A Travellerspoint blog

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Our first two weeks in New Zealand

Auckland and the North Island of New Zealand

sunny 25 °C

After spending a very hot and humid holiday in Fiji, it was a welcome change to arrive in Auckland which was still sunny and warm but “only” 25 degrees and significantly less humid. It took two plane connections and 4 hours of flying to arrive in Auckland, located on the North Island. With a total population of 1.3 million it is by far the largest city in New Zealand which only has a total population of 4.1 million. After making it through customs, we joined up with two more of Jacq’s family members – her older sister Christina and her husband Aaron who flew in a few hours earlier from Calgary.

Christina, Aaron and Jen in the pool

Christina, Aaron and Jen in the pool

At this point our total group consisted of 10 adults and 2 children. From there we all piled into an 11 passenger van and made our way to the house we were be staying in which was located in Manuwera, a suburb just south of Auckland.

Map of Auckland

Map of Auckland

After coming into contact with geckos, cockroaches, giant spiders, and mosquitoes on a daily and nightly basis in Fiji, we were relieved to see that we would likely not have any problems in what was, by far, the most luxurious accommodations we’ve had since first starting our trip over 2 months ago.

Living room #1

Living room #1

Hanging out in the pool

Hanging out in the pool

During the first two weeks, we’ve done a lot of things in and around Auckland.

Downtown Auckland

We headed to downtown Auckland to check out the beautiful harbour and shopping areas. With the world rugby coming in September of this year, the whole city was ramping up for the event.

While in Auckland we spent our time drinking coffee near the harbour, shopping, and visiting the Auckland Art Gallery and Auckland Museum.

In front of the Auckland Museum

In front of the Auckland Museum

Giant Maori Canoe

Giant Maori Canoe

Posing with a Penguin

Posing with a Penguin

Posing like an Albatross

Posing like an Albatross

Christina’s birthday - Kelly Tartons/Sushi

For Christina’s birthday, we went to Kelly Tarlton’s underwater world to see king penguins, sting rays and of course sharks! Jacq, Jen, Christina and Aaron decided that seeing them through the safety of the glass aquarium wasn’t quite good enough so they decided to take the plunge into the aquarium and get a little closer.

Tina is psyched for the shark cage

Tina is psyched for the shark cage

Here sharkie sharkie

Here sharkie sharkie

Jacq in the shark cage

Jacq in the shark cage

View of sharks in the shark cage

View of sharks in the shark cage

They headed into the shark cage equipped with snorkelling equipment and their underwater cameras. After surviving her experience, Jacq tells us that the sharks were not shy and would swim very close and if they splashed around they would even rub up right against the cage! Afterwards, we headed out for a delish sushi dinner! When you are this close to the ocean, the sushi is amazing!

Devonport
As a birthday gift, we gave Jacq’s mom a day to do anything she’d like. No, we weren’t her slaves for the day (ha ha) but we headed out to Devonport, a quaint sub division of Auckland that is across the harbour from the downtown core and can be reached by either ferry or driving across the harbour bridge. In Devonport, we spent the day checking out art galleries, shops and stopped for a picnic lunch. It was a cute little place which reminded us of Niagara-on-the- lake.

Rangitoto Island
We took a 30 min ferry from downtown Auckland across the harbour to Rangitoto Island, the newest volcano in the Auckland area.

Rangitoto island

Rangitoto island

It erupted 600 years ago from the ocean sea and is now a beautiful lush island rising out of the sea. We read in our tour books to wear sturdy shoes – and there was a reason!

Rangitoto - the youngest volcano near Auckland

Rangitoto - the youngest volcano near Auckland

It was very rugged terrain – crumbly hot black volcanic rock which would give out under you – in one case Jacq fell down! Volcanic rock sure gives you nice cuts and bruises!

It was about a 1 hour climb up to the summit for some breath taking views.

View of Auckland from Rangitoto

View of Auckland from Rangitoto

On our way down, we headed to the lava caves, which Jesse loved!

Jesse in a lava cave

Jesse in a lava cave

Jacq crawling into a lava cave

Jacq crawling into a lava cave

By the time we headed back to the ferry, we figured it was about an 8 km hike!

Hiking on Rangitoto

Hiking on Rangitoto

While staying in the Auckland area, we also did a number of day trips and a few overnight trips as well.

Hotwater Beach
We headed out to the Coromandel peninsula and home of the famous hot water beach. New Zealand is home to many volcanoes and some volcanoes develop huge underground reservoirs of superheated water. Over time, this water will escape to the surface — cooling on the way. There are two fissures at Hot Water Beach – this means that if you dig in the sand, hot water will come up and you can have your very own hot tub on the beach!

Digging a Pool at Hot Water Beach

Digging a Pool at Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Pools

Hot Water Pools

Muriwai Beach

We headed out to Muriwai Beach, a beach on the western coast. The beach had black sand (hot...very hot on the feet!) and it had some amazing waves. Jen, Andy and Jesse decided to try out surfing again, while Jacq decided that she didn’t want to drink a lot of sea water that day, so a boogie board would do just fine! Jacq’s mom lounged on the beach while the rest of the crew heading to check out a few wineries in the area. Later that afternoon, Christina and Aaron joined everyone in the ocean for a swim. It would have been a perfect day at the beach, except that in the last 20 minutes when we were swimming, Jacq and Christina suddenly got pulled away in a rip current. When waves push water towards the shore, that water is forced sideways by the oncoming waves. This water streams along the shoreline until it finds an exit back to the sea. The resulting rip current is usually narrow and is very strong, pulling the seawater back to the ocean. We learned about the rip curl in our surfing lesson, so Jacq knew to keep calm and not to swim while in the rip curl. The current is too strong and you’ll tire out and are likely to drown from exhaustion. Soon after we were rescued by the life guards on the beach through their zodiac motor boats – not a fun boat trip as one wave almost threw Jacq out of the boat. In the end Jacq and Christina both made it to the beach, a bit shaken, but fine.

Muriwai surf shop

Muriwai surf shop

Waitomo Caves – Black water rafting

On our next road trip, we headed south, to Waitomo, which is home to numerous underground caves. Jim, Bonnie, Christina and Aaron opted to do the walking and boat tours of two caves while Jesse, Jacq, Jen and Andy opted to try black water rafting – checking out the caves in a full body wetsuit on an inner tube through the dark, wet and cold caves. It was quite the experience! The water was a chilly 10-14 degrees, but was almost bearable in our sweet wet suits. Jesse is showing it off nicely here.

Looking good in our full wetsuits

Looking good in our full wetsuits

In the dark cave, we walked through the rushing cold water, cruised down the cave in the tubes and took a “leap of faith” off two waterfalls which involved jumping backwards onto our tubes into the dark abyss.

Jumping off waterfall

Jumping off waterfall

Our favourite was cruising through the cave linked to each other as you looked at the glow worms on the ceiling. OK so we learned they aren’t really “worms” they are maggots and the glow is actually their faeces but Maggot poop really doesn’t have the same ring to it.

First sight of light out of the cave

First sight of light out of the cave

Bay of islands

We headed out north, through the endless windy roads to the Bay of Islands.

Winding roads in New Zealand

Winding roads in New Zealand

On our way there, we stopped at Goat`s Island - a popular beach and snorkelling area.

The beach on Goat Island

The beach on Goat Island

Snokelling in Goat Island

Snokelling in Goat Island

Coined the “winterless north” – the Bay of Islands has a sub tropical climate with beautiful beaches and a landscape of lush green islands. We stayed in Paihia, a quaint beach town with great access to the bay.

Jacq and Jesse on Paihia Beach

Jacq and Jesse on Paihia Beach

View of fuller bay

View of fuller bay

The highlight of the trip was the Dolphin sightseeing boat cruise through the Bay of Islands. At times it was also the lowlight of the trip – that is when the water was rough and you started to turn the colour of the lush green islands. When the crew is handing out puke bags to everyone – it’s probably not a good sign! However, we survived, and enjoyed the large pod of dolphins which swam near and under our boat, jumping in the air.

Wild dolphins jumping in the air

Wild dolphins jumping in the air

As there were baby dolphins in the pod, we weren’t able to swim with them – but it was amazing to see these graceful mammals in the wild. We didn’t see any other dolphins that day, so near the end of the trip Jacq, Jesse and Jen jumped into the “boom net” – a large net they attach to the side of the boat where you need to hold on tight!

Jacq and Jen holding onto the netboom

Jacq and Jen holding onto the netboom

Jesse jumping on the netboom

Jesse jumping on the netboom

The boomnet in motion

The boomnet in motion

What’s next?

We are heading out for a road trip to Rotorua and Lake Taupo to celebrate Jacq and Jen’s birthday. Then we head to Christchurch for a few days before heading further south to Queenstown where we’ll celebrate Jesse’s birthday. Stay tuned!

Posted by jacqjesse 00:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Zorbing, mud baths and heli-rides!

Our road trip down to Rotorura and Lake Taupo

sunny 26 °C

Before saying goodbye to the North Island of New Zealand, we went on one more road trip down south to Rotarura and Lake Taupo – two of the most volcanically active areas in New Zealand.

Roadtrip!

Roadtrip!

During our travels we’ve been told many things about Rotarura - including that it’s a must see for its thermal hot springs, mud baths, and maori culture. We also had one kiwi we met in Airlie Beach recommend skipping it altogether after describing the entire area as one of the worst smelling places he’d ever been. Heading this advice, we decided to go anyway. In the spirit of the country who invented bungee jumping, our first stop was to do what New Zealanders do best – extreme sports!

Zorbing or Zydroing is probably best described in pictures or video but, in a nut shell, involves being shoved into the centre of a giant beach ball and being rolled down a massive hill.

Zorb tumbling down the hill

Zorb tumbling down the hill

After first hearing of this sport from friends that have been to New Zealand, we couldn’t think of a better way to start off our road trip.

Zorbing

Zorbing

Jesse getting tossed in the zorb!

Jesse getting tossed in the zorb!


Although we weren’t able to convince Jacqueline’s parents to come along, they were very enthusiastic spectators as they watched their two children and boyfriends hurl themselves down two different courses on the hill.

Jacq getting tossed in the zorb!

Jacq getting tossed in the zorb!

Jesse coming out of the birth canal!

Jesse coming out of the birth canal!

After an adrenaline filled morning, we decided to relax ourselves by making a trip to Hell’s Gate - thermal mud spa.

the view at Hell`s Gate - plug your nose!

the view at Hell`s Gate - plug your nose!

The first thing we noticed when approaching the area was exactly what our kiwi friend had warned us about – the smell. Words cannot describe the degree to which the entire areas stunk like pure, super-concentrated, rotten, decaying, eggs. You know how sometimes after you’ve been somewhere long enough you get used to the smell? Well that didn’t happen in this case! Instead we simply accepted the stench and moved on with our lives. The thermal mud baths and spa however were quite relaxing and we ended up having a great time unwinding and relaxing.

Getting muddy!

Getting muddy!

Jesse covered in mud!

Jesse covered in mud!

2 showers and 24 hours later, we only smelled half as bad as we the day before as we got ready to celebrate Jacq and Jen’s birthday! To kick off the festivities, both girls had opted to celebrate in their own way. Jen and Andy had chosen to go skydiving, while Jacq and Jesse decided to go for a helicopter ride over Lake Taupo.

Our helicopter!

Our helicopter!

Jesse in the helicopter

Jesse in the helicopter

Jacq in the helicopter

Jacq in the helicopter

The lake which is actually an imploded volcano, covers the same area of land as Singapore and provided breathtaking views as we flew over for our 45 min chopper ride.

View of Lake Taupo and Mt Tauhara

View of Lake Taupo and Mt Tauhara

During the ride we hovered over Huka Falls and craters of the moon, as we made our way to Lake Taupo’s northern bays, the Maori rock carvings and up to the summit of Mount Tauhara, an extinct volcano.

Huka Falls

Huka Falls

Craters of the moon

Craters of the moon

The Maori Rock Carvings

The Maori Rock Carvings

Flying through a cloud over Mt Tauharas

Flying through a cloud over Mt Tauharas

Flying around the bays of Lake Taupo

Flying around the bays of Lake Taupo

We even landed in the middle of an exclusive geothermal zone and spent some time exploring the area before returning back.

Lake Rotokawa

Lake Rotokawa

Jesse and Jacq in front of Mt Tauhara

Jesse and Jacq in front of Mt Tauhara

A very acidic lake!

A very acidic lake!

Unfortunately, Jen and Andy were not able to go skydiving as planned due to windy conditions however they are determined to make it happen and are going to try again in Queenstown.

Before making the treck back to our home base in Auckland, we stopped at a winery for the girls’ birthday lunch and took some artistic photos! (It wouldn`t be Jacq`s birthday without fake moustaches!)

Slyly hanging out at the winery

Slyly hanging out at the winery

Slyly checking out some grapes

Slyly checking out some grapes

Tomorrow we leave the north island and head south to Christchurch, where we’ll spend 3 nights exploring the city and meeting up with Jacq’s friend before making our way down to Queenstown (our home base in the south island for the remained of the month).

Posted by jacqjesse 01:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Christchurch - oldies and goodies

Our visit to Sellar's south island

rain 12 °C

We headed to Christchurch on an early flight, leaving warm Auckland in shorts and t-shirts. BAD IDEA! When we arrived, we had goose bumps and our teeth were chattering! Apparently we had missed the heat wave that came the previous week, when the city was at a balmy 35 + degrees. This was in stark contrast to the chilly 12 degrees and rain we arrived to.

Once we landed, our first order of business was to meet up with our friend Andrew Sellar (Sellars), who has been living in Christchurch for the past year - And he hasn’t changed at all! We are still questioning how they let him live in a city with the words “Christ” and “Church” in it! For those who don’t know Sellars like we do, we’ll let this picture explain.

The one and only Sellars

The one and only Sellars

Jokes aside, it was awesome seeing him and having him show us around Christchurch.

That evening we headed for fish and chips at his favourite eatery – which was the SMELLIEST fish place we’ve ever gone to! However, it was delicious! The rest of the evening we hung out at his place and met his flat mates and some of the friends he’s made over the past year, before heading out for a night out on the town.

Sellar sandwich

Sellar sandwich

Jen sandwich

Jen sandwich

Night out on the town

Night out on the town

The next morning (or should we say late morning/afternoon) Chef Sellar cooked us a delicious breakfast!

Chef Sellar

Chef Sellar

Then we were off on a road trip to Hanmer Springs, which was about 90 minutes away from Christchurch.

Roadtrippin

Roadtrippin

Driving to Hanmer Springs

Driving to Hanmer Springs

It was also Jesse’s first opportunity to drive on the other side of the road. Aside from two small yelps from Jacq in the passenger seat, he did very well!

Jesse driving on the left side of the road!

Jesse driving on the left side of the road!

We arrived in Hanmer Springs and headed to a hot springs and water park. We felt like kids again riding the waterslides and a ride called superbowl in which you went down on a 2 person tube. We warmed up and relaxed in the hot pools, however, we avoided the smelly sulphur ones this time (we are still trying to get the “stink” out of our clothes from the last time!)

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs

We grabbed a bite to eat in town before heading back to Christchurch for the evening. As Sellar had an early morning flight back to Canada the next day, we just hung out at his house and helped him pack up (or should we say repack) his things for him. Given our travels, we are now experts on the subject, and Sellars clearly was not!

Hanging out at Sellar's house

Hanging out at Sellar's house

The next day, the four of us headed out to explore Christchurch on our own. We headed to the Museum and Art Gallery which was in walking distance from our hostel.

Jesse at the Museum

Jesse at the Museum

Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery

Later that afternoon we drove to New Brighton beach and Taylor’s mistake – which were both beautiful, even in the wet weather.

Driving along Taylor's mistake

Driving along Taylor's mistake

New Brighton Beach

New Brighton Beach

Surfers at Taylor's Mistake Beach

Surfers at Taylor's Mistake Beach

The Banks Peninsula

The Banks Peninsula

We decided to go to sushi for dinner, which was delicious. Jesse was probably the most adventurous with the menu as his dinner included raw beef sashimi and raw octopus marinated with wasabi. Cue photo!

Beef sashimi

Beef sashimi

That evening we decided to take a small break from the sightseeing and go see a movie, since we haven’t been to one in over 3 months! We decided to see the King’s Speech, which we enjoyed very much, but we probably enjoyed the inflatable blow up arm we received with our popcorn even more!

High five!

High five!

During our stay in Christchurch, we bunked at a hostel located near the main sights and also less than a 10 min drive to Sellar’s house. This also happened to be our last and WORST experience in a hostel for this trip. The place itself was quaint but quite worn down. Jesse and Jacq had the pleasure of sharing a room with an older gentleman who happened to not have any teeth and refused to talk to us. We affectionately nicknamed him "old man rivers”. We weren’t sure what was worse – listening to his alarm clock which loudly said, “it’s 6 o’clock, it’s time to get up!” in the voice of a British woman OR one night being sound asleep and then suddenly awoken by his yells “AHHH AHHH.”

Yeah, we are looking forward to actually getting some sleep when we are in Queenstown!

In fact, something about this particular hostel attracted the “older crowd”. Unlike the other hostels we’d stayed in which were full of young, often drunk twenty somethings, we seemed to be staying at a slightly more mature hostel. We’ll never forget the look on Jesse’s face when a 70 year old woman across the hall (who was also staying in a 4-person bunk bed room), opened her door, and asked Jesse if he had see her key which she might have left in the door accidentally. Later he ran into her again going down the stairs. When she saw him coming, she told him “Go ahead sonny; I’m very slow going down these stairs... I recently broke my hip.” The good news – we spoke to her again afterwards and she did find her key!

On our last morning in Christchurch we got up early, grabbed breakfast and played a game of mini golf (a pirate themed one – but not as ghetto as the one we played in Australia!) before returning our rental car and getting on our flight.

Pirate mini golf

Pirate mini golf

The flight into Queenstown was amazing! Here are some shots we saw from the air!

Mount Cook - the highest mountain in New Zealand

Mount Cook - the highest mountain in New Zealand

Flying to Queenstown

Flying to Queenstown

We’ll be in Queenstown until February 4. While we are here, we’ll be celebrating Jesse’s birthday by going hang gliding!

Posted by jacqjesse 20:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (4)

Adventures in Queenstown

EXTREME-ly good times!

all seasons in one day 17 °C

We spent our last two weeks in kiwi land visiting Queenstown, a small, picturesque town nestled away in the mountains and lakes of the southern island of New Zealand.

View of Queenstown at night

View of Queenstown at night

Our accommodations were perched on the side of a mountain overlooking Lake Wakatipu, across from The Remarkables mountain ranges and overlooking Queenstown.

Sun peaking over the Remarkables

Sun peaking over the Remarkables

The house itself was almost as awesome as the view it provided, including a full kitchen, patio, and bedrooms that were furnished with private bathrooms, king beds and plasma TV’s.

view from the back of the house

view from the back of the house

the patio

the patio

Rainbow over Lake Wakatipu

Rainbow over Lake Wakatipu

The bathrooms even had a special towel heater which warmed up your towels for you before getting out of the shower. We were quite impressed!

Towel Heater!

Towel Heater!

Once we had settled ourselves into our new pad and stopped staring out the window at “The Remarkable” view we set our sights on exploring the town commonly referred to as “The Adventure Capital of the World”.

With an abundance of mountains and lakes spread throughout the region, it was difficult to decide how best to take it all in – should we take to the skies, traverse the landscape by foot or go explore the lakes by boat? With so many things to check out - we ended up doing a little bit of everything!

Lake Wakatipu

One of the first things we did in Queenstown was hop on a boat and take a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu - One of New Zealand’s largest lakes and also one of its purest.

Boat on Lake Wakatipu

Boat on Lake Wakatipu

View on Boat Cruise

View on Boat Cruise

During our cruise, the captain informed us that the crystal clear blue lake we were cruising over consisted of over 99.9% pure water! In other words, the water is purer than most commercially available bottled water and he said that it contains so little contaminants that it doesn’t even conduct electricity.

Jandals on the boat cruise

Jandals on the boat cruise

Catamaran on Lake Wakatipu

Catamaran on Lake Wakatipu

Before starting our trip we looked down into the water and saw dozens of rainbow trout swimming around the boat.

Feeding trout in Lake Wakatipu

Feeding trout in Lake Wakatipu

Towards the end of the trip, the captain invited a few of us to come steer the boat and of course, Jesse couldn’t resist!

Captain Ho

Captain Ho

Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound

As the setting for many of the scenes in JRR Tolken’s, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, we couldn’t help but feel like we were visiting a scene straight out of the films. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Fiordland National Park – part of a World Heritage Area called “Te Wahipounamu’.

The view at Milford Sound

The view at Milford Sound

And just what is a Fiord you might ask? Wikipedia, describes it as a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs created in a valley carved out by glaciers... yeah... we didn’t know that either until we got here. They do however, provide some of the most stunning scenery – as we travelled through the valleys on our way to Milford Sound (technically a Fiord), we couldn’t help but marvel at the steep mountains that towered menacingly close to us, with glacier covered peaks hiding in the looming clouds above.

Driving up to Milford

Driving up to Milford

Mountain views

Mountain views

Our trek to Milford Sound took us 4 hours through Fiordland over narrow passageways, giant mountain peaks and finally through the Homer Tunnel that goes directly through a mountain.

View on the way to Milford

View on the way to Milford

Mountain view at Mirror Lake

Mountain view at Mirror Lake

Glacier before arriving at Milford Sound

Glacier before arriving at Milford Sound

Once arriving at Milford Sound, we got on a boat and took a tour of the Sound (Fiord). The setting was spectacular and rather than attempt to describe it we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Jesse and Jacq on the boat in Milford Sound

Jesse and Jacq on the boat in Milford Sound

Steep mountains at Milford Sound

Steep mountains at Milford Sound

Waterfalls at Milford Sound

Waterfalls at Milford Sound

Seal Lions at Milford Sound

Seal Lions at Milford Sound

Extreme Sports

As mentioned earlier, Queenstown is commonly given the title, Adventure Capital of the world, and for good reason. Home to the site of the world’s very first bungy jump, and many of the other extreme sports of the world, Queenstown is the perfect place to get a little crazy and test your nerves. Here are some snapshots of what we got up to while in town:

Bungy Jumping!!

In 1988, AJ Hacket, was the world’s first bungee jumper as he leaped 142 ft from the Kawarau bridge on a giant elastic band tied to his legs. 23 years later, Jesse and Andy decided they would carry on the tradition and even chose to get dunked into the river at the bottom!

Jesse bungy jumping!

Jesse bungy jumping!

Hang Gliding

For Jesse’s birthday, he decided he wanted to go hang gliding and convinced Jacqueline it was a good idea as well so together the two of them strapped themselves to their respective experts and literally ran off a cliff! Soaring above the mountains, 3,800 ft above ground, hang gliding is probably the closest you can get to feeling like a bird soaring through the sky!

View from Coronet Peak, where we went hang gliding

View from Coronet Peak, where we went hang gliding

Hangliding off of Coronet Peak

Hangliding off of Coronet Peak

Jacq hang gliding

Jacq hang gliding

Shotover Jet

As a thank you for having us tag along with Jacqueline’s parents in New Zealand, we decided to plan a special day for both her parents. For Jacq’s mom, we sent her for a nice relaxing massage at the spa, and what did we decide to do for Jacq’s Dad...? We decided to do something a little more extreme to satisfy his need for speed! To accomplish this we chose the shotover jet - an intense, high speed, often death defying, ride on a jet boat through the shotovercanyon just 20 minutes outside of Queenstown.

the shotover jet!

the shotover jet!

This 25 minute ride of your life, brought us seemingly inches from the sides the canyon and holding on for dear life as the driver spun us in 360 turns through narrow passageways. Again, we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves but it’s safe to say, mission accomplished!

Cutting it close on the shotover jet!

Cutting it close on the shotover jet!

Although it may be hard to believe – in addition to all of the activities we mentioned above, we also managed to squeeze in:

-Golfing at Jack’s point (see Jen and Andy’s blog for more info on this! http://jenstravels2010.posterous.com/)

Golfing at Jack's Point

Golfing at Jack's Point

Pinnacle

Pinnacle

-Hiking on Mount Crighton

Hiking in New Zealand

Hiking in New Zealand

Historical tunnel on our hike

Historical tunnel on our hike

Mushrooms on Mt. Crighton

Mushrooms on Mt. Crighton

-Day trip to Lake Wanaka

Shore of Lake Wanaka

Shore of Lake Wanaka

-A couple of bar nights, including on Jesse’s birthday

Jesse's birthday!

Jesse's birthday!

Watching the Australian Open tennis finals

Watching the Australian Open tennis finals

-Taking the Skyline Gondola and doing some louging!

Jesse on the Gondola

Jesse on the Gondola

Luging!

Luging!

the lugers!

the lugers!

And of course shopping and eating (including at the delicious Fergburger!)

In Ferg we Trust!

In Ferg we Trust!

FERGBURGER!

FERGBURGER!

Jacq eating the famous Fergburger

Jacq eating the famous Fergburger

Next, we are off to Asia, starting with Hong Kong! We say good bye for now to Jen and Andy and Jacqueline’s parents, but we’ll meet up them again later on in Hawaii!

Thanks again to Jim and Bonnie for allowing us to join you on this amazing adventure!

Posted by jacqjesse 04:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Spending Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Gon Hay Fat Choi!

sunny 22 °C

We arrived in Hong Kong (HK), on the second day of Chinese New Year, after a long eleven hour flight from New Zealand. It’s a 5 hour time difference, so when we arrived around 8:30 pm, we were bagged as it felt much later to us! We took a taxi from the man-made island airport to our hotel and along the way took some interesting photos!

DRIVE

DRIVE

First night in HK!

First night in HK!

While in HK we stayed at EAST hotel, which was recommended by Jesse’s dad – and it was a very nice choice.

Our hotel room in HK

Our hotel room in HK

It is on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island and is very accessible to all of the shopping areas and tourist destinations as well as within walking distance to Jesse’s Grandma’s house.

Our week in HK went by quickly as we spent our time by either hanging out with Jesse’s family, shopping, or sight-seeing! This was also Jacqueline’s first visit to Hong Kong, a bustling city with a population of over 7 million people, and it was quite a change from the slower pace of New Zealand.

Shopping in HK

Shopping in HK

Hanging out with the Ho’s

The Ho’s put the HO in Hong Kong! Our trip would not have been complete without visiting Jesse’s family – and they really went out of their way to make sure we had an amazing time! We can’t thank them enough for all they did for us!

For example, our hotel is within walking distance to Grandma’s, but nonetheless, Jesse’s uncle, Stephen, came over to meet us and got us acquainted with the area – including setting us up with a cell phone and passes to the MTR (the subway). Hong Kong’s MTR is the best way to get around the city and as one of the most impressive and efficient subway systems we’ve ever been on, we quickly learned why it boasts the world’s highest public transportation ridership at over 90%!!

During our first day in Hong Kong, we headed to their house to see Grandma, Aunty Carol and Jesse’s cousin Janice.

Grandma is one of the cutest people ever!

Grandma, Jacq and Jesse

Grandma, Jacq and Jesse

She just turned 90 in November - but is still young at heart! She quickly noticed Jesse’s tan and during dinner, was not afraid to show him how to use chopsticks properly (meanwhile called Jacq a clever girl for knowing how to use them correctly!) You’ll often find Grandma laughing and pointing to things we should try to eat – until we tell her “ho-bow” which means “I’m very full “ in Cantonese! We relied on Uncle Stephen, Aunty Carol and Janice to do the translating for us, for which we were very grateful! That evening we had a wonderful Chinese dinner at their house and it was a great way to spend our first day in Hong Kong!

A few nights later, most of the Ho family got together for a delicious Chinese meal at their favourite restaurant. The only ones missing in attendance were Uncle Peter, Jesse’s cousins Michelle and Juliet – and Jesse’s family! Otherwise everyone was there! It was nice that everyone was able to come out and see us!

The Ho family at dinner

The Ho family at dinner

On our last day in HK, we also met Grandma and Uncle Stephen for Dim Sum! It was delicious and as usual we ate a lot! It was also nice to spend some more time with Grandma!

Crispy BBQ pork buns

Crispy BBQ pork buns

On our last evening we met Janice, Marcus and Uncle Peter for some drinks at a German bar – it was nice to drink beer, spend time with them and share stories!

Jesse and his cousin Marcus

Jesse and his cousin Marcus

Shopping

A trip to HK would not be complete without shopping! And who could resist at the world’s number 1 duty free shopping area!

We headed to Stanley Market (twice!) –

Stanley Market Harbour

Stanley Market Harbour

Stanley Street

Stanley Street

Narrow bridge on the way to Stanley

Narrow bridge on the way to Stanley

- this is also where Jacq went nuts buying scarves!

Jacq scarf shopping!

Jacq scarf shopping!

SCARF PURCHASES!

SCARF PURCHASES!

We also went to Times Square in Causeway Bay –

Jesse at Times Square

Jesse at Times Square

Times Square in Causeway Bay

Times Square in Causeway Bay

Checked out Habour City –

Shopping in Habour City

Shopping in Habour City

Year of the Rabbit!

Year of the Rabbit!

One of the most memorable shopping locations was in Mong Kok at the Ladies’s market – which was FULL of people and the market stalls just went on and on!

Jacq in Mong Kok

Jacq in Mong Kok

Shopping at the Ladies Market in Mong Kok

Shopping at the Ladies Market in Mong Kok

We also went shopping at Tai Koo Shing at the City Plaza Mall – which was conveniently just outside our hotel (perhaps too convenient!)

Jesse at City Plaza mall in Tai Koo Shing

Jesse at City Plaza mall in Tai Koo Shing

And as you can see from this picture – WE DID WELL!

The damage!

The damage!

And may need another suitcase to bring it all home....

SIGHTSEEING

The Peak

We also spend some time doing some sightseeing in HK. First, we went to the Peak.

The Tram

The Tram

HK skyline view at the Peak

HK skyline view at the Peak

Since HK is set in a mountainous area, you are able to take a tram up the mountain in central HK to see a view of the city. It is breath- taking –with an incredible number of sky scrapers around the harbour, set against mountainous hills.

Jacq at the Peak

Jacq at the Peak

It’s also where you can profess your love!

Moo Shu Love

Moo Shu Love

Big Buddha

... and big it was!

Big Buddha

Big Buddha

To get there, we took the cable car (a gondola) which ran between the hills and over water in order to get to the Big Buddha!

Cable car over the road and water

Cable car over the road and water

Jesse on the cable car on our way to the Big Buddha

Jesse on the cable car on our way to the Big Buddha

Jacq in the cable car

Jacq in the cable car

Descending down the hill on the cable car

Descending down the hill on the cable car

We decided to splurge and get the crystal cabin – which basically meant that the floor of the cable car was made out of glass, so you could see through it!

Glass bottom in the cable car

Glass bottom in the cable car

We walked through the market area -

Jacq holding Buddha

Jacq holding Buddha

then we headed up the steps to get up close to the Big Buddha.

Jesse at the Big Buddha

Jesse at the Big Buddha

Jesse walking around the Big Buddha

Jesse walking around the Big Buddha

Star Ferry

A great way to view the city is by ferry- we took the Star Ferry from the mainland to get to Hong Kong Island.

Jacq about to board the Star Ferry

Jacq about to board the Star Ferry

It was a quick journey, but provided a beautiful view of the city’s skyline – especially at night!

The view from the Star Ferry

The view from the Star Ferry

HK skyline at night

HK skyline at night

We had an amazing time in HK – and will definitely be back soon! Perhaps with empty suitcases in tow ;)

Posted by jacqjesse 23:32 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (2)

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