Page 3 of John M Travel Blog Posts

Oceania » New Zealand February 16th 2017

Geo: -45.3155, 166.991This morning, we left Queenstown for a 3 hour motor coach ride, followed by a 45 minute ferry, followed by a 20 minute motor coach ride to get to Doubtful Sound. We boarded our boat for an overnight cruise through the Doubtful Sound fiords. We had an incredible cruise through the deed water and high walled fiords, out into the Tasman Sea, and back into a quite anchorage. We spotted dolphin and fur seas along the way. We met, drank, and dined with 2 British couples, and had a great time.... read more
What are you looking at?
Met some livestock along the road
Our first look at Doubtful Sound

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Otago » Queenstown February 15th 2017

Geo: -45.0311, 168.663We arrived in Queenstown after a 45 minute flight from Christchurch, and took a 4WD excursion to the filming location for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.Queenstown is an incredible place....very cool! In the evening, we just happened to walk by one of the many bars in town, and they had a replay of the VT/Pitt game on (from the previous day). So, we had to hang out and watch it.... read more
Flying from Christchurch to Queenstown
Our room at Hotel St. Moritz
Our room at Hotel St. Moritz

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Christchurch February 14th 2017

Geo: -43.5316, 172.637We had scheduled to take a train along the coast from Blenheim to Christchurch, but the earthquake in November put a change in those plans. The track is not expected to be back in service until May. As a result, we took a short flight to Christchurch.Flying in, we could see brush fires engulfing a surrounding mountain. But, we were able to take a gondola to the top of another mountain, and hike along the Crater Ridge Trail. Beautiful!... read more
Mountains surrounding Blenheim
Vineyards everywhere in the Marlborough region

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Marlborough » Blenheim February 13th 2017

Geo: -41.5116, 173.957Took a 4-hour ferry ride across the Cook Straight, through Marlborough Sound. It was quite an adventure. We left Wellington at 9:00 am on the 590' InterIsland Ferry. It was raining and very windy. Once we left the channel and got into open water, the wind picked up to 50-60 knots, and the seas swelled to about 10'. (The crew was walking though the lounges passing out "distress bags". Fortunately, it did not bother us and we did not see anyone hurling.)Once we crossed the open water and headed into the channels on the south island, the seas calmed, the wind died, and the sun came out. It was a beautiful finish to the ferry ride.Upon docking, we took a taxi/shuttle from Picton to Blenheim, passing through the Marlborough wine region. There are 150 ... read more
Heading toward Picton
Heading toward Picton
Heading toward Picton

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Wellington Region » Wellington February 12th 2017

Geo: -41.2865, 174.776This morning, we borrowed the bikes from our hotel and explored the geothermal springs in Rotorua. Then, caught a 50 passenger, 2 prop plane, for the 1 hour and 10 minute flight from Rotorua to Wellington. Wellington is a small city on the southern tip of the north island, with a number of restaurants and bars. It has about the same population as Richmond, Virginia.... read more
Geothermal springs
Geothermal springs
Geothermal springs

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Rotorua February 11th 2017

Geo: -38.1398, 176.247We walked to the hot spring pools in the morning. Then, we headed to the Kaituna River to take in some grade 4-5 whitewater rafting. It was incredible, and different than any other whitewater rafting that we had done. The water was a comfortable 70 degrees, and the river snaked through a dense forest canopy. We dropped over a 9' waterfall, followed by a 12' waterfall. Surprisingly, everyone stayed in our boat. Some of the others weren't as lucky. But, everyone made it though unscathed.After rafting, Sheila and I hiked through Whakarewarewa Forest (aka. Redwoods). It was a fantastic hike through the redwoods, up to a couple overlooks, and down through a dense rainforest....all in 2 hours.... read more
Bubbling mud
Kaituna River - Look out below

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Rotorua February 10th 2017

Geo: -38.1398, 176.247This morning, we caught the ferry back to Auckland from Waiheke Island. Then, jumped on a motor coach for a 5 hour drive to Rotorua. (Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, with a population of 660,000. The total population of New Zealand is only 4.5 million, and it is 2.4 times the size of Virginia.)Once we were out of the city and driving through the center of the north island, the landscape reminded me of southwestern Virginia; a lot of farmland and cattle, with mountains resembling the Blue Ridge in the distance. As we got closer to Rotorua, we drove through more dense forests, with large ferns and palms.Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland in the central North Island that is also home to rich Maori culture and heritage. We checked into our ... read more
Jumping on the Hobbit popularity!

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland » Waiheke Island February 9th 2017

Geo: -36.7992, 175.12After a 40 minute ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island, we met our tour guide for an incredible wine tour around the island. Waiheke Island has 30 wineries and we sampled 3 of the most beautiful; Mudbrick, Cable Bay, and Te Whau. Following the wine tour, we hiked up the hill from the ferry to our accommodations. Our studio apartment had a ridiculous view of the harbour below. That evening, we walked about 25 minutes into town and checked out some great bars and restaurants.... read more
Leaving Auckland
On our way to Waiheke Island
On our way to Waiheke Island

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland February 8th 2017

Geo: -36.8474, 174.766We missed a day! We left San Francisco at 7:50 pm on February 6th, and arrived in Auckland at 5:40 am on February 8th. What happened to the 7th? The flight was 13 hours, but we both slept a lot, watched a couple movies, and it really was not bad.We are staying in a bed & breakfast in a historic coastal town across the harbour from Auckland, called Devonport. But, it is only a 15 minute ferry ride between the two.... read more
Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland's Sky Tower
Interesting trees in the park

North America » United States » California » San Francisco February 5th 2017

Geo: 37.7792, -122.42In 1953, my mom took a teaching job in Hawaii, before it was even a state. On her way to Hawaii, she stayed in San Francisco and recalls having a drink at the "Top of the Mark". The Top of the Mark is a penthouse restaurant at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Located at the highest point of downtown San Francisco, on fog-free days, it has spectacular views of the financial district, Chinatown, North Beach, San Francisco Bay, and especially of Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park. It is has been a popular local destination since its opening in 1939, and has hosted World War II servicemen, along with numerous celebrities and dignitaries, including Doris McCalla. Well, 64 years later, we went by to check it out.(Epilogue: my dad called my mom while ... read more
Mark Hopkins Hotel
From Top of the Mark
From Top of the Mark

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