Point Perpendicular and Sea Cliffs

Point Perpendicular and Sea Cliffs

After my epic work marathon, we went down the coast about 3 hours to a place called Jervis Bay for a weekend camping. The area was recommended by someone at work.

It was perfect camping weather, not too cold at night, nice and warm during the day. I was pretty paranoid about spiders and snakes in the tent, but luckily we didn’t see any.

Tourist information about the area and reports from people who’ve been there said you can see wild kangaroos all over the place, including on the beaches, which I was pretty excited about. My roo research has taught me their most active during dusk and dawn, so I was pretty excited about seeing some when I went for my early morning trip to the ladies on Saturday. Sadly, all I spotted was some roo poo and a cockatoo!

On Saturday we went to explore a lot of the local beaches and did some walks. We went to Hyams Beach, which has Guinness Book of Records certified whitest sand in the world. The water was lovely and clear, the bush went down to the beach and not only was the sand white, it was also squeaky!

Hyams Beach

Hyams Beach

About 3pm on a walk we spotted our first roo, which I think was actually a walabee. Unfortunately by the time I got my big camera out it hopped off. That night they all came out though, taking the spot count up to 11 (2 wallabees, 8 roos and a joey.) We saw two roos outside the campsite after dinner, one with a super cute joey in its pouch. Awwww! ūüôā

On the Sunday we went on an early morning boat trip out into the bay. It was an ‘eco cruise” taking in some of the main sights including Point Perpendicular cliffs which hit the sea at 90 degrees, and are a good spot for climbing. We saw some climbers on the rock, which of course prompted Matts enthusiasm for a return trip! Up the coast we saw some cool caves and a seal colony. The seals all dived into the sea which was cool to watch, especially the ones which skipped out the intermediate rocks and just jumped straight in from 10m up or so!

Seal diving

Seal diving

On the boat trip we also spotted a whale. There are lots of dedicated whale watching trips you can do, but as the numbers are dropping off now we didn’t go for one of those specifically. It was really cool to see one up close, if slightly worrying sitting in the boat, knowing it dived down and waiting for it to come back up – hopefully not right under the boat!

The Jervis Bay area was really nice, especially out of peak time when it was pretty quiet. I loved seeing kangaroos in the wild and look forward to going back for the inevitable climbing trip.

 

Roos!

Roos!

View over Wollongong

View over Illawara valley to Wollongong

On our way home from Jervis Bay we went via the ‘Ilawara Fly’.

We noticed a leaflet about it at the tourist info. Not only was it half way home, but it was also covered by our annual Merlin passes, so we got free entry.

You drive up a ultra wiggly windy road in the Southern Highlands up to the Jamberoo Lookout with awesome views back to the coast and Wollongong. We had a quick picnic stop there. 

The Illawara Fly has nothing to do with flying – the name is pretty confusing! Basically its a 1.5km walk including a raised walkway where you end up about 40-50m above the ground amongst the trees, with good views back down the valley to the coast. There’s a tower to climb up and some signs about the local vegetation.

It was worth a visit, but i’m definitely glad we went with our Merlin passes, as its really wasn’t worth the $24 normal entry price for basically a walk with a good view. We also got a free coffee by spending more than $5 on tea and an ice cream becasue of having the Merlin passes, so overall a total bargain!

illawara2

On the walkway

Kangeroo

Today its six months since we arrived in Australia, which seems like a good time to reflect on how its going.

First off, its gone pretty quickly, and we’ve done a whole heap of stuff since we got here. Here’s a quick roundup of the dull and less dull bits:

  • Found a flat to rent, and moved house into it, using the bus and train.¬†Kitted out the flat with mainly new furniture, appliances, crockery and all the other bits and pieces you need, took shipment of our kit from the UK and bought a car
  • Work wise, I prequalified on two bids and finished RoadsPlus’s first major bid (due tomorrow!). Matt got promoted.
  • Joined the climbing club, became ‘semi-rad smoogers’ and been on loads of climbing trips
  • Done a whole heap of touristy stuff around Sydney itself (Reptile Park, Taronga Zoo, Maritime Museum, Vivid fesitval, Tower Eye, Art Gallery, Aquarium…..)
  • Visited Brisbane, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and Ku-Ring-Gai
  • Had visits from Lizzie Short and Ellie Biggs, as well as meeting up with Toby Jeffries who also moved here from the other side of the world

At the moment its winter. Apart from a really wet week back in June, its been pretty good really. I’ve put the heating on for maybe an hour about ten times, and that’s it. Sure, you need to wear a coat outside, but its never been below 8 degrees.¬†It seems to hit 20 in the day time a fair amount still too. We’re getting to grips with the local shops and products, different road rules and funny words for things.

What to we miss about the UK? Our friends and family are definitely the main one there. There’s some big weddings and events going on at the moment which we’re missing – boo!¬†Other than that, a whole host of small stuff – decent TV, the ubiquity of baked potatos, countryside, our garden¬†and mud (Matt said that one).

What would we miss about Australia if we left now?¬†Here’s the top 5:

  • Exploring new places: I really enjoy¬†seeing new things and going to new places
  • The better weather: its really makes a big difference to your general mood and ability to do stuff when its warmer and less rainy. I might have a different view come summer!
  • Modern, open plan living: I think it would feel quite weird going back¬†into our 1970’s house now
  • Food things: the variety of cuisine is awesome here, not only for eating out but in shops too. And as well as the decent food there is of course also¬†Twisties,Tim Tams and raisin toast!
  • And to be materialistic for a moment – our shiny car. Its just way nicer than the ones we’ve ever had before and so much less hassle to look after.

We might move when our lease is up – try out somewhere different, escape the noise building work next door, downsize to one less room and upgrade to a decent view. Time will tell though, flat hunting is a right pain here!

I’m glad we came out on an adventure and we’ve got plenty more exploring to do. I’m looking forward to visiting Melbourne, Canberra (not very exciting, but we should go) and Darwin, hopefully in the next 6 months. After that, more things on the list are the Barrier Reef, Uluru, Tasmania, Fiji, Perth, Bali and of course the Short/Millis Southern Hemisphere reunion!

29. June 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Photography · Tags:

vivid3

Vivid is a light festival in Sydney which happens every year (see here). It is cool!

I went on several trips to go and take photos, and here are some of my favorites.

vivid1

They project a show onto the side of the Opera House which replays about every 20 mins. This year it included pinball, bond girls, animal prints, scary clowns and even fireworks.

Some of the other buildings around are lit up too, like Customs House – I didn’t have my tripod for this though.

customshouse

The Bridge is only lit up on the far side, so no pics of that unfortunately, just some more Opera House!

vivid4

There were all sorts of other smaller displays like flowers which light up more when you make noise and a ‘planet under construction’ made of traffic cones.

vivid2

It was well worth the trip although Sunday night was mentally busy so I’d certainly recommend trying to go in the week.

vivid5

Cooperage and a crane used to build the Harbor Bridge

Cooperage and a crane used to build the Harbor Bridge

Recently we got a Public Holiday for the Queens Birthday – this makes me chuckle as it doesn’t exist in England! On the Saturday, my friend Toby and his girlfriend Kendall organised an excellent adventure around Sydney.

Like any Australian adventure we started off in a coffee shop! (Although being stereotypically English Toby and I had tea). We went on a tall ship through the Harbor up to Goat Island. Normally the tour is on a pretty regular boat, but the tall ship takes over in winter when the main boat has maintenance – I reckon the tall ship version is much better – I couldn’t resist a couple of pirate ‘yarrrrs’ too. On the boat was a ‘free’ (included) bar with all you can drink wine and champagne! On Goat Island we had a yummy buffet lunch with very tasty ham and prawns, plus more wine.

Convict Hut

Convict Hut

 

After that was a tour of the island. Goat Island is a mix of things really. Back in the mid 1800’s it housed convicts, so there are some old building from then including a cooperage where they made barrels, an armory for storing large amounts of gun powder and a replica wheeled porta-cabin which used to house 20 convicts for up to 18 hours a day. There were some old buildings and houses as well as a listed crane they used to build the Harbor Bridge (which they don’t know where else to store) and some more recent industrial style buildings. From the island you get a good view back to Sydney including the bridge, opera house and Darling Harbor. A couple and their three kids live on the island – we reckon it would be a pretty cool place to have a lot of adventures growing up, although less good once you want to start hanging out with your mates on the mainland and going to the pub.

We heard the story of one of the convicts called ‘Boney’. After getting about 1,500 lashes for bad behavior and not seeming to mind, he ended up chained, naked, to a rock in the island for two years! The name Goat Island is a bit of a mystery and on maps its shown as Cockatoo Island, which is actually now the name of another island in the Harbor. The thinking is that this was originally Cockatoo Island, but when all the convicts arrived all the gum trees got chopped down and the Cockatoos migrated to the next island which was then named after them. Long ago there were apparently three goats on the island who made it on the journey from Africa.

Boneys Rock

Boneys Rock

After the island tour we went on a longer tour around the harbor and then back. The trip was excellent and if you wanted to get seriously drink on the free bar that would have been totally doable too! I think we were pretty restrained really. After the boat ride we went to the Lord Nelson pub on the Rocks which has its own micro-brewery and went around the market until it was time for the Vivid light festival and an excellent dinner(separate posts coming soon).

Overall score: 8/10 – Thank you Toby and Kendall! I’d definitely recommend doing the tour on the tall ship.

Recently Matt went for a week’s crack climbing outside Brisbane, so we took the opportunity to spend a weekend in Brisbane.

From Sydney its about a 1.5 hour flight, or an 11 hour drive!¬†We stayed in town as we didn’t have a car. There is lots to do around Brisbane (including the koala park) which we’ll pick up another time. Here are some of the highlights:

South Bank: The south bank is a nice landscaped area with a cool walkway covered in pink flowers and an artificial beach and pool. I’ve swum in it before at night with nobody else around, which was cool with all the city lights, and just quite surreal!

Wheel of Brisbane  On the South Bank is the Wheel of Brisbane Рessentially a mini London Eye. We took a ride on that for $15 each. You get your own pod (as long as it isnt busy), audio commentary and do about 5 laps round. It was a good way to see the city.

Wheel of Brisbane

Wheel of Brisbane

Brunch and other food: A lot of our time in Brisbane was spent eating! We had some awesome brunches which I really enjoyed. There were loads of restaurants and cafes offering a wide variety of yummy things. We had ice cream too (of course), and other snacks including a nice Italian dinner with my friend Simon who moved from our London to Brisbane office last year.

Queensland Museum: We went around the free Queensland museum which had quite a good range of things including natural history, info about all the natural resources in Queensland, an Aboriginal section and a collection about collecting.

Sea turtle at the Queensland Museum

Sea turtle at the Queensland Museum

Ferry trips: We brought Go Cards to travel around Brisbane public transport, but it turned out we didn’t really need them at all. From near where we stayed there was a free ferry which takes you up and down the river to basically wherever you want to go. They had an open top deck too so you got a good view of the river attractions cruising up and down at a nice leisurely pace, including the Story Bridge.

Clock tower: I got a last minute ticket for a trip up the Brisbane clock tower. You go up in one of the country’s oldest lifts, get to see inside the clock face and get cool views from the top. Its in an ‘old’ 1800ish town hall building which reminded me of England.

Kangaroo Point: Matt¬†would¬†be upset if I¬†didn’t¬†mention this.¬†Kangaroo¬†Point are a load of cliffs on the bank of the river where you can go climbing. If we get the¬†opportunity¬†to go back to Brisbane we’ll have a go at some of the routes. It is floodlit at night too, so you can climb any time.

Kangaroo Point

Kangaroo Point

Star Trek: A bit random I know. The cinema in Sydney is about $20, more for 3D. By Sunday night we had slightly run out of things to do, and walked past the cinema by our hotel. A 3D films was only $11, so we went to see Start Trek. I enjoyed the film, as well as the popcorn and maltesers! The maltesers here taste funny, but I reckon I can get used to it.

Overall verdict: 6.5/10.¬†Good place to spend a weekend, but for longer than that you’re best off having a car to get out and about to some places beyond the city center. We could have gone to some other free museums too (including modern art) but that’s not really our scene.

15. June 2013 · 4 comments · Categories: Photography · Tags:
Opera House at night

Opera House at night

Recently I went down to the Harbor at night with my tripod to take some night pics. Its a pretty cool place to hang out at the best of times, with some truly iconic views, and I find it particularly cool at night. Luckily with daylight saving its dark about 5.30-6 here now, so there’s no need to stay up later for good shots.

Coming soon is the Vivid light¬†festival¬†where they light up the Opera House with all kinds of projections, so I’ll go back for another go during that. Also on the list is some night pics of Luna Park with the scary clown entrance and lit up rides which also look very cool at night. You can see the gate and big wheel¬†under¬†the¬†bridge¬†in the shot below.

Harbor Bridge and Luna Park

Harbor Bridge and Luna Park

Rather than the London bus on the road light trails, you can do the same with the Opera House and ferries. I’ll go back and try this one again on a longer exposure for better water blurring.

Opera House with ferry

Opera House with ferry

The Opera Bar is a good place to hang out with a drink or two on a summer evening looking over the water to the Bridge and Opera House itself. After looking at the pics on my computer I definitely need to work on the focusing of my night shots with live view (or just revert to dots or even manual focusing maybe Рany tips appreciated!)

The Opera Bar

The Opera Bar

My night time adventure reminded me of a good trip to London I did with Phil and Charles back in Jan 2012. It was a lot warmer here! Here’s a picture of another iconic bridge from that trip.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Barrenjoey

Barrenjoey

Recently on a sunny Saturday we got a car from the car club and went up to the Ku-ring-gai National Park.

Its about a 40 minute drive from our place, up towards the north. You pay an $11¬†parking¬†fee for the park, which can be used in any one that day. You can get an annual pass for $65 for all the NSW parks which is a total¬†bargain¬†and we’ll do once we have our own car.

We had lunch at the marina with all the posh yachts and went for a couple of walks to West Head and the highest point in the park. From West Head the views over Lion Island and over to Barrenjoyey and the other side of the Palm Beak spit were really cool. We walked down to the beach, and then back up 589 steps to where we started (yes, I counted!)

Lion Island

Lion Island

From the highest point you can actually see¬†across all¬†the park back to the tall tower blocks in Sydney CBD (look *really* closely below). Sadly we¬†didn’t¬†see any kangeroos, bandicoots or wombats, but there was a weird bird like a turkey! The park was¬†surprisingly¬†quiet for a weekend and we’ll certainly go back once we have our own wheels.

Ku-ring-gai National Park

Ku-ring-gai National Park

02. June 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Reviews · Tags: ,
Stripey fish

Stripey fish

Now we’re living in Australia there are lots of new holiday options! One of the top places on the list is the Great Barrier Reef. Doing some diving there would be¬†particularly¬†cool, so we’re thinking of doing a weekend course down in Sydney so we’re ready when we get there.

Now I¬†don’t¬†really¬†get on with either swimming in the sea, or being under water so I’m not convinced about diving. But the excitement of cool fish might¬†outweigh¬†that. I¬†didn’t¬†want to pay $150 or so for a diving¬†course and hate it, so we bought a couple of snorkels to test that out first. We went down to Clovelley Beach back in April. Its near Bondi with a fairly big man made inlet, so you’re protected from the waves.

I didn’t like getting in, that was probably the worst bit, apart from general drinkingk of salt water! Right at the beginning we saw a giant Blue Grouper which was really cool. It was at least a meter long, and really very blue even in the sea. Becasue it was the first thing we¬†didn’t¬†get a picture of it unfortunately, but then¬†didn’t¬†see anything¬†else¬†that big!

Lots of fish

Lots of fish

The¬†snorkelling¬†went OK, without incident apart from Matt breaking a flipper strap. There were lots and lots of cool fish to see, and I¬†didn’t¬†really swallow too much water. I was¬†surprised¬†quite how much wildlife there was around right next to all the people swimming about.¬†We need to go on another snorkelling¬†adventure¬†to try again before the diving course I think.¬†After several¬†practices¬†in the swimming pool (yes!! only when nobody else was there though) I¬†didn’t¬†go fully underwater with my snorkel so¬†that’s¬†the next stage.

Byeee!

Byeee!

Overall verdict: 6/10. We saw cool stuff, but it was still a bit scary! I’ll go again though. Next time we’re going to try the underwater nature trail round the corner and hopefully see more cool things.

Taronga Zo

Taronga Zoo

 

I love animals and I generally love zoos too (as long as they have nice big enclosures).

We went recently to Taronga Zoo in Sydney which is not only a zoo, but also a good adventure, because:

  1. You go there on a ferry out across the Harbour
  2. You get to ride in (or out) on a cable car and
  3. The views back across the city to the bridge and Opera House are cool

We spent a good 5 hours there going around, and I could easily have stayed for longer. They have a wide selection of animals including a lot of native ones including the obligatory koalas, kangeroos, wallabees, wombats,¬†emus, Tasmanian Devils, spiders (ewww) and playtpus (not sure if that’s plural?!). Sadly the penguin area was being¬†refurbished, so none of them ūüôĀ It wads a bit too busy at the start but got a bit quieter once we wandered about.

I loved all the animals with the exception of the spiders which are still haunting me periodically. *Shudder*.

Here are my top 5 animals:

5.¬† Ecidnas. It turns out, like platypus, ecidnas are ‘monotremes’ which means they are egg laying mammals. So like the platypus they are the only kinds of animals that have eggs and milk and can (theoretically) produce¬†their own custard! (Thanks Paul Millis!)

Echidna

Echidna

4. Seals¬†– we caught the seal show¬†where they do dives, jumps,¬†flipper stands, shake hands, ‘speak’ and eat a lot of fish as rewards. Seeing them splash about was good¬†entertainment, and they seemed to enjoy it too.

Seal jumping

Seal jumping

3. Elephants. The elephants had a couple of babies which were super sweet. We watched the keepers¬†giving¬†one of the little ones a shower which was just adorable. They told it ‘front foot;’ and ‘back foot’ and ‘turn’ and it even did what it was told – mainly – with some food as an added incentive.

Elephant

2. Koalas – predictable, I’m sorry, but they are properly cute. Of the 6 koalas we saw, 2 were actually awake (and eating eucalyptus)¬†which is a good record as they spend 20 of 24 hours a day asleep.

Koala

Koala

1. The wombat! I love this not-so little fellow and took a LOT of pictures of him.¬†Unfortunately¬†he was munching his supper on all three times we walked past and Matt got a bit bored waiting for him to do something else. I could have watched him for ages. I really wanted to give him a big cuddle, but I¬†don’t¬†think he would have appreciated it really!

Wombat

Wombat

Verdict: 9/10. Could have got a 10 with some penguins, and less other people!

What are your favourite animals?

 

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

We were lucky enough to have Matt’s sister Lizzie and her friend Steph come and stay with us for a few days recently.

They decided to power on through the jet-lag after an epic jounrey via 11 hours in China. After some traditional bacon and egg rolls for breakfast, we got the bus over to Bondi and went  on the Bondi to Coogee beach walk.

The walk is about 6km along cliffs, with about 6 different beaches on the way.

The world famous Bondi was the first stop. We didn’t see the TV crews, but there were plenty of Bondi lifeguards in their traditional blue outfits. Apparently its smaller than it looks on TV. It was about 28 degrees, so the beach was packed. We had a quick paddle in the sea, got some free sweets from a shop and decided to head on down the coast to find somewhere a bit quieter.

Tamarama was the next beach, which was small but nice. Matt, Lizzie and Steph braved the fairly big waves and went for a swim.

Tamarama Beach

Tamarama Beach

Round the corner we got to Bronte, where it was time for an ice cream!

After Bronte was Clovelly. On the way was a giant graveyard and bowling green on the cliff! Clovelly had a big concretey platform you could sit on, and loads of people snorkelling. We were on the look out for a shop selling snorkels¬†during¬†the walk, but sadly didn’t find one. We have some now, so will be back to Clovelly soon.

Just around the coast a bit more was Gordons Bay a nice secluded bay with an underwater snorkelling and diving trail which is well reccomended.

Gordons Bay

Gordons Bay

The Coogee stop came just in time as the jet-lag was starting to get serious for our visitors, and we were feeling the heat. We got the bus back home in time for dinner.

You can find full details of the walk, here 

Verdict: 8/10. Very good walk, nice and convenient from the city. Would have been even better with a snorkel and a shop selling proper ice creams!

Last weekend on Saturday we ordered our sofa (woo) and went to Balmoral (Beach), which is a fairly short bus ride from the flat. The Queen wasn’t there.

Then, on Sunday, we took a trip down south to Wollongong. We met up with my friend from Uni, Toby, and his girlfriend Kendall. They took us on an excellent guided tour of the area, mainly around the countryside as we were keen to get out of the city. The train trip was 1.5 hours, and only cost $11 each Рbargain!

First off we went in the soft top (grin) up a wiggly mountain road. The temperature dropped from about 25 to a relatively chilly 16-17 (don’t¬†worry, I don’t expect any sympathy). The area is known as the Southern Highlands, and looked a fair bit like¬†South¬†Wales – lots of rolling hills, forests and cows.

Fitzroy Panorama

Fitzroy Panorama

We parked up and did a walk around an area called Fitzroy Falls. The view was stunning. There was a cliff ridge / break (I’m not sure of the proper technical word) which we walked around the top of. The falls went over the end, down a loooong way, surrounding by trees and bush as far as you can see. We were pretty sure there were Hobbit’s down the bottom – but it would have been pretty hard to go and check. I guess the scale of the bush is even more impressive when you get properly out into the remote bits of the country, so I’m¬†looking¬†forward to seeing that.

Fitzroy Falls

Fitzroy Falls

After the walk we went for a drive back down into the valley (it warmed up again) and had a good pub lunch in a place called Jamberoo. Being St¬†Patrick’s¬†day we had some pretty traditional Irish food, listened to a band in the sunshine in the beer garden. I had pie – yum. Matt got a pint of¬†Guinness. Over here beer mainly comes in schooners (285ml), which are less than a pint, so getting an actual pint is pretty exciting!

In Australia there is a bit of a trend for ‘big stuff’. Some towns and cities have big things as landmarks. We went past Robertson, which is home of the giant …..potato! It’s a pretty weird landmark, and gets more points for¬†obscurity and humour¬†than historical interest. There’s no detailed explanatory sign, just a tourist sign with some actual potatoes¬†stuck¬†on it, that¬†people¬†have drawn faces on. We guess¬†Robertson¬†used to be home to lots of potato farms. It would have made me crave a baked potato (as I miss them here), but luckily for my stomach it was still full of pie!

The Robertson Giant Potato

The Robertson Giant Potato

After the excitement of the potato, we went down to the coast to a place called Kiama. It was incredibly windy which made for good (if slightly damp and salty) viewing conditions at the Blow Hole. It made a pretty cool boomy noise too. None of my pictures do it justice I’m afraid.

After the blow hole we got ice creams (mango plus double¬†chocolate¬†for me, white¬†chocolate¬†and raspberry plus old English toffee for Matt). They were goooood. We ate them so quickly I¬†didn’t even think about a picture. Next,¬†we went to a place with 360¬†degree¬†views¬†around¬†the area, with beaches that went on for miles – but not¬†quite¬†the 10,500 miles to London. To round off the trip we went for a walk in Woolongong by the Harbour and along some of the beach. Its a lot quieter than the Sydney beaches and looked pretty nice if it wasn’t for the wind!

It was an excellent day out Рwe need to save up for a car so we can go on lots of other mini adventures out of the city too!

Thanks Toby ūüôā

We got married back in September 2011, and had a mini honeymoon down in Dartmoor where we got married. We knew immediately when we got engaged that we wanted to go to New Zealand for our honeymoon . We wanted to make sure we had enough money to do lots of amazing things, so we decided to save up for it and delay our honeymoon about a year after the wedding (which also helped make the most of the best weather).

We went to New Zealand (South Island) for 3.5 weeks from 5th to 30th December, with 2 days in Sydney first and an unexpected day in Dubai too.

We had a truly awesome time, it was both of our favorite holidays ever. We took 6,803 photos, a lot of video and drove 3,800km!

I’m going to write separate posts on the details of what we did as there is a lot of it. There will be photos and videos on the relevant tabs soon too. For now, here are the Top 10 highlights (in no particular order as its too hard).

Dolphin watching in Kaikoura: Lizzie Short got this for us as a wedding present and it was excellent. There were over 200 dolphins around our boat and they were really acrobatic, doing loads of jumps and somersaults. We saw albatrosses too.

Somersaulting dolphin in Kaikoura

Somersaulting dolphin in Kaikoura

Sky diving Lake Wanaka:¬†I’ve wanted to do a skydive for ages and where better than somewhere with excellent weather, fantastic views of lakes and mountains and bargainacious prices compared to the UK too. This was¬†definitely¬†my¬†favorite¬†adrenalin experience and i’d love to do it again.

Skydiving at Lake Wanaka

Skydiving at Lake Wanaka

Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park:¬†Abel Tasman is a beautiful National Park where tree covered mountains roll down into the sea and lovely beaches. We kayaked from a place called Tata beach in a duo to a secluded beach and did a walk to Separation Point with excellent views of the park and saw a seal swimming in the sea. The weather was lovely, and best of all, we saw a penguin, in the wild! He popped up by our boat, looking all cute, floated about for a bit, dived off, then popped up somewhere else about 8-9 times. Sadly I didn’t catch him to take home.

Kayaking in Abel Tasman - Wharwharenghi beach

Kayaking in Abel Tasman – Wharwharenghi beach

Staying with the Millis family: We spend a week over Christmas in Wanaka with Paul, Jo, Kath, Sarah and Tom Millis (Paul and Jo are Matts uncle and aunt). We had good fun and a nice relaxing time too with warm hospitality. We got up to lots including Puzzling World, seeing the Hobbit, Christmas Games, lake picnics and archery in the garden.

Leaning Tower of Wanaka at Puzzling World

Leaning Tower of Wanaka at Puzzling World

Canyoning on the Niger River: Matt loved canyoning. It was very wet with lots of abseiling, slides, jumps and swinging.

Canyoning on the Nigel River

Canyoning on the Nigel River

Rock climbing:¬†Up in Abel Tasman we went one night to camp at a climbers campsite. It turned out they hired out¬†equipment¬†so people could go and climb at the crag next door (Paynes Ford), which is apparently the best limestone climbing in New Zealand. It doesn’t take much to work out what happened next! We did three climbing sessions with Paul Millis down by Wanaka too in some very convenient and very scenic roadside crags.

Matt at the top of the Tombstone near Wanaka

Matt at the top of the Tombstone near Wanaka

Caving in Clifden: Our guidebook mentioned a place you can go caving, by yourself. You go to a tourist info, pick up a standard size leaflet with a map and some safety advice, and off you go. I really enjoyed my first proper caving experience, partly¬†because¬†of the craziness of just going in with a leaflet, which is pretty unlikely to happen in the UK! The climax of the caving was “the swimming pool”, a spherical cave, about 5 meters across, half filled with water. On one side was a ledge, sloping in towards the deep dark water in the middle of the cave, with limited had holds. Oh, and did I mention the ledge was about a foot under water?! Matt went without his shoes, I soaked my boots and socks! We both got through without more getting wet than necessary – luckily the leaflet says you will probably get wet so we were prepared. Fun fun fun.

Matt in Clifden caves

Matt in Clifden caves

Christmas at 31 degrees: We had Christmas in Wanaka at 31 degrees. After coming to terms with the weirdness of it, the whole day was really good and Christmas in the warn definitely has its advantages. We had fresh hot croissants for breakfast in the sun in the garden, went for a picnic with kayaking and swimming in the lake over lunch, cycling back and played archery in the garden in the evening. Awesome.

Kayaking on Lake Wanaka on Christmas day

Kayaking on Lake Wanaka on Christmas day

Yummy foods: We ate lots of good things on holiday, including Fergburgers from Queenstown, a lot of excellent ice creams and my favorite  hot, freshly baked double chocolate cookies from the Paradiso cinema during the film interval.

Fergburger in Queenstown

Fergburger in Queenstown

Epic scenery: All around New Zealand was just amazing scenery. Mountains, rivers, bush, coast, plains, lakes, it was a stunning country just to be in and drive around.

 

View from Key Summit near Milford

View from Key Summit near Milford

Jet boating: I know this is now 11 things but I personally loved the speed, noise and general craziness of jet-boating down a gorge. 

Jetboating on the Buller Gorge

Jetboating on the Buller Gorge

Any comments or questions?