A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: philnlisa

Kiwi living

sunny 23 °C

Hi all

It has been quite some months now since our recent blog. We have done so much in this time so we will keep it pretty brief. We both have jobs now, I am working as a policy adviser for the Ministry of Education and Lisa is teaching.

We are currently enjoying a long weekend at is a national holiday for Wellington on Monday. We moved into our new houseOur House!

Our House!

at the start of December, although we only lived there for a couple of weeks before going travelling in the South Island. We lived there with Graeme and Ellen, who he travelled around South America with. It was nice to have some friends to spend our time with and with whom we could share the experiences of the country. Ellen left at the beginning of January and Graeme has just left so we are now on our own, which is actually quite strange!

Between the 18th December and the 15th January we travelled around the South Island. We started off walking the Queen Charlotte track, which is in Marlborough at the very top of the South Island. Queen Charlotte Track

Queen Charlotte Track

With the exception of the first night (when the camp pitch we chose turned into a small lake) we had fantastic weather, clear skies and it was really hot. We were walking about 4 or 5 hours a day carrying all of our stuff with us and it was quite hard going sometimes. We camped out in the wild and at a few campsites and enjoyed the wonderful views. We encountered our first flightless bird; the Weka, which is quite annoying as it constantly tries to steal your food no matter how much you try to shoo it away. But I guess we shouldn't really complain as flightless birds are pretty unique, we are hoping the Kiwi is nicer though!Mistletoe Bay

Mistletoe Bay

After finishing our trek on the Queen Charlotte Track (on Christmas Eve) we picked up Graeme and Ellen and spent Christmas with them in a holiday home near the Abel Tasman National Park. Christmas Day was very hot, probably about 30 degrees celsius.Christmas Day 2009

Christmas Day 2009

We had a really nice day although we all missed our families. On boxing day we had a barbecue and then we went Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park for a couple of days. The kayaking was on the sea but is pretty calm, we spent the days nosying around islands and hoping to see whales and dolphins (we were disappointed though!), we stopped in at deserted beaches every now and then and camped just by the beach at night. It was a great experience and we really enjoyed ourselves.Kayaking in Abel Tasman

Kayaking in Abel Tasman

We drove with Graeme and Ellen to Nelson, where we parted company and embarked on our long drive down the Western coast of the South Island to Glenorchy where they filmed lots of the Lord of the Rings. It was quite a long drive but the beautiful mountain scenery and easy driving (no cars on the road) made it a pleasant experience. We stayed in Glenorchy before walking the Routeburn Track, a 3 day walk crossing forest and alpine routes. We stayed in huts every night and loads of really nice people from all over the world doing the same or similar walks, it was hard work but there were great views and nice people and sights along the way, although it was cloudy quite a lot of the time.On the Routeburn Track

On the Routeburn Track

On the last day it rained really heavily, causing some tricky river crossings. At the end of the track we were completely soaked, tired, fatigued and starving; we got picked up by a tourist bus full of day trippers who were going to Milford Sound, which was quite weird as they must have been wondering where these crazy smelly people had come from. We went on a ferry trip around Milford Sound, which was really nice but we were so hungry we spent most of the time eating, staying dry and getting warm. We then had a four hour bus journey back to Queenstown where we ate again and got some well earned sleep.Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Phil & Lisa above Queenstown

Phil & Lisa above Queenstown

We spent a couple of nights camping near a lake in the mountains around Queenstown (which was nicer than we had hoped), before heading back through the South Island to east coast city of Christchurch where it is always clear and sunny, apart from when we got there and it was wet. We had an OK time there, just relaxing really and enjoying the comforts of city living. On the way there we went walking on Franz Joseph Glacier, which was a bit touristy, but quite a unique experience nonetheless.Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

Then we went to Hamner springs for more relaxing in the hot springs, which were OK, but just a bit like have a bath outside though really. On the day we left we went for what was meant to be a leisurely walk around a river, but we took a wrong turn and ended up on top of a mountain, but it was worth it!

Our next stop was back at the top of the South Island, in Marlborough, where we hired some bikes and went wine tasting. We enjoyed ambling around on our bikes and the laid back wineries with friendly staff. It was pretty quiet so we got to learn plenty about the wine and the history and geography of the region.
Wine tasting in Marlborough

Wine tasting in Marlborough

After a mix up with the ferries we luckily managed to get a ferry which left earlier in the day than the one we were meant to be on. It was a really rocky journey on rough seas, and they were considering cancelling the ferries altogether. But we made it back safely to a very windy and wet Wellington.

The weather here has been capricious ever since, ranging between (too) hot and sunny one day and then cold and wet the next, or even a couple of hours later, but overall it hasn't been too bad; we have managed to go swimming in the sea, eating dinner on the balcony, and even on the beach! - Although we have also had to put the fire on at time - not as bad as the UK though!

We have had some great sunsets from our house, which has lovely views, there are more pictures in the picture section.
Island Bay View

Island Bay View

Sunset view from our house

Sunset view from our house

We will probably try to keep updating the blog, although not too regularly as our lives will probably now be relatively mundane and uneventful, but you never know. If we do update it we will put a message on Facebook or let you know.

Phil & Lisa

Posted by philnlisa 21:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Out and about in Wellington

sunny 17 °C

Well, we have done quite a lot since our last update. We are now settling into New Zealand pretty well, although to date we have only really visited Wellington as we still cannot get our hands on our car. All of our stuff from the UK has arrived, but is still in storage and we can’t get it until our car is ready. Our car was inspected by MAF, who are responsible for examining imported goods, and they decided it needed vacuuming and steam cleaning – pretty expensive but hopefully we will now have the cleanest car in New Zealand. Hopefully it will be ready this weekend and we can explore away from Wellington. We are currently a bit restricted in this by the fact that our scooter isn’t allowed on the motorway!

We have been busy looking for work, a place to rent and planning our travels around NZ, but we have also found plenty of time to explore Wellington. Lisa has been working pretty much full-time for the last 3 weeks whilst I have been practicing for my role as house husband (no such luck!) and finding a job. I had a couple of interviews last week, one of them looks quite promising, fingers crossed, but I will have to wait and see... Lisa has a full-time job starting next year so at least we are part of the way there.

We are really enjoying Wellington and it has been really good fun exploring. We have seen loads, but in brief we went to watch a really cool gig by The Little Bushmen and the NZ symphony orchestra, which is a bit like the electric proms in the UK. We have been to Seal Rocks, where a bunch of seals live (they are only there in winter so we just missed them), went to the Botanical gardens and various museums, went to a small, pretty much untouched island called Soames island, the Karori wildlife sanctuary, which is a protected habitat for NZ wildlife wiped out by the invasion of mammals (they basically have a fence 6 miles around a mammal / pest free area), been to the cinema a couple of times, which is a fantastic experience here, you can take in wine, beers and even cups of tea and coffee and you get to sit on a sofa! We went to watch the All-whites (the NZ football team) beat Bahrain in a thrilling match which resulted in NZ qualifying for the world cup, went to watch Santa’s parade through Wellington and the firework
display in the harbour, been surfing quite a bit and we have been out to a whole load of bars etc. On Thursday we are going kayaking and at the weekend hopefully exploring a bit further afield and maybe even picking up some of our stuff from storage.

The weather here has improved quite a bit and whilst it is still windy it has been mainly dry with some really lovely days. Apparently October through November is notoriously windy so we are looking forward to a bit more settled weather over summer.
We have put a load more photos in the photos section

Posted by philnlisa 16:18 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Here at last

all seasons in one day 14 °C

Well, we finally made it! After a reasonably unsuccessful wine tasting escapade (I had to drive so my intake was limited!) in Oz we made the trip into Sydney to catch our flight out to New Zealand. The trip into Sydney was pretty interesting, we had decided we would cook some lunch in our campervan before leaving it back with the rental agency, the only trouble was that we couldn't find anywhere to park so we ended up cooking and eating down some suburban street, I am pretty surprised no-one called the police as we were acting pretty suspicously!

We arrived into New Zealand just before midnight on Monday 12th October, we got a taxi from the airport to go and stay with Graeme. For the first week we basically spent our time wandering around Wellington and doing all of the bureaucratic stuff you need to do when you immigrate, but we did find time to have a walk along Lyall Bay, which is a nice beach about 2 minutes walk from Graeme's house, and to visit the parliament buildings in Wellington, which were pretty cool, they seem to have a very open government system over here, where any individual can request a personal hearing about a piece of government legislation, we have to try doing this!
We have bought a little scooter as the public transport isn't really very cheap and is only good for the more urban area, this is just until our car and bikes gets here, which will take a bit longer than expected as they don't arrive until mid-November. Learning to ride a scooter has been a bit strange, but rest assured that we are very careful and there is hardly any traffic over here!

At the weekend we went for a much needed night out and saw a few more sights, this week has been a bit more relaxed and we have been able to get and see a bit more of the local area, although today Lisa is working! She has her first day of supply work, so at least we will have some income for a change!

Wellington itself is a very compact city, it is really clean, pretty quiet and all of the people are really friendly, there are no traffic jams and it is all pretty easy going, there are loads of cultural things to do so we shouldn't get bored! The weather over here is a bit cold and windy, it has rained for about 3 or 4 of the days we have been here, but we are assured that this is pretty unseasonal!
We have put a few pics on the blog, you can click "more photos", there should be a link on the right hand side somewhere...

Even though we are no longer travelling (we hope to travel around NZ in the summer holidays (Dec to Feb)) at the mo we will probably still keep the blog updated but not sure how often...

Bye for now
Phil and Lisa

Posted by philnlisa 16:58 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Nearly there....

all seasons in one day 19 °C

Well, we will be in New Zealand in 3 days, so we thought we should update the blog before we reach our final destination. We are currently in Australia where the weather is surprisingly homely (i.e. pretty cold and raining!), although to be fair it has been bright and sunny for the rest of our stay here.

We have had a busy couple of weeks since leaving Singapore; we spent a couple of days in Sydney, where we weren't feeling particularly great so spent most of our time lazing in the botanical gardens and city parks, although we did make the obligatory trips to the Opera House and the harbour bridge. Sydney is a lovely city with a nice laid-back atmosphere, beautiful scenery and friendly people, although it is a tad expensive.
After relaxing for a few days in Sydney we picked up our campervan, which is a little less colourful than the one pictured at the top of our blog! P1020329.jpgAlthough it is not the lap of luxury and it has certainly been round the block (not to mention around Australia) a couple of times, it has not let us down (touch wood) and has pretty much everything we need, it is great just to drive around with all your stuff and have the freedom to stop and do things you see as you are driving along; bizarely enough it is also really nice just to cook our own food again. We made the long journey up to Brisbane to meet with my (Phil's) sister, who we had not seen for a couple of years, Jo and her family have settled down in Brisbane and enjoy a lovely lifestyle there; it was great to see some familiar faces and even some new ones as we met our nephew, Archie, for the first time, he and Jessica, our niece, are cute and mostly well behaved, although they did keep us on our toes and wake us up at 5.30 every morning! We spent some time at the beach and then headed into Brisbane, which is again a lovely city, if New Zealand is anywhere near as nice as Oz we will be pretty happy!
After ending our little family stopover we headed back down to Sydney on a more relaxed timetable. Our first stop was Mt Warning, which we climbed at 3.30 in the morning in the pitch black in order to watch the sun rise; due to its height and location this is the first place in Australia to see the wun rise, so on Wednesday 7th October 2009 we were the first people in Australia to see the sun rise, which we thought was pretty cool. We didn't stay up there too long as it was pretty chilly though!
After that we went to the beautiful Bundjalung National Park where we spent time on Ten Mile Beach (yes, a fantastic, and practically deserted, 10 mile long beach), walking through the rainforest, watched migrating humpback whales and the waves crashing into the rocky headland that our campsite looked onto; this place is paradise and we would have stayed longer, but we needed to make more progress towards Sydney so we carried on to Seal Rocks, near a place called Forster (from where we are writing this), which is again absolutely fantastic and located right next to 4 different beaches and also right next to the great lakes region which is gorgeous, apart from the fact that it is raining!
Today we will maybe go kayaking on the lakes if the weather picks up and tomorrow we are going wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, and on Monday we fly to New Zealand! No photos as yet but we will put some on when we get to NZ....

Posted by philnlisa 17:42 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Singapore and the night race

sunny 35 °C

Singapore is a calm and clean city even when it is busy! It’s the kind of place where it’s nice just to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. It doesn’t really feel like a city which has been good as we're all ‘cityed’ out at the moment!

We arrived on Thursday morning (it’s the only airport that we’ve come across where they do a security check as your arrive!) and headed to Little India where our hotel is based. You can feel the buzzing atmosphere as soon as you step out of the MRT station and it really is like a little version of India, although cleaner and more developed. The hotel was very near the station (one of the positives, I’ll mention it as there aren’t many more - although to be fair this was the first cockroach we had found in our room after 8 weeks of travelling, so I guess that isn't too bad going!). We checked in and weren’t overly impressed, we have stayed in worse but they were much cheaper than this place. So we headed out pretty quickly into the city. Spent some time walking around some shopping malls (there are loads of them everywhere) and looking for a guitar shop as Phil wants to buy a new one. He managed to find the shop where they have a good deal on the guitar he wants but unfortunately nowhere has a hard case for it and the cases are very expensive anyway. So he’s had to leave that for now.

On Friday we headed out in the late morning for the day. We spent some time wandering about before heading into Zone 4 for the grand prix practice session. Our walk about tickets let us walk around quite a large zone so we tried out a few different spots trying to find the best one for the actual race on Sunday. I couldn’t believe how close you get to the cars, you can actually see some of the drivers faces but only for a split second as they whiz around the track. They drive so fast, the noise and vibrations are like nothing I expected even with ear plugs in! Standing in the areas where the cars decelerate for the corners you are constantly amazed that they manage to slow down enough to make it around the corner, driving one of these things must be mental! Being so close you can tell the difference between the better cars and drivers and you can see small differences between the cars that you can’t see on the television. We found a few great spots around the circuit before heading back to Little India for a drink to soak up the busy night atmosphere.

Saturday was another hot day, we went along Orchard Road which is literally lined with designer shopping malls. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to spot any celebs but we did enjoy a cup of tea (you might find it strange that I’m writing this but a simple cup of tea is so expensive in this city but we thought we deserved the treat!). Before heading to the circuit today we decided to try and sneak some wine in our camel baks as drinks are so expensive. It worked which was great as you’re not allowed to bring in any of your own food or drinks, camel baks are great inventions! After qualifying Travis were playing on one of the stages, we managed to get a space right near the front so we had great views.P1010902.jpgP1010867.jpg The concert was really good, Fran has a nice easy going approach which helped to create a good atmosphere even in the hot and humid late night. I chatted to a nice girl from Singapore who is a big Travis fan, she bought grand prix tickets just to watch them (her husband bought them for the actual grand prix!). Concert finished around 12.30 so it was a late night for us.

Race day started fairly for us, we had a bit of a lazy morning before heading into the city ready to get some good places to watch the race. We headed into the circuit around 3.30pm and managed to get the exact seats (not real ones, they are VERY expensive) that we wanted. Luckily the place was near some real toilets and cheaper places to buy the food than the stalls. There were a few races on in the afternoon before the drivers parade at 6.30pm. They are driven around the circuit in a classic car so that all the fans can see the drivers. It was pretty cool seeing all of them and watching how they react to the crowd.P1010945.jpg The race started bang on 8pm when it was still hot and humid (29 degrees at 8pm when the race started!). I can’t imagine how hot the drivers must get in their cars when I get so hot just sitting around watching! It’s really good to see how close the drivers actually get to each other and how the gaps look on the actual circuit. We could really see some sparks and red brakes on some of the cars. P1020098.jpgP1010845.jpgP1020060.jpg Hamilton’s car did sound much smoother than most of the others. The bizarre thing is that we only get to see a very small part of the race as we couldn’t see a screen. But luckily quite a few things happened at turn 14 where we were sat. We both had a bet on the two drivers that served drive through penalties, what bad luck but we did win a little something on the top three finishers – enough to cover the cost of the bets and maybe buy one cup of tea!! The race finished around 10pm, there was a lively atmosphere around the circuit. The Backstreet Boys (yes, they are still with us!) were playing on a stage after the race, this took me back to Rachel Slaughter and Rosebank House! We headed back to Little India where it was also lively. There were lots of men walking and sitting around ( I only spotted one other lady!), we’re not sure why but it might have something to do with the Deepavali festival that is on at the moment.

We are now currently on our last day in Asia for now which comes with mixed feelings. It’s strange to think back over the past couple of months and all the things that we have done and seen in this small part of the world. There are definitely parts of it that need to be explored further, it’s a beautiful part of the world and there have been lots of highlights to think back over during our long flight to Sydney tomorrow.

Posted by philnlisa 21:46 Archived in Singapore Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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