Posts in Category: travel

Dromana in Mid-Summer

Gates to ?, Dromana Pier

Gates to ?, Dromana Pier

We took a little break over the holiday period and headed down to Dromana for a couple of nights by the beach. It was super busy and hot and while Emmy was heavily pregnant (not any more! :D) we did manage to do a few things. The day we arrived was stinking hot, high 30s and sunny, so when we checked into our airbnb accommodation we just hid in the air-conditioned room for a bit to relax.

The Beach

Later in the afternoon I took Oscar to the beach, which was absolutely packed, I didn’t go looking for the the best stretch or anything, I just found a park on the main road not too far from our accommodation and went from there. We walked about 50m from where we parked to find a patch of space near the water, the sand wasn’t great and it may not have been the best time to go for building sand castles. Oscar got bored really fast (perhaps because I was reading a book instead of playing with him :() and decided that he wanted to go home, so that was that for our beach time.

I had planned on going to Cape Schanck at night time to do some night photography, but the skies greyed over and it was hot, and in the end it was just a few things conspiring against me (lazy) so I ended up not getting out to take any night photos, there definitely wasn’t a chance for starry night skies anyway.

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm

The next day we went strawberry picking at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, I can’t remember when I last went strawberry picking (if ever) but it was certainly a positive experience for Emmy who kept complaining about the last time she went and how there was nothing. We managed to fill two punnets with sweet (relatively speaking for strawberries), juicy strawberries, despite Oscar coring a bunch of them.

I was thinking that it was best to go early so that you wouldn’t miss out, but as I was picking them, it occurred to me that some of the strawberries that I didn’t pick due to not quite being ripe would probably ripen during the day, so even if you didn’t arrive at opening time, there’d probably still be plenty to pick from. We had some strawberry iced cream afterwards which seemed like it was made using actual strawberries so another thumbs up.

Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens

Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens

Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens

This one turned out to be a bit of a hit and miss, it was warm and stuffy so walking around a lot wasn’t exactly Emmy’s cup of tea. But we managed to get through two hedge mazes, a rose garden maze, and part of the lavender garden. The first hedge maze was a disappointment though as it was pretty much being regrown from scratch, at least half (probably more) of the trees were saplings or very young and so it didn’t take much effort to find our way through.

The second hedge maze was much more difficult, in fact, I’m not sure if anyone that went in actually found the exit correctly. We’d just keep seeing the same people over and over at the entrance, eventually we gave up and moved on, but I did quickly go in through the exit to see where it was, but I still couldn’t figure out how to get there even though it was right next to parts that we walked through several times.

The rose garden maze was less frustrating as we managed to find the finish point and return successfully, it was challenging but not too difficult, which made it fun for me and Oscar. The lavender gardens didn’t seem to be in full bloom as the purple was a bit dull.

Eats and other things in Dromana

  • Eggs Benedict, Pier Street Kitchen
    Eggs Benedict, Pier Street Kitchen
  • Lasagne, Pier Street Kitchen
    Lasagne, Pier Street Kitchen

We didn’t venture out of Dromana to eat even though it is so close to many restaurants and wineries. We had lunch at the Pier Street Kitchen on the first day, which used to be called Dee’s Kitchen, I think that they must have changed owner because they used to have a deli and assorted goods for sale, but seems like just dining nowadays. The food was okay, but nothing special, not to the level of regional gourmet delight level anyway.

We had fish and chips the first night at Dromana Fish Supplies (take away), as it was the highest rated on that we could find. It was a letdown, it took 45 minutes (they did warn us) to get our order done, and everything was super salty. My fish burger might have been under cooked, I’m not sure, the fish didn’t flake apart when eating, so not great.

We had lunch at Laneway Espresso, a cafe on the main road which was highly rated for its cooked food apparently, but ended up not ordering any of the main dishes, and instead just got a sausage roll and a pre-made sandwich. They were good, but Emmy scolded me for not ordering something cooked off the menu :D.

We were looking for some kind of take away for dinner and went with pizza from That Pizza Shop, it has an interesting menu made up of gourmet style pizzas. I chose the sunday roast which has lamb, pumpkin and potato on it, while Emmy chose the garlic prawn (small size). The small pizza was really small, so I wouldn’t recommend getting a small unless it’s for a child. The quality of the pizza was good, they were a little expensive but they were good for take away, so no qualms there.

I also can’t leave without mentioning the IGA in Dromana, which seems to be a very high quality supermarket, we only looked around half of the store for stuff that we needed specifically for breakfast and it was pretty impressive. Looked very much like Leos here in Melbourne, full of all sorts of things that you either don’t get in the regular supermarket or at least different brands or products from places around the world, high quality stuff.

Before leaving very early on our last morning for a doctor’s appointment, we stopped by the main pier so that I could take a few pictures (as seen above). I was thinking of doing that pier into the endless sea cliché shot, but there were people there so I decided to have a look underneath for that tunnel style that I’m renowned for :D.



Marysville: Day Trip

Marysville: Steavensons Falls

Marysville: Steavensons Falls

We hadn’t been on a day trip or out of the house really for a while so last Saturday we decided to head up to Marysville. It was a lovely Spring day which made things very pleasant. We left the house at 8.40am (made easy because Oscar was spending the day with the grandparents) and arrived at about 10.20am, taking the nice drive through the Yarra Ranges National Park. We didn’t really plan out the day, just knowing that there were some waterfalls to see, and there are always some shops in town.

Steavensons Falls

We were too early for lunch so we headed straight for Steavensons Falls, just a short drive out of town. There is car parking near the falls as well, where $3 will get you about an hour and a half of parking which is about right to take a bunch of pictures from a few different angles, or just walking along a short trail or two. Silly me, I’ve been so obsessed with taking multi-exposure photos everywhere that I tried the same thing here hoping for the running water effect; but here, just added the blurry tree effect :(.

Marysville: Daisy

Marysville: Daisy

This is definitely a place you want to visit during the golden hour, it wasn’t too busy as I was able to mount my tripod and take plenty of pictures, although the grating underfoot didn’t make it particularly easy to get stabilised.


After that we went back to town for lunch, and decided on the Duck Inn, which is the town pub. I went with the parma, and Emmy had the Spaghetti Puttanesca (mistake), when eating at a standard pub, you just have to stick with standard pub fare, burger, fish and chips, etc. The parma was good, nothing special, but no complaints either, the spaghetti had a sweetness to it that was a bit strange considering all of the ingredients were salty haha. I had pictures but Emmy’s phone has died so we’ve lost pretty much all the pictures on her phone for the year :(.

After lunch we wandered around town and visited the shops, there isn’t that much to see but worth a little look nonetheless. Perhaps the population is too small to support the type of shops that abound in the Dandenongs.

Marysville: Bruno's Sculpture Garden

Marysville: Bruno’s Sculpture Garden

Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden

From there we needed some culture and headed for Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden just a short drive from the centre of town. This place was burnt to the ground in the Black Saturday fires of 2009 but they seem to have made a pretty good recovery as the garden is big and full of sculptures big and small.

Marysville: Bruno's Sculpture Garden

Marysville: Bruno’s Sculpture Garden

The artists/proprietors are very friendly and prolific as the place is full of art works, they’re also very multi-talented as the art work is not just sculptures and paintings but music as well. We spent about an hour and a half there and picked up a couple of CDs as well, definitely well worth a visit.

Lady Talbot Drive

It was about 2.30pm and almost time to head home but I wanted to see the Taggerty River Cascades which happen to be one of the attractions along Lady Talbot Drive. Phantom Falls, Keppel Falls, and the Beech Forest are also along this route which makes it quite convenient to see many sights. Unfortunately though, the road is currently closed after the Picnic Grounds due to tree hazards (dead trees from the bushfire falling). So that was a bit disappointing, but leaves us something to come back for, maybe we can stay a night to see everything in the best light. Until next time.




Throwback Thursday: Mexico 2008: Veracruz – Papantla, El Tajin, and Xalapa

Throwback Thursday

This was originally posted on 12th May 2008 on For lack of regular new content, I’m going back and grabbing some stuff that has gone missing since the demise of to repost here. I don’t think that I will follow any pattern, most likely will just be looking for some cool stuff and post it chronologically each Thursday. I’ll only post stuff that I can still find the pictures for, which means my original trip to NZ did not make the cut (unless I can find them again). I’ll also be re-formatting slightly and fixing up any grammatical errors or (mostly lower case everything text) to suit the new theme.


Veracruz: El Tajin

El Tajin

We left Mexico City on Thursday morning to go up (north west) to Papantla in Veracruz state, from where we would pay a visit to the El Tajin ruins, and then onto Xalapa to visit the anthropological museum there. we arrived in the afternoon and immediately found it warmer than Mexico City (more tropical), wandered around and finally settled on a hotel, that was worse than we expected (more later). the plan was to visit el tajin on the Friday, leave for Xalapa Friday afternoon, and do the museum on saturday.

That was the plan, and that was how it turned out, although Alf and Ozzy had some issues in Xalapa. Papantla was quite a nice town, smallish but with a nice vibe. Cars (some of which were pretty cool) were driving the circuit after dark, and lots of people wandering around the square. It’s a hilly town, seemingly higher in the south than the north.

Veracruz: El Tajin

El Tajin

After an amusing bus ride to the El Tajin site arriving about 10am, we wandered around the site for a couple hours. There were some very impressive ruins there, it wasn’t on my itinerary initially, but Ozzy wanted to go, so i think I took a day out of Mexico City or something, I certainly wasn’t upset, it was a cool site. It was more popular than Teotihuacan, but that could’ve been because there were lots of school groups there. After the ruins, we wandered out to see the flying Totonac voladores, traditional to the area. These guys seemed to charge before performing, we each handed over twenty pesos.

After that, we weren’t sure what to do regarding the bus back to Papantla, we waited at the ruins entrance for a while, before walking out to the highway, eventually a bus came, it went down to the ruins before coming back to the highway. on the way, a bunch of school kids got on, and started hassling Alf and Ozzy, in broken English, and Spanish, they loved it.

Veracruz: Volador


Next was an afternoon bus to Xalapa, it arrived around 8-9pm, in a very busy city (the capital of Veracruz state). Ozzy was to get sick, and Alf was soon to follow, we didn’t get up to much (Friday night!!), but had a big dorm room all to ourselves.

The next day we went to the impressive (and fortunately not so big) anthropological museum, with a load of giant Olmec heads, and other relics from the region, it was a pretty cool place (although it pretty much drained me of my museum visiting interest for the rest of the trip) despite not having anything (?) in English.

Giant Olmec head three is the near one, i’m not sure what the other one is, but Alf is standing there for a bit of perspective, there were definitely bigger ones, I think there were seven total, plus one in Mexico City.

Vereacruz: Colossal Olmec Head 3

Colossal Olmec Head 3

Ozzy was really feeling crappy at this point, and after the museum, we had a bit of a wander looking for a view of the city, but gave up cos we didn’t have enough time before the bus to Puebla. so a kind of rushed time in Veracruz state, and Xalapa especially, but I guess that’s what happens when you add something to the plan later on, and also when people are sick.

Veracruz: Voladores


A picture of the voladores sitting on top of their pole, ready to jump off and swing about upside down (tied with ropes) till they get to the bottom, the guy standing up plays a flute-like instrument while the others swing. Note: I changed the picture here so the line preceding this doesn’t make sense 😉


Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy

We went to ride on Puffing Billy last month for Oscar’s birthday and forgot about it until yesterday, it wasn’t unforgettable haha, but it wasn’t forgettable either, a nice time was had by all. We booked the 10.30am departure which turned out to be a bit of a rush (since they tell you to be 30 minutes early or something), we didn’t get there by 10am (more like 10.20am) but it didn’t matter, they didn’t leave till about 10.35am anyway. A lot of late comers strolling on so we certainly didn’t feel too bad about not being early.

We left from the starting point of Belgrave and headed for Lakeside, which is the main stop as there are picninc grounds and a small lake to spend time at (and some nearby play grounds). It takes about an hour with a couple of stops along the way, there is a nice view toward the city near the top around 45 minutes in and a fun atmosphere the whole time. The train meanders across Mount Dandenong and stops traffic at many junctions where people seem to enjoy the spectacle of a passing steam train.

Puffing Billy view

Puffing Billy view

We arrived at Lakeside at about 11.30am and quickly got out and ate our packed sandwiches by the lake. We had a short walk around and discovered that the next train back to Belgrave (after the 12.30pm train) was not until after 2pm, which we were not prepared for. So in a rush we headed back to the train station and boarded before setting off back to Belgrave.

Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy

So unfortunately we didn’t get to spend a relaxing time up at the lake but at least we had a peaceful ride on the train back. As the weather was quite cool (but sunny) it wasn’t so busy so we got to sit comfortably and also dangle our legs out the window whenever we liked. We got to Belgrave and were pretty hungry so we had a quick look in the gift shop before checking out what food was on offer along the main street.

It’s a good experience but we definitely could have done better by being more prepared, being May it also wasn’t the best time to spend outdoors in the crisp air of Mount Dandenong hungry. Next time maybe we’ll go when it’s a bit warmer so that we can enjoy the lakeside activities a bit and spend more time up there (and also prepare more food!). All in all it’s a fun trip and the trains are pretty cool to see, puffing out all that steam makes for some interesting pictures, there’s also that part where the train goes over an elevated section of track that would look pretty cool from down on the side of the road. It’s not cheap (54$ per adult) so definitely worth it to prepare and plan out the trip better than we did.


Crown Range Road Panorama

We took the Crown Range Road from Queenstown to Wanaka, there’s a very nice lookout at the top of the road (Arrow Junction Lookout point), we stopped here and I snapped an eleven shot panorama with my FA43 (portrait mode). These panoramas always end up being ultra wide because I don’t take the second layer of pictures on top to get more resolution. Due to the massive resolution of my K-1, this picture is probably somewhere in the region of 180MP at full resolution, I didn’t process it at full resolution due to the ridiculous size I’d have to work with, and the fact that it will probably only be displayed here.

Crown Range Road Panorama

Crown Range Road Panorama

The drive up the road is fun, and the view is amazing, it’s probably even better when you get to the top of the road (Crown Range Summit), there’s a lookout point that seems a bit hairy to get to (just on the shoulder) but well worth it, actually looks like there’s a walking track there too. And with that, I think I’m done with posting my pictures from this visit of New Zealand (I’ll be adding to Flickr for a while still though), I was going to post another Throwback Thursday this week, but it’s probably a bad thing if the only content here is archived news, so I’ll save that for next week.


Throwback Thursday: Mexico 2008: Federal District of Mexico City

Throwback Thursday

This was originally posted on 10th May 2008 on For lack of regular new content, I’m going back and grabbing some stuff that has gone missing since the demise of to repost here. I don’t think that I will follow any pattern, most likely will just be looking for some cool stuff and post it chronologically each Thursday. I’ll only post stuff that I can still find the pictures for, which means my original trip to NZ did not make the cut (unless I can find them again). I’ll also be re-formatting slightly and fixing up any grammatical errors or (mostly lower case everything text) to suit the new theme.

Mexico City

We arrived in Mexico City at around 6am on a Sunday, and headed for the hostel straight away (I’ll post reviews on transport, accommodation, food and drinks as separate items when I have finished doing each region). we were able to get three beds in a dorm, two other people were sleeping when we got there. we slept straight away, to try and catch up a bit, and eventually around 2pm, we finally got out and about around the zocalo. Sunday is probably the busiest day in town, as there were lots of people around, and stuff going on everywhere.

We were in Mexico City from Sunday till Thursday morning, so four full days (although Sunday was pretty much a write off). with our lonely planet and rough guides books handy, we managed to wander around different parts of the city, we were staying in the historical centre of town, so lots to see there. the main sights in the city that we saw were:

  • the Zocalo obviously, with Aztec performance
  • the cathedral, a massive and picturesque old building
  • the national palace, lots of great murals by Diego Rivera there
  • Templo Mayor, the ancient Aztec temple
  • wandered through Condesa, I’m not a coffee drinker, so this wasn’t a great highlight for me
  • the anthropological museum, massive museum dedicated to Mexicos ancient and modern history, too big to take it all in in one visit
  • rode the metro (more on this later)
  • watched the lucha libres wrestle it out, it’s definitely not real, but fun as a novelty
  • hundreds of cops (of cadets)
  • Mexico City: Aztec Performers
    Mexico City: Aztec Performers
  • Mexico City: Flowers
    Mexico City: Flowers
  • Mexico City: Cathedral Chandelier
    Mexico City: Cathedral Chandelier
  • Mexico City: Templo Mayor
    Mexico City: Templo Mayor
  • Mexico City: The Police Academy
    Mexico City: The Police Academy
Mexico City: Lucha Libre

Mexico City: Lucha Libre (I’ll see if I can embed the video at some point)
Just a short video of the wrestlers (lucha libres) going at it, it was pretty funny. It’s pretty chaotic, and you have to wonder if there is a script at all. We saw these guys on a tour provided by some guy that was looking for tourists at the hostel :D.

The one thing we did notice was that there are basically cops at every corner, either directing traffic, or doing nothing :D. In the Zocalo, there were a few dozen cadets just messing around doing nothing every day. there were also a lot fewer people speaking english than I expected :(, this was unfortunate, as it did affect the holiday a bit, I’ll make sure that I am much better prepared on future trips.

Teotihuacan: Pyramid of the Moon

Teotihuacan: Pyramid of the Moon

The big thing we saw was out of town, we got a bus out to see Teotihuacan, the ancient Mexican city, home of two beautiful pyramids, and several other magnificent ruins. It’s a massive site, and took us about five hours to cover it all, there weren’t as many tourists as I expected (which was a good thing). The refreshing feeling at the top of the pyramid of the sun is so awesome. Unfortunately, the pyramid of the moon could not be climbed the whole way, but despite that, the view was still good. it was a warm day, not overly hot, but walking around a big site like that will make you sweat. A gentle breeze blows at the top of the pyramid of the sun, making it extremely tranquil and pleasant. definitely a must visit location, lots of pictures to post, although probably not as many good ones as I hoped.

The weather was very pleasant, probably mid to high 20’s during the day, and cooling down to low teens (or cooler) over night. Smog and haze is a problem though, only one morning after it rained the previous night was the sky reasonably clear, otherwise, you’ll most likely see hazy blue or overcast skies. The only time I ever felt vulnerable in Mexico City, was once on a packed metro train with little breathing room, other than that, the city was extremely pleasant, and the people no different (in terms of attitude towards others) from any other place I’ve been. A great experience, and would definitely want to go back sometime and see more of the city and it’s surrounds.


Protest in Mexico City

Protest in Mexico City

Not sure why the picture is so hazy, but there was a friendly protest going on near the zocalo the day we came in, police were out and about (more than usual) and people were chanting.



Queenstown 2017: Kawarau Bridge Bungy!

Queenstown: Duck in the Lake

Duck in the Lake

We had no plans on our last day other than to visit one of the local markets in Queenstown. I also wanted to go to Kawarau Bridge to see (not do, too old for it these days) some bungy action, the other thing that I was thinking about doing was driving up to one of the nearby ski resorts to check out the view, whether it be Coronet Peak, or the Remarkables (lucky we didn’t, I just saw today that it was Treble Cone that has the really nice view), but wimped out due to cold.

The market was small as you’d expect, but Emmy managed to find some interesting things, Oscar and I went to look at the ducks swimming in the lake. After about half an hour we left and went looking for something else, I can’t remember the reason exactly but we drove up the road toward Arrowtown and ended up turning off the Shotover Jet (boat) site, Arthurs Point.

Queenstown: Long White Cloud, Cecil Peak

Long White Cloud, Cecil Peak

I should’ve taken some pictures of the boat but I was lazy, and it was also too bright to take pictures of the bridge over the gorge, so I ended up with nothing again (have to remember that something is better than nothing in future!). We then went back to Queenstown to grab some lunch from Ferg Baker which is also run by the Ferg Burger crew and right next door. The pies were okay, reasonable value at least at about 4.50$ a pop. Then we drove up to Glenorchy-Queenstown Road and stopped by the roadside to eat them. I managed to stall long enough to snap up some long multi-exposure shots too.

Worked out pretty well, didn’t quite get the mirror effect in the lake that I was after because of some boats (mainly TSS Earnslaw but also a couple of jet boats too) but the end result looks pretty good to me. I managed to convince Emmy that we should go watch the bungy at Kawarau Bridge since it is quite close to Queenstown.

Kawarau Bridge Bungy

Kawarau Bridge: Best bungy jumper

Best bungy jumper

Well, it isn’t quite as close as I thought but not too far, only about 25 minutes if I remember correctly. It was worth it in the end, we had some good fun watching the (mostly girls) jumpers. Most of them did pretty well and jumped quite quickly, there was only one girl that took a lot of coaxing and then eventually a little nudge to go over. Probably about half o a bit less than half of the jumpers sort of walked off the edge and bungied feet first which looks kind of awkward.

I also managed to capture some pretty sweet shots of the jumpers mid jump, I had the AFC mode on and tried to follow them down, from my perspective it seemed a bit random, but the camera looks to have captured them pretty well.

Kawarau Bridge: The lioness has lift off

The lioness has lift off

I didn’t think that I was able to keep the subject in focus as they were moving pretty quickly but the focus looks pretty spot on in these pictures.

I threw the DFA100 macro on and put the camera in AFC to see if I could get anything, and I was a bit surprised that the picture came out all right, so I kept trying and managed to get a few keepers. I think I ended up taking pictures of seven different jumpers and I got an in-focus shot of each, so I was pretty happy. Just having a look at the pictures, maybe something like 150mm-200mm would’ve been ideal but obviously I don’t have such a lens. The DFA 100 did pretty well for a pretty slow focusing lens, and the sharpness is definitely nothing to sneeze at.

Car Hire

We then drove back to Queenstown where Emmy did some more last minute shopping before we headed to the airport. On the way, we dropped off our car at the Go Rentals hire centre (very short ride to the airport). We hired a Toyota Corolla hatchback (just like last time) as we weren’t driving off road or anything crazy, the car was in pretty good condition and drove very smoothly, no complaints from me. It had the infant seat installed which didn’t need any adjustment on our part and while Oscar complained a lot, he does that in our car with the seat he’s been riding in for a couple years now.

It wasn’t the cheapest car, it certainly wasn’t the most expensive, but it was the best balance of reliable car and price, and insurance/excess conditions. The short shuttle ride from the airport to the car hire pickup location was a bit annoying because it was cold and rainy when we arrived, but I would use them again.


We stayed at the Heritage Queenstown, which is a four (?) star hotel at the southwestern end of Queenstown, it’s a little bit of a walk into town but we drove everywhere so no difference for us. We did not fork out for the lake view which we instantly regretted upon driving past the lake on the way to the hotel and then walking into our room. The beds were quite soft, and I wonder if requesting a firmer mattress would have achieved anything, maybe I will try that next time. Overall, the hotel was good but I wonder where you would park your car if the hotel car park was full. We were hoping to use the swimming pool but it is not heated and outdoors so we didn’t bother, even the spa is outdoors albeit completely under cover. We’d stay there again if the price was still a reasonable value, maybe in a lake view room though.

One last note, we had dinner at the airport because of the timing of our flight, and the Airspresso diner was actually quite reasonable for taste and value. I had a cheese burger with chips, and Emmy and Oscar shared a mac and cheese, probably better than most places outside without having a major airport tax.


Queenstown 2017: Wanaka

Wanaka: Cardrona


For our last full day in New Zealand, we went for a drive up to Wanaka via the Crown Range Road. To say that this is a fun drive would be an understatement, it winds its way up a hill to a nice lookout where you can see very far (I will post a panorama of this view in a later post). Then winds its way back down to the small town of Cardrona before making its way to Wanaka.

This is where I have to apologise because we arrived at lunch time and the sun was quite high and bright, and for some reason I decided not to take any pictures at all! So I have no pictures of the beautiful lake and the view to Mount Aspiring, honestly no idea what I was thinking (I think I was thinking we’d be back later in the evening with better light, or hopefully some clouds).

We didn’t end up doing much other than a short stroll along the lake side and lunch from a bakery. Oscar had some fun at the local playground but otherwise we didn’t really see anything locally. After lunch we went for a drive to see if there was something nice to look at, the sign at the entrance to town said Glendhu Bay, so we went in that direction hoping for something nice. We drove past Roys Peak which was really busy, looked like a good walk (and now that I googled it, looks like something to do in future for sure).

Wanaka: Motatipu Gorge

Motatipu Gorge

We got to Glendhu Bay but didn’t see much other than a lot of camper vans. There was a sign that went off road to Motatipu Gorge so we thought, let’s just drive up there and see what it is.

As soon as we turned off the main road it became gravel, and then dirt road, so the 6km drive ended up taking about 20 minutes to reach the end of the road. There’s a walking track there that follows the river, but we just went down and had a little look before leaving and driving back to Queenstown. It’s funny, this was a bit of a random venture and I realised once we got out of the car that I came to this same place ten years ago and probably came to the same conclusion then. At least this time I had a camera with more functions allowing me to take a picture that I could be happy with.

[Update]: Forgot to mention that there are some seriously nasty mosquitoes along this river/stream, my top was not covering my back near my waist, and I ended up with four or five bites on my back, plus two more on my wrist. They were really itchy bites too, damn, it wasn’t that warm, but they must be alpine mozzies or something.

Cromwell: Lake Dunstan

Lake Dunstan

So back to Queenstown but this time rather than going over the Crown Range Road again we went the other way via Cromwell. We stopped at Lake Dunstan which has a beautiful mirror effect (if the water is still enough) but it was a bit late by the time I was finished there so we carried on back to Queenstown from there. We also stopped at the Roaring Meg lookout which I might post a picture of in a later post (HDR). It was not the nicest drive back to Queenstown from there as the sun was setting and pretty much blinding us although driving through that canyon is quite cool.

So for our last proper meal in Queenstown we went with seafood, and Fishbone was our choice. It’s quite expensive if you’re just after fish and chips so probably not the place to go for that, but there was plenty of variety for seafood. Emmy was really after mussels so she ended up going for the fish stew, and I went with one of the recommended specials, lemon sole.

My fish was quite good, the lemon giving it a good little zest, the fish stew came with some nice crusty bread, and I’m sure it was quite good too. Oscar was getting to be a real pain at dinner times by this time of the trip so we pretty much ended up getting out as quickly as possible. I’d recommend this place for seafood if you get that craving in Queenstown. Our last day in Queenstown next, where we didn’t do a lot, but still managed to try out a few functions on my camera.

  • Fishbone: Fish Stew
    Fish Stew
  • Fishbone: Lemon sole
    Lemon sole


Queenstown 2017: Arrowtown

Arrowtown: Creepers


We had some good weather to end our trip, and for the first of these nice days, we headed for Arrowtown, just a 20 minute drive from Queenstown. It’s an historic gold mining town and is known for its spectacular Autumn colours. There are also a lot of little shops to keep the ladies interested, as well as a museum where you can learn about the history of the area. There are a few walking trails out the back of the town where you can really enjoy the Autumn colours, and I guess it can be called a river, although it’s quite shallow (I wouldn’t cross it in sneakers though).

Before doing anything, we made our way to The Chop Shop for breakfast since Emmy didn’t have anything and us boyd only had some corn flakes earlier. It was okay, but nothing special, I had scrambled eggs, Emmy had the special corn fritters (spicy caramel was a bit sweet still), and Oscar had some kind of super ridiculously sweet babycino. I’d already had a bit for breakfast so I just went for something simple so as not to spoil my appetite for lunch.

  • Arrowtown: The Chop Shop: Spicy caramel Corn Fritters
    The Chop Shop: Spicy caramel Corn Fritters
  • The Chop Shop: Arrowtown: Babycino for the win
    Babycino for the win

The museum is really quite interesting (especially for me being of Chinese descent), I think it’s built into an original town building and you can see a lot of the historical tools that were used, as well as learn about the Chinese “invasion” that occurred during the gold rush. That was our morning, looking at some shops and then the museum.

Arrowtown Autumnal Colours

Arrowtown Autumnal Colours

We had lunch at the Arrowtown bakery (as a money saving move), turned out to be a good idea as the food was reasonably priced and tasty. I had the mince and cheese pie (pie, peas, potato deal) that comes with peas and mashed potatoes with gravy. It wasn’t my first choice but they seemed to be having a shortage at the time. After that, it was time to enjoy some Autumn colours, along the way we wandered through the historic Chinese settlement (restored) to see how these gold seekers lived, must’ve been hard that’s for sure.

We wandered back along the trail and along the river but turned out that we were on the wrong side of the stream, so we couldn’t get back to the car park without getting our feet wet. So we had to stroll back and around the stream before we could head off.

It was a bit too late to visit Cromwell as I had originally thought might be possible, so instead we stopped by Lake Hayes and then again at one of the stopping points along the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road to shoot the Remarkables at sunset. Lake Hayes was a bit random, but we were driving back to Queenstown and drove past this lake, and the sun was shining, and the clouds were whisping (?), so I decided that it might be worthwhile, turns out it was, the mountains around the lake make for some breathtaking views, and it’s only 15 minutes from Queenstown on the way back from Arrowtown.

  • Arrowtown: Another Remarkables sunset
    Another Remarkables sunset
  • Arrowtown: Lakes Hayes
    Lakes Hayes
Bombay Palace: Queenstown: Lamb Vindaloo

Lamb Vindaloo

We finished off the day by having dinner at Bombay Palace which is down the bottom of the main road (Shotover St) clustered with a few other Indian restaurants. It’s a chain (since we saw one in Wanaka too), and it was the only Indian restaurant in that section that didn’t have a tout out the front. Won us over already (also had more people eating than the other places), I had the lamb vindaloo, and Emmy had the chicken tikka masala (so that Oscar could have some if he felt like it).

I was happy with mine, ordered it hot (not Indian hot) and it was just the right spice level, flavour was good (comparable to Tandoori Den LOL) and the lamb was tender. The service was good and the restaurant comfortable, so two thumbs up from me.

Next up, we visit Wanaka.


Queenstown 2017: Glenorchy

Glenorchy Lagoon

Glenorchy Lagoon

A dreary morning that we spent in town looking at art galleries was followed by a short drive up to Glenorchy, which turned out to be one of the real highlights of our trip. So having read the forecast correctly this time, we decided to stay in Queenstown and visit some of the local galleries and check out the local artwork in the morning. There are a quite a number of galleries with varying types of works, we mostly looked at paintings and photos, but there were some sculptures mixed in too. We had fish and chips at the local Erik’s Fish and Chips before driving up to Glenorchy in the afternoon.

Stopping several times along the windy Glenorchy-Queenstown Road to take in the beautiful views before arriving in Glenorchy about an hour later, it’s definitely one of the best drives you’ll find. I’d rate it above the Great Ocean Road based on scenery for sure. We visited Mrs. Woollys General Store to see what they had in stock, and fortunately for us (Oscar having discovered the fun of jumping in puddles earlier that day) we managed to find a pair of gumboots just the right size for him.

After that little bit of shopping we went down to the pier and the lagoon to take some more photos of the beautiful scenery around. What a picturesque little town, and we didn’t even visit the Glenorchy Animal Experience (which is a place to visit farm animals for the kids), I think we’d definitely visit again next time. The clouds were a bit too thick while we were there so I couldn’t take the exact pictures I wanted, but got some good stuff nonetheless. Before heading back to Queenstown we visited Mrs. Woollys General Store again for some hot chocolate, the spicy hot choc is two thumbs up!

  • Glenorchy: Sunshine Bay
    Sunshine Bay
  • Mountains around Glenorchy
    Mountains around Glenorchy
  • Mountains around Glenorchy
    Mountains around Glenorchy
  • Glenorchy: Cecil Peak
    Cecil Peak
  • Glenorchy: The Remarkables and TSS Earnslaw
    The Remarkables and TSS Earnslaw
  • Glenorchy-Queenstown Road
    Glenorchy-Queenstown Road

After getting back, Emmy was feeling like steak (unbelievable I know) so we went to a reasonably priced steak house, Flame Grill, found on tripadvisor. The ribs were recommended so I went with that since Emmy was feeling like steak, she had the rib-eye. Both good choices, the steak was cooked medium rare just right, and the ribs were flavourful without being salty. We got a serve of grilled cheesy portobello mushrooms for Oscar which was quite a big serve. Definitely a recommend.

  • Queenstown 2017: Ribe-eye Steak
    Ribe-eye Steak
  • Queenstown 2017: Ribs and potatoes
    Ribs and potatoes
  • Queenstown 2017: Cheesy Portobello Mushrooms
    Cheesy Portobello Mushrooms

Next up, Arrowtown.


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