The Great Ocean Road

They say that the Great Ocean Road is one of the sights not to be missed when you visit Australia, so we decided not to miss it.


This was the last couple of days of our road trip from Adelaide, to reach Melbourne and they were right, this was an experience not to be missed.  There are many ocean roads around the world that are stunning, and we’ve been on quite a few, but this has to be right up there with the best.

Not because of the white knuckle ride around hair pin bends with steep cliff edges dangerously falling off into the wild ocean waves below.  There was a bit of that, but it was more for the breath-taking rock formations that are visible from designated stops. 

We were lucky that on our days the sky was cloudless, the sun was hot and the sea was a vibrant aquamarine colour.  This then is made even more dramatic as a backdrop when you set it against the sandstone formations jutting up from the sea bed, or stretching out from the shore.

There are so many little coves and hidden beaches that it’s hard to remember them all.  Each stop is even more stunning than the last.



The most iconic amongst them is the Twelve apostles and it is the one featured in many of the brochures for the Great Ocean Road. If you try to count them, you will find them coming up short.  Some have already crumbled and broken off and returned to the sea bed.  But for some reason the eight apostles does not have the same ring to it.

Twelve Apostles

 Twelve apostles other side

Talking of things falling down, one of the formations is called London Bridge.  True to the song, London Bridge has fallen down.  What used to be a double arch bridge, is now a little island with a single arch, separate from the mainland. The bridge fell down into the sea in the early 1990’s, but luckily no one was hurt. And although it is still called London Bridge, it is a bridge no longer.

London Bridge.jpg

Our final stop before reaching Melbourne was the lovely city of Geelong.  This is only an hour from Melbourne but still has a distinctive feel of its own.  It was here that we managed to have a fantastic lunch at an all vegan café called Dolly’s sister.  We also went to the waterfront to see the pier.

Geelong pier

 We could go on and on about this country and we have hardly seen any of it yet.  The wildlife and the birdlife is extraordinary and deserves its own blog post, but for now we wanted to share these cheeky chappies, that are wild, numerous and very bold.  Think of them like the seagulls that pinch your icecream at Brighton beach.  They are both a type of cockatoo.  The white one is known as a sulphur crested Cockatoo and the pink one’s are called Galahs.


We also saw these birds, always flying in pairs at a great height and we have not seen them in any towns or urban areas.  We think they are Carnabys Black Cockatoos, which are a large bird preferring agriculture or coastal regions.  

Pair of dark b irds


 Little man did not come out for the Great Ocean Road.  He said it was too hot. Next stop Melbourne.




Awesome Adelaide

We have now flown from New Zealand to Australia and our first stop is Adelaide. We have had three action packed days in this vibrant and exciting city.  This weekend there are three major events;  te Adelaide V8 Motor racing, the Adelaide Fringe Festival and the Adelaide Writers week, so there was certainly plenty for us to see and do. The city has a very welcoming feel to it.  We immediately felt at home and found it very easy to get around, both on foot and on the tram.

We are already finding our culinary choices have opened up enormously.  Happy days.  We had lunch at the two bit villians café in Adelaide Arcade and it was delicious.  It even included a Vegan Chocolate Sundae.  A very rare but enjoyable treat. The arcade itself is a very fine Victorian building which has been very well preserved.

 Adelaide Mall Group

 We headed to the Botanical gardens, which is a delight for the eyes with many trees that were completely new to us, as were the birds that we also encountered.  We have no idea what some of them are called, but perhaps some of you might.

Adelaide Bird GroupAdelaide Botanical Group 2Adeliade Botnaical Group 1

 This morning we headed to the beach, which is a flat, accessible, white sand haven.  Volley ball is obviously popular here as there were plenty of courts.  It was not too crowded, which might be usual, but we rather suspect had something to do with the cool breeze blowing.  It was not as warm as these pictures might suggest.


This evening we went to see the Parade of Light, a nightly show during the Fringe Festival, projected onto the city museum.  It was a cross between a light show and a film and was very mesmerizing to watch.  Here are a few of the pictures we captured.

 Adelaide lights 2Adelaide Lights 3Adeliade lights 1

We found another sign that made us chuckle.  I think the meaning may have got lost when they wrote this one out, but just to be clear, we didn’t try drinking the water!!

Sign Adelaide airport



We have really enjoyed a few days in one place, but tomorrow we go on the ocean road to Melbourne.  We look forward to sharing it with you.



Holy cow

From Rotorua, we traveled North towards Bay of Islands. On the way we stopped at Morrinstown. Up until a few years ago, there really wasn’t much reason to visit this farming town.

But then they hit on the idea of having artists paint some cows and installing them around the town. There are 42 in total dotted around. And then there’s one very cheeky cow who hangs around on the corner.

It’s a bit similar to the Cotswolds Hare Festival, which always has some fabulous designs. Here’s a couple from last year.

After Morrinstown, we headed up to Pakira, just north of Auckland. We stayed in a holiday chalet right on the beach. A storm came in that night, so we had high winds and lots of rain. And believe me, you hear every drop in a tin hut.

The next day we drove 3 hours to Paihia( prounounced pie here!). This is at the heart of Bay of Islands. Here is just a few of the 144 that exist. It’s also the place where the controversial treaty was signed between Maori and the British in 1840. Controversial because the Maori chiefs didn’t not fully appreciate they were signing over to British sovereignty. Another bleak moment in empire building.

We also visited a fantastic glow worm cave. You’ll have to take our word for it, as no photos were allowed, but you can imagine that photographing the little critters would be very difficult. They were like watching the night sky. But here’s some of the wonderful rock formations on the land.

On the way back to Auckland, we stopped at Whangarai (prounounced fang a rye), which is a lovely little harbor town. They have a great clock museum and we liked this quirky little art installation.

Next stop Adelaide.

Little man has popped up once for the eagle eyed among you.


Our final few adventures on the South Island

We continued to explore the West Coast of the South Island, by driving from Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier.

We have already used up all of the superlatives in the dictionary, describing this amazing land, but we  really wish we had some more to draw upon.

The drive itself (about 5 hours) has to be one of the most scenic routes in the World.  That’s quite a claim, but we went through so many different landscapes it was hard to believe. We started off through lakelands, mountains, then sea shore and tropical forest, before arriving at the Glacier. It was extraordinary.

As the weather was not with us, you’ll have to take my word for it, for the most part.  Here’s the Arrowtown, a historic town near Queenstown and one of the beaches on our way to Franz Josef.

 ArrowtownBeach on way to Franz Josef


We also spotted some of the rarer native birds in their habitats.  The first is the NZ wood pigeon, the Kereru which is about three times the size of our native birds. Honestly, it was a wonder the branch could hold these two up!

Wood pigeon


The other cheeky chappy, just walking around the car park is the Kaka, a member of the parrot family. He seemed completely unfazed by the traffic and the people.  Many of the cafe’s nearby have signs saying keep an eye on your food as there will be no replacements if a Kaka steals it.  Sounds very like the Seagulls on Brighton Beach.



kaka franz josef 

At the end of our 5 hour trip, we arrived at Franz Josef Glacier.  This was a most extraordinary sight, and one that the pictures cannot really convey. It is like a frozen waterfall coming over the top of the mountain.  It’s the cold mountain air and the warm air from the sea meeting on the mountain face that creates this effect.  The perpetual glacier has probably had a presence for thousands of years, but the glacial face has receded at least 30 metres over the last 150 years.  An impact of global warning?  We simply do not know.

 Glacier 1Glacier 2



We continued our journey through Arthur’s Pass the following day which took us back to Christchurch airport.  It is an epic journey and we are so pleased that we got to enjoy the mountain views.

 Arthurs pass

Next adventures will be on the North Island.    


Kauai’s delights

After the wonderful experiences we had on Maui, we did not know if it’s little sister Kauai would live up to expectations.  I had visited both islands over 25 years ago and I remember enjoying Kauai more, but would it live up to expectations second time around?

It’s hard to describe the feel of the islands, but they are all different.  Where as Maui is called the Valley Isle, Kauai is known as the garden isle.  Maui just felt a bit bigger, a bit more resorty in comparison to Kauai, which is just as beautiful, but a bit quieter.

We started by visiting the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’ which is just as impressive as it sounds.  Over 3,000 feet above sea level, which stunning ravines that lead all the way down to the Ocean.  We were lucky with the weather and managed to get a clear view.

 Next we visited the many beaches on the south side of the Island.  The one that gave us far more than we could have anticipated was Poipu beach, a favourite for snorkelers. I was able to see such an array of tropical fish that I lost count.  I did not have an underwater camera, but here are a few of the fish that I was able to swim amongst that day. Parrot fish, Trigger fish, Wrasses, Butterfly fish, and xxx that I have been able to identify. The pictures are from others, I just wanted to share how amazing they looked.



So we had already have a very special day, that didn’t feel like it could get much better when we saw a bit of excitement going on further down the beach.  It was being cordoned off to allow a huge sea turtle and a monk seal to rest.  They both just lay there quietly a few feet from each other, whilst we were all taking pictures from a safe distance. It was an amazing sight to see.


Both species are protected, after being hunted to near extinction and their numbers are steadily growing. The sea turtle has only a 1% chance of reaching maturity, so it seem like a miracle seeing one that is well into its middle years judging by its size.  Apparently they can live for up to 100 years.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal is native to the islands and endangered.  There are approximately 1500 surviving so it was a pretty special sight to see one just in front of us.  He  was a male of about 5 – 7 years old according to the conservationist volunteer, only lifted his head from time to time, but otherwise stayed quiet and still on the beach.  

Both bask on the beach to rest in between hunting.  It might be only an hour, or it might be a day, depending on how much they need to recuperate. Simply amazing.

The wild hens and cocks are everywhere and many were on the beach that day, which tickled me no end.  They seem to be in as good a shape, if not better than any that I have seen ‘tended’ in the farmyard back home.

The next day we explored the north island felt quieter and the beaches were no less stunning.  The landscape here felt lush and more like tropical rain forests.

 The Ha’ena beach is the end of the line, with the rest of the North East of the island being mountainous with no major roadways. The beach was no less stunning than Poipu, but not ideal for swimming as it has a steep dip from the beach and the waves were quite high.  We watched it for quite a time and took many pictures, as it was quite mesmerizing to watch.

Our food choices were not too bad here.  We had breakfast from EatHealthy Café, only down the road from our hotel and fully Vegan.  We also managed to get dishes from the local Grill on the hotel premises, so a thumbs up for having alternatives for us. There was also an excellent coffee place called Imua coffee.

After a quick overnight stop in in Honolulu before flying onward to New Zealand.  Although we will be sorry to leave these shores, we rather suspect we will be back at some point.  

Aloha from Hawaii.

We forgot to book little man a seat, so we hope he can hang on for the long flight ahead.









Maui Delights

We have enjoyed the last four days on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui.  This is often called the Valley Isle and its very easy to see why, as you drive around. Maui is a relatively small island, only 48 miles by 26 miles, yet still offers many contrasts in landscapes and eco-systems.  It also grows an abundance of crops including Pineapple, Bananas, Papaya, Guava, Coffee, Macadamia (& other) nuts, Cacao and about as many kinds of trees, herbs, perennials that you can imagine.

Inland, the landscape is mainly mountains, forests and deep riven valleys, as well as the Crater from its Volcanic past.  There are plenty of rich agricultural fields and some grazing for cattle and horses. As you come to the coast, you get to see what Maui is famed for, some of the Worlds best beaches.  Powder white sand, clear blue skies and stunning views in every direction.

Although it is technically possible to drive around the entire island, there are parts that are so hazardous that car hire insurance is invalidated if you do go on the more precarious routes. We decided to stay safe and stick to the main highways.

As well as the beaches, visitors come for the Golf and it seems you can hardly go a mile or two without seeing a course. The second reason, certainly during the winter is to see the majestic Humpback Whale that migrates from Alaska during the Winter Months to the sheltered shallow seas whilst they mate and bring up their young.  More on our Whale watching tomorrow.

We also visited a plantation, took in the beautiful scenery, but mostly we just chilled on the beach.  Even little man enjoyed himself.


Following a vegan diet whilst travelling has its challenges, but the Hawaiian islands have been fairly kind.  The Japanese influence means that Vegetarian Sushi, Tofu and Rice dishes are in plentiful supply. We also found a fantastic wholefood store called Mana Foods in a little town called Paia which supplied us with the best Vegan and gluten free alternatives ever.  They beat the national US chain Wholefoods, hands down.  We particularly enjoyed the Gingerbread Cupcake.  If only I could get the recipe!

Next stop Kauai.




Tropical wonderland

Today we went to Hawaii’s Tropical Botanical Gardens on the west side of the big Island. It is a 17 acre site that opened in 1984.

It was the brainchild of Mr and Mrs Lutkenhouse, who were looking for a retirement home that they could visit during the winter months from their San Francisco home. Whilst on the house hunting trail they came across this derelict and forgotten corner of the island and spend the next 15 years clearing, restoring and gathering beautiful tropical plants.

The whole visit was a feast for the eyes.

Flower 1editedOrchid editedPath ditedWaterfall edited (2)





Even little man enjoyed the experience.

On the way back we stopped by one of the black sand beaches, which is a result of the still active volcano of Hawaii.

The results are a very moody beach scene and the most fascinating rock formations.

Beach panoramic to editRainbow on beach to edit



Tomorrow is our last day on the farm, so we’ll do a round up of our week’s work then.