I took this photo while sitting on my bed in my hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand a few years ago. It was one of those photos you take at the time but only realise how much you like it when looking at it later. I sat down, noticed the view and got up to get my camera. I love the colours, particularly of the Lake.
We visited this street in Dunedin, New Zealand on my tour a few years ago. We were told the town planners didn’t visit Dunedin beforehand. They didn’t realise this would result in some very steep streets, including the world’s steepest.
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I took this photo from my bed in a Queenstown, New Zealand, hotel.
After a long day of walking and sightseeing I went up to my room and almost collapsed on the bed. After a few minutes of resting I looked out of the window and saw this amazing and gorgeous view. The hotel is on a cliff overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. I’m really happy with how the light coming in has provided a wide, dark frame for the photo.
Milford Sound, New Zealand
The mountains that surround Milford Sound are the highest I’ve ever seen. Not that I’ve travelled to many countries but Australia doesn’t have many really high mountains compared to other countries.
The cruise ship in my photo is completely dwarfed by these mountains. When we sailed past the ship we realised how big it is and how big the mountains are.
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New Zealand is known as the Land of the Long White Cloud but I think it should be known more for it’s mountains. Here are a sample of some of the mountains we passed along the way.
This photo shows how tall the mountains are. The ship is a large cruise ship but it is dwarfed by the mountains at Milford Sound.
The world’s steepest street. When the streets were planned many years ago, there was no regard given to the mountains surrounding this part of Dunedin. So there are many steep streets in the area.
This is the Knox Church in Christchurch. It was severely damaged in the February 2011 earthquake. Much of Christchurch is in a delicate state but the city and the people are slowly bouncing back. The photo was taken in January 2012 when I was in Christchurch so I’m not sure if it has been demolished or can be rebuilt.
This was my last day after nearly three weeks in New Zealand. It was such a shame. Despite it being the longest holiday I’d been on and the longest time I’d been outside Australia, I could easily have kept travelling. Not once did I miss home. I’d loved every place apart from one although I’m sure if I’d had time to explore the city I would have liked it more. The best way for me to get to know a city is to get out and walk as much as possible. I wasn’t able to do that in that place so I won’t name it.
view from the balcony of our apartment in the middle of the city
Our flight home wasn’t until the afternoon so we had time in the morning to drive to the top of Mt Victoria on the city’s outskirts.
The Basin Reserve – used as a cricket ground for domestic and international games.
The house on the top of the mountain looks like it is sitting precariously and could fall at any moment.
Te Papa is an amazing museum. One of my favourite exhibitions was one of their permanent ones, Awesome Forces. It details New Zealand’s geological history including what causes earthquakes.
They even have a shaking house which simulates an earthquake although I didn’t want to go in there because I’d felt too many earthquakes by that stage. They also describe how technology has allowed them to measure earthquakes. They use the Richter scale to measure the magnitude of an earthquake and the Mercalli scale to measure the intensity. While I was in Christchurch I’d heard of the Mercalli scale but didn’t what what it was. It was good to learn this at the museum. For many people the Mercalli scale is a truer indication of an earthquake.
A video also shows how New Zealand split from Gondwanaland (which Australia was also part of) 85 million years ago.
Traditional maori dress
One of the special exhibitions at the time was called Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion. I paid to go in and see it while Mum & Dad had a cuppa and something to eat. The dresses were fascinating and shows how wedding fashion changes from when the world is having good times to when war rationing meant women had to save coupons to buy their dresses. This was the time that a lot of materials were repurposed into wedding dresses.
Some of the designers featured included John Galliano, Vera Wang and Vivienne Westwood who designed Dita Von Teese’s dress in 2005.
Unfortuanately we didn’t get to see as much of the museum as we wanted. It is recommended that visitors spend a whole day there and I could see why but we just didn’t have the time. When I go back to Wellington I will definitely put aside a whole day to spend there.
We were really tired by this stage so we decided to catch a taxi back to our hotel. The driver was really friendly and chatted about many things while giving us a bit of a cook’s tour of the city. We knew he wasn’t taking us out of the way deliberately. The number of one-way streets came into play. It was good to see some of the areas we hadn’t had time to walk around.
After a bit of a rest we walked over to New Lambton Quay to the Royal Hotel for dinner. We had walked past it earlier in the day and decided we wanted to eat there. It had the feel of an old English pub.
shared dessert plate
After arriving back at the cable car station we began a walk around town. We wanted to see some of the famous buildings such as the Beehive (above). The Beehive is the building where the Prime Minister and other government ministers have their offices. The architecture is very distinctive which is something I love.
The Beehive and Parliament House.
Next to those two buildings is the Parliamentary Library. It’s a beautiful old colonial building.
By this time the weather was becoming very uncomfortable. It got windier and colder. In fact on the news that night they said it had been one of the windiest days they had had for a while. It was all part of the experience though. I can now say that I know how windy it can be in windy Wellington.
We walked a few streets to see Old St Paul’s Cathedral. It was built in the 19th century from local timbers and is a great example of NZ buildings from that time. It looks quite simple from the outside but I’m told it’s magnificent inside. Unfortunately we couldn’t go in because there was a funeral taking place.
By this time we were getting hungry so we walked back into the main part of the CBD, past the Archives New Zealand building. We noticed they had a cafe so decided to eat there. We then decided we’d better go to Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand) which was our destination for the afternoon and on the other side of the CBD. We couldn’t work out how to get their on public transport so decided to do what we love: walk. We took the waterfront route along the harbour, passing some lovely and some unusual buildings.
We could finally see our destination: Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand)
Once we disembarked from the Kaitaki we drove to the centre of town to our apartment hotel. Wellington has quite a few one way streets which are always disconcerting to out-of-towners not matter what city you visit. We drove right past our hotel but found it was on the other side of the road so thought we could do a u-turn. It wasn’t that simple though because of the one way streets. We ended up on a road that lead to the freeway out of town. Not a good option because we didn’t know where we would end up. Auckland probably. We eventually found a way of driving past our hotel on the right side of the road. Parking outside, we went to check in only to find out that we should have paid the extra $20 per night to park our car in the underground carpark. We could safely (ie legally) park our car outside overnight because the restrictions ended in the morning but had to move it the next morning. However Mum went out early to put more money in the meter which gave us a few hours parking. Soon after we found out there was a spare space in the carpark so moved the car in there. We wouldn’t need to use the car while we were there.
After breakfast we walked to the cable car station, which strangely, is in the middle of a shopping arcade. I would have walked past if Mum hadn’t told me it was there. It’s only a short ride up to the Kelburn Lookout and Botanic Gardens with a few stops in between. Once up there you see some iconic views of Wellington. I took a photo similar to others I have seen in many magazines and tourist brochures. The scenery is stunning.
Beautiful views of the capital city of New Zealand from the Botanic Gardens.
I sat at the front of the car while we went down the mountan so I could take a photo.
Cruising the Marlborough Sounds then the Cook Strait from Picton to Wellington on the North Island was one of the things I was most looking forward to on my trip. I’d heard it was a spectacular journey. It takes around four hours and we were very lucky to have a smooth sailing.
Once we parked the car on the car transport deck we walked upstairs to the deck of the Kaitaki, the largest ship in the fleet. We had paid extra to be able to sit in the Kaitaki Plus lounge where we had free internet access and a light lunch. It was very quiet and comfortable compared to the general area where most passengers sat.
Arriving in Wellington. Looking up to Mt Victoria
Before driving to the ferry terminal to board the Interislander we asked the lady at our apartment hotel for a place we could visit in the short time before we boarded. She suggested Karaka Point Historic Reserve which was a short drive out of town. We drove up there and took these photos. I could have stayed there all day and stared at the beauty of the area.
It’s also the site of a Maori pa. A pa is a fortified refuge and they are normally built on a high, defensible area. There is a maori totem on the site and it is carved so intricately. It is beautiful and scary at the same time.
Somewhere along the way I picked up a self-guided food tour brochure. It featured Makana chocolates, a boutique chocolate maker. Being a lover of chocolate, although I can go for a long time without eating any, I wanted to go to see some of their chocolates. They hand make many different varieties including fruit-filled, truffles, nut-filled as well as sugar free. They also make shortbreads and biscotti. We all bought some chocolates to take home. We were hoping we didn’t have to eat them all at once because we wanted to take them home to enjoy them.
Our next stop was the Vines Village, a village that has a cluster of shops such as a Quilter’s Barn, fudge shop, wine market as well as a fudge shop. I tried some olive oil as well but wasn’t interested in the quilter’s barn.
This winery is one I’d wanted to visit for a long time. It was the birthplace of one of my favourite types of wine, sauvignon blanc. It took us awhile to find the cellar door (called the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre). We saw signs on other roads but it turned out they were the other locations where they grow the different varietals of wine.
We eventually found the Heritage Centre and drove up the long driveway. When we came to the carpark we thought we had to walk up the hill to the Centre but a car came down and the driver told us he would drive us up to the entrance.
The Heritage Centre overlooks the original vineyard and from its vantage point you can see for kilometres over the valley and the town of Blenheim. There is a restaurant onsite as well as the cellar door. We were invited to watch a video on the history of Brancott Estate which was really interesting. After watching it we went and tried some of the wines before purchasing some. I still have some of it in my fridge now for a special occasion.
Looking inside the restaurant. You can see the view we got from in there through the windows.
Looking through the vines and up to the Heritage Centre.
I would normally run a mile before I would be interested in an aviation museum but after seeing a story on a travel show about the centre I was looking forward to seeing it. They advertise that the centre houses a display like no other and they are right. It’s not your standard museum, it’s more theatrical and great to look at.
They have a display on the Red Baron, recreating the scene when he was shot down near Amiens in France. Another display shows a plane crashing and landing in a tree and the ensuing rescue mission. There are so many displays it took around two hours for us to see them all.
The weather when we were in Picton was beautiful so the photos make it look like it was paradise. We were in Picton for one night before catching the Interislander ferry to Wellington.
Picton is one of the main towns in the Marlborough region and although small has a lot to do. We only had limited time in the town because we were going to spend the next day in Blenheim. When we arrived we checked in to our apartment then went for a walk around the town. We found a walking tour brochure at the visitor centre and decided to follow it to familiarise ourselves with the town. I love just getting out and walking wherever I go. It’s the best way to get a feel for a town. The tour took us to approximately nine different points mainly centred around the foreshore.
The first place we went past was the Edwin Fox a ship that first came to Australia carrying passengers but was soon put into service as a convict transporter to West Australia. It then carried immigrants from Australia to New Zealand. Nowadays the ship is in such a delicate state it cannot be moved. We walked past it to get back to the foreshore. While we were there we also checked how to get to the Interislander terminal which is only a few hundred metres away.
I could have sat and watched the comings and goings on the water for hours. It was warm, sunny and so relaxing. If you like adventure activities there are also plenty in the area such as walking the Queen Charlotte Track. While we were walking we could see one of the Interislander Ferries coming in from Wellington. We watched that for a while to get an idea of what we would be doing tomorrow.
After completing the walk we walked back to our apartment before going out again to Seamus’s Irish Bar. It’s a small, dark pub that has a really nice atmosphere and great menu. The owners wanted to build a true Irish bar after seeing so many that were based on an Irish concept rather than the real thing. There are cosy booths to sit in and enjoy and beer and a meal and the bar is decorated with lots of dark wood and memorabilia. It certainly gave a great atmosphere.
After a lovely and relaxing two night stay with Liz and Adrian and their family we left to drive to Picton. Our first stop was Pelorus Bridge. It had been recommended by Liz’s daughter as a pretty place to stop. We decided to have breakfast there so we stopped off at the cafe. It was around 10am and the cafe was quiet. We ate outside in the sun-dappled park. It was very serene. After walking around the park for a little while we headed to our next stop of Havelock, home of the green mussel and our lunch stop. Despite only finishing breakfast an hour earlier we had to stop for these mussels which are very famous in the Marlborough region. We had been told to look for the restaurant that had the mussels on the roof which sounded really strange. As soon as we saw the huge green mussels on the roof of a restaurnat called The Mussel Pot. Mum doesn’t like mussels but Dad and I love them so we shared a platter of them cooked in white wine. We wanted to try a simple dish and it was delicious.