A Travellerspoint blog

August 2013

New Zealand

sunny 11 °C

So since we are soooo far behind with our blog we are not going to give you a blow by blow account of our travels in NZ, and instead will just tell you the high (and low) lights. We spent most of our time in NZ living in a campervan again...29 days in total. I thought this was more than enough, but I think Duncan fell in love with our van and is likely to buy one when we get back! I think it is more for summer, as to get the most out of our days we were up at sunrise and going to bed shortly after sunset most days which made for a lot of sleeping time in Winter! WE stayed in a mixture of tourist and government campsites, although I was not so keen on the government ones as they had no shower, a long drop, and were inevitably in the middle of nowhere and pitchblack at night giving me nightmares about serial killers in the woods!

We spent 14 days on the North Island, the highlight of which was the time we spent around around Rotorua and Taupo, particularly the day we spent hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This was a 19km walk across the Tongariro National Park, in the snow and ice. We had a lot of fun learning how to use crampons and ice-axes, and sliding down slopes for over 200m on our bums! The weather was perfect and the whole route had amazing views of teh surrounding mountains and volcanoes. Also enjoyed learning about Mauri culture, and seeing geothermal activity around Rotorua. Whilst in Taupo Duncan also decided to be an adrenalin junkie and braved his first skydive! He seemed to enjoy it, and came out smiling and ready to go again.

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Checked out the North Island cities of Wellington and Auckland, but didn´t enjoy these as much as the other places. I think we are definitely more outdoor adventure than city people.

The other highlight of North Island was a black-water rafting trip at Waitomo. This is basically white-water rafting but in a cave. The day was really fun, we got to abseil down 30m into the cave to start, then went caving adn crawling through impossibly small holes for a bit, rafted down the river underground with glowworms lighting our way overhead, and then finished the day with a rock climb back out. Exhausting and freezing in the water...but really fun!

Moving on to South Island, starting with a great ferry ride across the Cook Strait in the sunshine and into Picton via the Marlborough Sounds. We did a lot of walking in South Island, but the 3 particularly big ones we did at the Marlborough Sounds, Abel Tasman National Park and on the Fox Glacier were by far the best. Marlborough and Abel Tasman had fantastic views across the water and bays in alorious sunshine, whilst the Fox Glacier with its glacial ice formations was incredible and like nothing we had seen before as we walked along crevasses and slid down moulins.

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Further South, near Queenstown, we climbed our highest mountain at 1578m...in a morning. Unfortunately managed to do damage to my legs in the process, as Duncan waltzed up and down at a speedy pace. Duncan again embraced his adventurous side with a 43m bungy jump off Kawaru Bridge, where this crazy sport all began. Again he came up smiling, but I do have photos of him lieing in the rescue boat looking less happy and purely relieved! We also drove ourselves down to the Milford Sound from Queenstown, with some breathtaking views along the way, when the cloud cleared. The Sound itself was very beautiful, but for us didn´t quite live up to the hype of being ´the most amazing place on earth´.

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The final highlight of our trip was the day we spent skiing. This was a last minute decision but turned out to be a great choice. We were pretty nervous at first as Duncan has only skiied for 2 days before, and I am a nervous skiier and certainly no expert who should be in charge of a beginner. But, everything turned out ok, and we had one of the most fun days of our NZ travels, with both of us surprising ourselves at how well we were doing. We soon made it off the beginners slopes and on to the intermediates, covering everything but the expert runs by the end of the day. Annoyingly though Duncan was whizzing past me by the afternoon and telling me to hurry up, despite having started the day doing snow-plough turns!

Overall we both loved NZ, and it surpassed both of our expectations. The most impressive thing was the stunning scenery at every turn, which made just driving around really enjoyable...a good thing as we spent a lot of time in the van getting between places!

Posted by duncan-alice 16:59 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Cairns & North Queensland

semi-overcast 20 °C

The flight from Cairns to Brisbane turned out more eventful than we would have liked when an elderly man in front of us had a seizure 10 minutes after takeoff, which meant we had to turn back to Brisbane leading to over an hours delay. The only good thing to come of our delay was some free food and drink!

We hired a campervan for a week in Cairns and picked it up the next morning - within 30kms a warning light came on the dashboard. The manual recommended going to a garage straightaway, but when we phoned the rental company they told us to not worry about it as the vehicle was old. Therefore we continued on, with the fear we would be stranded in the middle of nowhere if it did break down. We started by going to a small, touristy, market village called Kuranda just outside Cairns. The views of the surrounding countryside on the way up into the hills was impressive but the town was a bit tacky. In the afternoon we continued to Port Douglas, a posh seaside resort full of Australian families on their winter holidays and then to Mossman gorge which was a bit of a disappointment.

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On our second day we headed to Cape Tribulation, but the weather was horrible with low grey cloud and rain showers all day. We had planned to climb Mt Sorrow, the biggest mountain in the cape for great views of the area but as we couldn't see the peak of it we stayed on the beach. With the weather still bad we decided to leave earlier than planned and head north to Cooktown in the afternoon.

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We spent a couple of days in Cooktown; on the first we walked up Mount Cook to give fabulous views of the coast, followed by the stereotypical Aussie bbq and beers at our campsite in the lovely sunshine. On the second I had a horrific pain in my abdomen which stopped me from doing much, including walking. Alice went to the James Cook museum while I had a lie down and eventually took her advice and took 2 ibruprofen which solved the problem!

For our last 2 days in the van we went to the Atherton Tablelands region to visit the small towns and see the countryside. We were lucky enough to see platypus on 2 different days which really pleased Alice. I also had to pay a visit to a doctor as I had a horrible infection on my foot resulting in all the skin peeling off - yuck! Thankfully some antibiotics sorted it out.

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Back in Cairns we spent a day on the Great Barrier Reef diving - the weather was atrocious and the company was encouraging people to come back another day if they could. As we were flying out a couple of days after we had no choice but to go on that day. The crew strongly recommended everyone took motion sickness tablets as the seas were very choppy. I was glad we both did as we were one of the few couples / groups who weren't sick on the way out! The diving was hard work as there were strong currents but we saw some incredible fish including a maori-wrasse, which was very friendly, and a turtle.

Our last day in Australia was a bit of a drag, Cairns city centre was not very exciting and it was grey and wet again, but soon enough we were back at the airport moving on to New Zealand.

Posted by duncan-alice 16:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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