Along the Away

travel, dream, create, inspire, appreciate

Posts Tagged ‘ holidays ’

Once again I find myself doing a little belated post-holiday updating! Seems to be often the case, but that’s OK – the reminiscing is good for the soul ;-)

Over the last new year break I went on a getaway trip to Adelaide with my twin sister. While my hometown is famous for its spectacular NYE celebrations, the mega-crowds it attracts can make planning anything around town a bit of an effort, so we fancied spending the holiday out of Sydney.

We decided only a few weeks before that we’d take the trip, so I spent about a week googling ideas and asking friends for suggestions on things to do. For some reason Adelaide has a reputation for being a bit… plain. A lot of people responded with “WHY!?!?!?” when I said I was going to Adelaide for New Years. After a truly wonderful, jam packed  7 days I’m going to tell you why over the next series of blog posts! The key is to do some research ahead of time and have a rough idea of what you want to do and when. Adelaide may not be the best city to just turn up and see what’s happening – the streets are so quiet, and at times we found ourselves musing ‘where is everyone?’ in a tone on the border of FOMI (fear of missing out) and eeriness (was there an apocalypse? has the city been evacuated?)

Here’s an overview of our one week itinerary in Adelaide:

Day 1: Fly into Adelaide early, day trip to Hahndorf

Day 2: Day long Barossa Valley Wine Tour

Day 3: Tram to Glenelg Beach and a coastal walk to Henley Beach and back

Day 4 & 5: Two day tour to Kangaroo Island

Day 6: Mountain biking down Mt Lofty, picnic in the Botanic Gardens

Day 7: Panda experience at Adelaide Zoo, lunch and shopping in the city, evening flight home.

It was a jam packed week, which I’m now going to relive here, one day at a time…

So the day after Boxing Day, after a quick coffee and bagel at the domestic terminal, we left Sydney EARLY at 6:45am with Jetstar and had a good flight to Adelaide.

Airport Waiting

Compared to the Sydney comparative we were impressed how cheap and easy it is to get a bus into the city from Adelaide airport. Relying on my iPhone map app we got off the bus in the right place and found our hotel, the Grand Chancellor on Currie St. I had booked it through Webjet after comparing a few CBD alternatives, we were happy to find it clean, comfy and conveniently located.

The great thing about our early flight was that we arrived with the whole day ahead of us. In my research I’d read that the German heritage town Hahndorf is a great day trip excursion from the city and easily accessible by bus. We’d purchased a Day Trip Metroticket for the airport bus for $10, so it was a good economy to go to Hahndorf that day.

We were on our way there within an hour of checking in to the hotel using the Plan My Journey feature on the Adelaide Metro website. We spent a few minutes walking up and down the block outside our hotel trying to work out which of the three bus stops we were supposed to be at but we found it eventually. It was about a 50 minute journey and easy to know when we’d arrived – the main street is just as described.

Hahndorf town

Lots of quaint shopfronts, tree-lined footpaths, cafes with tables and chairs clustered out the front.

Hahndorf town

First order of business was coffee and scones sitting in the sun on the veranda of the Herbees Garden Café, which is a historical German house built in the 1850’s.

Cute cow milk jug, Hahndorf

We spent a couple of hours wandering down the Main Street, there are lots of stores worthy of popping into – bakeries and fudge shops, and giftware and designer boutiques.

Street art, Hahndorf

We had lunch at Café Assiette which was packed went we first wandered by. I usually can’t help myself and check online for recommendations for food and coffee when I am somewhere new. Trip Advisor reviews raved about Café Assiette so we decided to take our chances on loitering nearby for awhile – and we got lucky! The wait staff were rushed off their feet but going out of their way to make everyone happy. The food was really great (veggie pie was delicious), made even better sitting outside under the trees, listening to the live music playing next door.

Hahndorf town

We spent some time in the Hahndorf Academy art gallery and museum, a beautiful 19th century heritage building which was once a boarding school and then a maternity hospital. There is a mix of contemporary art on display as well as some rooms presenting art and artifacts from the area’s past. There is a shop with an interesting range of gifts including local art and jewellery – it is well worth a visit.

Art in Hahndorf town

It was a bright, sunny day so we stopped by one of the artisan ice cream shoppes before we hopped back on a bus to Adelaide.

Hahndorf town Hahndorf town

We finished off our first day of sightseeing with a walk through a deserted Rundle Mall (seriously, where is everyone?) which hosted a number of interesting street sculptures and Christmas decorations.

Rundle Mall

 

Leaving Rotorua involved a few stops along the way to appreciate the Wai-O-Tapu (Maori for sacred waters), an active geothermal area located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

We stopped off to look at the Mud Pool, a vast gurgling swamp of mud. Deeeelightful! It really stank, but there was something mesmerising watching the bubbles popping up to the surface with a loud belch and mud spurting into the air and plopping back down leaving circular rings across the surface of the pool.

2014 New Zealand (2292)

We also stopped by a pebble beach that I don’t recall the name of. There was a lonely looking wharf there and the glassy surface of Lake Rotorua begging for pebbles to be skipped across. And look so many pebbles within reach!

Lake Rotorua

Lake Rotorua

Lake Taupo

We travelled on in the bus towards Taupo, which boasts New Zealand’s largest lake. Before hopping the bus I snapped this pic of the misty morning. Ahh the mysteries of the road, you never know what will happen next.

Leaving Rotorua

We stopped at the majestic Huka Falls on the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest, where the water is a vibrant blue-green colour under all the white water.

2014 New Zealand (2297)

Starting at the falls we did a one hour hike, following a track to the Spa Park walking along the bank of the river the whole way. The river changed form right before our eyes as we went, from the thundering falls where the water gushes down an eleven metre drop (220,000 litres a second) to a wide, meandering river winding its way lazily through the forest.

2014 New Zealand (2301)

The Spa Park at the end features hot pools that feed warm water into the river. I thought the outside temperature was too cold to deal with being wet (what a wuss, I wish I had now) so I just popped my feet in – lovely!!

2014 New Zealand (2304)

Beautiful Lake Taupo was not hard to miss – it is New Zealand’s biggest! It’s up to 188m deep in places, 100m deep on average, and contains 60 cubic kilometres of water – enough water to cover the whole North Island with a half metre depth of water.

The sky cleared up to a brilliant blue by the time we arrived, though it was still pretty chilly. I still enjoyed a half hour walking along the edge in the sunshine.

Lake Taupo

I walked around the few blocks of Taupo, had a breakfast-lunch, and wandered through a park to the Taupo Museum. The entry fee was only about $5, and I went in more or less to spend an hour until the bus left to continue on to Tongariro National Park. I’m so glad I did – the cultural and historical exhibits were really interesting. There is a carved Maori Meeting House dating from 1927 and lots of history about Tuwharetoa, the local Maori tribe.

Lake Taupo Totem

There was a lot of info about New Zealand’s volcanic history which I found really fascinating. Lake Taupo is actually a volcano – strange to believe as it’s also a lake, formed in the ‘caldera’ volcano – one of the best examples of a caldera in the world. It’s located at the heart of the Taupo Volcanic Zone which is home to most of New Zealand’s volcanoes and geothermal features. According to Wikipedia:

This huge volcano has produced two of the world’s most violent eruptions in geologically recent times.”

In other words, it is a crazy-real volcano. Though, the reference to recent times actually refers to 26,500 and 1,800 years ago, so not super-crazy-recent.

The museum had lots of old media coverage from eye witnesses that have experienced earthquakes caused by the plates under Lake Taupo, I found it absolutely fascinating – I took a photo of this old article:

Lake Taupo Museum Newspaper

There is also an interesting article written by the New Zealand Herald, Taupo volcano: what its past unrest can tell us.

And that’s all for Lake Taupo! On we go to Tongariro National Park for an attempt at a ‘Great Walk’.

Pink Sky Aeroplane

Finally! An overseas adventure is on the cards! Yippee!!

I am off to New Zealand on the 23rd June for four weeks. FOUR GLORIOUS weeks of exploration around what I have heard, countless times, is a truly beautiful country.

I am starting off in Auckland where I will catch up with a travel friend, Leah, who I met when travelling India. Then I’m going to head north to the stunning Bay of Islands – I plan to go on the Rock the Boat overnight cruise while there to see the islands from the best vantage point, plus mosey around with my camera and soak up island living.

Then back to Auckland to travel south through the North Island and down to the South Island. I will fly back to Sydney from Christchurch on the 18th July.

Things I am super excited about:

  • Overnight boating in the Bay of Islands.
  • Hiking Fox Glacier (first time exploring a glacier).
  • Hanging out, cafés and art in Nelson, what I have heard is a kinda groovy town.
  • Soaking in thermal baths!
  • Milford Sound.
  • Queenstown fun.
  • Giving skiing a whirl.
  • Being on the road, meeting interesting people.
  • Getting a massive nature hit and being outside all the time.
  • The crisp cool air and mountain views.
  • The SNOW!!
  • Using my new camera – excited!!

Of course I’ll be blogging as I go. Finally some decent travel action for this travel blog… It’s been too long.

So right now I am juggling tying up last minute work stuff, other projects on my hands and conducting some very important, all consuming online shopping for things I need in my travel wardrobe (I don’t often travel to cold places). This hat is still under consideration (initial reaction from my housemate was a bit cautious).

Donna Winter Hat

I am intentionally winding down toward holiday mode. Too many holidays have started out in the brink of exhaustion in recent years, this one I am committed to starting raring to go… Countdown is on :-)