Over the hills and far away

Today we find ourselves in the sleepy town of Greymouth and the plan is for a nice relaxing night in.  It’s been a hectic few days so I’ll try to recap what we’ve gotten up to.

As mentioned below we went to the Waitapu Thermal Village where we got to see all sorts of different volcanic activity – from a geyser that shot water 50 feet into the air to boiling pools of water and bubbling hot mud.  It has to be said that the place stank somewhat – the sulfurous gases made the entire place smell of rotten eggs.  Good news is that the wind has stopped.

From Taupo we headed south into the town of Palmerston North – mostly just a stop off on the route south but the town was nice enough with a picturesque village green in the town centre surrounded by some nice restaurants and cafes.   The accommodation here was something else though – we were the only guests of the Riverhills boutique b&b and what we had made us reluctant to leave.  From a really nice bedroom we also had the free usage of the lounge, business centre (for internet mostly) and the hot tub.  The lounge was really special – decorated that morning for Christmas it was a massive room with huge windows looking out over the river and comfy sofas, armchairs, roaring fireplace, 8ft projector screen, music etc.  Not to mention the piles of sweets left everywhere.  I almost had to remove Kathryn with a crowbar following her home made porridge in the morning.

We did manage to leave though and travelled on down to the capital cit, Wellington.  Here we went to the museum which had all sorts of exhibits detailing Maori culture, the discovery and occupation of NZ by the western world and the natural geography of the country.  We also went along to the West Pac stadium where we watched an A League football match between Wellington Pheonix and Sydney FC.  Ex Palace captain Tony Popovic played (and was sent off for Sydney) and the game ended 1-1 when Sydney scored with an injury time penalty.

From Wellington we had an early start as we caught the Interislander ferry to Picton on the South Island before a drive down into Kaikoura – whale watching capital of the world.  We had a nice evening meal and Kathryn took advantage of 2 for 1 cocktails during happy hour.  Another early start saw us go whale watching and we managed to see 3 sperm whales and a huge pod of dusky dolphins playing in the bay.

Continuing our busy travels we headed further south into Christchurch which could have been any town in the UK and we walked from our b&b through the parks into the town centre.  We jumped on the tram for a short guided tour around the centre before stopping at a mexican pub where we had a big helping of chicken wings, potato wedges and fajitas.  Nothing like embracing local culture 😉

Another long drive saw us crossing the country via Arthurs Pass – the road that disects the country from East to West before arriving in Greymouth and that’s where we now.  It’s been hectic but great fun so far.

Bad Case of Wind

It’s not that we’ve eaten anything dodgy but yesterday we arrived into Taupo – home of NZ’s largest lake with a major wind blowing.  Waves were crashing, dust blowing and it was bitterly cold.

Previous few days have seen us go out with dolphins although we didn’t get to swim as there were baby dolphins in the group and they have strict rules about when you can and can’t swim with them.  We were very lucky though to encounter a mega-pod which is when several pods join up in a big group.  Our pod of 80-100 apparently only happens maybe 3 or 4 times a year.  Think we got some good photos and Kathryn did some great work filming while leaning out over the bow of the boat.  Has to be said the trip was worth it just for the trip around the Bay of Islands which is a stunning location – certainly a place I could retire too!

We travelled further north into Coopers Beach before heading back south into Auckland where we had a really nice studio apartment about 500m from Sky City and the Sky Tower.  Naturally we went up there and took some great photos.  The view was awesome although we didn’t do the Sky Jump.

We then headed out to Waitomo Caves where we stayed at the Hobbit Motel and did the excellent Lost World Epic Adventure – go here for the video to see just what we got up too as photography was very limited.

We’re now in Taupo and about to head off to see some of the thermal areas near Rotorua and its nice to not check out for once!  Catch up soon!

We’re in NZ!

We’re currently sat relaxing at the Kingfisher Retreat in Keri Keri writing the first of our New Zealand blogs. After a long flight we arrived yesterday morning in Auckland and it has to be said that the customs and such were so much easier and quicker than in our country.

We got picked up in our rental vehicle and then the good old GPS took us right to the door of our first hotel. Turns out that Auckland is hosting the World Netball Championships and two of the teams are staying in the same hotel (Fiji and Jamaica for anyone interested).

Slight problem this morning when we discovered our shiny new Kia Sorrento had been reversed into overnight and the lovely driver decided to hit and run. Only minor damage so I guess we’ll sort that out when we hand the car over but we’re not going to let it spoil our holiday.

Booked to go out for a nice meal tonight and tomorrow we go swimming with dolphins prior to heading north to Coopers Beach. Touch wood the weather has been exceptional so far. The car driver even told us it was the nicest day in Auckland in weeks.

We’ll update next time someone leaves their wireless internet unlocked 🙂

Better late than never

We’ve not updated in a while but a lot has happened.  Dave completed his triathlon, the wedding is booked and we’re 3 days away from our trip to New Zealand.Â

Wedding is booked for 20th September 2008 in Llyswen near Brecon with the service at a local church and then the reception at Llangoed Hall.  We’ll be sending out invites in due course and when we do we’ll provide more details of local hotels and B&Bs for those who want to stay the night.

Oh yeah, I’ve got a new job – starts the Monday after we get back from NZ.  Tuesday is my last Logica day!

Holiday Blog!

hotel-pool.JPGWe’ve just returned from our first holiday of the year… Sunny Sardinia. The Hopkins family (+1) invaded the Italian island for a week, and had a great time. We stayed in a lovely set of villas, with a great pool (which for some reason we managed to empty within 30 mins everytime we descended upon it.. hehe).

It was Angharad and Cerys’ first holiday, and boy did they enjoy it in style. Icecream, swimming, pizza and New Italian shoes! Nothing could hold them back!

Aled had a great time too.. I think the quad bikes might have been his highlight – he was brilliant!

The quiet town of Pula probably dont know what hit it. We’ll certainly miss it, and its delicious icecream 🙂

I’ll upload some pictures shortly!

New Zealand Trip

We’ve finalized our New Zealand itinerary, funnily enough only just before we go to Sardinia for a week.

The list is as follows

  • Arrive Auckland via Hong Kong
  • Kerikeri (Bay of Islands)
  • Coopers Bay
  • Auckland
  • Waitomo Caves
  • Taupo
  • Taupo (go to Rotorua)
  • Palmerstone North
  • Wellington
  • Interislander Ferry to Picton
  • Kaikoura
  • Christchurch
  • Greymouth
  • Franz Josef
  • Wanaka
  • Te Anau
  • Te Anau (go to Milford Sound)
  • Queenstown (2 nights)
  • Dunedin
  • Oamaru
  • Christchurch
  • Fly home via L.A.

Total trip clocks in at around 2,500 miles driving not to mention two 24hour+ flights. It’s going to be fun!

Booked it

Today we booked our flights. We fly out on November 7th in the evening and via Hong Kong make our way to Auckland. Here we pick up our vehicle (which may be a camper or a car depending on what we decide) and head off on a 21 day whistle stop tour of NZ. We end up in Christchurch on the 30th November where we fly a short hop back to Auckland before the homeward trip via Los Angeles.

Kathryn has in her head that she must buy a T Shirt in HK airport but she has yet to announce what awaits during our 3 hour lay over in LA.

Holiday 2007 – New Zealand

We’ve spent the last week trying to work out our holiday plans for the year and it’s not easy. The plan is to Fly to Auckland, hire a camper van and then drive around the two islands (complete with ferry crossing) for 3 weeks before flying back home from Christchurch.

We’ve had to check flights, vans costs, accommodation, dates and all sorts. We were all set to book 3 weeks in October only to be told it might be a bit cold and wet but we didn’t want to go peak time (December-February) so March was supposed to be good. Thing is this March is a bit close, and next March is too far away.

We may have settled on November as a good compromise. Flights on Air New Zealand, possible out via Hong Kong and back via LA.

Whenever we decide it will be a fantastic trip as New Zealand seems to be such an awesome country to visit.
I shall post back as we decide more – any advice, hints, tips however would be gratefully received.

More Alaska Photos


I’ve upload more pictures from Alaska. Believe it or not this blue is completely genuine and just like it was like down a glacier crevasse. I’ve not image processed this shot all all.

Image Recovery

Felt I should post having had a moan about it previously. Following our return from holiday I set about recovering some of the pictures I lost from the memory card that corrupted. The software I used was Zero Assumption Recovery which is does more than just flash card recovery but for images is completely free. It recovered all but two of the photos we’d taken on the card and in fact got back a load that I’d formatted off several months ago! A very impressive piece of software and highly recommended.

I can also recommend Rawshooter Essentials which is another bit of free software for working with RAW images – but I suggest you get it sooner rather than later as the company who make it have been bought by Adobe and it may not remain free forever.