A Travellerspoint blog

December 2013

Planes, Kayaks and Helicopters

Exploring Queenstown in the South Island and Browns Island in the North.....

sunny 22 °C

It’s only about 2 weeks since I last updated the blog but we have been pretty busy so I thought I’d share….

We spent a sunny Saturday morning with an ‘Auckland Sea Kayaks’ tour from St Heliers beach to Browns Island also known as Motukorea.
The day could not have been more perfect, the sea was calm, the sky was blue with white fluffy clouds and the sun was shining.
Our guide led the way to the little island, only accessible by private boat or kayak. It took about 90 minutes of paddling with little stops along the way to take photos.
When we arrived at the island we made the short but steep hike to the summit for the amazing views of Auckland, Rangitoto and off in the far distance, the Coromandel.
After catching our breath, Gerald and I decided to leave our group to go and get one of the 3 geocaches hidden on the island. The cache was only a couple of hundred meters away but the journey was much harder than we expected! As the island is not inhabited there are only a few tracks and the cache was not by one of them. We ended up having to make our way through grass that was thigh height at times but we persevered and found it!
When we rejoined the group we had a delicious morning tea of muffins before climbing back into the kayaks and heading back to the mainland.
That night we headed to the Basement theatre (again!) – this time to see their Christmas production ‘A Basement Christmas Carol’. As usual we had a great night – a thoroughly entertaining 2 hour performance full of laughs.

Just a few days later and we were on a flight to Queenstown for a friends wedding. We stayed in a cute little apartment just a few minutes walk from the city centre.
As we arrived around Thursday lunchtime it meant that we had time to explore the town, so we checked in and then decided to get the gondola up the mountain to see the views of Queenstown. Fortunately the weather was great so we could see the stunning scenery in every direction for miles.
More of the city was explored with a bit of geocaching along the way and then we met up with the bride and groom to be for some pizza and drinks.
Friday’s adventures took us to Arrowtown for a look around the very small, quaint town and a lookout point on the way.
While we were eating lunch we made the spontaneous decision to book a helicopter flight. We had heard about a cache on a ledge just under Cecil Peak at an elevation of 1426m!!! The cache owner said it was a long, hard climb to the cache and recommended chartering a helicopter instead (as he had done to propose to his girlfriend). The cache has been hidden for 5 years and had only been found 11 times! We couldn’t resist such an exciting adventure and so within half and hour we were taking off in a tiny little helicopter. Our pilot told us all about the area as we flew over the rugged mountains and the turquoise lake.
We landed on the ledge just below the peak of the mountain overlooking Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. There weren’t too many places the cache could have been hidden and we soon found it and signed the log book.
We stood and admired the views grateful that we had brought our windstopper jackets – it was very windy and pretty cold up there! Before long our pilot was ushering us back into the helicopter for our return journey. He flew us back a different way so we got to see more of the surrounding area. It really was an amazing adventure with breathtaking scenery.
On a high from the flight we decided to go for a 2 hour walk around Lake Hayes to pick up a few more geocaches that we knew were hidden along the track.
Friday night we hit the town for a pre wedding party as lots of guests had now arrived.
When we woke on Saturday morning it was to the sound of VERY heavy rain. When we looked out of the window we could barely see the top of the mountain as the cloud was so low. Luckily the wedding was not til 4pm and by that time the rain had stopped and the sun had made a return. I say ‘luckily’ because it was an outdoor wedding! The wedding venue was in another beautiful area (is there any other kind in Queenstown?!) overlooking Lake Hayes.
We had a great day, the weather held out, the food was divine and we danced the night away. The venue closed at 11pm so we headed into the city for a few more drinks in a bar with live music before heading to the apartment for our last night. If you are wondering why there are no photos of the bride it's because they are also getting married in the UK on Saturday so asked us not to put anything online until after the 2nd wedding!
Sunday only gave us time to have a little lie in, check out and head to the airport. It was another beautiful day and I stared out of the window the entire journey home admiring the views below as we passed snow capped mountains, turquoise lakes and even a glacier or two!

Posted by bumblebum 19:51 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Auckland Activities

Birthdays, zombies, shows, scenic flights, art, dinner parties and more!

sunny 21 °C

It's been a long time since I updated the blog so this is going to be a quick run through of stuff we've been up to!

This weekend was a busy one, we hosted a murder mystery dinner party for some of our friends. It was called Death by Chocolate and was set in the 1920's. All our friends made a lot of effort with their costumes and we had a night full of fun and laughter.
We had a goodbye dinner with Kirsten as she has decided to give life in Australia a try and has moved to Melbourne, cat and all. We also went to the Kaipara Coast Sculpture Walk - a lovely 1km walk north of Auckland. The walk is attached to a garden centre so we came home afterwards with a boot full of plants. Each year the sculptures get changed so we will definitely go again in the future.
We have been to quite a lot of theatre productions, concerts and similar stuff over the past few months....
Jack Johnson - a great gig with the feel of listening to a band 'jamming' in their garage...enjoyed every minute.
Nik Kershaw - he sang all the big hits in a pub not too far from home, a definite up close and personal affair.
Michael McIntyre was absolutely hilarious at Vector Arena and had us laughing til we were almost crying!
We were wowed by Cirque Du Soleil's Michael Jackson Immortal - amazing acrobatics, dancing and costumes all set to the biggest MJ hits.
The basement theatre has had a couple more visits from us - both of which were thoroughly enjoyed - it really is such a great venue that doesn't hurt your pocket.
We also went to see Wicked the musical - another very enjoyable night out with amazing costumes and scenery.

One Sunday was spent running around a few acres of land escaping Zombies in the Zombie Survival Challenge. It's funny how scared you can be even though you know that they are just people dressed up! I realised by the end of the day that if there ever is a zombie apocalypse that I most certainly will not survive it!
On a similar note we went to Spookers one night with friends and I spent another couple of hours feeling terrified and screaming frequently as ghouls and ghosts came after us in the haunted house, freaky forest and disturbia. Saying that though, I did enjoy it really!

Art in the Dark was on again this year in Ponsonby so we headed to Western Park for a night time wander around the interactive light art installations.

With Gerald's huge family we are never far from a big birthday or other major event to celebrate and October meant Kevin's 50th in Wellington. A few years ago we stayed in The Lighthouse owned by Bruce, this time we decided to stay in his other property The Keep. We enjoyed staying in the cute little fort type building and the perfect weather meant we could eat our breakfast up on the roof and enjoy the coastal views.

October was also my 40th - I celebrated with about 20 friends in the city. It was great to have some of my close and old friends there too, they kindly made the journey over from Oz for the whole weekend so I got to spend some quality time with them over a game of Giant Jenga and a soak in the hot spa that we have had installed.

One of my birthday presents was a flight over Auckland in a DC3 with Gerald and Kirsten. We all got a window seat and a chance to go into the cockpit. We flew over the Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto, Mt Eden volcano, the city and more. The views were amazing and it was a great experience.

Somewhere amongst all of the above my Permanent Visa was granted so I can now live in NZ forever and in less than 3 years time I can apply for my NZ passport and become a citizen. It is hard to believe we have been out here well over 2 years now and it's 2 years since the offer our offer on the house was accepted. Our street had it's second annual 'Street Party BBQ' which started early afternoon and finished sometime in the early hours!

Of course we have done some more geocaching - in fact we attended the NZ Mega Event which was 3 days of organised caching over Labour Weekend. We caught up with lots of familiar faces and spent a good few hours in the beautiful weather finding caches all over the North Shore. The weekend wrapped up with a flashmob birdie dance in the Domain outside the museum much to the amusement of passers by!
After attending the puzzle cache workshop they put on Gerald got inspired to solve some. He spent several hours working on solving a series called Route 66, 66 caches hidden in North Auckland. We managed to find all 66 during our day of driving round the countryside.

Just 3 days of school to go now, there was much excitement in the classroom this week as the caterpillars we had been keeping in class finally completed their metamorphasis. The children really enjoyed seeing the beautiful Monarch butterfly emerge from it's chrysalis.

Well that's a brief break down of the last 4 months!!!!

Posted by bumblebum 23:17 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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