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Christchurch

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World – A Few Of My Favourites.

    It may be a cliche, but sometimes the journey can be just as astonishing as the destination.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I love catching trains. The ease, the ability to wander around whilst speeding through the countryside, the sweeping corners, the friendly people dispensing hot tea, staring out the windows for hours as the world chugs past, generous luggage allowances and the whistling engineers with grease smudges in their eye and rosy cheeks.

    All you need is a train ticket, a snack and a sense of adventure.

    Christchurch to Greymouth, New Zealand
    Crowning my list is one of the top railway journeys in the world – the 4-hour Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Cross the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, and enjoy thrilling vistas over deep gorges as you travel alongside the ice-fed Waimakariri River. Traverse the mighty Southern Alps, where spectacular views of the chiselled alpine landscape will take your breath away at every turn.


    See, magic.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Munich to Wendelstein Mountain, Germany
    Very, very vague plans made via an internet tipoff, we hopped onto one of the regional services (the Bayerische Oberlandbahn GmbH or BOB).

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi


    Watching the sports-mad locals unfold their hiking sticks and uncap their beer bottles (seriously) as they strode up along rocky paths, at that point we realised that we’d definitely gone off the map. Luckily spotting a small cut-through path wending under the train station and over a trickling stream, we found the cable car that winched us up 2,000 metres literally into the clouds.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Chesham to Harrow-on-the-Hill, England
    This was a very rare treat and a relatively brief one – but no less enjoyable.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The weekend started with a delicious cocktail in a glamorous London bar, but by the end of it, I was found on a tube station platform, eagerly awaiting an original London Underground Steam train running especially for Chesham’s 125th birthday.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Kyoto to Tokyo, Japan
    For us, Japan was a country of two halves (oh, and they’re getting pretty good at rugby) the old, beautiful traditions and a new modern world adapting itself to the future. It’s all the more amazing for how easily they seem to meld the two.

    Catching the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Kyoto to Tokyo Adventures of a London Kiwi 1


    As we turned a corner, in front of us – cloaked in Winter splendour – Mount Fuji revealed herself. Her peak mostly bare of clouds we took several long moments to simply breathe in the auspicious and rare sight.

    Catching the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Kyoto to Tokyo Adventures of a London Kiwi 1

    London to Broadstairs, England
    The most of this trip is pretty enough rolling countryside, but it was the last 20 minutes that I really loved. The jewel-like sea giving way to snow white cliffs.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What are your favourite journeys so far? 
    (Ps. keep scrolling for the travellinkup and then a Pinnable image.)


    An InLinkz Link-up


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    5 Day trips from Christchurch, New Zealand

    Once you have had your fill of exploring Christchurch (and drinking the cracking coffee) there are 5 places you have to make a day trip of whilst at the tip of the South Island.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    Crowning the list is one of the top railway journeys in the world – the Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.


    Cross the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, and enjoy
    thrilling vistas over deep gorges as you travel alongside the ice-fed
    Waimakariri River. Traverse the mighty Southern Alps, where spectacular
    views of the chiselled alpine landscape will take your breath away at
    every turn.

    Descend through thick stands of native beech forest to your
    destination, Greymouth – a great base for exploring this unspoiled
    region with its mighty glaciers, wild rivers and famous Punakaiki
    pancake rocks.

    I couldn’t put it better myself!

     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    We unluckily ran into a few problems insofar as a hour into the comfortable 4 hour train ride (we breakfasted on Afghan biscuits and sipped Flat Whites – oh how I adore being home) an elderly gentleman drove over the train tracks ahead of our train but sorely misjudged the timing.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    The train couldn’t slow quickly enough, hitting the car and damaging the locomotive engine. Luckily he was absolutely fine, walking away just with shock, but it
    meant we were transferred to a coach for the remainder of our trip to
    Greymouth. Ironically enough my Uncle had recommended getting the
    Transalpine train one way, then catching a coach to see a slightly
    different view of the incredible scenery.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    The view no matter what transport you take is breathtaking. With winding
    roads hugging the side of sheer moutain sides and running over shingle
    river beds we were entranced.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    Due to the short turn around time, once we arrived in Greymouth we just grabbed a sandwich and hopped back onto the coach, but had considered staying the night to pop into the Monteith Brewery and explore the Punakaiki “Pancake” rocks. Next time, next time.
     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.
    I wanted to stay in that Campervan. Imagine waking up to that view! i

    Swim with dolphins or whale watch in Kaikoura
    I have always dreamt of doing this – and sadly foiled at Christmas in Tauranga due to stormy seas, we booked in with much excitement to travel up to Kaikoura (all my kiwi friends will be grimacing with the tourist-yness of this statement) but alas also owing to stormy conditions, our trip was cancelled whilst we were in Christchurch. It will be third time lucky, right?

    Relax in the Hamner Hot springs
    A 90-minute drive from Christchurch is one we weren’t able to fit in (no thanks to our dolphin cruise being cancelled and the operator pretending to have notified our hotel, but hadn’t) but remains on the must-do list. Leyla from Cutlery Chronicles has though…  

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour
    This is more of a half day trip, but beautiful nonetheless. We relaxed in the cliff top restaurant with a coffee and a beating heart (I do not love cable cars) but the view was more than worth the journey.

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Enjoy a beer in Akaroa
    Who doesn’t love a relaxing sunset beer before returning to their hotel for pies a lovely meal?

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Have you been to Christchurch? (ps this is in no way a sponsored post, just sharing a little travel joy we found in New Zealand).

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    10 things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

    Christchurch broke our hearts. 4 years after the 2011 6.3 magnitude earthquake, there are still families affected by the violent tectonic shaking and insurance companies running out of budget to get them back on their feet. Everywhere you walk through the quiet city there are reminders of the devastation – a half standing Cathedral surrounded by fallen masonry, orange construction cones barring entry and staircases leading to nowhere.

    10 things to do in Christchurch New Zealand

    On the flip side, the ‘number-8’ wire sensibility – the particularity Kiwi knack for making do and succeeding with whatever
    is to hand (and if you’re a farmer it’s usually 8-gauge fencing wire) – is everywhere. Take the surprisingly beautiful Cardboard Cathedral, the stunning murals painted on the exposed walls of buildings, wire fences set with colourful patterning and the ReStart mall made from shipping containers.

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    New Zealand, Lord of the Rings and confessions of a guilty expat

    The most I had ever seen of New Zealand’s South Island was in Lord of the Rings movies. There, I said it, my guilty secret.

    For all the world that I’ve been lucky enough to travel, I’ve carried a skeleton in my travel wishlist with me that made me ashamed to call myself a New Zealander. Most Brits that I’ve met remark on how Kiwis and Aussies on their OE have explored more of the UK in their (usually) 2 years, than the Brits have in their entire lives. It’s the hometown tourist enigma – why would you want to travel there when it will always be there, right?

    Christchurch New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Pastoral farmland…
    Christchurch New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …to alpine mountain ranges…

    Well, New Zealand has two main islands (not to mention a few smaller,
    isolated ones). I grew up in the North Island – as an ex-navy kid we lived in a
    few towns – I guess you could say I was raised with travel in the blood. But,
    despite living for a stint in Wellington, our capital city at the end of the
    North Island and only a short ferry to the South, I had never bridged the gap between the two.

    Yes. Despite hopping to Paris for lunch, exploring a
    continent on the other side of the world, cruising around America and a few
    short trips to Singapore and Australia, I had never managed to explore one half
    of our island nation. Luckily, my passport hasn’t been seized despite this and the Kiwi border agents kept letting me in…

    Nelson New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …tropical islands to…
    New Zealand Volcanoes Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …to snow capped volcanic lakes, all in one 2 hour flight.

     Most tourists are told to fly into Auckland before hopping
    to the South Island for the truly gorgeous scenery Aoteoroa is famous for. Compared to the picture postcard magnificence south of the Bombay Hills, Auckland
    gets a rap that it doesn’t deserve, but when we flew home recently, having
    caught up with family at Christmas with a return trip planned in 12 months, our
    surprise short trip on the cusp of Autumn and Winter provided us with an
    unexpected opportunity to discover some of the other half of my home.

    Cardboard Cathedral New Zealand
    Christchurch’s now infamous cardboard Cathedral

    Public transport is a little skeletal in the North Island,
    and whilst it is possible to navigate without a private set of four wheels, it
    makes for much less of an experience in the South Island, where like Skye,
    Scotland, I’m told you want to stop every 5 minutes to admire the ever changing
    view. As an unexperienced car driver and a Mr who doesn’t drive, it did present
    a few problems in a country where car is king. As such we decided to condense
    our trip a little (fitting in more room for family hugs) to puttering around
    the top half of the Island, leaving a few surprises for another time.

    Christchurch cafes New Zealand

    We decided to make Christchurch our base for the whirlwind
    trip (literally 2 days in Auckland, 3.5 days in Christchurch, 3 days in
    Tauranga and another 1.5 days in Auckland before flying back to London – the joys
    of an annual leave entitlement restriction – hey, can’t complain at
    circumnavigating the globe 3 times in 12 months though!).

    Christchurch cafes New Zealand

    Still very much recovering from the devastating Earthquake 4
    years ago, Christchurch broke my hear twice – once with the rubble strewn building sites and a second time with the wonderful can-do spirit of city-dwellers, some who still don’t have their homes back.

    Christchurch Earthquake damage New Zealand


    We witnessed a couple of wizards enjoying a coffee, experienced a train crash, had our breath taken away, discovered kindness, ate way too many pies and experienced a touch of disappointment. More to follow soon…

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    Otago Rail Trail, New Zealand (Guest Post: Rebecca)

    Fellow London Kiwi, bubbly, cat-loving, flat-white drinking and exercise-hating +Rebecca Blandford has kindly taken over Adventures of a London Kiwi, with her exploration of the Otago Rail Trail, in the South Island of New Zealand.

     

    I told you that this week would be a bevvie of beautiful bloggers didn’t I?

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    The Otago Rail Trail, a Runaway Kiwi and a killer Lamb.

     

    The ever amazing Emma asked me to guest post on her blog, and being a thrill seeker she said I could write about whatever I liked…rookie mistake. But since the rumour is that she has a secret supply of Pineapple Lumps I better behave myself, so let me tell you about the time I voluntarily did exercise on holiday. This is the story of the time I rode the Otago Rail Trail. 

    As my friends know, I love making impossible plans when drunk. After a few glasses of Pinot I think that the world is my oyster and running a marathon, taking a round the world trip or signing up for an advanced physics degree are all entirely plausible and very exciting options. Normally this would not be a problem, but in the age of the internet it means life gets a whole lot more interesting. Pre-internet you would wake up with a hangover and laugh about the stupid implausible things you planned last night. But with the internet and credit cards you wake up with a hangover and realise that the anti-exercise girl who has not ridden a bike in ten years has just booked a holiday to Otago for a week long bike ride over New Years.

    When the trains stopped running in the central South Island of New Zealand, someone came up with the bright idea of taking out the tracks and making it a public cycle track and thus the Otago Rail trail was born. After all, trains can’t go up hills so the entire thing is mercifully flat and it goes through some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful countryside. 

    Luckily the Pinot had given me enough presence of mind to book an entirely assisted trip, this meant that all food and was going to be provided (including some epic cooked breakfasts) and the best bit was we had a van following us the entire time. The magic of this van meant that they took our bags from hotel to hotel and if the cycling all got a bit much they could drive us to the next pit stop.

    The plan was to do some training before the trip, well that was the plan anyway. The training turned out to be one bike ride to a cafe ten minutes down the road where we had to walk back because we were worried about spilling our flat whites. We were perfectly prepped for the 150kms of cycling ahead. 

    It was incredibly beautiful. We were lucky with the weather, not too hot and not a speck of rain in sight. The ride was tough but we started with a road cycle beside some beautiful lakes to get us used to it, and by the time we hit the almost empty rail trail we were pros. There was something utterly in balance about cycling hard each day in the heartland of New Zealand, a massive hot dinner at night and in the morning waking with aching muscles ready to do it all again.

    The only scary moment was when I got attacked by a lamb. Stop laughing. It bounded out of nowhere like a bat out of hell, and I was forced to take evasive manoeuvres in order to survive. I think what hurt most of all is that no one believed that it was a vicious and malicious creature with fangs, glowing red eyes and poison dripping from its wool. But hey, after a strong flat white and a pie I was ready to go again.

    The holiday ended with an amazing historic train trip through the lower Taieri Gorge to Dunedin, just in time for a cocktail and tiredness fuelled New Years Eve. But the cycling was not over yet, on the way back to Christchurch on New Years Day we stopped by the Moeraki boulders for a photo followed by some more road cycling. Road cycling where I definitively managed to snap the chain on my bike. 

    Sitting by the roadside in a field of grain, waiting for the support team to pick me up, felt like the most perfect end of the mad adventure that was the Otago Rail Trail. 

     

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    Only Rebecca could have a Black Sheep experience and live to tell the tail. SorryI’mNotSorry. Definitely check out more of her explorations on her blog Runaway Kiwi, and her lovely jewellery. I can’t guarantee that you’ll have quite the same adventures but there is always a chance…

    

     

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