From the minute I drove up the driveway and came face to face with a Thoroughbred and a Shetland I felt right at home. Out rushed Jan to shove them out of the way and pull me in for a hug with an “alright love” in her thick Scouse accent.
Following Jan and the horses came two dogs, one cat, eight chooks, three goats, one daughter called Phoenix, Jan’s husband called Damon and 12 peacocks!! I walked into the warm kitchen, she put on the kettle and that was up chatting for two days straight.
The farm is great there is always something happening; a dog running this way, a peacock flying that way or Jan scurrying around subconsciously chattering to herself as she mentally ticks her never-ending to do list off in her mind.
Jan, Damon and Phoenix all have such a warm and caring way about them and that extends throughout the house and instantly transported me back to my own house with my own family fussing around, though we have less animals, for now!
After the craziness of the last week and a half the cup of tea in the sun with an incredible view across the valley and a natter with a familiar accent was just what was needed. Straight away I felt like I’d known her for years. Another thing that reminded me of home was Jan’s cooking and hospitality, a natural nurturer I don’t think I’ve eaten that much since I left my own mum. With a severe case of home-sickness I embraced it whole-heartedly. Both nights my plate was piled high with a roast and then followed by a warming dessert. The next morning I lied in had a gorgeous brekkie or muesli and home-made Fijoa compote (fruit native to NZ).
I waited for Jan in the same spot with another cuppa in the sun and pottered around the farm and generally just relaxed. After lunch we were off to Abel Tasman. We arrived to glorious sunshine and made our way round the coast. I was blown away by how beautiful it was.
People gently kayaked by while the abundance of wildlife chirped and rustled away in the bushes. We even saw some giant foot prints leading to a cave, my imagination is going crazy and I’d love to know what it was. For all the other questions I had I was lucky to have my own personal tour guide, Jan on hand to explain what it all was. I’m a bit of a nerd and love mushrooms; eating, photographing etc. And it wasn’t long before we saw this beauty. Apparently it’s called a skeleton mushroom- how amazing is that!
Before I knew it my stay in Abel Tasman paradise was over, the family meal was eaten, my bag was packed and I was off to bed for a very early start. I cannot recommend Mountain View B&B enough, you will be looked after with love and care as part of the family. I left feeling fully refreshed and got to see Abel Tasman to boot. I loved my stay and can confidently say I’ll be back.
Kaikoura was one of the best places I have visited. Something that most of you don’t know about me is that I love animals and am a HUGE David Attenborough fan and one of my favourite episodes of his is on the ‘Life’ series. Well today I got to experience first-hand a part of that episode.
Just north of Kaikoura is a secret waterfall where seal pups live from May to October. I walked through the forest and up the stream until I got to the waterfall and there they were. Around 30 seal pups we all frolicking in the pool, diving in and out of the water and jumping off rocks. You musn’t get too close but it was hard not too as they are inquisitive little things, one nearly stole my GroPro! This was honestly one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had, and to see the cute innocent little seal pups playing together in a natural forest pool was my life made.
I also got to go on a whale watching tour while I was there which was brilliant. After my dolphin watching experience in Bali I was a little hesitant to disturb the animals but this tour was great, we were the only ones out there and it didn’t feel like we were intruding on them at all.
The weather wasn’t the best and it’s probably the coldest I’ve ever been but all that went out of the window when I laid eyes on Tutu. A 22 tonne sperm whale who has returned to Kaikoura every winter since 1994 had just resurfaced after feeding and the 5 minutes he was on the surface seemed like 5 seconds and with a swish of his giant fluke he was gone, back down to feed again. Just seeing his sheer size and how calm was, was amazing. We then came across a mixed pod of Dusky and Common Dolphins. Shannon the guide said there must have been around 200-250 dolphins out there surrounding us, again all doing back flips and diving around the boat. For one last treat a Royal Albatross sailed past us, with a wing span of over 3.5 metres it was incredible to see. I couldn’t help but think of Wilbur from ‘Rescuers Down Under’.
After I had thawed out I went to Kean Point to have a look at the seals there. You can literally get up so close to them, they were just lazing around on the walkway and on the rocks really near to the car park not bothered by me whatsoever. Kean Point was really cool, the smell of salt and the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks was so nice so I had a walk along the rocks to check out the giant kelp and the rock pools.
The name means Kai (eat) Koura (crayfish), so that’s exactly what I did and lots of it; all along the front there are places to pick up the freshest seafood and in particular Crayfish (what we call lobster). If you love the seaside, nature and wildlife I would definitely recommend Kaikoura.
The drive up from Wanaka was stunning, especially winding down the Lindis Valley and passed the amazing Lake Pukaki.
Once arrived it didn’t take long to find my way around the tiny village, including finding the Church of the Good Shepherd, and settle in to plan the adventure for the next day.
Up early I was on my way to Aoraki and the Mount Cook National Reserve.
The Hooker Valley Trek takes 3 hr return and makes its way from White Horse Hill car park to the hooker glacier and back…and it is amazing.
New Zealand has been a must do of mine for many years and what perfect timing than on my way back to the UK.
In the car with Made we drove North West in the direction of Pemuteran to do some diving.
I love making lists and one of my lists that has been going for quite some time is my travel bucket list. Trust me there is plenty on there and i have some way to go before I finish it, in fact it just keeps getting longer. One place that has been on there for quite some time is Indonesia, Bali & The Gili Islands in particular.
Tired and stressed from work I decided now was the time. In the same time and money in takes to go from Gatwick to Grenada I was in tropical Bali.
I was met in the airport by my wonderful driver, Made, we became good friends by the end of the few days we had together. Behind a small and ornate archway lied my accommodation for my stay in Ubud, Sama’s Cottages. A complete juxtaposition to the streets outside it was a perfectly quiet and tranquil place to relax. My morning ritual became yoga at the Yoga Barn followed by a lovely breakfast and Balinese coffee back on my veranda.
During my stay I made the most of the pool and on the last morning had an amazing private massage in the middle of the rainforest to the sound of birds. I have only been away for a couple of days and array feel like I’ve been away for months.
Ubud is simply amazing. Like every tourist today I visited the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, it was like walking straight into King Louie’s kingdom in The Jungle Book where mischievous monkeys rule a maze of overgrown temples and mossy statues.