Saturday, our last full day on holiday, started breezy and ended up wet. We chose the right direction for our walk to Bondi – with the wind. But we didn’t start from Maroubra. We bought coffees from the Grumpy Baker then drove to Coogee.
The wind and the waves were all wrong so there we very few surfers. There were some brave swimmers at Bronte Beach – in pink swimsuits and bathing hats.
I think I was the only one on Bondi Beach. It was quite a different story the following weekend.
We brunched at Brown Sugar then took an Uber back to Maroubra. A couple of hours later we were in another Uber, heading for a brewery crawl. Everywhere was packed, with people queueing at the doors. We visited 4 micro breweries and got into three. At the final brewery Susan and Mike challenged the winners on the pool table. The winners stayed on.
By the time we got back to Maroubra, we were too late for fish and chips, so had to make do with takeaway pizza, from Arthur’s Pizza.
I’ve never watched Home and Away but I’ve now been to where it’s filmed – Summer Bay; Palm Beach in real life. Rachel took us there for a walk up to the Barrenjoey Head lighthouse. A Frenchman suggested we take the shorter, steeper route up; the views were better. They were pretty good at the top too.
We lunched, pizza, at The Newport, overlooking the Bayview Dog Park, then drove back through Sydney as rush hour approached and went to the supermarket for a couple of basics. Some shelves were bare.
That evening we had a booking at Clovelly Bowling and Recreation Club for barefoot bowls. We arrived a little late but got in enough games to be able to determine the winners. Rachel and Mike won in the last game.
In the morning around elevenses we visited Mahon pool but didn’t swim because it was high tide and fairly rough. The waves were breaking into the pool. So we just picked up a couple of coffees from the Grumpy Baker.
At 12:30 we set off on the bus to Circular Quay, to visit the Botanical Gardens for a quick lunch, to wander round the Opera house and then to have some pre-dinner drinks at the Rocks before splitting up for dinner. Susan and Rachel were going for Susan’s Xmas treat and I was meeting my friends Katy Taylor and Bruce Baker.
Once again, our eyes turned skyward as we watched a topical message being written.
For our first pre-dinner drink we visited the rooftop bar at The Glenmore. Then it was a short walk to the Blu Bar on 36, in the Shangri-la Hotel. We had to wait a short while for a window seat, but it was well worth it for the views.
Then it was another short walk to the Fortune of War. By this time I needed some food, so was happy to receive Katy’s message that she and Bruce were already at Chat Thai. We had a great time catching up and just had enough time to snap a couple of new SB’s before meeting up with Susan and Rachel again on the bus back to Maroubra. They’d had a great time as well.
The first thing we had to do in Maroubra was to go to the beach and watch the surf. Since Rachel and Mike live on the sea front this wasn’t too hard. Next we had to find an ATM. We found one in Maroubra Seals Club.
We had a lazy morning at the flat. After lunch we set off in an Uber with Rachel to walk the Hermitage Foreshore Walk, from Hermit Bay to Watsons Bay, where we were meeting Mike for drinks and dinner. En route we took a few photos of the view.
That evening we wined and dined at the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel. Starters were Squid Zucchini and Bruschetta Mozzarella.
While Mike and I drank Furphy’s, Susan and Rachel got stuck into Bertoulet Rose. Getting the remains of the second bottle home was a bit of challenge because the restaurant weren’t prepared to give us the screw top; Rachel’s water bottle came to the rescue.
On the 10th of March we departed New Zealand, heading for Sydney and Susan’s daughter Rachel and her boyfriend Mike.
On the plane I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, but before we left Christchurch we visited the museum, walking once again through the botanic gardens; this time in the drizzle.
On arrival in Sydney we purchased two new SIM cards. Rachel picked us up from the airport, and drove us to Maroubra, via the bottle shop.
It was a breezy morning as we started our last full day in New Zealand. We headed to New Brighton beach first and walked to the end of the pier to bother gulls.
Next we drove as far as we could to the top of the gondola, and walked the rest of the way. After a couple of coffees and coconut slice from the Red Rock Cafe we went on a short ride – the Time Tunnel – to experience a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the region.
After taking a few scenic photos we returned to the city centre, eventually finding a parking spot in North Hagley Park, having completed a full circuit of the city after one wrong turning. Wanting to see the cardboard cathedral, which was the other side of town, we hired a couple of Lime scooters and made our way there, revisiting quite a few of the tourist hot spots we’d passed the previous day.
After about an hour we dropped the scooters off close to the car park and returned to the motel. That evening we crossed the road to get a takeaway from the Thai Container.
Having decided that our last two nights in New Zealand would be in and around Christchurch we booked a motel – 136 on Bealey – and headed straight there. It was a bit drizzly when we stopped for coffee and to refuel at Fairlie but it had cleared up by the time we stopped for more fuel at Templeton, just outside Christchurch.
Since it wasn’t far to the City Centre we walked due south and soon found a load of empty car parks. We followed the tram route east and stopped for a coffee and cake at Bunsen, at The Arts Centre, just over the road from Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
It was in the gardens that I discovered more about the Eggy Panthers we’d been seeing all over the country – North and South Islands.
At the Dahlia beds Susan and I had a photographic competition, then we tried the same with a sculpture.
By about 6 o’clock we were getting rather peckish. We headed to Mexicanos in Victoria Street for quesadillas. I drank Three Boys IPA while Susan started with a Margarita then switch to cider.
Continuing our overnight cruise around Milford Sound ( Piopiotahi ), after breakfast the Milford Marina headed towards the entrance of the sound, the Tasman Sea. It was relatively calm. Apparently when Captain Cook visited he didn’t see the entrance to the fiord so called it Shallow Bay.
The rest of the cruise took us under the waterfalls again, showed us the shear fracture where geological stuff happens, and returned us to the dock by 9:30.
We had to wait for about half an hour before the convoy began its return journey to Te Anau. We had a final look at the fiord, from an elevated viewpoint on dry land.
Our driver had a replacement hands free microphone, so was able to continue his commentary. It was sometimes difficult to detect when he was telling porkies, though I particularly enjoyed his explanation of the light and dark seams in the Homer Tunnel.
Soon after being reunited with our car at Te Anau we were on the road heading north east, towards Christchurch. We stopped at the Dome Cafe, Mossburn, for a quick snack lunch before a long drive towards Lake Tekapo. From Queenstown we headed east to Cromwell, where we got a leaky tea from a Subway close to the Giant Fruit Sculpture, then north along State Highway 8.
At Omarama we started looking for overnight accomodation. Susan found a place on booking.com, in Twizel, called the owners directly and mentioned the special offer to get the bargain price. It was a great find.
That evening we shopped in 4 Square, then nipped across the road to 65 & Dine aka the Top Hut Bar & Bistro. As we were paying, Susan asked some other diners if they knew of any Templetons. One, a retired vicar, from Christchurch said there were quite a few.
We were up early for a full morning exploring Lake Te Anau before heading off on our overnight cruise around Milford Sound.
We travelled in convoy to Milford Sound. Our driver / guide had a great sense of humour and kept us entertained for a full hour before one of the passengers put an end to his en route commentary. His hands free microphone headset was broken so he had to hold a mike in one hand, steer with the other and change gear with the third. We had a few stops on the way to Milford Sound, to stretch our legs and get bitten by sand flies.
We boarded around 4pm and after introductions and a safety briefing set off on the overnight cruise on the Milford Mariner.
We cruised into the breeze to visit the waterfalls up close then returned to Harrison Cove for either kayaking or nature cruises in the ship’s tenders. I paddled and Susan cruised. I spotted a few penguins on the shoreline, got buzzed by sandflies and soaked the sleeve of my jumper, but otherwise the expedition was uneventful.
That evening we dined at a table for 6 with two brits and two Aussies. The Brits, Sandra and Paul, had been travelling around NZ for twice as long as us. They were keen cyclists, finding 20 mile loops to ride every other day. Russell and Julie were from Queensland, just outside Brisbane. For the first time since arriving in NZ I had roast lamb.
That night I’d hoped to watch the stars but the weather was against us. We had to content ourselves with glimses of seals swimming around the stern.
We slept soundly and were up and ready for breakfast ( from 7am ) and the remainder of the cruise.