Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Fox Glacier

When we arrived at the Franz Joseph glacier we were only given 30mins to go and see the glacier before we had to return to the coach. It was not long enough and although I asked the guide for longer, apparently it was not possible as we needed to be at the hotel at a certain time!

I was now getting really cheesed off by being in the coach and not having enough time to get out and explore so the next morning I was up at 5.30am and as we were not leaving the hotel until 9am I went for a walk to the Fox Glacier as otherwise I wouldn't see it. I had checked out the route the night before and knew where the track started. It was 9.5km round journey but I knew as long as I started out early enough I could just manage it. Dawn was just breaking as I left the hotel but the start of the walk was through a forest which meant that it was still very dark in there. It was about a 3km walk through the forest. I almost turned back because I started to frighten myself by looking at the shapes of the trees and thinking they were people! But I pulled myself together and was rewarded by the forest opening out into a glacial valley with no-one there except me. I was able to walk up to within 200m of the glacier. Then the sun started to rise over the mountains.

 It was just beautiful.

After almost 2 hours walking I could see the glacier.

Close up of the glacier.

I had to rush back though so I didn't miss the coach but I made it in time and what a fabulous start to the day.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Agrodome

I wasn't that bothered about going to the Agrodome to see the sheep and watch them being sheared, but I have to say it was much more interesting than I expected. It was a very fast moving chat about the different sheep they have in New Zealand and the different types of sheep dogs they use.

Getting friendly with the locals

Thursday, 25 October 2012



Today has been all about geysers. This morning we visited Te Puia Thermal reserve with its numerous geysers which were exploding into the air. It was a treat to be able to see them as we were fortunate to be there just at the right time.

They were shooting up to 20m into the air.

You could feel the heat even though I was standing a good distance away. I loved the sound that that the mud pools made. Lots of spa treatments were available in the town but I didn't fancy a mud bath.


                However  later in the day I went to the Polenesian Spa and languished in the thermal pools there. As I still have a cold I couldn't smell the strong sulphurous odours coming from the pools so I was able to just lie back and enjoy the experience. I went into the adult pools, rather than the family ones. Here were about 8 different pools of various sizes and varying temperatures but they were all warm from 38C to 42C. After about 15mins in a pool you needed to get out and rest a little and have a drink of water. I stayed for about 3 hours!

This pool was 41C with a great view looking over the lake and mountains.

Bay of islands

Today we went on a cruise around the Bay of Islands. I did take a travel sickness tablet as I didn't want to miss this one. I stayed up on deck despite the rain . But then we had an amazing downpour which soaked me to the skin before I had a chance of moving inside but then I was rewarded with groups of dolphins.

This one was leaping along in the wake of the boat. (I didn't take this photo someone else did. As you know from my whale watching trip I can only take photos of black dots.) They followed us for quite a distance. Very exciting.

The boat also went through the hole in the rock behind me.

On the way back we stopped at this beautiful island. The shore was covered with sea shells in wonderful shades of blue and purple

Monday, 22 October 2012

Bay of Islands

We are staying for two nights in the Bay of Islands and this morning I woke up  to bright sunshine.Along with a few others I took the ferry across to Russel Island to view some of the spectacular scenery.

There are over 100 islands of varying sizes and this is one of the oldest parts of New Zealand as this is where the first settlers arrived.

This is the oldest church in New Zealand

Here I am enjoying a drink at the first licensed premises in New Zealand.

And here's another first - ice cream burgers!

Arrival in New Zealand

Sunday 21st October

I arrived in Auckland on a wet and dreary evening after a 4 hour flight from Melbourne. Here I am joining a coach tour of the North and South islands. This sounded a much easier way of getting around New Zealand and seeing as much as possible in the shortest available time. As accomodation is so expensive for a single person ( you have to pay for a double room) I have taken the option of a twin share which means if someone else on the tour has opted to do this then we will share a room.

I met my room mate later that evening. A french canadian of similar age to myself so I'm sure we will get along fine.

The next morning we set off travelling north to the Bay of Islands. The drive was through very hilly, green countryside with thousands of sheep! The rain was coming down quite heavily so it did spoil one or two of the views but already you could see a beautiful landscape emerging. My only problem is whether I will manage this trip without being sick! Because of the number of winding roads I did find it difficult. I am wearing my travel bands and have tablets with me but if I take them I will just sleep. I think it might come to a choice of sleep or sick!!!!!

We stopped to view a couple of things on the way. One I liked was this pioneer school.

The best thing about the school was the list of rules for teachers dated 1915. Note that this was for female teachers. I wonder if there was a similar list for male teachers.



Today I started the day at Melbourne old gaol. It was quite a gruesome place. It was built in 1841 and closed in1924 but was reopened during WW2 for soldiers who were absent without leave. The gaol systemMelbourne gaol was based on silence and separation so prisoners began their time in gaol in solitary confinement, locked in their small cells for 23 hours a day.

They were not allowed to speak to other prisoners and when they left their cell they had to wear a silence mask. It was here that many people were hanged including Ned Kelly. Afterwards they had a death mask made of them. I'm not really sure why these masks were made but they were also on display. Models of the scaffold and examples of the hangman's equipment were also on display. I found it a very sobering experience.

From the gaol I went next door to the police watch house.This police station only closed in 1994 and here we could see the cells where suspects were taken once they had been arrested. This was a little more light hearted as we played the part of troublemakers who had just been arrested and a sergeant put us through the arresting procedure.

There was even a padded cell.

Afterwards I wandered back through the town following the self guided walks that I found at the tourist info centre in Federation Square looking at places of interest that were mentioned.

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Just look at those delicious cakes in this tea room. Unfortunately the queue to get in was so long I didn't bother and then when I went back I couldn't remember which arcade it was in!


I am now in the main shopping area

Loved this giant purse. Very apt for this part of town.

The Manchester Unity building reminded me of something from Gotham city.

Flinders street station a well known land mark

I then went for a walk along the river. A vibrant part of the city with lots of cafes and bars. People just sitting around enjoying the sunshine.


Friday, 19 October 2012

Melbourne Cricket ground

I couldn't visit Melbourne and not see some of the famous sports grounds within the city. One of particular significance was the MCC (Melbourne Cricket Club) which was used for the 1956 Olympics. Outside the ground was the plaque commemorating the Olympics.

I just can't get enough of the Olympics.

Inside the famous MCC ground. Very different from Lord's cricket ground in that this ground is used for other sports when not being used for cricket in the Summer. I could never see Lord's agreeing to that!

I just love the blazers that the members of the club are entitled to wear. There is a waiting list of over 200,000 to become members. Who would have thought those stripey blazers could be that popular!

Just a short way from the cricket ground is the Rod Laver tennis arena which will see plenty of action in January when the Australian grand slam is held there.

 Doesn't seem to be much action happening there at the moment though.

Melbourne Botanic gardens

My first day in Melbourne and the sun was shining brightly. It was warm but not hot. I took the free hop on, hop off tourist bus around the city to orientate myself. I don't think I've ever been to a city before where they have a free tourist bus. I decided to start the day at the Botanic gardens. Always love looking at gardens when I can.

Entrance to the childrens garden. Lots of animals to welcome them.

The garden of the craft cottage. Inside the cottage there were lots of examples of different crafts produced by groups that use the cottage. There was basket weaving, paper making, tapestry, knitting and so on.

 Embroidery and crochet.

A knitting scene inspired by the garden.

Lots of spring flowers bursting with colour in the flower beds.

Practising with the self-timer inside the pavilion.

 Next to the ornamental garden. After a number of attempts I actually managed to take a photo which included my head. Maybe it's just easier asking a passer-by to take my photo.

I left the gardens via the lych gate.

 On leaving the Botanic gardes you enter a small grotto. Quite a surprise. It used to be a quarry but now it is covered with ferns and shade loving plants.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Great Ocean Road

I am now in Melbourne where the weather is similar to Spring time at home. It is certainly a lot cooler than in the Northern Territories but there is a welcome freshness in the air. Today I took  a coach trip along the Great Ocean Road. It was a round journey of 600km but definitely worth a visit as the scenery is spectacular.

Our first stop was at Torquay

 We were caught in some traffic due to road works and there in the trees was a koala!

The twelve apostles rising from the mist.


The sun just began tomake an appearance as it was time to move on.