Dreaming of New Zealand

March 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Attractions, Enchanting Oceania, Nature

As I’ve often mentioned before, New Zealand is hands down my favorite travel destination so far. It’s got great scenery, a laid-back atmosphere and a superb infrastructure that makes it a breeze to just explore and get lost in the country’s many beautiful landscapes. For Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday, here’s a photo recap (Part 1) of my New Zealand travels!

From one of the stops on our Port Hills Drive

From one of the stops on our Port Hills Drive

The view from Sign of the Kiwi

The view from Sign of the Kiwi

Another view from Sign of the Kiwi

Another view from Sign of the Kiwi

Castle Rock Scenic Reserve

Castle Rock Scenic Reserve

At the sea-side town of Sumner

At the sea-side town of Sumner

The sprawling Mount Cook Village

The sprawling Mount Cook Village

Sea-side fun at the beach of Sumner

Sea-side fun at the beach of Sumner

Kite-surfing

Kite-surfing

Ducks by the Avon River

Ducks by the Avon River

Lake Tekapo, about an hour's drive away from Moun Cook

Lake Tekapo, about an hour's drive away from Moun Cook

Another shot of Lake Tekapo

Another shot of Lake Tekapo

At the Gentanner Camping Ground

At the Gentanner Camping Ground

A hiking trail at the base of Mount Cook

A hiking trail at the base of Mount Cook

Glacier Lake, with Mount Cook in the backdrop

Glacier Lake, with Mount Cook in the backdrop

Upclose and personal with the glaciers

Upclose and personal with the glaciers

You Really Should

March 7, 2009 by  
Filed under News

The word in Travel this week is that “you really should!“. Go Travel that is. Traveling is cheaper now! Really, more than ever before, even in this tough economic times. There are more and more discounted prices on hotels and cheap airline fares than ever before.

RyanAir continues to confound the public with its image fiasco. After calling one of its potential customer a “lunatic” and “an idiot”, they went on to decide that, hey your really shouldn’t be given a free pass at the loo. Watch out everybody, the man is serious.

A recent happening close to home touched a raw personal nerve. The newly opened Tsunami Museum has drawn its fair share of supporters and detractors. Count me in the latter part.

More points for consideration from a local Indonesian, albeit one based in Jakarta:
1. More than 700 victim families are still living in barracks in Banda Aceh.
2. The bill is already at $4.6 million. What’s the actual cost? Knowing how things work in Indonesia there’s bound to be a substantial amount of the fund filtered into the pockets of powerful people.
3. By the end of it, the museum would have cost $6.7 million. A point of comparison: a cheap street-side meal here costs about $0.50, it costs about $3,000 for a 40 square metre house (that’s in Jakarta, the cost in Aceh should be cheaper). Do your own math!

What do you feel about the Tsunami Museum? Leave a comment and let us know!

From the Blog
There is more to do in Hong Kong than the frenzied shopping of Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui. Here are Ten Suggestions for your consideration!

On our trip to Mount Cook, New Zealand this past January we had to settle for ice instead of snow. We booked ourselves a tour exploring the Tazman Glacier Lake, the largest glacier lake in the Mount Cook vicinity. Different, but still very much as fun!

From the Web
This one link is worth a lot more than that. To be exact, it’s worth 50 Links! Enjoy!

NaTraWriMo: The National Travel Writing Month: The twice yearly event that challenge travel writers to send out 30 pitches in 30 days. The challenge begins 1st April 2009 (No, it’s not an April’s Fool prank, honest!) Are you up to it?

Glacier Exploring at Mount Cook

March 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Enchanting Oceania, Feature Highlights, Nature

Our car screeched on and the tallest peak of New Zealand loomed in a distance. We weren’t sure which one was Mount Cook, but we harbored an obvious guess – the tall, snowcapped one. Spot on. Like a ruler of its kingdom, Mount Cook stood majestic amongst the other mountains.

It was tall, serene and beautiful, yet all I could think of was the silly little fun things you get to do in the snow. All that sledding down the slope, snow-angels and snow-men, I was even looking forward to getting hit in a snow-fight.

Good fun, but as it turned out, I was sadly mistaken – it was summer, and there aren’t any snow in summer. The top of Mount Cook’s peak was snow-capped all year round, but the area allowed for tourists weren’t so. “Wrong season,” I thought, slightly disappointed.

So instead, we had to settle for second best after snow – ice. We booked ourselves a tour exploring the Tazman Glacier Lake, the largest glacier lake in the Mount Cook vicinity.

The Glacier Lake was a good 15 minutes walk away from the Tazman Valley, itself a 10 minute bus-ride away from the Mount Cook Village. We made our way through rocks and boulders with the scenic Mount Cook laying dormant to our side. As we approached a cliff overseeing the Glacier Lake, a strong draft caught us by surprise, and it took my cap away with me!

“Whatever…” I sighed. The Glacier Lake was right in front of us, and I can feel the excitement bubbling in our group as we quickly strapped on our life jackets and set off.


The lake water was pastel-colored, a slight off-white color that was quite unexpected. I thought it would’ve been clean and clear, a pure mountain water straight from the melted snow. It seemed however, that the glaciers contained chemicals which gives off this dirty off-white color.

As the lake flows seaward, the chemicals would reflect sunlight and give off a beautiful blueish color, as seen in the stunning Lake Tekapo.

The water itself was cold, ranging between one to four degree Celcius even during summer. As you can imagine, “survival time in the water isn’t very long,” our guide warned half-jokingly.

The glaciers themselves were magnificent and stunning, a jaw-dropping marvel. For someone who has been accustomed to living in the tropics, this phenomenon of gigantic rocks made purely out of ice – it was amazing in every sense of the word! I can almost imagine myself tip-toe-ing over the boat on top of the glaciers. Not allowed, of course.


Our boats went near the side as we got up-close and personal with these ice-bergs. It was crystal clear! We slowly explored the various glaciers, and we hunted for random pieces of ice laying around in the water.

At one point, we heard a thunderous roar behind us. We immediately spun around to witness a part of an iceberg breaking away! Straight down it went into the lake and our guide swerved the boat around to bring us closer.

Parts of Icebergs break away regularly due to the varying temperature. One way or another, the iceberg starts to tilt due to imbalanced weight on the sides. Come a point when the law of equilibrium takes over and it flips upside-down, the submerged part of the iceberg then resurfaces – crystal blue in hue, replacing the dirt-stained side.

After a good hour of exploration (and cold, freezing winds), we made our way back. As it turns out, this Glacier Lake trips are only available during the summer. The lake would often freeze out during the winter. I guess that’s the silver lining to our summer visit to Mount Cook – we missed the snow, but got some ice-cold fun in the Glacier Lakes!

About the Author. Michelle Lee. There is an idea behind every writing, and magic in bringing words to life. For Michelle, words create worlds beyond ours. A writer based in Singapore, Michelle seeks to inspire thoughts, ignite emotions, and explore the unfound as much as boundaries can be ventured into. Her inspirations spiral from overseas escapades filled with wild diversities of culture and traditions. “Abandoning responsibilities, work and the hustles of life to a place where everything is fresh, new and alienated. That, is sheer fascination.”