Friday, April 30, 2010


April 29, 2010

We have spent the last 2 days driving from Sydney to a town called Orange till where we are now, Lightning ridge. The drive through the Blue mountains was slow. There were town after town which slowed traffic down to a crawl and in between towns there was road work and steep curvy roads. This lasted for 3 hours or so till the towns stared to thin out and the traffic too. Our camper van is a bit of a gutless beast up and down the hills. It seemed as though we would finally get to speed limit and then there would be another steep hill and we would slow right down again. Along the way we took a bit of a detour that Kevin and Lynne (CS hosts) told us about. They have been to an area that they garanteed that we would see some wild kangaroos. They were right. We drove a bout 45 minutes off the main highway to a small cabin location and there in the field were at least 10 kangaroos lazing in the sun. We slowly approached them to see if they would run and they didn’t. They didn’t seem to mind us slowly creeping closer and closer taking pictures as we moved ever closer. We hung out with them and decided to have a bit of lunch while we watched them hoping around. It was very cool to see our fist real wildlife.

After lunch we resumed our journey west. Once again we slowly climbed up only to have to slow down while we headed down because of the sleep sharp curves. At 5 o’clock we decided to call it quits for the night and see how our campervan would set up and we would actually all fit in. The camper that we rented is actually a mini van with a plastic room carrier on top that pops up to form a hard top tent. That’s where Colton and Miranda sleep. We made some tacos for supper popped in a movie on the van’s dvd player and we all cuddled up in the van to watch a movie before bed. It was really chilly at night. It went down to about 7 degrees or so. Quite nippy for a tent. In the morning we put our bed back into seats and ate our cereal in the van on the little table that pops up between the back seat and a seat that faces backwards behind the driver.

By 9 am we started the next leg of the trip which was much nicer as the roads were not so hilly ,curvy and steep. Along the way we got to see more wildlife. There in the field were a group of emu. We of coarse had to stop and take some pictures of them.. They were a bit skiddish so I couldn’t get to close. We drove till noon, stopped at a bakery for some fresh bread and had sandwiches in a park along the way. We played catch and ran around and drove till 4:30 till we reached Lightning ridge and our destination. This evening we drove over to the local artesian bore baths to have a swim in the natural hot water. Very nice end to a day of driving.

Tomorrow we will head out to try our luck at finding some great opals.

May 1, 2010

We are headed back to the coast from our walk drive-about in the outback. We did a couple of days of opal mining at a place where people come out with $10,000 opal. We didn't. But Miranda did find one the guy said she could sell for 10 icecreams and Colton found a big one we will get estimated some time. We had lots of fun and are ready to see if we can find the Koalas that  we have heard about near here. It will take us about 2 days to drive back to the coast where we will spend near Coffs Harbour.

We also just was a big red kangaroo happong along the field!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

farwell Sydney

We have had a relaxing/fun/busy/great last 5 days here in Sydney. We have stayed with Kevin and Lynne as they are just so great and we really are having a hard time leaving. But I'm sure they are  ready for a quiet house again and we really need to move on. We have rented a camper van (google Australia jucy choppa van rental) if you want to see our very cool ride for the next 10 days. We are headed West through the Blue mountains and into the opal mining outback. We are very excited to be able to do a bit of camping because we didn't do much last summer.
Getting back to our last 5 days. Kevin took us to an Assie Rules Foodie game one day. It was a very cool experience as we have never really seen one and he explained what was going on and the rules and such as we watched. So it made much more sense than if we would have gone alone.
The next day was the bus/train family fun day. We could ride all the trains and buses and ferries all day for $2.50 each. So we took advantage of that and rode and toured around the city all day. We saw the Sydney Opera house, the Sydney harbour bridge and so many great little areas along the bay and harbour. It was a great time. We also went to China town for a great supper before heading back by train to our house.
On Monday Kevin drove us 160 Km drive along the coast through all the parks where we got to see beaches/ windsailers/lush forest and spectacular coastlines. What a great day. For lunch he packed us all some sandwiches and we had a picnic. When we returned home, Lynne was cooking "dinnah" for us. She made a yummy chicken pot pie with the flakiest pastry on top, potatoes,the best salad ever and kangaroo. Yes, we all tried it and it was really good. This was a special treat for us as it was Lynne's birthday and she cooked us a meal. They really are the BEST couch surfer hosts ever!!
Today we spent the morning securing our camervan for the next 10 days and also booking all our flights until Singapore. That's where we will be on May 20th.
Well, I should get to bed. We had to stay up to watch survivor. We missed the last few week and had to watch the last episodes from a hotel room in NZ on our little laptop. What a treat to see it on a TV again.
Oh ya, Kevin and Lynne gave us directions to see Kangaroo's up close tomorrow. I wonder if they will smell the meat we ate yesterday and beat us up??

Saturday, April 24, 2010

NZ south island pics

The drive from Christchurch to the West coastPancake rocks

From NZ to Australia

We had a great time on the South island. We flew from Wellington to Christchurch on Jet star airlines which we booked a few days prior to the flight. When we arrived in Christchurch we rented a car again from the airport. Because we hadn't planned on going to the South island as early as we did, we weren't sure where we would go from the airport. After a quick talk with the car rental girl we decided to go north westerly up to Hanmer springs. We spent the night there and continued on the next morning to the coast. The drive there was spectacular. We drove through narrow winding roads which were bordered by lush trees that grew right up along side, up and down gentle mountains that grew thick with greenery and most of the time there was a river meandering beside us too. I can't count how many times I said"this is just so beautiful"!

When we arrived on the coast we went in search of penguins and seals. We didn't see either but we did come to a great park that was called Panache park. This is where the pancake mountains are. They are very interesting hills that are formed by thin layers of rock that appear similar to pancakes. Very nice. We were surprised to find that this park was actually free. For the night we stayed in a small campground that had some cabins for rent. They had full cooking facilities so we went for some groceries and cooked up another fabulous meal of BBQ lamb and baked potatoes.

After supper we learned from the camp owner that there was a glow worm sight nearby. We hopped in the car and scooted over to see these fascinating tiny creatures. We had to bring our flashlight and walk up a path that was completely dark to find the area that glowed green from these tiny worms that have lit up threads that hang down to attract food and a mate. This little gem was also free in the town of Hokitika.

In the morning we had to stop at the jade shop and learn about finding natural jade on the beach in Hokitika. The shop owner showed us samples of the jade in its natural form and off we went. Within a few minuted Dean and Colton each found a few pieces. This was to good to be true. We hurried back to the shop only to be told that this rock was serpentine and not jade. Bummer. So we took another look at the real jade and headed back to the beach. The shop owner told Dean that he would know that it was real jade when he found it, and of course he did. Dean found a nice big piece of real jade. Dean and the kids looked a bit more and decided that this was good enough for today. We went back to the shop and the owner was very impressed that we came back with such a great piece. He said that Dean must have good karma for the rock to have found him. Funny.
The ride back to Christchurch took about 4 hours or so. We arrived at our new CS hosts to find an amazing family once again. We are so happy that we have taken this route in our travels. So far we have had such great experiences. The home of Darren, Helen and Maddie was so comfortable. They have a small guest house for their family and CSers to stay in. It has a little bathroom and overlooks their amazing tiered back yard filled with fresh veggies. We had a wonderful stir fry one night, a rhubarb crisp, toasted tomato sandwiches and the night we arrived Helen had prepared a roast chicken supper with fresh garden potatoes, sweet potatoes and roasted pumpkin. All from their garden. Did I say already how much I love CSing?

The morning Maddie left for school the day we left was sad. Her and Miranda and Colton had so much fun playing with her duplo and running around outside before and after school. We had some amazing talks with Darren and Helen over supper and wine about their travels around the world. and their life in NZ and when they lived in Australia. We hope that one day they will make the trip to Manitoba and we can host them.

We flew from Christchurch to Sydney and were met at the airport with the CSing experts. Kevin and Lynne have traveled all over the world and have CSed and hosted people for almost 15 years or so. Amazing people. The most hospitable people I have ever met I think. After we got to their home they led us up to our rooms (2). and showed us the lounge room with sink, fridge, toaster and coffee making supplies and invited us down for a few drinks over some great talk about what we could all do in Sydney during our stay. Kevin offered to take us to an Assie rules ball game. Which we did today. Tomorrow we will take the train over to the beaches and do some touristy stuff by the ocean. Have I said how much I love CSing???

We think we will be staying here for a few months days longer and soak up the wonderful experience we are having with our new friends. We are exploring the option of renting a camper van to head into the interior to do some opal mining before heading off up the coast and later into Asia.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NZ facts

1.Gas in NZ $1.82/liter

2.Bathing suit in NZ - Tog

3.Driving in NZ- Left side

4.Steering wheels in cars in NZ- right side

5.New Zealander- Kiwi

6.Traffic circles instead of stop signs

7.Internet charges are charged by the Mega bite

8.National bird is the Kiwi bird

9.People are very friendly

10.People say “eh” in NZ just like in Canada

11.groceries are more expensive than in Mb are single pane

13.they have coleslaw and red beets on the chicken burgers

14. Meat pies are a staple

15.a hot dog is a corn dog

16.they think WE have an accent

17.they think root beer is beer

18.L&P is their common drink(it is kinda like lemonade)

19.cheers is a common greeting

20.we don’t know if the toilets flush the opposite way because they flush straight down

21. All flush toilets are low flush

22.bacon and eggs can cost $15

23.all plug-ins have a on/off switch

24.the electricity is 240 volt instead of 110

25.the tax is included in the marked price(14%)

26. Tipping is not normal

27.they play rugby instead of hockey

28.they all eat vegemite. (It tastes like a combination of beef gravy and beer) They spread it on bread

29. They like toasted spaghetti sandwiches

30.NZ airlines are the best

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rivers & oceans

We left our very great hosts in Rotorua to drive South to Wellington, where we caught a 3/4 hour plane ride to Christchurch. Before we left, Jeff told us about a hot springs along our way. We found it and found a little slice of heaven. The unmarked trail leed us to a small stream that was about 101 degrees. Perfect for a spa bath. This experience was so much better than any spa.

Miranda found some therapeudic mud. The same mud they want $4 a tiny pkg for in the stores. We put it all over and when we wahed it off we felt all soft and smooth. Mmmm it was so nice.
We stayed an hour North of Wellington for the night in a nice little hotel. In the morning we went to a nearby beach to do some beachcombing. We found lots of unique shells, a few dead baby sharks and washed up coral. Very cool.

As it is Fall here. The water was too cool to swim in and the temp. was pants weather and breezy. But we had a great time anyway.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our veiw from here 2

Red wood forest. We didn't get to see them in California. But now we have.

A kiwii bird.
This pit was a volcanic pit that was 400 feet deep and 400 feet across. It had the most gorgeous colours.

Green pit of stinky stuffMore bubbling mudBubbling mud pitsSheep along the drive

Our view from here

We went to the sulfer thermal park. There were pools of all colours.

Dean went Zorbing with Colton and Miranda.

Our car. Notice me on the wrong side.
Redwood forestWalking across the sulfer lakeThe hills in New ZealandThe bubbling mud pits.