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NC500 – The Next Adventure…

The Next Adventure

With New Zealand becoming a distant memory, a new adventure was required! Needing something a little less expensive, a little closer to home but something equally exciting we settled on the NC500. Touted as Scotland’s rival to America’s Route 66, it encompasses 500 miles around the northern reaches of mainland Scotland.  With a friend’s wedding in Inverness providing the perfect excuse, we got down to details. Continue reading

White Island (Te Puia o Whakāri)

 Te Puia o Whakāri

When you land amidst the ruins of the old sulphur factory, you wonder what it must have been like living in this desolate place for months at a time.  The volcano itself descends some five thousand feet below sea level to reach the seafloor, but its crater and surrounding rim extend a mere 300m above the sea. This makes it one of the most accessible volcanoes in the world, with no need to traipse up a mountainside for hours to reach signs of volcanic activity. The tour itself is little more than a pleasant stroll, albeit through  steam that hangs ominously in the air. Indeed, in Maori its name means “the dramatic volcano”, and as you approach the island by boat, you get a bubbling sense of anticipation. The steam that emits from the island’s centre seems to merge seamlessly with the blue sky, forming a backdrop of white clouds. It is this ever present cloud that caused Captain Cook to name it “White Island”. We  booked a tour on Peejay, and spent the day exploring!

 

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America’s Cup Sailing

Ian was really keen to have a go at sailing in an America’s Cup Boat, but the prices on the quayside were a little pricey. Luckily bookme.co.nz had an offer on, so we booked our tickets and then excitedly headed down to the ticket booth at the time stated on our letter. We were handed our boarding passes, and waited with a growing group of tourists before being ushered through the gates and onto a boat. Which was not an American Cup boat. Continue reading

The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles

Swing Bridges provide safe access in high water

Typically used in high water – or by those who don’t want to get their feet wet!

The Pinnacles are located in the Coromandel region on New Zealand’s North Island and climbing to the top is often included in “must do” lists for resident kiwis. Like the Mueller Hut Hike, a serviced Hut near the top of the walk makes it perfect for families and first time adventurers. Continue reading

BloKarting

Land Yachts

As a child I remember reading the Wind on Fire ‘trilogy’ and being fascinated by the concept of large vessels sailing across the land. Now it is a reality (albeit a much smaller craft). One man buggies, complete with a single sail race around a set course harnessing the wind power to pick up (what felt like) an incredible pace.

Land Sailing in New Zealand

Ian steers his craft around the track

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The Southern Scenic Route

The Road Less Travelled: The Southern Scenic Route

This part of New Zealand is often missed off the itineraries of travellers, especially those who are pushed for time. The route runs from Queenstown, through Te Anau and onto Dunedin via Invercargill and Balclutha.  Lured by the prospects of photogenic lighthouses, wind torn trees, penguins, and waterfalls we set aside a few days to explore this area. Continue reading

Taupo Tandem Skydive

No chance to back out

Originally, we had just “popped in” to talk about jumping options and book a slot in the coming days. We found ourselves quickly suited up, in the last few spaces on a plane before we could change our minds!

We chose to go from 15,000 feet to get more free fall time, and chose a freefall camera package so we could really get the perspective of our jump over any wrist mounted footage. This option was pricey but gave us some pretty wicked photos and a nice video too. Continue reading

The End of the Road

Time to Say Goodbye

As we approached the end of our holiday, we knew it was time to say goodbye to our camper. We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time. We had read stories of people being unable to sell their campers and seen evidence of this on facebook with numerous vehicles being reposted or price dropped.

Giving ourselves just over a week, we put Cayley up for sale using several facebook pages and the website backpackerboard. By the next day we had several people lined up to view the camper van.  We sold her at asking price to the first viewers, agreeing to hand over the keys two days later us. This allowed us to make a few more memories and more importantly, hastily arrange new transport and accommodation!

Costs

By picking Cayley up in Christchurch and selling her in Auckland as well as the timings of when we bought/sold we managed to sell her for slightly more than we paid. Taking into account exchange rates at either end of the transactions, and the bit of money we put in to “upkeep” her, we ended up breaking even. Not bad, when considering a hire vehicle of similar quality would of set us back £5,000! Although we defiantly lucked out with how easy we found it to sell her, we would recommend this option for those who are staying out in New Zealand for a longer period of time.

Timings

We gave ourselves roughly a week at either end of our trip to buy and sell our camper. Although it took this long to sort out finding Cayley and all the faff with getting her sorted, selling her was a breeze. This isn’t always the case however, and you need to be prepared to make a loss if you are limited on time. There are numerous companies that will buy your camper from you, but this will often be a poor deal on your behalf – typically they will pay you half of what they can get selling it on to the next traveller!

Be prepared to spend some time showing your vehicle to other people, to be let down and disappointed – at least this way if all goes well you will be pleasantly surprised!

Fiordland

Entering Another World

On visiting any of the sounds you would be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into a Jurassic park style world. The cliffs here run straight into the water, continuing some hundred of metres below sea level. The water is dark, stained by the tannins carried in the water that runs off the trees on the hillsides. Bizarrely, this run off also means that the water is far less salty than imagined, forming a freshwater layer on top of the sea water. The dark water filters much of the sunlight, allowing deep water species to live much closer to the surface than usual. Continue reading

Whale Watching – Air Kaikoura

Take to the Skies

Having already been on several wildlife cruises in New Zealand already, we opted to take to the air in our search to see a whale. We booked a forty minute scenic plane ride with Air Kaikoura. On booking in, we were informed that it was a good day – there were several whales about, with the last trip seeing three! We boarded our plane with some other guests and got ready to start spotting from above! We all had headphones so we could listen to the pilot, in addition to the radio chatter.
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