From the top!

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Just a quick reminder why you should visit Queenstown! Look at this view from the top set high above lake Wakatipu… Amazing!

 

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My view of the fancy Melbourne

dsc05466Few weeks ago I went to Melbourne to catch up with my friend from Croatia who was traveling around Australia. I haven’t been there before so I was really excited about this trip. It was so good to have the opportunity to visit Melbourne just for a few days. It took me 4 hours to get there from New Zealand, how great is that, to have Australia wthin a stone throw distance?

Melbourne reminded me of Auckland, but, much bigger Auckland. In this city live three times more people than in the biggest city in New Zealand. Melbourne has almost the same population as the whole New Zealand and you can see that on the streets. So many people in the rush, public transport is crowded, traffic jams …

dsc05569Weather in Melbourne was almost the same like in New Zealand, a bit warmer of course, but still very changeable. One day was over 30 degrees (this is the temperature that we don’t even have here) and then on the next day 9 degrees, rain and wind. In the end, you don’t know what to wear. At all times you need to have the clothes for all weather conditions.

dsc05563I would say that Melbourne is really cool, fancy, sophisticated city. Not really the kind of the cities that I enjoy. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, just it didn’t really leave an unforgettable impression on me. Maybe I expected too much because so many people is in love with this city, and in the end, I didn’t feel that warm atmosphere which I need when I’m traveling. It’s somehow soulless and that’s the biggest flaw…

If I exclude the atmosphere Melbourne is beautiful. Skyscrapers in the city centre are so massive and I’m generally impressed with those tall giants whenever I see them. Yarra River is the icon of Melbourne and along the bank it is easy to find perfect spot for the picnic and BBQ. Narrow laneways are hiding bars, restaurants, fashion boutiques and street art…

Lets go for a walk…

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The view from St Kilda beach

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Have you been in Melbourne? How did you like it?

A bit different New Zealand

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Time to go further South. As you know we didn’t really have the strict plan for this road trip and that’s what made it even more exciting. We were going day after day and just making stops wherever we wanted. That’s why these two cities somewhere in the middle of the South Island were big surprise for us.

After we left Christchurch the road took us straight to Timaru, city in the South Canterbury Region. Timaru was built of volcanic rock on the hills created from the lava flows from the Mt Horrible volcano which erupted thousands of years ago. Buildings in the Victorian style definitely give this city a special vibe and a lot of small cafes in the main street are just a perfect spot to enjoy the atmosphere… It was late afternoon when we got there so there’s wasn’t a lot people on the street, it looked a bit deserted but still charming.

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Before we started this road trip my decision was to drive only during the day because I didn’t want to miss anything on our way. So after Timaru we entered the Otago Region and decided to stay for the night in the next town called Oamaru. We didn’t know anything about this place and that’s why it was a huge surprise. Oamru is a different New Zealand. In the last year and a half we’ve been all around the country and this town is definitely special. While we were walking along the streets named by the rivers in England for a moment it felt like we were somewhere over there, somewhere in Europe.

Public buildings here are made of the local limestone known as Omaru stone. Most of them were built from 1865 – 1885. That carved stone in Neo Classical style looks really beautiful and unique. It was so nice to see how everyone here embraced the Victorian theme so all the galleries, arts and crafts shops and cafes are decorated in that style.

One more thing need to be mentiond about this amazing town. Except the awesome architecture that will take you back in time the reason why every year more than 75 000 tourists are coming here is a colony of the little blue penguins. These cute creatures live in the harbour, so when you will be passing by, stop to say hallo.

One more time I have proved to myself that traveling without the strict plan is the best way of traveling. It always brings unexpected moments, right? This time we accidentally met a bit different New Zealand, how great is that?

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Across the Cook Strait

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Decision to move on the south of the south came out of nowhere. Was it a good decision? I’m sure it was! I really liked Auckland but in the past few weeks we were thinking about moving to the less crowded place, with no traffic jams and with a little bit less rain so getting the job on the other side of the country came as a good push to leave Auckland sooner. During the past year we travelled almost all around the North Island so moving to the south was an obvious step and here we are, in Invercargill. Our new address is in one of the southernmost cities in the world.

It is great to be able to move quickly, believe me, not having a lot of luggage is perfect! Everything fitted in our car and we were ready for the ten days trip and more than 1600 kilometres which led us all the way to the south – New Plymouth, Levin, Whanganui, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, Invercargill!

Our first stop was New Plymouth. We were there already but, because of the weather, we weren’t able to see Mount Taranaki so we went there again. And what happened? The weather was the same. Rain didn’t stop for a second and the fog was so thick. It gave us the reason to come back again, maybe third time will be the lucky one and we will have the chance to visit Egmont National Park during the nice sunny day. My friends were there last weekend and they sent me the photo of the mountain, so beautiful, right?

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Mt Taranaki

Two hours later we arrived in Whanganui, home of Whanganui River, the longest navigable waterway in New Zealand. This river runs all the way from Mt Tongariro to the sea…

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Wonderful scenery was following us while we were driving along the Kapiti Coast. Beaches with no end were on our way all the time…

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Next stop, Wellington. Still my favourite city here in New Zealand. I don’t really know why I like this city so much. It is a nice place to be but there’s a lot nice places around here so that’s probably not the reason. You know how in some places you just feel right? That’s how I feel when I’m in Wellington.

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Wellington Cable Car

Early morning was the time to get on the ferry to Picton. I was so excited about this three hours long ride across the Cook Strait. Not only because I like sailing and being on the sea but because I’ll will finally reach the South Island and I will finally see on my own is there a truth in the stories about how different this place is if you compare it with the North of the country.

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This was just the beginning!

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It’s been more than a year since we arrived on the other side of the magnificent globe! Now I can say that working holiday in New Zealand was the dream that came true. Even though we came to this island without any strict plans somehow I knew that we will love it here. A bit more than a year after we landed, on the land of the long white cloud, we manage to extend our stay for three more years. Can you believe that!? There’s so much more to do and now with no rush I can plan our next travel steps…

Really good first year is behind us and no one knows what will be in the near future. But, that’s what makes life even more exciting, isn’t it? Seems that decision to quit the job back home, to pack the bags and to come here was just the beginning of the one in a life time adventure that will last hmmm….who knows for how long! If someone told me two years ago that I will live in New Zealand I would probably say “yeah right”. But here I’m, enjoying every second with the great people in this beautiful country.

Here are the travel highlights from the first 365 days. Time is flying so fast, feels like we arrived a few days ago…

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First morning looked like this….

In New Zealand we dicovered house sitting and our first few months here definitely belong to the best furry friends ever that we took care of!

There’s no place in the Auckland City that we didn’t explore…

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Our steps now can be found on the beaches all around North Island.

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Sun woke us up so many times in the past year…

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Enjoying summer in December is really wierd but it is also very easy to get used to it!

 

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Wandering through the bush….

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…around the islands….

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…and across so many bridges…

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…with the great people by our side…

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…made our first year in New Zealand unforgettable!!

I can’t even describe you how excited I’m about what is yet to come….

Stay tuned!!

Wandering through Dublin

Christ Church

Christ Church

Even though I’m currently on the other side of the globe I have to introduce you to my favorite European destinations. With this post I’ll introduce you with the rytham of Dublin.

When we thought about Ireland, their music, whiskey and Guinness we knew that it will be a very interesting trip. Dublin is a beautiful city. Is it because of the all the castles, huge churches, fanciful pubs and the grass that can’t be greener then it is, we don’t know, but we know that we loved it!

What I liked the most are people. Dubliners are very cheerful and that’s the thing that gives me a good impression about the place I’m visiting. In the evening it’s very hard to find a spot that is not crowded, especially the pubs where you can enjoy the live irish rythm and perfect atmosphere. Everybody is having fun there and that is also what you want while traveling, isn’t it?

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Dublin castle

In Dublin you can walk for days and you’ll always have something to see. O’Connell Street is the main street in town and you will probably walk through it for hundred times. In this street you will see the tallest sculpture in the world, so-called “Dublin needle”, one “very impressive” 121 meter high installation, which is located in the center of the spot where once stood a monument to General Nelson.

The city is full of the attractions but the parks make it special and at all times you can choose a bench where you can relax a little bit. One of these parks is Phoenix Park where Dubliners love to go when they want to move away from the crowded city. This park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. It is located west of downtown so just take a walk or rent a bike and you will be there in a minute!

Dublin needle

Dublin needle

Phoenix park

Phoenix park

St Patrick Cathedral

One more interesting thing is that in Dublin you will pay for almost every entry to the church. Entry to the St. Patrick cathedral will cost you 5 euros.

What I would definitely recommend you is a visit to the Kilmainham jail which was built in the late 18th century. Guides will tell you all about the history of the punishment in this, one of the largest, European empty prisons. When you see the interior it may seem familiar to you just because there were filmed some movies (The Italian Job, In the name of father) and numerous documentaries, series and TV shows. During the visit you will watch a short movie about the love story of Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Easter Uprising, who were married in the prison chapel shortly before his assassination. I will not tell you the whole story, you will hear it right on the spot.

After five days in Dublin – sleepy and exhausted from the night before – we went to the airport check-in and headed towards the exit … but, we didn’t make it. The question “Where is your stamp?” is still ringing in my head! Back then Croatia wasn’t in the European Union so we had to pass some special check we forgot about… All in all, our stay in Dublin was extended for a three days, until the next flight.

We decided to visit Howth and after that we were glad that we didn’t get on that plane. 🙂

Baily lighthouse

Baily lighthouse

Howth is a suburb of Dublin, located on the peninsula 15 kilometers from the city center and can be reached most easily by train in less than 5 euros. This whole peninsula can be discovered by foot, it took us several hours because we took the longest trail. We just didn’t want us to miss anything on our way. You will know that you are on the right track when you get to the Bailey lighthouse.

After, unplanned, more than a week in Ireland, we returned home. The stamp we will never forget again because we don’t need it anymore. I really recommend a visit to Dublin and the surrounding area: drink beer, grasp the rhythm, walk around the cliffs. You’ll come back home full of good energy and, of course, ready for your next adventure!