Well Rob and I have landed in the South island of New Zealand, and it's bloody FREEZING! Brrr?..! And all we have with us is summer tops and shorts, already been buying some woolly scarves, gloves and jumpers - there are sooo many adorable little shops around here selling their local wool and possum clothing. On our first day here we drove to this tiny country town, they were holding their Sunday market and it was amazing seeing all the old women spinning and knitting what they sold with wool from their own merino sheep.
Anyway, enough about New Zealand for the moment, wanted to let you know about our last couple of weeks in Aus. While Rob was back in the UK I managed to sell the old van, seriously I was sooo sad! Loved that van, plus it had been a huge part of our trip and it just made the of end of our Australia experience seem more real. Even though I was reluctant to leave Australia, I was really excited about New Zealand so decided to change our flights so that we had 3 weeks there instead of 2 - too much to see and do in only 2 weeks. Didn't do much else while Rob was away, used the time to sunbathe mostly since he hates it! I'd booked myself into this gorgeous caravan park with beautiful rainforest surroundings, pools and spa, so it was total relaxation! Luckily Graham (friend from home) was also in Cairns for a few days so I met up with him at one point for drinks, can't remember much.....!
When Rob eventually came back we hired a car for a few days and visited some of the surrounding towns. Tropical North Queensland's climate means that sugar and banana production is big business and also coffee plantations, and I LOVE coffee so made the effort to take a tour round one. Also got to taste around 30 different varieties of coffee and coffee chocolates, yum! The area of Mareeba has a great waterfall circuit, a lot of which you can swim in. Rob and I visited a couple, was so much fun swimming about under them, plus the creeks are so clear, warm and full of fish. We also took the car up to Port Douglas, our timing was good because there was a festival on, so lots of stalls to wonder round and bands playing.
We discovered one day that Cairns had a charity race day on so decided to dress up (missus the hats!) and have a day at the races. Was an ACE day!! Never been to the races before! Got some free drinks on arrival then were approached by this lady who asked us if we would be judges for the Fashions on the Field! Basically we had to wonder round and pick a female and male member of the public to win Most Promising Filly and Most Promising Colt!! Our winners got some great prizes - hundreds of dollars worth of goodies and we got a huge wine basket and our picture in the local paper- loving it!! Plus Rob and I both had wins on the horses, but you don't win much when you only bet $5!
On our last day in Cairns before leaving for Sydney we went on a day trip to one of the most incredible sites - the Great Barrier Reef! Due to time constraints we decided just to snorkel (to dive you have to be certified and it takes 2 days training in a swimming pool beforehand!) but it was just as good. We stopped at 2 reefs and spent hours in the water, so strange when your 90kms out at sea and the reef is only a metre below you. The colours of the fish and corals are amazing and the sea is a wonderfully crystal clear turquoise colour. Tried to take photos, not got them developed yet so not sure how they will turn out or if they will do the reef any justice! Will put them on website as soon as I have them.
We caught our plane back down the Sydney to catch our flight to Christchurch. Spent the time buying last minute items (I have an obsession with Chai lattes, never seen them at home so taking some with me!) and had lunch one last time on Sydney harbour. Our last night was spent with Paul, at his flat with a take-away!
I seriously can't describe to you all how amazing Australia was. I've always known before I left that I'd love it, but it has been everything I imagined and more. Everything about the country is beautiful - the diversity, landscape, people, weather, wildlife, food, sounds, smells, colours and all the little things. I'm really going to miss it, and will definitely be back whether it's a short holiday or to immigrate!!
And now we're here in New Zealand. Arrived 3 days ago in Christchurch and just spent the remainder of our day collecting our rented campervan, very colourful!! Not very warm though when it's zero degrees at night! We've got so much we want to see here, unbelievable how much geography there's here for me, so excited (god, I'm such a geek!!) Already learnt so much in Australia though - got a great collection of information and media to use back at work, and should have so much more after NZ. We haven't been here long but already beginning to see why people love it here - the scenery is stunning!
Right, I'm going to leave the details of NZ til later in the week! Off to bed, got a 7.30 pick up tomorrow morning for our kayaking of the Milford Sounds Fjordlands, ace!!
Hope all is well with everyone, love to you all and thanks for all the latest from home - great hearing from you!
Lots of Love Nikki and Robert xoxoxoxoxox