Update Part the First.

Free internet access at a backpackers is a wonderful thing, and full marks to the Green Monkey in Nelson where we’re currently staying. Lovely private double room, great host, and free cake every day – it’s like staying in a ski chalet (except that there’s no extremely dodgy free wine that only tastes bearable after six glasses). 

We’re having a very lazy afternoon after a hectic couple of days – perfect opportunity to hog the computer and update the blog before heading over the road to the local pub for more local beer and cider and some fud. They don’t serve any there, but they have an admirable arrangement with the quite classy take-away next door where you go in, order and pay for your fud, and they deliver it to you in the pub. Rocking goose.

More pics to come too – we’re lagging a bit behind on those, but just put it down to the time difference :).

Have to say my brain is getting slightly mushy these days so hopefully this is all in the right order, but this is the first instalment about the size of our trip so far (since the mad river canyoning day…).

We ended up staying in Arrowtown near Queenstown for about five days, weather just glorious and we had a lovely place to stay, so it was quite hard to tear ourselves away. We did make it to Milford Sound, which was as majestic, grand, dramatic etc as you would expect it to be, but I wasn’t expecting the drive up there to be so good too – temperate rainforests, giant parrots, endless waterfalls (as there had been a fair bit of rain at night), and switchback roads and a nasty steeply sloped tunnel that added a slight adrenaline rush too. We did a cruise for a couple of hours, and saw Fiordland crested penguins and a pod of juvenile bottlenose dolphins as well. Mezzin.

After leaving Arrowtown we headed through breathtaking scenery (it does that a lot here – makes falling asleep on car journeys impossible) to the west coast, and up to Franz Josef, where it proceeded to boot it down quite impressively for the first day we were there. Not to worry, the glacier wasn’t going anywhere (though it can move up to 5m a day in summer if it feels like it apparently), so we raided the local bookshop and holed up in a cafe for a few hours (Alex’s flat white addiction and my admiration of the NZ version of cheesy chilli nachos grows daily).

We did tackle the glacier on a half day walk the next day in the glorious sunshine , thoroughly pissing off the poor unfortunate gap yah backpackers staying in the same place as us who’d done the full day trek in the pouring rain the day before. I only laughed quietly and to myself I promise.

to be continued…

Port Douglas Photographs

Pics from Port Douglas. There are very few as much of our time was spent loafing.

The beach seemed to go on for (four) miles!
Cas on the beach - this was a crocodile free day.
The view from our front door (much of our time was spent in the pool - no crocodiles or stingers)
Makes you want to dive right in!
Me + beach

Tokyo photographs

We got there in the end! Here you go, a carefully chosen selection of our favourite pics from Japan – nearly a month after we left…

Early morning at Tsujiki fish market - the largest in the world...
Tokyo or Blade Runner.... building the Sky Tower
Our room at the Ryokan Sawanoya - a traditional Japanes Inn (was fab)
Kamakura temples - about an hour south of Tokyo
Alex and one of his many vending machine drink experiments
Kamakura - calligraphy on 'tori' - the gates into a shinto shrine
Imperial Palace parkland - central Tokyo
How to transport your charges to nursery school
The only corner you can see of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo
The awesome massive hanging animated globe at the Museum of Design & Innovation
The plastic food shop - where restaurants buy the plastic food that advertises what they sell
Kamakura again
The childrens' buddha - Kamakura
Shinto wedding at Meji shrine, central Tokyo - a ridiculously hot day, she was dressed sitting next to a mobile air conditioning unit


My river canyoning badge

Yesterday brought more great weather in Queenstown, so we decided to go river canyoning. That’s where you take a perfectly good – if slightly wild from the melt from ski fields – river and scramble, climb, swim, zip-line, abseil, jump, and slide your way down it. We were equipped with thick (5mm) wetsuits and climbing harnesses and instructed by a great (though probably insane) team.

I limited myself to the 6m jump, Cas went for the 8m of course.

Though we didn’t get any photos, I did get the purple river canyoning merit badge!


To expand on the previous post…

I cannot believe just how gorgeous this country is. Our very lovely friend Julia picked us up from Christchurch airport on Friday, and since then we’ve been enjoying the Scott family’s fabulous hospitality on their farm near Palmerston on South Island, about 45 minutes north of Dunedin. Weather has been obliging sunny and fresh, NZ red is going down a treat, and it’s going to be hard to drag ourselves away today to continue on our tour of South Island.

So we’re heading off today in the direction of Queenstown (no bungy jumping happening no way not never), and then on to Fiordland, then up the west coast, round the top and back down the other side via plenty of vineyards. Throw in some whale watching, sea kayaking and hiking and it should be a fabulous trip. We’re then heading back to the Scotts’ to join them for Melbourne Cup day (might be a bit boozy…), and then flying up to Auckland the next day for 10 days on North Island.

So that’s us for the next few weeks, pics on the way (promise!). Will now go and pack and see if I can get Alex to download some…

PS negative on the Uggs (but apparently they are VERY chavvy in NZ so good call…)

My new travel rules and other random thoughts.

1. It shall not rain in Sydney. If I wanted an arched bridge in the rain I’d go to Newcastle.

2. Backpackers hostels are not suitable accommodation for more than two nights max, particularly when random Europeans insist on talking really loudly outside the door in the middle of the night. (It’s ok, no limbs were parted from their owners but only because Alex restrained me in his sleep. Clever man.)

3. Colds definitely not allowed.

But we did have a lot of beer with our lovely friend Chris on Monday  night and we walked past Natalie Imbruglia in the Botanical Gardens this morning, so all is not lost 🙂

The whether-to-buy-some-Ugg-boots debate is still raging – they are all on sale, so about half price from ridiculous UK prices, but I’m still dithering. I’ll get back to you.

Finally, it’s the second episode of the new series of Glee tonight hurray – you didn’t think being on the other side of the world would interfere with my weekly catch up with MacInley High did you?

Pics as requested to be posted in NZ (ie Friday)…