Cindy Brown

Joined September 2017
  • Day37

    Kirsten! Cycling! Yaah!

    February 17 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    It's all come together! We're cycling the Otago rail trail with Kirsten!  Day 1 is under our belt and so far so good. Only 150 km to go. The bikes are great, the trail super, the company exquisite 😊.

    We travelled by van to a little town a couple of hours from Dunedin. Clyde is so cute...and start of the rail trail. We got fitted with our bikes...ready to go. First priority... fuel up with a cheese roll.  Now ready for the river trail to Alexandra... another cute town... I think there's definitely a theme here.

    Wine tasting at Judge's Rock cellar door. That might become a theme too 🍷. A small winery that's trying to break into BCLB. Hope they do!

    It's just a warm up day so we loop back to Clyde, check in to our lodging, find our suitcases waiting in the it. Now off to Olivers brewery to sample their wares. Then to Paulinas...50 metres down the road... fabulous fettuccine and blue cod dinners.

    I think we're going to like this trip!  Especially if the weather stays like it was today. Ok everybody... cross your fingers 🤞🤞🤞.
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  • Day36


    February 16 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Another easy driving day, checking out the sights along the way. Heading south toward Dunedin, into the Otago region now.

    First stop Moeraki Boulders. Good thing there wasn't a charge for this attraction...probably more impressive at low tide. We were most impressed with how unstable the cliff was and how the restaurant was going to fall down any moment!

    Then onto Fleur's cafe for lunch. Now that met expectations! Not much to look at from the outside but quaint inside and fabulous seafood! 

    Then we make it to Dunedin... the prime motivation for the whole trip in the first place. Kirsten is driving back home from the North Island as we speak so we'll catch up with her tomorrow. 

    More accommodation challenges... fexibility has its dark side.  Last week before university starts and helicopter parents on every corner getting their kiddlies set up. (That was us in days gone by 🙃). So the whole town is full, not to mention the pipe band competition... wth a dozen or more bands from around the region. But we figured it out and we got to know Dunedin a little... cool town with lots of good history.
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  • Day34

    Back to the coast

    February 14 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Easy drive through Canterbury countryside. Small towns...not unhappy we didn't make it to stay in Omarama 😋.

    Now back to the coast...Oamaru (easy to get the names mixed up!) Limestone capital of the area. Victorian buildings revitalized when someone realized the value in them. A cool town...we didn't get the full views with a foggy morning but saw the workings. The place too where the penguins come to the shore at can take your chances and walk along the boardwalk to see for yourself...maybe. Or pay your money and sit in the grandstands with all the other suckers. Started to rain so we took option 3...the last post (original post office, now a pub 🍻 😁).

    Stayed in quaint 'Miss Barclay's cottage'. Fits so well with the Victorian antique culture of the town. Too cute for words. Had to watch your head in the doorways but worth that risk.
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  • Day32

    Spectacular Scenery

    February 12 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    You can't capture fabulous scenery on your camera but I tried anyway...109 pictures later. Aoraki / Mount Cook. New Zealand's tallest mountain at 3724 metres.  Aoraki is the Maori piercer. 

    So we gotta go there...well, not all the way up of course. Over 100 people have perished on the mountain since the first person reached the summit on Christmas day 1894. We did take the 3 hr return walk with a lot of other tourists. Keep left...then you quickly realize how many people drive on the right in this world 😝.

    Long suspension bridges, great fescue plains, glacier-fed streams and lakes. Really good.

    Our great suite is run by a Swiss couple with all the tiddly-ness that suggests... perfectly stacked woodpile, ultra clean, attention to detail. Lake Tekapo is in the dark sky reserve...the milky way and southern cross right there!
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  • Day31

    Canterbury travels

    February 11 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    Flexibility in action. Driving south from Christchurch along the inland scenic route.  Nothing booked for the next it by ear. First night in Methven...ever heard of that place?  Us either.  Cute little bum-fuzz problem getting a motel with lots of room, full kitchen, outside seating looking into a flower-bordered grass tennis court (should have brought the racquet!). Relax after our hike into the Rakaia Gorge...huge wide river valleys, stunning gorge views.

    Next day continue our drive (after requisite coffee stop in town...Primo coffee has funky antique decor, great coffee and scones. 'Big Tree Walk'...lovely thru the natural forest...of which there is very little here anymore...only what's preserved really. Large totara trees, the biggest 1000 years old, 31 meters tall. Have to say Cathedral Grove wins hands down, but this still impressive. 

    Where did the trees go?  Land was cleared for farming pretty much thru the whole country. As our wine guide said, New Zealand is one big farm.  Not a bad look it cattle, sheep (not as many as years gone by), goats or deer.  Yes, deer farming here. Maybe we should start one in Victoria 🤔.

    Time to check for a place to stay in Omarama.  Not much there so shouldn't be a problem with tourist traffic.  But...not much there... Ok, after mucho google checks and phone calls, there is a place, tho well off the track.  Hmmm...rather not drive another 2 hours. Options?  Check the tourist info.  Yes, a place right here in Lake Tekapo. More than you'd expect to pay out here, but...we'll take it. Up the hill, around the corner, overlooking the lake.  Nice.  Think we'll stay 2 nights. Flexibility.
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  • Day29

    Christchurch...Quake Capital

    February 9 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Good-bye to AUS, hello to Kiwi-ville.  Smaller cities and towns from here on...slower pace.

    Christchurch, south Island...home of the Sept 2010 and Feb 2011 quakes, the second one not as strong but deadly...185 people killed. Eight years later it's still a city in transition. Brand spanking new, modern buildings and infrastructure on some streets...other blocks still condemned. Often you see the new intermingled with damaged buildings not yet restored. Feels weird. City is totally flat and whole neighborhoods were closed after the quakes and people moved...lots of sprawl.

    Upside - a good opportunity to rebuild your city to meet current demands...wide sidewalks, tram lines.  But it's expensive, and a lot of retail vacancy yet...too dear for the old businesses to start up again. Plus they signed leases in temporary space outside the city so it takes time.  On one block, only Lululemon so far (guess they can afford it)) and lots of 'for lease' signs.  The Quake City Centre showed the impacts -- physical and human.  No water, no sewage system, roads buckled, etc. etc.  Gonna beef up the earthquake kit when we get home. The day we arrived here - a 3.8 magnitude quake; today 2.6. Weak ones but still going.

    Small market right outside our door, beside the cathedral where restoration started just 2 months ago after years of debate...demolish or rebuild.  Heritagers won that one. 

    Walking around town, scooters going every which way.  Gotta try em out...a good hoot.

    Wine tour to the Waipura valley today - Sauvignon and Pinot country. Won't be hard to take.  Annual night noodle market in Hagley Park...let's go for dinner. Uh...maybe not. Guess Saturday night draws em all out...long lineups for noodles in cardboard dishes and eating on the ground not our choice. Fun to see tho.
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  • Day26

    Sydney Miscellany

    February 6 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    What a harbour!  Vancouver has the mountains but this one is huge...and sooo active. Fun to watch. 

    Took a ferry (there are many, many going every which way) to Manly Beach...another beautiful, long, sandy. Met up with friends from Victoria...Reg and Kerry who gave us the Manly tour,  super beach walk, happy hour back at their place, a great dinner in a beach-side restaurant. Not too hard to take. 

    City walking tour the next day....Captain Cook; Sydney the depository for convicts from Britain; fight with Melbourne for country capital (neither won, so they built Canberra); Danish designer of the opera house (Jorn Utzon) got ripped off and let go when he went overbudget and overtime, and things got political ( unusual for big projects 🤔); protests over building the harbour bridge (nicknamed 'the ugly coathanger'); harbour condos selling for $22 million...uber expensive even by Vancouver standards.

    A big, action-packed, noisy city of 5 million...wonderful to see, but ready for the smaller places in N.Z.
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  • Day24

    Beach bums

    February 4 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    We may be getting old...and we never were big beach people.  So the whole beach scene with hundreds of people struttin' their stuff, lying in the sand, the sun beating down it's UV cancer rays, swimming in shark infested waters, ....we don't quite get it.  

    I guess the first line says it all... struttin'. And while there was more to keep Daryl entertained , I did get my share of eye candy.

    Bondi Beach...35,000 visitors a day. Lovely long sandy beach...classic strip of shops and restaurants across the street. A great cliff walk along the coast....great views, lots of steps up and down to 4 other beaches. Another hot day so we take our time. Was great.

    Figure by the last beach we better see what we're missing.  So struggle into our suits over sweaty skin...down the steps to the sand...zigzag among the sun-worshippers (some notably topless)...put our packs on the towels (worry about leaving them unattended)...worry about no sunscreen on our  backs (we'll only be a  couple of minutes)...head for relief in the cool water.'s c-c-c-COLD!  We'll, we're here now...gotta go in all the way. And we did. Then back out to rescue our packs...up the steps... shower off the salt water...dry off on the grass... ✔️. That's done. Now let's go for a beer.

    As we're walking along the beach to find refreshment, we hear the lifeguard warn there are bluebottles (stinging jelly-like fish) coming in. If you don't want to get stung, get out of the water. Then we see the sign that says swim between the flags...we hadn't. But you couldn't really call what we did swimming.   The beer did taste good though 😁.
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  • Day23


    February 3 in Australia ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    Despite a relatively short flight, a good part of the day spent getting out of Melbourne and into Sydney. Cool seeing the iconic highlights up close and personal.

    Easy train ride into town...shades of Vancouver skytrain. Walk along the infamous harbour...close to where we're staying in The Rocks. A busy Sunday night...guess it probably always is. Maybe more so with their lunar festival on now. Chinese New year on Tuesday... Year of the Pig. Gong hei fat choy 😃.

    Great views of the harbour bridge and opera house from lots of angles. Sure there are more pics of those in our future....
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  • Day22

    Melbourne again

    February 2 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Crazy weather across Australia...bush fires in Tasmania (telling people it's too late to leave, so go into a building), floods in Queensland, heat waves south and west Australia.  And cold extremes in North America and the U.K. 😳

    Melbourne today...36°. And we went cycling! After breakfast at our fave restaurant on Degraves street (the owner remembered these Canadians from 2 weeks ago...problem patrons? 🤔).

    Cruiser bikes from Freddy's rentals🚴‍♂️🚴‍♀️ . What a bike path all along the Yarra River right from the centre of town! Rowing practice on the river all day long. Nice ride but the heat takes its toll. The beer stop 🍺 at Australian National Hotel was a welcome break. Fitzroy Park...lovely...for our picnic lunch.  Direct route back rather than the winding river path was way shorter. 

    Happy hour at our hotel lounge, then took advantage of our kitchen to have dinner in. We've had a good mix of dinners out and in, so not too restaurant-weary yet.
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