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Wellington, New Zealand. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Wellington, New Zealand. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Going to Wellington, New Zealand? This rough and brief Wellington travel guide will show you What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat and What to See in Wellington, New Zealand.  Wellington is a lovely little city, much nicer than the business oriented Auckland – Wellington is one of the nicest places we visited in New Zealand and is a place where the pace of life is as nice as the people you meet there !

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On arriving in Wellington it was a real change of pace from the metropolis of Hong Kong and the city buzz of Sydney. One of the first things you notice is the quaint / small town feel you get from the moment you leave the airport. Some very nice sculptures along the way also. We were staying at the Copthorne Hotel in Oriental Bay – a hotel which was so nice we stayed at the Copthorne / Millennium Group Hotels during our whole stay in New Zealand.

Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand – View from Cable Car station near Botanical Gardens

Wellington is a great place for relaxing – the pace is not that of a capital city which of course it is. Our first stop was the botanical gardens, as it is on a hill which overlooks the city – get the cable car to the summit (not the type of cable car which you might think – more of a vernicular).

Flowers in the Wellington Botanical Gardens

Flowers in the Wellington Botanical Gardens

The view is stunning and there are plenty of walks which should keep you going for 2-3 hours. The restaurant in the Botanical Gardens is really good and service very fine meals, hot drinks and desserts. not to be missed also is the observatory which has a 3D projection tour of the night sky which is a very relaxing way to spend a half hour.

Fun Sign at Wellington Observatory

Alien Toilets? – Fun Sign at Wellington Observatory

Food in Wellington is not a problem. Cuba Street is one of the places where you can find good food at any time. One of the places we tried was Simply Paris, 181 Cuba Street. Welcomed by a french waiter, the food was excellent and the ambiance was very authentic – would certainly return here if in Wellington again.

If you are looking for a good view of Wellington, you should try going up to Mount Victoria which has an observation point giving a 360 degree vista on the area. Out hotel said we could walk it but if you do walk it, bring oxygen, as it is a fairly strenuous hike !

View from Mount Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand

View from Mount Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand

If you want to do something more cultural, the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa located on the sea front is worth going to. About 4 floors of artifacts, pictures, videos and interactive exhibits (many of them stuffed which I didn’t like too much) – it is a great way to get to know more about New Zealand and the Maori people who inhabited New Zealand before the white people colonised the islands. There is a restaurant here which is quite nice – the main courses were decent and very tasty but the seafood chowder which we got was not really chowder but some sort of seafood broth – I like my chowder but it was not great. They do however do a good coffee / cappuccino!

Look out in Wellington for the variety of sculptures – many of which are moving in the wind. The best of them all is the Smarties which is located along one of the main streets ( which you can see on Google Street View by clicking here)

We really enjoyed Wellington and would certainly return. A relaxed city with lots to do, good food and nice people – you don’t find that every day.

From here we hired a car, and progressed up N1 route North, visiting Foxton, Bulls, Taihape, en route to our final destination Lake Taupo.

Sydney, Australia. What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat, What to See

Sydney, Australia. What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat, What to See

Going to Sydney, Australia? This rough and brief Sydney travel guide will show you What to Do in Sydney, Where to Go in Sydney, Where to Eat in Sydney and What to See in Sydney Australia. Sydney is a place to be savoured – enjoy Sydney when you are there as you will miss it when you leave!

Sydney is a place which is like a second home to me. I spent a year working here in 2003, working in both Sydney and Melbourne … but Sydney is by far a nicer city (no offense to Melbourne but there is much more to do in Sydney and winter in Melbourne is fffreezzzing). In Sydney, there is plenty to do, weather is always decent enough that you can get out and about.

Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport at Sunrise

Kingsford Smith Airport at Sunrise

Arriving in Sydney, you will be about 30 minutes drive from the city from Kingsford Smith Airport. Cabs and Airport transfers are easily accessible. A Taxi will cost between $30-$50 depending on where in the city you are going and what time of day it is. Transfers would be a bit less at between $13 and $20 depending on the company. We stayed in Sydney for 2 whole days, arriving late on a Monday evening in the middle of a monsoon and leaving on the first flight Thursday morning as sun was just coming up.

Sydney Harbour as seen from the AMP / Sydney Tower

Sydney Harbour as seen from the AMP Tower

One of the key things about Sydney is the sheer number of areas you can enjoy a walk, from Circular Quays, the Rocks and Botanical Gardens to Darling Harbour and Hyde Park. The Rocks is a really quaint area full of olde world charm and some olde worlde cafes. You can continue through to Circular Quays, perhaps catch one of the many ferries which service Balmain, Darling Harbour, North Shore, and as far a field as Manly. If you are looking for food, check out City Extra – their fish and chips is really good as is the chicken pie which is served with a hot baked roll. From Circular Quays, you can walk into the Botanical Gardens which hugs the waterline looking out over the bay, with excellent views of Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The walkway extends around to Woolloomooloo Wharf … if you still haven’t eaten go straight to Harrys Pies (Harrys Cafe de Wheels), a small cart based pie shop with the best pies and best mashed potato in Sydney. If you haven’t taken the route to Woolloomooloo you can continue through the Botanical Gardens to the Domain and on to Hyde Park. This walk is easily followed but worth taking 3-4 hours over as the views are spectacular.

People Walking over Sydney Harbour Bridge

People Walking over Sydney Harbour Bridge

In the city you can enjoy the views from the Sydney Tower, formerly called the AMP Tower. The AMP logo is still displayed on the tower but it seems to have been rebranded. When we were there we almost missed the entrance as the whole area is being renovated. From the tower you can get views as far as the airport and beyond … some days you can see as far as the Blue Mountains. If you are really adventurous you can climb Sydney Harbour Bridge (not on your own please, don’t start scaling the bridge and telling them it was my idea – it is a paid guided excursion with safety equipment). The only disadvantages are that you can’t bring a camera, you can’t decide to take a bathroom break and once you start out its about a 2 hour round trip – also not great for those with vertigo. We didn’t do this, instead took a helicopter trip with Cloud9 Helicopters from Bankstown Airport (phone 02 9771-3654) – well worth the money.

The main shopping areas extend from Pitt Street down around Town Hall also don’t miss Paddys Market in Chinatown which has excellent deals and is great for getting some fresh fruit, great deals on t-shirts and holiday clothes. While you are in Chinatown, you could get a really nice Chinese meal. If you are looking for a nice restaurant, go all the way as far as the Chinese arch in Chinatown and look for the Golden Harbour – Maria and the staff at the Golden Harbour will look after you and the food is always really nice. Yum Cha is also served early in the day.

Fruit Bats sleeping in the Botanical Gardens

Fruit Bats sleeping in the Botanical Gardens

Later in the evening there is plenty to do in the city. You can enjoy dinner in the AMP / Sydney Tower overlooking the city by night, the food is very nice, usually a buffet – however we found that The Summit Restaurant (http://www.summitrestaurant.com.au/) had nicer views (being that bit closer to the harbour) and also the menus were a bit nicer also. If you are looking for real class, try the Bennellong Restaurant at the Sydney Opera House. Not as expensive as you would think – and the service is 5 star (bordering on 6) with the food being similarly as good. The experience of dining at the Bennellong will live long in my mind – not only for the food and service but for the views and thrill of dining at one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

Sydney Opera House - the Classic Shot from Sydney

The iconic Opera House – the Classic Shot from any trip to the city

Sydney is a place to be savoured, so if you are coming here for a holiday, spend as long as you can here – its one of the few cities in the world, where I can say I would be happy to live. Looking forward to going back already !

Recommended Links for Sydney

Bennellong Restaurant, Sydney Opera House : http://www.bennelong.com.au/

Sydney Tower : http://sydneytower.myfun.com.au/

Harrys Cafe de Wheels : http://www.harryscafedewheels.com.au/

City Extra, Circular Quays : http://www.cityextra.com.au/

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb : http://www.bridgeclimb.com/

There is much more than this – but I wanted to keep this blog post short … If you have any questions about tips on where to go, eat or stay in Sydney please drop me a comment.

Hong Kong, Where to Stay, What to Do, What to See

Hong Kong, Where to Stay, What to Do, What to See

Hong Kong, Where to Stay, What to Do, What to See

Hong Kong is a fantastic city, vibrant, lots to do and if you want the latest high tech gadgets its the place to go. This is a list of some key items to add to your ‘What to Do in Hong Kong’ list.

Landing at Chek Lap Kok airport you are about 20 miles from the city and you can get a high speed train which takes between 12-25 minutes to get to you the city or a coach transfer which will drop you to your hotel door. The coach transfer is recommended as Hong Kong temperatures can reach high 30’s and lugging a case around in that heat from the train station is not fun when you can relax in the air-con of a coach and get dropped to the lobby of your hotel.

One thing not to miss in Hong Kong is the celebration of lights which happens each evening at 8:15. Get yourself a Star Ferry around this time to enjoy the skyscrapers in the bay lighting up in a type of choreography to be witnessed. We got a star ferry cruise which I think was about €30 and this included refreshments and 1 hour cruising around the bay with nice music as you enjoyed the lights.

If you want to go on a trip, the Big Buddha trip to Ngong Ping is not to be missed. This involves a 25 minute cable car ride which runs from near the airport to the Ngong Ping area. The Big Buddha is elevated on a hill and you can climb up to it for stunning views. Inside the Budda there is a museum all about the history of the Buddha. The trip also includes a vegetarian meal cooked by the monks where you can taste traditional cuisine – this included delicacies such as Lotus Flower which I had never tasted but was delicious. On the trip you also get taken to a traditional fishing village … a thousand miles away from the hussle and bussel of down town Hong Kong.

If you are looking for somewhere to stay, I would recommend the Novatel Century on Jaffa Road. It is very clean, rooms are excellent and very well serviced, the staff go 10 times further to make you happy. The breakfasts are fantastic – I never had Dim Sum for breakfast before ! There is more than enough choice for breakfast. Don’t miss the roof top swimming pool which is best experienced in the late evening when you can hear the busy streets but you are enjoying a swim outdoors in the city with jets flying low overhead – Magic !

Hong Kong has a lot to offer and will be somewhere I continue to return to – however next time we will upgrade to Business Class as our Cathay Pacific flight was just too long to be stuck in economy class, as my legs kept falling asleep from the seats on the Boeing 747-400 which were not all that comfortable.

Shanes Recommended Links for Hong Kong

Ngong Ping : http://www.np360.com.hk/

Novotel Century : http://www.novotel.com/

Grayline Tours : http://www.grayline.com/Grayline/destinations/asia/hongkong.go

New Zealand, Hong Kong, Sydney…

I’m just back from a trip to Hong Kong, Sydney and the North Island of New Zealand.
Over the next few blog posts I am going to upload some posts about the best places to stay, eat and go as well as the best trips or sights to see in Hong Kong, Sydney and New Zealand (including Wellington, Lake Taupo, Rotorua, Auckland and Bay of Islands).

The first of these posts will appear next week along with some pictures etc….