Musings, photos and general bits 'n' bobs about my trip to Australia and New Zealand, September 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

All Good Things must come to an End . . . .

Wow, what a trip it has been!  There have been so many 'firsts' for me:

1. Crossed the equator
2. Crossed the International Dateline
3. Visited a new continent
4. Saw many, many fabulous cities (Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland etc.,)
5. And animals (OK, mostly kangaroos!) and birds.  Wow, parakeets flying around!
6. And sites including the Uluru, Sydney Opera House and Bridge, the 12 Apostles, Hobbiton etc.,
7. This has also been the longest time that I have been away from my husband and hounds.

So, what were the highlights?  It would be really hard to select just one - there have been so many and to choose one wouldn't be a true reflection of my thoughts, so I am just going to talk about some of the great things about this trip:

One of the overwhelming impressions, particularly of Australia, was the smell - and in a good way!  With a much longer growing season, the plants/flowers/trees really do grow well  and to see flowers that I would consider to be exotic, annuals or houseplants, growing by the side of the road and in peoples gardens, was quite amazing.  And as a result, the air is gloriously fragrant and with the amazing birds flying by and singing, this trip certainly seemed like paradise!

And then there are beaches.  I love beaches.

It really brings home the fact that I love the sea, and retirement in a beachside home is a must!!

And then there were famous landmarks (both natural and man-made) - Uluru,Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, 12 Apostles, Hobbiton (hey, why not!) etc:


And then there are the 'roos.  Love 'em!

A quick word about sport - I love it, and it was great to watch Rugby (Union), Cricket and Aussie Rules Footy again.  I'm sorry Canada, but those three sports do outweigh Hockey & American Football (in my mind!!!)

So what was the worst thing(s) about the trip.  Well, I am afraid that there were two things.  First of all the flies that were ever present in the hot sunny places (not Sydney though, yay!!).  They drove me nuts!  Secondly, Air New Zealand.  It pains me to say this as the flight attendants were great, the flights were on time, in-flight entertainment was amazing, etc., etc., etc., but seriously - the space allocated per person in economy is ridiculous.  I mainly fly on chartered flights these days, and the times when I have flown scheduled with Air Canada or British Airways, I was pleasantly surprised at the space between the rows.  So when I heard that we were flying with Air New Zealand I was thrilled.  Oh boy.  How wrong could I be?  14 hours with the seat of the person in front of me about 12" away from my face.  I couldn't even eat the meal properly or read a magazine as there was not enough space.  There was more room on the Jetstar plane from Adelaide to Sydney and the Westjet flight from Vancouver to Calgary.

So that is it.  A fabulous trip is now over.  It was great traveling with my family - we all got along surprisingly well.  Just a few niggles (and no, I don't want to know what I did that irritated them!!)

I am glad that I kept this blog as I would not have been able to remember everything otherwise . . . and the 1839 photos that I took would not have been easy to identify.  Thank-you to those who commented it was great having you along with me!  I would love to return and spend more time in Sydney, visit Queensland, go to Tasmania, drive round more of the coast, visit Bondi etc., etc.,

So until then - farewell xxx

Maritime Museum - our Last Day

Sunday September 29th, 2013

Weather: Low 20's, overcast & sunny!

All good things must come to an end, and as our flight was not leaving until early in the evening, we had plenty of time to visit the Maritime Museum in Auckland.  I really enjoy visiting museums - not just because of the interesting artifacts that are on display, but learning about the history related to a specific location.  Coming from the UK - our history is well known to me - Kings & Queens, castles, industrial revolution etc.  Now living in Canada, our museums have lots of great information about the First Nations and then the European settlers.  Sydney's Maritime Museum taught us about the Aboriginal people, and then the settlers, so we were interested to lean more about the Maori People and New Zealand - the Auckland Maritime Museum did not fail to produce.  The surprising thing to learn is that New Zealand was settled relatively recently by the Maoris, and they are of Polynesian descent.  I would imagine that this is something that school children learn at an early age, but for us visitors - it was interesting.

So here are a few pics from the museum:

Did you notice the name in the background of the last photo?  It is the Northern Steamship Company - the same name as the pub that we had lunch at the day before (with the lamps hanging from the ceiling!)  It turns out that the pub is actually in the HQ of the Northern Steamship Company - what a connection!

As New Zealand just lost the Americas Cup (not named after the US as I had always thought, but after the name of boat that first won the race.  Learning.  Always learning!!) to the USA, I really enjoyed the Sir Peter Blake exhibition at the Museum.  He led the team that won the Americas cup in 1992 and his boat was there - it is HUGE!  I passed on buying his last book that was actually a collection of his log book entries right up until the day he was tragically killed.  I then spent the rest of the day trying to buy it at a book shop (without success) so I feel an order to Amazon coming on!!

Here are a few pics from that exhibition - including the 'shirt off his back'!

And that was the end of the trip.  Phew, what a trip it has been.  Just one more wrap up post - and a few more pics that didn't fit into the other posts, as well as final thoughts on a fabulous journey!

Auckland - as Seen by a Tourist

Saturday September 28th, 2013

Weather:  cooler - low 20's.  Sunny/patchy cloud

Having spent most of our holiday 'doing' things, our last couple of days were spent chilling out in Auckland.  On Saturday we wandered around the shopping area and the quay:

And we had a fabulous meal at this restaurant - loved the interior decorating!

What we did not realise at the time of our meal, was the significance of this pub . . . . . all will be revealed tomorrow!

Auckland is a great city - right next to the sea, and the fabulous countryside.  It has a lovely quay and some fabulous eateries and shops.  But boy, it is hilly!  And our hotel was at the top of one of those hills!  Great for going out in the morning, but the walk back at the end of the day was not so good!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Trip to Middle Earth

When I mentioned to our Travel Agent Jason (Downunder Travel - fabulous!) that we were going to spend a few days in New Zealand before returning home to Canada, he suggested a couple of trips.  The first was to the island of Waiheke, which we went to yesterday, and the second was to Hobbiton where the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit were filmed.  I was a little concerned as I had heard that the site was not particularly good - not much to see, lots of restrictions etc.  What if it as just a 'green screen' and you pose for photos in front and have the scenery magically added?  But, as it is one of Paul's favorite franchises, I booked up anyway . . . .

We were picked up just after 7am for a 2.5 - 3hr journey through the rolling hills of North Island, New Zealand where we were met by a guide and walked around the corner to see this:

It really was fabulous!  The books (as I am sure you all know) describe the rolling English countryside and this is something that has been carefully replicated in this film set, that is now a permanent structure that you can walk around, take photos, and enjoy!  The whole visit is carefully orchestrated so that there is plenty of time to take photos, pose etc., before the next group walk on through.  It really isn't hard to take such lovely photos:



I cannot recommend this trip enough.  The attention to details is quite amazing - try zooming in on the photos to see all the props outside the homes.  Also, the plants, flowers, vegetables, trees, grass are all beautiful.

So when in the Shire, where would one go for lunch?  Why, the Green Dragon of course!

A terrific day.  What else can I say, other than can I go back again please?