Day 27

Final day in Hong Kong, final day of holiday. Went to Stanley for the day - much quieter and more spacious than the city, with lots of old colonial stuff and buildings. Ate Paella. In the evening, went to the SoHo area for dinner. Ate lasagne after my stomach requested no more slimy strange Cantonese foods.


Day 26

Spent the day mostly in Kowloon, ticking off things to do from the guide book. Used the Star Ferry and the tube. Ate Peking duck. Ate at Cantonese restaurant. Had Vodka Martini watching sunset over Victoria harbour. Went to Temple Street night market. And watched light display thing on Hong Kong island skyscrapers. Quite pleased we didn't try to go there last night on New Years Eve, as even tonight the crowd on the harbour was three people thick.

A couple of photos on the right. The rest are here.


Day 25

Have now flown from one of the most sparsely populated places in the world to one of the most densely populated. We are in Hong Kong for a few days. Lots of tall buildings and pushing. Went up to the high peak for dinner on New Years Eve with a table over looking the city at night. very impressive view even if it was a bit hazy.

Despite warnings about the source of some seafood, so far we have eaten shrimp dim sum, shark fin soup, scallops with crab roe and lobster. All very tasty and no ill effects yet.


Day 24

Final day in New Zealand. Went for a sauna/pool/massage at the spa this morning in Hanmer Springs. Very relaxing and not as weird as I thought it might be.

Afternoon was driving back to Christchurch to return campervan - a totally painless experience despite us having broken some plates, door locks, curtains etc. All classed as normal wear and tear apparently. Now waiting for plane.


Day 23

This morning did the obligatary whale watching trip. It's at a spot on the pacific east coast where there's a big canyon over 1000m deep about 3 miles out. Was rather good - we saw three sperm whales, and a pod of over 200 dusky dolphins. All three whales very kindly did the big tail raise thing before diviong down to feed. However, on two of these occasions I was throwing up into a bag, so the whale photos you see here were taken by Tessa. It seems I have developed an intolerance to travel on choppy seas as this is the second time this holiday it's happened, but the first time in my life.

This afternoon drove to Hanmer Springs - a town built around some natural hot springs. Quite nice to bathe in, but spoilt a bit by the hundreds of kids around now that it's summer holidays here.


Day 22

Late last night, we went for a walk to some woods where glow worms gather. Very impressive sight - hundreds of the things. Doesn't make for the most interesting photo in the world, but nevertheless, proof we saw them.

Big long drive today from the west to the east coast, over the southern alps. Stopped off in an old gold mining place on the way. In Kaikoura tonight, north of Christchurch. Famous for its crayfish apparently, so I had one for dinner. Turns out to be a lobster - tasty, but not a patch on conger eel.


Day 21

Spent most of the day at Fox Glacier, one of two great big glaciers on south Island. On the west side of Mount Cook (we were on the east side right at the start of the holiday). Took a helicopter ride up to the glacier - my first time in one and really enjoyed it. Felt so much smoother and safer than a plane despite all the severe bank and stuff that the pilot did.

We then did a two hour hike through the glacier. Very spikey thing with huge undulations and crevasses. The glacier is about 6km long and moving at about 2m per day where we were. Got a bit interesting at the end when the clouds camer in and the helicopter pilots were unsure about picking us up. We were, but were the last tour of the day - quite lucky - about 75 percent of the helicopter flights are cancelled apparently.


Day 20

Headed back to the west coast again today, away from the dry area of central Otago and back to rain forest areas. Hoped to complete my collection of pengiun photos with a fjordland crested penguin but with no luck - I think we're too late in the season to see them in their breeding grounds here.

Instead I've tried to take a photo of a fern tree thing. Loads of them in the rain forests and some quite tall. Like my photos of mountains, the picture doesn't do justice to how big and impressive they are, nor how dense the rainforest is.


Day 19

A lazy Christmas day of mostly eating. Had an excellent meal at a restaurant in Wanaka. Lasted about 4 hours and consisted of oysters, scallops and feta stuffed miniature peppers, followed by gravadlax, then turkey, then an ice cream thing, then cheese. Very nice and unable to do anything else for the rest of the day. Photo of a christmassy Tessa on the right.


Day 18

Christmas Eve spent doing a wine tour around Otago. Driven around wherever we wanted by a woman in a 2CV while we gradually drank our way through 5 vineyards trying Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling and lots of Pinot Noir. Have decided I quite like some Rieslings provided they're suitably dry. Also tried some Rose wines that I didn't find anywhere near as offensive as I thought they might be. Interesting variations in the Pinot Noirs, but have concluded I really should be spending more on wine in the UK, by which I mean drink less of higher quality wines.

Photo of Rippon Vineyard on the right.


Day 17

Driven a short distance up to Wanaka where we're staying for three nights over Christmas. Nice little town on the edge of a lake surrounded by mountains. Lots of nice places to eat too. Photo on the right.

Going to keep up the non-standard crops on my photos now as I quite like it. No need to stick with 4 by 3 all the time given everything is vewed on a computer now.


Day 16

Really hot day in Queenstown. Tessa went riding in the Remarkables (where a lot of the Lord of the Rings locations were) and I drove up a gravel road to a place called Paradise to look for birds. Saw yellow headed parakeet, but didn't manage to get a photo.

Trying out a different photo crop on the Remarkables photo on the right to try and do justice to the mountains. Also, a photo of Tessa on Frodo.


Days 14 and 15

A two day update. The reason being we spent most of the last two days on an overnight cruise through Doubtful Sound. A more remote, and arguably more impressive fjord than Milford. It was certainly big. Weather was beautiful - we got really lucky with the best weather for over a week and no rain at all.

The cruise was excellent. Really good nature guide man pointing out all the interesting stuff along the way. We went out into the Tasman sea. Went kayaking up on of the arms of the fjord, and went swimming (briefly).

Very lucky to see dolphins not once, but three times. Always about 500m away or so, but about 20 in a pod. Was brilliant to watch them jumping around and mucking about. Amazing behaviour - managed to capture quite a few shots of varying quality. Also took some nice landscapey photos - including one at about 5.30 in the morning just as the sun was rising - longest day here today of course.

So many Doubful Sound photos (mostly dolphins) that I've created a separate page within the New Zealand photos pages. It be here.

Drove up to Queenstown late afternoon today. It's hot - ate oysters and monkfish.


Day 13

The guide book says that the best time to visit Milford Sounds is after a heavy downpour as it results in some impressive views of the mist rising over the fjords. And we were lucky - in rained 168mm last night, but started to clear first thing in the morning. We were woken by a Kea (a type of alpine parrot) jumping around on the campervan roof. Pretty bird - likes to eat car trim.

We did the standard Milford Sound cruise, took the photos (having fun with my polariser and gradient filters) and went to the under water observatory. All really good. Loads of photos added to the New Zealand photos pages.


Day 12

A nice slow drive up the Milford roafd to Milford sound. Enjoying the campervan - being able to just stop and cook soup or make tea wherever one likes. It got progressively wetter as we approached Milford sound, so most of the views started to become obscured by mist. Still, the heavy rain made for some amazing waterfalls down the sides of the valley. Certainly seemed to impress the locals.

A couple of short walks on the way saw me get a photo of a Tom Tit. Hoping for a falcon and a kea photo soon. Have now broken onto the third New Zealand photo page here.


Day 11

Stayed briefly in Riverton last night. A nice little sea side town on a huge calm bay - people were swimming hundreds of metres out late into the evening. Ate scallops and prawns.

Drove across to Te Anau today - our first stop in the Fjordland area. Took a jet boat ride up the river - a river used for a number of scenes in Lord of the Rings for the river Anduin. Very pretty, but my pictures in the rather grey light don't do the views justice.


Day 10

A second day on Stewart Island. We took a water taxi this time across to Ulva again to spend some more time bird spotting. Saw Bell Birds, Red Headed Parakeets, Weka, and the rare Saddleback (one of a few ringed Saddlebacks on the island). Have eaten loads of Blue Cod - a local speciality. This afternoon, taking the ferry back to the mainland, and driving across to Riverton. It's all North from here.


Day 9

Across to Stewart Island and birds. Ferry crossing scarily choppy. Our hotel room is surrounded by noisy green parrots called Kaka. From Stweart Island we took an afternoon ferry trip to Ulva island for a walk through the rain forest - loads more birds there. Anyway, have got some parrot photos, blue penguin photos (in the water - they don't come on shore during the day), albatross and some shag. A couple of photos on the right - the rest on the Photo Pages.


Day 8

Driving slowly along to south coast through the Catlins - some quite impressive rainforest that goes right down to the coast. Mainly on the hunt for waterfalls. Found a couple of large ones and got some photos, one of which is on the right.

We then stopped off on a beach of fossilized trees. Quite interesting, but more interesting was the penguin that emerged from the sand dunes and walked across into the sea. Having received criticism for the lack of photogenic wildlife shots yesterday, I took this opportunity to recitfy the situation. On the right is a photo of a penguin walking. On the other webapges, here, I have added a couple more - including a rare shot of a penguin in flight.


Day 7

A wildlife day, following the coast road down the south east of the island, and then a short way along the south coast. We stopped at a number of beaches and coves along the way to look for the wildlife that lives around here. Specifically, penguins and seals. We saw quite a few fur seals, 4 yellow eyed penguins (quite rare in New Zealand, with only about 200 breeding pairs according to the book) and a single sealion. Seals and penguins were very cooperative and posed in the sun for me, but the sea lion was just useless and just rolled around in the sand.

Still, some good photos resulted. Justifies lugging the best part of 8kg of camera and laptop equipment around the whole time. A couple of photos on the right, with more on the New Zealand Webpages here.


Day 6

Headed east today to the Pacific - our first proper sight of the ocean. Stopped off at the Moeraki boulders - some natural, almost round boulders eroded from the cliffs. Stayed the night in Moeraki village in a very well positioned overlooking the sea and small fishing village.

Main reason for staying in Moeraki was the restaurant. A converted fishing hut that sells whatever arrives from the day boats that evening. Rick Stein described it as the best seafood restaurant in the world, and he tends to know his stuff. No doubt that the food and atmosphere was excellent. I had conger eel, Tessa had shark after seeing one being caught earlier in the day. Conger eel tasted rather like lobster, but with a slightly meatier texture. Would certainly have it again if I could find it that fresh.


Day 5

Being up in the mountains means weather can be a bit weird. Goes from scorching sun to clouds and rain in an instant. Still nice and warm though. I've started to peel from a bit of sun burn on my forehead and nose. Have bought a hat.

Spent the day around Mount Cook and Twizel. Took some moody photos of mountains in clouds. Haven't yet managed to achieve my goal of the cliched snow capped mountain with blue sky and reflection in a lake. But still a few weeks to go yet.

Went to a Black Stilt (a type of bird) reintroduction centre this afternoon to look at birds, then to a Salmon place and bought fresh raw salmon sashimi. Made for a tasty dinner.


Day 4

Flew from Auckland to Christchurch, then picked up campervan. Reasonably spacious with a big bed, shower and toilet, cooker, fridge microwave etc. Struggles to creep much above 60mph, but that's probably a good thing as it acts like a giant sail in the wind.

Drove for a few hours to a site at the base of Mount Cook. Loads of birds about - some that were brought here years ago from Europe. So they look the same, but srangely have different songs sometimes. Have also seen a weird kingfisher thing. No luck with bird photos yet.


Day 3

Spent the day in the city, touring the other bits we hadn't seen. Went up the Skytower thing. And after dinner this evening, we took the ferry across to Devonport to watch the sunset over Auckland city. Photo on the right - I'm quite pleased with it.

Of course, other photos added to New Zealand Webpages here.

Flying to South Island tomorrow to pick up camper van, so may not have internet access for a while...


Day 2

Today we went to Waiheke Island about 30 minutes off Auckland. Very pretty, very hot. Ate lunch at Stonyridge vineyard - one I had vaguely heard of, although given the prices of the wine, I doubt I've ever tried any of their wine before. But it tasted good, very winey. And went well with some raw beef.

Photos added to New Zealand Webpages here.


New Zealand Holiday - Day 1

Safely arrived in New Zealand. Flight very good - much more space than on the Virgin Atlantic flights to the US. Also, was nice stopping over in Hong Kong briefly for some very politely served rice things. Back to Hong Kong later.

Am now in Auckland. Hotel suite thing huge and overlooking the marina. Weather lovely and warm - about 19 degrees C, with a gentle breeze. Have eaten lots of seafood.

New Zealand Webpages are here.


Hong Kong Skyline Hong Kong 01/01/10

Hong Kong Skyline Hong Kong 01/01/10

High Peak High Peak 31/12/09

Sperm Whale Sperm Whale 29/12/09

Sperm Whale Sperm Whale 29/12/09

Glow Worms Glow Worms 28/12/09

Helicopter Helicopter 27/12/09

James On Glacier James On Glacier 27/12/09

Fern Tree Fern Tree 26/12/09

Christmas Tessa Christmas Tessa 25/12/09

Rippon Vineyard Rippon Vinyeard 24/12/09

Wanaka Wanaka 23/12/09

Remarkables Remarkables 22/12/09

Tessa Riding Tessa Riding 22/12/09

Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound 21/12/09

Dolphins Dolphins 20/12/09

Kea Kea 19/12/09

Cruise Ship Cruise Ship 19/12/09

On The Way To Milford To Milford 18/12/09

Te Anau Evening Te Anau 17/12/09

Jet Boat Jet Boat 17/12/09

Weka Weka 16/12/09

Kaka Kaka 15/12/09

Albatross Albatross 15/12/09

Falls Falls 14/12/09

Penguin Walking Penguin Walking 14/12/09

Fur Seal Fur Seal 13/12/09

Yellow Eyed Penguins Penguins 13/12/09

Moeraki Boulders Moeraki Boulders 12/12/09

Fleurs Place Fleurs Place 12/12/09

Lake Pukaki Lake Pukaki 11/12/09

On the way to Mount Cook To Mount Cook 10/12/09

Auckland At Night Auckland 09/12/09

Matiatia Bay Matiatia Bay 08/12/09

Auckland Hotel Auckland Hotel 07/12/09

Hotel View Hotel View 07/12/09

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