Even though the world scientific community won’t admit it, it’s definitely possible to travel through time. Take the trip from Australia to New Zealand which we undertook today. For a start you cross two time zones, as Sydney is 11 hours ahead of GMT, and Christchurch is 13 hours ahead. And a three hour flight […]Read more "Time Travel"
This is a spooky place – not only do we feel like we’re in the past, in a city themed on the mid-20th century, but we also feel that its been created to make you feel as if you’re somewhere else. Today, on our way to the art gallery and museum, we passed chaps providing […]Read more "Deja Vu all over again"
One of the key attractions in Christchurch is the International Antarctica Visitor Centre, a cross between an amusement park and a museum. Christchurch is the home base to the New Zealand, American and Italian Antarctica teams, and houses all of the special aircraft used to fly people and stuff to the ice bases. The Visitor […]Read more "Life in the freezer!"
As with every country we’ve visited, we had to do some research to find the most economical and practical way to get around. In Canada we had a fortnight of public transport, and a fortnight of car hire; in the States it was only practical to hire a car for the month; Fiji was travelled […]Read more "Getting around New Zealand"
We’re now in Akaroa, a small town on the Banks Peninsula, a two hour drive from Christchurch. It’s a weird place, because it’s a ‘french’ town – there are French flags flying from the church and town hall, and a very French feel to the town. I guess that a while ago it became the […]Read more "Onuku Farm Hostel"
The spookiest thing happened today. Tom, the hostel manager, turned up with the old Visitors Books from the hostel, and we found our original comment in the book from February 1994. That in itself would have been fantastic (hey, I got it right when I said “the night in the huts will be a memory […]Read more "Life at the hostel…"
Well, despite the rustic nature of the hostel, the girls were torn to leave. We all started the day with breakfast and a shower – you can see the shower cubicle above, which isn’t exactly luxurious, but out of the window (well, hole in the wall the size of a window) you can see all the […]Read more "Moving on, leaving in tears…"
From our hostel we drove across to Mount Cook. We’d been expecting to see snow-capped mountains, as we’d had a peek of them on our drive yesterday. But we hadn’t expected to get this view – a stunning blue lake, a cloudless sky, and in the distance Mount Cook dropping down to lake level. The […]Read more "A day in the mountains"
Having left Australia behind, we thought we’d waved goodbye to the long car journeys. But no – we’ve discovered that New Zealand is bigger than it looks on a map (its amazing isn’t it, I studied Geography at school, I even got an O-level, but I still seem totally incapable of looking at the scale […]Read more "Arthur’s Pass"
After breakfast we all piled back in the car and drove down the other side of the Southern Alps. Arthurs Pass is the key pass through the middle of the range, and connects the East coast (where we’ve been) to the West coast. At the sea we turned right, and headed up north, towards the […]Read more "Long distances…"
We’re now in our 5th hostel in New Zealand – the Old Slaughterhouse, in Hector. It’s almost as far up the West Coast as you can go, just above Westport, where everybody turns off to reach the rest of the island. Its much quieter up here than elsewhere, because the only reason to drive past […]Read more "The Old Slaughterhouse Hostel, Hector"
After yesterday’s quiet day, we woke to find the weather sunny, and great to be outside in. After walking down to the car, we drove to Charming Creek, which is only two miles away. This is a river valley, with an old coal mine railway running up it. For the first mile it was good […]Read more "Blowing out the cobwebs"
As a result of being set in the bush, the Old Slaughterhouse is a bit different. For a start, it’s entirely constructed of wood, which was carried up the hill by helicopter. The water comes from the stream behind the hostel, rather than from a water pipe. And there’s no mains electricity, because the cost […]Read more "Hydro-electric power, Sandflies and Sunsets"
As always, it was time to leave. After four nights we’d become very attached to the hostel, it’s owner David, and had made great friends with Linda and Brigitte, a couple of German-speakers staying there. But all good things come to an end, and we had to move up the coast towards our ferry connection […]Read more "To Golden Bay"
I have to be honest – we’re not in love with our latest hostel. After the high of the Old Slaughterhouse, we had high expectations of this new hostel, because of the high rating it has in the guide book. But sadly our expectations were dashed when we got here. It’s a lovely house, with […]Read more "The Innlet Hostel"
We’ve done our time on South Island, and got up at 6am this morning to catch the ferry to the North Island. This weekend is the end of the summer holidays so the ferry was split between Kiwis ending their holidays, and international tourists in the middle of theirs. The crossing took 3 and a […]Read more "Heading North"
I discovered this morning, as I slipped on to the ground as I stepped out of the shower cubicle, that I’m not wearing thongs any more. Well, at least I’m not wearing things called thongs any more. (You may at this point fear that Sarah’s taken over the website, but no its still Ray writing. […]Read more "I’m not wearing thongs any more…"
There doesn’t seem to be much in Wellington to amuse us, but we found the Te Papa museum (The Museum of New Zealand) great with the girls. Although they weren’t keen on going (how would five-floors-of-museum-exhibits grab you for a Sunday treat?) we soon found out it offered lots of entertainment for children and grown-ups. […]Read more "Te Papa Museum"
Another ‘driving’ day – this time the destination made it all well worthwhile! We left Wellington and drove eight hours up to Mount Manganui, which is on the coast in the Bay of Plenty. It was a long drive, especially as New Zealand roads don’t go in straight lines like in Australia, but bend and […]Read more "Arriving at the atrium"
While we’ve been on the South Island, we’d not seen many Maoris or signs of Maoris. But since leaving Wellington, we’ve seen more in a day than in the whole of the previous two weeks. Somebody explained to me that the Maoris lived mostly on the North Island because of its warmer climate, although there […]Read more "The North Island"
After driving through Rotorua quickly to get to Mount Manganui, went back to see some more of the thermal sites, and to find out where that awful smell comes from. We stopped in the municipal park, to see where the steam was coming out of the ground. There were steaming hot lakes, and mud pools […]Read more "Rotorua stinks!"
When we left England, we’d decided to get the girls typhoid jabs done in New Zealand, so that Emily was a little bit older. So this morning the girls got to pop down to the medical centre and get them. It was quick and easy, and most importantly for them, they were rewarded with a […]Read more "Getting jabs"
The weather’s taken a turn for the worse on the coast, with grey clouds covering up the blue sky, and delivering rain showers through the day. So we went swimming to the outdoor pool! Well, the pools are thermally heated, so instead of being cool, they’re heated to a range of temperatures between 31 degrees […]Read more "Going up the wall…"
We’ve now moved to the west coast of the North Island, and are in a village called Raglan, which is where the surfers of New Zealand gather – and our view of the beach is great! The Solscape hostel is a surfers paradise, with half railway carriages as double rooms dotted around the grounds, full […]Read more "The Surfers Paradise"
After another emotional farewell to Sarah’s parents (with all the bird flu news, they’re even more nervous about us heading to Asia next weekend), we drove north towards the Bay of Islands, the area where the first European settlers arrived in New Zealand. But we’re not really here for the history, but because we’d been […]Read more "The Farm, Whangaruru – WHOOPS!"
Hmm…This morning Emily seemed okay with her ankle, but we weren’t entirely sure whether it was okay or not. Our worry was that when we leave for Asia next weekend, we’d want to be confident that her ankle was okay and getting better. Although it was bandaged up well (any sheep or cow would have […]Read more "Should her foot really look like that?"
Emily has quickly adjusted to life wearing a plaster cast. After the first night, it doesn’t seem to have caused her any pain, and she was quite happy to sit and watch satellite TV all day long, without having to move a muscle. And when the sun came out, she moved out onto the veranda, […]Read more "The Farm at Whangaruru"
When we’re travelling, ‘having a treat’ has a special meaning. It can be something small, like a decent cup of coffee or an ice cream for the girls, or it can be something else. The girls’ treat today was an ice-cream, which had been emailed to us by our friends Tom and Elizabeth. (Well, emailed […]Read more "Having a treat"
Handy travel hint: Getting through airports is made a lot easier when you’ve got a child in a wheelchair. Those people that push you around the airport know every single way to jump a queue and get you settled in a lounge quickly. Much better than one of the swanky Gold cards! After 7 months […]Read more "Flying to Asia"