Location: South Island, New Zealand
Hi all, we've now completed the South Island and have been in the North Island for 3 days.
After the Franz Joseph Glacier we went to Wanaka which is a beautiful resort town on the shores of Lake Wanaka and within 2 hours of arriving Emma had jumped out of a plane. She did a Tandem Skydive from 9000ft and although slightly unbalanced on her feet for a few hours after she had a fantastic time!
After Wanaka we headed to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the South Island where Simon decided to try white water rafting however due to the drought the class 4 rapids had turned into class 1 trickles so he had to make do with luging from the top of one of the local mountains. Basically this consisted of sitting on a modified skateboard and hurtling downhill on a concrete track, excellent fun!
After Dunedin (where it rained constantly and is barely worth a mention) we went to Beautiful Lake Tekapo, high in the Southern Alps, not far from Mount Cook (NZ's highest mountain) where the weather was perfect!
Our next port of call was Kaikoura on the NE of the South Island. This is THE spot to see sperm whales, dusky and hector dolphins and fur seals! Unfortunately for us, the dolphin swimming tours were fully booked so we had to settle for going swimming with the seals. This turned out to be a brilliant trip, even though the water was freezing. Once the sun came out the seals were totally playful and inquisitive and we even managed to get a few snaps of them swimming with us from our underwater camera!! We spent a couple of days here but due to the hurricane force winds that blew in on our second day we were pretty batted after our day of hiking around the peninsula.
The next day we were due to catch the ferry to Wellington at 1.15pm but because of the previous days hurricane force winds still lingering the Cook Strait was very rough and the ferries were delayed, we eventually set off at 8.15pm after a long day waiting around Picton Port, not arriving at our Wellington hostel until
1.15am, 8 hours late.
We're now in Taupo, NZ's largest lake but the weather's pretty poor so we're catching up with this.
See ya pals!!
Emma and Simon
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Hi everyone, it's been a while but we've been a little bit busy!
We arrived in Christchurch on the 30th January and expected to stay for about 4 or 5 days but due a nasty incident with a bottle of duty free, Simon lost a couple of days so we stayed for a week. Christchurch is nice enough with museums and a pretty cool cathedral but not a huge amount to do so we spent our time searching for winter clothing and camping gear for the next couple of months of living in the wilderness.
The Sunday following our arrival we travelled on the TransAlpine Train from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass. The TransAlpine has been voted one of the top ten train journeys in the world and it didn't dissapoint, the scenery was absolutely fabulous. The train dropped us in Arthurs Pass which is in the middle of the north of the Southern Alps where set up camp for 3 nights. Other than walking and mountain climbing there's not a huge amount to do so us being us decided to forgo the walking and jump straight into the mountain climbing and not just any of the easy mountains but a climb for experienced trampers. The mountain we chose is called Avalanche Peak and stands at 1833m at the summit which we reached after 4 hours and to our horror and humiliation we were passed several times by members of the blue rinse brigade (although to their credit they were an extremely fit and lively bunch). On several occasions we nearly turned back but due to the fact that we were climbing on ridges with sheer, death inducing drops either side and Simon having to go up on hands and knees at times due to his vertigo (didn't even know I had it) and Emma complaining about her wobbly legs but we continued on, reaching the top eventually and oh how happy we are we did, the views were out of this world, we've added some pictures for you all to look at but obviously they don't do justice to the real thing, 360o of beatiful valleys and snow capped mountains. Then the hard part, we had to descend! We decided that on our arses and with our eyes closed was the way forward, the whole trip took 7 hours 10 minutes.
The next couple of days we had to take easy due to the rigor mortis that had set into our thighs and calfs then we continued onto Greymouth where we were still convalescing so spent 2 days watching videos from the hostels extensive video library (and to be fair to us the deluge of rain didn't stop in all this time to the point where our tent leaked).
Next stop Franz Joseph (although on the way we stopped in a gold prospecting town where Emma panned for gold netting herself 4 flakes of the precious stuff). The Franz Joseph Glacier is is 10km in length and the ice is 200m thick in parts and squeezes between two mountains, advancing at 1.5m per day acting like a huge bulldozer gouging it's way through the valley, and what do you do with such a huge piece of ice, you climb it!! Unfortunately Simon hadn't learnt his earlier vertigo lesson on Avalanche Peak but obviously it's a lot worse when you're walking on a 1 foot path of ice with vertical drops into huge crevasses. It was pant stainingly frightening but queerly we're beginning to quite enjoy scaring the poop out of ourselves. Once we started getting used to the heights etc we had the best time on the ice and our companions on the tour were great too.
And that is where we're upto and we'll let you know when we do some more scary things but until then take care y'all!!
Love Emma and Simon
Location: Sydney and The Blue Mountains, Australia
Hi all, we hope you're all keeping well!!
After Brisbane we went to Byron Bay which was yet another generic little holiday makers town which Australia seems to excel at. There were many bars, surfing and Shane Warne-alikes which was amusing to start with, 2 months ago, but has started to get slightly wearing so we decided to retire to the mountains and visited the small town of Nimbin. Nimbin held a hippy festival about 30 years ago and the party-going tree-huggers enjoyed themselves so much that they decided to stay. Over the years Nimbin changed from a normal mountain town into an alternative haven where the cafes reek of marijuana and every other shop is a hippy museum or art gallery. We enjoyed it so much we camped for a few days.
After Nimbin we decided it was time for a big city so hot-footed it down to Sydney and we've enjoyed every touristy minute of it (although our feet scream in agony evrynight due to the amount of walking we've been getting in). The Sydney Opera House is pretty impressive but the Harbour Bridge is really magnificent, you've all seen the pictures, similar to the Tyne Bridge but probably 5 times bigger and as it's not geordie, much more special!!
Once we'd had enough of the city we spent a few nights in the Blue Mountains, just 2 hours out of the city. The Blue Mountains had spectacular views and the hiking was brilliant. Emma clambered onto the edge of a cliff with a 300m drop for the photo on the Blue Mountains photo page whilst Simon almost passed out before regaining his composure to take the photo.
We're now back in Sydney but fly to New Zealand in the morning so we'll get back to you once we've sampled the delights of Kiwi Land!
Love Em and Si
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Hi everyone, we hope each and everyone of you have had a great Christmas and are having a fantastic New Year!
Since our last diary entry we've travelled a fair distance down the Queensland coast (about 1000km). After a few uneventful nights in Townsville and Magnetic Island we arrived at Airlie Beach on 23rd December refreshed and ready for the holiday mayhem. We stayed at a backpackers hostel called Backpackers by the Bay which, not surprisingly had fantastic views of the Bay. For Christmas day a big bunch of us from the hostel each put $20 into a kitty and the workers at the hostel made us Christmas dinner and a big bowl of punch and and drunk and merry dy was had by all.
Airlie Beach is a magnet for young Aussies at Christmas all out for a mental time but after a few days of people banging on doors at all times of the night we decided to move to a place called Magnums however due to a lack of forward planning we hadn't realised that Magnums was not only a hostel but also a huge pub set out like a German Beer Hall and a nightclub t'boot where every night had a special event, the events included Jelly Wrestling and Wet T-Shirt competitions, so we were out of the frying pan and into the fire. For New Year we met up with a few friends at an Irish Bar which had two live bands and we had a fantastic time AND Simon had his photo taken with Crocodile Dundee's Paul Hogan!!!
We're now in Brisbane and will be moving on down to Sydney in the next couple of weeks to look for work but we'll keep you all updated.
Emma and Simon
Location: Mission Beach (QLD), Australia
Hi guys, here's our next installment, we're sure you've been waiting with baited breath!!
We've now been at Mission Beach for 4 days of which the first 3 days were spent by the pool at our Rainforest retreat called the Treehouse set in the Clump Mountain National Park. Simon went for a trek up the mountain where there wasn't a soul around to hear him shriek like a little girl when a 1 metre goanna ran across his foot then up the nearest tree, a photo of the offending beast will be added soon (gosh it was a big bugger).
Yesterday we went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, it was absolutely amazing, the abundance of fish was out of this world. We saw giant clams, loads of different kinds of fish and Simon thought he saw a reef shark but Emma just thinks it was a big fish. We will definitley be going back out when we get the oppurtunity. Simon also went boomnetting where he leapt onto a net which was towed by the boat, it was brilliant fun.
Location: North East Queensland, Australia
Hi everyone, we've now been in Queensland for just over a week and are having a fabulous time.
We spent the first couple of days lying by the lagoon in Cairns but soon got bored of that so we booked a 3 night tour to the north of Cairns. We had 2 nights at Cape Tribulation (where Captain Cook almost ran aground in the Endeavour) then a night in Port Douglas, an hour north of Cairns.
Cape Tribulation was spectacular, it's a World Heritage Rainforest and we spent 2 nights at the Cape Tribulation Beach House where we sat by the pool watching the local wildlife and watching out for huge spiders. On our second day there we went horse riding which took us to the beach where we had to watch out for estuarine crocodiles and had to keep out of the water due to the box jelly fish which happen to arrive in November and leave in April. Simon was riding Commanchee, a big, old, cantankerous bugger who liked to nip his fellow horses and munch on the grass as much as he could get away with and Emma was riding Jana, the only mare in the group who behaved impeccably! After the beach we went to the local creek where we had a swim and got nibbled by the fish whilst being watched by the local water dragon (not as spectacular as it sounds, just a foot long lizard but still pretty impressive). We then got back on our horses and our instructors decided that the best thing to do now with a bunch of beginners was to get us galloping, it was truly scary but exilarating too.
When night fell we went on a 3 hour walk throught the Rainforest hoping to see tree kangaroos, cassowaries, possums, bats, and all manner of snakes and spiders and other creepy crawlys, unfortunately they declined to honour us with their presence but it must be said that a walk in a Rainforest at night is an amazing experience never-the-less!
On the next day we went to Port Douglas via the beautiful Mossman Gorge where we whiled away an hour swimming in the crystal clear water. Port Douglas is a millionaires playground for old, retired guys who fancy themselves as sailors, it's a beautiful town with amazing houses and we saw Tim Brooke-Taylor of The Goodies fame, how peculiar.
Anyway today we arrived at Mission Beach, a marvellous 2 mile beach and when Simon went for a walk there wasn't a soul on the beach (maybe due to the 35C heat and the box jelly fish) he did however find some fresh coconuts which we will be having by the pool later this afternoon.
Take care everyone
Love Emma and Simon
Location: Cairns, Australia
Hi everyone, we both hope your all well!
We arrived in Cairns not 5 hours ago from Perth and it's 33C at 9.30am with 90% humity, it's going to take some getting used to so today we're going to pitch our tent and then sit by the pool at our hostel and just chill!
We've really enjoyed our time in Western Australia, Simon's even missing work at the Overlander, who'd have thought Simon would ever miss work! Rottnest Island was the highlight, especially the cheeky little quokka's and Perth had the most random people, it's a beautiful, clean city filled with deadbeats, hobo's, and crazy people which made our stay even more memorable.
When we arrived at our hostel this morning the owner promptly started trying to sell us various excursions. We now have the difficult job of trying to decide between scuba diving, skydiving, white water rafting, rainforest tours, bungy jumping etc etc! Due to Simon's morbid fear of heights he will not be partaking in the skydiving/bungy jumping however it looks as though Emma may throw herself from 14000ft, oh dear.
Must be off now, the warm blue water's calling but drop us a line guys and we'll let you know how our adventure sports go!
Love Emma and Simon
Location: Rottnest Island, Australia
Hi everyone, Merry Christmas to you all!
We've back now in Perth after spending a few days on Rottnest Island, 19km off the coast of Perth. Rottnest Island is named after the animals called Quokka's which inhabit the island. They look like large rats but are marsupials and they're very inquisitive, Simon was eating his burger in our tent when one came and sat on his feet waiting to be fed and we'd wake up in the middle of the night with 3 or 4 of the pesky little critters staring in at us!
We've spent a lot of time cycling round the island, if you look at our photos you'll see Simon looking extremely fetching with his helmet on!
We liked the Island so much that we're going back tomorrow for a few days. A manta ray swam past us when we were paddling in the sea last time so we're going to go snorkeling but with a little trepidation because the water is so cold it feels like the North Sea!
Keep well everyone!
Love Emma and Simon
Location: Perth, Australia
Hi everyone, we've now been back in Perth for a week after our month of working at the Overlander, it's great to be back in civilisation!!
We've had a relaxing week enjoying the city, having picnics in the park and we also treated ourselves to a couple of trips to the pictures. The Kings Park overlooking the city is beautiful, there's a couple of photos if you'd like a look, and we've been blessed with fantastic weather. We watched the christmas lights being turned on on Friday night by a couple of newsreaders from Channel 7 news, oh we're so lucky and honoured.
It's very strange walking round the city and seeing the christmas decorations when it's 30C, but we could get used to it.
We've organised our flights for the rest of the trip, our itinerary is:
Fly to Christchurch, New Zealand on 28th February 2006
Fly to Nadi, Fiji on 2nd July 2006
Fly to San Francisco on 20th July 2006
Fly to New York on 3rd August 2006
Then we arrive back to London on 1st September 2006, or at least that's the current plan but we'll update if anything changes.
That's all for now but keep in touch everyone and take care!!
Love from Emma and Simon
Location: The Outback, Australia
Hi folks, we hope you're all good.
We have now been in Australia for two and a half weeks but because we've been working for two weeks we haven't seen much yet. We had four nights in Perth and from what we saw in the brief time we were there it seems a great city but we'll be exploring more when we go back after our work stint in the outback.
We've been at the Overlander Roadhouse now for two weeks, Simon's doing the 6am until 2.30pm shift and Emma's doing the 2pm until 12 midnight shift, we get one day off a week but we have different days off so we see each other for about half an hour a day. If you have a look at our most recent photo's you can see The Overlander in all it's glory. It's about 150km from the nearest town so when we have time off we can either read, watch the TV (Aussie TV is not so good) or feed the animals, the owners here have a kangaroo orphanage and goat sanctuary.
Because of the remoteness of where we are there's not a lot more to tell but everyone keep in touch.
Simon and Emma
Location: Overlander, Australia
Hey guys just to let you know that as we have now arrived in the outback we have no reception on our phone at all after the effort to get a new sim card so you cant call us or vice versa.
Sorry but we cant believe it either.
Email us instead if you like.
Emma and Simon