A Travellerspoint blog

January 2010

New Zealand here I come.

The Kiwi adventure begins...

View New Zealand on Lucy Hood's travel map.

So, I'm finally writing about a country that i'm actually in - rather than catching up...!
However i'm using a rather old computer (the keyboard is struggling to keep up with me!), so i'm afraid there will still be no photos or no map updates quite yet!

New Zealand so far has been a big adventure, full of incredible scenery and wondefully kind people.

We were picked up from the airport (at 1 in the morning!) by someone i'd never met before (Lesley) but was a friend of the athletics coach of Birmingham uni. He'd kindly put us in touch with each other and Mikey and I would be staying at their home in Auckland for a few nights.

On our first day in Auckland we caught a ferry to a nearby place called Devonport for a wander round and great views of the city. In the evening, Lesley and her partner CHris were invited to their friends for dinner - and they invited us too! Lesley ran in the the Barcelona Olympics (10k) and their friend is the head of NZ Triathlon Coaching - so as you can imagine i contributed a lot to the conversation!

We left Auckland the next day, picked up our car (Stevie the Starlet) - and loaded up with a big cool box and maps (thanks to Lesley!) we set off on another road trip!

On the way to Bay of islands, we called in at Goat Island beach which was beautiful. We arrived in Paihia (at the bay of islands) after a long drive to discover no accommodation was free...after a small panic we were directed to another area Russell - a short ferry ride across the bay. A blessing in disguise as there we stayed in the most wonderful hostel (basically a family home - we'd share the kitchen with them and they had chickens so we got to use thier fresh eggs!)- and russel was a MUCH nicer/quainter more picturesque spot and we ended up staying longer than planned.

We spent the next day wandering around and exploring, and disovering lots of amazing tiny hidden beautiful beaches. The following day we had a boat trip which went all around the islands - it was amazing!!

We got up early the next day to set off - but decided to stick around to watch the start of the annual tall boats race - well worth it - there were hundreds of boats - we walked to the top of a great lookout to watch it - its looked stunning.

Our next night spot was north west (a very small..tiny place called Kohukohu) but on the way we went to the Keri Keri peninsula and Doutless bay - where there were some gorgeous little beaches and bays. Arrived at Kohukohu - and again after a small panic for accommodation we landed on our feet with a hostel called the treehouse lodge. We arrived just in time for a walk up to another wonderful lookout across a lake for sunset.

The next morning we got a ferry across the lake to carry on our journey...next stop the Coromandal Peninsula...via a stop at the Kia Iwi lakes. They are HUGE...but as it was holiday season and the main lake is by a caravan park - it wasn't quite the peaceful spot we were hoping for! SO after a snooze on the beach we set off for Coromandel. We arrived in coromandal town in time for dinner, ready for a good sleep, before driving for our first decent length walk (about 3hrs) right at the tip of the peninsula. It was beautiful - some good hill climbs and cliff top walking with amazing views...through the odd field of cows that stared at us like we were invading their space rather...we didnt hang around there!

After another night in our lovely hostel, we drove to Rotorua. On the way we stopped at the Hot water beach - a beach where there are natural hot springs under the sand so if you did a whole it fills with hot water for you to relax in. The joy of holiday season struck again though and as there is a very limited space where the springs are, it was absolutly heaving - it felt a bit like a cattle farm. Mikey (wanting to be manly) dug numerous holes (very impressively)...but to no avail - but sat stubbornly and proudly in his cold water anyway! There were about 3 good spots and these old fat women hogged them for aaages, while us cold pool public looked on in envy!! We staged a bit of a battle though and in the end just knocked down their walls and barged into their spot then all just stood triumphantly in very hot water, burning our feet to make a point! All in all - fun to try but a bit of a let down...ah well!

We then drove to another near by attraction - cathedral cove - a huge natural archway between two gorgeous beaches which you have to walk for about 40 minutes to see (with some rather steep hills along the way!). It was worth it though. The beaches were amazing. Another slightly touristy spot but the hills put the majority of the cattle farm of holiday makers off this time i think (though we did spot the same group of fat old women making their way slowly down on our return walk!!!).

After an ice cream we headed to rotorua and arrive in time for dinner and a trip to the local polynesian spa. Rotorua being a hotbed (haha!) of thermal activity, there are lots of natual spas etc...these ones were a lot more sophisticated though - in proper pools, at different temperatures etc. So we sat in a 41 degree natural spa, looking at the night sky of Rotorua...in the rain! Not a bad start!

I've rambled on quite enough for now i think (i've got into waffle mode again - i'm sorry...i wonder if anyone is actually reading this???!)

Anyway - i'm now only a week and a bit behind! Hurrah!

Tune in next week for more installments...heres a sneak preview... smelly sulphur, gale force wellington winds, drunken bicycle riding and me being dragged on stage at an international busker festival! I bet you can't wait.

LOVE to all xxxx

Posted by Lucy Hood 23:01 Comments (1)

Sydney New Years Eve extravagansa

Firework filled fun and frolics

View New Zealand & To Melbourne & Sydney & To Port Elizabeth on Lucy Hood's travel map.

So...was rather (understatement) excited about getting to Sydney - sadly though the weather did not match my spirits and we had a shock to the system getting off the plane to pouring rain - with a nice 20 minute walk with our backpacks to look forward to once we'd got the train to the area we would be staying in (Just out of the city centre at Mikey's sister in law's..called Kylie).

We had a welcome hamper (actually!) and tea and coffee waiting for us which after the early start was a god send!

After a bit of a snooze we then headed to the city and got our first look (all be it a rather gloomy one) at the harbour bridge and opera house - amazing! We then met up with Anna and her friends and relaxed in Darling harbour at the Lindt Chocolate cafe (hurrah!) for hours!

The rest of our week (during which the weather picked up considerably) was filled with chilling out in the park by the opera house with amazing views/trips to the beach/cool markets and the odd cafe!

The opera house blew me away every time i saw it. We went to the opera bar for a drink at night and the view is just incredible...i couldnt wait until new years!!

Anna's friend from uni Laura was there with the 3 other girls she was travelling with, and our friend from the west coast tour was in Sydney too - so we had a big gang of us all heading to the same place for new years eve. We started at Laura's appartment - they cooked us a big chili which set us up for our long night ahead!

Apart from my shocking display of fizzy wine opening (i dropped the bottle and it proceeded to literally self propel itself and FLY across the floor...causing Chris to have to jump out of the way while our friend Katherine sent another drink flying across the room as she ran to the rescue!)...other than that the night was amazing!

We went to a bar near the harbour which we could leave to watch the fireworks. We found an amazing spot - really chilled and not too crammed with people. I was pretty much speechless at how incredile the atmosphere and spectacle was. I'll stop rambling now - i could go on forever!!

After more relaxing in the park and more visits to the beach and wonderful driving tours from Kylie, i left Sydney after a week already looking forward to returning. I can't wait to go back after NZ to see how it is not around the crazy time of New Years...i LOVED it!

Posted by Lucy Hood 22:27 Comments (0)

A Melbourne Christmas

Food, coffee and croquet...and lots more food

View New Zealand & To Melbourne & Sydney & To Port Elizabeth on Lucy Hood's travel map.

After our last few days in Perth, which consisted of walks to the waterfront harbour and another visit to cottesloe beach, Mikey and I caught our flight to Melbourne.

Arriving at his brother and wifes house the early hours we hit the sack straight away - it was AMAZING to be in a proper bed - a double ALL to myself was bliss!

Our week in Melbourne consisted of amazing hospitality, huge amounts of food and lots of trips to cafes for coffee...and of course Christmas!

Dave and Naomi (and baby Abigail) were just wonderful - i think i put on about a stone in weight! Christmas day we had secret santa for $5 so i even had a present or two to open! My secret santa present was face paints - Mikey unearthed a hidden talent and i spent most of the day as a butterfly.

Melbourne was a fab city - much more impressive than Perth - it had more character with lots of independent cafes and little shops hidden down alleys which only the locals would know about...and thanks to Naomi, so did we!

Mikey got his family a croquet set for Christmas so we also spent a lot of time playing what turned into seriously comedic and competitive games in the local park...Daves celebratory dance when he beat Mikey was a big highlight!

Still no luck on the photos...i'll get them up here as soon as possible!!! xx

Posted by Lucy Hood 21:40 Comments (0)

On tour

10 days of fun fun fun...and lots of driving!

View To Melbourne & Sydney & West tour & To Port Elizabeth on Lucy Hood's travel map.

My little and often plan is going well hey??! Or not! Sorry...again!

So, our 10 day adventure began with a very early start, but it wasn't long before our group of 23 started bonding and we ended up having an amazing time - with us forming a bit of a gang of 5. I'll give a brief description of what we got up to each day - missing out the hours of driving inbetween! For the best idea though, look at my photos!! Everything was with us on the tour bus - including food. We had sanswiches everyday (!) and all mucked in to help cooking every night.

Day 1
We left Perth and headed North to the Pinnacles Desert - these crazy rock formations (loads of pillars) which we got to wander around for a bit before continuing north to some huge sand dunes for sand boarding (basically sitting on a board like a skateboard without wheels and flying down the sand dune.) I totally thought I was going to bail, but didnt - and LOVED it!! After a swim in the gorgeous sea, we hit the road again to Kalbarri for our first night - watching an amazng sunset wen we arrived.

Day 2
After an horribly early rise (4.45!) we drove to Murchison Gorge in Kalbarri National Park where we saw Natures Window (an natural rock archway), and walked Z-Bend Gorge with the first of many crazy climbs down into the heart of the gorge. We then drove to Shell Beach which was incredible. Had a swim then drove to our next night stop at Denham.

Day 3
Today we went to Monkey Mia - a famous spot where wild dolphins come into the bay and swim metres from everyone who's lining up on the shore while the people that work there tell you all about them. They then select a few people from the crowd to come and feed them - and i got picked - WOHOO!!!! It was the most incredible thing ever. After i fed my dolphin (called Surprise), it rubbed the whole length of its body against my legs like a cat! I thin the photos of that moment show my excitement enough!

After another drive, we stopped to see the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool - the oldest living thing on earth (weird rock looking things!), then drove to Coral Bay.

Day 4
We had today to ourselves to explore Coral Bay and the surrounding Ningaloo Reef. It was incredible - a few of us decided to pay to go on a big snorkelling trip which included swimming with Manta Rays. Having only snorkelled once before in Rotnest Island, this was amazing!!! They sent a spotter plane up to tell our boat where to go for the manta-rays...and as it turned out also to keep us away from the Tiger shark that was near-by - whch swam passed the boat and attacked a turtle about 3 minutes after we got out of the water!!
Late afternoon we drove to Exmouth.

Day 5
We went for a wander around a national park where we saw lots of kangeroos then we went to Turquoise Bay which was the most beautiful beach so far for more swimming, snorkelling and generally chilling out! It was stunning! On the way back we stopped for a quick look at random Lighthouse then headedback to our hostel late afternoon.

Day 6
We left to head inland today towards Karijini National Park (about 6 hours drive), where we'd spend the next three nights sleeping outside - hopefully avoiding the 3 most deadly snakes that lived there! Once we'd arrived we went on our first big gorge walk. All our gorge walks consisted of some pretty hairy climbs/decents at some points but ended in amazing swims in gorge pools.

Day 7 & 8
Lots more amazing gorge walks, swims, climbs and camping! Day 8 was our last proper day - so it was sad saying goodbye to everyone - the others carried on to Broome, while we had a wonderful 2 days of solid driving to get back to perth!

Day 9 & 10
One last early morning short walk and swim then we basically sat in a coach for 2 days, stopping to sleep in a cattle ranch on the way (where we had a deadly redback spider behind the door!)

Not got enought time now to put my photos up but will try to do it asap!!!!!

Posted by Lucy Hood 12:52 Comments (0)

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