Australia: Melbourne – Great Ocean Road – Mornington Peninsula

May 9, 16 at 12:36 am

I find it hard to recall some of the places lately, so I’m penning them down here for my own good.

I started off in Melbourne for 2 nights before headed to Great Ocean Road for another night. I spent 2 wonderful nights in Mornington Peninsula before jetting off to Sydney.

State Library of Victoria

State Library of Victoria

Our supposedly starting point for the free tour. We have plenty of time to kill so why not take a look at the library.

Carlton Gardens

Carlton Gardens

Melbourne has plenty of public parks that can put our own parks to shame. They are very nicely maintained and I bet they would look pretty during spring time.

Chinatown

One of the alleys in Chinatown

Melbourne’s Chinatown is full of characters. Note that this is also part of the free tour.

NZ 2012 – Video Compilation

Aug 30, 12 at 12:04 am

I thought it would be kind of waste not to make some videos along our journey in NZ so I actually got myself a tiny but powerful video camera – GoPro HD Hero. Armed with all the right accessories, I took quite a number of videos and here they are… some of them which I duly compiled for your viewing pleasure. All the videos are in full high-definition. Enjoy!

Part 1 – Journey from Christchurch to Tekapo. [Day 1 Story]

Part 2 – A view of Lake Tekapo, Church of Good Shepherd, Mount John Observatory and Astro Cafe. [Day 1 Story, Day 2 Story]

Part 3 – Journey from Pukaki to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park with gorgeous view of turquoise Lake Pukaki and the jaw-dropping scenery along the way. [Day 2 Story]

NZ 2012 – Day 13 – Christchurch — KL

Aug 28, 12 at 11:36 pm

Click here for the NZ executive summary and other posts.

Day 13
Christchurch to KL

*

Slight drizzle greeted us on our final day in NZ. Unwillingly, we dragged our luggage to the car, and drove around the city looking for breakfast.

Vic's Cafe
Vic’s Cafe

I did not plan anything on this day. I felt if there’s anything which we did not manage to do for the past 12 days, this would be the day we’d make up for it. Thankfully, we were pretty much settled down and therefore, we unanimously picked Canterbury Museum as the place to go.

Christchurch was still pretty much in rubble, especially the CBD area. Much of the area was cordoned off. There were ongoing constructions almost everywhere. I felt so sorry for what had struck this beautiful city.

After our lovely breakfast (and our new obsession with paninis), we navigated few streets away to find the beautiful Canterbury Museum sitting next to Botanic Gardens.

Canterbury Museum
Canterbury Museum

NZ 2012 – Day 12 – Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura to Christchurch

Aug 26, 12 at 11:55 pm

Click here for the NZ executive summary and other posts.

Day 12
Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura to Christchurch

Hanmer Springs - Kaikoura - Christchurch

Point A (Starting point) = Hanmer Springs
Point B = Kaikoura
Point C = Christchurch

*

It was a really chilly day with the sky, all cloudy and gloomy. We hit the road as early as possible as we had booked a boat tour for whale watching at Kaikoura.

The journey took about 1.5 hours. It was raining by the time we reached Kaikoura and ultimately, the Whale Watch where we signed up for the whale watch tour. The Whale Watch office sits beautifully by Kaikoura coast and it also serves as one of the train stops for Coastal Pacific line, operated by KiwiRail Scenic Journeys.

The Kaikoura Peninsula extends into the sea south of the town, and the resulting upwelling currents bring an abundance of marine life from the depths of the nearby Hikurangi Trench. The town owes its origin to this effect, since it developed as a centre for the whaling industry. The name ‘Kaikoura’ translates to ‘meal of crayfish’ (‘kai’- food/meal, ‘koura’ – crayfish) and the crayfish industry still plays a role in the economy of the region. However Kaikoura has now become a popular tourist destination, mainly for whale watching (the Sperm Whale watching is perhaps the best and most developed in the world) and swimming with or near dolphins. There is also a large and readily observed colony of Southern Fur Seals at the eastern edge of the town. At low tide, better viewing of the seals can be had as the ocean gives way to a rocky base which is easily navigable by foot for quite some distance.

When we first arrived, we were taken aback by the meter high waves crashing violently to the shore. The sea looked really choppy and we were not sure if we should continued with the tour. While waiting up, we were constantly be informed of the sea condition and Whale Watch did a magnificent job by giving us appropriate warning about getting seasick due to the rough seas. One of our friends decided to sit back as he was quite prone to seasickness. Although we had paid for the tour before we came to NZ, they still gladly refunded us the full amount. As for my friend, he ended up wandering around Kaikoura town on its own while we were up in the high sea.

The three of us decided to continue with the tour and bought a pack of non-drowsy seasick pills for use later. We were given a short briefing and thereafter, we were chauffeured by bus to the jetty.

Whale Watch @ Kaikoura

NZ 2012 – Day 11 – Greymouth to Hanmer Springs

Aug 26, 12 at 10:14 pm

Click here for the NZ executive summary and other posts.

Day 11
Greymouth to Hanmer Springs

Greymouth - Punakaiki - Hanmer Springs
Point A (Starting point) = Greymouth
Point B = Punakaiki
Point C = Hanmer Springs

*

2 more nights left until our scheduled flight back to reality. After our epic glacier hike, it was time to seek something different again.

Greymouth
Coastal road

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes

NZ 2012 – Day 10 – Franz Josef to Greymouth

Jul 25, 12 at 1:21 am

Click here for the NZ executive summary and other posts.

Day 10
Franz Josef to Greymouth

Google Maps - Franz Josef to Greymouth

*

Our journey so far has brought us to many and incredible things that we have not seen before. We have seen the ridiculously breathtaking lakes, mountains and seas. What else is there we have yet to explore? Walking on glacier? Let’s do it!

We were dead worried prior to signing up the half day glacier walk package. We totally had no idea how difficult the walk would be. We played mind games with each other trying to convince that the walk would be a fun one, but deep inside, we know it will not be an easy walk.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides is just a mere 5 minutes walk from our hostel. After signing the indemnity form, we were ushered to a room to get our walking boots, crampons and jackets. Then, we waited for the bus which got us to the starting point of the walk.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides
Franz Josef Glacier Guides

The Franz Josef (Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere in Māori) is a 12 km long glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km to the south, it is unique in descending from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level, amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest.