New Zealand ‘18: Auckland

DAY 1 – Tuesday 30th October

I arrived in New Zealand after an overnight flight from Melbourne (having flown down to there from Darwin) at around 5am with only about an hours sleep, so needless to say I was incredibly tired. I hopped on the SkyBus and went into town, stopping at a Starbucks for a toastie and a hot chocolate as it was only around 7am and you aren’t really meant to check in at the hostel until around 2pm. Obviously I don’t play by the rules and my need for sleep came first – how am I meant to enjoy exploring the city if I’m too tired to see straight? – so I went over anyway and tried my luck. Thankfully the guy at reception took pity on me and let me check in at 8am, and he even let me have $4 in change rather than the $3 that I was owed.

After having a long nap to try and catch up on the whole night of sleep that I’ve missed, I went out for a trip to the supermarket and an explore, but the rain got so heavy I went back to the hostel after grabbing some lunch. Going from 35-40 degrees and sun every day in Western Australia to 14 degrees and rain is a bit of a shock. I went back out after eating for a quick walk to get my bearings but it was still freezing cold and I was still incredibly tired so I went back after about an hour. It wasn’t a particularly eventful first day in New Zealand but I look like an extra from the Walking Dead because of how tired I am so I feel like I wasn’t going to achieve much anyway.

DAY 2 – Wednesday 31 October

I woke up quite late this morning and then started walking over to Mount Eden. Even though I knew it was only 4kms, it felt about 10 because of all the steep hills and Auckland’s weird road system. The view was worth it though – you can see all the way across the CBD and over to the other side of the bay. I hung around at the summit of the volcano for a little bit and had a sunbathe (which I now have burnt arms from…) before heading back down through the domain and down into the Newmarket suburb. There wasn’t really much to see round there, mainly roadworks, so I went into the Auckland Domain and read my book for a while. A few chapters later I went to check out Albert Park before going back to the hostel to charge my phone for a bit and have some lunch.

An hour or so later, I went to a department store to pick up some new headphones (my new-ish Apple ones have broken yet again after only 3 months) and then I walked down to the harbour and viaduct basin. My plan was to visit Silo Park where I was told was loads of stuff to have a look at and market stalls and food trucks. I got there and for the life of me I couldn’t find a single thing. Nada. I don’t know where it was meant to be, but I was in the right place according to Google Maps. Instead I went to Velvet Burger and then headed back to the hostel. The hostel isn’t great if I’m honest – my room is right next to the bar so I’m kept awake all night and the people aren’t very friendly so I haven’t really met anyone yet. I’m excited to get going on Saturday.

DAY 3 – Thursday 1 November

It was a wet and rainy Thursday morning when I set off for Waiheke Island. I ventured over to the ferry through torrential rain and made the journey across the bay to the island. Waiheke is famous for its many wineries, but today my activity would be zip lining. I hopped off the ferry, was collected by the company – along with my companions who would be taking to the zip line with me that day, a retired couple from Maine – and we drove across the island to the centre. There were three zip lines in total, each one getting progressively steeper. The first one was over the small vineyard they had there, but it was so rainy and windy it hurt my face to look down at it. The second one was over the canopy of the forest, but it wasn’t too far above the trees, and the third was again over the canopy, but about 100m off the ground. Typically the rain started to clear up just as we were making our way back up through the forest.

From there I went back to the city where it was still raining heavily, so I decided that I would go to the cinema to see Bohemian Rhapsody, which was so good I actually saw it again the next day…

DAY 4 – Friday 2 November

By Friday I was pretty bored of Auckland; it was nice but very small and there really wasn’t that much to do. I walked a few kilometres down to Point Erin Park, and then circled back to Victoria Park where I read my book for a while. I had some washing to do, so I spent a few hours doing that before attempting to FaceTime my friend Steph in Sydney. By this time it was early evening and I was bored. The cinema didn’t have many options, so Bohemian Rhapsody again it was. It’s probably my film of the year – it’s funny in the right places, sad in others and balances great cinematography with a fantastic cast.

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Perth to Darwin Diary

Hello! I’ve finally finished my Western Australia/Northern Territory trip – here’s a brief overview of what I got up to everyday (I’ll upload a photo diary later)…

Day 1

• Visited The Pinnacles

• Had a windy lunch at Jurien Bay

• Took a trip to the coastline at Kalbarri to see whales breaching at Eagle Gorge

• Stopped off to see a Pink Lake

Day 2

• Had a quick explore around Kalbarri NP – we went up to Nature’s Window and all the way down to the river at the bottom of the gorge

• Drove up to Shark Bay and stayed at Monkey Mia

• Stopped off to see the Stromatolites

Day 3

• Woke up early to see the dolphin feeding at Monkey Mia in Shark Bay

• Visited Shell Beach and the “Thong Shack” (Thong means “flip-flops” in Aussie!)

• Met a Thorny Devil at the side of the road

• Spent the evening at Coral Bay

Day 4

• Went on a glass bottom boat tour on Ningaloo Reef @ Coral Bay – I saw four grey reef sharks & a turtle!

• Spent the afternoon on the beach

• Drove up to Exmouth and had our first night of camping

Day 5

• Explored some of Cape Range National Park – we went snorkelling at Turquoise Bay and Oyster Rocks

• Took a trip up to the Lighthouse

• A trip into Exmouth – mainly to get some wifi!

Day 6

• Drove to Karijini National Park – we smashed out 700kms in one day!

• Sleeping in tents and swags

Day 7

• Explored Karijini – we visited Hancock Gorge, Weano Gorge and Kalaminda Gorge and discovered I really don’t like climbing down gorges

Day 8

• Went back into Karijini and went swimming at Knox Gorge (with a descent into and ascent back out of the gorge that felt like a life-or-death situation)

• We saw a brown snake right in our camp! This snake is the second most venomous in the world so that wasn’t fun…

Day 9

• Spent the day driving to Pilbara Region

Day 10

• Driving to Broome

• Visited Gantheaume Point

• Dinner at Kimberley Sands

Day 11

• Beach day at Cable Beach in Broome

Day 12

• Pool day and movies

Day 13

• Cable Beach

Day 14

• Saw the Prison Boab Tree

• Walked through Tunnel Creek and saw a crocodile

• Saw the bats make their evening trip out

• First night in the swags

Day 15

• Saw the Queen Victoria Rock

• Hiking and swimming at Bell Gorge

Day 16

• Walked up to Manning Gorge and went swimming in the pools

• Went to Galvans Gorge for the afternoon

Day 17

• Drove to El Questro

• Hiking to Emma Gorge and swimming in the freshwater pool

Day 18

• El Questro Gorge walk – scrambling over giant rocks and through rivers and leaping off boulders and hoping you didn’t hit your head on the side of the gorge and die

Day 19

• Drove to Purnululu NP

• Walked through the Echidna Gorge

Day 20

• Kununurra

• Cathedral gorge at Bungle Bungles/Piccaninny

• Lake Argyle

Day 21

• Sunrise boat trip on lake

• Drive to Katherine

Day 22

• Edith Falls

• Night out in Darwin

City Exploring & Fremantle

On Thursday it was due to thunderstorm, so Julia (who I’ve been sharing a room with) and I decided to visit some museums. We first went to the Museum of Perth before going to PICA (the contemporary art museum) and the Western Australia Museum of Art. As I decided not to head to the beach – because of the impending thunderstorm – the universe decided to play a joke on me and suddenly become the sunniest, warmest day yet. It was too late to go all the way to the beach, so we went back to the hostel and played cards for a bit before heading down to Elizabeth Quay for sunset. While we were walking around we somehow scored ourselves a free trip on a 20-minute cruise around the Swan River which was great.

Today I headed down to Fremantle, which is about half an hour away from Perth by train and on the coast. I felt like it was almost the WA version of Brighton, just a bit smaller. There were loads of cute little shops (I got myself a bracelet and a wave ring) and a teeny tiny beach. I looked round the WA Shipwrecks Museum and explores the town a bit before going down to the Esplanade and read my book – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – for a while, trying to even out my t-shirt tan from Wednesday. Then it was back to the city as the rain clouds were creeping in and I’ve got mum waiting for a FaceTime – cioa!

Rottnest Island

Today I got to do one of the most popular things to do in WA: visit Rottnest Island! Home to the adorable Quokkas, the island is about a 90-minute ferry ride from Perth and about 25 minutes from Fremantle. We left the quay early and got into Thomson Bay for about 10. I picked up my bike with some scepticism and hoped that I could still remember how to ride it.

It’s true what they say: you never forget how to ride a bike, but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily enjoy it. I got off to a shaky start but soon remembered how to balance properly. I didn’t actually fall off, but there were a few close calls, one involving me dodging a rogue quokka that decided to spring out at me at the last moment. I thought it was better that I take a tumble than to potentially hurt the little guy.

My first stop was The Basin, which was a beautiful rocky beach with sand as white as the Whitsundays. Then it was up to Bathurst lighthouse and Mushroom Rock lookout before heading back into town to visit the other side of the island. Let me tell you something: Google maps lies. I googled a route to Bickley Battery and it was meant to take about 10 minutes and be ‘very flat’. It was neither of these things. I got lost four times because there were several unforeseen twists and forks in the road which confused me, and it was also incredibly hilly. Not just one big hill and then some down, oh no. Up and down and up and down and up again. I never made it to the Battery unfortunately; it completed disappeared. I then decided to go further down the coast to Henrietta Rocks, which was just one straight road (with hills of course) so I did indeed make it there.

As I was starting to get a bit braver after my earlier debacle, I ventured on to Salmon Bay and Little Salmon Bay. There were even more hills and the wind was picking up at this point, so it did prove quite challenging but I made it in the end. By now it was lunch time and I could tell the thunderstorm was coming in, so I peddled my way back to the town.

And then the rain came. When I had just sat down to eat my lunch it suddenly got incredibly cold and cloudy and started pouring. I took a little trip to the museum to busy myself while I waited for my ferry, but that shut at 3:30 and I still had an hour to kill before I could board the boat. I sat under the veranda of the little town square and listened to a podcast before dashing off through the rain to grab my bike and get back on the ferry.

This evening I just had some dinner and finished the book I’ve been reading – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I’ve managed to read the entire thing in three days and I’ve really enjoyed it. I have the feeling that I’m going to have very sore legs tomorrow…

First Impressions of Perth, WA

So, I’ve made it to Western Australia! I’ve now conquered all the mainland Aussie states and only have Tasmania left to tick off my list (and that’ll have to be done another time as I’m pretty busy the next couple of months…).

I landed in Perth yesterday afternoon and just about managed to go and get some dinner at Grill’d before needing to get to bed. I was hoping to get a nap on the flight over, but I was sat next to a crying baby the whole time which is probably karma for all the times mum and dad took me on a plane as a small child and I screamed the whole time. Despite this, Qantas did have The Incredibles 2 on the entertainment system so I was sorted. (Side note: I am definitely putting the DVD of this movie on my Christmas list mum and dad and I will be making you watch it with me!)

I spent the whole night tossing and turning because of the train tracks that are right outside my window and the constantly wailing of the level crossing or the horns of the trains as they came into the station. Wonderful. Regardless, I woke up this morning, booked my trip to Rottnest Island for tomorrow and headed out into the city. I walked down to Elizabeth Quay, round up to the Barracks Arch and then climbed the hill up to Kings Park and the Botanic Gardens.

I hung out there for a bit reading my book before heading back down into the city to search for the sleeping bag I’ll be needing for my trip starting on Saturday. It was a fruitless search as it appears all sleeping bags here cost about $200.

After that I strolled around a little longer looking at the shops before heading down to Elizabeth Quay and having gelato at Gusto which was nice. After that I sat in the gardens of the Supreme Court and read some more of my book (which I’m about half way through already) before heading back to the hostel.

Tomorrow – Rottnest Island! Let’s hope the weather is nice…