A Travellerspoint blog

Water, ice and jade

sunny 28 °C
View Supermoon on KulaRing's travel map.

In the last blog you left us at Kaikoura a small beautiful beach town and the Lazy Shag hotel. Since then we have been blighted by at best dodgy and at worst non-existent internet hence the delay in what is to be the officially the Seventh blog.

Firstly let me (Rob) state for the record that this is my first ever blog so stay with me on this one, and secondly that rumours of our demise in Christchurch’s latest earthquake are untrue.

Leaving Kaikoura we began our journey along the coast and across the top of New Zealand’s south island to Kaiteriteri which aside from being another beach town also boasts to be close to some of the best wineries in the country. Home for the night was a little wooden cabin in the Bethany Park resort which by some weird coincidence was also hosting a Christian retreat. After dumping our bags we headed into town in search of food accompanied by our small travelling companion, followed by an evening dip in the sea before bed, associated photos below.
The next day I rose early leaving Sarah to sleep and took to the water in a sea kayak for a paddle around the coast. After a fair amount of hard work and some amazing views Sarah and I were reunited on the bus to begin the journey to Westport.

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Before we move on however I feel I should publicly apologise to Sarah for stealing her hot water token leaving her with nothing but a freezing cold shower that morning. Sorry Sarah....

The journey to Westport took us via the Nelson Lakes for a brief stop and a spot of lunch with a truly breath taking view. Sarah even found time for a brief paddle in the water before it was back on the bus bound for Westport and our bed for the night at Bazils Hostel.

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After a quick check-in we were off again this time together for my second water based activity of the day, paddle boarding. For those of you who don’t know (which to be fair included me previously) paddle boarding is a cross between surfing and punting on a river. After a few slips and trips down the river bank we were off in the most unusual of transportation methods paddling down the river. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this to upload nor any of when Sarah fell in the water, but luckily once the disposable camera (thank you Natalie) has been developed these will become available.

The night ended with the most amazing of steak dinners served on a hot stone for you to cook yourself, with fries, salad and drink all for the low low price of seven pounds.

After a night sharing a dorm room with the most annoying gentleman ever, which is a story all in itself we hopped on the bus destined this time for Lake Maihinapua.

Along the way we stopped for both the Cape Foulwind walk and Pancake Rocks both equally beautiful, and both photographed below.

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Arriving later that day at the Lake Mahinapua Hotel we checked into the most amazing of placings. Firstly because it was pretty amazing, but also because our bus driver for the last couple of days (Ross) offered up his own private room to us as a present on our first valentine’s day as a married couple.

Leaving the bags in formally Ross’s private ensuite room Sarah begin our stay with a little Jade carving (or green rock as the locals call it), making herself a necklace which as you can tell she is somewhat proud off.

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This was followed that even by a dip in the lake for me and a sunset on the beach for us both later both pictured below, as well as Sarah eating roast pork (not pictured).

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The evening ended with the famous Kiwi bus fancy dress party in the hotel bar and a couple of cheeky drinks for all.

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The next morning rose with some of the clearest heads among our travelling companions many who had partied till the small hours and jumped aboard the express bus to Franz Josef. Now although Ross has made only a brief appearance in this story, and fun as it was, we left him behind to drive the normal bus and so he shall not appear again.

Franz Josef is famous for two things, firstly being named after an Austrian Emperor and secondly it glacier.

Taking the helicopter, yes that’s right a helicopter!! We travelled to the base of the glacier for a guided hike around this true amazing, fascinating and bizarre landscape. Pictures are below which do not really do it justice. What you need to know is that its breath taking but on a sadder note its disappearing and rapidly. Where once you could walk up it from the ground, you now need a helicopter to get there, and by 2050 you will not even be able to get there by helicopter it with have retreated so far.

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On a happier note however a small travelling companion made another appearance, how gnomes will travel (maybe for the first time to this glacier).

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The evening finished with a trip to the glacier hot pools, and a pizza feast back at the hostel.

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With that this blog comes to an end there is so much more I haven’t included, mostly train related but so now yep that’s all folks

Posted by KulaRing 02:22 Archived in New Zealand Tagged glacier nz franz_josef westport kaiteriteri Comments (1)

I'm in love

sunny 26 °C
View Supermoon on KulaRing's travel map.

A warning: this will be a rather long rambling blog post and will be somewhat gushing as I've fallen for this little country, perhaps more than Australia. I could see us living here at some point. Sorry Oz. How fickle in love I am (watch out Rob!)

Last entry ended with a sudden loss of free wifi whilst in Auckland airport awaiting our flight down to Christchurch. After the devastating cut off I went for a wander through the rest of the terminal and came across something that made us both ridiculously happy after a 13 hour flight from LA, a 1500m walk and a 3 hour sit in the terminal...... free showers!!! and they were lush. It was lucky our check in hadn't opened so we still had our full bags and could clean up and change to our heart's content.

Very happy post shower
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Our post shower waiting spot with a view of the runway and landing planes (for the several plane nerds I know)
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This was my first ever flight with JetStar and it was also our first honeymoon upgrade, we were moved to the exit row so had some rather fantastic leg room. It was almost a shame the flight was only an hour long. There are no pictures of this leg room because I'd only get mocked for my short legs not needing it!

On arriving in Christchurch we headed to our home for the night, the Jailhouse, which is a hostel in an old converted prison. All the bedrooms are in the cells which is a new experience us both I believe. Some of the cells have been left as they were when the jail shut to give a view of its pre-backpacker life, maybe as a warning to behave whilst in the hostel?!

Checking into Jailhouse
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A few shots of life inside
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Due to the Auckland airport heavenly shower find, we were able to drop our bags off and head into the city centre in the hopes of finding the city tour bus and using our first honeymoon present (thank you Dave). Walking towards the city I was concerned at no signs of a large "city", there was no heavy mass of buildings anywhere in sight. This may have been obvious to some reading this why, but although I read all the news reports from 2011 of a devastating earthquake in Christchurch that destroyed, or led to the demolition, of 70% of the CBD buildings I guess I never took in the scale of what that means. The city bus tour no longer focuses on the "highlights" of the city, as these highlights are gone and new highlights are planned but not yet built (in most cases, although something's like the container mall which was thrown up in the aftermath as people needed basic shops are there and serve to show the amazingness of the Christchurch resilience). Block after block is just empty space or the occasional propped up building that they are hoping they can salvage. The people are just getting on with the rebuild and they've taken their time so the city creeping back up is a beautiful, modern and earthquake proof thing. Everything they didn't like about the old city that grew as the population did with little forethought is now being changed, they are determined to make the most of the horror from several years ago. I don't have many photos from the bus as none would really show the space or the spirit of the city. The photo below is the Catholic Cathedral, waiting to either be hopefully restored or demolished and rebuilt (the church has promised the funds for either) once a decision is made by the local clergy and some builders become available! The front of the cathedral used to have two copper dome topped towers to either side of the entrance.

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Us looking windswept on the bus and post tour
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Post tour we popped into the Canterbury Musuem, conveniently where the tour ends, which is well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Christchurch and is free! There are real mummies and dinosaur bits, a recreation of a street from the beginnings of the city and many other cool things.

Me trying out a penny farthing in old Christchurch
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Rob being a penguin.....
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The next day we joined our transport for the remainder of our New Zealand stay, the legendary Kiwi Experience bus. It's supposed to be hop on/hop off but due to their guaranteed first night in a local hostel and cheap activity booking staying aboard the one bus and allowing them to do the hard work is a great lazy choice.

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Thursday was Christchurch to Kaikoura, a very small beach town known for its whale watching. We have to go back to Kaikoura before moving on to the north island in about a week so we are saving the whales until then, instead we went on a hike over some cliffs to a seal colony. Post this hour and half cliff hike and the 10 miles strolled around Christchurch on Wednesday Rob's legs were most definitely feeling the work out, so I rewarded him with beer on the beach. The views were spectacular and it is now time to bore you with photos from that. (photos that look to be purely of rocks are actually of seals, the black blobs are the seals, my phone isn't great for seal photography)

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A final thing for today, before I go and enjoy some sunshine. We stayed in a charming little hostel overlooking the town. Here is Rob with the sign
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Rob will be posting the next blog from Kaiteriteri and Westport where we shall be tonight

Posted by KulaRing 11:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged christchurch kaikoura nz Comments (1)

and so to Middle Earth (after the Superbowl that is)

sunny 24 °C
View Supermoon on KulaRing's travel map.

First impressions of New Zealand are it is beautiful, breathtakingly so. That is based on just the view from the plane on the way to Auckland, and Auckland airport where I am sat writing this waiting for the short flight down to Christchurch. We flew out of Los Angeles on Monday night and have arrived here in New Zealand on Wednesday morning.

Our last few days with the Kashinskys were just as good as the first. We did some more walking around to freak out the natives and came across this sign for my mother in law.
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On Friday night we went to the local Monrovia craft fair, and then to a Mexican, where as it was the 5th of the month dinner was $5 each!! So about £3. The margaritas (my only drinks ignoring free honeymoon champagne on the flights) were as big as my head and really rather strong!
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Claire obviously did not join us in these and instead babysat the rest of us after we headed to the First Cabin bar - another feature of all LA trips. The boys made sure to sample several of their varieties of whisky.
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Saturday like all wild young folk we had a board game evening, and I think victory was only had due to foreign knowledge.

Sunday was Superbowl Sunday and we were kindly invited to the home of Markus' office manager. Lots of food, beer and some form of score betting I didn't really understand which could explain my lack of winnings. The game wasn't the greatest but the Broncos had a victory.
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Time to check in for next flight before my battery on laptop dies!

Posted by KulaRing 12:39 Archived in New Zealand Tagged la superbowl nz kashinsky Comments (3)

LA times

sunny 21 °C
View Supermoon on KulaRing's travel map.

On Tuesday in stereotypical US fashion we started our week in California with a pancake breakfast at ihop, before going to the local Pavilions (supermarket) to hunt down the infamous Kashinsky trolley adverts. We introduced Wilfred to the rather bewildered Peanut and Jelly, before a trip to Tokyo Wako - something no trip to see Claire and Markus would be complete without!

Claire at ihop
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Claire and Rob admiring the Ability advert featuring the Kashinskys on the shopping trolley
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The view from the Kashinsky road
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Wilfred meeting Jelly
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Wilfred meeting Peanut
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Dinner at Tokyo Wako
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For Wednesday and Thursday we decided to hire a car as Claire and Markus had to go do the work thing. On Wednesday at Markus' recommendation we headed down the Pacific Coast Highway past Malibu to Point Dume (pronounced in an American accent as Point Doom which is just awesome). We hiked over a rather large sand dune to the most rusted rickety stairs I've ever encountered (and I've worked around Dagenham for 3 years now) then down to the deserted beach for a picnic of some absolutely massive sandwiches handmade in the supermarket.

Rob scaring the locals as we WALKED to the car hire place
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View of the car from the sand dune
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Pirates Cove
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Point Dume State Beach from the sand dune
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Us pre-picnic
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The seagull that terrorised me throughout the picnic!
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Wilfred enjoying his first Pacific Ocean paddle
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Me posing on the beach for a bit
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After lunch and the march back over the dune to the car we headed back down the PCH to Santa Monica and the pier. Rob demanded ice cream from on the pier, then we hired some bikes and after some minor regret at not trying out the tandem, cycled the 3 miles along the beach to Muscle Beach at the edge of Venice Beach.

Rob at the pier with his mahoosive 1 scoop of ice cream
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At Muscle Beach
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Wilfred at the Santa Monica Pier
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Thursday began with a trip to Claire's school up in the foothills for lunch. It was a hairy journey as our car wasn't as keen on going up to the school as we were.

View from the school
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The school pool - looks much more inviting than the pool at Moulsham High School!
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Claire and her bearded dragon (Benedict Dragonbatch) back in her biology lab
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After lunch we drove across to the Hollywood Hills to try out the Tree of Life Trail, which is a hike up a mountain to a tree which legend says was the only thing to survive the wild fires a few years ago, then the trail continues across the ridge and down to behind the Hollywood sign. On this trip I underestimated both my fear of heights and just how steep and narrow this trail was. We climbed 900ft in about 0.7 miles only stopping everytime I remembered how high we were getting and just how dead I'd be if I slipped off the side (it should be noted school children were happily runnning up and down past me at this time). Sadly after my freak out at the top of the mountain Rob decided it was best we just head down rather than continue on the the sign, and also the freak out means I forgot to even take a picture of the tree we'd gone all that way to see!!!

The view and us at the half way stage
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The few photos I managed from the top
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Me and Wilfred posing with downtown behind us on a lower wider part of the trail
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And just for reference to to make myself feel slightly less wimpy, the mountain in this photo is what we climbed to the top of!
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After this ordeal Rob took me to In n Out for a very large burger, and I had some chillies (pictured) to calm my nerves! I can highly recommend the double double animal style. Next time I will conquer the entire trail!!!
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We've got 4 days left to enjoy LA and featuring the Superbowl before we catch our next flight to Auckland :)

Posted by KulaRing 19:40 Archived in USA Tagged hills la kashinsky Comments (1)

And we're off

semi-overcast 16 °C
View Supermoon on KulaRing's travel map.

After the long 5 month wait since the wedding, we finally began the honeymoon yesterday with a nice civilised mid afternoon flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles.

Tried out the Yo Sushi! in the new T2, accompanied by some celebratory fizz

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We flew Air New Zealand, who in my many flighted opinions are pretty darn good. We got a glass of champagne as we boarded the plane as a honeymoon gift from the crew.

Wilfred has made the final packing list and is seen here checking out our plane at Heathrow
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We flew into the California sunset and after a bumpy landing due to crosswinds we are finally on our holiday! Greeted by the lovely Mr and Mrs Kashinsky at the airport then heading back to theirs and after almost 24 hours awake crashing out. Not sure if it's excitement, jetlag or just used to being awake at daft hours whatever country I'm in but this blog was written at half 5. May have to wake Rob up and make him walk to ihop for a pancake breakfast!!

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Posted by KulaRing 07:06 Archived in USA Tagged la kashinsky Comments (0)

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