A Travellerspoint blog

The land of Kiwi's...

...frozen Kiwi's that is

Saturday afternoon we arrived in New Zealand. As we have become accustomed too on our travels, we proceeded through customs. Brooke, being the trouble maker that she is, caused quite a stir when the sniffer dog attacked her, pawing through her bag, apparently after the large amounts of plastic bags she was smuggling into the country that had previously held fresh produce (contrary to popular belief, we are earth conscious Americans, and we are trying to do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle, in this case plastic bags... suck it American hating world). The ferocious sniffer dog would not let up and they proceeded to empty her entire pack in the middle of the airport, clothes, unmentionables, food, all haphazardly strung about the ground surrounding her pack.

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Notice all of Brooke's belongings and the sniffer dog, still confused and on the trail of something forbidden...

After all of our questionable items were allowed into the country, the first thing we noticed about New Zealand was the substantially lower temperatures. While every New Zealander kept informing us that the temperatures were actually quite high for this time of year, we were still freezing.

The worst part of the cold was our lack of warm clothes. To remedy this problem we made a stop at Save Mart, the New Zealand super-sized thrift store. My shopping outfit was particularly memorable, as I was wearing nearly every piece of clothing I had, including my full body black under armour and bright blue basketball shorts, wool socks, converse tennis shoes and 2 t-shirts. Fortunately for my posterity, this monstrosity was not captured by film, and only the locals had to endure my hideousness (from whom I received many odd looks). Luckily for all of us, Save Mart was a success and we loaded up on warm jackets, sweaters, and Bree scored herself some killer grandpa shoes.

After our thrift store experience Bree and I went to dinner with a woman we met in the ward where we further gorged ourselves on a feast of New Zealand delicacies; sweets, chips, and all sorts of candies, or lollies as they are referred to in New Zealand.

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After the junk food fiasco we prepared to be on the road again and head out for Rotorua bright and early...

Posted by court_7 00:50 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

An end of Oz

The conclusion of our travels in Australia

Our Australian travels came to an end today as we boarded the plane for New Zealand. We will miss the pristine beaches, and most importantly the last bit of warmth as we head down south to New Zealand and winter. A bit about what we did on our last days in Oz...

On Thursday we enjoyed the weather as we visited Maleny, Mapleton and Mortinville. These quaint old English style villages were beautiful and set high in the mountains.

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We enjoyed perusing the shops and admiring the architecture and beauty of these small towns. An interesting site was the lily ponds in Mapleton.

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Here, the lilies were so dense you could barely see the water at all, and birds were actually walking across the water from lily to lily, eating as they went.

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At night, Bree and I enjoyed a wonderful Thai dinner (again, going on about food, but it really is a high point of our days). As we were told by some locals, the place was a bit dodgy, sporting high quality plastic lawn chair furniture and plastic mermaid molded decor on the walls. The high fashion aside the food was cheap and fabulous, really what more could we ask for? After dinner, Bree and I were informed that we could not go into any of the restaurants/clubs, as we were wearing flip flops, and it was much to casual for a night out in high class Maloolaba.

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With that, we decided to go back and go to bed, but only after Bree and I made ourselves sick eating an entire DARK (75% cocoa) chocolate bar each. Let's just say I woke up with a horrible headache the next morning to say the least.

The next morning we headed back down the sunshine-less coast, to Brisbane. We had a bit of a detour when we climbed a mountain to see an old fire lookout. The views were beautiful and the mountains on the skyline reminded me of Goonies where they use the old medallion to find there way to the buried treasure.

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After our climb, we made it back to Brisbane and South Bank where we wandered around the various museums and art galleries and met up with Lindsey for our last Australian meal. Tomorrow morning we fly out wicked early for New Zealand... kiwi's here we come.

For Australia pics, click HERE

Posted by court_7 06:43 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Rainbow beach

Today we left 1770 and began our drive back down the Sunshine coast towards Brisbane. The eventful day began with us forgetting to fill the car with Petrol before we left 1770. Another interesting fact about Australia you may want to know: There is not much here. Besides the major cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth) there are mainly just bush towns, and just because a town is listed as being a certain amount of km away, does not mean it will have any services. We learned this the hard way as we coasted into a small town called Lowmead on fumes and found that there was absolutely no services, just a saloon and a post drop. Luckily for us, the bar tender at the saloon had a can of petrol he had bought from the next town up that he sold to us and helped siphon into our car. (We were very fortunate to have even made it into the city as it was as we had been driving on empty for many km, with the light on for near 45 km...)

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Larry, siphoning petrol into our car

Having learned our lesson about the distance between towns and more importantly petrol stations we decided to keep our car above 1/4 tank for the remainder of the trip to avoid the possibility of running out of fuel again. We'll see how that works out eh?
The main thing we decided to see today was the colored sands of Rainbow beach. We got to Rainbow beach just as the sun was beginning to set and the tides were coming in.

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After leaving our mark for posterity and Australia in the sand rocks, we attempted to make it around the rocks before the tide became too high to proceed.

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As we had already had a bit of a close call with the petrol situation, we decided not to press our luck and resigned ourselves to not continue any further and retreat to higher ground before the tide got so high that we would not be able to use the stairs...

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Posted by court_7 06:28 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Driving in Oz...

We are seriously not in Kansas anymore.

Today we had our first experience driving on the wrong side of the road with the Aussie's. As was told by our Fijian cab driver Australians drive very fast and any accidents we could possibly get in would be 'fatal'. That having been said we were a bit apprehensive to get our car and drive on the wrong side of the street. Brooke however took it like a champ and only had problems maneuvering the turn signals as they are on the opposite side of the steering wheel.

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Our first car in Australia... tear*

As the purpose of renting the car was to travel to see the great beerier reef we immediately set out to drive north to the Town of 1770. 1770 is thus named for the year when Captain Cook first landed in Queensland Australia, on May 23, 1770 (who knew Amy's birthday coincided with something so monumental eh?). Liam's dad helped procure for us a bungalow cabin in 1770 for the night, which we were very grateful for as all other accommodations were booked full. Our bungalow was fabulous, and with a fully furnished kitchen, we enjoyed our first personally hot cooked meal.

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A lovely feast of broccoli and pasta, YUM!

Bright and early we set out for Lady Musgrave Island on a boat called the Spirit of 1770. Lady Musgrave Island is a coral island on the southern tip of the Great Beerier Reef, where we had booked a day tour that included snorkeling and glass bottom boat coral explorations. Before we set out for the island, the skipper kept warning everyone about the possibility of motion sickness which often happened on the boat ride out to the island. None of us were prepared for what would happen next however. Initially we started out on top of the boat, but after a few minutes of the ride when the crew members came to ask us if we wanted to wear rain jackets as we would most likely be soaked by the freezing cold ocean water as it sprayed over the boat, we decided to go down stairs and ride instead in the enclosed cabin.

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Making our way from the top of the boat to the bottom... not as easy as it looks.

The boat was seriously hauling and it would rise and fall nearly 5 feet at a time, the skipper was not kidding when he warned us of getting sick. We, unaware of where to sit on the boat of course chose the roughest seat in the house, and sat in the front row. I for one was very sick and by the time we finally arrived at the island (90 minute boat ride) I was so grateful to just sit and not be constantly bouncing up and down and jarring left and right.

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Seriously? I am about to puke, and Bree is sleeping like a baby... Seriously?

Once we got into the lagoon at Lady Musgrave all was well, my stomach began to settle and we began to explore. We took a bush walk around the island and experienced our first sea cucumber.

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Larry the sea cucumber

There is only one way to describe the sea cucumber, and that is absolutely disgusting. They are slimy and all around just nasty buggers.

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Lady Musgrave Island

After exploring the island we returned to platoon where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch (seriously, I think the best part of this vacation is the obscene amounts of food we consume when given the chance) and snorkeled on the Great Beerier reef.

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Scuba Brooke...

Snorkeling on the reef was fabulous; the water was a beautiful turquoise and was fairly clear. A highlight was the 6 large sea turtles we saw while snorkeling. Green sea turtles actually nest at Lady Musgrave Island and many were consequently hanging out around the island.

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Sea Turtle... ahhh

After snorkeling we returned to the boat and began our journey back to 1770. Fortunately for my stomach, the return trip was much less bumpy and I enjoyed it sitting on the bow of the boat.

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Bree, diggin for gold...

While on the bow I saw sea turtles coming up for a quick breath of air, dolphins swimming and marvelous flying fish that skip along the water. All in all the reef was a fabulous experience and we returned to our bungalow substantially tired and ready for a shower and sleep.

Posted by court_7 05:59 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

In the leafy tree tops...

Visiting the gold coast and rainforests

This morning began with a trip to Brisbane's South Bank street markets. We met up with Lindsey where she took us to the markets to buy over priced Australian souvenirs.

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The Esplinade at South Bank, downtown Brisbane.

After our brief Australia shopping experience, we met up with Liam to travel down the Gold coast to stay in their holiday villas in Coolangatta.

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The Gold coast is absolutely stunning, with miles of white sugary soft sand. It is so soft and it squeaks beneath your feet as you walk across it. Being the pessimistic Americans that we are, we of course thought the sand must be imported from somewhere, as nothing could be this pristine naturally.

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After speaking with a few locals however, we were convinced the sand and beaches are indeed natural and were therefore even more amazed by there beauty.

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We had a great time playing in the ocean, as the water was quite warm. We only had one mishap when we were not paying attention to the waves, important lesson: Never turn your back on the ocean if you do not want to get soaked. We also sent a shout out to our mum's back home, as today is Mother's Day:
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After playing in the ocean we walked to a supermarket to find supper. Another interesting fact about Australia: If you are looking for exciting night life, or any night life for that matter, do not come to Australia. At 5 pm, or earlier if the shop keepers feel like it, all the stores (including grocery stores) close down for the evening. I think it is because everyone wakes up so blasted early from the insanely loud parrots in the mornings, but who knows, that is just my opinion. All I know is that if you wanted to hit a grocery store and it is 5:15 pm, you are out of luck and your only hope for finding food will be to go to one of the few pubs that remain open after 5 pm.

The next morning, we went to Lamington National Rainforest were we enjoyed a few bush walks and a tree walk on bridges suspended 60 m above the forest floor.

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Bree had a bit of a run in with a sharp twig, and it was touch and go for a while with her big toe, we thought we may have to amputate; she fortunately pulled through though once we found a band aid. The tree walk was fantastic as it supplied us with a fantastic view of the park. Bree gave Australia a bit of a view when she had a Lindsey Lohan moment on the tree ladder.

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After we finished at the park we returned home with Liam where we were able to further experience Australia by eating Kangaroo meat. It was actually decent, kind of gamey, Bree had a bit of a time eating it as it was Kangaroo, but all in all it was not bad. After dinner we enjoyed a tension filled card game of up and down the river. Bree's competitive side came out as she attempted to pull away with the win. In the end, she came up short, but it is just a game right?

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For more Australia pics, click HERE

Posted by court_7 05:29 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

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