Wellington, New Zealand

July 24, 2012

So back to Wellington, our first and last stop in New Zealand. We flew in from Sydney, stayed one night then got the ferry over to the South Island, drove around it and came back again for two more nights here.

This was my first sight of New Zealand when we were picking up our car.
 

And this is where we spent the majority of our time, mooching around the bay. 

Yacht spotting… 


And walking… as far as we could. 

 
Swooning over more beautiful houses…

 

This one right on the water was my favourite, I would have the circular tower as a reading room with comfy window seats and shelves filled with my favourites.

Wellington has lots of huge government buildings and a library and a great museum about the history and culture of the country.

 
I loved this public space that was down by the water, lots of walkways and places to sit with points of interest to look at. So cool.

I like this quote.

Once again the colour of the water blew me away. That jade green is beautiful.

 We even spotted some Manta Rays.

 

Drank beautiful coffee in squares.

Drank yet more ginger beer and ate some really delicious food. 

Steak anyone? 
 

The railway station was opposite our hostel and is beautiful. It makes me think of railway travel as glamorous, like a steam train with little compartments would show up. 


I don’t know what this crazy building was but it looked so strange against the backdrop of the station. 

*edit* I have just been informed by the lovely Lady Loves Cake who hails from this side of the world but this is the New Zealand parliament, and not an alien spaceship. Good to know!

We visited Foxglove both times we were here, I loved it here, partly because the sign is so cool… (I really would like a mini version of this at home saying Bristol!)

…partly because I love a day bed. I love to lounge in the sunshine with a drink and the balcony deck area at Foxglove is so cute.

Spending our last afternoon here was bliss, trying not to get sad about leaving New Zealand by talking about our next stop.

Check out the food on Full as an Egg… 

 

And had a last meal at a brewery pub, which we loved. The place is like a big warehouse with super cool decor and always packed (the both times we visited). 

 

 
When we arrived in Wellington it was raining hard, and was cold and wet, I had to buy a rain coat! I didn’t fall in love with it straight away, but hanging out in some cool cafes and bars really changed my mind, it’s a small city but has a really nice vibe and again comparing it to home had the harbourside area and a Gloucester Road/Stoke Croft type area. It’s a really great place to visit and the museum gives you a really good overview of the country, its people and its history so I highly recommend a visit there.

Te Papa – Museum of New Zealand

That’s it, no more spectacular scenery… not from New Zealand anyway… we’re off to LA next!

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To Picton, New Zealand

July 23, 2012

We are so near the very end of our time in New Zealand, after leaving the Marlborough Sounds (sob) we had one night in Picton before catching our ferry back to Wellington and leaving…

The town is super cute… and one again the weather was gorgeous.

There’s a really great public area around the water…


We spent a whole afternoon wandering around the jetty’s picking out our dream boats. A favourite game. 

Here is mine, a proper sailing yacht with wood panelling. So lovely. 

 
We managed to squeeze in a lunch at a beautiful vineyard, the main reason we left the sounds and stayed here for a night.

So amazing, read about our Highfield lunch on Full as an Egg

  

 And we went for a beautiful sunset walk around a lake near to our hostel.

 

The next day we missed our ferry by minutes having gotten the departure time wrong so we had more time in the Nelson sunshine enjoying savoury scones and coffee at a cafe before jumping on a later ferry, luckily the company took pity on us and let us board another time.

This was, I think our only slip up in three months… not bad I think!
 

So we found more jetty’s and dreamed over more yachts. 

And this cute cafe sending drinks and ice creams out of the side of a big ship. Love that. 

 And spotted the cutest house, how deep south is this beauty?

We are so nearly at the end people, can you stand anymore beautiful scenery?

I loved little Picton and wished we had more time here.

More about Furneaux Lodge, I am mad about this place. On a big wedding anniversary I intend for us to make it back. 

 

The water taxi will drop you off at the jetty where you are met with a golf cart and a big smile.

You walk through the beautiful grounds…

To the gorgeous main house…

We booked a suite, it was so lovely, all calm and serene stone colours…

Our big plush bed with crisp sheets and big poofy pillows. They even left chocolates with our towels. Heaven.

You don’t have to leave if you don’t want to the restaurant will feed you well.

We ate breakfast twice and had an amazing meal after our bush walk

There is some crazy decor inside the lodge. 

We ate seafood, surrounded by water, what else would you eat? 

Highly recommend a stay here, the lodge is luxurious and secluded and the staff cannot do enough for you. Do a walking holiday and get on the Queen Charlotte Track!

Furneaux Lodge – The Marlborough Sounds

So after Kaikoura we headed back to Marlborough for our two days in the Sounds… yup that beautiful place I showed you at the beginning of our trip around the South Island we went back there. This was something we were both really looking forward to, and it really didn’t disappoint.

We drove through Hobbit hills…

And back through the vineyards…

To Picton (which I’ll share more of very soon, such a lovely place).

To get to the furthest parts of the Sounds you have to get a water taxi, there are no roads, only bush paths so you walk it or jump on a boat.

I love that.

So we booked a water taxi (these are not cheap, we very nearly didn’t do this trip because we were only going for two nights it hit our daily budget hard)… 

We had booked one of the lodges that was furthest away, it took about an hour to get there, dropping people off along the way at various stops. Every lodge has it’s own jetty and so do many of the houses.

We stayed outside, the wind and the sunshine kept my seasickness at bay.

A lot of the tourism for the lodges is from walkers and cyclists, a lot of people go to the furthest lodge then make their way back staying at different places every night and walking a few hours every day. I would love to do this one day.

The Marlborough Sounds are so very special. The whole area used to be farmland, and we were told that a while ago the government took all the land back and let it grow back into bush. To compensate the farmers they gave them each a plot of land. These plots are the only plots that will ever be on the Sounds so they are very valuable. Land is at a premium because there is so little of it.

My husband and I grew a little obsessed with this, and day dreamed about moving here the whole time. We even picked up some real estate brochures to take back to his parents who also love New Zealand.

Imagine not needing a car, but a boat instead to get you from A to B.

This below house was just AMAZING. That boat house on the jetty was insane, huge windows and it was just the guesthouse. It was very New England in style, cladded and painted. Beautiful, dream house. They also had a very cute yacht.

The guy who owned it was on our taxi and got off onto his golf cart to drive up the hill to his house.

We arrived at Furneaux Lodge, they met us at the jetty with a golf cart to take our luggage and to take us to our room.

The Sounds really had its best hat on…. not a cloud in the sky with the sun going down.

We decided to walk into the grounds, there’s a long path that leads onto the lawn… we felt immediately at peace on arrival.

The lawns are beautiful, it’s an amazing setting.

The lodge consists of the main house with a restaurant and reception and then the rooms are in outbuildings around the gardens. There are little tiny walkers lodges, mini houses and suites. From basic to plush. They cater for all here.

Our little suite was just over this bridge to the right, you can just see the little outside deck.

We sat in the sunshine with a glass of wine…

And made a new friend, this guy was relentless and we got tired of running around long before he did.

Our suite was perfect, with a huge bed, amazing wetroom and living area. I do love a chaise lounge.

I had stocked up on glossies and we had brought a few snacks of crackers and cheese and fruit and on the first night that’s what we did, no phones, tv or internet and real proper quiet time hanging out on the deck and in our little house.

Bets nights sleep ever.

The next day was our only full day and we were determined to make the most of it with a big bush walk.

This was the view outside of our front door…

We went to the main house to get a big breakfast…

Sitting outside in the sunshine with coffee and eggs and a day of much needed exercise ahead. It felt good.

And exploring the gardens and the beach some more.

You can get married here, using the trees near the beach or this bell for your alter would be amazing don’t you think? (always thinking of weddings!)

We went back to the jetty to jump on the morning taxi to the next lodge and then we walked back (some 3 hours) to ours.

I could have sat here all day like this. I really want to live near water one day.

The boat ride wasn’t very long, the day was perfect quite breezy and clear and the water looked beautiful. I wanted to dive in.

The walk was lovely, and I can see why people do this for their whole holiday, every so often the bush broke and we saw views like this… 

 

 

Beautiful flowers… 

We found a secret beach… can you imagine living here as a kid? You could have a huge adventure every day.

We found waterfalls… 

Which we got some water from for our picnic.

 
We found a picnic table in the middle of no-where, these tracks are very well looked after.

We sat and ate our fruit, cheese and crackers in the complete silence of the bush apart from the very noisy insects.


We found little Marlborough stores along the way, you could buy a hand made walking stick here by leaving a donation in the boxes. 

And this little stand had a cooler filled with cold drinks and home-made flapjacks. Again you leave your donation here. I love that this can still happen somewhere.
 


We had the most amazing time, after two nights felt so rested and calm, I could have stayed here for weeks eating nice food and drinking local wine, walking through the bush and going out on canoes to spot dolphins, a really idyllic beautiful place and definitely one of the major highlights of the whole three months.

You can see more about Furneaux Lodge here and more about the food we ate on Full as an Egg.

We didn’t have anymore time in Christchurch as we had to leave at dawn for a very special day… we went to swim with WILD dolphins.

Yes even me!

It was an amazing drive, seeing the sun come up and even more beautiful scenery, the only shame was that we had to rush, there was no time to stop even once if we were going to make our boat.

Roads like this were our saviour… we got stuck behind a lorry quite early on so had to make some time up later… these straight roads are so rare in New Zealand and I made the most of them. 

Then we reached our destination… Kaikoura. Beautiful.

The company we swam with has a cafe (with amazing food) and it’s right on the beach. 

Below is the view from the boat, it was an amazing morning for it… the sea started off so calm, which I was so happy about. Especially when I realised we was on the smallest boat.

You can also spot Albatross’ here, HUGE birds. Their wing span is amazing. That black dot is the only one we saw though, we were too far out I think.

We were out on the water I would say for about 40 minutes before we spotted our first Dolphin, we had a fair way to get out to sea first then we had to find the groups.

This was a group of four, so we had to keep looking. 

 Then we realised why we had to keep looking as we found a group of around 200 dolphins having their playtime!

This meant it was time to jump in.

So how did I find swimming with dolphins?

Given all my practise swimming in the sea in Thailand so much easier than it could have been a few months before, but harder than I thought. We had to wear full dry suits, they help you float and keep warm, this water is not tropical, it is cold.

Also the sea and it’s inhabitants still terrify me… and dolphins are quite big, and very, very playful!

When I first jumped into the water, the cold was a shock and it was rougher than it looked and I did have to push down the panic, but I did it for the most part.

To get the dolphins to swim around the group we had to play with them, that means lots of noise, swimming in circles as fast as you can and the best one is to dive down. My husband loves the water so I stayed near him as he dived down and made noise and I made myself dizzy by swimming in circles.

The dolphins rush right up to you and around you, it’s scary and amazing because they are wild, and it makes you feel so special that they had chosen to play with you, I did have a few WOAH moments when they were swimming at me, part scared but mostly it was just amazing.

If you make eye contact with one, then that is just insane. A dolphin looking at you? Crazy good.

This is not like any swimming with dolphins holidays I had seen where you are in a pool and are petting a tame one. These are wild.

I highly recommend it. One of the best things I have ever done.

Some advice… we made a big kedgeree with brown rice and ate it for breakfast, we thought it would ensure we had plenty of energy for swimming in the cold sea. For me this was a big mistake. 
The cafe does amazing breakfast, and all I should have eaten is some toast and coffee.
Remember how I get seasick? Yeah that’s what happened. I only got to go in the water once.
I got out after the first swim and we tried to catch up with the dolphins (as more and more showed up) and everyone else went back in another two times.
Once I was back on the boat I was sick, not even the sick where if I got back in the water it’d be okay, because I couldn’t stop being sick long enough to get back in. The kedgeree and the sea getting suddenly very rough meant it was over for me (and most of the boat, so many people were so ill, one girl was crying for her Mum!)

The seasickness pills I took did nothing (except make me ridiculously drowsy, be really careful when buying these, I was falling asleep on the way back). The sea was so rough we had to give up… but not before seeing a group of over 300 dolphins playing. That was amazing, I was so glad I managed to look up long enough to see that. 

 After a couple of hours of sitting and recovering I felt much better, and starving (my stomach had been emptied) so we went for fish and chips at Coopers Catch, a little shack on the edge of what feels like a surfing town.

We sat outside in the sunshine (with ginger beer of course) and trying to fight the seagulls away from stealing our chips.

We went swimming with Dolphin Encounter and highly recommend them, a really slick operation and the staff are great, really knowledgeable and really great with all the pukers.

I was brave in New Zealand, swimming in the sea and jumping out of planes!

After leaving Timaru we headed to Christchurch… this was a place we were both a little apprehensive of getting to due to the devastating earthquakes the city has suffered over the past few years since my Husbands last visit.

My first impression was of a big city, probably the biggest one we visited in New Zealand, and since our hostel was a little out of the centre, quite industrial.

But then once we had unloaded we walked into the centre through an amazing park, huge wide open green space and lots of big trees with basket balls courts and rivers running through.

Just gorgeous.

This war memorial bridge was closed because it was unsafe, the first sight of earthquake damage we saw. Quite poignant. 

One you’re in the centre the damage is clear to see with huge roads and whole areas closed off because they are unsafe.

I cannot even imagine how it must feel to have your city carved up like this, and all the people who have suffered through losing their home and/or workplace.

I really didn’t want to go into this area but Adam was insistent. 

It was very eerie walking around here. We even walked under one building’s scaffolding that seemed to be holding the whole thing up.

 

In the centre most of the big shopping areas are unsafe and closed, but we found this amazing improvised area that has been set up which huge shipping crates being used for shops and cafes, the whole area is so different from the roads we just saw, alive and bustling, and landscaped. There was also tons of information about events happening and festivals of art, poetry etc. It seems Christchurch is just getting on. It’s inspiring.

We sat in one little cafe and ate cake and drank yet more ginger beer.

We had to share our cake with these guys though, they were so cheeky coming right up to us for crumbs. Never seen anything like it.

 

We stayed at the Jail hostel, I thought Adam would get a kick out of staying in a prison.


It’s a pretty good hostel they haven’t messed with the basic layout at all, the old walls are still outside as well, what they have done is made it comfortable and clean. It’s a great hostel actually, one of the best we stayed in. 

They have even kept a couple of cells as they were, with beds, toilets and drawings on the wall. 

 

 
 
I found these quite spooky! Our room didn’t feel like a cell at all, was quite big and had a window too.

It’s difficult visiting a city that has been hit so hard, but I am glad we passed through, there is still plenty to do and see here so I wouldn’t stay away if you visit New Zealand it’s a beautiful place, I can imagine how amazing it was before and the city is working hard to get everything back to normal.

Timaru, New Zealand

July 17, 2012

Our next stop was Timaru, and here we treated ourselves to a very lovely night in a B&B, after the student house hostel I was so glad…

Timaru was so very quiet, and so lovely.

This was the view when we pulled up to our next stop.

The colour of the sea was insane.

We stayed at Pleasant View a very modern home, it’s perfectly set out for a B&B with two rooms and a separate living room and mini kitchenette downstairs and the owners living area upstairs so you feel like you’re staying in your very own house.

We sat in the living watching a bit of news that night drinking wine with a lovely French couple who were also staying here.

I cannot recommend Pleasant View enough, the bed was super comfy, the shower hot (and in our room!) the towels nice and fluffy (heaven) and they make great poached eggs, plus a great spread of fruit, cereal and fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning. The hosts couldn’t be lovelier and we left here so refreshed.

Plus Timaru is so cute, the kind of place I imagine is amazing to grow up in where everyone knows each other but the town is big enough to have plenty to do for kids.

And the scenery…

This was a mini walk you could do right from the door of the B&B…

After a rainy (and less than satisfactory hostel) in Dunedin a few minutes here and I was back to being happy to be on such a long trip.

See what I mean? Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

A little hidden cove…

Fields of sheep… England or New Zealand?

Then we walked the other way towards the main town… past this cool lighthouse.

Right over some train tracks…again a lack of fences or anything, I don’t know if people in New Zealand are more blasé about this or more sensible but it is refreshing to see.

Between the beach and the town there was this amazing common ground, it was huge, full of landscaped gardens, play grounds (with amazing slides and climbing frames) shops and cafes, and the cutest amphitheatre… and a fairground! Imagine the different festivals and summer days that could be spent here. The main reason I think it’s a great place to grow up.

We walked into town and ate locally caught scallops and chips and drank some more local wine… then we hurried back to our B&B as this storm was coming in fast…

We watched the lightning and listened to the thunder and went out in the wine, but it stayed the other side of the Bay. It was crazy to watch it that close but for it to not touch us. It cleared so quickly. My kind of storm, it also really broke the humidity and the air got super fresh again.

And the next morning we were on our way…

We only stayed here to break up our journey so had only a few hours in the town so I cannot help with what to do here, we ate at a pub that I cannot remember the name of and shopped at a big discount store the next day to stock up for the rest of our trip and had some walks in the sunshine but there is plenty to do going by the big tourist office in the town and the books of flyers for activities the B&B gave up!