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Claire's travels

Hope to keep you up dated with my adventures in Hong Kong and New Zealand. Would love to hear your news too, so keep in touch! Love Claire x
p.s I am travelling with Katy and Tasha, to see other photos of our adventures, change the name at the end to either/katyjohnson or/natashafitt

Photos - Click Below

 

Last leg of my travels

Last day. Feels strange sitting in a busy internet cafe, in a lonely booth not knowing anyone. No Katy or Tasha to take the mickey out of me in photos or to reminsce about the day. I am currently in Christchurch, on my way to the airport to catch a flight to Auckland, where I begin the marathan journey home. We've had excellent fun on the slopes for the last 3 days, me trying to snowboard has generated much laughter (mainly for Tasha) and many brusies. One in particular is going to look rather fetching with my outfit for Auntie Fran's wedding. Might have to wear a purple dress to match the bruise. ( I would just like to add this particular bruise I got not from falling over but from falling off the chairlift and a skier ploughing into me!) Anyway, I will sign off now, looking forward to watching a few films and catching up with some sleep. See you all soon, Love Claire xxx

 

Te Anua and Doubtful Sound

One (of the many!) of the things I wanted to do was visit one of the sounds, Doubtful or Milford. very early on in our travels we were hearing from locals that out of the 2 Doubtful was the place to go because it was unspoilt and not visited by ship-loads of tourists. I love that feeling of being somewhere that seems undiscovered! So we drove down to Te Anua and were so plesantly surprised by how quaint, quiet, remote, beautiful this place was we ended yp staying for 3 nights. The biggest sway for me, after all the other positives, was the campsites facilities - absolute luury compared to some the places we have stopped at. Doubtful Sound was beautiful, as everything is guaranteed to be around here. Unbeieveable to think that it was created by glacier movement (shouldn't be called a sound, that's when it is created by a river - apparently they got in wrong in the 1800s and when they were recently given the chance to change the name to Doubtful fioir they decided not to. For me the best part was seeing the wildlife being wild. The dolphins put on quite a show for us, clearing the water and playing in the surf that the boat left behind. This morning I was talking to a couple who went to Milford on the same day we went to Doubtful, they said the'r boat had 80-100 people on and there were other boats of similar size. I'm glad we did our trip as there was only 15 of us on our boat and the only other boat we were was a fisherman's. The end to a perfectly peacefully day was not one any of us could have anticipated. A quarter of the way into our return journey the skipper realised that we were out of fuel and had to send for a resuce jet to fill us up. We passed the time with jokes, eye spy and serades. hey, it all adds to the adventure!

 

Wanaka and our new home

Then there was 2. After coming down from the high of sky diving, we downsized our campervan to a cosy 2 berth but stayed faithful to the backpackers brand! We are now in Te Anua and are booked on the Doubtful Sound excursion for tomorrow.

 

Sky dive in Wanaka

After a very wet overnight stay in Queenstown we made our way back to Wanaka. Woke early this morning and took Katy to meet for bus to get to her brother's, went for a bacon buttie and then booked a sky dive (as you do!) The weather conditions were splendid, clear all around. I said I wanted to do this but since making this declaration I haven't thought about it too much. We finished our bacon butties by 9am and were booked on a sky dive at 10! I really thought that I would do this, enjoy it but draw a line under that experience but it was fantastic. the whole experience from booking it through a quirky New Zealand girl with lots of enthusiasm, viewing the safety video with footage of people freefalling and laughing nervously to meeting our instructors (Adam and Grant) it was all excellent fun and I can see myself doing this again. The feeling of freefall is indescribable, taking in the views hurtling through the sky was magic. Thses guys have the best job.

 

Jet boating

Katy and I decided we'd like to experience jet boating in and around lake Wanaka on her last full day with us. Little did we realise that due to bad weather the trip we'd orgnaised had to be cancelled so we were offered another. It was just us 2 and our very own guide Brent in a jet boat cruising down the river Cluthea.

 

Wanaka

Driving south towards Queenstown. We've stopped over in Wanaka for a couple of nights. This is the most happening place we've come across in over a week! Last night we caught up with Katy's brother, Philip. Felt rather starnge having contact with a different human being. Today we had a stroll around part of lake Wanaka and entertained ourselves in Puzzling World. Tomorrow, weather permitting, Katy and I are taking a jet boat ride around the lake here, apparently part way through we get to stop for tea and a scone...how british. Later tomorrow we're driving down to Queenstown and friday Katy flies our travelling nest. Then there were 2.

 

Heli-hiking on Fox Glacier

Today's adventure was a guided tour of Fox Glacier, starting with an exhilerating helicopter ride to get us to the top. Fantastic.

 

Motorhome Mystery tour cont...

I was wondering if Lake matheson may be just another lake and after our massive de-tour to see a lake like many others I didn't get too excited. I am pleased to say I stand corrected, this lake was spectular, as promised.

 

Motorhome Mystery Tour

Since I last updated my journal we have collected Tasha, a motorhome and arrived safely in the South Island. We are currently making our way down the west coast. We've booked a helihike experience for tomorrow. A helicopter ride to the glacier, followed by a guided walk on and through parts of the glacier. Really looking forward to that. Future plans are to continue travelling south towards Queenstown and then see.

 

Our 2 day road trip

Thursday we set off for Rotorua, stopping off at an icecream parlour which sold enormous ices. Booked into our spa room and jumped straight in, getting our monies worth! Next day we were up early, drove to Wai-o-tapu, the thermal wonderland and saw so much that just didn't look real. Looked liked Disney had created it or we were on a film set! Lots of boiling pools of mud and water all due to the volcanic activity here. Ate lunch overlooking Lake Taupo. That evening we went to a Mauri cultural evening which was informative and really enjoyable. Next day we rested at the Polynesian spas, in natural mineral pools of temperatures up to 42 degrees celcius! Felt like a new woman when I got out...years younger!

 

Waiheke Island

Hired bikes and cycled round part of this beuatiful island.

 

1st day in Auckland, NZ

Arrived in Auckland, picked up by Anna and Chris. Slept for a few hours and woken for dinner and to get fresh ready for an All Blacks game! Little did we realise that there would be no point freshening up as the downpour we experienced would do more than that. lets say it definitely took our minds off our jet lag...we were absolutely soaked through and all we could do was sit there and continue to get wetter! Great game, loved seeing the Haka.

Next day we got up for a 'power breakfast' at St Helier's bay and then went up to one tree hill to take in some spectacular views of Auckland city. The onto Piha beach and karekare beach, finishing off our day with a night in.

 

Hong Kong Island

Arrived at Hong Kong airport and Diane was there to pick us up. We dropped our rucksacs off at a beautifully decorated flat and toddled off behind Rich and Diane - our Hong Kong guides! So may sights to mention including, bamboo scaffolding strcutures, escaltors taking people up hill to their homes, view from Victoria peak of Hong Kong at night and many luxurous shops.


Sights we saw include
Walking around Hong Kong Island
IFC (International Fiance centre)
Hong Kong Park and Edward Youde Aviary
Took the star ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui

Evening meal in Discovery Bay on Lantau island at Rich and Diane's beautiful health spa, overlooking the clear, night view of Hong Kong Island.



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Recent Messages

From Mum and Dad
Hi Darling
So your adventures are coming to an end, must be sad leaving Tasha behind - again! Yet we can't wait to see you. Your journey sounds to have been an amazing experience. Had to smile at the thought of you falling off a chairlift - takes me back to early ski days. Thanks the brilliant journal enteries I know how much we have enjoyed keeping up todate with your travels. See you soon. love m & d xxxx
Response: I'm home now, tried to ring you yesterday and will try again tonight. Holly says that you've been looking at Tasha's journal and haven't seen the photos, they are on the right handside, you have to click on the link. Worth a look! Can't wait to chat to you, Love Cx
From Still traveling bud
Arrh babe, cant believe you have gone. Hope that your journey went smoothly. I'm all sorted got a hostel, board and booked on the bus, so its back to the slopes, for me. Although it wont be the same as having a very veryslow boarder/nippy Skier with me. Laters
Response: Ahhhh, I'm all alone. This feels very odd and I am not dwelling on it as I don't like the feeling. Glad that you're sorted, I texted you today, hope you got it. Keep having fun, can't wait to read your journal. Think of me on my oh so long 30 hour(!) flight home. "She just loves take off!" Cx
From Anna
Your last day in NZ today-it's flown by for me, so no doubt it has for you too! Hope you've had fun on the slopes. Chris and I are good-packing is surprisingly easy at the mo, we're pretty much all set for next Sat-can't wait! Safe journey back, speak soon xxx journey back,
Response: Can't wait to see you back on Skype and catch up, will it be up and running for your birthday? Hopefully see you soon, Love Claire xxx
From Mum and Dad
Hi Darling
You don't believe in doing adventures by half - is that why Tasha's hair looks to have gone grey - oh no it's her hat!! It is all very well doing these non tourist trips but running out of fuel wasn't part of the mystery tour was it? You've really lived a full school holiday and can't wait to see and hear about it in more detail. Take care coming back - back sure the plane is fueled up. love m&d xx
Response: I hope so too. One flight completed 3 to go! Love you all lots, Claire xxx
From Darcy Fidoe
Hi, Miss Richards it looks like you have had a great time in New Zealand. My uncle quite resently did a skydive aswell and I watched him and it looked amazing and I think I would quite like to do one aswell when I'm older!
Response: Have you told your mum?! Thank you for your message, hope you are all enjoying your summer holidays. Say "hello" to your mum for me and I no doubt will see you soon.
From Alex Thurman-Kingham
Hi Auntie Claire
Mummy has just shown me the photo's of you skydiving - they are really great.
I am leaving my nursery next week and then I start school the week after that. I am going to have a birthday party as well. Enjoy the rest of your holiday.
Lots of Love Alex xxx
P.S. Mummy & Daddy say hello
Response: Hello Alex, I am glad you're enjoying the photographs. I wouldn't tell mummy and daddy you might like to do a sky dive when you're older, it might worry them! Looking forward to seeing you all very soon- Love Claire xxx
From Anna
Hi there. Looks like you are having a fab time, well done on the sky dive, you have more guts than I do.
I hear Katy had some trouble getting to Phil's but hopefully she's back safe and sound by now. All good here, the packing has started... again.
Miss you xxxx
Response: I've been thinking about you, wondering if you've started packing yet. Hope it is all going really well. Can't believe my time here is drawing to a close, feel very priviledged to have been here and it was fantastic to spend a stretch of my time with you and Chris. The next few days I'm going to be snowboarding..or at least trying too. When did this holiday turn into an exhilirating adventure?! Much love, Claire xxx
From Holly
Claire, nuff respect! Can't believe my big sister did a sky dive, very cool, well done. I would have wet myself if that was me. I bet you defo don't want to come back now! Missing you lots come home soon loadsa love HOL xxxxx
Response: Yo dude! (just getting into the sky diving lingo!!) I feel quite chuffed with my little self too. You should do one, with me, just don't tell mum and dad until it's over! Where are you now? Not long until we can have a good old catch up. Love you lots, Claire xxx
From Mum and Dad
Can't believe you have done a skydive without our permission! I'm glad you didn't tell me that was what you were wanting to do until after the event. The photos are amazing. I'm just worried that you now have a taste for this sport and want to pack in teaching and head for NZ and sky diving at a living. Please tell me you don't. Spoken to Lee tonight and Dad is still chatting. He is busy and sounds knackered, missing you lots and can't wait to have you home. loads of love from us and Holly xxx
Response: Hey! Funny you should say that, have thought how lucky the people at the sky dive centre are. I could get a job as the receptionist and get free sky dives when it's quiet! Always good to have a plan B! I did mention that I taken out a special insurance to do sky dive (just in case) and I remember seeing mum's face on skype so didn't feel I should elaborate! I was buzzing for a couple of days after, couldn't eat properly. You should do one. Fantastic. Love you lots, Cx
From Dad
Your obviously having a great time. It's good to see your photos. There doesn't seem to be anyone else around .Is this because you are doing the equivalent of visiting Skegness in the middle of winter or is it because the place is so big and there raen't enough humans to go round?
Grannie and Elsa have returned and we are enjoying having Holly with us although the weather has gone off. Mum and Holly went shopping for some Quality time yesterday (Friday) and I'm having Monday off to spend time with Holly and probably drag her around DIY shops and garages which I know she'll enjoy!! I was in London on Tuesday - A very early start but a day well spent moving things forward at work.
At lesat today it's not raining and it is quite warm so hopefully we can get out and about.

Mum has probably already said but we have now booked the flights to Hong Kong so look forward to hering your hints and tips. Diane will be there and I think they are trying to book the same accommodation that you had.
Well enough trivia from me - keep safe, we are thinking about you (with envy!) Much love Dad
Response: Hey dad! Good to hear from you. That's great that you've booked your flights to Hong Kong, there's lots to see and catching up with Dick and Diane will be good fun. I think the main reason for it being so quiet here is the fact there only 4 million people live in NZ and most populate Auckland in the North. We have got used to pretty much being on our own and were a bit unsure about Queenstown as it was tourist central...so we drove back to Wanaka, feel like I'm at home now! Really looking forward to seeing you all at the wedding. Great. Love you lots, Claire xxx p.s Loving the exclamation marks!
From Anna
Hi again!

Great photos-very jealous, wish I'd stowed away in you're backpacks! All good with my, work is good this week. have tried to leave Katy 2 messages on her page but they've not worked so say hi from me! Take care xx
Response: We wish we'd smuggled you in too! Have passed the message onto Katy. Katy only has 2 more nights with us, will be very strange to have a whole sleeping area with out, after 4 weeks of snoozing together! Love Claire x
From Grannie and Auntie E
Wonderful to have catch up with all your news and to see such a stunning country. We go home tomorrow. You aint missing any summer because UK hasn't had any yet! We have been lucky here, a couple of scorchers. Good B&B can recommend it. Expert BBQs. love you lots, take care Grannie and A.Elsa xxx
Response: Glad you two have had so much fun. Great to see you the other week on Skype, just ashame it didn't work properly - thats never happened before, promise! Have a safe journey home, love Claire x
From Holly
Wow clairus some of those pictures are amazing!
Im here in Germany with the rents and Grannie and Elsa. The weather is bloody hot, we went sailing and i had to look out for on coming traffic. You look like you're having a whale of a time, I bet Leicester is going to be a right anti climax coz we don't get views like that. Bet you're glad you took all that wintery stuff. I love you and miss you loads, can't wait to see you. Loadsa love, Hol xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Response: Hey little one! Thank you for the message. So "ships ahoy!" yeah?! Were you any good? Yes, the wintery stuff is coming in very handy, although I have noticed that some days the weather we are experiencing here is same temperature wise as the UK - looks like I won't be experiencing any summertime this year! Have fun with our folks, be kind! Love you lots and lots, can't wait for a catch up, Claire xxx
From Anna
Hey! How's it going? get some pics up soon, can't wait to see you all in the Campervan!xxx
Response: You must have special powers, just this minute uploaded some pictures and written to you.
From Mum and Dad
Hi you truckers - how is it going? Have you mastered the art of maneouvering it around corners without forgetting the back end? Is the van well kitted out? We are fine, been sailing today at Roermond and BBQ tonight. You sound to have had a fantastic time with Anna and Chris. Met she really misses you. love from us all xxxxc
Response: We are all together now and all well. I am loving the feeling of being King of the road, think if teaching doesn't workout for me I could be a truck driver! Haven't yet forgotten my back end but don't wish to tempt fate! Hope you're all really well. Did Grannie and Auntie Elsa get back alright?! Cx
From Anna
Hi Guys!

Glad you made it to Wellington OK and that Tahsa caught up with you. How's the South Island? Hope it's all going well and you've pmanaged to break your 20 km an hour speed limit Claire! Missing you loads, wish you were still here (or I was still with you!) Have a great time xxx
Response: Hi Anna! Thanks again for having us, we had a super time. Wonderful! We felt very strange when we left you, without a 'home', like true travellers...then we got the motorhome! I think you'd like it, it's 4 berth so we have a little extra room, would be incredibly cosy with 4! The South Island has been really quiet, we've hardly come into contact with any other human life (lots of farm animals). Hope your packing up goes smoothly, can't wait to Skype you with all that we've been up to! Lots of love xxx
From Hanna
Hi Claire!
Sounds great, you enjoy the sunshine as here it's mostly rain, rain and some more rain... Still waiting for my work visa for Japan so might be the dole office for me in September but keeping all fingers and toes crossed! Take care and have an ice-cream for me too! Hanna xxx
Response: Japan! Would you believe it that's the next place on my list of places to visit!?! I have a sleeping bag and don't eat much. Fingerscrossed the visa comes through soon, maybe they've heard about you! Love xxx
From Diane
Hi Claire - your mum told us about this site - I'm curious to see the photos (they are taking a time to load...) but glad to hear you're enjoying yourselves - sounds fantastic! Say Hi to Katy. Love from Diane (back in Taunton - briefly) and Rich/Dick (back next week!) xxx
Response: Great to hear from you Diane,
Hope the photos were worth the wait. I meant to tell you about this site, glad mum did. Hope you approve of the photos of you and Rich! Thank you ever so much for all you did for us 2 , we still can't believe we were in HK not so long ago. Should see the layers I have on now! Love Cx
From Granny
Elsa and I are going to Amsertdam tomorrow - all by ourselves. Two oldies on a trip of a life time. Hope we don't get lost and miss the coach home. Must see the Red light district. Will tell you more when and if we get back!
lots of love Grannie xxxxx
Response: You take care now Grannie in that red light district (does mum know?!) not sure if 2 sophisticated ladies like yourselves should be hanging around there! Take care of each other- Love you lots, Claire xxx
From Mum and Dad
Just logged on to see if we can maybe Skype but I guess that you've moved on - your photos are great.
We have been quite lucky with the weather and have eaten out most of the time although it has rained in between. Today (sunday is very wet but we intend to go to Monschau. Yesterday we went to Roermond and the pancake huis which was good as ever but the thought of bacon cheese and syrup was too much for Elsa who had - a mushroom pancake!. I had a note from Lee's Dad thanking me for the map which seems to have brought back 50 year old memories for him -- good stuff. Love to you all Dad
Response: Hey! We are all fine and together in Wellington. You would laugh seeing me driving this huge vehicle, we are living it up in our motor-home. Funny how little you can live with and make it 'home'. Love you lots, Claire xxx
From Mum and Dad
Hi Darling
Great to hear from you and seeing all your photos. Lovely seeing Anna again. Some super photography Claire - pleased with the camera? You sound to be having an amazing time - we are really envious. We will follow your trip with great interest. Grannie and A.Elsa have enjoyed seeing and hearing about your holiday to date.
love Mum and Dad xxxxx
Response: Great to hear from you. Glad Granny and Elsa have arrived ok. We've just come back from a couple of days in Roturua, yet to upload my photos of our road trip as Anna and Chris are whisking us out again! They are superb hosts. The camera is smashing, a treat to have, pleasure to use. Love you lots, Love Claire xxx
From granny
lovely to hear news and read your adventures enjoy it all and stay safe auntie elsa is here with me and we are having a super time we send our love and look forward to hear more
lots of love from granny and elsa xxxxxx
Response: Hey Granny! My Granny emailed me, brilliant! Sounds like you're having a nice time in germany, hope the weather stays sunny for you. Love you lots, love from Claire xxx
From Mum and Dad
Claire and katy

great to see you on Skype the other day sounds like you're having a great time. Holly is home and is coming over to Germany on 2 Aug so will be nice to see her Grannie and Elsa are here and we just finished a BBQ outside with one or two spots of rain and Elsa with a hankie on her head - don't ask!.

Love from Mum and Dad xxxxxxxxxxxx
Response: Messgae for Holly: Hey Holster! Wasn't sure which email address to use so thought I'd message you on here. Hope you're are really well and enjoying your hols. Really looking forward to catching up and seeing your photos. Take care of mum and dad when you're there! Love you lots, Love Claire xxx
From Becky P
Hello glad your having a great time - Wish I was there too. Love to Anna and Chris ( and you and katy). Love the diary Have fun
Bx
Response: Hello Becky and Phil,
Thanks for your message, hope you're both well and that your job's going swimmingly! Love Claire x
From Holly
Yo dufus
Got back this morning, feeling pretty knackered managed to get myself a wreckin sore throat. Your photos are ace, some impressive views, sorry to hear you got piss wet through, thats never nice, although floods galore over here!

Love you loads take care

Love Holly xxxxxxxxxxx
Response: Hey! Glad to hear you had a good holiday, shame about the sore throat. Get better soon. Can't believe the floods and people having no running water...what is going on? What are you up to next?! Lots of love, Claire x