Rotorua, New Zealand

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For the next part of our trip we spent two night camping on a small river just North West of Rotorua.  This place just feels special.  The whole area is fascinating.  You will see openings in the ground that have formed naturally to expel hot steam into the air, there will be lush forests and culture everywhere you turn.

We checked out a redwood forest that had been planted roughly 60 years ago (surprisingly the trees bark is very soft).  When you look at them, in the grand scheme of things and in relative comparison to thier counterparts in America, these would be small saplings.  The tree’s themselves blocked out quite a bit of light, but created this really open arid forest space which is completely unlike any forest I’ve walked through before.

We also went to Hell’s Gate – which is a very active geothermal area with bubbling hot pools of mud.  You could bath in them if you wanted, but we just walked around the place instead.  There was a waterfall feature here, that the Maori men and women would bath their new born sons in traditionally.  There was one mound of mud that you can stand quite close to on a platform, and I actually got a splash on my arm.  Thankfully by the time it landed on me it had travelled a few feet in the cool air and didn’t burn me…

Rotorua is the cultural central hub for the Maori, and you’ll see a lot of attractions and events geared towards education for tourists.  We weren’t able to attend any of these attractions but will be aiming to head back up this way again to learn more.

The trout in the stream were jumping quite a bit at the campsite, so Mike was able to enjoy many hours of fishing at dawn and dusk.  He caught four (rainbow and brown) altogether.

Just past the Redwood forest there is also a Buried Village and several stunning lakes.  In 1886, a volcano erupted and wiped out the small foreign settlement.  A couple of young men in the 30’s began excavating and have created a small museum and walking tour for those interested in seeing what a young colony looked like for that time.

The most fascinating part we both think of the place, was the poplar stakes that were used to outline the small plots of land.  They sprouted into full blown trees and established themselves after the community vanished.

Before the volcano erupted there were pink terraces (hot pools that staggered down the mountain side), which the locals declared the 8th wonder of the world… unfortunately these were completely destroyed – however there were some photographs of them in the museum.  Adventurous travellers came from all around the globe in the 1800’s to see them.

After two nights we travelled back down to Lake Taupo to spend a night with Mike’s Uncle Andrew and his partner Jackie and thier dog Millie.  We stayed up late playing trivia games on the TV, and ate some of the best food we’ve had in ages.

We’re now back in Palmerston for a couple of nights before we travel South toward Wellington to catch a Ferry on Monday to the South Island for the next leg of the trip.

We’ll be down there for a few weeks before we return to move into our new home…

x

Holly & Mike

Lake Taupo, New Zealand

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We spent two quiet nights at Mike’s Aunt’s bach (a cottage)  which was a short walk from Lake Taupo.  The cicada were blasting away and numbering in the thousands as we walked through the bush to get down to the warm waters.  Native birds were also in high numbers singing and warbling.  At one point Mike even spotted a pair of tui dancing in the trees..

On our first day we took some time to go prawning at Huka Prawn Park.  We caught blue legged males, and spent about 3 hours in the morning sun trying to get them.  It does take patience, as they take their time pulling the meat away before they eat it.  We were able to take all 4 of them home and rustle up a meal with the groceries we’d packed for the trip.  They were really nice with pasta, herbs, butter, garlic, and fresh tomatoes from Mike’s dad’s garden.

Huka Falls is a free attraction, which is only a few minutes from the Prawn Park – We did the short walk to see the powerful deep aqua water rushing past.

I had my first bath in about 7-8 months at the bach and loved the feeling of floating in the water. Let me clarify here, I have been showering!  We also spent some time swimming in the freshwater lake, which is also something I’ve not had the pleasure of doing in a few years… it was so refreshing.  You can also pick up pumice stones straight out of the lake, and many people (us included) have used them to tidy up their feet.

In the evening on the second night, we were treated to the sounds of a Maori family celebrating in their yard nearby with a haka.  It was nearly dusk, and the chanting was really a powerful, entrancing way to end the day.

Perth, Western Australia

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.25.27 PMThis common bronzewing startled me so badly that I yelled out when we first met one another today.  We shared a moment.  It let me photograph it for 10 minutes at about 2 feets distance.  Which was incredible…  The colours were truly that vivid.  I also think this may be the first time I’ve seen one. Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.22.56 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.21.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.22.31 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.24.57 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.23.29 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.23.38 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.23.16 PMOne of Australia’s “most dangerous” creatures – the common magpie.  Mum/Pops bashed this centipede for a few moments before passing it to it’s loud, totally capable and incessant offspring.Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.23.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.19.34 PMThere are still a few flowers popping out despite the season technically ending in early December. 

It’s dawning on me now that we will be moving overseas in less than two weeks.  Of course I’ve been packing and all that tedious stuff, but a part of me is not fully ready to say adieu to this charming city.  I’m currently finished work, and so have taken time each day to visit with friends and get out and about to enjoy the nice things this city has to offer.

I became acutely aware of my deep love for the city only in March of this year.  We’d just spent three weeks in Japan – 4 of those days in mega city – Tokyo.  Tokyo is an amazing city, however almost immediately it hit both Mike and I that it lacked nature.  Returning to Perth, I observed a city that was lush, green and divided by an enormous river teaming with wildlife.

Some of my favourite parts of the area have featured on this blog over the past couple of years…

Kings Park – Some of you may know is my favourite place here, and it is a treasure.  Even today as I strolled about, wildflowers and native birds were on display and gave me plenty of beautiful moments to photograph.  The vibe at this park is just chilled – and I will forever be grateful for the 6 months we were in walking distance to it’s beauty and charm.

Moonlight Cinemas – Due to the non rainy summers, you can almost certainly head to this awesome outdoor cinema whenever you fancy (there are several, however we’ve only been to the location at Kings Park).  It’s such a cool way to see a film.  Mike and I went about a week ago, brought blankets and hired some bean bags and enjoyed one of the latest releases “The Big Short”.  You can pack a picnic dinner, order junk food and beer and enjoy a great film all in the warmth of a summer evening under the stars.  It was here that Mike felt the baby (boy!) kick for the first time.

The clean beaches.  By god they are nice here.  Nothing will top the beaches in Greenhead, but for a cosmopolitan city – you really can’t go wrong at any of the sandy, sun drenched spots.

Fremantle – This was the original location for the township of Perth.  It’s architecture is very distinct, and the people here are much more relaxed than in the CBD.  We go out every couple of months and always say we could live here.  There is a great market, and plenty of dining options… And if ships take your fancy, there is also a maritime museum and shipping docks to explore.

Northbridge – Apparently this place used to be pretty scummy.  Now, it’s a great hub for the arts, foodie and entertainment crowd.  At the moment Fringe Festival is on and the whole community is getting amongst the quirky entertainment that can be found here.

The proximity of the city to the Perth Hills and Swan Valley.  If you love good wine, beer, cheese, chocolate and nature…consider this an area not to be missed.

There is plenty to see and experience in this sun soaked city, and I’ll be trying to squeeze in as much as I can these last few days.  If you do get the chance to travel West – it’s worth checking out.  Perth is absolutely a great place to start.

x

Holly

A hairy werewolf unknowingly roams Brisbane.

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I think it was Boxing Day morning in Palmerston North, New Zealand that Mike and I were laying in bed and I noted that I was seeing some changes happening in my body.

It’s not the first change though.  I’ve been observing these changes over the past few months and at times make a point of highlighting them to Mike.

The first time it happened, I was telling Mike about some photographs I’d seen of women online who had stretch marks.  I was casually mentioning that I already had a few on my legs and chest from puberty when he confirmed…

“Yes you have a lot”.

I suddenly realised that my “invisible” stretch marks where actually not and my mind shattered. Literally all this time I’ve been deluded thinking no one ever noticed them.  Haha people have just been kind, until that moment.

A few weeks later, I was basically complaining that I was feeling swollen and that I was begining to get large, when Mike turned and said…

“Just wait until you’re a whale!”.

I laughed and then stared at him.  What?  Immediately he realised this was probably the wrong thing to say…

Lastly, brings us back to boxing day in bed.  I have started to notice this soft peach like fuzz is growing on my shoulders, and tummy and was pointing it out when Mike turned and said…

“and also your face”.

I was horrified.  He stroked my cheek and intimated where it was growing.

Oh my god.  What the hell…?  I’m turning into a man.  How did I not notice this on my face too?  We joked about how to sort out the situation, though now I’m a little paranoid to be honest.  He does make me laugh and if anything I can at least laugh at the transformation (however shocking it is) with him.

These photographs were taken in Brisbane.  Which is a really cool city.  I was able to roam about and take it all in before meeting Mike in Wellington the next day.  I’m keen to head back to Queensland sometime and see the State’s rain forests.

  1. The Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane is free and definitely worth checking out on the Southbank.
  2. That smoked salmon eggs benedict was amazing (just look at that massive portion of salmon!).  It was found at Jimmy’s on the Mall in the heart of the CBD.  It was the perfect place to eat outside and people watch as locals rushed to work.  The place was a mad rush of Christmas shopping.
  3. Tess made it safe and sound to Wellington, and is a very happy dog in the country.  She’s with Mike’s mum for the next few weeks before we return.  Thankfully her journey over was really well handled by a pet travel company called “Jet Pets”.  We couldn’t rate them more highly.  If you’re looking to send your pets overseas – while they do charge a hefty fee; they really look after your pet in a very loving and considerate way all throughout the journey.  Tess was taken on walks, fed and given ample time outside of her crate through her journey.
  4. I didn’t take many photographs in New Zealand as I was generally living in each moment, however Christmas was awesome, and I was able to stay back and enjoy a beautiful wedding between Mikes cousin Sarah and her new husband Derek.
  5. Travelling whilst prego is very exhausting.  I’m currently back in Perth with my feet up enjoying the first day of 2016.

Happy 2016!

-Holly

Fluffy Bums?

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A few months back I saw this creature online and I wondered if I’d ever be lucky enough to see something similar here in Western Australia.

Well, today was that day.  I went out with my camera hoping to find something new and discovered a large crop of these “fluffy bums”.  Techinically called “scolypopa australis” they are found all over the planet – and at this stage they are teenagers yet to morph into their adult form.  In New Zealand they can secret nectar when feeding on a specific type of plant – which in turn is actually quite toxic.  Bee’s collect the nectar and unfortunately can poison the honey…which has lead to some illness.  These little creatures – oddly are not native to New Zealand but come from Australia.

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This I believe is a fly – but what type exactly I’m not quite sure.  There are ‘bee flies’ but they are a bit hairier…Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 6.21.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-07 at 6.23.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-07 at 6.21.40 PM

I know I had promised it would be a little wait until I revealed my big secret…but we must wait just a little longer.  I should be able to tell you when Mike is back in just under two weeks time.  For the time being I hope these dainty flowers will suffice.

xo Holly

ps: totally unrelated – I’m looking to do a Canadian/Australian “treat” swap – If you’re in Canada and would like to receive some amazing Australian goods… please let me know and I’d be happy to ship some over.  I have a couple of items that have been front of mind the past couple of months… and I’m so (desperate) keen to get my hands on a couple of inexpensive yet classically Canadian items.