A Travellerspoint blog

Cape Town capers

You can do a lot in 3 days!!!

semi-overcast 19 °C

After about 36 hours we finally arrived in Cape Town and headed to our lovely guest house The Bay Atlantic, in Camps Bay.
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We had intended on having a nice meal that night but about 4pm we decided to have an afternoon nap and didn’t wake again until after 7, decided that we were still tired and went back to sleep!

Despite the fact that it poured down in the night we awoke to a pretty nice day, blue skies and sunshine but still cloudy over Table Mountain. After a discussion with staff at the guesthouse we decided that we would follow a similar route to the tour companies and head along the west coast to the capes and then head back up the east coast.

We left Camps Bay about 10.30am and made our way through Hout Bay and onto Chapman’s Peak, paying a small fee of R33 to use the road. The fee was well worth it as the views of the coast were amazing. During a photo stop along Chapman’s Peak we noticed a few houses with thatched roofs. Then we noticed a sign saying something along the lines of ‘This is Monkey Lodge and we do cream teas’. Well it would have been rude not to stop by, so we found ourselves sitting in the sunshine eating a delicious cream tea whilst looking out to sea.
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Next we had a quick stop off at an ostrich farm but needn’t have bothered as one of the first things we saw when we entered the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve were a pair of ostrich grazing at the side of the road!
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We headed to the Cape of Good Hope first and followed the path up to the lookout point. We had saved a few geocaches for our day’s adventure and knew there was one here. The cache took us on a far less travelled path right along the cliff face, scrambling over rocks and was just a little bit scary! It felt good to sign the log book after the effort to get to it!
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Next we headed to Cape Point, the climb looked pretty tiring so we took the easy option getting the Funicular all the way up there.
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Once up, we successfully found another cache and, as we were leaving the lookout point it was hidden in, a whale started to show off in the ocean below so we watched him for a while before heading up further to the lighthouse for some pretty stunning views.
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Just as we were leaving the reserve I noticed a stripy bottom disappearing out of view. We stopped the car and jumped out to take some photos as four zebra stood just meters from us! Cars were pulling over everywhere as people excitedly jumped out with their cameras.
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Our next stop was supposed to be the penguin colony at Boulders Beach. Unfortunately we had taken so much time getting here with exploring, geocaching, photo taking etc we arrived just as the place was closing. We were told that there was a path that ran along the back of the colony so we strolled along there to have a peek at the penguins that we nearer the fence line. What we discovered on this journey is that penguins are very noisy, and even more smelly!
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From here on we were homeward bound as the sun was beginning to set. We headed back through the wine region of Constantia and once we got back to Camps Bay decided to go straight for dinner as we were starving after the day’s adventures.

On Tuesday morning we opened our eyes to a perfectly cloudless sky and knew it was the day to hit Table Mountain. Straight after breakfast we jumped in the car and drove to Lower Cable Station. It took about an hour from parking to getting to the top of the mountain by cable car as the queue was pretty long. It was hazy when we first arrived but by midday the haze had begun to burn off and it was getting pretty hot. Silly us for forgetting our suntan lotion! I was all prepared for the cold with a jumper and coat (wore neither of them). Needless to say we are a little pink in places right now!
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Of course we had checked out geocaches for the mountain and discovered there was one at the very top! It turned out to be a very cleverly hidden and amazing travel bug hotel and was filled with ‘rooms’ full of trackables – a room for each continent they are hoping to visit.
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We took a koala with a goal to reach Melbourne seeing as we have a wedding there in 2 months time. We made the decision to walk down the mountain instead of getting the cable car down. It took some time to find the start of the trail but once we did it took us about 2 hours to make our way down the steep rocky trail. The views were magnificent I am so glad we did it, even though our legs are aching badly today! There was an interesting change in the flora as we headed down. It had started off quite sparse and hardy but from about half way down it was a mass of different flowers in a whole rainbow of colours. As we headed down we started to see little lizards basking in the sun and great big furry caterpillars, all great photo opps!
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Once we made it down from the mountain we stopped for a nice, cold drink before doing another cleverly hidden cache nearby and then heading home.
As we sat on the balcony looking out to sea a whale started to show off in the ocean below. It was quite a distance away but could be clearly seen so I can only imagine how HUGE these whales must be!

We were musing over what to do for our last full day in Cape Town when Gerald blurted (blurted? I didn’t know I blurted!) out ‘How about a helicopter trip?’ Within an hour we found ourselves strapped in and ready for take off for our journey around the coast line where we have been staying.
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We had amazing views of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, the city, Camps Bay and the surrounding beaches. As we were heading back the cloud started to roll in and we were told we would probably be the last flight of the day.
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We got out of the helicopter with grins on our faces! Our next stop was to head back to Boulders Beach to see the penguin colony seeing as we had missed out on our last attempt. We spent ages just standing watching them waddle around and zoom effortlessly through the water. I have to admit they chose a pretty stunning location to call home. The water is aquamarine blue and the beach is beautiful, white sand. We took a silly amount of photos before tearing ourselves away and following the coastline further along in search of more whales.
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It wasn’t long before we spotted what we suspect to be about 4 or 5 of them having fun about 100m offshore. They were rolling around with their flippers in the air and poking their heads out. Unfortunately they were a little too far away to get any good photos but we did try!
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We had one more stop on the way home at Maiden’s Cove as we had read the view of the Twelve Apostles is amazing from there but the cloud had stuck around and you could barely see them at all. Instead we did one final geocache which involved climbing some huge boulders on the beach. After a short hunt the log was signed and we headed home. A wonderful day.

Next stop East London for the wedding.....

Posted by bumblebum 01:13 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

One year on......

Still loving every minute in the land of the long white cloud.

sunny 17 °C

Oooops time has flown by and I think this blog is well overdue!

Going back 7 weeks or so we heard that there was going to be a kite festival to celebrate Matariki (Maori New Year) at Orakei Marae. We decided it would probably be a good chance to dust off the cameras and headed over. It was great getting to the top of the hill and seeing kites of every shape, size and colour flying high. As well as the spectacle of kites in every direction you looked the views beyond were also pretty good with Rangitito and the sea one way and the city skyline the other.
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We had a little trip to the Basement Theatre, a tiny theatre in the city that puts on more quirky stuff. This time we went to see Inviting Caroline – a hilarious play about a typical Uni party. It definitely made us laugh all the way through and reminded us that we should head to this venue more often.
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The weather has been improving recently – it feels very spring like. I currently have daffodils, freesias, lavender and sweet peas flowering in the garden despite the fact that technically it is still winter here. Our old neighbours moved house and had a housewarming BBQ, not something we would have done in the UK in February!!!
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Last weekend we headed to Whitianga to wish Gerald’s mum a happy birthday. On our return journey we stopped off at the farm belonging to our friends Alwin and Daisy. Calving season had most definitely begun and we got to see all stages from enormous, ready to burst cows, little new borns (just one hour old) and the poor cow who was in full blown labour with 2 little legs sticking out! Apparently the poor thing had to be helped along in the end with the calf being winched out about half an hour after we left. A very educational experience!
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I have taken up Pilates. I am now 5 sessions in and can say that I really feel it is working. It is so different from other exercise classes I have done in the past. It is so slow, controlled and gentle. You don’t get out of breath or hot and sweaty but despite that I still ache the next day! It sounds like it must be easy but it really isn’t! You have to think about so many things at the same time – breathing, posture, keeping your tummy pulled in and your shoulders relaxed and much, much more!

We have been a bit slack with our geocaching recently however we did make an effort to go out on International Geocaching Day and yesterday we went caching with friends. We headed to a beautiful spot, not too far away, by the water and enjoyed being out in the winter sun. Three finds later we had to head off as we had tickets for the Bledisloe Cup, AllBlacks against the Wallabies.
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We headed to the game at Eden Park and met up with our friends, the Hills. The stadium was a sell out and almost a complete sea of black with just the odd cluster of yellow Wallabies supporters here and there. The game had plenty of jump out of your seat moments and we were seated behind the goal posts for the first half so there was plenty of action right in front of us. The fans went home very happy with a score of 22-0 to the All Blacks and, having won the previous game too, they also were presented with the cup despite the third game not having taken place yet.
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I guess our blog wouldn't be complete without a kitten update so here they are, all grown up and looking more like cats now that they are eight months old.....
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Yesterday was also one year since we left the UK and on Thursday it will be a year since we landed in the Land of the Long White Cloud. And what a year it has been! It really does seem like we have done soooo much in the last 12 months.

Posted by bumblebum 14:24 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Skating, Skytower, School Holidays and so much more

Winter in Auckland really isn't too bad!

sunny 15 °C

I realised that it has been over a month since I last wrote on here so it's probably time for a bit of an update....

We have had some busy weekends recently. The weather has been pretty good for the middle of winter so we have been trying to make the most of the sunny days.
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We met up with our old neighbours, Mike and Jordan to do a bit of geocaching seeing as it was a beautiful day. This was the view from the first cache we found....
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Through work, Gerald was offered free tickets to hear guest speaker Jason Edwards talk at the museum about his career as a National Geographic photographer. This was part of the launch of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. We have always gone to see this at the Natural History Museum in London, as the photographs are amazing, so we were really pleased to hear that is was coming to NZ. The photos were great, as usual. Jason Edwards was totally inspirational! He has been on some amazing trips for his work. He was supposed to talk for around 45 minutes but spoke for almost 2 hours!!! To be honest I think we could have listened to him all day.

We had a weekend trip to Hamilton for Gerald's brother David's 50th birthday. We all met at David's place for a catch up as it is not often that all 6 siblings are in the same country let alone the same room! We headed out for dinner and then back to David's for the birthday cake. We had one of those 'It's a small world' moments that night....Gerald was talking to one of David's teaching colleagues about doing their 'Overseas Experience' in the UK. They soon realized that they had both lived and worked in Sunbury. After a little more chat they discovered that Gerald had been living in the house that the woman's grandma used to live in!!!! What are the chances!!???

Schools are currently on their mid year break so Gerald's sister was in Auckland with the kids, Nicholas and Kate. They stayed at ours on Friday night before heading to the snow to ski for a few days. They had been desperate to see the kittens before they got too big!!! The next day we had more visitors as Gerald's Aunt and Uncle were in Auckland visiting their son Tim, his wife Renee and their little girl Chloe. So all five of them came over for a bit of afternoon tea and a catch up.

Gerald decided to take yesterday and Monday off work as I was on holiday. The weekend we went to Hamilton was the 5th anniversary of us meeting so we decided to plan some nice stuff together. On Monday we went ice skating in the city. We were there for opening at 10am which meant we had the ice pretty much to ourselves for quite a while, but by the time we left it was pretty packed.
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We then headed to our friends Cheryl and Darren's to have lunch and do some geocaches that had been recently released near to where they live. It was actually nice enough to eat outside despite being winter! We ended up doing 11 geocaches (some involved climbing trees!!) which took us on a long walk through a beautiful park with coastal views. By the time we left the sun was beginning to set.
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We went home to check on the kittens before going out for dinner, we had been planning on going to a place called Sugar Bar but it was closed! Instead we stumbled upon a very quirky place, York Street Mechanics, in Newmarket. It is owned by some custom motorbike mechanics, they have turned half of their workshop into a restaurant and display their bikes all around the place!
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The food was divine, one of the best steaks I have ever had! We left absolutely stuffed and will definitely visit again.

Tuesday we headed back into the city as we had booked to have lunch in Orbit, the revolving restaurant, at the top of the Skytower. The sun was shining so it was the perfect day to be all the way up there! We indulged in good food and cocktails.
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In the last photo you can kind of see where we live....Mount Wellington is the big volcanic mount that is to the right of the sea and back a bit. We live at the bottom of it in a new suburb called Stonefields! The rest of the day we ambled around the city, did a few more geocaches and checked out The Library Bar that we had heard so much about. Another quirky venue worth a visit! As the name suggests the place is packed full of books. I think that everything in the place has been bought from second hand shops and garage sales but somehow it works so well!
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The kittens are growing fast, they are now 6 months old. They are still good mates and love to cuddle up, although Roxie has discovered our beanbag and has claimed it as her own. Rufus is most definitely not allowed to share it! Here are some of our latest pics of them.....
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So that's about it folks.... Bye!
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Posted by bumblebum 14:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Florence & the Machine and Whale Watching

An awesome week in Auckland!

sunny 17 °C

June 1st brought the first day of winter but it was so unlike a winter's day back home in the UK...the sky was blue, the sun was shining and it was 17 degrees. A very good start to the long weekend for the Queen's birthday here in NZ.
This week we have been quite busy. On Monday we headed into the city, to Vector Arena, to see Florence & the Machine, an absolutely brilliant night. Her voice is totally made for singing live at a gig and she had the audience completely at her beck and call! Thursday night found us having dinner with Gerald's sister Jenni as she was in Auckland for work. Saturday night Gerald and I went our separate ways - he went off to watch his team, The Chiefs, win yet again with our friend Darren and his 2 boys Oscar & Ethan. I, on the other hand, opted to go for a delicious dinner in Mission Bay with Darren's wife Cheryl and another colleague from work Liz - a much warmer, cosier option!
Instead of an easter egg for Gerald this year I took advantage of a GrabOne deal getting two tickets for less than the price of one for the Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari. Today we woke up, the sun was shining and the wind was non existant so we decided to book ourselves onto the boat. I think we chose the most perfect day possible! The captain of the ship said that days as calm as this can be counted on one hand over the course of a year! We were both very pleased about this as neither of us are boat lovers and have both been known to feel more than a bit queasy on previous trips out to sea.
So we set off on calm waters in search of dolphins and whales in the Hauraki Gulf...
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Our first wildlife encouter was with a couple of little blue penguins, very cute and also very hard to capture on camera!
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It was probably about an hour and a half in before we found our first pod of dolphins. From that moment all you could hear were cameras clicking away all around! Of course Gerald and I were also taking photos madly.
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Not long after that a fishing boat told us that they had seen a whale in the area just 20 minutes ealier. We headed off in the direction the whale was going, the Coromandel Pennisular. It took some time but we eventually tracked him down. The biggest clue to his whereabouts was the enormous numbers of gannets bomb diving into the sea. We slowed down as we approached the area and within a short time we saw the cloud of water spout from the whale and then he surfaced.
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This process was repeated several times before he decided to head off and leave us.
We started the journey back home as the sun was beginning to get low in the sky.
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In the distance there were a few more whales blowing clouds of water into the sky but we didn't quite manage to get as close up to this lot.
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As we got closer to the harbour the sun set and a big, beautiful, pink moon began to rise, trying to get a good shot whilst on a boat was pretty much impossible but I had a go!
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A brilliant and highly recommended way to spend a day in Auckland.

Posted by bumblebum 00:36 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Cats, Kaiser Chiefs and Catch-ups.

sunny 18 °C

Hello!
I realised it had been some time since I last wrote an update so here goes....

I am now half way through our 10 week term with my new class of 5 year olds. All is good so far, they are a lovely bunch of children - all 13 of them! I will have more join them this term so the luxury of a small class will soon be over.

We have been up to various stuff over the past month or so...We went to see the Kaiser Chiefs play at The Powerstation and had a brilliant night. We had seen them play twice in the UK last year, once at the Isle of Wight Festival and again at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park. It has to be said, they obviously enjoy playing the smaller venues as they put on an amazing show and had much more stage presence than when we had seen them during the UK festival period playing to huge crowds.
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We had a quick day trip to Hamilton to see Gerald's mum as it was mothers' day. It became a bit of a family gathering with everyone meeting at Gerald's brother David's place for lunch and a catch up.
Tuesday nights have found us in the city taking part in a pub quiz with friends. We have been slowly improving the scores and our position getting into fourth place on the last attempt.
The cats have finally been able to venture outside and have been enjoying exploring the garden and having new experiences such as walking on grass which they both hated to begin with! For quite some time they just wandered around the garden and then the other day Roxie discovered that if she climbed the olive tree she could reach the top of the fence. She subsequently fell off into the neighbours garden, had a good nose around there before heading back under the gates. Within an hour or so Rufus followed in her footsteps and now they are regular visitors next door. It is great that they can now go outside and let off steam as we were regularly coming home to unravelled loo rolls - one of their favorite pastimes while we are not around!
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The weather has continued to be pretty good despite the fact that it is just about winter now. The days are sticking around 18 degrees and are mostly blue skies and sunshine. The difference is that nights can get cold now, last week it got down to 5 degrees which was a shock to the system! This week it is not supposed to get lower than about 11 at night, I do love the NZ climate! The other week, from our balcony, we noticed Mount Wellington looking pretty good in the sunshine
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it looked so lovely we decided to take a stroll to the top in an attempt to find a geocache there. We enjoyed the walk but had no luck with the geocache! That was our second attempt so maybe third time lucky...? Mt Wellington is Auckland's youngest onshore volcano at somewhere between 9,000 to 10,000 years old. It has some cool craters once you get up to the top and the views are great.
Last weekend we had a flying visit to Sydney. It was my friend Nancy's 40th birthday so we headed over to celebrate with her and at the same time caught up with Gerald's oldest brother Michael as he lives in Sydney too. We headed off straight after work on Friday and got home Sunday night so it was a quick trip but really good to catch up with everyone.
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I think that covers the main events of the past month. Hope you are all well.

Posted by bumblebum 23:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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