Any mid-Winter escape is pretty darn awesome, and during the week when Auckland is raging storms – even better. Port Douglas maintained a cool 29 degree heat during the five days we were there. The Lagoon pool at the resort was the place-to-be. On the third day of the trip we went scuba diving and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. It was spectacular and pretty scary for us first-timers. I was hyperventilating for a good five minutes. We saw nemo swimming along happily amongst the anemone, held a sea cucumber, and knelt down on the reef floor so it was all worth it. In the half submerged glass bottom boat we spotted turtles and sharks! As a typical Aussie holiday goes, we patted some wallabies, watched some koalas sleep, held a snake and heard lots of crocodiles’ jaws snap. We also travelled up to Kuranda Village for an afternoon via the Skyrail. The rum & raisin ice cream from the Kuranda Homemade Tropical Ice cream truck could get you tipsy after two. Cliff asks whether you are a) Driving and b) Over 18. Definitely having withdrawals in this chilly Auckland spring weather.
So we said we’d share more South Island extravaganza, three months on and we’d only posted two lots of photographs. So here is more.
You will find that 90% of these photos have mountains in the background. Wherever you go, they follow. It is so easy to forget about the city lights after spending a week lake and mountain hopping.The sunsets are the most breath-taking thing ever. We probably took a couple hundred ‘on-the-road’ snaps, it was a scenic drive 24-7. We can’t wait to go back!
The water is just as clear as Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. There are of course more towering mountains and also this famous #thatwanakatree. To my surprise, the houses here are modern and very flash, like those you see in design magazines. We spent a day here and did a 3 hour walk up Rocky Mountain. There are two ways which you can get up the top, we recommend going west for up and east when coming down. You have to use your hands and climb a few sections, but walking different routes mean you get to experience it all. Bring a picnic to have at the top too!
The Lake Tekapo/Mount Cook area has the clearest skies in the whole world. The best place for stargazing, if of course you don’t bump into a full moon like we did. It’s also home to the most photographed church, The Church of the Good Shepherd. Pro tip: book early and get a place to stay in Tekapo. We lucked out on all the accommodation and had to stay at Fairlie, which is a 30 minute drive away and not very convenient. On the 2 days that we stayed there, it was all rain and thunderstorms in Fairlie while Tekapo had sunny blue skies and beautiful sunsets.
Mt Cook/Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki was my favourite lake. The water is a striking baby blue caused by sediment deposit from glacial erosion. It is the most beautiful thing ever. You have to see to believe. Mt Cook sits with a family of other mountains which tower over you. We stopped at the info centre first. This info centre has more than just pamphlets and toilets, there are artefacts, old cameras, maps, and stories of the first climbers. We did the short walk to Kea Lookout, just 30 minutes. It’s the best walk when you’re tight on time. At the lookout point you can see Mt Cook, Mount Sefton, The Footstool, Hooker valley, and Mueller Glacier lake. Unlike Lake Pukaki, the water here is grey.
Queenstown is an absolute beauty. There are mountains in your backyard, burger shops that open till 5am, water so clear it makes you want to drink it. The city is a true tourist destination, there are next to none locals and the supermarket is the tiniest thing ever. It’s very busy, there are people hopping onto water jets constantly, a steam boat that drives off into the mountains, live music, markets, frisbee golfers, bicycles. Honestly, it’s the best place ever.
Long summer nights are the real deal in the South Island. The sun goes down at 10pm, people eat dinner at 9pm and ice cream at 9am. In Queenstown that is. Amisfield is a mere 15-minute drive from the tourist hot spot. Lake Hayes is just across the road, Morven’s Hill is the backdrop, and the Remarkables stand on the side. With the Trust the Chef menu, dishes change according to what is fresh that day, and probably how the chef is feeling. We ordered the $65 option and an extra glass of wine. It came with nine items where two were starters, two were mains, two were sides, two complimentary mini items and one sweet treat. The gazpacho and mousse starters we didn’t enjoy because they were so strongly flavoured and salty. Our favourites were definitely the smoked salmon and the potatoes. And dare I say you haven’t had roast potatoes until you’ve had these.
You may choose from three Trust the Chef options, all of which are very well priced. I recommend that you book ahead of time and arrange transport or veto a sober driver.
If the potatoes don’t come, screw it. Order it a la carte.
Photos by: Rebecca Ng
Edited by: Kelly
Three weeks ago, I did the Tongariro Crossing with a bunch of friends. We had the most amazing weather, sunny, not too cold, with a little bit of breeze. There had been a fresh dump of snow two nights prior so most of the mountain was covered in snow – which made it more difficult to walk up and that the side trips like Mt Ngauruhoe i.e. Mt Doom from LOTR, were off limits. It took us the full 8 hours to do, 2 hours in I was wondering why I put myself through this. The views are amazing, and you feel great afterwards for having conquered it.
One of the definite highlights of our trip was the Sydney Fish Market. Boni and I are both big seafood fans, so this market was like a slice of heaven. The place is essentially a miniature mall with one large and two small seafood retailers and few cooked food places inside and out.
We stayed indoors to eat, because who wants to fight with the seagulls.
The scampi and scallops were so incredibly sweet and fresh – simply the best we’ve had. I probably could’ve had a lot more if we weren’t flying that night. Since it was such a beautiful day, we walked back to the hotel over Pyrmont Bridge.
There’s probably just a couple of posts left from Sydney, we’re sort of hanging onto it with our dear lives (insert, holiday withdrawals). Stay with us, Auckland based eats to come sooner or later…
Having woken up early enough for breakfast (brunch, we still love you more) we stopped by a restaurant on Circular Quay.
Contemporary art and I, we’re not the best of friends. Nevertheless there were a few pieces that we enjoyed.