Flying into Papeete Tahiti from New Zealand was like hitting a brick wall. Oh the heat. The airport is all open but that still didn’t seem to help. Tahiti wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be with small pebbles not sand and the humidity was so bad that after washing my clothes in the morning and hanging them out I came back at the end of the day to find them wetter than when I left. Some people reckon that Tahiti is not so expensive. I think they must come from Europe where the exchange rate works in their favour. It is picturesque and the few photos I took are great but overall I was disappointed.
I only used Tahiti as a connection for getting to Easter Island so shouldn’t complain too much. Most travel here as couples and it’s a major honeymoon destination. The islands around the main island are reported to be nicer. Places like Moorea and Bora Bora. The main island of Tahiti is rather mountainess and covered in a lush tropical forest. It has a tendency to have tropical downpours late in the afternoon. While I was there it actually poured down for a whole day. On the whole though it does have a pretty good bus system for getting around or if money is no problem hire a car. There are ferries for getting to all the islands as seeing as tourism is a major earner for this country it is well set up to cater for them. It has excellent diving, snorkelling and fishing, not forgetting the swimming.
Ingrids Travel Tips for Tahiti
1) Take water with you everywhere as you are going to need it. Sweating and feeling sticky goes with the territory.
2) Get out to the other smaller islands, the pebbles are reported to be smaller and therefore are like sand.
3) If you have access to a dryer use it. Hanging your clothes out to dry to pretty much a waste of time.
4) You have probably paid alot of money to get here so get out and enjoy it.
Here are some links to other websites. These are about fishing in beautiful Alaska!
It was many years ago that I went to Brisbane and Surfers Paradise but my daughter went there just a few years ago and from all accounts it’s still the same. Brisbane is of course on the east coast is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. So that’s Aussies claim to fame; the largest barrier reef in the world. And some would also say the Sydney Opera House to. The crocodile hunter Steve Irwin cemented this part of Australia on the map. In December of 2008 I went to Western Australia. The city of Perth is actually closer to Singapore and Jakarta than it is to Sydney.
Western Australia. Perth is the largest city here and a nice city at that. For the first few days I stayed with family in Ellenbrook. From here you can go and see the area known as Swan Valley and do vineyard tours. It is very dry and hot here with temperatures in the 30s (Celsius) by the middle of October. In the height of summer it will be in the 40s.In the afternoons a sea breeze comes up which is called the Fremantle Doctor. It gives a little relief from the siring heat.
Perth itself is very laid back with no need to rush anything. Kings Park is up on a hill and from here you get a great view over Perth and the Swan River. In the centre of the city your main shopping is on Hay and Murray Streets. With such a huge diverse cultural mix of people living in Perth finding a restaurant to eat Chinese, Italian, Turkish, Polish or whatever takes your fancy this not going to be a problem. The transport in Perth is excellent and with buses, trains and ferries you can get to where you want without much trouble at all. In the centre of the city they have what is called the ‘free transit zone’. Yes it doesn’t cost you anything. The Indian Pacific rail service will take you all the way to Adelaide and Sydney. Of course North and South of Perth is going to see you lying on some of the best beaches in the world. There are loads of sports clubs and sport crazy people here. Who can blame them when the Indian Ocean is right on their door step.
Fremantle was put on the map in a big way when Australia won the America’s Cup. Suddenly it was the place to be. It underwent a big tidy up phase for the America’s Cup challenge and I must say it does look good even today several years down the track. It has a very nice shopping area and like Perth because of the heat there is an abundance of cafes where sitting outside in the shade to have your coffee is the norm in the area called the Cappuccino Strip. It has retained its old charm with its picturesque old buildings. Stroll along to the Fremantle Markets and down to the boat harbour.Dont forget to do the E-shed markets at the dockside which has over 80 stalls. There is a variety of sights and sounds to experience here and they can all be down by walking. The Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour is busy all year round and has an array of restaurants with cuisine catering to all tastes. Hop on a tour or cruise boat from here and enjoy a day out. Next catch a boat to Rottnest Island.
Rottnest Island is around a half hour boat ride from Fremantle and a super spot to soak up the sun. It has some of the most beautiful beaches. It’s just gorgeous. Take a dip in the clear turquoise waters, swim, snorkel, dive, hire a bike, eat out, view it from the air on a scenic flight or just sit on the beach. It has some amazing reef formations and tropical fish. This is a kid friendly island with many locals heading here with the whole family for a much needed break. The quokkas are real friendly but can be a nuisance so watch your food and look out for snakes as they are deadly. This island is jammed packed with things to do like golf, mini putt, a cinema and fun park. For the size of this island it has everything you want for a 3-4 day stay.
After leaving Rottnest I then decided on a tour down to the southern point of WA . I went to such places like Augusta, where I did some wine tasting, and right down to Albany. Other places where we spent time were the Blowholes, Natural Bridge, Tree Top Walk, Elephant Rock and the Green Pool. The coast line down in the very south can be very rugged in places but there are still some very nice beaches and it’s a popular place for surfers. The city of Albany is situated on the Princess Royal Harbour and was the departure point for many New Zealand and Australian soldiers during WW1.
On Mount Clarence is a memorial for an Australian and New Zealand soldier bearing the words ‘lest we forget’. From this spot is an awesome view of Albany and out to sea. When you head north from Albany you go pass loads of vineyards and then you hit the wheat belt. The wheat belt goes all the way north of Perth. I don’t know how far it actually goes but it has to be well over a thousand kms. On getting back from my tour of WA I then booked a day trip to Wave Rock. This trip included a stop at the famous Corrigin Dog Cemetery. Yes they bury their dogs in style and why not. Wave Rock is rather deceiving. On arriving there my first thought was that it’s not really very big. It looks like it slops up gently but when you go to climb up it further to get a photo you only get 5-6 steps and you just can’t get any further. The photos taken of me are the only way to see that it really is a big huge rock. When you are there looking up it is so different. You can get to walk right up on the top as its flatter and there is a small lake which is the water supply for the town of Hyden below. You get a view that just goes on forever. This rock has been dated as being 2700million years old and looks like a miniature of Ayers Rock.
Next we walked along to Hippos Yawn. It looks like a hippo yawning thus the name. The rocks around here are so huge. Mulka’s Cave was next on the list. The name Mulka comes from an Aboriginal Legend. In this cave can be seen hand imprints than are much larger than the average human male hand. Interesting. From here back to Perth you are going through the wheat belt and every few kms you see these huge silos and drying yards. The biggest earner in WA is mining with wheat coming in second.
Ingrids Travel Tips for Australia
1) There are lots of tour agencies in Perth which offer day trips to places like Wave Rock and at a good price so make sure to do some.
2) Suntan lotion of a high factor is necessary. Make sure to put it on before venturing out and re-apply during the day.
3) On Rottnest Island hire a bike. They have small ones for the kids to. They also have a few buses that run at regular intervals from one end of the island to the other.
4) Book your accommodation before heading to Rottnest. It’s a very popular place and at the beginning of December when I went there it was already overflowing with tourists and locals.
5) Take the trains or buses around Perth. Easy to use and they get you to everywhere and it’s so easy to use and get to Fremantle this way.
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AOTEAROA, land of the Long White Cloud. This is my homeland. It’s the land of outdoor activities and we are famous for the ALL BLACKS. (Our national rugby team). I liken NZ to Canada but on a much smaller scale. Mountains, lakes, fishing, diving, skiing, bungy-jumping, sky-diving….. Whatever outdoor extreme sport you wish to participate in you will find it in this country. We are jammed packed with so much to do and see in each region that I am not going to attempt to put it all in. Auckland will be your first introduction to this country unless you have come from Australia in which case you can fly into Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown.
Northland. Attractions here are in abundance. These include Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, Dargaville, Doubtless Bay, Far North, Kaitaia and Ahipara, Mangawhai and Mangawhai Heads, Mangonui, Oakura Bay and Whangaruru Harbour, Tutukaka, Waipu and Waipu Cove, West Coast Whangarei, Whangaroa Harbour, Opua, Paihia and Russell. There is adventure, arts and culture, heritage, history, retreats, museums and art galleries, nature and eco tourism, tramping and guided walks, fishing ………
You can visit the Kauri Museum at Matakohe and see a giant kauri tree north of Dargaville called Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua Forest. Go to Ninety Mile Beach and the Kaiiwi Lakes. Catch a ferry from Rawene to Rangiora or dive the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior which is north of Kerikeri in the Cavalli Island.
Auckland has two huge harbours enfolding an environment that’s alive with cultural excitement and sea-flavoured challenges. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city. Highlights include Great Barrier Island, Hibiscus Coast, Matakana Coast, Waiheke Island, Warkworth, North Shore, the Waitakere Ranges and North West wine district. Musuems, art, cafes and the Viaduct Basin. Catch a ferry to Waiheke or Great Barrier Island or over to Davenport. There’s loads of interesting things to do and see in Auckland and the surrounding area.
Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, and Waikato. All these provinces have beaches, walking and hiking areas and a major city or large town. There are places like Ohope Beach and Hot Water Beach where you can take a shovel and dig a hole on the beach and wait for it to fill with hot water. If it gets to hot just run into the surf for your butt to cool off. Swim, fish, hike, surf or look in the antique shops of places like Thames or Paeroa. Don’t forget a visit to Tauranga and Mt Manganui. Beautiful beaches here to.
Rotorua. Explore Rotorua’s geothermal areas and discover the unique culture of New Zealand’s Maori people. Rotorua is NZs cultural capital and highlights in this region include Mount Tarawera, Whakarewarewa Forest and Geyser, Ohinemutu and the many geothermal locations. There is another hot water beach on Lake Tarawera and if you are lucky enough to catch a trout it can be gutted, seasoned, wrapped in tin foil and put in the sand, covered over then come back in less than an hour and eaten. Go to a tourist information office to hire a guide and boat and head to Lake Tarawera and give it a try.
Taupo. It’s on the shore of our biggest lake and with places to go that look like lunar landscapes. Your starting point to see this landscape is Craters of the Moon. Visit Huka Falls and take a jet boat ride. Highlights include Turangi the North Island’s trout fishing capital, Tongariro National Park and Orakei Korako Geyserland. Hot Pools and Health Spas, Gardens, Maori Culture, Retreats, mountain biking, museums and art galleries, nature, scenic flights, sky-diving, charter boats and sailing, English language schools, festivals, skiing and snowboarding at nearby Mt Ruapehu, golf, shopping and tramping or hiking.…… At the end of the day there are hot pools to soak in at De Bretts and some great restaurants. Taupo has camping grounds and so do most of the small towns in the bays around the lake.
Taihape has NZs highest bungy at Gravity Canyon.
Eastland is a wild and enchanting place full of ancient stories. Catch the first sunrise of the world’s new day and explore a coast that few people know well. The Eastland region includes Gisborne, Te Araroa, Ruatoria and East Cape (the easternmost point of the main islands of New Zealand). Lovely beaches over this way! There are the remains of old wharfs and buildings. Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay and its fantastic little hostel called Footprints in the Sand sort of sums up the whole region. Fish, swim, surf, have a bbq and beers, this is the no problem, no rush region of NZ. You can bike, hike, take a tour to the Mahia Peninsula or go to the East Cape Lighthouse. I love it up this way.
Taranaki, Ruapehu, Wanganui and Hawkes Bay. Ruapehu region has the mountains of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro, and Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Taranaki. Wanganui has the Wanganui River and a road connecting you to Raetihi. Hawkes Bay is one of the best regions for fruit and wines with concerts held in the vineyards. NZs Dame Keri Te Kanawa has performed in one of the vineyards over here. The city of this region is Napier. It has been called our Art Deco capital.
Wairarapa. This region also has lots of vineyards and orchards. The biggest town is Masterton. Another town called Martinborough has a great fair every year that attracts lots of people. Right out on the coast is Castlepoint. It’s another of NZs best known surfing spots along with Gisborne and Raglan.
Wellington. This is the capital city of NZ. Houses built on the hills that overlook the harbour. Te Papa, our national museum is here. Wellington has a great lookout spot from Mt Victoria and many people know of the cable car. The World Rugby Sevens teams visit here every year for the first weekend of February. This is a must to go to if you are going to be in NZ at that time of the year. Dress up and get along. It’s the biggest party and oh is it so much fun. From Wellington you can catch the interislander ferry to Picton at the top of the South Island.
Marlborough region. Marlborough wines are known throughout the world. They can even be purchased in the Sainsbury supermarkets in England. Main centres include Blenheim, Picton, Havelock, Renwick, Blenheim, Wairau Valley, Seddon and Kekerengu. Fantastic scenery, wine and tranquil countryside and the Marlborough Sounds for that all important fishing.
Nelson. I love it here to. Nice beaches, orchards and wineries. Nelson has great summer weather and beautiful lakes. Towns include Motueka, Takaka, Abel Tasman National Park, Brightwater, Golden Bay, Kaiteriteri and Murchison. The sand in Golden Bay really is a golden colour. You will also find here the world renounded Heaphy Track. This region has numerous other activities and sights.
West Coast of the South island is rugged with mountainous landscapes and rivers, icy glaciers and coastal formations. Main centres include Westport, Greymouth, Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier and Haast. There are hiking trails such as the Greenstone Trail. Go through limestone canyons, see mountain hot pools and the Punakaiki Rocks. Canterbury – Kaikoura region has the city of Christchurch but the town of Kaikoura is just as interesting with its famous crayfish and whale-watching. You can swim with dolphins and see fur seals. Also worth visiting are Amberley and Leithfield, Arthurs Pass, Cheviot, Darfield, Fairlie, Geraldine, Hanmer Springs, Kaiapoi, Kaikoura, Lake Tekapo, Methven the rocks. Other places and Mt Hutt, Mt Lyford, Mt Somers, Oxford, Peel Forest, Pleasant Point, Rakaia, Rangiora Springfield and Great Alpine Highway, Temuka, Timaru, Twizel, Waimate. Temuka is known for its pottery and Hamner Springs for hot pools. Take a hot air balloon ride or scenic flight.
Mt Aoraki (Mt Cook) and the MacKenzie area has out highest mountain in the spectacle Southern Alps. The Mackenzie country is an inland basin at the bottom of the Southern Alps. Main centres include Fairlie, Lake Tekapo, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Twizel. In this region you can take a spectacular and unforgettable scenic flight of the Mount Cook and Westland World Heritage Parks. Depart hourly from Lake Tekapo, Glentanner Park and Franz Josef on modern, well equipped aircraft. Involve yourself in hiking and tramping or skiing. Wanaka, Queenstown and Otago has just as many exciting activities to keep the family busy for days. Lakes, ski fields, bungy-jumping, scenic flights, mountain-biking, wineries, Otagos gold rush history, Omarama hot pools, museums and galleries, water sports, tramping, shopping,……..
Places to see here and towns to visit include Central Otago, Clutha and Balclutha, Kurow, Middlemarch, Milton, North Catlins, Oamaru, Omarama, Palmerston, Tapanui, Dunedin, Alexandra, Cromwell, Ranfurly and Roxburgh. Queenstown is the Southern Hemisphere’s premiere four seasons alpine and lake resort nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. This region is beautiful to see in the autumn when the leaves change colour to reds and golds. Clear days and snow covered mountains – you will get some fantastic photos. Summer sees some of the highest temperatures in NZ.
Queenstown is the home of bungy-jumping. Yes this is where the world-wide bungy crazy started. Don’t miss out on such things as jet boating, white water rafting and parapenting. On Lake Wakatipu, the vintage TSS Earnslaw steamer has been beautifully restored to its original condition and takes visitors on daily trips. Keen golfers shouldn’t miss out on an opportunity to play some of the most scenic courses in the world, at award-winning Millbrook Resort, Kelvin Heights, Arrowtown and Frankton. The area has great rainbow trout, brown trout and quinnat salmon fishing. Join one of the wine tours to Gibbston Valley, or don’t miss historical Arrowtown with its quaint, tree-lined streets, miners’ cottages and shops preserved as they were during the 19th century gold rush era, just a 20 minute drive away.
Dunedin is NZs oldest city with such highlights as Larnach Castle, Speights Brewery, Otago Museum and penguin colony. This city is well known for its Edwardian and Victorian architecture. Visits to see the worlds rarest penguins, the only mainland royal albatross breeding colony and rare NZ sea lions are possible to do from Dunedin. And if you want to see and walk the worlds steepest street then Baldwin Street is where you need to go.
Fiordland is a most enchanting region with rainforests, snow capped mountains, the Fiordland Sounds, lakes……This region incorporates Doubtful Sound, Te Anau and Milford Sound. The road to Milford Sound is considered to be one of the world’s finest alpine drives and Fiordland has achieved World Heritage status. Often called the Sightseeing and Walking Capital of the world because of the now world famous Milford, Kepler, Hollyford and Routeburn Tracks. You can sea kayak, dive, fish, hunt or see this huge and fantastic region by air also. In Te Anau local attractions include fishing, golf, 4WD (four-wheel driving), motorbikes, hunting and cave exploring.
In beautiful green Southland you have the luxury of time. Main centres in Southland include Catlins, Gore, Invercargill, Bluff and Stewart Island. Museums and art galleries, nature and eco tourism, scenic flights, sightseeing, surfing and water sports, tramping, hiking and guided walks, sailing, zoos and wildlife parks or just uncover more of Southlands history. Bluff is a major town for our famous Bluff Oysters.
INGRIDS TRAVEL TIPS FOR NEW ZEALAND
1) Your best bet for travelling in NZ is to hire a vehicle. There are so many things to see and all our towns are fairly close together.
2) Dont leave valuables in the car. Lock them in the boot well ot of sight. Unfortunately people like to steal from rental cars in NZ.
3) It is compulsery for all persons in a vehicle to wear their seat belts. Fines can be substantial so use them.
4) It is also illegal to talk on a cell-phone while driving. Again the fines are big $$$.
5) Remember we drive on the left-hand side of the road but if you come all this way to NZ its worth staying for at least a month and seeing all of it. Lets face it when are you going to get back down this way again.
6) ATMs are not a problem to find.
7) If you get lost then just ask for help. Most people are only to willing to point you in the right direction. The local gas station is usually the best place to ask and they will have road maps also.
8) If you want to eat out but dont have a lot of money the Cobb and Co. chain of resturants are great value and you get a good size serving.
9) Want a bottle of wine for a picnic or bbq then go to local supermarket. The wine and beer range is good and cheaper than a liquor store.
10) The water is fine to drink in NZ so dont waste money buying bottled water.
I love this hostel on the East Coast of the North Island and I think you will to. You can book through www.hostelbookers.com
The hostel is under Tokomaru Bay and the name is Footprints in the Sand and your host is Sean Allen. He’s the one pointing in the photo. Or here is a direct link; www.footprintsinthesand.co.nz