Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith

Oceania » French Polynesia April 23rd 2010

Sorry no pictures from here we are on tortoise dial up broadband and it keeps crashing when I try to add them We left Auckland for Papeete (Tahiti). Go to the airport and the golf was on the television so Alan parked himself and I went off to wander around the shops. Took a look out of one of the viewing windows and an 767 had smoke bellowing out of its belly and was surrounded by fire engines, apparently it got to the run way and someone had noticed it so it came back in. Not a good thing to see just before you are about to fly. Anyway off we went, Air New Zealand, another brand new plane and not a bump all the way there, if only all flights were like this. We crossed ... read more

Oceania » New Zealand April 10th 2010

We had torrential last night and woke to heavy cloud. A leisurely start for a change and then off to Lake Taupo, a short journey (2 ½ hours). Drove out along the coast through Napier and its suburbs. Passed through some low lying wetlands with lots of water birds, then out through vineyards, olive groves, lavender farms and orchards. Lots of fruit stalls on the road selling fruit and veg. Through the Esk valley which appeared to be covered in vines, not sure that we have tried any wines from here. We start to climb and have a long drive through the Maungaharuru and Ahimanawa ranges. The hills/mountains are covered in native bush, forests and clumps of pampas grass. The forest changes to cultivated pine and we eventually emerge on to a huge flat plain with ... read more
Huka Falls
Maori Rock Art, Lake Taupo
Viaduct Harbour

Oceania April 4th 2010

Off to the North Island today. We are up early and head off to Picton to catch the ferry, a beautiful day. As we leave Blenheim the grape picking has started in earnest. There are cars and camper vans by the side of the vines and notices stating ‘hand picking’, so they must employ a lot of casual labour. Looks like hard work to me. By the time we get to Picton it is very cloudy, only 30 minutes away. We have to dump the car first as we aren’t allowed to take it across. No one is manning the desk, so we just leave it in the car park. I haven’t been a foot passenger on a ferry before, another first. Not many people travelling on this one. We get seats inside at the front ... read more
Looking across to the city from Oriental Bay, Wellington
View across Lambton harbour Wellington
The rolling hills that I keep prattling on about

Oceania April 1st 2010

Drove up the coast on another beautiful morning. Similar sort of road to the one we arrived on, mountains falling into the sea and just the road and single track railway line between the two. After about 100 km we lose both. We head towards Blenheim, the hills are golden brown here, obviously there hasn’t been much rain. In the distance there are, what looks like huge white cones. These turn out to be giant piles of salt that is collected from Lake Grassmere. We travel through the Awatere valley, and start to see some vines; this is the start of serious wine country. Spot what must be the North Island on the horizon. Continue on through rolling hills, down a very steep zig zag road with some dubious fencing on the side that wouldn’t stop ... read more
View out over The Cut, Nelson
Abel Tasman National Park
Looking out over Torrent Bay

Oceania March 24th 2010

Early start as we have to drive about 400km today across to the west side of the South Island. Drove out through the Gibbston valley, where we did the wine tasting and then up to Lake Wanaka. Road was virtually empty the whole way. Loads more vineyards, all the grapes appear to be draped in nets now, a lot of fruit trees also appear to be in cages to protect the fruit from the birds. We then drove up the side of Lake Hawea, more dramatic scenery, huge lake, mountains on the opposite side etc and through a narrow neck to reach the top end of Lake Wanaka. The road here is elevated and there are great views back across the lake. Both lakes were gauged out by glaciers during the Ice Age and you can ... read more
Fur seal
Fur seal

Oceania March 19th 2010

Set off early today for Queenstown, clouds were tumbling across Mount Sefton as we left. Drove out across vast brown plains surrounded by mountains. Through a couple of towns and then over a pass. Landscape was really barren here, just lumps of tussocky grass and the odd bush here and there. There were lots of birds of prey eating the road kill for breakfast, mainly possums. No sign of human habitation and very little traffic in either direction. Then into a valley with a few farms. Just before our next turnoff a farmer on a dune buggy was herding a flock of sheep along the road, he indicates to Al to drive through them. Ten minutes later we are still crawling along, cars coming the other way and these sheep are charging through gaps, up the ... read more
Jet boat Shotover river
Tasting room at Waitiri winery
The tiniest plane ever

Oceania March 16th 2010

We drove from Port Campbell to the airport via Geelong where I got my hair cut, it was starting to get long and irritate me, hopefully it will now last until we get back. Spent the night at the airport and then caught an early flight the next day to Christchurch, New Zealand. Land of my kiwi friends. Let’s hope I get my facts right here or I could be in trouble. Left Australia on a lovely sunny day, typical after all the rain we had, had. There was a bit of clear air turbulence over the coast, could have done without that, and three hours later we were crossing the west coast of New Zealand, sun was shining and I could see Mount Cook poking its head out through some cloud. However the weather changed ... read more
Botanical gardens, Christchurch
Scenery near Akaroa
The little plane

Oceania March 9th 2010

Next stop Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road. The Chinese version of Michael Schumacher took us to the airport, as we had decided to take the airport bus for once, never again, it picked you up at the door of the hotel and we had to leave at 6am so thought it would be easier (cases weighed a ton let alone the hand luggage). Crammed into some little mini bus with a luggage wagon attached, we hurtled off around Sydney at breakneck speed; fortunately there wasn’t a great deal of traffic around at that time in the morning. Don’t need this sort of stress just before a flight. Stopped at a set of traffic lights and Schumacher gets out to check the wagon, he thought some luggage had fallen out! Anyway arrived at the airport in ... read more
Aireys Inlet
Split Head Lighthouse
Plum Tree Cottage

Oceania March 2nd 2010

Set off for Sydney, quite a straight forward journey. Arrived at the outskirts without any trouble, drove over the Anzac bridge, a beautiful cable-stay span bridge, then we got lost, the air in the car was getting quite heated as we drove across the harbour bridge one way and then back the other way, round the one way system once or twice!! Found the hotel in the end which is located near Darling Harbour and offloaded the luggage. Then went to drop the car off in Darling harbour, a very easy journey, thank goodness or there would have been words. Just about to set off back to the hotel when I fortunately realised that you know who had left the camera back pack in the car, not only the cameras, lenses etc but the laptop, passports ... read more
Spirit of Australia
Skyline from the harbour
Harbour Bridge from the water

Oceania February 27th 2010

Spent the next day wandering around Brisbane. Really nice city, felt very safe. Some of the women have the most bizarre dress sense, even Al was moved to comment, most unusual. We decided to take a river cruise to see some the sites. Brisbane is situated on the Brisbane River, very original. To get there we needed to take a ferry across the river, we took the wrong one to the wrong place and ended up having to walk about a mile to where we had to pick the boat up, we were also very tight for time as they only go twice a day and this was the last one, so it ended up being a power walk in about 30 degrees. Anyway we made it and saw quite a lot. The south bank of ... read more
Brisbane skyline
Brisbane skyline
Paddle steamer on the Brisbane river

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