Queenstown & Wanaka, New Zealand

In April this year, we spent a week travelling around the South Island of New Zealand. I had seen many photos of the south island, particularly on Instagram, and wanted to see the beautiful landscapes myself.

The first 2 days of our trip was spent exploring Queenstown and Lake Wanaka. We really enjoyed Queenstown. Being the low season, the town was quite, but it still had a great vibe. We particularly enjoyed walking around the botanical gardens and the food. Queenstown has a number of great restaurants and plenty great food outlets.

Our second day was spent driving to Lake Wanaka and visiting a few of the towns and lakes along the way. Lake Hayes was beautiful, being encased in stunning autumn colours, and we enjoyed wandering through the historic streets of Arrowtown.

Lake Wanaka was a lot quieter than Queenstown and perhaps not as beautiful. But we still enjoyed taking a walk around the lake and sitting on its shores to eat our lunch.¬†We had wonderful weather, being not too cold, with sunny days and light breezes. We also thoroughly enjoyed seeing the autumn colours, which we don’t get in Sydney.

After relaxing by the lakes for a couple of days, we headed towards Te Anau and Milford Sound.

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Essentials:

Getting there:
Queenstown Airport is located quite close to the city, about a 10-15 minute drive. We picked up a hire car at the airport and the way to Queenstown was well sign posted. There isn’t a great public transport system around the south island, so I would highly recommend exploring it with a car.

Accommodation:
We are great fans of Airbnb, so we booked a place in Arthurs Point, called Studio 28, which is about a 10 minute drive from Queenstown. It perhaps isn’t the best place to stay if you want to enjoy the nightlife of Queenstown, but we enjoyed the peace and quite, as well as the beautiful views of the pine covered mountains.

Eating:
We had a fabulous dinner at Sasso Italian. The interior was lovely, with stone walls and timber floor boards, and a fire blazing to make the space warm and cosy. The food was superb. I ordered the pappardelle with rabbit ragu (I love rabbit) and Jonathan ordered the seafood gnocchi. Both dishes were full of flavour and beautifully presented.

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Mornington Peninsula, Australia

After a day exploring Wilsons Promontory, we headed back towards Melbourne to spend a day exploring the Mornington Peninsula.

First stop was the Red Hill Markets, which are open on the first Saturday of each month. They were some of the best food and craft markets that I have visited to date. Browse Red Hill Racecourse for a selection of hand made crafts and fresh produce. Don’t forget to grab some lunch from the numerous food vendors, and don’t leave without buying a jar or two of jam from the jam ladies, who have been at the markets for thirty years.

The Mornington Peninsula is also a fantastic wine growing region, specialising in pinot noir and cool climate chardonnay. Many of the wineries are small family run enterprises, rather than large commercial wineries, and are all located within the small area of the Mornington Peninsula, so it’s easy to visit a number of them within a day.

Another must do is a drive around the suburbs of Sorrento and Portsea. These two suburbs, which are located on the tip of the peninsula, are gorgeous, with lovely streets and beautiful homes. We did a coastal walk, locally known as the Millionaires Walk, which runs along the cliff front homes. The views are spectacular, as are a number of the homes.

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Essentials

Getting there:
The Mornington Peninsular is about an hour to an hour and a half’s drive from Melbourne CBD. Alternatively, you can take the car ferry from Queenscliff, near Geelong, which takes you to Sorrento. This is a good option for those arriving from Avalon Airport.

Eat:
Grab fish and chips in Sorrento and sit by the water’s edge. You’ll know where the fish and chip shop is – it will be overflowing with customers at midday.

Wineries:
Our favourite winery was Foxeys Hangout. It is a great place for lunch, with a view onto the vineyard below. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are great and good value for money.

Wilsons Promontory, Australia

Back in October last year, we spent a long weekend exploring Wilsons Promontory and the Mornington Peninsula. We were initially planning to go to the Yarra Valley, but a friend from Melbourne suggested visiting the Mornington Peninsula, as there are also wineries there and the landscapes are beautiful. When researching the Mornington Peninsula I came across some photos of Wilsons Promontory and thought it looked stunning. I had never heard of Wilsons Promontory, but thought it looked worthwhile visiting. Once we decided to go there, I mentioned it to a couple of our neighbours who are originally from Melbourne. ‘Oh, The Prom,’ they said, as if it was somewhere I should know of. Apparently everyone in Melbourne knows of ‘The Prom’ but we in Sydney have no idea of its existence.

Located about 200km south-east of Melbourne, it is a good 3 hour drive to reach Wilsons Promontory. It’s not quite close enough to do as a day trip from Melbourne and I’d recommended at least one or two nights, either camping or staying in the cabins at Wilsons Promontory, or staying in a town close by. We would have liked to stay in the cabins in the national park, but they were all booked out. So we stayed in Foster, which was about an hours drive away.

There are some stunning walks to do and some beautiful beaches to visit at Wilsons Promontory. Also keep an eye out for the wildlife, namely emus, kangaroo, wombats and a number of native Australian birds. We did a few of the shorter walks, as we only had a day there, but we saw enough of The Prom to be very impressed with it. And I’d definitely recommend visiting if you are in Melbourne and have a few days to spare.

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Essentials

Getting there:
You’ll have to pick up a hire car from Melbourne and drive the 200km to Wilsons Promontory, as there is no public transport.

Stay:
We stayed at Llarrinda Bed & Breakfast, in Foster North, which we booked through Airbnb. It was one of the best Airbnbs we have stayed in. The room was great and the views towards Wilsons Promontory were stunning. Our hosts, Larry and Linda, were great and very chatty, and Linda put on a beautiful breakfast. Ask her for her date scone recipe – they are to die for.

 

Ngapali Beach, Myanmar – Part 2

It has been quite a while, almost too long, since I’ve updated this blog. My last post was dated April 17, 2015, which is over a 18 months ago. We’ve had a lot going on – moving in together, renovating, redundancies, new jobs, studies, illnesses and finally moving overseas. So in between all that, this blog has fallen by the wayside. And with so much happening, we haven’t travelled much in that time either.

So here is where I left off, in Myanmar. This is the final post from our trip to Myanmar which we did over the Christmas/New Year break of 2014/2015. We woke up early on our third morning in Ngapali Beach and took a boat with a local fisherman and his son to snorkel around Pearl Island, about a kilometre off the coast of Ngapali Beach. The visibility offshore wasn’t the best, and we were in the shadow of the island, but we still saw a number of schools of fish swimming through the rocks.

After lunch, we visited a few of the small villages close to our accommodation and spent the afternoon and evening, as per usual, on the deck of the guesthouse looking out onto the beach and the watching beautiful sunset.

On our fourth day, we took a bus, well a ute with seating installed in the back, to Thandwe town, to have a look at the town and wander through the local markets. There isn’t any organised public transport in these seaside town, so you simply have to wait for a pickup on the road and ask the driver if they are heading the the direction you wish to go to. The fresh fruit and vegetable markets were not as impressive as those of 26th Street in Yangon, but it was interesting to wander through them all the same.

We left Ngapali Beach after four relaxing days to head back to Yangon and then back home to Sydney.

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