A Travellerspoint blog

National Parks of Tasmania

Part 1 of 3

If you're ever planning a trip over to Tasmania and are a fan of national parks and the outdoors, be prepared to spend lots of time here! Over 45% of the island of Tasmania is covered in national parks and reserves. There are 19 (!) national parks here, on an island roughly the size of Scotland, or of West Virginia. The best way to get around is certainly to rent a car, and unless you own one in Australia, it's cheaper to fly (in and out of Launceston) and rent a car within Tasmania instead of taking the ferry.

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With only a week in Tasmania, we planned our roadtrip carefully and managed to get to 3 national parks and see a lot. The owner of our hostel the first night helped us plan it and he said 'it's not so much what you can see in Tasmania, it's what you miss out on seeing.' There's so many awesome things to see and explore!

I first explored the town of Launceston and though I wasn't impressed overall, Cataract Gorge Reserve is a gorgeous walk.
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We did a (very full) day trip from Launceston over to Cradle Mountain National Park, which was spectacular. The landscape wasn't as green as it normally would be as we'd just arrived at the end of almost 2 months with no rain. It was an overcast and rainy day but the mist made it that much more exciting and it lifted briefly for us to see Cradle Mountain, though it's hidden in the clouds for most of my pictures.

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The next day we headed to the east coast of Tasmania for some coastal beaches and views.
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Posted by smr1188 13:30 Archived in Australia Tagged mountains beaches walking hiking australia tasmania national_parks roadtrip Comments (1)

Melbourne

'The Worlds Most Livable City'

Whew, back in Australia!

First of all, a story on our accommodation in Melbourne....

Picture this: We're sitting in our 12 bed dorm room in our hostel in Auckland and realizing we don't have accommodation in Melbourne. We had looked up some airbnb places but by the time we got around to booking them, they were unavailable. It's 2 days before we fly to Melbourne, so we don't have a lot of times to arrange something. Hostels are really expensive...around $40/night for a dorm room! Unbelievable.
Anyway, we're talking about how we don't have a place to stay and exclaiming 'where are we going to stay in Melbourne?!'
A guy's voice from the other side of the room says "You can sleep in my bed."
We both roll our eyes, 'yeah, right, ok.'
He continues, "no seriously, I'm travelling through New Zealand for the next month, you can stay in my room. I was going to rent it out, but haven't found anyone yet. Just looking for someone to cover my portion of the rent while I'm gone."
We haven't even met this guy and he's offering us his place. Well that's interesting. We're intrigued. We ask some more questions and find out where his place is located, and what his roommates are like. We're assured that they won't mind 2 random girls showing up and staying there for a month. Half an hour later we agree and he tosses us his house key. We had an address and a house key when we arrived in Melbourne. Unbelievable.

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We spent almost a month in Melbourne, mostly looking for work and trying to survive the heat. Aside from 1 days work, a trial day, for me, neither of us were successful at finding a job.

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The trees were yarn-bombed the first week we were there, which was awesome to be a place that had that happen!

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We were in Melbourne for Australia Day, and certainly enjoyed the fireworks.

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There was a free concert in Federation Square by the Cat Empire, which was amazing. They're a popular Australian band and they were celebrating there 1,000 show! The crowd all knew the songs, so we felt a little out of place not being able to sing along, but certainly enjoyed the music.

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Always on the lookout for books and book exchanges, we were in luck in Melbourne!

This first one is located at Melbourne Central, a central hub of public transportation. There's also lots of stores and coffee shops. And this. A free book exchange, based on the honor system.

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Another time, we were carrying around a ton of books that we were done reading, hoping to sell them back to a used bookstore. We were turned down though, they already had too may books at the moment and it would be another month before they would accept any new books. Walking along, backs sore from the amount of books we were carrying, we stumbled upon this place. A cafe with a bookshelf. We gladly donated our books and got free cappuccinos out of it!

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Pictures of the city...
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Melbourne is known for its street art, and no pictures can really portray it. Though I certainly tried with these below. You never know when you turn a corner whether you might find something cool.

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Posted by smr1188 16:11 Archived in Australia Tagged art melbourne australia city books music street_art Comments (5)

New Zealand Wrap-up

That's right, last post of NZ! (Unless I think of something else...)

This is a miscellaneous collection of pictures and maybe brief stories from the North Island that didn't fit anywhere else.

While in Hawke's Bay we drove up to the lookout and there were some gorgeous views!
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While in Hawke's Bay, you have to go to at least a couple winerys and do some wine tasting. We went to a couple places, and one gave us a tour which was interesting to learn about some of the wine making process.
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In Gisborne we dragged ourselves out of bed quite early in the morning to see the sunrise. Sunrises are cool but the special point of this one was that Gisborne is the first town in the world to see the sunrise!
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Our hostel was right across the street from the water, so we had gorgeous views from our bedroom window...
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Just outside of Gisborne there's the longest pier in the southern hemisphere. Well cool. We had to go check it out! At 660m (almost a quarter mile!) in length, it offers a nice walk out over the water and several fishing and jumping activities, if you're into that sort of thing.
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We drove up to the northern tip of the north island and did a tour to Cape Reinga. Our bus driver was crazy, but it was cheap for New Zealand and we got to see a lot.

This involved everything from hiking to a lighthouse which is the official northern most point.
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To seeing the Tasman Sea meet the Pacific Ocean
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There were neat views and beaches below...
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We stopped by some huge sand dunes, for those that wanted to climb up and sand board down.
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And our bus went off roading and drove down 90 Mile Beach (though it's really only 55 miles or so)
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Our last stop before Auckland was the Kauri forest. These Kauri trees are the largest in New Zealand and roughly 2,000 years old!!
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This concludes the New Zealand adventure, now it's back to Australia and on to new places and adventures. (Unless of course I realize I've forgotten something important about New Zealand, then I'll be sure to add it). We covered a lot of ground in New Zealand with 3 different vehicles and over 8,000km driven, and we slept in 32 different beds in 55 days.

Relocation Roadtrip

Relocation Roadtrip

South Island Roadtrip

South Island Roadtrip

North Island Roadtrip

North Island Roadtrip

We'll certainly miss New Zealand!!!

Posted by smr1188 15:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged trees tours sunrise new_zealand lighthouse winery roadtrip north_island summary Comments (2)

The Rock

A night on the water

First, a quick story before the story.

Our day started when we woke up and realized that our car wouldn't start. Uh oh. After awhile, we determined that the battery was dead because a light was left on. Oops. So we popped the hood and stood there looking helpless till this guy in a truck came to our rescue. Totally cliche. After we got it started, he told us we needed to drive around for 45 minutes to charge it. Great, no problem. Except we were in a small town and didn't have anywhere specific we wanted to go. So instead of driving in circles we actually stopped and picked up a hitchhiker. We offered to drive him at a half an hour or less in the direction he was hoping to go. There was a bit of a language barrier though, so despite our explanation of 'just needing to drive the car but don't need to go anywhere', I don't think he really understood what was going on. In the end we did help him out and gave him a ride to the next (slightly larger) town over. We were between Auckland and the northern tip of the north island in a town called Paihia, as shown on the map below.

Luckily, out of all the days of our roadtrip on the North Island, this was the only day where we weren't driving early in the morning, or really needing to drive at all, we had booked an overnight "Adventure Cruise" on a houseboat! We were to be picked up at 5, so we'd just planned on relaxing most of that day anyway.

You can see the houseboat waiting for us out in the harbour.

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The Rock is a houseboat that runs sort of a floating hostel. At 5pm we were picked up from the dock and we had 22 hours on the boat, returning around 3pm the next day. In that short time we did tons of activities and because it's a small space, made friends with all those on board, only around 20 people including a couple crew members. By the time 3pm the next day came around I was ready to hide away on the boat!

When we got on the boat, we were introduced to the crew and got the tour of the place. There was everything from a bar and pool table, to a piano and guitars.

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We were in a 6 bed room, with an awesome view. Every room on the boat has a view like this!

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Our first activity as we headed out of the harbour involved a paintball gun and a plastic duck...yes that's right. They towed the duck, Matilda, behind the boat and everyone got 3 shots to try to hit it. The best shot got a free drink from the bar. Having never shot a paintball gun there really wasn't much hope for me, but it was certainly fun!
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Next up was fishing. Pretty much everyone on board except myself grabbed a line and tried to catch some dinner.
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I spent the time exploring the ship and enjoying the sunset.

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Dinner was a mixture of bbq, salads, and pasta and everyone sat at one long table, chatting with their neighbors.
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After dinner we got out the kayaks and took turns paddling out to see the phosphorescence which is always a lot of fun. The kayaks were sit on top though, so everyone got a little wet from paddling, so luckily there was a fire (a fire on a boat!) to warm up to when we got back.

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Early morning risers were treated to a boatride ashore for a hike and a gorgeous sunrise view. I hate to admit I didn't make it up for this, I tried, I really did, but it wasn't happening. At least my camera made the journey though!

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After breakfast we headed over to a good snorkeling spot, Mussel Rock, and everyone jumped in to see what they could see. There were wetsuits for hire, but I thought I could tough it out. Mistake. But it was still a lot of fun seeing fish I hadn't seen before.

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We stopped at another island where we could kayak ashore, hike up to a viewpoint, and hang out at the beach some.

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It was great exploring a bit around the Bay of Islands, they claim there's 144 Islands, though they count rocks in the water as islands. There's only 25 or so islands that you can actually get out and walk around on. Luckily we had gorgeous weather for it too!

Definately a highlight of our New Zealand trip, I'd recommend it to anyone looking to get out on the water and for something different!

Posted by smr1188 06:03 Archived in New Zealand Tagged boats ocean hostels new_zealand roadtrip north_island Comments (4)

Lord of the Rings in NZ

Not all who wander are lost

Lord of the Rings settings: If you're not into the movies or books, you can skip this post :)

Since the entirety of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand, there's a lot of places you can go that resemble scenes from the movies. Though no sets (aside from Hobbiton) remain, the landscape is gorgeous and almost always recognizable as a scene from the movie, depending how well you know the movies!

Wellington Airport:
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Sometimes it's impossible to get to the location as there were several that required the cast and crew to be flown in via helicopters, and sometimes it's just 24km down a dirt road...like these pictures from Edoras.

Movie:
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Today:
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Sometimes there's a path that's well signed, like these just outside of Wellington.

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And sometimes it takes a bit of recalling from the movie and guesswork, or just acknowledging that it was 'somewhere around here that this scene was filmed'.

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Isengard:
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Rivendell:
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Posted by smr1188 19:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand lotr movies roadtrip north_island lord_of_the_rings Comments (2)

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