Friday, July 30, 2010

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

April 2010

On our recent trip to visit the MIL and one BIL, we took a side trip to the beautiful Island of Aitutaki. DH and I had thought about visiting Aitutaki as part of our honeymoon in 2007, but we have expensive tastes and decided to go at another time when we could afford it more comfortably!

We stayed at the beautiful Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa in one of their over water bungalows and it did not disappoint.

While the resort and surrounding area was beautiful (especially the sunset at the bar), the snorkeling was truly at best in the main lagoon. So on one of our days we took a boat trip with the Aituatki Adventures and their yellow boat! It was a fantastic day Island hopping, snorkeling and of course the wonderful fish BBQ lunch.

So if your visiting the beautiful Cook Islands (which I highly recommend), I suggest spending some time in Aitutaki. While I'd love to say we'll be back when we next visit the family, unfortunately there are 15 Islands all up and I think we'll be visiting Aitu or Mauke.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Raratonga, Cook Islands

April 2010

This was our third trip to the Cook Islands and the beautiful Rarotonga. Our first trip was for our wedding and honeymoon, the second to visit DH's mother and the latest to visit family again.

Rarotonga is defiantly not a large island, nor thankfully is it dominated by tourists and the tourist "culture". It's always wonderful to try a few local restaurants (which there are a number and always of high quality), have a snorkel and have some adventure.

My favourite Cook Island dish is the Ika Mata, a raw fish dish, marinated with coconut milk, vegetables and spices. But the food is always so good no mater what you choose.

This time we tried out the buggy adventures, and the recent rain had made it a bit muddy to say the least!

For a city girl one of the great experiences this trip was the little piggy's that were born. They are so cute and cheeky! Although I can't say we'll be getting any for our backyard in the near future!

Although our next trip is still a little way off, I'm already looking forward to it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bay of Islands

February 2010

The beautiful Bay of Islands. Located north of Auckland on New Zealand's North Island is a beautiful and interesting part of the world. Who knew you could find out so much about New Zealand in one location?

When driving north from Auckland make sure you stop at Kawakawa, at the Hundertwasser toilets. These are designed by the Austrian born artist and are the only Hundertwasser structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The name mean nothing to you? It's still worth the 1 minute detour to take a look.

Once you reach the Bay of Islands area, take either the passenger ferry or the car ferry to the

township of Russell. This town is full of local history, a beautiful area and plenty of nice places to sit and enjoy the water view.

For something to view on your afternoon boat trip, the Hole in the rock as it is known, is a beautiful sight. Depending on the weather, some boats actually pass through from one side of the rock to the other. There are many options from the jet boat, to your typical cruise boat.

A trip to the Bay of Islands is not complete without a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The Waitangi treaty is an interesting part of recent New Zealand history, but the grounds are gorgeous. For a true Maori experience make sure you check out the intricate carvings in the meeting house. DH was particularly fond of the Wakas (canoes - small ones shown).

On the Saturday night we took a cruise on the river on Darryl's Dinner Cruise, which takes you down the river to the Harura Falls. Personally I think this is a wonderful distraction while they prepare your meal.

The Bay of Islands is definitely a must stop location for your visit to the north island.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Coromandel Coast

May 2010

The Coromandel is a beautiful part of the North Island of New Zealand. Based on work colleagues recommendations we stayed in Hahei, and this was definitely the best area to stay, due to it's proximity to some of the natural wonders in the area and also the feeling of isolation it gave.

One the Saturday we started with a boat trip on Mercury Bay around to Cathedral Cove, with a lot of information on the history of the local area provided along the way. We stopped at a snorkeling spot, to view some of the fish and even got to see a stingray!

After our cruise we headed off to Hot Water beach, hoping that we could dig ourselves a hot spa. Unfortunately the tide didn't go out enough and there were a lot of people digging but not much hot water to be found!

From Hot water beach we headed back to the wharf to take the ferry across to Whitianga, where we enjoyed a drink overlooking the water.

On Sunday we headed off on the Kauri drive to have a look at some of the big Kauri trees. The road is narrow and mainly dirt, so we were glad it wasn't a busy weekend, as it got a bit hairy when cars came the other way. The trees were beautiful, but not as magnificent as some of the redwoods we had seen in California.

We headed to the main Coromandel town, which is a quaint little village, but in all honesty not much else, this is one of the reasons that made me glad we had stayed and based ourselves in Hahei.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Princeton, New Jersy, USA

May 2010

I visited Princeton recently for work and got to enjoy the lovely town at the same time. Everyone has heard of Princeton University, one of America's Ivy League Colleges, and rated as one of the worlds best, but not many (outside the USA) would know of it's history and charm.

It's largely a University town, with a lot of money. But some key points if you're visiting:

There are many speciality stores in the Princeton area, in particular the streets around the University. You can find Banana Republic, Paperstyle, Kate Spade and

There is a variety to choose from, in all styles. I highly recommend Medittera, a funky restaurant with unbelievably fresh food, all with a Mediterranean base. There's also a number of "pub" like place, including the A&B and also the Nassau Inn, and the buffalo wings at Chuck's Spring Cafe are amazing. You will not be without a place to eat in downtown Princeton.

I was in town on Alumni week, coming from Australia where we aren't so attached to our school it was an interesting experience to say the least (orange and black are not a good colour, not matter what they might think). The University consists of a number of beautiful buildings, some of which are more accessible than others. The church is worth a look for it's stained glass alone. The campus is also just a nice place to enjoy an afternoon stroll.


Princeton also has historical relevance, being a site of one of the battles during the revolutionary war. There are a number of monuments and sites that you can visit which detail the areas history.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Torres Strait Islands

DH visited Thursday Island a few years back when he did a 5 week 4WD trip to Cape York, otherwise it's not an area that has really crossed my mind much. But in the May edition of Qantas, they had a section on Poruma Island Resort, which caught my eye.

Apparently the way to reach Poruma, is fly to Cairns, then fly to Horn Island and then on from Horn Island to Poruma Island. So while it's not necessarily the price that makes this a wish location, it's the time it would take to get there and what you can see along the way.

The resort has a number of beach bungalows, which include plunge pools when you want to stay out of the afternoon sun. Snorkeling and fishing seem to be the activities of choice. It seems like the perfect place to relax, swim and enjoy the local culture and people. makes me wish I was there now....

Friday, July 9, 2010

My flight with celebrity

So, while not what I would usually blog about, it did happen on a flight, which is technically travel so I say it's related!

I'm quite a big rugby fan, supporting both the Brumbies and the Wallabies (while DH being a good South Islander is a Crusaders and All Blacks fan), so I was astounded to find out that one of my usual flights from Sydney to Auckland, also happened to be the flight that the Springbok were on in preparation for the Tri nations kick off this Saturday.

Bryan Habana just so happens to be one of the best players in the world at the moment, and while I didn't get to sit next to him I did happen to get his autograph. The gentleman I had the pleasure of sitting next to was the current Springbok captain John Smit, and while he has a rough reputation on the field, he was a wonderful flying companion (don't know if he felt the same way about me!).

So after all these flights over all these years and I finally get to sit next to a celebrity. If only I could plan a flight so I can sit in between Daniel Carter and Richie McCaw, DH would definitely have to be happy with that.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Manhattan Beach, Los Angelas

May 2010

On a recent overnight stopover in LA, I took the $5 tram bus ride from the LAX hotel I was staying at out to Manhattan Beach. It's a pretty little area with it's pier makes it a nice place to spend a sunny afternoon.

Manhattan Beach is also apparently the location for a number of films, including Point Break, the latest edition of Starsky and Hutch, as well as Jerry Maguire.

So, it's a great option if you have an overnight in LA, a bit too much jet lag (or too early a flight) to see any other part of LA and just want somewhere new to chill.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Kimbery Cruise, WA - Wish list

There is a running conversation in my family (and probably others) of what is the first thing we would do if we won big in the lottery. Being a travelling family, it should be obvious around what type of purchase it would be. The answer for us? Visit the Kimberly region in Western Australia on a luxury cruise of course! Having said that, the cruise is seasonal due to the location and we do have a back up if we happen to win big at another time of year, that is to follow in another post...

The cruise of choice is the Orion Expedition 10 night cruise.

Imagine cruising the beautiful Kimberly region in a 5 star ship, with a maximum of 105 other guests and 75 staff. With superb meals and many shore visits, including a flight over the Bungle Bungles, it would truly be a trip of a lifetime.