Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Blue Mountains
A 90 minute train ride from Sydney will get you to Katoomba, an art deco town in the Blue Mountains. It is not as well preserved as Napier, but a short walk from town will get you to the Three Sisters.
From there, a short trip on the world's steepest railroad gets you into the rainforest. The Katoomba Scenic Railway is more roller coaster than train, but Jancie managed to sleep all the way down.

Here's Jancie in a very good mood in a hut at the bottom of the rainforest. The good mood was a welcome change from the night before when she cried for two hours...we got scared (and didn't want to get thrown out of our beautiful B&B, so we decided to take her to the hospital. She immediately calmed down in the cab, and was unbelievably happy/healthy looking in the hospital; we got asked at least 10 times if this was our first child. [Read: Why are you Kiwis clogging up our emergency room with your non-problems?]

Saturday, May 19, 2012

World Traveller
It is easier to get from Auckland to Sydney (or really anywhere in Australia) than it is to get from Napier to Auckland. Which makes one wonder why we've been to Auckland 20 times in the last couple of years but never to Sydney.
I took about a thousand photos, so I'm not quite sure where to start. The Opera House is probably as good a place as any. It is the most spectacular building I have ever seen [from the is very unimpressive inside, except for the concert hall--don't bother with a tour, and put the money towards a concert].

View of Sydney from Taronga Zoo (perhaps the best place to photograph the city).
Here are me and Jancie behind the Opera House. Nico was supposed to be with us, but she was afraid to ask anyone from the group of Asian tourists (with very expensive cameras) to take a picture
Northland II
I was supposed to be posting something about the birthplace of the nation. I'm so far behind on updates, that I'll make this very brief. First off, it would be a waste of a very long drive to not get out on the water when you're visiting the Bay of Islands. Fortunately, a short ferry ride will take you from the "Mainland" to Russell (the first permanent European Settlement and former Hellhole of the Pacific).
Back on the Mainland, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds are worth a visit. I don't think I took any pictures of the Treaty House, but here's one I snapped of the Marae. Marae look orange when I photograph them...they are always dark inside, so I am never sure if the colours are accurate.
I am fairly certain that Waitangi sits on the best piece of coastal property in New Zealand. Here's a view across the bay to Kerikeri.
Speaking of Kerikeri: Here are New Zealand's oldest wooden structure, oldest stone structure, and a rainbow I tried to photograph from our glamp site.