Oceania

three must-dos in hokitika

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So… what is there to do in Hokitika?

“You mustn’t miss the sunset” were the last words we heard as the waitress cleared our table of dinner plates.

The sunset? Where better to view this than at the beach.

And right on cue as we arrive, the sun shyly ducks behind clouds. We wait patiently for it to show itself again before we start “snapping” away.

We love sunsets. We love the way the sky changes colour, the twinkle reflections on the water and the sight of the sun itself. IMG_0903 We love how the horizon gobbles up the sun in an instant; how the air feels automatically different the minute the sun is out of sight. IMG_0910 IMG_0917

The three must-dos (that are also free) when in and around Hokitika:

  • the sunset
  • the glow worms and
  • Hokitika Gorge

(1) Sunset

As already described.

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(2) Glow Worm Dell

This is free and easy to get to; easier than when we tried seeing glow worms on the North Island a few years back. No queues, no boats…. Only a short track, right off the main road out of Hokitika lies the Glow Worm Dell.

Be sure to go after dark. The track is pitch black with only lighting at the start, so bring a torch to see where you are going but turn it off when you are at the end.

If your timing is right, you will enter the area with only a few (hundred) speckles of blue-green glows but within minutes, the area is splattered with “a sky full of stars”. And if your timing is perfect, you will be lucky enough to get the place to yourself in complete silence – a little bit of magic right there in Hokitika. Unfortunately we were a little slack and did not take any pictures to share.

Word of advice: It’s not an epic experience, expect it to be short and sweet – it is a 5-minute walk from the car park and the viewing area isn’t huge.

(3) Hokitika Gorge

Don’t let the 30km detour deter you. It was by far ONE of the most incredible natural things we have laid our eyes on.

The colour of the water is like nothing we have seen before… so vibrant, so turquoise!IMG_0928The road to the car park of the gorge is narrow and sealed for most of the way. It becomes gravel on the last stretch. And then it is only an easy 10-15 minute walk down  (with a swing bridge crossing included) to the gorge viewing platform. IMG_0952IMG_0934

We saw plenty and did plenty in the South Island of New Zealand and these three things were easily in the list of our favourites! So if you are ever in Hokitika, don’t miss these if you can help it.

Hokitika is located on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island – an adorable little town. It was a flying visit, one night only on the way to Arthur’s Pass from Franz Josef for us.

Have you been to Hokitika?

Share your comments here.

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6 memorials that made an impact on us

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The world has had a tumultuous history. Along with all the beautiful landscapes, the amazing architectural feats, and incredible people and stories that have been… the world has had its fair share of heartache and heartbreak and gut wrenching stories of war and/or natural disasters. Memorials are sometimes set up to mark the lives lost. We always find these memorials very haunting and moving.

But memorials are not only for sad events, they also mark important people and events. In this post, we’ve rounded up the memorials that we have visited that made an impact on us. Not that any of the others were less notable or less important, we particularly wanted to share these 6.

And in no particular order,

1. The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania, we’ve previously shared a photo essay of it and still get goosebumps thinking about this place. The information around its history is a little hazy but in essence it is a memorial to lives lost. The number of crosses erected in this place is unknown but is estimated to be around 100,000. We’ve never seen anywhere else quite like it.

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2. The Memorial Cenotaph framing the peace flame and the A-Bomb Dome as part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan. The park itself is dedicated to Hiroshima, the first city ever to suffer a nuclear attack, in memory of the victims.

The A-Bomb dome that you can see in the distance, is what remains of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. This building was at the centre of the where the bomb exploded. IMG_1111

3. In 2011, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch in New Zealand, killing 185 people. This is a temporary art installation commemorating the lives lost on that February day. There was 185 different chairs painted white, each marking one of the lives lost.  IMG_1179

4. Seeing the one in Christchurch, reminded us immediately of the one we saw in Krakow, Poland. Thirty-three chairs on deportation site, each one representing the 1,000 Jewish victims of the Krakow Ghetto during World War II. IMG_1578

5. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, USA is something we had only ever seen in TV shows and movies. This statue is probably one of the most notable things that we wanted to see during our visit to DC and it certainly did not disappoint. Honouring the 16th President of the USA, it stands at about 5.8 meters. The walls inside the monument are inscribed with Lincoln’s inaugural speech and Gettysburg speech. IMG_3256

6. And possibly the most significant one for us as Australians was the Memorial by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli in Turkey.

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
– Ataturk, 1934

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What memorial have you visited that made an impact on you? 

lake tekapo in pictures

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The moment we drove up the highway and laid eyes on it… we were speechless! Water so blue, on a day where the sky was brilliantly blue. Sweeping mountainous backdrops. Yep…. no words can describe the sheer beauty.

And so, we won’t even try to use words…  We do hope however our favourite photos of Lake Tekapo can  do it some justice.

Lake Tekapo during the day: 

IMG_0107IMG_0094 IMG_0097 IMG_0153 IMG_0171 IMG_0191 IMG_0228Lake Tekapo at dusk:
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Where have you been that has left you speechless?

We want to hear about a place you have been to where you were so overwhelmed with its beauty. Tell us here.

things we hated and loved about new zealand

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There are always plenty of things to love when travelling as well as things to like, things to be apathetic about and things to hate.

For example, living in Australia EVERY time we travel overseas, it usually involves a relatively long-flight. We HATE that…. The closest we can get to being in another country from Sydney is 3-hours away to New Zealand. But in the scheme of things it really is nothing.

New Zealand is teeming with so much goodness when it comes to travel, we don’t know why we haven’t been more often and sooner. Back in 2011, we did pay a flying visit to the North Island – what we saw was just a snippet. What we saw this time has definitely opened up our desire to go back.

The food so amazingly fresh, like this salmon dish we had right on a salmon farm. IMG_0791And to stay in a National Park and have this as our backyard (literally right outside our window). IMG_1074Is it too much to say, “we LOVE New Zealand”? But before we get to that, let’s talk about the things we hated…

What we hated

Actually, we didn’t hate much.

We hated only the sandflies. Everywhere we stopped, we felt like they would swarm towards us. They could smell our fresh “Aussie” meat.

Getting back into the car was a carefully planned operation in itself. Waving our arms around our bodies, while spinning around to ward them off before stealthy throwing opening the doors and sliding in… in the hope that we had lost them.

Nope… we failed miserably many times. Our ankles were mauled by these little pests. The bites would blister and itch like you can only imagine. We WERE going to show you pictures of our wounds but felt it was unfair to subject you to such images.

Score: Sand Flies 500 Le and David 0

What we loved

We could quite easily sum this up into ONE thing. New Zealand is beautiful… really beautiful!

We loved the scenery. It was ever changing. It was nature. It was pictereque. The fact, we could turn the corner and be graced with a gorgeous lake, mountain, valley.IMG_0228 IMG_0748 IMG_0901 IMG_0929 IMG_1050 IMG_0870

We probably don’t need to give any more reasons, but here a couple more.

We also loved the open roads. As you may have gathered, we love road trips… and we love trips where the destination is exciting but also where the journey itself with the pretty scenery flying by our windows. Open roads give such a sense of freedom! IMG_0274We loved that we could go bushwalking and not fear facing deadly snakes (or any other deadly animal for that matter) along the way. Instead, we were able to do plenty of bird-watching bird-spotting.

And most of all, we love that New Zealand is so close to us and that we can just hop on a flight and be there within 3 hours.

Have you been to New Zealand?

Tell us about your thoughts and experiences here.