Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach – our base while on land ‘The Moorings B&B’ did not disappoint, a comfortable, colonial style, self-contained apartment, opening out onto beautiful tropical gardens overlooking Abel Point Marina. This tranquil oasis – once I got used to the fact I wasn’t going to get eaten alive – was complete with sparkling swimming pool, resident Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, dancing butterflies and lizards darting in and out from beneath the security of the lush undergrowth.

Breakfast was served on our private terrace – perfectly ripened fruit platter to start, fresh juice, tea, followed by cooked breakfast of choice to order.


We had arrived the afternoon before after our 90 minute flight into Proserpine from Brisbane to intense heat and humidity struggling as we walked down into Airlie beach to explore the area and then back up steps and steep roads to our base. Sweating man was back with a vengeance and sweating woman made an appearance for only second time both in Australia!

Hideaway Bay 50km north of Airlie Bay – Long-sufferings ‘fly by the seat of his pants’ idea to hire a car was a good one. The air-conditioned interior a real plus point as respite from the intense heat outside during the hour long journey on good roads – driving on the left an added bonus – lined by fields and fields of sugar cane crops on vast flat landscapes either side with hills and mountains in the distance.


Beautiful place to spend a day, long sandy beach – no swimming for us though, we had been warned off due to the presence of Box Jellyfish! Not that I had any intention of venturing in, especially as a beautiful predator free pool was available to cool off in.

We enjoyed a lazy day here – too hot to do anything else but lay horizontal on our beds in shade and take lunch on the terrace. My Prawn & Melon salad with a sweet chilli drizzle was to die for as was long-sufferings meat sliders – a trio of mini burgers and salad hitting the spot of his meat loving belly admirably.

We fully intended to eat out in the evening but after picking up supplies from the local supermarket on the way back we gave in to the intense heat and spent a companionable evening in, eating fruit salad, yogurt and peanut M&Ms whilst laying horizontal on the bed with minimal attire too hot to move even in the air-conditioned room!

Tomorrow we would follow long-sufferings itinerary with Whitsunday Getaways for a three night, four day catamaran cruise around the Whitsundays  and hopefully cooler climes with the wind in our hair!

Six Years On!

Arriving by Taxi to our Hotel in Christchurch New Zealand was a bit of a shock to the senses. Six years on from the devastating earthquake that struck on 22nd February 2011 large areas around the main Cathedral square were still very much in the process of being rebuilt.


Our hotel rose up from the ground in front of us looking pristine and new it’s fascia gleaming from the suns rays, in complete contrast to the building site next door which was a scene of grey devastation with two tall towers, one a flat wall only being held up by iron supports seemingly inches from our Hotel! We were later informed these were the new lift shafts for the development about to rise from the ashes – lifts are built first and floors are slotted in acting to further strengthen the structure – in non technical speak that is!


There was no pre-planned itinerary except  – beard/hair trim for the long-suffering before he became unrecognisable to friends, family and me, followed by the purchase of alcohol and snacks to help us transition to a static hotel room after leaving our wonderful home on wheels ‘Aramoana’.


Without ‘an itinerary’ we were in danger of drifting aimlessly around in our grief but luckily a fellow traveller recommended the daily ‘free’ walking tour of Christchurch. This two hour walk works on the principal you pay what you think it’s worth. The guides recommend a minimum of 15 dollars per person but it is really up to the individual.


The meeting place was the Challice at Cathedral Square – a cone shaped sculpture nicknamed ‘A Cornetto’ by the long-suffering! In fact it represented the Millennium and 150 years founding of Christchurch and Canterbury.

We walked out from Cathedral Square with our guide Martin, at each stop of our tour of the surrounding area and back to the centre we were given a bit of history pre and post earthquake. The tour was always interesting, very informative and went a long way to help the long-suffering plan a new itinerary for our short time here!


The two most poignant stops of the tour was the site of the Canterbury Television building where 115 of the 185 casualties died as the building collapsed and caught fire around them, and the 185 white chair memorial – standing out in the open on a vacant plot once occupied by a church, each chair; armchairs, wheelchair, babies chair, cafe chairs to name but a few form a stark reminder of lives cruelly taken.

Innovation in the form of the ‘Re-Start Mall a shopping centre created entirely from freight containers.


Part ruined Cathedral in the square still sadly waiting for a decision on its future.


Hop on Hop off Tram ride – on restored heritage trams with a new extended route with 17 stops. The trams ran every 15-20 minutes with a happy driver giving us a talking tour as we rolled along the lines.  This charming way around was our only mode of transport – other than our legs – while in Christchurch.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens – Beautiful gardens started in  1863 with the planting of a single English Oak, now covering an area of 21 hectares including water gardens, rock gardens, Rose gardens, Victorian conservatory, Fernery and much more. I could easily have spent the day here if time allowed!

Punting on the Avon river – lazy, indulgent, romantic, half hour return ride along the river – this was instead of the long-suffering rowing me in our own boat ‘too hot’! Luckily we were able to sit at the very back with only three other tourists in the boat all facing forward!


Our puntsman decked out in traditional Edwardian dress propelled us slowly and gently through the water, passing resident ducks ducking and diving beneath the water as we glided along through the Botanic gardens before an expert turn sent us  back to the start and almost the end of our time in New Zealand.

Christchurch still feels like a ghost town and parts are still eerily quiet despite the constant background noise from the ongoing rejuvination of this once busy city but it is clearly making progress to rebuild its future.

Hopefully when next we return as we surely must to this beautiful country that is New Zealand the rebuild will be complete. For now our journey continues to Australia…..

Last Drive

Day 28 – Although sad to set off for the drive to Christchurch and eventual handover of Aramoana, we were content in the knowledge that we had travelled around the North and South islands in the best way possible.


We did at times go off itinerary – my small seat of our pants input – but joking aside, without the Long-sufferings careful research over eighteen months, we would not have got to, or seen half the beautiful places we explored in between the planning for our 25th anniversary cruise and ferry crossings. Quite frankly without him this trip would not have got off the drawing board!

Meanwhile there was just time to stop and explore one more ‘off itinerary’ excursion!


Cave Stream Scenic Walk, Arthurs Pass – we took one of two short easy half hour return walks to the cave entrances, the accessible cave runs 594m between the two.


Caving was not something either of us wished to do – both of us breathing a sigh of relief at the others defined head shaking from side to side!

As we neared the entrance though two people were just appearing out from the blackness, very cold and surprised at depth of water and how winding and cramped it had been!


Looking at the cramped conditions only served to reinforce my reserve never to go caving by choice!


Arriving out safely back into the daylight must feel quite exhilarating!


And then all too soon after one last lunch roadside, we were in Christchurch handing back our beautiful Aramoana to her base ready to be checked and made ready for her next lucky set of occupants.


We had already decided to return one day in the not too distant future….. for now  though our journey was to continue by taxi, as Christchurch beckoned………

Reflections, Ice, Pancakes & Blowholes!

Day 27 Lake Matheson – it was important to get here early not only to beat the crowds but to beat any changes to the warm still morning we were lucky to wake up to. Our experience here – a perfect reflection of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman – in the still waters of the lake was entirely weather and nature dependant!

The easy one hour return walk from an impressive visitor centre and gift shop already busy with coach loads of tourists, took us over a suspension bridge – long-suffering no longer groans at these – through native forest to a stepped tiered pontoon out above the dark brown waters of Lake Matheson.


And for the most part it was a perfect reflection, except when one little duck paddled quietly through the outer edges. And then it was a jostle to get the perfect shot without random heads, of which I failed!

Fox Glacier valley walk – moderate 2.6km return over mostly easy tracks with a steep hard climb as we neared the Glacier view-point.

This walk takes you to approximately 500m from the front of the Glacier although it is constantly moving so that can change quickly with ice/rock falls or high waters in and around the rocky canyon.


Another very clear hot day and uphill exertions saw sweating man return as we neared the view-point with the hordes of others coming and going on this busy track.


With the glacier in continued retreat, it is sad to think future generations may not ever get to see this glacier at all.

Lake Ianthe – off itinerary lunch stop, beautiful lake to sit and enjoy our lunch, another couple joined us on the picnic table and we spent a good hour chatting companionably  together about our travels in this beautiful country.

Pancake Rocks – not on our intended route but worth every bit of the extra kilometres covered, over an hours drive up from Arthur’s Pass gave us chance to see the unusual and unique rock formations looking every bit like stacked pancakes!


Loop walk – thirty minute return along paved paths. Lovely easy walk with strategic viewpoints overlooking, rock formations, crashing seas and blowholes.

Arthur’s Pass – beautiful scenes as we drove along this long stretch of road.


Through gorges, steep winding roads, a one lane bridge shared with a train – Kumara Junction Bridge – viaduct, photo stops galore….

Eventually taking us to the best Freedom Camp ever for our last night in Aramoana….

A Leisurely Drive

Day 26 – early start from Queenstown for the drive up to the glacier region and our freedom camp at Gillespies Beach. This was to become one of our favourite scenic drives a photographers dream, taking us through the Haast pass and Southern Alps with places of interest to stop along the way.

Thunder Creek Falls – ten minute return easy walk through silver beech forest to a 96m high falls. It was certainly thunderous as it cascaded down into clear turquoise waters viewed from the platform. Unfortunately for me the long-suffering wanted a photo of me standing down on the rocks in front of the fall


By now the sand flies were swarming anytime you stood still for more than a second. My new vocation as the long-sufferings muse was about to fall on stony ground as with every ‘just one more, hang on, almost done’ another few red dots appeared as swaying precariously I frantically swatted them away.


Roaring Billy Falls – our stop for lunch, but first a beautiful forty minute easy return walk through native bush.


Huge tree ferns and silver beech lined the track eventually leading us out into the open.


The stunning clear turquoise waters of the wide Haast River with its gravel bed was in complete contrast to the gleaming whiteness of the boulders we now had to step across – not compulsory, you can see the waterfall from the opening. The waterfall itself nestles partly hidden amongst thick native forest. Walking up along the river gives a better view of the pretty 30m high falls.

We have since found out from Long-sufferings Uncle Roger that his base was here, at Roaring Billy Falls while employed over fifty years ago to help build part of the Haast pass. The falls at that time could be seen almost in their entirety, clear from the now dense forests that surround them.

Gillespies Beach – to get here we had to drive the last ten to fifteen kilometres on narrow gravel roads, with a first come, first served system the small car park was already busy but had room for a few more including us!


Again this area was sand fly heaven, stepping out from Aromoana, nothing less than fully covered – even in the heat – was madness. They were drawn to us like locusts to a crop!

The beach – a graveyard to hundreds of dead tree parts, trunks and branches, bleached white by the sea and sun, some made into sculptures, many providing strategically placed seats for the spectacle of the sunset to come.

And in the morning a beautiful sunrise over Mount Cook to set us on our way….


Facing ones demons!

Day 25 – early morning tumble dryer run found me, running around camp in my pyjamas as first one machine was used, another faulty, third time lucky accessed through the toilets! By now totally dis-orientated – doesn’t take much – I managed to get hopelessly lost as I weaved this way and that between tents, motor homes, tent cars before ending up on the road. Eventually Aromoana was sited with anxious long-suffering standing at the door ready to rally a search party!

Ziptree Tour Queenstown – the zipline was on my itinery, but not on the long-sufferings. His fear of heights the stumbling block. Now pre accident he would have happily waved me off, post accident he has become my champion! And so it was with trepidation he joined me for the mammoth ninty minute climb up steep, rocky terrain along zig-zag paths, zooming mountain bikes and more steps to the starting platforms. We could have gone up in the gondola a less sweaty experience but we were booked for that and the restaurant later.

We took the four line experience a medium run starting 2,500ft high in pine forest a short distance from the sky tower. Groups were any number to a maximum of ten, we were lucky to have only us and one other couple from Minnesota. There followed safety, harnesses and finally we were all on the first high platform with our two instructors Meg and Martin.


The first line was a shortish, slower, get you used to it affair, but still daunting to walk down and off the steep steps into a void with thick pine forest on either side. I was pushed forward to go first, poor long-suffering nervously taking second place. Wow, wow, wow, sooo exhilarating, I felt I was flying, no time to look around and then stop it was over. Safety is paramount here and at no time are you left un-clipped unless behind the safety gates, useful as I tripped getting up!


There was a delay from the other end as Long-suffering psyched himself up for the mammoth leap of faith in front of him. And then through the intercom, he was on his way.

He survived intact, and was ready to zip the remaining three, that steadily increased to the last – the length of the first three combined. On the second we were now set our first challenge leaning backwards off the platform and flipping upside down!

Long-sufferings turn to go first, really, that was never going to happen! Choosing the straight option off he went without too much stalling this time – maybe because I was watching.

Last to go – challenge still not taken – it was down to me not to disappoint. Alone on the steps, my back to the wire, it was my turn to stall this time, not for fear of the wire, rather could I while moving flip upside down and curl my legs around the clips keeping me on? Meg, very patiently assured me I could do this!

It turned out I could, with not a dislocation in sight and wow what a great if a little scary experience it turned out to be. I did let out one expletive – bloody hell – not very loud I thought, until it was mentioned at the platform as Meg zipping wildly, joined us. On every platform we had a short but interesting eco talk, we both felt quite proud that a lot of the issues raised we were already addressing in our lives back home and since being in NZ.

Third wire, new challenge, backwards off the steps, eyes closed and no hands. The long-suffering showed how far he had come and with the exception of letting go rose to the challenge. I happily let that minor fact go – I couldn’t bring myself to let go either! And then the longest one, no challenges, just hang on, enjoy the ride with beautiful views over the lake! Perfect. Not so perfect though back at the top with our belongings, was the sixty minutes scramble down the steep rocky, rooted terrain!

Next up, bikes off and cycle to Queenstown gardens, bit hilly in places, our legs slightly fatigued from the earlier mountain climb!


Lovely gardens, relaxing amongst stately trees and fauna.

Evening, another hurdle for the long-suffering, the Skyline gondola ride up to the Skyline restaurant. More food to feed his fear of heights as well as his belly in equal measure!

We were not disappointed, buffet style the food was excellent, anything from Mediterranean,Thai, Japanese, fish dishes lots of juicy meat – relief for long-suffering – and desserts galore. Hot and plenty of it we certainly ate our money’s worth.

Tomorrow we head to the glaciers…….


Day 24 – early drive to Queenstown, stopped off at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu for a short lunch break.


This was a truly wonderful tranquil spot even though it was a stones throw from the main highway six. The gentle lap of the clear turquoise water over the shoreline of smooth stones masked out any sound of passing traffic.


With a location this idyllic and hot sun beating down, the itinerary was diverted once again. Stripping off and creaming up we took time off in our hectic schedule just to lay back and enjoy the moment.


While long-suffering slept, snoring happily away beside me as is his way once horizontal, as is my way whenever water is about I just had to take a cooling dip. It was instantly, very cooling – like all the rivers and sea I have dipped into in NZ – breathtakingly cold.


A few well placed sprinkles later on, shocked the long-suffering awake, our cue to move on!

Kelvin Peninsular Walk Queenstown – easy loop walk first through pine forests, then out into the open past an immaculate members and public golf course. With huge Lake Wakatipu on one side, the rolling fairways sloping to it, this could be a challenging course – according to Long-sufferings practiced eye.

He declined my suggestion of a round – too expensive, no time, really I think it was more the fact I haven’t played proper golf in many years – far too embarrassing!


Just over an hour this walk gave us beautiful views over the lake to Queenstown, the sky lift and its back drop of mountains, our next challenge tomorrow.

Queenstown – evening, a complete contrast to anywhere else we have visited. Our senses were assaulted by first and foremost the noise! The town was buzzing, literally teeming with backpackers and other travellers, every nationality – the majority youngsters – walking around, sitting, eating, dreadlocks, bearded, mismatched, creased, drinking, carrying packs of beer, backpacks – so big as to render standing tall impossible. Long-suffering blended in well with his fully grown beard!


In the square where we came to rest for a rare meal out, an open mike session was in full swing, the two bands we watched – from the comfort of our chairs – were actually very good, and loud as they must be. The grassy area in front of the stage was covered in a festival of young people coming together, listening, chilling, sharing their stories of travel and excitement. The buzz was infectious and our feet were tapping along to some tunes we knew – and a lot we had no idea – sign of our age, and we did feel slightly older, with all this youth stretching as far as the eye could see!