Thursday, December 17, 2009

Preparations are underway

We got a letter from the lovely people who are organising our trip last week. Including FIVE visa application forms, a letter from the tour doctor, a request for SIX passport photos, and a request for a letter from our employers, stating that we are employed by XX in the position of XX and will be returning to work on XX, to accompany one of the visa applications.

Holy crap.

It took hours to fill in all the forms, we had to take a trip to the chemist to get extra passport photos, we had to make sure we had at least six empty pages in our passports, two of which must be facing pages... it was exhausting. By the time I couriered everything to the travel agent yesterday I was positive I'd forgotten something.

And I did. I forgot to include the extra passport photos. So I had to send an extra envelope. That was annoying.

But so exciting, because it means in just over three months time, we'll be on our way!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The next big thing

In exactly six months from today, the boy and I will be embarking on our next big adventure. We'll be travelling on the Silk Road by private train. The marvellous people at Captain's Choice Tours are organising this all for us, and all we have to do is show up at the airport with our passports on the right day at the right time.

You can click on this link to see the full itinerary - four weeks of it - and meanwhile you can look at this map (sorry it's not a big larger) to see the route we will be travelling.

Why yes, we are excited, thanks very much for asking.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Broome part 6

One of the last things we did in Broome was go on a camel ride along the beach. We totally thought it would be trashy and touristy but it was so much fun!

Broome 24

This is our camel Wun, showing us his lovely teeth:
Broome 27

Broome 28

Broome 29

Here is Wun showing us his long eyelashes:
Broome 30

Kendall and I with a spectacular sunset behind us:
Broome 31
Seriously, this was much more fun that I ever thought it would be. I did have a sore bum for a few days afterwards because camels? They are not comfortable to ride. But really good fun!

Overall it was a great relaxing holiday. I read five books, lots of magazines, we played lots of music on the iPods, and didn't think about work once. Just the way it should be.

Soon I'll tell you about the next holiday we have planned. It's a doozy.

Broome part 5

One of the side trips we did in Broome was take a scenic flight over part of the Kimberley, to Koolan Island and Cape Leveque.

This is part of the Buccaneer Archipelago that we flew over: more than 1,000 islands and the King Sound.
Broome 15

These are the Horizontal Waterfalls. When the tide comes in, two lakes behind the coast fill up through two narrow breaks in the rock. As the tide goes out again, the water level in the lakes is higher than the sea, so horizontal falls are created as the water seeks to escape.
Broome 13
Broome 12

This is Koolan Island, a former iron ore mine operated by BHP. When BHP decided to close the mine back in the 1980's, they were told they had to return the island back to its natural state. Years later when another mining company took out a new mining lease, they found all the BHP mining equipment at the bottom of the flooded mine. BHP were fined millions of dollars for their laziness.
Broome 17

This is the beach at Cape Leveque. It's a very nice place that has a small eco tourism venture owned by the local Aboriginal groups in the area.
Broome 20
Broome 22

On the way home flying along the coast we saw Humpback Whales, Sea Turtles, Manta Rays and Dugongs. It was totally awesome.

Broome part 4

These gorgeous smelling frangipani flowers are everywhere in Broome. These were in the courtyard outside our room, next to our private pool.
Broome 07

Here's a Boab Tree; you see them everywhere in northern Australia. They store water in their fat bottoms for times when there is no water to be found.
Broome 08

And this is the resort pool at night. Sorry it's a bit fuzzy, I must have knocked the focus off as I was setting up the tripod. But you get the general idea: stunning.
Broome 23
The resort was very nice but they had only officially opened the week before we arrived and they were still sorting their systems out, I think. Everyone was lovely but the service at times was a bit slow. I'd still recommend it to you; it was a very nice place to be.

Broome part 3

This is the world famous Cable Beach.
Broome 05

Broome 06

It's a very nice beach :)
Broome 32

What amazed me more than anything about Broome, though, was the fact that cars and four wheel drive vehicles are allowed to drive onto the beach. Not a very good way to keep it clean.

We found this little fella half buried in the sand right at the edge of the water, so I made Kendall dig him up for me to get a photo. I don't think he was overly pleased about it either.
Broome 09

Broome part 2

Have you ever wondered why the middle of Australia is referred to as the Red Centre? Here are a few shots from the plane over Alice Springs to explain that to you.

Broome 01

Here's a shot of the Olgas (Kata Tjuta), also from the plane:
Broome 02
Sorry it's a bit small but if you click on the photo it will take you to my Flickr photosream and you can see a larger version.

And here is Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru, taken from the plane. I was on a weird angle so it's not the best photo but it shows you how big it is, given you can see it clearly from 35,000 feet up in the air!
Broome 03

And here is a dry waterway in the middle of Broome, showing you yet more red dirt. During the wet season, that would be a raging torrent of water.
Broome 04

Monday, August 17, 2009

Broome part 1

Usually I break my posts up into days for each trip, but since for this holiday we stayed in one place and only did a few activities, I'm just going to post a few "Broome, part 1 (2, 3, 4, etc)" things. Today I have a rant, and a recommendation.

Because Broome is in the middle of nowhere (see map below - you can click to make it bigger), you don't have many choices in getting there. You can either fly with Qantas, or with Virgin Blue. If you choose Virgin Blue, you must go via Perth (totally not on the way). The distance from Melbourne to Broome is 4,996km. That's about 3,104 miles. A very long way. The distance from Melbourne to Perth is 3,456km (2,147 miles) and then from Perth to Broome is 2,233km (1,387 miles). You can understand why we chose to fly direct to Broome with Qantas.
There are several things wrong with this decision. Despite the fact we have a rule that for all flights over three hours we will consider going business class, we chose to fly economy. The reason for this? Business class flights to Broome (on the ONLY direct flight for the week) were more than it cost for our entire New Zealand holiday back in March. We simply could not justify the cost.

In retrospect, of course, we should have sucked it up and paid the extra 40 gazillion dollars because OH MY GOD it was awful. The stewards were rude. Every single thing they served us to eat contained nuts. I am allergic to nuts, as a lot of people are. Surely they could find me something else to eat? Just a simple cookie with no nuts in it? No, apparently not, I should have ordered that IN ADVANCE. If I'd known IN ADVANCE that I was going to be poisoned, I wouldn't have flown with Qantas in the first place.

My recommendation? Take an extra day on either side of your trip and go via Perth. It's a lovely city and you'll feel much better. Also go with Virgin Blue, not Qantas.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Other Holidays

I will add the photos and stories from previous holidays when we come back from Broome. Hey it's only 13 days until we go!

After we get back I can tell you about our next holiday, which is going to be the most awesome trip ever. Ever.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

An idea

I've been thinking about adding posts and photos from previous holidays to this blog. They won't be as detailed as the Canada and New Zealand and any future trips, as I can't possibly remember what we did every day, but a general idea and some nice photos could be cool.

What do you think?

p.s. 5 weeks until we head to Broome... yipee!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Counting down

I've just realised that it's only nine and a half weeks until we leave for Broome. I can't wait! The weather has been getting colder and more miserable here, so I am really looking forward to some sunshine and warmth.

Happily, the resort is even open now so that's even more encouraging (it hadn't opened at the time we booked which is always a gamble).

What sort of activities are there to do in Broome?
  • Pearl shopping
  • Camel rides
  • Sitting by the pool
  • Drinking cocktails
  • Other suggestions?
I wonder if I'll take any photos while we're there! Of course I'll be taking the camera; I never leave home without it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The next holiday

Because we must always have something to look forward to, we have booked our next holiday. From 9 - 16 August, we'll be in Broome, staying here. It looks awesome, doesn't it?

This will be more of a relaxing holiday than the last couple, we are flying to Broome and staying put at the resort until we fly home again. We may go for a camel ride on the beach. But that's about as stressful as it will get.

Why does August seem so far away?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We're home

We made it back safely last night. Now I'll have to get on to downloading the photos and filling in the details of the trip!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Heading Home

We were picked up at our hotel at 9am, to be driven to the airport. Our flight was at 10.30am. The drive to the airport took nine minutes. We had a lot of time to spare. So we drank coffee and sat around.

After we arrived back in Christchurch, we had four hours to kill before our flight. Since our bags were checked through Queenstown we didn't even have to check in again. We had lunch at a restaurant/bar type place and played a game of pool. I lost.

Then we went and sat in the Air New Zealand lounge and I read my book, the boy read the paper and played on the internet. We had a short four hour flight home and landed just before 5.30pm.

After we got off the plane we had to go past the sniffer dogs. For some reason the dog took an interest in the boy's bag. Very weird. We collected our luggage and then got sent to have our bags checked. The customs officer said the dog was a drug sniffer dog which really freaked me out. Obviously we had no drugs but why did the dog take an interest?

Anyway after lots of questions, they unpacked some of our bags and did a drug swab test, which came back negative. So we were allowed to go. I knew we had done nothing wrong but it was quite scary!

We made it home safely and the Huffle was very happy to see us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


It rained for most of today so we had a quiet day in the hotel. We went out for breakfast, wandered around town for a bit and I had a facial at the day spa. The boy took the car back to the hire place, since we were being picked up and taken to the airport in the morning.

We felt like something simple for dinner so we found a small italian restaurant and had pasta. Mine wasn't very good though.

It was a nice relaxing day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Milford and Queenstown

When we were driving to Milford on the world's longest bus ride, it started pouring with rain. Apparently that was a good thing, because it meant lots of part-time waterfalls would be cascading down the side of the mountains.
And they were right. It was stunning, especially when the sun came out.
I even managed to catch the rainbow over this one.
Because Milford Sound is really deep, the boats can get right under the falls so you can feel the spray on your face (and everywhere else not covered up).
These are New Zealand Fur Seals. They hang out on the rocks and play. The best part of seeing them was when one of them hopped on the back of the boat after dinner and waved at us. The only people to see him were the boy and I. We felt pretty special.
See that tiny boat in the distance? That's actually a cruise ship carrying 2,000 passengers and 800 crew. That's how big Milford Sound is.
The lights you can see in the bottom left corner of this picture are from the underwater observatory at Milford Sound. We didn't go there but you can see the marine life and coral and everything, if you want to.
After the traumatic bus ride yesterday, our driver told us we might be able to fly back to Queenstown. We though that sounded like a great idea but the weather was against us. No flights into Queenstown today. Happily, the helicopters were flying so we went back to Queenstown on one of those. The best part was a glacier landing. It was just amazing. Here are the boy and I standing on the glacier.
And this is our helicopter.
We had a short 50 minute flight and a 15 minute cab right back to our hotel. It was so worth it! The glacier was amazing and it totally made up for missing the flight over Fox Glacier earlier on.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Milford Sound

We got picked up from our hotel at 8.20am today to start the journey to Milford Sound, for an overnight cruise. On the way we stopped at Kingston to have a look at this steam train. Then we went for a ride on it, which was pretty cool. It was built in 1925, with carriages dates back to 1898, and restored to its former glory so that tourists could enjoy it.

This is one of the many waterfalls we passed on our VERY long journey from Queenstown to Milford. It took about seven hours on the bus. About five hours too many.
Anyway we finally made it to Milford around 4pm, to get on our boat for the overnight cruise. It was stunning but I don't have many photos because it was getting dark. Suffice to say we had a really nice time, even if it was a buffet dinner, and we had single beds. At least we had our own room.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ooooh Helicopters!

This morning we woke up to a bit of blue sky but a lot of cloud. We had a helicopter flight booked for midday, taking us over to the two glaciers but we had a bit of time to kill so we went for a drive around Fox Glacier township. We saw a sign to the lookout so we went there first.
There are some fairly spectacular cloud formations over the glacier here.
After viewing from the far away lookout, we decided we still had plenty of time so we went for a drive to the actual glacier, where you can do a bit of a walk and come out next to it. Amazingly, the road looked like this - total sub-tropical rainforest. Freaky.
After walking for about 20 minutes we came out on this lookout. It was sort of misty and the sun was shining so there's a bit of haze.
This glacier has been advancing since 1985, unlike the Franz Josef glacier which has been retreating for 250 years.
These photos can't begin to describe the amazing size of these things. They are just enormous. And incredible.

We went back to town to the helicopter office but the weather had gotten a lot worse so our flight was cancelled. It was really disappointing. They offered us a refund but it's not the same as flying over the glaciers and landing on one!

So we got in the car and headed off to Queenstown. It's a long drive, over five hours, through some spectacular scenery. We drove through national parks with amazing forests and waterfalls, then got to the drier region near Queenstown and passed massive gorges with rivers thundering along at the bottom, but not many trees on the hills. We stopped in Wanaka on the way, which was very pretty, and carried on to Queenstown. We stayed at the Sofitel, which was just gorgeous, particularly since we had a room looking over the lake.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fox Glacier

We left Punakaiki this morning and headed for Fox Glacier (yes, that's the actual name of the town). We stopped in Franz Josef on the way, to have a look at their glacier too.

See all those little coloured dots? Those are people who are closer to the glacier than we were.
This is the river created by the melting glacier.
And here's a shot of the glacier again. It was quite amazing and we could walk on all those rocks all the way to the base of the glacier, but it started raining so we headed back to the car.
You might have heard about two men who were killed when a part of the glacier fell on them about two months ago? That was this glacier. But they had jumped over the rope and gotten closer than they were meant to.

We got back in the car and drove on to Fox Glacier. We headed straight to our accommodation, Te Weheka Inn, because by now the rain was coming down in bucketloads.

We didn't go very far for the rest of the afternoon because it was dark and pouring with rain. Staying in our room with some magazines was far preferable. Dinner too. And it was a very nice dinner. We were just hoping the weather would improve in the morning for our helicopter flight over the glacier.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


We arrived in Punakaiki after a long drive, maybe five hours. We stopped a couple of times on the way so it wasn't too bad. And the scenery everywhere we go is stunning. Anyway, we arrived at the Punakaiki Resort mid-afternoon, so we had a bit of time to relax.

We stayed in one of the eco suites, and it was very nice! But no mini bar again, so the boy went back into town (two shops) to get some beer for himself. I went for a walk on the beach, armed with the camera. Thankfully the boy had reminded me to take the spare battery with me, because the one in the camera died after two photos. But I was organised so it didn't matter.

The beach was nice but it was fairly windy and not very warm. It means I had it all to myself so that wasn't so bad. This was a little waterfall and creek that ran across the beach.
These are the pancake rocks that Punakaiki is famous for. Scientists don't know why they are formed that way. They really do look like stacks of pancakes.
Here's a little rockpool with some interesting patterns at the bottom.
I was playing around with the camera, trying to slow down the exposure to get the effect of rushing water looking all cloudy, and mostly succeeded here. Other photos I took were so overexposed that you couldn't actually tell what you were meant to be looking at. These are all beach photos, by the way.
Except this one. These are the pancake rocks proper. They are enormous and all shaped like stacks of pancakes.
There apparently was a blowhole here too but we didn't see it. I'm guessing it had been eroded since the signs were put up. But it was worth seeing.

We had dinner at the restaurant at the resort, once again very nice food. It was lovely listening to the waves as we went to bed too.