Lightning catch up: Australia to New Zealand

body surfingShhh everyone, Chris is still asleep and I’m finally taking a moment to update my poor neglected blog. Last time I wrote anything we were in idyllic Bateman’s Bay, Australia, and since then we have travelled through New Zealand and California, winding up in San Francisco. Since we fly to New York tomorrow for the final leg of our trip before returning to London, I felt I should fill in some of the gaps, starting with a whistle stop tour through our last days in Australia and our first week in New Zealand.

After Bateman’s Bay…

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Dolphins

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DSC_8257_editA bit of wet and wild off-roading // Giant beautiful eucalypts // Dolphin spotting in Jervis Bay (along with a boatload of seasick Chinese tourists) // Flooded roads in Royal National Park on the way to Sydney

The weather turned grey and misty as we left Bateman’s Bay and drove northwards towards Sydney. We pulled off the main drag a few times, first to visit some spectacularly huge eucalypt trees and second to drive up Kangaroo Valley. Which turned out to be completely shrouded in mist! Jervis Bay was our first stop, in a simple motel in the cute town of Huskisson. Jervis Bay is best known for its local dolphin population, so in spite of the wind and rain we hopped on a bay cruise to go and find them. We were accompanied by a large coachload of Chinese tourists who were under-dressed, consequently got very cold and wet, all got horribly seasick, and demanded to be taken back to shore after only 45 minutes of a two hour trip. But the ten minutes of dolphin watching that we got was completely spectacular!

Sydney

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DSC_0081_editA little trip on the Manly ferry // Walking from Bondi to Coogee, admiring the painters at work // A little visitor to our Air BnB flat! // Tanned feet on Bondi Beach

We had a lovely few days in Sydney before our flight to Wellington. This time our Air BnB was in the flat of two former accountants from Europe who swapped the frenetic pace of Europe for a more relaxed Aussie idyll in Bondi. Bondi has a lovely village-y feel, overrun with coffee shops where wealthy hipsters rub shoulders with sandy surf bums. And I have to say that Aussie coffee is so far my favourite in the world. Nothing beats a slab of banana bread with greek yoghurt and a frothy latte in the morning! As well as getting sandy and caffeinated we also took in the city centre sights, and enjoyed a slap-up Thai feast with an old PhD colleague of mine.

Middle Earth and wine

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DSC_8348_editMountain pass between Wellington and Masterton – just a suspicion of  Middle Earth // Perusing the Pinot Gris delights of the Martinborough wineries with Chris’s family friends

 New Zealand is every bit as beautiful as everyone says it is. A mere four hours from Sydney is a completely different world. The air approach into the capital city, Wellington, is spectacular, past mountains with no sign of runway, banking with mere metres to go to align with the tarmac. Seconds before touchdown the runway appears out of the ocean. The main arterial road out of Wellington passes over several thousand feet of mountain before descending into a wide, flat valley fringed on all sides by yet more mountains. We spent several wonderful days in Masterton staying with family friends of Chris’s, who emigrated to New Zealand some years ago and are connoisseurs of the local wineries. If you’re ever in the area I recommend Poppy’s. Their Pinot Gris is amazing.

Napier

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DSC_0446_editEndless art deco deliciousness in the city of Napier

From Masterton we drove to Napier, a city with a “unique concentration” of 1930s art deco architecture built after the city was completely destroyed by the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. The city has featured in lots of period films, all you have to do is strip out the modern signage and the cars and you have a ready made 1930s set. I could have spent hours photographing all the little details and colours on the buildings, it really is a beautiful place. Even the backpackers hostel we stayed in was based in an old art deco hotel. We arrived under a grey, drizzly cloud, but the next day’s sunshine really brought the town to life.

So I think that will more than do for now! Next up, more of the crazy geology that New Zealand does so well, and yet more dolphins.

What do you think?