New Zealand – North Island Wanderings

Auckland

I am now among the Kiwis!  New Zealand is absolutely beautiful and the people I’ve met here are all so nice! The shuttle driver that delivered me to downtown Auckland informed me that Kiwis are lazy at heart so I wouldn’t need to worry about my safety. He said that, because of their laziness though, theft was possible so I would need to watch my belongings. So far so good!

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Auckland from Sky Tower

Checking in for my flight from Sydney to Auckland seemed like it was going to be a breeze!  However, I quickly found out that it wasn’t going to work out that way!  I had researched visas for most places I intend to visit and there was nothing where New Zealand was concerned.  It turns out that you must have your departure flight booked before you can even check in to your flight going TO New Zealand!!  Thankfully, Sydney International Airport has good wifi so I bought a coffee and surfed til I found the cheapest and quickest flight to Cairns, my next destination!

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Auckland skyline

My shuttle driver delivered me to Sky City where I was to meet my Couchsurfing host once he was done refereeing soccer.  That same night, there was a Couchsurfing get together at TwentyOne Bar on the third floor of Sky City so I left my backpack with the concierge and went up to meet whoever I would meet and have a couple of drinks.  I adore Couchsurfing and the people on it!  If you haven’t tried it and are a traveler, DO IT!!

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On Oneroa Beach in Waiheke Island

 

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Somewhere on Waiheke Island

I spent my first day wandering Auckland then met up with another Couchsurfer for dinner and a visit to the Sky Tower for sunset.  The next day, I caught the ferry to Waiheke Island to wander and take a wine tour.  Waiheke Island is absolutely beautiful and I plan to go back before I leave if at all possible!!  Of course, the wine was amazing as were the views!!  Before I left, I went down to Oneroa Beach and the water felt like absolute silk on my feet!!  The sand was so fine and felt like silk too!!  Yes, I want to go back for more!!

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In the “bush”…somewhere around Coromandel.

My Couchsurfing host, Roberto (a transplanted Italian), had plans to go camping over the weekend and invited me. I had my camping gear so said yes!  We headed to the “bush” on Friday but the campground he always stays at was booked up for a wedding so we made a leisurely drive up toward Coromandel and ended up camping in Hahei.  Absolutely beautiful beach, campground, and hiking (to Cathedral Cove).

Hawei Beach kayaker contemplates the waves
Hahei Beach kayaker contemplates the waves
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Hot Water Beach..dig a hole and get comfortable!

I’m loving what I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and the journey so far!  One of the backpackers at the campground is headed my way so I’ll move forward ridesharing for now (ie. he has the car and I’ll pay for the gas).  So far, North Island wanderings have been fabulous!!

I eventually left the North Island and spent quite a few weeks on the South Island.  Then I traveled to the North Island’s west coast and back to Auckland.  Before departing lovely New Zealand, I visited the Waitomo Caves to see the glow worms.  What a sight!!  It shouldn’t be missed if you can fit it into your schedule!!  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed.

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First time camping in NZ! Hahei Holiday Resort.
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Rock at Cathedral Cove
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Girls having fun at Cathedral Cove
At Cathedral Cove
View from a cave at Cathedral Cove

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A Texan Down Under in Sydney

DSC_0152Cheers from Oz!  Australia goes by a few names including Down Under, for any of you not in the know.  It is probably on most people’s bucket list and for good reason!  It’s absolutely beautiful and the people are some of the nicest that I’ve ever met.  An added bonus is that they speak English.

It’s not cheap but I’m lucky that the US dollar is strong right now.  I’m also lucky in that I have a friend to stay with while I’m in the Sydney area.  Catching the hour long bus ride into the city is a matter of walking around the corner to the bus stop.

Once in Sydney, expect to walk a lot!  Besides the obvious sights to see, you’ll find no shortage of bars and restaurants, modes of transportation, and parks.  It’s very easy to get around though as you’ll pretty much run into a body of water and have a view of at least one of the recognizable bridges to help guide you…specifically, the Sydney Harbour Bridge  (Sydney Harbour) or Anzac Bridge (Darling Harbour).

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Sydney Harbour Bridge

The first thing I did on my first day in wandering Sydney was to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  The views are amazing even without doing the bridge climb.  From there it was a short walk to the harbor itself and the magnificence of the Sydney Opera House.

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Sydney Opera House

Surrounding the Opera House are a multitude of bars and restaurants and the Royal Botanic Gardens .  There are excellent views of the harbor, the opera house, downtown, and the harbor bridge as you walk through the gardens.  You’ll come up on a huge screen set out in the water and seating facing it.  Apparently, they have  outdoor movies during the summer months.

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St George Open Air Cinema

During my time in Sydney, I also visited The Rocks, Sydney Tower, St Mary’s Cathedral, Wild Life Zoo and Sea Life Aquarium.  I recommend going to ExperienceOz.com to find online deals.  Instead of paying $80 AUD for the zoo and aquarium OR their online discounted price of $56 AUD, I only paid $48.50 AUD.  Always shop around when traveling!

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St Mary’s Cathedral

I’m staying in Newport Beach which is beautiful and offers scenic hiking along the coast and a beautiful beach.  I’ll likely spend my last couple of days just enjoying it.

This weekend, though, a drive to the Blue Mountains National Park one day and a drive to Morisset National Park the next.

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Koala
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Dugong (Sea Cow)

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A Texan Down Under
A Texan Down Under

Affordable Travel – A Common Journey

Flying1Broke, on a budget, on the cheap…for some of us it’s all about the same thing when it comes to traveling.  Searching for affordable travel options is a common journey.  For travel addicts like me, it’s not only about the journey or the destination but also about how to make the journey possible.

I’m simply here to say that if you want it…anything…badly enough, you find a way.

Thanks to today’s technology, we have unbelievable access at our fingertips for every mode of travel, communication, and connection.  You can rack up air miles using your credit cards, get to your destination by crewing on a boat, ride a bus, train or even a bike.

I wanted to fly first class on my flight from Texas to Australia, so I utilized the bulk of the air miles I had accumulated.  Now that I’m down here, my next flights will be a compare and save event.

When it comes to flights, my favorite site to utilize, at least for international travel, is skyscanner.com.  They also offer hotel and car rental comparisons but I have not used those services as I’m now and forever on a “budget” (ie. I’ll primarily be camping, couchsurfing, and staying with friends).

Ferry, bus, and train fares have to be researched locally…by city, country, or continent.  I have no knowledge of a universal comparison site for these modes of getting there.

Getting there is a common journey for us all and is more important than what you’ll do once you’ve arrived.  What?  Yes!!  To do what you want, you have to get there first!!  There are a multitude of options for living, dancing, and breathing once you’re there but I’ll leave that for another conversation.

Ciao