A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Lucy Hood

Kiwi conclusion and the return to Sydney!

View East Coast Fun on Lucy Hood's travel map.

I can’t believe how much time has passed since i last wrote! For a while i didn’t update things because i felt not a lot had happened – but now i come to look back on things I realise that quite a lot has changed so yet again there’s lots to say!
So...where did i leave off...ah yes – i was in Nelson, top of the south island of NZ...wow that feels like ages ago!

After saying goodbye to the girls, we drove to Picton where we caught the ferry back to Wellington, which was considerably less windy this time round! There we met up with Matt again for dinner and a few drinks, before we crashed at our hostel ready for the long drive the next day.
We drove all the way to Lake Taupo in the morning and spent 2 nights there...loads of people we’d met loved it here, but we didn’t find there was a hell of a lot to do...but it was a good place to relax and our hostel was nice (apart from the worst snoring roommate EVER! At one point i kicked his bed and threw things at him and he still didn’t shut up! Eventually he gave one massive snort and shut-up...for half a second i thought he’d stopped breathing...but at least it was quiet!

We finally made our return journey to Auckland, where we stayed with Lesley and Chris again. Once again they were amazing hosts and we joined them for a night out with some of their friends and went for a meal to meet their friends new baby (5days old!)...reminded me what i’m missing with my cousins new babies... :( !!

On Monday Mikey and i went to the airport to go our separate ways as he flew to Melbourne and I went back to Sydney...ready for my first few days on my own!! After 3 days, although i spoke to a few people i was very glad that my friend Carrie would be arriving after deciding she wanted to join me for a few months!!
I spent the days to myself trying to hunt out a hostel that i could work at in exchange for free accommodation. After about 25 rejections, i finally found somewhere...by which point i was so happy to hear a YES that it didn’t occur to me that it might be in a rubbish hostel that i wouldn’t want to work in even if they paid me to stay there...

And so followed a few days of drama! After dragging Carrie to stay in the same hostel...i enjoyed cleaning toilets and rooms for 3 hours a day in the worst hostel ever! I was told i had to give a weeks notice – which i gave in on my second day! Then the night after my third day working, i got horribly ill (food poisoning...something picked up from the dirty hostel...who knows!) so I couldn’t do my fourth day...and then we just left saying we couldn’t stay there anymore!! It was – as my mum would say – character building!! Luckily Kylie (who we stayed with on New Years), was my knight in shining armour and came to pick me up when i was ill and let me collapse on her sofa and sleep there until i recovered enough to move out of the hostel!
Anyway other than the joyous arrival of Carrie...the less said about those few days the better!

We eventually moved to an amazing hostel called Wake Up where we stayed for about 2 weeks just chilling out, enjoying Sydney. It is most definitely my favourite city so far – it was good to see it away from the craziness of New Years.
We had some great days on the beach, visited some great markets, hung out in the botanic gardens, had some fab nights out with some friends we made, and most amazingly – went to see an opera at the opera house!!! La Traviata! Our seats were restricted view with the surtitles hidden..so we didn’t always know what was going on, but i LOVED it!

We also went to stay with some people in Kiama about 2 hours south of Sydney...
It was Gerry’s ( a friend from BMTC) brother in law and wife Jim and Sonia. Gerry said that they’d be happy to put us up if we wanted to stay and see somewhere a bit different – and it was WONDEFUL!
Jim picked us up from the train station and took us to see Kiama’s main attraction – a big blow hole where the sea shoots out of a hole in the rocks. After lunch he drove us half an hour up the mountain to their house which Jim had built himself which was in the middle of a rainforest which they owned! It was absolutely beautiful. We had a lovely nights stay with them and met some of their friends who were equally lovely! Like Sonia (who makes amazing mosaics – evident all over their house!) they were all artists and crafts people...sculptures, artists, authors. Surrounded by them and the incredible rainforest i felt all inspired to make something!! Sonia said that if i ever return to Sydney i can come for a mosaic workshop!!

On returning to Sydney for our last few days, we did an organised day trip to the Blue Mountains where we saw kangeroos, went on a few bush walks and saw various famous rock formations and heard the aboriginal stories that go with them.

The bus we were planning on leaving to start our trip up the east coast was fully booked until 3 days later than we planned, and our hostel was booked up – so Kylie came to the rescue again and we stayed with her for our last few days, which turned out to be the perfect few days r&r we needed away from a dorm room before we got on the move...

And so the East coast adventures began....

Posted by Lucy Hood 05:18 Comments (1)

Kiwi action continued!

the longest blog entry in the history of the world....

View New Zealand on Lucy Hood's travel map.

Be warned...this is the most mammouth catch-up yet (it does cover a month though!)- you may want to do it in a few sittings!

So, where did i leave off?
Ah yes, smelly Rotorua!

Our next day, we had a wander round exploring -including a walk through a park where on every corner were STINKING bubbling mud pools - as exciting as they are initially - it doesnt take long before the smell makes you feel ill! We then did a lovely walk through a huge redwood forest. The following day, we went to 'Wai-o-tapu thermal wonderland'..!! Saw a geyser and lots more...thermal wonders!

We then drove to Napier...a beautiful drive which ended in drama when a lorry kicked up loads of gravel chipping our windcreen in 4 places...before i could say 'at least they're not cracks'...one split into a huge 7in crack... Windscreens our not covered by our insurance - hurrah! Oh well...we gave intot he fact we'd have to pay for a replacement windscreen and carried on our way (the crack is now about 20in - in imperfection in Stevie we've grown to love!).

Walked to a great lookout in Napier - with icecream in hand - then headed back to a night in a lovely hostel, preparing for a big drive to wellington the next day - saying goodbye to the lovely weather as we left...

Wellington was possibly the most windy and rainy place i have ever come across - I actually got physically blown across the road! But it was still wicked. Met up with a friend Matt who has lived there for a while who gave us a chauffeur driven tour...so from the comfort of a dry car we still saw the sights and enjoyed the local bars and a restaurant!

A few days later we on a very bumpy ferry ride to the south island - and luckily, by the time we arrived, we'd left the wind and rain behind us!.

First stop in south island was Blenheim where we used the free bikes at the hostel and went on a mini wine tour of some local wineries...lost of free tastings made the cycle back rather entertaining! It was wonderful though - and continued my wine tasting in all countries i've been to so far!

We then went to Kaikora where we saw lots of seals and did a whale watching boat trip and saw 3 sperm whales (amazing!) and a pod of about 200 dusky dolphins - they were incredible - jumping and twisting and back-flipping all over the place!

Our next stop was Christchurch...we got there to discover it was the opening day of the international busking festival which was brilliant! After I did a fudge factory tour (Mikey chose to do something else - shocking!), we spent the evening watching the opening night outdoor comedy show which was awseome! Before leaving the day, we walked into town to see a few more acts - one of which 'Mario, Queen of the Circus' - saw me get dragged up on stage as a volunteer! Ended up having to do a stupid dance thing and then sat on the guys shoulders while he unicycled round a very wet rainy stage! Mikey got involved to, having a banana fight with the guy and singing - it was the most random thing ever, but so much fun! We got spotted twice later by stranger who said we did a great job - fame at last. An english woman filmed the whole thing and said she'll email it to me when she's back from travelling - oh dear!!!!

Next stop was inland to Lake Tekapu where we did a brilliant walk, and relaxed by another lake waiting for our first sighting of a snow copvered Mountain - Mt Cook! Well worth it...but we'd be seeing it a lot more over the next few days!

We then headed to Queenstown which may well be my favourite stop so far - the most stunning spot for a town ever - gorgeous lake surrounded by beautiful mountains. We had an action packed 3 days involving a cable car up to see incredible views, luging (basically sledging/bob sleighing thing with a brake on the front) - so much fun, and...my skydive!!! 12,000 ft with a 50 second free fall of pure terror! I loved the plane ride up...dangling on the edge of the plane and the free fall were less fun - i was terrified and couldn't breathe! As soon as the parachute came out though it was phenomenal - the views were just unbelieveable! (I did however get a bit of post-sky-dive-sickness...but it was worth it!).

On our first day in Queenstown we randomly met a guy from the UK called Steve while we were sat on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere with no one around. We stopped for a chat for about an hour - he was hitch hiking around NZ -so after promising to pick him up if we ever saw him again (doubtful!) went our separate ways...why do i mention him I hear you cry?...All will become clear!

So, after 3 nights in QT we then had a big drive to Fjordland...Milford Sound, where we did a boat trip to see the fjords...just stunning. Not much more to say there...other than, as we pulled into the car park of the hostel...who did we bump into again but Steve, just as he was hitching a lift out of town!

Anyway - after a night in Milford we headed back to Queenstown for a few less adrenaline filled days of relaxing on the beach. We stopped on the way for an incredible hike to a secluded Lake Marion.

I know I'm rambling now - but i've got free internet and i'm making the most of it!!!! SO sit tight.... i'm carrying on!!

Our next stop was Wanaka - a mini queenstown! Lots of chilling on the beach to start with - but we more than made up for it by doing our toughest walk so far - we climbed Mt Roy (1580m) - a steady solid very steep climb for 3 hours! But the panoramic views more than made up for it at the top...and it was only 1.5 hours back down!

We then had a quite stop for a night in a TINY place called Haast (population 250 or something!), relaxed in an even smaller fishing 'village' (aka..3 huts!) called Jacksons Bay during the day, before heading to the one pub in Haast begging them to show the Aussie Open final between Murray and Federer - with success! Success sadly not matched by Murray himself (so I had a piece of Carrot cake to console myself!)...next time Murray - NEXT TIME!!

We were then off to glacier territory - first stop, Fox Glacier. Drove to an AMAZING look out - incredible views of snow topped Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, then did a walk round Lake Matheson - famous for being a 'mirror lake' - got some wonderful reflective photos of the mountains there! The next day we did a guided hike on the glacier itself - so much fun!!! We then moved on to the next glacier town - Franz Josef where we did a 5 hour hike - with a few hairy spots as there had been a few landslides so there was a bit of scrambling (!!)- to an amazing view of their glacier.

I woke (after lots of waiting by my phone for the last week!) to find out my cousin had had her baby (Welcome to the world Sophia Rose!)- so after a little jig of excitement, we headed to Greymouth...which was basically just a stop for a night to break up a huge drive to Abel Tasman (I was persuaded to stop there because there was a hostel that had bubble baths and free bakery goods every day!!)...so after a cream cake, toast to Sophia, relaxing bath and good nights sleep we headed off the next morning for a 5 hour drive...next stop Abel Tasman National Park..aka - HEAVEN.

We stayed in the village right next to Abel Tasman National park in what was yet another gorgeous hostel.

We hired a kayak and spent a day kayaking up the coast stopping at loats of secluded stunning beaches..and boy did my arms ache the next day to prove it! But it was well worth it...many people stay in the park for longer and camp and kayak up further..I WILL be back to do that at somepoint!

After a tough day, we relaxed back in the hostel and as i was making a cuppa - who did i look up to see next to me...Steve!! The ironic thing is - we've now all swapped emails and are trying to actually arrange to all meet up in where we are now (Nelson)...and we can't get hold of each other properly to organize it!!

So...nearly up to date now (WOW!!)...
After a day relaxing on the beach in a village near Abel Tasman, we drove to Nelson for our final stop before catching the ferry back to the North.

We've just met up with some of the girls we spent New Years Eve with in Sydney. They are doing a similar route to us, just a few weeks behind - so we arranged to cross over at some point...and here we are! We're having a BBQ and some drinks tonight, then we're catching the ferry to Wellington tomorrow afternoon...hopefully to see it without being blown about and rained on!!

Huge amounts of love to anyone that's reading this still...such dedication. I hope you
ve not got bed sores from sitting still for so long.

Love to you all xxxxx

Posted by Lucy Hood 21:44 Comments (1)

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)

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