There’s something about taking an old-fashioned train ride. The clickety-clack of wheels against rails, the windy nature of the train snaking through the landscape all viewed from huge panoramic windows, the nostalgic feel of the whistle stops along the way… So it was that I found myself booked on the TranzAlpine, rated one of the most scenic train journeys anywhere in the world. I previously spent the night in Greymouth, the largest town on New Zealand’s western Golden Coast (still only with a population of about 10,000), situated on the Grey River, where townfolk come out to catch baitfish along its banks. Historically a gold and coal mining town, it’s now known as being one end of the TranzScenic railway, a four and a half hour journey straight across the south island, crossing the Canterbury Plains before traversing the Southern … Read More »
My collective knowledge of B&Bs (see how fast I’ve picked up the lingo?) has admittedly been gained solely from television shows and the odd tourist brochure. In my mind, people who stay at B&Bs should expect lots of doilies, hearts, crocheted items of all types, wooden ducks and possibly mandatory post-dinner Scrabble and/or Yahtzee games around the fireplace.
As I was researching accommodation options, I had a choice between rather expensive hotels or, on the other end of the spectrum, youth hostels. Seeing as I am well past the age where any variation of the word “youth” applies, I checked out the B&B option, which turned out to be a happy place somewhere in the middle. With prices not much more than single hostel rooms, B&Bs are often much quieter, more refined and include (as the name suggests), breakfast.
After … Read More »
Nelson, a quaint town towards the top of the South Island, is dubbed New Zealand’s sunshine capital. This was good news because Nelson is also the base for exploring Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand’s smallest, at 23,000 hectares, but most visited park. After the adrenaline of the dolphin swim, I was ready to take on Abel Tasman.
Visitors are spoilt for choice with sea kayaking or walks along the “undulating 52 km of coastal track featuring golden beaches, tranquil lagoons, clear water and forested hills”. Most people take 3-5 days to complete the journey. So, which of these wonderfully healthy option to choose? Sigh. So many walks, so little time. Of course, being the athletic adrenaline junkie that I am, I chose the tour with the least walking and the most food – the Winter BBQ option with Wilsons, cruising … Read More »
I might have an IQ of 142, but my name is James and I am spatially challenged. There, I said it. Every intelligence test I’ve ever taken where I needed to predict how a piece of paper would look after it’s been folded, I’ve basically guessed at. Now, give me a map and an address, and I’m there. But ask me how I got there or where I’ve been, and all you’ll get is a blank, slightly confused stare in return. So last December, when I saw an amazing sale for flights to New Zealand from Phnom Penh, I jumped on it. New Zealand is somewhere around Australia, right? And they have sheep. And kiwis. Wait. Is that (a) a fruit, (b) a bird, (c) something you call a New Zealander or (d) all of the above? If you can … Read More »