A Travellerspoint blog

September 2011

Joy, Ryder and Bruce in New Zealand!

Our first 2 weeks trekking around the South Island of NZ

sunny 11 °C

It was with sadness that we said farewell to Sydney, Australia and of course the Buckley's. However we were very excited to be heading to New Zealand, especially after hearing nothing but good things about the place.

Our first stop in NZ was Christchurch, we arrived late on the Tuesday evening and got a shuttle bus straight to our Hostel, the Kiwi Basecamp. In the morning we headed out to check out the city, and unsurprisingly it was a ghost town, most of the larger buildings were still in rubble while the Cathedral Square was completely closed off. We decided to buy some lunch from a nearby supermarket, get some new books to read and chill out at our hostel, which itself was full of workmen fixing the place from recent aftershocks.

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The next day we decided to go to the Botanical Gardens, as they were a little out of the centre and therefore had not been impacted too much by all the recent seismic activity. The gardens themselves were lovely and peaceful, with the Rugby World Cup starting in a few days the council had set up a massive area for fans to watch games, so we checked that out too. In the end we sat by the River Avon and read our books which was nice.

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On the Friday we checked out of the hostel and got a lift to the Airport, where we went to Jucy Rentals to pick up our Campervan (we've got it for 25 days and will drop it off in Auckland next month). The van is amazing, its got a fold-out double bed, dvd player, gas hob, sink, compressor fridge, mp3/cd player and is automatic transmission, which took us a little time to get used to! Oh, and we decided on calling the van Bruce! Haha!

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With not much going on in Christchurch we thought it best to stock up on bits from the supermarket and get on out of there. The weather was gorgeous and we made our way to Arthur's Pass, way up in the mountains in the centre of the South Island (about 3 hours drive). When we got there we went for an hour trek to stretch our legs, then parked up in the Department of Conservation (DoC) campsite, which are government run sites that are very cheap (they're only $6, $10 or sometimes free).

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After cooking some spaghetti for tea (yum), we went to the local pub, the Wobbly Kea, and sat down to watch the opening ceremony and first match of the Rugby World Cup with a beer. Great fun.

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That first night was an eye opener for us, as there was a storm in the middle of the night and the temperature dropped to below freezing, so we realised we would have to wear more layers to be able to sleep lol!

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The next day we were up early to make the 4 hour drive to Franz Josef on the West Coast, which is Glacier country. The weather was pretty horrid but we decided to brave it and make the 2 hour walk right to the foot of the Glacier, which was well worth it.

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By the time we had trekked back to the van we were both soaking wet, but with a bit of planning we knew where to go next. The town has Hot Pools where you can go and chill out in outdoor pools that are between 36 and 40 degrees, amazing! We hired a private pool for an hour (along with private shower, toilet and changing room) and absolutely loved it – we may just have to save up for one of these at home! :-)

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About an hours drive from Franz Josef is Fox Glacier, which is very similar to its neighbour, and we had originally planned to trek this however with the weather still horrible the next day we continued past it towards Wanaka, our next main stop. A few hours into the drive we decided to take a pitstop at Bruce Bay, merely because of the name, which was a long stretch of beach with big, thunderous waves crashing in. We only spent five minutes stretching our legs, but right near where we had parked was a little fur seal relaxing on the rocks. What a cutie!

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The weather didn't pick up at all that day so we parked up for the night at Lake Paringa, a small DoC campsite with only a toilet to speak of. In the morning we arose to some gorgeous views of the lake, as the sun was out and the cloud was laying low over the water. One of the many amazing bits of scenery we've seen so far in New Zealand.

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It took us a further 2 hour drive to make it to Wanaka, where we stayed at the Lake Outlet Holiday Park which had lovely views over the lake. The park also had great facilities, with nice showers, a large kitchen and internet, so we decided to stay for 3 nights overall.

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One of the main highlights of Wanaka was walking the lake track around and into the town centre, which took us 4 hours to do. We went for a nice cup of English tea at a cafe overlooking the water, and in the evening headed to the Bombay Palace for a gorgeous Indian curry (we couldn't resist!)

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On the Wednesday we were up very early as we got picked up and taken to the Treble Cone skiing resort about 30 minutes from Wanaka. We had always planned on doing some snowboarding in New Zealand, originally we were going to do it in nearby Queenstown. However one of the percs of getting a Jucy Rentals van is they offer free ski passes for Treble Cone, so we made the most of that!

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We spent the whole day on the slopes, the snow was good, the weather was perfect, the views magnificent, it was a brilliant day!

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After getting up the next day (and aching quite a lot – we're not as young as we used to be lol), we drove 90 minutes to Queenstown, NZ's 'adrenaline' capital. We parked up in the centre of town and went to look around. We ended up buying some fudge and chocolate from the British Lollie Shop, and for lunch we went to Queenstown's famous Fergburger, which we had been told about by quite a few kiwi's we have met on our travels.

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The burgers we went for, called Mr Big Stuff, had 2 huge beef burgers (1/2 lb of meat), loads of bbq sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and aioli sauce, and we can confirm they were AMAZING! :-)

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That night we stayed at the Twelve Mile DoC campsite about 6km's outside of Queenstown, and chilled out in Bruce watching some Home Improvement on the dvd player (it's Tool Time! That was one of the two dvd's we took from Jucy)

Our mission the following day was to take the gondola ride up to the mountain overlooking Queenstown, which was well worth doing as the views up there were spectacular. We also went for a hot drink and cake in the skyline cafe, and got to see some people do the AJ Hackett bungy jump.

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In our last blog we explained how Phil did his skydive in Sydney, as this was one of his main 'to-dos' for the whole trip. Kayleigh on the other hand had wanted to do the Shotover Canyon Swing which was 15 minutes away from Queenstown, so we booked this and went out the next day to jump!

The swing is the highest cliff jump in the world, at 109 metres, has a freefall distance of 60 metres and a total swing distance of 200 metres, awesome stuff! You may have seen the video on Facebook, but if not we did a forward tandem jump together, which was insane, loads of fun (get on there to have a look)! Kayleigh loved it so much she decided to do it again on her own, going for the 'Elvis Cutaway', where she was suspended facing the sky and they cut her loose when she was not expecting it, crazy!

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We spent a total of 3 nights in Queenstown, and couldn't resist missing out on another Fergburger so we ended up having another one before we departed on the Sunday lol! Mmmmmm.

The next destination on our travels was Te Anau, on the South West coast, as we wanted to take a cruise to either Milford or Doubtful Sound. We had read that Milford Sound was the main tourist attraction in the country, while friends and family recommended we go to Doubtful Sound as its quieter (and better!) In the end, we made the decision to go to Doubtful Sound, and are totally glad we did.

We set out in the morning on a cruise across Lake Manapouri, then went to the Manapouri Hydro-Electric Power Station for a quick underground tour, before taking an hour bus trip across the Wilmot Pass (the most expensive road in NZ) to get to our boat that would take us on the Sound.

This may sound like quite a bit of effort, but by the time we made it to Doubtful Sound it was fabulous, huge valleys going into the water, low clouds making it look all atmospheric, just amazing.

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We are now in Invercargill, on the Sourthern tip of the South Island, and have 2 weeks to make our way up to the North Island and Auckland, where we drop off Bruce and then head to Fiji. :-)

Speak to you all soon, loads of love,

Phil & Kayleigh

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Posted by JoyRyderRTW 19:46 Archived in New Zealand Tagged snow sydney queenstown snowboarding australia cruise glacier fiji skyline new_zealand fox_glacier seal christchurch gondola te_anau wanaka haast franz_josef canyon_swing arthurs_pass lake_wanaka doubtful_sound joyryderrtw fergburger lake_paringa fur_seals treble_cone ferg shotover Comments (3)

Adventures with the Buckleys

Our month long stay with family in Sydney

overcast 18 °C

Hey guys,

We can’t believe we have now been with the Buckley family for five weeks!! It has gone super quick. We have got loads to tell you so we will get straight into it. Hope you enjoy. :-)

Since surprising everyone with our arrival on the Saturday afternoon we have been on a whirlwind adventure of the sights and attractions of Sydney along with enjoying quality time with our much missed family, Uncle Paul, Auntie Dawn, Ainsley, Tayler and Millie the dog. That Saturday night we went to Wendy’s (Uncle Paul’s cousin) for a big family dinner where we were welcomed with open arms. It was a great way to kick off our stay. Followed with a juicy fry-up from Auntie Dawn on the Sunday morning we were being very spoilt. After breakfast all six of us went to Wollongong (the Gong) and enjoyed the beach and a lovely picnic.

Uncle Paul had taken the Monday off work, so we were up early, waved the kids off to school and then spent the day with him showing us the local area including Campbelltown and the Nepean Dam, followed with a tasty BBQ. The rest of the week we spent exploring Mount Annan and relaxing, Tayler was off school poorly so we stayed in a few days with her. On Tuesday it was a treat to see Ainsley play the drums at a school performance, he played ‘Riders on the Storm’ and was amazing. On the Thursday of that week we cycled to the Mount Annan Botanical Gardens and soaked in the lovely weather with a picnic and bottle of wine, which made cycling back a bit more fun.

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That weekend Wendy and her daughter Amber joined us on a whale watching cruise. After getting the 1 hour train into Sydney we hopped on the ferry and enjoyed the 3 hour round trip out to sea. We were lucky enough to see 9 whales which was brilliant. On the Sunday the two of us, Uncle Paul and Ainsley drove to Symbio Zoo where we saw the Tigers being fed and a reptile show before it started to throw it down. We hopped back in the car and attempted to out-run the storm. We headed for Nan Tien Temple (memories of Asia), Windang Beach and saw the blowhole at Kiama. A totally fun-packed weekend!!

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The next week, with everyone being back at work and school we chose to get our tourist on again and spent most of the week visiting the many sights of Sydney City Centre. Monday we hopped off the train at Central and walked through Hyde Park, visited Anzac Memorial and walked through Sydney Botanical Gardens. Later we went to see Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge before enjoying a beer at Circular Quay. It was getting dark by this time so to see Sydney all lit up was superb.

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Throughout the rest of the week we also visited China Town, Macarthur, Darling Harbour and the famous Bondi Beach which was beautiful, and with the weather being glorious it was another great trip.

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A very busy week was followed with another eventful weekend with a visit to the Blue Mountains, something that we had really been looking forward to. The six of us were this time joined by Uncle Paul’s Uncle John and Auntie Gene. It was an incredible day with some spectacular views. We enjoyed riding the mining train, going on the cable cars which had a glass bottom, walking through the rainforest, finding the waterfall and trekking up to an impressive lookout of the famous three sisters.

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Sunday we were out and about again visiting Fitzroy Falls which was beautiful before heading to Berrima where we visited the courthouse museum and treated ourselves at the Lolly shop, before making our way to Mittagong – where we nipped in to Dan Murphy’s (best liquor shop) to stock up.

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We have failed to mention so far that each evening we have been polishing off a mighty amount of alcohol, as anyone who we have chatted with on Skype will know. Haha. Our purchases went down a treat with the Chinese food we had that evening.

After a full on two weeks, this week we chilled. Not really venturing further than the local shops. It was a fantastic week as the weather was gorgeous again; we relaxed in the sun, learned how to wave board with the kids and enjoyed even more time with Millie. One evening after school we treated the kids to some tea out and a few games of bowling, we had such a blast the four of us. We also managed to squeeze in a couple of hours shopping for our Tayler. Haha.

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It’s a good time to say here that we have been spoilt every night with a lovely home-cooked tea, tasty dishes including massaman curry, chilli, pasta, A SUNDAY DINNER, and many a BBQ. Just so our parents know we have been pulling our weight, including helping out around the house and cooking some treats for them as well. Haha. To show our appreciation and say thanks we took Auntie Dawn and Uncle Paul out that Friday night, starting at Camden Valley Inn for drinks and then on to Joy’s Thai Restaurant for tea which was yum. A fun night out the four of us.

We stayed in this Saturday and prepared for later that evening when all the family was coming around for a BBQ. It was great to have everyone round and meet the rest of the family. Each of them brought their speciality dish so the night turned into a feast.

Our fourth week with the Buckley’s we had some more nice weather, so were able to take visits into Camden and enjoy lunching out and about in the sun. This was also the week that we started finalising our details for New Zealand. That Friday we were invited by Uncle Paul’s 2nd cousin Kail and his girlfriend Jade for a night out in the city. They treated us to a meal at a teppanyaki restaurant which was loads of fun and the food was really good. We played games that involved the chef throwing raw eggs and us catching them in bowls and omelette in our mouths. We ended the night with cocktails at Darling Harbour which we went down a treat.

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Wow just writing all this it’s amazing how much we have done....

Saturday 27th August the six of us were up and out making our way by train and ferry to Manly. We took in the surfer’s paradise of a beach and looked around the shops. That afternoon we caught the river cat to Parramatta. Also by this time we were all excitedly anticipating a new arrival back in the UK from Miss Lindsey Owens....but the baby would make us wait just one more day. :-)

Sunday we headed to Penrith for a show and fair that was on. The weather was lovely and we enjoyed watching a reptile show, stunt horse riders, motorcross and lot’s more. Around lunch-time we received a phone call from Kyle letting us know that Lindsey had given birth to a little girl, 7lbs 2oz – beautiful baby Abigail.

One of the (many) activities we had decided on before leaving home was Phil doing a sky-dive, as Kayleigh jumped out of a plane last year for charity when working for CEL. Being at the Buckleys in Mount Annan was perfect for this, as Sydney Sky-Divers are based 30 minutes down the road in Picton. We arrived at the air strip at about 12 o'clock and within 45 minutes Phil was suited up and boarding the tiny plane with his instructor Mick, they don't mess about in Oz!

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At 14,000 feet the jump was made, Phil describes it as "one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done!" With 45 seconds of freefall and 5 minutes of floating under the parachute, it was well worth the money. Check out the landing on video...

Our last weekend in Oz has been loads of fun. We spent all day Saturday with each other at home, playing games, swimming in the pool (it wasn't the warmest!) and enjoying a sausage sizzle in the garden as the weather was lovely again. We had one last sight we wanted to see before leaving Oz, and that was Jervis Bay; a spectacular collection of white sands and clear blue waters just off the south eastern coast. It was a 3 hour drive to get there from Mount Annan, but it was totally worth it. We met up with other family members at Huskisson (or Huskie), and then drove on to the national park. We enjoyed some hot chips before heading for the beach where we played more games and swam in the sea. After the 3 hour drive back everyone was exhausted but it was the perfect end to an unforgettable stay here.

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We have enjoyed our time with the Buckley's so much it is going to be hard to say goodbye to them tomorrow, and it was bad enough the first time round. We are both really grateful for them putting us up for a whole month, and will be back to see them in the future. But anyway, our next leg awaits us....roll on New Zealand.

Thanks for reading. We hope you are all well at home.

Lot's of Love,

Kayleigh and Phil

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Posted by JoyRyderRTW 16:28 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney new_south_wales zoo new_zealand anzac blue_mountains three_sisters jervis_bay whale_watching bondi_beach mount_annan buckleys 3_sisters symbio_zoo Comments (3)

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