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Last of New Zealand and brief stop in Melbourne

April 8, 2009 · Print This Article

Before we get completely entrenched in all things Turkish, we need to catch up on the remainder of our stay in New Zealand and our brief but relaxing stay in Melbourne, Australia. We left off having just driven up the west coast of New Zealand, past the glaciers and pancake rocks on our way to the Abel Tasman Track. This is another of the great walks in New Zealand. It is along the coast near Nelson on the very northern part of the south island. The terrain is very different from the alpine tracks we had done thus far.

We stayed in Marahua at Old Macdonald’s Farm (see Where We Stayed) for two nights before setting out on the water taxi to the most northern stretch of the track. We were only able to get hut reservations going from the north to the south (many people track south to north). In the end this was great because there are places along the track that must be crossed within a certain number of hours of low tide, and these times were in the very early morning or afternoon. With the biggest estuary crossing on the north side of one of the huts, it was perfect timing after a day of hiking to pull in the afternoon and cross. Folks who had spent the night and were walking north had to be out of the hut by 5:30am to cross the estuary! That would be impossible with our crew of hikers.

It was on our first day of the Abel Tasman that we walked to Seperation Point and were inspired to swim with some fur seals. Please read Jack’s latest blog if you have not done so already to hear all about this adventure. It was awesome. The views along the track are beautiful, with gorgeous sand beaches and gentle walks through the coastal woods.

Our favorite hut on the track was the Wharwharangi Hut our first night. It is an old converted farm house, small and cozy, and not crowded. Compare that with our last night at the Bark’s Bay hut, which had many cramped bunks and was completely full. In between we stayed at the Awaroa Hut where we met the greatest guy, Julian, from England. He is 19 years old, will attend Oxford next year, and he was just the nicest young man ever. So great with the kids and fun to hike with. We celebrated Ainsley’s 13th birthday at Bark’s Bay and left the next morning on a water taxi back to town. As a group, we were a bit weary of tramping and with dwindling time in New Zealand we felt we should move on a bit more quickly. All in all, we loved our last days of tramping but on the whole, we preferred the mountain hiking to the coastal hiking.

We left Abel Tasman and drove to Hanmer Springs, a stop on our way back to Christchurch, to spend the day at the hot pools and kid slides (well Kelli seemed to like them a lot too) as a bit of a birthday celebration for Jack and Ainsley. We spent three more nights in Christchurch with the ever gracious Nicky and Graeme and finally made it out to Taylor’s Mistake, a beach and peninsula between Christchurch and Littleton which houses a few relics from World War II defenses. We even had time to venture to the Antarctic Center, made all the more special because of Mary Brown, our friend from the Banks Track who had deployed to and from Antarctica, as a great many people do, through the Christchurch operations center.

A short flight to Auckland for our 5 days on the north island, starting with the Coromandel Peninsula. We went to Hot Water Beach and built our own hot tub from scalding water that bubbles up from the sand, at low tide only, on a small section of a gorgeous beach on the east coast. We have been to many beaches in our lives, but to feel this super heated water coming from under the sand was very strange and fascinating. We spent one day at Cathedral Cove as well, another beautiful beach and the site of some scenes from the movie Prince Caspian, a hit with the kids. The pictures do not do it justice. This rock formation was truly awesome.

We left the Coromandel and drove to Rotorua to bear witness to yet more of the earth’s mysteries. Here we saw bubbling mud and steaming lakes, testament to New Zealand’s prime real estate on the Pacific ring of fire. While we were in Rotorua, we also attended a traditional Maori show and surprisingly good dinner cooked on the hangi.  Now Jack and Eliot love to punch their chests in an attempt to do the haka. We spent only one night and a shortened day in Auckland, enough time to purchase Jack a much-needed new pair of crocs and take in the view of Auckland from atop Mt. Eden. Off to Melbourne.

We enjoyed our stay in the lovely Brooklyn Arts Hotel in the Fitzroy neighborhood of Melbourne, a city with more cafes than you can imagine. As with most of our stays, those we have enjoyed the most include a gracious, present owner, and Maggie at Brooklyn Arts was among the most lovely we have met. She even let us borrow her car for our trip out to Healesville Sanctuary, an animal sanctuary about 60 kms outside of Melbourne. We saw everything from duck-billed platypus to koalas to dingos, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, achidnas and our personal favorite, Beatrice the black breasted buzzard (check her out at you tube – she is incredible!). Brooklyn Arts also is where we spent our Easter, complete with an easter egg hunt courtesy of the Easter Bunny, and an Easter dinner shared with Maggie on the night of our flight out.

Six days in Melbourne allowed us to relax a bit and plan our onward journey through Turkey. We spent a lot of time picnicking in some of Melbourne’s lovely parks, Kelli and Jack went to see Wicked (fabulous), John and the kids went to the very cool Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Center (you guessed it, Kelli had an afternoon to herself), and we all took in an Aussie Rules Football game, affectionately called “footie,” at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Grounds), a stadium which holds over 100,000 people. We even managed to spend a day in St.Kilda, a city beach neighborhood with tons of cafes and shops and a great pier.

We loved our time spent in New Zealand and Australia, but we were all itching a bit for something different and new. To Istanbul we went, on a 27 hour travel day leaving our hotel in Melbourne at 12:30am! 14 hours to Dubai, 3 hour layover, and 4 more hours to Istanbul to finally arrive at our modest hostel at about 7pm, perfect time to settle in and go right to sleep. No jet lag even! Next post, Istanbul.

Comments

One Response to “Last of New Zealand and brief stop in Melbourne”

  1. H.E.R.B. on April 20th, 2009 1:08 am

    This is SO totally amazing!! What incredibly wonderful places you’ve been in NZ & Melbourne. All the weird North Island stuff like “dig your own hot tub beaches”, bubbling mud, grren pools & sulfer….seems like you’ve wandered into the realms of fiction (did you hear any singing mud?).

    Loved Jack’s post about swimming with the seals (& the movie!!). Nice shot of Kelli (in solitude) on the beach!

    So glad you were able to celebrate birthdays at Nicky & Graeham’s house!!!

    Eliot–the photo collage of you jumping is really great!!

    Can’t wait to hear what you think of Turkey. Last time I was in Istambul the bridge across the Bosphorus wasn’t built….I remember sitting up at night on the hotel balcony with my dad watching the ships on the Bosphorus…the lights were beautiful (1969). I also remember seeing a dancing bear in the street AND eating the biggest piece of chocolate cake ever!

    Looking forward to reading more about it all!
    XXOO, Robin

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