning spot to hunker down, cook some dinner and watch the sunset in another beautiful part of New Zealand.

Posted by MarknKate 12:48 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Dunedin

Cadbury Factory tour. By Kate

sunny 16 °C

Went on the tour of the Cadbury factory...Chocolate....free samples....what more do you need!!

Posted by MarknKate 12:47 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

There's cloud on them there hills!

Mount Cook, By Mark

rain 14 °C

Whilst the weather wasn't getting any better we set off with hopes for a break in the cloud and the rain as we headed inland to Lake Tekapo on the way through to Mount Cook - New Zealands tallest mountain at 3754 metres.

The photos we'd seen of Lake Tekapo with the moutain ranges reflected in the still water were stunning and we hoped to bag a couple of our own...curse the grey skies and the thickening cloud cover, as alas it was just not meant to be.

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After a brief lunch stop at the waters edge we headed on up the only road into the Mout Cook National Park. With 22 peaks over 3000m I was looking forward to my first visit to a real mountain range and was praying the weather would clear, even just slightly, so we could see some of this magnificant looking landscapes...again, no. Now with the cloud coming in even thicker and a persistent downpour we $were left wet, disappointed and unable to embark on even a cursory trek around the foot of some of the mountains. A couple of panoramic postcard will have to suffice for this leg of the journey.

After spending the night in a DOC (Deparment of Conservation) campsite, nestled within a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains (or so we were led to beleive by the pictures in the book), the weather cleared ever so slightly to allow us to take a short trek through to the Tasman Glacier. Expecting to be greeted at the end of our trek by some clear blue icy vistas, I was a little dissapointed by the abandoned gravel pit view - apparently at this glacier it's all underground. Oh well onwards and upwards - the weather can only get better!

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Typically the weather did clear a little on our way back down from Mount Cook.

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Posted by MarknKate 15:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Our new home for six weeks

First Stop, Akaroa. By Mark

rain 16 °C

Arriving at The Britz van hire office just down from the airport at 11:00 am, fresh faced and excited by the thought of tearing off to explore this beautiful country, we were met with queues and a lot of waiting around.

Finally getting called up we sorted out the paper work, forked over the cash and awaited the handing over of our keys...and waited...and waited. Finally being handed the keys to an estate car to allow us to pick up our bags from the hotel and stop off to get some supplies for the van whilst our van was being preped we set off for a minor detour.

Coming back a few hours later (we also stopped to take in the Christchurch museum) we were left to wait again. Just as we were about to kick off regarding the delay we heard the words every traveller longs to hear, "How about a free upgrade?". It seems that they'd over sold the particular van we'd been waiting for and had been busily trying to rustle up a replacement van of the same level from somewhere - to no avail they were left with the only option of parting with a much larger, more spanky VW long wheel based van with it's own toilet, shower and microwave, thank you very much!

We of course played it cool ;o)

The Beast (as she's affectionally called due to her behmoth size) sorted and loaded we were off to our first port of call Akaroa, just an hour or so East of Christchurch.

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Akaora was initally settled by the French and many of the roads still have the old Rue Brittan signs and some of the oringal French inspired archietecture is still around, a cute town with a number of organised tours to see dolphins and penguins which are on the doorstep. Our full day in town was unfortunately wet, windy and grey and so we made do with a wander through the town, browsing in the shops and taking in the beautiful surroundings.

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Posted by MarknKate 15:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

New Zealand - Christchurch

A new chapter begins. By Mark

overcast 16 °C

After an uneventful flight with a brief stopover in Sydney we we're coming into land in Christchurch. The weather was pretty good and the approach clear which allowed us to take in some of the beautiful scenery that we'd be exploring in the near future.

Prior to leaving Perth we'd jumped online and found ourselves a hotel in walking distance to Christchurch centre for our first few nights. Spotting a good price on Lastminute and checking the reviews on Tripadviosr we settled on the Best Western Camelot hotel.

Made up to look like olde English chalets it's a cute little hotel but the rooms we're large and clean and the location convenient for local restuarants and only a 15 min walk into the main city.

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After spending some time calling around the van companies in search of a bargain for our home and transport for the next six weeks we wandered into town to stretch our legs after the long flight, get our bearings and grab some dinner.

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After walking through Cathedral Square, the main centre we found a restaurant we liked the look of and grab a table out front under the patio heaters (the temperature was around 16 degrees, a 20 degree drop in the last 24 hours since leaving Perth!) and settled in for a great first meal. Even better was our surprise when the bill arrived. With the current exchange rate just under £3 to the NZ $1, Two mains plus drink totalled less than £20! This New Zealand leg could work out to be a bargain...

The weathe forecast was scheduled to take a turn for the worst with cold spells and rain forecast for most of the next week. Growing soft and acustomed to 30+ degrees most days we headed back into town on our first full day to hunt down some warm layers to see us through.

We lucked out coming across a store with a 70% sale on and purchased a number of Icebreaker base layers that keep you hot when it's cold and cool when it's hot. Made of Merino wool these may well be the only items of clothing we'll be wearing over this leg of the adventure.

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Happy with our pruchases we settled in for some touristy sight seeing taking in the Cathedral, the trams, the parks and the art centre home to a great little micro brewery, the Dux Lux - thoroughly recommended to anyone heading this way.

After a few follow up calls regarding the van we'd settled on a knocked down price for an almost new Toyota Hiace (a newer model of our beloved Betsey), paid our deposit and arrange a time to pick it up the next day...or so we thought.

Posted by MarknKate 14:43 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Perth - the end of our Oz adventure

8th Feb - 24rd Feb By Mark

sunny 35 °C

  • *It's a long post, sorry!**

So here we are at our last stop on our Australian Adventure, Perth.

With two weeks planned here staying with some relatives and catching up with Mum as well as sorting our Australian lives out prior to heading over to New Zealand.

Mum kindly booked us into a motel for our first night in Perth which we headed straight to on arriving in the city. A rest and a shower later and it's over to Mum's for some home cooking.

One of our first objectives is to get Betsey ready for sale so the 9th is spent at the car wash (Betsey's first since we got her!) and also at Oz's equivalent to the DVLA to find out what's involved in selling a Queensland registered van in Western Australia. Each state has it's own rules and regulations and typically Western Australia's is the strictest. We'd put Betsey on Gumtree the night before and inquiries were already trickling in.

That afternoon we headed over to Mon and Mark's, our base for the next two weeks. Mon is Jacques' (my stepdads) neice and her and her husband Mark were kind enough to put us up in their spare room for the next 14 nights as well as feed and water us incredibly well! Once again, thank you both so much for being such great hosts... it's an open invitation for the next time you're over in the UK!

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Goodbye Betsey

After an inital flood of interest (well three phone calls) all had gone quiet on the sale front. We'd had a couple of promising leads only for them to fall through for one reason or another. I then got a phone call from a couple about 4 hours north of Perth and a price was agreed over the phone without them even seeing the van! A time and date for them to send over a local friend who was a mechanic was set and to cut a long story short, all went well and a few days later they arrived with a bankers draft to pick up our little Betsey.

A few final shots of Betsey in all her shiny and clean glory

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It was actually quite sad to say goodbye, she'd been such a reliable van/home to us over the past 9 months and 12,000 odd kilometres that we'd become rather attached to her.

Rottnest
Our encounter with R.O.U.S (aka Quokkas)

Rottnest is an island 30 mins off the coast of Perth. We were keen to have one last Aussie adventure so booked one night on the island for the middle of our stay in Perth.

After standing up from kissing the ground following one of the roughest sea crossing we've experienced we found ourselves in a picture postcard island with no cars, everyone cycling around, beautiful beaches and perfect weather. Our accommodation was not ready for a few hours so we set off to hire our bikes and some snorkling equipement and set off for a quick recce of the island.

Rottnest was so named by the original Dutch founders due to the seemingly large rodents found throughout the island (and nowhere else in the world) - the name literally meant Rats nest. It was later discovered that these little fellas were in fact Marsupials, but the maps had been printed and the signs made so the name stuck regardless. Quokkas, as they're called, are a mix of a very small kangaroo (they have a pouch, long tails and hop) and a possum, they're very cute and a little too tame from all the human interaction and obvious handouts they've gotten used to receiving - they're certainly not shy about entering restaurants or holiday flats to have a nosey round for a free handout.

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I'd mistakenly thought that the island would be nice and flat, why else would they encourage everyone to cycle! Much to my displeasure, and after a three hour cycle, my butts too we'd learnt the hard way that it's far from flat. We had however covered off around half of the island and seen some beautiful scenery and beaches as well as stopped off for a great snorkel in the reefs close to shore. That kind of made up for spending the rest of our time on Rottnest walking like a cowboy who'd lost his horse ;o)

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Family time
Of course one of the main reasons for coming to Perth was to spend time with Mum, Jacques and the extended family. Much of this catching up was done over vast quantities of food and drink

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And now the end is near
It was Sunday 23rd Feb and we woke up with the plan of starting to get ourselves packed and then heading off to the town of Fremantle with Mum and Jacques for our last outing together. Kate woke up recalling a story Mark (the other Mark, I'm not talking about myself in the third person) had told the night before about his in-laws missing a midnight flight by turning up 24 hours late, we'd laughed and commented how silly that was...we then checked our flight details - flight leaving Perth Monday 23rd 00:15, wait a second, does that mean midnight after 23:59 on Sunday or midnight after 23:59 on Monday??? It seems so obvious now, but we'd had in our heads that we were leaving on the morning of Tuesday 24th and were therefore thinking we had two whole days left. After some moments panicking and 15 mins on hold to Qantas I got through, explained our flawed thinking and managed to move the flight to 00:15 on Tuesday 24th, the flight i thought we were already on. Sweaty lipped moment over, life lesson learnt and a handy free travelers tip for all of you...you're very welcome.

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Posted by MarknKate 15:26 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Esperance

The bluest seas and the finest white sand 2nd - 3rd Feb By Kate

sunny 28 °C

After our rather epic journey across to WA we were thankful that our drive time down to Esperance was a little under 3 hours. We headed straight to the tourist information to find out where to stay. I already had a couple of the National parks in mind but it is always good to check on these things and lucky we did as the road to Cape Le Grand National park had been washed away just a few days earlier in the bad storms so we would have to take a detour.

The journey across to the national park was a lot further than we had imagined and therefore supplies and petrol were at a bit of a low when we got into the park, we just had to hope that our chosen campsite wasn't too much further.

Lucky Bay had all the facilites we needed for a bush campsite, they even had solor showers which makes a nice change. The bay itself has just been announced as the winner of Australia's best beach and we could definitley see why. It is the most beautiful beach I think we have ever seen. The sand was the colour of powdered snow and the water was as clear as drinking water, truely amazing. We had a fab spot overlooking the bay and with Kangeroo's hoping past it was real bliss and at only $7.50 per person per night an absolute bargain!!

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A few shots from Albany just along the coast from Esperance:

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Posted by MarknKate 20:32 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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