Blogs from New Zealand, Oceania


Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland March 29th 2020

The blog has been on my to-so-list for a while, I just haven't had the head space to write since we moved. I started the blog to keep in contact with friends and family in NZ when we went to Sri Lanka on our 1 year contract to help with Tsunami relief in September 2005. I was suppose to do a prayer newsletter once a month, the blog felt a bit more like me :) This is the 176th blog (Gibraltar still to do), 15 years, 3 kids, 3 agencies, 5 countries of residence, and I don't know how many countries Murray has been too. I've lost count! I have struggled to sit and reflect on our transition back to NZ and finish off the blog. It seems odd to finally have space and time during ... read more
Sky city in the background
Auckland viaduct, near Murray's new work
Found a silver fern on a bush walk

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland March 21st 2020

Auckland is a large busy city. They have finally decided to put an underground metro in so there are road works all over the place which are going to take several years to complete. It has a large Asian community as well as Maori so there are lots of take away cafes catering for these people. For the first time we also saw several homeless on the streets. However down on the Marina , once you have negotiated the road works there are some great restaurants. We had tried Oyster & Chop so the next night went to Soul and had great oysters and crab linguini. On our last day we decided to go up the Sky Tower. It costs about 20$ each just to go to the viewing platform. A far better deal is to ... read more
In Sky Tower restaurant Orbit
View from Orbit restaurant
Looking up

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Waitomo Caves March 20th 2020

Everywhere in New Zealand is a long drive to get to. However, once at the destination it is worth it. Hobbiton was a good 2 hour drive from Auckland and was a much better experience than I had anticipated. I never realised that the movie set for the Hobbit/ Lord of the rings trilogy was so huge. We walked through The Shire with all it's lovely Hobbit Holes and even in the light rain it was a delight. Our guide explained that some of the Hobbit houses are much smaller than others so that Gandalf can stand next to a small one and look huge ,whereas a Hobbit can stand next to a large one and look small. The attention to detail is amazing. Smoke comes out of the chimneys and vegetables and flowers grow in ... read more
Hobbiton in the rain
Hobbit veg garden
Pokeku bird

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland March 18th 2020

It was very sad to leave the ship in Auckland and know that no passengers were going to be boarding and the majority of the crew would be sent home because of this coronavirus. We were the last cruise ship allowed into New Zealand before the total ban. We checked into the Hotel Grand Windsor on Queens St, which is a lovely hotel on one of the busiest streets in the city close to all amenities. Our first trip out was to the Art Gallery, which has a nice small section of International Art but is mostly New Zealand Art. We both love aboriginal art but I am afraid that Maori Art doesn't do anything for us. We fancied a Chinese meal for lunch as Auckland has a very large Asian population. We made the mistake ... read more
Dinner in Oyster & Chop
Holy Trinity Cathedral- new bit
Holy Trinity -old bit

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island March 15th 2020

Picton is a very small but very pretty place from which the ferries over to the North Island sail. It has a lovely foreshore with well laid out walks and little cafes and shops. There is a Maritime Museum which we didn't go to as we made the mistake of going to the Aquarium next door. The poor creatures were in tanks which seemed much too small for them and there was one solitary penguin who looked really sad in this small enclosure which wasn't even open to the elements. I personally found the visit distressing rather than educational. At least the sun came out and everything outside looks so much better. Last night the Captain made an announcement that from midnight no cruise ships would be allowed to dock in New Zealand until the end ... read more
Picton Marina
Silver Muse
Picton Aquarium and Maritime Museum

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Christchurch March 14th 2020

This was probably a pretty city prior to the quake, but there is now sadly lots of areas which time and money have not allowed to be rebuilt. It is happening slowly but there are lots of car parking places which are essentially where buildings were and still have not been redeveloped since the devastating earthquake of 2011. Both the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals were severely damaged and still have not been rebuilt. The Anglican Cathedral has suffered from too much political interference which has cost money and delayed whatever the plans are. The Catholic rebuild has been thwarted by the Church buying a plot of land which has now been colonised by rare birds so they are not allowed to build on it! Regent street, which is a pretty street of shops with balconied buildings ... read more
Markets around ruined Cathedral
By the River Avon
Regent Street

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Dunedin March 13th 2020

Dunedin is Gaelic for Edinburgh & was settled by Scots who started the Free Church of Scotland in the 1800s. It is a very pleasant and well off city with some beautiful buildings especially the churches but there are lots of old buildings which have been renovated to their former glory, a large university and a large hospital and med school. The hospital is soon to be rebuilt and loads of grotty modern buildings are being pulled down for the purpose. There are lots of little shops on the high street, which put English high streets to shame. It is a hilly place which slopes onto lots of bays so the houses have lovely views. We were driven along the winding coastal road ,which is being widened, to a Nature reserve where only birds and animals ... read more
Otago peninsula
Local transport
view from the buggy

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island March 12th 2020

For the first time since we left Sydney we had a sunny day though still rather cold and windy. We sailed into Milford Sound on a calm water with no fog , which is a bonus from stories we heard from others. The ship slowly glided through the Sound, stopped a while and majestically turned around and glided out again to sea, while we all took millions of photos. Only a few are on this blog you will be grateful to hear!. Further along the coast we sailed into Doubtful Sound, not quite as pretty but still majestic with all its trees. Finally after another sail along the coast we did the same thing into Dusky Sound. At this point the only sound that Stefan knew about was sound asleep! It was a very pleasant day ... read more
Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Milford Sound

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island March 11th 2020

Okay, so. I did something today. We are at Blue Duck Station right now, which is quite literally in the middle of nowhere, without wifi or cell-reception. It’s really beautiful, though. Reminds me a little of home. And out here, at Blue Duck Station, cut off from civilisation, I made the executive decision to do something. So, I channeled my long-suppressed inner bavarian who wants to drink beer and shoot at things, and went on a hunt. A real stalking, rifle-carrying, ambushing hunt in the New Zealand bush. And it was great. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would! The guide was a super cool dude, and he has been hunting since he was a child, so he knew his shit. There was another guy with us, and that was it: The hunting-party. ... read more

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Central Plateau March 10th 2020

We spent the last night at Lake Aniwhenua, which was very interesting. It was a cultural Maori experience, with a Maori tour-guide showing us around and telling us some pretty wild myths from their mythology. I attended a traditional flax-weaving course and wove a bracelet! Love that for me. For dinner they made Hangi; it’s a traditional way of cooking food in a firepit with heated stones, underground and sort of buried. The food was smoked and steamed essentially to perfection - it was so good. Tasted even smokier than things from the smoker! They also made fried bread, which was just fabulous. We ate out of little woven bowls, with our fingers, so I had way too much fun. Needless to say, I ate far too much.... read more

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