A beehive, a giant squid and a beautiful bay- Being in Wellington

So, I took the 315am bus from Taupō to Wellington. I still think it was a good idea! Got into Wellington just after 8am, dumped my bags at my hostel (Hotel Waterloo & backpackers) and set off to explore the capital of New Zealand.

Wellington is quite small, but given that I had 2 whole days I wanted to pack in as much stuff as I could do.

The first day I headed straight for Te Papa museum. So many people I have met along my travels have said it was a must, and it was! The first exhibit I headed for was the marine exhibit (mainly to check out what molluscs they had on show), and there was a colossal squid on show!

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It’s pretty wicked, there’s a video that accompanies it, that explains how the deep sea creature tried to at one of the fish that was caught by a fishing boat.

There’s also an earth exhibit about tectonic plates and earthquakes, and an exhibit on Gallopolli during WWI which I raced through because it was really sad and I was trying not to cry the whole time! There’s also a large exhibit on Maori culture, and much more. Plus a wicked cool exhibit on dream works animation that, unfortunately, wasn’t open when I went but peeking through the door it looked pretty sick! 

I was also advised to go to oriental bay, which was a real nice walk around the waterfront to a little beach area which was very relaxing.

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Places to definately see, is the beehive and government libraries- both fantastic buildings, as well as old St Pauls church also pretty great if you like churches (which by now, you know I do).

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Civic square is a great place to sit in the sun and chill, and there’s an art gallery which has some pretty great exhibits on at the moment, so go go go!

Jess xx

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Taupō

Lake Taupō is literally the nicest lake I have ever seen. There’s nothing like sitting of an evening, just watching the sun set behind one of the mountains. 

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I didn’t rain one single day I was in Taupō, and it was super warm (kind of humid) so shorts all round!

The maccas here is a PLANE!

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It’s actually a DC-3 and you can eat in it, which was crazy exciting, and you can see all the controls in the cockpit. 

We ventured to Huka falls on the second day in the town,

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which is a lovely walk that takes a few hours along the Waikato river which is the bluest river I have ever seen in my life!

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The falls were pretty amazing, and I found out today that people canoe down it which is so sick! On the way back there’s a place called Spa Park which is a small part of the river that is hot. The small waterfalls are so hot! And to cool off, you can go swim in the FREEZING river. We tried to find an in betweeny warm bit that wasn’t too hot or too cold, but we were unsuccessful. But we relaxed there for a few hours I think.

The same day, I trekked to the botanical gardens, which were further than originally anticipated. But I was worth it, as three was a beautiful view of the lake from the lookout point.

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There’s another lookout point along the highway (you’ll have most likely driven past it on the way in) which gives an amazing view of the whole of Taupō and the lake and the mountains. 

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Taupō is an amazing place, so beautiful and I felt so at home there. You can spend as long as you want there. I mean, I inly spent 3 days, but I spoke to a couple who moved there for 2 years and stayed 30! So it’s pretty easy to do! 

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Go to Rotorua, and you’ll never want to leave 

So I arrived in Rotorua via naked bus, this leg of the journey provided by manabus.com and it was a very comfortable journey (and free wifi). When I arrived it was sideways raining, and this pretty much continued throughout my whole stay, bar the final day. 

The first thing I noticed about Rotorua (apart from the weather) was that it smelt funny. I was warned before I arrived, but to be honest, you get used to it. Rotorua has lots of sulphurous pool, so there are lots of natural hot pools around.

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Even though it rained on the first day, I ventured around the town and walked to Kuirau Park, where there’s lots of bubbling water and mud pools.

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You can’t fully submerge yourself into the pools, but there’s a place to dip your feet.

If you like hiking, there are fantastic hikes around the Redwood forest, lasting a varied amount of time.

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On my way to the Redwoods I managed to get myself lost, my hiking boots were soaked and my waterproof coat was no longer waterproof, so I opted for the 30 minute hike, which was beautiful!
And the i-site has a very nice souvenir shop too!

If your looking for a place to relax in hot pools, there are a couple of free ones dotted about. I was recommended by a lovely lady to go to Kerosene Creek, which was a little way out of Rotorua, but as my only transport for the day was my legs, I opted to pay for the Polynesian Spa.

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There’s a family pools, and adults only pool, plus private pools. I went for the adult pool, where there are 8 pools ranging from 38-42 degrees Celsius.

All the pools are mineral pools and be warned, there tarnish silver and metal, so remove your jewellery before you go in (yes, I learnt the hard way). 

As the last day was sunny, I woke up early to walk to Lake Rotorua and snap a few pics.
I ended up at Sulphur Point, which is very picturesque, and you get a beautiful view of Sulphur Bay.

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(Half my entry didnt post, not good!)
Ao i did go to a Maori village called Whakarewarewa. We got a tour of the village where people still live! Got to see where they cook, bathe and we got a cultural experience which included a Haka and a few songs, annddd the Hokey Pokey! Its $35, but its well worth the trip to experience the culture!

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First stop in New Zealand: Auckland

So I arrived in Auckland on a Saturday night, which was clearly Aucklands biggest night out. There were people everywhere as well as loud music, so I was missing out on something. I stayed in Queen Street Backpackers, which is located on Fort Street, and central to the party location. I am not one for the party scene, and I just wanted my bed after a long day of travelling, but if you like to party hard then this is the place for you! The backpackers was actually very social, which I enjoyed, so your never eating alone! 

On my first full day, I decided to explore a bit. So I walked up Queen Street, which I suppose is like the main shopping area. I also checked out Auckland Harbour Bridge, which is a bit like Sydney Harbour Bridge, just smaller. 

Being an art lover, I headed straight for the free art gallery!

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They’ve got some excellent art, my favourite being the portraits of the Maori tribesmen. (They also have a great cafe in there).

Maori tribesman portrait, taken from wiki

If you pop a bit further down the street to Aotea Square, there’s also some free art there to check out.

If you’re looking for free wifi, check out the library. There’s also a cafe in there which is great to go with a good book. If you prefer to read on the grass in the sun, check out Albert Park (located next to the art gallery) as it’s just beautiful.

So far the highlight of my tour has been my trip to Hobbiton and Waitomo caves! If you love Lord of the Rings as much as I do, then a trip to Hobbiton is a must. You get to see the hobbit holes, and get to drink in the Green Dragon! (Refer to other post for review!)

Im a hobbit

The domain is great for a walk about. There’s the museum, sculptures, duck ponds, sports facilities and a wooded bit or ‘bush’ as its called that you can walk through to Parnell (Parnell is very hilly, so beware if you’re as unfit as I am). 

The same day I also visited Holy Trinity Cathedral as I am very into church architecture. From the outside it looked very modern so I wasn’t expecting much, but the inside was just stunning. The stained glass windows were just amazing!

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There’s an older one right next door, but it wasn’t open unfortunately. I didn’t realise, but there were churches everywhere I went! Literally on every corner, like being back in Adelaide again haha.

One thing I didn’t do, was go to the Sky City Tower but one of the girls in my room at the hostel did. She went and watched the sun set, so she got to see Auckland in the day and the night. Unfortunately it was cloudy, so didn’t get to see much of the sunset, and was a bit foggy, so couldn’t see too far. I think it would have been a fantastic thing to do, going right to the top of a crazy high tower! But obviously, you can’t predict the weather. Well you can, but they mainly get it wrong! 

Thanks for reading, onto Rotorua next!

Jess x

Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves

So, if you are as much of a Lord of the Rings fan as I am, then you MUST go to Hobbiton!

Samwise Gamgee’s house

I booked a joint tour to see Hobbiton, which is in Matamata, and the Waitomo Caves with Great Sights.

So the morning kicked off at the Sky City bus terminal, where we were picked up. We drove straight to Hobbiton which i reckon is about 2 hours away from Auckland (tbh I was asleep for most of it, so don’t know for sure). 

We started at the gift shop, which was amazing! You can get a post card, and a stamp which is exclusively designed just for Hobbiton which can be used to send internationally. And if you post it at the gift shop, you get a Hobbiton stamp on it too, amazing! 

So after that, we headed into Hobbiton. What I didn’t know, is the farm were Hobbiton is located is actually a working farm, so there are a tonne of sheep and cows about. We drove past where the actors in LOTR would be fed and made into hobbits and elves, which was pretty cool. The scenery in the place is just jaw dropping, I felt like I was in the shire. 

  
We started walking down the same path that Gandalf took in the opening scene in The Fellowship of the Ring when he was on his cart. We got to walk past some of the smaller hobbit holes. The set for LOTR and The Hobbit were very well designed, in the fact that they used perspective to make the actors look taller/shorter by using different sized hobbit houses and doors. 
 

Bag End!
 
I got photos in front of hobbit holes, and in hobbit holes! It was crazy! I’m such a fan, I was living the dream! 
  

We got a drink in the Green Dragon pub, and the interior is stunning, all hand carved! 

  

And then got some eats in the tent behind, which was a buffet and catered for all dietary requirements. Btw, the beef was possibly the best beef I’ve had. 
After, we headed to Waitomo Caves (fell asleep again, so not sure on times). 

We started with a tour of the caves, looking at the stalactites and stalagmites. There are quite a few glow worms about in the caves, so got to look at their strings, which dangle down from the ceiling to catch mosquitos and sand flys for them to eat.

The best part of the tour was the glow worm tunnel. So we headed down in a cave with water running through it and got on a boat. You have to be so quiet and your cant take photos as it makes the glow worms turn off their lights. So we sailed through this cave in the pitch black, and it was the most beautiful thing ever!

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The glow worms produce a blue light from their bum to attract the prey, but tbh, they looked like stars. It was just so pretty! It’s one of those moments when you really think about where you are and really appreciate nature! 

I definately recommend it!

Also, if you do chose to book with Great Sights, hope that you get Damien as a tour guide. He was a blast, and so informative, providing facts about New Zealand, and Maori tribes. Just an all round great dude!

Thanks for reading, much love 

Jess xx

The Last Dragon Chronicles 

Okay, so more book stuff! I took a break from Gone Girl and picked up 8 books instead.

So, I read the first 3 books of The Last Dragon Chronicles when I was (I think) 11 years old, bare in mind I’m 22 now. I definately have Icefire, the 2nd book, in hard back.

Order is: Fire Within, Icefire, Fire Star, Fire Eternal, Dark Fire, Fire World, Fire Ascending.

So I picked up the first book before I headed on my trip to Sydney and Cairns and fell in love with the characters and the book all over again. Once I had finished the first, I couldn’t wait to read the rest! 

 

A quick synopsis is basically David Rain is a student and moves in with Elizabeth Pennykettle, her daughter Lucy, Bonnington the cat and a lot of clay dragons. Elizabeth makes the clay dragons and makes a special dragon for David which helps inspire him to write and takes him on a crazy journey discovering secrets, magic and love.

Okay, so there’s much more to it than my bad synopsis, but so much happens that you need to read them and I don’t want to spoil anything. I know what you’re thinking, it’s a kids book about dragons, but it isn’t. It’s so much more than that! It’s a mystery, romantic, bit scary, but it’s thoroughly enticing. You’ll finish a chapter and it’ll leave you wanting more! 

I left the last book in Melbourne whilst I’m travelling New Zealand for a month, so I don’t know how it ends yet!
Lemme tell you this, I haven’t been this excited about reading a large series of books for a very long time. What’s great about it is that there’s so much emotion in these books, that I cried (hard) at the happy and sad bits, I had to put the book down when I got so frustrated when something bad was happening, I got physically scared whilst reading on the plane that I needed to take a break and remind myself that it wasn’t real. 

Reading them 11 years ago, I can see why I stopped after 3 books. The story line is so strong, that even though they are kids books, it’s a little complicated to follow. Now I’m an adult, I can fully appreciate the story line and why it’s written the way it is. If 11 year old me had just finished the 3rd book, I probably wouldn’t have put it down!

Read them, then tell me I’m lying!

Chris d’Lacey, you are an amazing man with the imagination of a god!

Happy reading, Jess x

My travel Essentials

I’m off to New Zealand, and holy moly am I excited! 

I’m staying for 27 days, visiting 11 different places, so staying in 11 different hostels!

I thought I’d put together a quick list of my 5 absolute top travel essentials, which I take with me whether I’m hopping countries or just states.

1. Nivea moisturising day cream

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This cream is my saviour and I’ve used it for so many years now. It’s super light, and it doesn’t make you shiny (such a bonus). Plus it has SPF 30 in it. I love this as I hate putting sun cream on my face, as it makes me feel like my pores are being clogged!

2. Microfibre towel

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I take this literally everywhere! Some people hate the feel of using them, but I love it! It’s super quick drying, absorbs water super quick when your drying yourself after a shower or at the beach, and it folds up super small. What more could you need? It’s just so practical!

3. Ear plugs and face mask

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I think these two come as a package deal really. I find many people complaining about how loud a hostel can be, but it’s like dude, you’re in a hostel full of a tonne of young people. What do you expect? So for a peaceful night sleep, earplugs are obvs a must. I also find it helps to have a face mask to block out the light. A lot of places I have been to, the curtains haven’t been shut at night, or they’re super thin. So, get yourself a mask to block out the light. I think mines made of a towel material, so it’s quite thick and I see no light.

4. Padlock

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Padlock is a must, there’s no question. It’s always good to lock your bag when flying, I know I do as it gives me extra piece of mind. But most hostels have lockers to store bags and valuable things away, and many don’t provide padlocks. So get yourself a good one! Mine have keys, but on many an occasion I have had a moment of panick after I think I’ve lost them, so a number one is definately better I think.

5. Travel diary

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I take my travel diary with me wherever else I go. I note down what I do, where I go, how I feel, so it’s basically a journal. I view everything that happens to me whilst I’m away, is an experience I’m probably not going to have again. Whether I’m feeling happy at the beach or eating with a few friends, I may never go back to that beach or eat with these friends again. Every experience you have, you should treasure. 

I hope this was useful, and you use it to help get your own travel essentials!

Jess x

Long weekend on Phillip Island

For Labour Day weekend, we headed down to Phillip Island in Victoria!

Phillip Island is known for many amazing things including the Penguins, which we did the first night we got there. We ended up getting a special pass which allowed you to be closer to the Penguins when they arrive back from their day of fishing. It was amazing! There’s no photography allowed at all whilst the penguins are coming in!  If you’re lucky, you may get to see chicks being fed, or moulting penguins. 

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The next day we headed to Churchill island. It’s a bit like a working farm. There are horses and pigs to stroke, as well as a sheep shearing demo,

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a cow milking demo (which you can have a go at), whip cracking, a wagon ride and working dog demo. Plus there’s an old style house set up, which is to demonstrate what it was like to live there when first colonised. The food in the cafe is also great! Get yourself down there if you have a spare day, as it great fun for kids and adults! 

On the Sunday, whilst everyone went surfing in the morning, I took the chance to catch up on some reading (I’ve found a great new series. Be prepared for a post about it soon!). In the afternoon, we ventured to the Koala sanctuary and saw some very cute Koalas,
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and some wallabys hopping about,

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and then went and saw the nobbies, which are rock formations in the sea.
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If you’re lucky, you might even spot a penguin or two when at the nobbies as there are a tonne of little houses dotted about. Felt so bad for them, as some of them are up some very steep hills! Not sure I could climb that after a 50km round trip fishing for food! 

On the Monday morning, on the way back home we stopped off at Amaze n things.
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Which is literally a maze and things, and it’s amazing! There are so many things to do! Obviously first off there’s the maze. Got to get to the 4 flags and then exit.
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There’s also optical illusions, moving jigsaws, one of those rooms were you get locked in until you solve the puzzle, a huge and very steep slide (which I was too scared to even look at), and many other things. Oh, and there’s 19 holes of mini golf! 

Deffs give it a go if you’re down there!

Jess x

Going to the Opera

I thought I’d do a quick post on Sydney Opera House, because if you’re in Sydney have obvs seen the Opera House but have you been to an opera? 

  

Quick facts: 

It was designed by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon

It opened on 20th October 1973

It’s a UNESCO world heritage site as of 2007

Every tourist, traveller and maybe even a local or two have posed for a photo in front of the grand sails. 

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But going inside if even more breathtaking. I was even stunned at the roof in the toilets!

Going to the opera at Sydney Opera House was one  of the best things I did. It was my first opera EVER, and we saw a greatest hit collaboration which included songs from such operas as Carmen and the Barber of Seville.

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The theatre was amazing and the acoustics were just astounding.

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Obviously when singing opera, one would need to have a very loud voice, but I still expected them to wear mics, which they didn’t.
At the interval, we ventured upstairs to a windowed area and got a nice view of the harbour and then harbour bridge. Plus, we got a great idea of the interior architecture.

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You can tell why it’s one of the most recognised building of the 20th century!

Amazing architecture, amazing performance! Go to the Opera!

Jess x

Quick collab: Food

I’m a foodie. I love food. All I do is think about food. All I do is eat food. I love food.

I thought I’d do a quick collaboration of the best places I’ve eaten at so far in these past few months. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of these eateries, go in and get some grub!

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The Rocks Burger (lunch menu)
12 Rocks Cafe and Beach Bar is found in Port Campbell, along the Great Ocean Road. This double sarnie was actually meant to be a burger and chips (I’m intolerant to wheat which is obvs in a bun and in batter) but it had all the same filling and it was amazing!

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Chocolate Shot
This little chocolate beauty came from Max Brenner, which is a chain of chocolate shops in Australia. You need to go there, at least once (went 3 times in the first 2 weeks). Feed your inner chocoholic! Found in every state, except SA. 

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Waffles
These AMAZING looking waffles are from Grocer and Grind, a little discovery I made when I was in Gold Coast. They are Gluten and dairy free, for those people intolerant to all the things like myself, as well as super healthy! Yum!

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Salmon Roll
Also from Grocer and Grind! Featuring lots of salmon and greens in a spelt flour crepe. Prepare for a taste bud explosion!

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Beachy beef burger
Got this at the Beach Hotel in Byron Bay. Beef burger, bacon, cheese, caramelised onions, lettuce, pickles, and relish. What more can I say?

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Chocolate fondue with milk chocolate
Got this fantastic creation at Gabriel’s Chocolate, which is located on Caves Road in Western Australia. We stopped here on a trip north wards from Margaret River. I’m pretty sure there’s a winery attached, as well as a cute jewellry shop. What more do you need?

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This very decadent plate of food is found at Tha Fish, located near the pier in Cairns. It’s octopus, chorizo, tomatoes and a vine leaf. I had it with a side of Jasmine rice. We ate here twice during our short stay, they’ve got tables set up outside but undercover. Really good atmosphere.

imageI’ve saved the best until last. This gorgeous pizza is from The Australian Hotel in Sydney, and it’s half Emu and half Kangaroo and its soooooo yummy! Before this pizza, I’d only had kangaroo steak and never eaten Emu, but surprisingly it’s so yummy! This is definately a place you should go! 
Jess x