Sunday, 30 September 2012

Darling Harbour & The Blue Mountains

It was the Labour Day long weekend here and we were looking to see some things before life got serious again. It was also convenient that some friends from our New Zealand bus trip had arrived and the city was offering some fun activities to keep us occupied.
We first went downtown to see Darling Harbour. This area is full of restaurants, clubs, museums and fun parks for kids. We would have gotten more photos but the SD card was left behind for our day time exploring. When we got down to the area we found out that each Saturday night they have a free fireworks show so we made sure to go back that night. The fireworks show was quite entertaining and we even saw some that we hadn’t seen before.

The following day we decided to check out the Blue Mountains. A reasonable 2 hour train trip from the city. Jess saw her first Kangaroo from the train. The mountains are generally always listed on “sites to see” in Sydney and we found them to be breathtaking but crowded with tourists since it was the long weekend.
We were using a generic bus map even though we were on foot...not helpful

We climbed over the safety barrier to see the beautiful Katoomba Falls - 100 Meters tall.

Ties and Jess showing off the Three Sisters.

It was colder than we thought it would be, but climbing some of the pathways got us warm quickly.
It was a long day of walking and climbing. You can see by the picture that the train ride home was quiet and a good opportunity to catch up on some sleep.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Exploring Sydney

We have spent 5 days in Sydney and are slowly trying to figure out what we will be doing next and also trying to see as much of the city as we can. We are staying in a short term backpackers hostel with suspicious air quality and a handi bathroom stall. We can also hear every plane enter and leave Sydney we are so close to the airport. It’s not ideal but it is close to a great park, shopping mall and transit down town is 30 minutes.

To start we spent a day at orientation with our travel organization, opened a bank account and got our phone set up. We have internet included in our room - much better quality than in NZ so this is quite the treat.

Tiles cover the entire exterior of the Opera House.
When you are downtown it doesn’t take long to be drawn like moths to a flame towards the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. They are both jaw dropping architectural specimens. In the shadow of the Harbour Bridge lies a cool restaurant and club district called The Rocks where you can find the Aussie version of Wildfire. Jess is considering just wearing her uniform from the NZ Wildfire and jumping in until a few tips go her way.

We purchased multi transit tickets which allow us to use the bus, train and ferry as much as we like for a week. We have been able to cover a lot of ground this way. One of the furthest destinations by ferry is Manly BeachSydney’s second most popular beach. We decided to head over and see what all the fuss was about. We used the ferry ride as our free harbour tour and made it to Manly in half an hour. The ferry holds almost 900 people so we waited for 30 minutes before we were even on board.
The beach wasn’t crowded and we walked through a pretty cool market on the way there. Even though it is just the beginning of spring we thought it was beautiful and many people were surfing or at least trying to catch a wave.

Close to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House is the Contemporary Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. The museum had some interesting/weird exhibits, while the gardens were a very peaceful place to be in the center of the busy city. We were surprised to see a couple of wild cockatoo and various other wild parrots flying around. So far we have not seen any spiders, crocodiles, or sharks. We have barely even seen an Aussie!
 Some interesting art exhibits...
Jeff is very excited to be in OZ
When we aren’t sight seeing, we spend time job hunting/interviewing and searching on Gumtree for reasonable accommodation. Gumtree is their online search site for everything. We definitely feel that we could make Sydney our short term home, but we are also aware of how big the country is and we want to see it all. We are meeting up with some friends from NZ this weekend, and will give ourselves some more time to sort it all out.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Farewell New Zealand!

We have arrived in Sydney but can not forget to say "farewell" to New Zealand. We have posted some final pictures from our bus tour that were either taken from a stop on the side of the highway, or on the bus through the window.

Pancake Rocks

We made sure to snag the front two seats on each bus we boarded, (in total 5 buses and drivers) - this was the view to our left one day.

Now the Australian adventure begins...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Kaikoura & Our Return to Wellington

We are nearly at the end of our bus tour and our second last stop is Kaikoura, a small beach town on the east coast of the South Island. The main activity here is whale watching and swimming with the dolphins. We did neither – but did see dolphins jumping from shore for free. On the way to Kaikoura we drove through Christchurch to pick up and drop off some passengers. There isn’t much to see here due to recent earth quake devastation; however we did stop at Ohau Point Seal Colony & Peninsula Seal Colony along the high way. Very entertaining creatures indeed.


In the morning we were off to Wellington. We planned a 5 night stay in order to see all that we missed the first time through. We stayed at the downtown Nomads hostel where we had nice clean rooms with an en suite bathroom, good laundry services, and an evening snack included in our fee.
We had a great time with our remaining bus mates on the city hop on/off bus tour – we obviously hadn’t had enough of being on a bus just yet… We saw the Zoo, Weta Caves, rode the Cable Car & wandered the Botanical Gardens.

Wellington. On the way to this lookout we passed many hill side mansions that had their own personal cable cars to access their property, very "flash" as they say.

Walking down Cuba Street. Hoping that this water feature doesn't splash me...

Botanical Garden Gangstahzz

Ahhh that's the life.

Weta Cave - a mini museum of Peter Jackson's creations
Cable Car Ride

Wellington is a great little city. It has beautiful character buildings, creative outdoor sculptures and lots of good food:

-          Burger Fuel
-          Scopa
-          Espressoholic
-          Wholly Bagel & Pizza
Our final stop is back in Auckland. We have missed it and can't wait to be back!


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Mount Cook & Rangitata

On our way up to Wellington we stopped at the tallest mountain in New Zealand Mount Cook and then to Rangitata. If you look real closely you will notice that there is not a single picture of Mount Cook. This is because a sub-alpine storm raged from the moment we left Queenstown to the moment we arrived in Rangitata. We stayed at the base of the mountain and it rained so hard that we thought that the roof was going to cave at any moment, very powerful winds and rain. We believe it was for our sins in Queenstown…
We stopped at some nice hot springs at Lake Tekapo before going on to Rangitata.
A road side stop to see some very cute farm animals.
We stayed in a nice little cabin in Rangitata where they usually host white water rafting trips. The river was closed to us for the next 10 days so we had to amuse ourselves with a ping pong tournament and viewing the local wildlife.

Next stop Wellington.