Page 8 of Bellini Travel Blog Posts

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Nelson Region » Nelson July 18th 2015

Nelson seems like it would be a great place to live. There are plenty of biking trails and green spaces. The city centre has plenty of shops and restaurants. There are a few average hikes in the area (like walking in the hills to the midpoint of New Zealand) but there isn't much in this small city to make it worth a stop in its own. I forgot to take a single photo during the 2 1/2 days I was there. Instead, it seems like a lot of travellers stop in Nelson after crossing to the South Island from Wellington and before going down the west coast, or to make arrangements to get to Abel Tasman National Park.... read more

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Kaikoura July 16th 2015

Route 1 continues on in the South Island. I walked there from the ferry terminal and found a couple of rides south in the rain along the coast. The water there is such a brilliant blue and the coastline is completely untouched- there isn't a house or any other kind of property the entire way. I wasn't able to get a good photo. But the second guy who picked me up offered to stop at a creek that has a pond filled with seal cubs. Apparently mothers hide their cubs there from the sharks. Along the rocky coastline there were hundreds more. I stayed at the Fish Bowl hostel, which was nearly empty. It's right near all the shops and restaurants and bars but the town was more or less in hibernation during July. I ran ... read more
Morning beach view
Low tide on the rocks

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Wellington July 15th 2015

I first learned that Wellington is the capital of New Zealand on a list of the best capital cities in the world. I got there in the late afternoon and I only had to be there for an hour before, at least in respect to the scenery, I was sold. I stayed at the YHA (Better for families and groups, who take over the place, than for independent travellers) and saw that there was a park right nearby named Alexandria. I walked up steep streets and then a steep trail to get somewhere I could run. Eventually a labyrinth of trails leads to the top of Mt. Victoria (which is as much of an exaggeration as Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh). The dirt trails are especially for mountain bikes but they were terrific to run. They're covered ... read more
Channel to South Island
Another view of Wellington from Mt. Victoria
Trails up to Mt. Victoria

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Taupo July 13th 2015

It took me awhile to find a good place to stand to hitch a 1 hour lift from Rotorua to Taupo- right where route 5 makes a hard turn on the edge of the city. Once I settled on standing on the median where cars were waiting in a line to make the turn, it took all of thirty seconds before someone gave me the wave. The plan from the start was to do the Tongariro Crossing... you don't have to be in the area long to hear it called the best day hike in New Zealand. In warmer months it can be done independently, as it's a fairly straight forward 7 hour, 19.5 km hike of moderate difficulty, but in winter the trail is mostly snow-covered and is only passable on days with good weather ... read more
Trail across frozen lake
Sliding down the mountain
View of Lakes Taupo and Rotorua

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Rotorua July 12th 2015

I caught a ride pretty quickly in Hamilton from an Indian student who was delivering frozen foods to a grocery in Rotorua. The town exists because of all the thermal activity in the area. There is a beautiful lake that attracts many birds to the warm water during winter. There are thermal spas and the waterfront smells like sulphur. I went for a run along the water and in some areas the smell is pretty overwhelming. Dozens of other activities - from rolling down a hill in a giant hamster ball (Zorb) to luging down an alpine slide to visiting shows in a "traditional" Maori village - can be planned from the touristy town center. I went to the Polynesian Spa, which was okay. After recently visiting the much cheaper onsens in Japan, I found myself ... read more
Bilbo / Frodo's House
Hobbit hole

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Hamilton July 10th 2015

I had no interest in Hamilton- it just seemed like the longest I could realistically hitch a ride in a day. Lots of foreigners here rent cars. Anyone who thinks that my hitchhiking is more dangerous than my renting a car and driving on the left side of the road doesn't know me very well. I asked the manager at the hostel for a piece of cardboard and a marker, and wrote Auckland on one side and Hamilton on the other. I then walked toward the end of town and stood there with my bags, coffee and sign. Within two minutes a family from the South Island stopped and offered me a ride. The parents had their five kids and her mother with them, so it was pretty interesting to hear about their lives on their ... read more

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Bay of Islands » Paihia July 8th 2015

I flew into Auckland from Melbourne but I only spent an evening in the former, so I can't say much about it except that The Attic Hostel has a really inviting atmosphere- the best in this trip, in fact. I took a 10:30AM Intercity bus to Paihia, the central point in the Bay of Islands. Apparently Captain Cook counted 144 of these islands; as such, he truly was terrible at naming things. "The Bay of a Lot of Islands" would have been a brilliant pun (a lot is technically a dozen dozens), but the opportunity was lost, perhaps because, as one Brit commented, "(Cook) sounds like he was a bit of a wanker." The drive was stunning, and it just made me wonder what the rest of New Zealand would bring. But when I got to ... read more
Motumaire Island beach
Peace field
Haruru Falls Mangrove walk

Oceania » Australia » Victoria » Melbourne July 2nd 2015

The plan was to use Melbourne as a hub to get to the Great Ocean Walk and maybe into the nearby mountains as well. But given the sparse and expensive accommodations along the one-way trail (I decided not to take my tent) and the cold/wet/windy weather, I decided to spend 6 days in the city itself - walking to different neighborhoods, running through the parks and along the rivers, and eating at the many inexpensive Asian restaurants in the city center and Chinatown. It's not the most photogenic city and there aren't many sights, but I really enjoyed my time there. While the metropolitan area is sprawling, most areas of interest are in walking distance of Federation Square, where I stayed. I walked to each neighborhood, but there's a free tram that makes a loop near ... read more
Me at AFL game
Birds on field
The gallows in the Gaol

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Brisbane July 1st 2015

I only spent a day in Brisbane to bridge the gap between staying in Gold Coast and flying to Melbourne. I arrived in the late afternoon on an 18 AUD, 1 hour train from Gold Coast and walked to Chill Hostel, another enormous hostel. Coming across a bridge into the city, I could see a network of trails along the rivers, including an unconventional, spiralling pedestrian walking bridge that serves as a centerpiece for the city. The way the evening light plays on this bridge and the building behind it, and the uninterrupted trails that continue for miles along the river, made for a nice run. Then to the supermarket, cooking in a crowded kitchen with no plates or cutlery, then drinks on the rooftop, and an early night making use of my free upgrade of ... read more

Oceania » Australia June 28th 2015

I am lucky enough to have two friends, Mason and Sarah, who live in Gold Coast. We met five years ago in Nicaragua and they visited me that same year in Pittsburgh. Gold Coast might not have been on the agenda otherwise, but I'm really happy to have been able to explore the area and meet their friends and family -- definitely a more authentic experience than just spending time at hostels, or trying to follow the advice of how to live "like a local" in the guidebooks. They picked me up at the Brisbane airport because I had no idea that the Gold Coast wasn't just a coastline, but also a city. It's just an hour from Brisbane and there might someday be nothing more than a hyphen between the two. I could have flown ... read more
King's Cliff beach walk
Rainbow from Broadbeach

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