Our Family Blog

One of NZ’s biggest tourists attractions, Milford Sound receives about half a million visitors each year.  Some 14,000 arrive by foot (tramping) and the remainder either via bus tour or camper like us.  There is only one road in and out and around 600k from the main tourist highway.

Milford receives the largest rainfall in the whole of NZ, up to 9 meters a year.  We took a  four hour tour by boat around the area.  Just before we arrived and while we were there it was pelting which wasn’t so nice but created a spectacular deluge of cascading waterfalls all along the trip.  We were expecting to see seals, dolphins and penguins but at times it was too dangerous to step out on deck to look and in the end we saw absolutely nout.  We really enjoyed the trip but it was damn expensive to get there and the tour.

Anybody out there that loves waterfalls, this is your mecca.

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A spectacular World Heritage Area.  Of the 27 NZ mountains over 3050m, 22 are in this park.  The highest is the mighty Mt Cook and at 3755m it’s the tallest peak in Australasia. 

The area is a trampers heaven with over a hundred walks varying in length and grades. We arrived early in the afternoon so had time to fit in a gentle two-hour walk.  The next morning we headed off for a 4–hour walk into Hooker Valley where we took the majority of these photos – we’ll let them speak for themselves. The last one is a little spooky, on the peak of Mt Cook you can see a face in the background – it doesn’t look very happy.

For us the park was one of the most enjoyable areas we have been to in NZ – awe-inspiring scenery and very relaxing. Amazingly, we met Janneke and Danny, a Dutch couple we had previously met while trekking the waterfall way in Australia.  We are really enjoying their company and have agreed to spend the next week or so touring together.

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We arrived in Sydney feeling a little subdued having just handed back Larry (our camper) and the thought of hostel life again, but we soon got back into it and really enjoyed our time in the city. 

The first day or so it was all business having to clean the van top to bottom, pack our rucksack, check our airline tickets, banking and do a little research on our next destination Auckland, New Zealand and so on…  Once that was done it was time to relax and enjoy the city.

The easiest and most enjoyable way to see the city was via the open top hop on hop off sightseeing tour bus.  We bought a 48 hour pass.  Our first stop was the Australian Museum and the most striking display was the National Geographic Wildlife Photographs of the Year  – wow!  Jonathan, if you do make it down this far it is definitely worth a visit – awesome.  Then it was onto the Maritime Museum and for about $30 you could explore the Vampire gun ship, Oslo the submarine and an exact replica of James Cook’s Endeavour.

On the third day we visited Manley beach and the world’s largest IMAX museum which was awesome.  None of these activities come cheap but we managed to get almost everything half price with our fake student cards from Thailand .

In all we had a busy but relaxing time in Sydney and would highly recommend it as a city break.  It so like London in so many ways but without the sheer number of people which meant you could sit back and just take it all in.  Could definitely live here!

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Last week we visited the The Blue Mountains but just didn’t have much spare time to sit down and write a post, so here come a few updates.

The mountains officially start about 60 kilometres to the west of Sydney so it was an easy stop off before we handed back our campervan, Larry.  The spectacular plateaus and epic gorges descend to over 700 metres below sea level and rise at their highest at over 1,000 metres. The majority of the Blue Mountains are listed in the Greater Blue Mountains Area World Heritage Area and is a conservation area that contains around seven national parks.

We had an amazing time bush camping and trekking and our days were easily consumed with tourists attractions such as Katoomba Scenic Railway, the steepest railway in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, and originally part of the Katoomba mining tramways constructed between 1878 and 1900.  The cable railway line descends 415 metres through sandstone cliffs, via a rock tunnel with a maximum gradient of 52 degrees. Also, the Scenic Skyway, a glass-bottom aerial cable car that traverses an arm of the Jamison Valley, and the Scenic Flyway, the steepest aerial cable car in Australia.

Pictured below are some great shots of the famous three sisters, which is well worth a visit, and all walks and scenic tours seemed centred on views such as these.

Most evenings we headed off into the wild, or the bush, for for much needed relaxation.  As you can see I felt very at home building my fires and cooking outdoors.  The parks were the best in terms of facilities that we’ve ever seen.  Not only are you allowed to build your own fire, but wood is also provided and chopped in some cases – how mad is that!  Sometimes I went a little crazy with the whole experience and built a fire that would warm the whole campsite, but we were on our own so no worries there.

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We spent three days and two night in Lamington National Park, part of the World Heritage listing ‘Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves’.  A landscape characterised by rugged mountain scenery, subtropical rainforest, fern gullies, wildflower heaths and Queensland’s best bushwalking trails.

We had an amazing 3 days trekking the jungle and seeing some varied wildlife – satin and regent bowerbirds, pademelons (a type of small wallaby) and rare and threatened species such as the coxens fig parrot and eastern bristlebord.  Thankfully, the only species that posed any danger were snakes and we seen none.

Lamington has around 160km of walking tracks within the park.  Our favourites were the tree-top canopy and the 21km Border Track circuit that follows the dividing range between NSW and Queensland.  In all we walked a good 20hrs. We seen the most amazing creatures, waterfalls and trees.  You’ll see a great shot of me sitting on a waterfall edge – where we shouldn’t have been – looking down was the most amazing adrenalin rush ever!

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