Europe, Asia, Australia and Oceania · 23 Days · 96 Moments · October 2017

Davies’s tour through New Zealand and Sydney

2 November 2017

Last day, early rise at 2.30am and then on the flight at 6am! 😪😪😪
Ferry over to Manly after quick dash to a bathroom. Sat on the beach watching the surfer while we had a coffee and the girls played in the sand. Then we went over to netter beach where the girls splashed before heading back!
Top of sky Tower
At the top of the Sky Tower - 4 D show first and a view from the top.. just couldn’t see the bridge or opera house!!
St Mary’s Cathedral and Hyde Park where there is a St James’ railway centre.
Eye Hospital, Parliament and Mint
Great breakfast before setting off to see Art Gallery and the amazing Hospital which is now an eye hospital. Rub the nose of the pig brings good fortune.

1 November 2017

Sydney at night!!! As lovely in the night as day and then a long walk home before getting a pie from Harry’s Pie Van! The Tiger - meat pie, mash and mushy peas all on top of one another!
Light show at the Opera House
Then a few beers, while Phil kidded on the girls that people couldn’t go into a certain section of the area if they had shorts on. Girls were hysterical!
Finally found the pylon lookout! Didn’t want to do bridge walk.........but we decided to try and find the lookout (only took 2 days!!) views were amazing.
Few more shots from inside the Opera House
Tour around Sydney Opera House which was really interesting. Our tour was 1pm and we had the obligatory in front of green screen photo taken! Got to see inside the main hall and learn lots about it’s design and creation!
A walk around the Botanic Gardens followed by a ride on a Choo Choo train which took us around the gardens. Another beautiful day!

31 October 2017

Walk around Mrs Macquires point and then on to apartment before dinner and puppy eyes at Daddy at Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel! Met a man would moved to Australia from The North West 51 years ago. Recognised our accents!! He was going on a cruise!!
Up to Dawes Point with lots of photos of the Opera House and Bridge! The Botanic Gardens are gorgeous too!
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Cadman’s House. Had a good wander around the opera house and then headed towards Dawes Point.
First sight of the Sydney Opera House as we walk through the Botanic Gardens! Amazing site!
Breakfast consumed at small cafe by apartment. Owner and wife having a fight, added a bit of spice to breakfast! Then to Fingers Wharf which was re-generated in the 80’s! It was threatened with being pulled down and what a shame that would have been!

30 October 2017

Last flat white in New Zealand! Then a beer when we found out our flight was 3 hours late!! Arrived to Sydney in the dark and out of hours for check in but the instructions for entry were perfect and we got to bed! 11pm Australia time but 1am NZ time!!
Drive to Auckland - we say goodbye to our van and go and get our flight to Sydney!

29 October 2017

Brilliant couple of hours exploring before we head to our final stop in New Zealand. Rotorua campsite - with another mineral pool. Plus no cooking!!! We ordered take out! It was delivered to site!! On way out of town we saw a park which had bags of steam coming through! Imagine that the local park gated and fenced with billowing steam!! Now Auckland for drop off!!
Geothermal activity at it’s best
Geyser 😁😁😁
Next and last stop.... Geyser P@@@ - located in a geo thermal park - there are a few around Rotorua! OMG what an amazing place.....The pictures are awesome. The geyser was amazing! Located in a park called Tu Pepu??? We headed straight to the Geyser as it goes off twice an hour and set up ready for action.........
More at Waimangu- amazing place.
Drive to next thermal area! Today we are on a mission! To see as much as we can. We stop at Waimangu Geothermal area which is the newest geothermal site geologically! We walk around some amazing sites (names of which will be added later)
Next stop; a geothermal landscape. Moon Craters - walk around the park, with lots of smoking holes and the lovely smell of rotten eggs 😂 we saw bubbling mud pots.
First stop Huka Falls! Amazing amazing waterfall! Ffion spent time in the trees getting filthy! So much water - could fill 55 Olympic pools in a few seconds.

28 October 2017

Lake Taupo is supposed to be beautiful but we didn’t manage to see much as the rain clouds were so close to the lake 😪 We did stop and found pumice stones which when thrown in the water floated!! We did see the land starting to smoke! We landed at the campground which had an amazing outdoor thermally heated pool! There was a huge movie screen and a swim up bar. So we swam for 2 hours whilst it rained, watched a movie and had a beer. Getting back to the van was a chilly affair though.
So off we head to do something that we can do! If we can’t fly then we go walk! Boots donned and waterproofs on we set off to go walk a part of the Tongariro walk. We start at the end of the walk where most people are finishing. If I had a pound for every walker who asked how far they had to go!! We walked for about 2 hours. Ffion and I made our way back a little earlier due to tired legs! Then off around Lake Taupo!
The day starts well as we drive out of Whanganui - stopping for petrol and pies! We drive towards Taupo - amazing scenery however the only day we needed to have good weather was today! We aborted the fly over the three volcanoes as we couldn’t even see the top of them! Biggest disappointment of the holiday. We drove to the hotel just at the base of ...... (will fill in later as flying!)

27 October 2017

The drive takes about 2.5 hours and then we stop for a few bits of food before heading to Whanganui- lovely site and a new bookworm has been found! How the girls can read while we drive is beyond me!
Amazing buildings that you can get up close and personal. So nice to be in a country that isn’t barricaded up! Walk back to van and we are off on a 3 hour drive north to Whanganui!
Off towards Parliament after the cable car with the multi colour tunnels. It is just me or us google maps difficult to read!!!!! Come to some great monument, Supreme Court and the Beehive and parliament. 3pm must be school finish time! Hundreds of well dressed children descend!
Much fun dressing up at Cable Car Museum
Offloaded at Wellington, we drive through city centre to park the van! No mean feat! Off we set for whistle stop tour of Wellington - first stop Cable Car!

26 October 2017

Chill down dinner! Colouring in and then early start for trip on Interislander to Wellington! 3.5 hours in ferry and sat and chilled! So sad to leave the South Island but looking forward to North!
Arrived at Picton for our last evening on the South Island. After such a huge drive today from Hanmer Springs to Picton via the West Coast we needed a walk so off along the mariner we went where we saw several large stingrays. Into the town for a play on swings and huge pirate boat! Checked out where we were sailing from from and walked back ready for the North Island adventure
So we drive hard so that we arrive in the land commonly known as Marlborough so that we can to a winery. We go to St Clair, a small winery and try some great wines and buy some great wines too. Thousands and thousands of acres are given to the grape. I could live here!
After hours of driving amidst amazing scenery we reach Marlborough. We have followed the same truck for what seems days and we have hit about 40 roadworks. They have people who run the Stop and Go and they must be paid extra to be nice!! They all wave and smile and are really friendly! We arrive to thousands of acre of vines. As far as the eye can see and start to see labels we know! So exciting..... wine country - we have arrived!
Back to Hanmer Springs so we can break the mammoth journey north. Ffion gets to go on the go carts again and Lola on the trampoline! We go out for beers and end up with dinner watching old music videos from 60’s and 70’s with the girls dissing each one saying that Ariana Grande was better! We had fun, some food not cooked by moi and some beer! Picton here we come!!

25 October 2017

So we didn’t see whales so we drove along the coast to seek out seals - which we found all relaxing in the sun. I didn’t get any pics but on route back we stopped at a seafood barbecue and had the best seafood patter and crayfish! Both girls tried everything out in front of them even mussels. We had scallops, prawns, crayfish, whitebait, bake, mussels, amazing even with the one footed seagull watching our every move!!

24 October 2017

Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura ! Booked to go and see whales but it was cancelled due to no whales in area 😩 Made a light more difficult to swallow as realised halfway between Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs that we couldn’t drive highway 1 north as it was closed 😩😩😩😩 so had to go back to Hanmer Springs and a two hour drive took 5!!!
More amazing scenery - arriving at Hanmer Springs at 2pm. In thermal pools at 2.30pm! Followed by beers in a local pub before going back to camp!
Up and out early for a big drive to Hanmer Springs. Amazing scenery along the way with lots of winding roads 😱

23 October 2017

As if that wasn’t enough for one day - we drove to Greymouth which I constantly call Grangemouth to Phil’s dismay! We drove past horizontal trees again too!! We landed at Monteiths Brewery - although too late for the tour, and there was no taps on for tasting, we had a great meal and a beer before retiring for the night. Xx
More Franz Josef with the girls washing their hair in the waterfalls!!! As if they weren’t wet enough!
More Franz Josef
A very wet walk to Franz Josef Glacier. From a distance the weather front really distorted the view so we decided we would go as far as we could. An hour later we were rewarded with the lifting of the misty rain. It was a challenging walk for the girls in what at times was heavy rain! But we persevered!!!
Lake Matheson was 6km from site and off we went in the vain hope that we may be lucky to see what is known as the lake of Mirrors! It wasn’t to be, we only got a tiny glimpse of how beautiful it could be before it rained, making ripples along the lake and distorting the image. Back to the lovely cafe by the lake for our customary flat white. (Check out the dude’s pants in one of the pictures! Looked like the man out of Monkey - if anyone remembers that programme! 😂😂😂

22 October 2017

Back to camp! Back to the van, and back to some kea who like pecking at the rubber on your van! They were huge and what are known as Alpine parrots. Not much room in the gantry and we spend much time squashing each other. We also had a game of Jelly Bean with awful sweets like spoiled milk and minion farts and canned dog food! Gross!!!
It needs no words - just beautiful. Natural but disappearing wonders of the world.
Parked at the car park before donning on the waterproofs for a 30 min trek to the glacier. It was cold and very wet and we hoped that we would get a glimpse!! Ffion wanted to touch every stream of Glacier water and pick up every stone!! Do it took us longer than most people 😂
We got to Fox Glacier mid afternoon. We had stopped on the way at a coffee cabin and got hazelnut lattes and hot chocolates and ice cream!!!!!! The trees were almost horizontal and I wasn’t sure how the van stayed in place. It was a nice stop before checking into the camp site before leaving again to go for fuel and food and the drive to the Fox Glacier car park!! Here we come Fox!!

21 October 2017

Before we left Haast we got some supplies from the local shop and set off towards Fox Glacier. The drive took us along the coast and the sea was wild😮. We stopped at Ships Creek, the girls blew off energy being chased by the sea. Lots of fun watching and being chased.2 We also did a walk around the dunes and grasses by the beach on a wee hike set up by the Department of Conservation. When we came back we watched the sea and saw seals and a pod of three dolphins. Didn’t manage to get any pictures but we saw them and the girls loved it. There was a watch tower too with two sets ladders to master! We left there and stopped at Knights Point Lookout, here we stopped seals in the far far distance sitting on the beach.
From Wanaka we drove up the lake side of Lake Hawea on route to Haast again and we had lots of stops, as there were so many waterfalls. We did stop to do a walk to the blue pools which took an hour all in, but they weren’t very blue and a bit of a disappointment. Or it could have been the loutish behaviour of some ‘youths’ who had turned the water from blue to green. We had to walk over a suspension bridge which Lola and I aren’t good with!!!
More pictures from Puzzleworld. See if you can identify any of the puzzles we saw!
On route to Haast we went through Cromwell again and the up lake side of Lake Hawea towards Wanaka. At Wanaka we stopped at Puzzle World. One part of activity was an illusion room and the second was an outdoor Maze. Both lots of fun. We spent about 2 hours here before setting off again toward Haast!

20 October 2017

Back to camp after the flight and straight on shuttle bus to Queenstown for a game of golf at Caddyshack - the right crazy golf this time!! Which was very good, followed by coffee and ice cream and then the discovery of a lost camera. Mum was at the police station at 9.30 on Saturday as it had been left in taxi and police officer recognised my face from the picture. Lola learnt a lesson in taking care of property that day! Action packed few days in a Queenstown. Back on road towards Haast and the West coast!!
Then back into the plane - we bounced up and down in the air. Never held on so tight but views were amazing.
Off the plane on to a boat and a 2 hour cruise around Milford Sound. We sat outside for the whole thing even though it a bit nippy!! We saw penguins and waterfalls and great rock formations. Free tea and coffee too, which is always a bonus!!!
Above the clouds! The views were amazing and the pilot gave a full running commentary as we flew and I hummed!!! Girls ears hurt a lot though!!
Didn’t tell the girls where we were going when we were picked up by a taxi man who was a little strange and quite difficult to speak to! Arrived at Queenstown Airport to I k up the 14 seater plane to Milford Sound. After expecting the girls to freak, they took it in their stride! It was a bit bumpy and I was so glad to land!!!!

19 October 2017

Gondola back down, followed by a round of crazy golf outside which was apparently the wrong golf!!!! We had ice cream and coffee at Patagonia before heading black to camp on the shuttle bus! Action packed day!!
Then there was 5 shots each on the Luge! If we doubled that counted as one!!!! Up and down we went. Whether we were fast and furious is another matter! We had fun though and all had a shot on our own!! We could have Bungy jumped and Ffion was so desperate to have a go! Next time sweetheart!
Lunch stop with a beer and a walk along the harbour before walking up to the Gondola and got on a very high ride to the top. The views from the top of Bob’s peak were incredible.

18 October 2017

Arrived at Queenstown where everyone tells us we are going to have a ball! There are so many hills and I send Phil up the highest street in Queenstown before we find the supermarket and then go set up camp for the next 3 nights at Queenstown Top Ten. We got the shuttle bus to Queenstown and books ourselves on a number of activities, starting with Shotover Jet! Wow wow wow. A 25. Minute ride on a jet boat and the driver is a speed demon who spins the boat in a 360 degree spin! About 10 times and it is all caught in camera. Adrenaline rush! Did wonder whether we would end up outside the boat at times but amazing, girls loved it and wanted to do it all over again!
As if we hadn’t done enough that day we stopped at the Goldfields Mining Centre for the rest of the afternoon! Bruce was or guide, 5th generation of farmers originally from Scotland. Bruce had been on holiday for 3 and a half months and this was his first day back at work! We saw some of the fold which had been panned in area and held 24 and 18 carat gold nuggets. We were shown the hose used to break down the rock and the stone grinder to make short work of the stones. Then we got to pan for gold! Phil found some but the rest of us! no! Instead of walking around the site we stayed until the end of the day panning for gold! Met a couple from Australia, she had a 6 month secondment in Auckland and he was visiting from Sydney. Like Phil he was determined to find gold! Fun afternoon - next stop Queenstown!
Staying in Cromwell after the wine tasting we went for lunch in the Heritage precinct in Cromwell. This was a flooded part of the town which has been carefully restored and relocated to make a wonderful artisan area. Some of the dwellings are museum pieces so has something for all and the lunch was incredible! Always a bonus
Arrived into Cromwell into the wine region and went to Mt Difficulty for a wine tasting of 5 wines! Bought 3 bottles of course. Could have stayed for lunch but what on earth would my children eat? The wine region is rich with different winery, you could spend all day! 70% of the Pinot Noir produced in NZ is produced in Otago.

17 October 2017

From Timaru we travelled the Lindis pass where there were a group of Mustangs following us! We did pull over several times. We went through Twizel which is a great name for any town and headed towards Omarama, where we camped the night. We tried to find the Clay Cliffs along an awful road and then we turned back. We played a general knowledge quiz while drinking beer sitting in the sun! The life! Managed to catch the clay cliffs on the route out of Omarama and they were spectacular. Off towards the wind regions of Otago next!!
Next stop was Church of the Good Shepherd - the view from inside the church was incredible. We had a picnic on beach until ducks decided to join us and now Ffion only wishes to eat duck not feed them!!! From there we headed towards Mount Cook and stopped at the stop off for some incredible views. Mount Cook is situated at the head of Lake Pulaski
Lake Tekapo - what can I say! Yes the water was freezing and yes the girls had a paddle and with having a RV we had a towel on hand!!
From Christchurch we travelled south towards Timaru and stayed in a Top Ten campsite. From there we travelled towards Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook. There are not words to describe how beautiful it is. We got out at Lae Tekapo and spent an hour just looking and throwing stones to see if we could skim them!!

16 October 2017

From Quake city we walked past the cathedral that had been decimated in 2011. All that could access it were the birds. So majestic and so sad. From there we went to the transitional Cathedral - otherwise known as Cardboard Cathedral. One of the staff at the cathedral said that the go ahead had been given the month before to restore the cathedral which would take up to 10 years. A great and bright building and both girls purchased a Christmas decoration each!! From here we went to the temporary exhibition of 185 white chairs located behind the cardboard cathedral which represents the 185 people who lost their lives in the earthquake of 2011. Just located on a bit of waste land. From here we decided to grab some lunch back in ReStart Mall at a lovely artisan cafe called the Hummingbird. We then jumped the bus back in the school run rush hour!! Back to the campsite to pick up van to go to next location!
Quake City - a very moving exhibition of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Put together in a very sensitive way. Not a huge museum but had lots of impact. The information helped the girls to understand how the earthquake happened and why the destruction was so great. We were able to jump and make our own tremors! We heard stories from survivors and from those who helped. The city came together as one. The city is one big huge building site though. There are items from the city such as the bell and the glass windows from the cathedral held in the cathedral.
After our first night in the van, we left it at the campsite and jumped the bus to the centre of Christchurch. We had a number of things that we wanted to see. First up was the need for a coffee! So we wandered from the bus station to ReStart Mall. After the earthquake in 2011, many of the buildings were too unstable so the mall was set up in storage containers. Lots of artisan shops and food places and a really nice feeling about it. Girls got excited about the donuts. We walked past the age of remembrance and the garden of remembrance. There is a lot of art in the city with the glass house and the man in the river.

15 October 2017

Our first taste of driving is the huge distance to the Antarctic centre, less than 2km. Amazing museum and incredibly well organised with such lovely staff. The first activity of the visit was to jump into the Hagglund and take a 10 minute ride on the assault course. It was such fun. The driver explained the vehicle and their uses. We went up big hills and down them too. Across water and a metre gap in a hill. Through a bed of tyres and logs bedded into the ground. As they have a very low degree of gravity we were turned on an angle and that was only half of what it could do. I don’t think your body could go more than 10 mine on the ride😀. We then went to see the Husky dogs. You could pet them but were given instructions on where to touch and told not to look into their eyes! This was all before we even entered the museum!
More Antarctic adventure and information after lunch! Lots of activities to touch and learn about. We also had a penguin feeding session with the little penguins - all of whom had been rescued. The oldest penguin they had was 27 but she had just died and then the oldest male had just died on Monday at 23. Left at closing time with a husky teddy!!!!! Then made our way to Our first campsite in Christchurch.
Next up were 2 4D videos. The first one was based on Happy Feet - with wind blasts and rain showers! The second was Ice Voyage - a little more educational and visually beautiful but included seat jolts when ice was hit and rain, snow and wind. Came out to a replica hut of Scott’s and a trip to a snow storm! Phil and girls got booted and suited and went in. The room went dark and the wind howled and the snow swirled! Phil said it wasn’t as cold as the freezers in work!!! The husky was also brought in to help. This was then followed by lunch and another great flat white!
Sunday morning bright and early we caught a flight to Christchurch. We picked up our van which didn’t take that long to collect. Looks huge from outside but not so huge inside - compact living here we come. Got all the bags in and decided to go to the Antarctic experience which is located just by the airport. The lady said allow 3 hours - we were there for 5!

14 October 2017

Saturday 14 October and we went to the Sky Tower and Deck. Both girls stood on glass and looked down. We saw a few people who did the Sky Jump (nutters) Ffion was on a mission as gave her my fit bit to make her walk and she completed 22000 steps. Got back to the hotel and Ffion fell fast asleep and there was no waking her! When out for take out pizza from Sal’s and had a beer before we crashed. Woke to no hot water.
Bus back to Britomart from Mount Eden and a wander around the harbour. Got coffee and ice creams at the Queens Wharf and wondered what the massive queue was for! A warehouse sale. The weather was hot and we walked about the harbour where the Hilton hotel is located. Stopped for beers and food at Sardine. Had a wander to St Patrick’s Cathedral which was beautiful before heading off to the Sky Tower!
Breakfast at our local before catching 247 bus to Mount Eden. At times needed to drag the children however totally worth the effort as the views were amazing. We tried to spot as many of the extinct volcanoes we could as there are 48 in Auckland and we had much fun pointing them out. The crater was deep. You could sit up there for hours just looking at the views. Incredible!!

13 October 2017

Went to Eden Park for Auckland vs Canterbury. Auckland lost though. Girls got flags and umbrella hats when they arrived. Couple of beers and food saw us set up for the night. Have mastered public transport and I am trusted to just get us to places. Was looking forward to a beer when we got in however I managed to put them in freezer was it was lager slush. yummy! Not!
So much to see and could have spent the whole day plus more! We went into a Maori home and had to take our shoes off. Met Steve a colleague from HN days and we walked back to hotel, getting lots of tips on where to go. Ffion was delighted with a statue with all its bodily bits shown off.
Dressing up while learning about wars. There was a volcano room which has put Ffion off for life and given Lola an understanding of how important volcanoes are!
Auckland Museum was excellent. Also known as the war memorial museum. Our visit started with a 30 min Maori cultural performance. The performers collected us from the foyer and the girls flatly refused to have their photo taken. The boys had hardly any clothes on and one of the girls didn’t know where to put her 👀😂. We were taken through traditional songs and weapons and games played. It was a great start. The museum is over three floors and there was lots for us to do and see. Girls bought a necklace each and putty.
Friday 13 October and the day started with an early morning riser in Ffion - found her with her DS @ 6am with headphones in so not to disturb Lola. Watched the sunrise over the Auckland Museum before finding a lovely breakfast place called ‘The Corner Cafe” the girls had a huge breakfast whilst Phil settled for Bircher muesli and the girls leftovers and I had the best poached eggs on toast. Large flat whites are the order of the day. We then set off for Auckland Museum via bus and we saw a shopping centre called Westfield. Auckland Museum next stop.

12 October 2017

Took a super shuttle cab from airport to Waldorf St Martins apartments. Girls nodding off in cab so made probably the wrong decision to allow them a nap. Woke them 1.5 hour later and it wasn’t good. They were really upset and really disoriented- needless to say we got them changed and off we went for a walk through the city. In the main downhill!!! Ended up eating at McDonald’s because they wanted to eat but wasn’t sure they would. Ffion just fell asleep at table so ate up and took the inner city bus back to Symonds Street - Phil, Lola and Ffion were all nodding dogs on bus. Deposited them at hotel and I then went beer and snack shopping! Had a beer and we were all in bed for 8pm after the girls perked up! Ffion woke at 6am and I found her in bed with her light on, headphones in and playing on her DS. I lie in bed contemplating what the next 2 days will bring!
Seems like an age since we left Dubai airport. We have watched endless movies and played games. Kids delighted with their wee blankets in the shape of an elephant. Flight has been smooth however as soon I write this, the seatbelt sign gets switched on! Lol. Due to land in 2 and half hours and breakfast is being served. Girls managed to get some sleep and I missed most of the exciting bits of my movies from nodding off. Phil sitting next to couple who go to the bathroom in tandem! Can’t believe we will be there in less than 3 hours. Girls been great! 😀
Good flight, on time into Dubai. Girls had their own special dinner but a bit tight on the wine front for the adults. Coffee stop at Costa - slight moment of panic when neither of us could remember where we had booked for Auckland. Thankfully they sent us a welcome email as we landed in Dubai!! Just waiting to board our Airbus and a 15 hour and 50 minute flight!!! Yeah!!!

10 October 2017

3 hours before our flight having something to eat at Frankie’s & Benny’s 😍😍😍
After horrible traffic and lots of rain, we are on the bus to the airport. Everyone very excited.