What’s your favourite place?

Spring.

It’s been almost a year and a half since we moved to the far south and I have definitely found my favourite place here.

I really enjoyed capturing how this beautiful Invercargill’s park changes with the seasons.

Queens Park is 81ha of stunning gardens in the city centre. You need a few hours to explore it and still everytime I go there for a walk I find something I didn’t see before.

Tree lined walkaways, bush paths, winter garden, bird aviary with colourful parrots, Japanese garden, museum and a cafe will keep you here for hours.

IMG_20170130_125503

Summer.

IMG_20170506_121445

Autumn.

IMG_20170804_113142

Winter.

 

Advertisements

Sun is shining in Noumea

IMG_20171231_181001

Want to wake up here and have this view right in front of you? You just need to visit New Caledonia!

As a special collectivity of France in southwest Pacific Ocean this small island is a true piece of Europe in the middle of nowhere.

Hot summers with a sea temperature of around 26 degrees was one of the reasons why we chose this place as our holiday destination.

IMG_20171225_102904

Another thing I liked while reading about New Caledonia is that it’s not so crowded as other islands around here. In a way it’s not discovered yet and that’s what made it so attractive.

We flew from Auckland and it took us two and a half hours to get there, how great is that! We landed in Noumea, biggest town on the island. And I have to tell you it’s much bigger than we expected.

It took us around 45 minutes to get to the city centre from the airport. I’m going to give you one advice now – don’t take ‘Arc en ciel’ shuttle bus. There is a public transport which cost 280 XPF. It was Sunday evening when we got there and we had to take that shuttle which cost us 3000 XPF one way per person! More than ten times higher price!! Crazy, but we didn’t have a choice.

Many tourists in New Caledonia spend most or all of their time in Noumea (don’t do that). It is a great place, with beautiful sandy beaches, bars and restaurants along the coast and many places to visit on a day trip.

Duck Island.

A few things to note; New Caledonia is not a cheap place to go to. It depends a lot what kind of traveler you are. In Noumea we stayed in a backpackers and while traveling around the island we were camping so for us the accommodation wasn’t expensive. Interesting thing is that there is only one hostel in Noumea and there’s no camping grounds in the vicinity so our options were limited for the time spent in the city.

The view from our room in the backpackers. Beautiful!

When it is about buying a food, prices in supermarkets surprised me a lot. It’s more expensive than here in New Zealand. It’s almost cheaper to eat in a restaurant than to buy a meal for two in the supermarket. Other options for a quick delicious (cheaper) meal are small shops called Snack. You will see during lunch breaks in Noumea how busy those shops are when everyone rush there to grab a bite.

One thing I like to do when visiting other countries is stopping by at the market. The market in Nouma is open from Tuesday to Friday from 5am to midday. You can buy there delicious local fruit and veggies. It is located beside the marina at Port-Moselle.

DSC06836DSC06835

City centre is very busy until early afternoon. Everything close early in Noumea and everyone move from hot sunny streets to the beach. In case you are planning some shopping do it in the morning.

There’s not much going on in the centre in the evening, all the happenings are at the Anse Vata beach. It is the most vibrant part of Noumea and everyone is there.

DSC06770

Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square)

DSC06777

City centre Christmas Festival at the Coconut Square.

DSC06847DSC06841

Anse Vata beach.

IMG_20171226_073659

One of the resorts in Noumea is called Le Meridien and you can walk there from Anse Vata beach. Great thing about the resorts in New Caledonia is that you can use their facilities even though you are not staying there. This resort has a great bar on the beach under the palm trees, perfect to hide from the sun a little bit.

Many day trips are available from Noumea, a lot of them go from Anse Vata. With a taxi boat you can get to the small islands close to town or you can take catamaran to the Amedee Lighthouse. There are only one or two companies which offer this trip to the lighthouse so you need to pay the whole package (from 15000 XPF), you can’t just pay for the boat ride.

We went to the Duck Island, it is just 10 minutes with a taxi boat from Noumea. It is a nice place for a half day trip. People come here to snorkel and gear is available for rent but it’s better to bring your own. There is an underwater trail you can follow to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Have in mind that there’s no a lot of shade on the beach.

IMG_20171226_145929

Ile aux Canards (Duck Island)

DSC06877

DSC06930

First three days in New Caledonia went fast and it was time for us to hit the road around the island. More tips in my next post!

Happy traveling!

Camping at Mavora Lakes

DSC06648

Who wouldn’t like to see this scenery first thing in the morning?

I enjoy camping so much! Spending time in nature is what makes me a happy traveler! That’s one more reason why New Zealand is a perfect country for me. Everything here is about spending time outdoors.

Department of Conservation has campsites all over the country with a cost of only $8 per person/night. Usually these sites are in the middle of nowhere, far away from everything and that’s the best thing about them. These campsites have major facilities you may need – toilet, sometimes tap water, picnic tables, BBQs and most of the time there’s no mobile network coverage (how great is that!).

DSC06537 (2)DSC06620 (2)DSC06539 (2)

The camp we went to last weekend is called Mavora Lakes. This area was used as a film set in some of the Lord of the Rings movies. It is located two hours from Invercargill and in the end about 40km of gravel road lead you there. The scenery along the way is wooow!

There is only one thing with this campsite you might not be happy about: there are sand flies everywhere. Just don’t forget insect repellent and everything will be OK.

DSC06547DSC06584 (2)DSC06590 (2)

Pristine nature, sheep, lambs, cows and calves running over green meadows, mountains in the background and fresh air complete the picture.

Some of the activities people can do here are fishing, walking, tramping, mountain biking and horse riding.

I can’t wait to go back again to enjoy peace and quiet disturbed only with different melodies coming from the birds singing on the trees above my tent.

DSC06582 (2)DSC06596 (2)DSC06566

DSC06639DSC06634DSC06629 (2)

Before sunset at Mavora Lakes

DSC06642 (2)

How beautiful is this scenery? I’m amazed!!! We couldn’t find better place to finally open this year’s camping season.

I captured this photo yesterday, just a few minutes before sunset. Look at this golden grass, looks like it glows.

I’m so happy we found another perfect destination close to Invercargill for relaxed, peaceful getaway… Mavora Lakes is definitely the place to go back to.

Sunday walk in Omaui

DSC06398

Omaui Beach, New Zealand

Before we came down south everyone told us that winter here is cold, harsh and unbearable.

I wouldn’t agree.

There’s so many beautiful days like this one and it is pure satisfaction to enjoy it on one of the beaches close to town.

It’s even better when you can have those peaceful places only for yourself…

DSC06379DSC06381DSC06387DSC06390DSC06392

Always sunny in Zadar – best place to travel in 2016!

Even though I’m on the other side of the globe I was more than happy when I heard that my hometown was proclaimed as European Best Destination in 2016. How great is that?? I must emphasize that in this competition were participating cities like Athens, Milan and Paris and that is what makes this success even bigger. When you visit Croatia, this small town with a population of only 80 000 people, has to be on your route. It is not just my advice it is advice from the pople from all over the world who voted during this competition.

Dalmatia is one of the regions where you can find very nice small towns with a great and long history. Town you shouldn’t miss is my hometown – Zadar. As you arrive you will see that those streets can tell you lot of stories.

Here is a quick reminder why Zadar has to be part of your travel plans in the near future…

Best time to come here is during summer – if you like big crowd. As you can see on my photos there’s nobody on the streets in the winter time but we love that. Zadar has a very long history, it is more than 3000 years old and has so much to offer, especially to those people who are interested in great historical stories. Narrow streets, old buildings and wonderful sights are something that will leave you speechless. St. Donatus church, Roman forum, long walls all around the peninsula and old harbor are just a small part of what you have to see. Today, most of the visitors come here to enjoy first Sea organs in the world – as the sea is hitting the coast Sea organs are playing the music and it is a melody that you can hear only in Zadar. I’m sure you will be amazed.

Let’s take a walk!

This is our small harbour called Jazine. Place where lots of ships find their peace.

This is our small harbour called Jazine.

Our Church of St. Krševan (St. Chrysogonus') is also a monastery church and Benedictine monastery. It is named after patron saint of Zadar and it was built in 1175.

Church of St. Krševan (St. Chrysogonus’) is also a monastery church and Benedictine monastery. It is named after patron saint of Zadar and it was built in 1175.

Most popular street in town, and our symbol, is Kalelarga. It is the main street since the ancient times.

Most popular street in town, and our symbol, is Kalelarga. It is the main street since the ancient times.

This is the old city port surrounded by walls. It is a perfect place for a night walk. I took this photo from the boat on the way back from the islands.

This is Foša – the old city port surrounded by walls. It is a perfect place for a night walk. I took this photo when I was on the way back from the islands.

Zadar seafront is the place where you will experience the most beautiful sunset in the world. Even Alfred Hitchcock ones said that it is the most beautiful sunset that he had ever seen!

Zadar seafront is the place where you will experience the most beautiful sunset in the world. Even Alfred Hitchcock ones said it is the most beautiful sunset that he had ever seen!

Our Sea organs are unique music instrument played by the sea. You have to see this, right??

Our Sea organs are unique music instrument played by the sea. You have to hear and see this, right??

Other popular spot in Zadar is installation Greetings to the sun which is located next to the Sea organs.It uses solar power to create a light show that displays at nigh. Very impressive!

Other popular spot in Zadar is the installation called Greetings to the Sun which is located next to the Sea organs. It uses solar power to create a light show that displays at night. Cool place!

While you are near the sea you will have great view over islands on the one side and the view over the snowy peaks of mountain Velebit on the other side. You have to love this city! :)

While you are near the sea you will have a great view over the islands on the one side and the snowy peaks of mountain Velebit on the other side. You just have to love this city!

St. Mary Church is very old. It was founded in 1066 and it belongs to a closed order of Benedictine nuns. While you are there visit Exhibition of Religious Art - The silver and gold of the city of Zadar.

St. Mary Church is very old. It was founded in 1066 and it belongs to a closed order of Benedictine nuns. While you are there visit Exhibition of Religious Art – The silver and gold of the city of Zadar.

St. Donatus Church, situated on the Roman forum, was built in 9th century. It is also one of the symbols of Zadar and one of the most famous Croatian monuments.

St. Donatus Church, situated on the Roman forum, was built in 9th century. It is also one of the symbols of Zadar and one of the most famous Croatian monuments.

For a little bit of the summer atmosphere check out the video and DISCOVER ZADAR!

Looking forward to read about your impressions after you visit Best European Destination 2016!

Happy travels!