Aside

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Hi all,

I’m currently in Australia on a little holiday before I start my next placement at Labplus. Boy is summer hot here! I’m constantly sticky and sweaty and require air con just to survive in this country. Other than the heat, I’m loving it in Aus ! Theres so much to do and the surroundings remind me of home yet feel so new and fresh at the same time. We flew to Brisbane and drove up to Noosa, where we are staying for 5 days before going back to Auckland.

One of the things I really wanted to do was cuddle a koala so it was a given that I had to visit the lone pine koala sanctuary. We bought our tickets online beforehand as it’s cheaper if you prebuy rather than purchase at the door. Even though we went on Monday, there were still a LOT of people so get in early if you want to get a photo of you cuddling a koala. It does cost extra for any animal held photos you want to take (they offer snake photo’s as well), at $18 / animal. Which is quite reasonable as you’re allowed to take as many photos on your own device as well as have a professional photo to keep (printed and free to download digitally). They do ask at the ticket counter if you want to pay $1 for a guide-book but you don’t really need it as there are plenty of maps available around the sanctuary and you can snap a photo of the show times which is shown right after you come out the entrance building.

Below are the photos of me while I held the koala and snake (yes I paid for both and excuse my nasty tan lines).

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They also have a lot of australian icon animals such as the wombat, platypus, dingo, kookaburra, kangaroo, and Tasmanian devil. So you can’t get more Australian than that! I absolutely loved it here because I felt like I was up close and personal with them. You can also pay $2 for a kangaroo feed pouch at the same store where you purchase photo tickets. There’s an open section full of kangaroos for you to freely pet and feed. If you don’t want to fork out the extra $2 then no worries! They are so used to human interaction that you can walk right up and take photos without having to feed them 🙂

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A mum and her joey!

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More photos of some other animals we encountered:

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Tasmanian Devil

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Snake

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Kookaburra

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White crested sea eagle – raptor show

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Sheep dogs at the show

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Lizard


-medlabgeek

Julian’s Berry Farm and Cafe

It’s almost Christmas! I love the atmosphere during this time of year, everyone gets so into the holiday spirit. For most of you, your Christmas is probably a lot different to mine. For me, it consists of relaxing at a park or beach, going on road trips, getting a tan, picnics and BBQ’s and a nice refreshing cold beverage.

My best friend came down to visit me over the weekend and I thought what better way to start off the Christmas season than berry picking. This time of the year is the perfect time for berries but just make sure to go earlier during the day to avoid the sweltering heat! And DON’T think you can get away from wearing sunscreen. Protect yourselves people. The sun can be very dangerous, especially in NZ.

Julian’s Berry Farm is an hour away from Rotorua, down in Whakatane and it is very busy and popular. However you don’t feel crowded at all when picking so there’s plenty of time and room to pick without feeling rushed or cramped. What’s so great about this place is that they don’t just have one kind of berry, but a whole variety of berries to pick from. It’s also a great place for kids as they have a mini golf course and a little farm zoo where you can go in for free or pay $1.50 if you want to get some animal feed. If you get hungry from all the picking (which I doubt from all the berries around you), they have a cafe which is settled under a really nice covered outer deck. They also sell fresh berry ice cream / frozen yoghurt and packaged fresh fruit if you don’t feel like picking them yourselves. When we went, strawberries were really juicy vibrant and sweet. I tried the other berries (i.e. blackberry, raspberry, ranui berry etc) but they were too sour for me so I just stuck with good ol’ strawberries 🙂

You can find this all on the website but it costs $18 for around 1kg of PYO; $26 for 1.8kg and $40 for 2.8kg. If you pick only strawberries it’s a bit cheaper. They also show you what is the best time of the year to pick certain berries on their website.

Views of the strawberry fields

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There are more photos of the berry section and kids farm below.

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Queenstown Trip (4)

Date : 3rd July 2016

We woke up quite early today because we had booked an Elm Wildlife Tour in Dunedin at 1pm. The tour is around 5 hrs long during winter and they take you around the coast of Dunedin to see the natural wildlife. It costs $109 for an adult but if you have a student ID, you can get a $10 discount 🙂

We arrived in Dunedin by 12pm and had a quick lunch at a nearby restaurant at the Octagon. The shuttle arrived a little late but it was probably due to a delay from picking up other’s from different locations. From what I saw, they do pick ups at certain hotels but we were picked up at the i-Site visitor centre in the town central.

There were two guides, one that did all the driving and the other which did some commentating whenever she saw certain landmark features or wildlife nearby. They were very informative and didn’t talk extensively, which I prefer. The scenery was amazing, one of the most beautiful scenic places I’ve been to. Especially the inlets that we drove past, as it was in the afternoon, and the skies were very calm, there were hardly any ripples at all so the reflection on the water from the mountains and hills were perfect.

We got to see some wading birds, but due to the lack of wind, we were unable to see any Royal albatross at the Royal Albatross Centre. The stay up at the Royal albatross centre is around 30 mins and that is the only place you can buy some food and make a toilet stop (that is more modernised). They then lead you to a private section where they have a longdrop for people to use and we stay for around 2 hours there to visit two different beaches. Here you can see sealions, yellow eyed penguins and fur seals. By the time we had arrived to see these animals, the sun was beginning to set and the sky was glowing red and purple. Just amazing.

Tomorrow morning we return our rental car and take a 9am flight back to Auckland, so this is the end of our trip 😦

Hope you enjoyed the blog posts as much as I enjoyed the trip!

-medlabgeek

Queenstown Trip (3)

Date : 2nd July 2016

Today my best friend and I had a 2 hour horse trek planned in Cardrona. It took around half an hour to get there and it was so much colder than Queenstown (the guide later told us that its because we were about 350m higher up). The place we went to is called Backcountry Saddle Expeditions and usually costs $90 for a 2 hr ride. We booked for the morning session at 10am and found it on bookme for a discounted price of $75.

When we got there our first sight was beautiful. Below is a photo of what we saw. All the horses were lined up in front of a beautiful landscape with a warm dusky glow. We went into the horse stable to sign some papers and get our helmets fitted. If you didn’t have a beanie or gloves they happily provided them for you to wear on the trip (trust me your feet and hands will get mighty cold so wear thick socks if you have them).

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They set us up with a horse they thought would be suitable for our skill level and height. On our particular trip we were with another group of 4 from Melbourne, totalling 6 of us not including our guide Leanne. The horse that I was set up with was a mare called Chocky and my friend was set up with a mare called Frosty.

The trek took 2 hours and was among the valleys in between Cardrona. The surroundings were beautiful, and we saw many wild rabbits along the way. The horses are so easy to handle and very gentle so if you are nervous, you will very quickly forget that you ever were and just enjoy the beauty around you during the trek. Leanne does a great job of teaching you how to trot and tells us a lot about the surroundings as we go by and we were given plenty of opportunity to trot (if our horses behaved :P).

After our ride my boyfriend came to pick us up as he went to do rifle and claybird shooting at Have a Shot in Wanaka which is only 20 mins away. Below are some photos of the claybird target shooting, these photos are from when we went last year. We had decided to do all of the activities; claybird, rifle, archery and golf. But if you only feel like doing one or a few of the activities, they do have singular prices which you can find on the link I provided above.

We then stopped at the famous bra fence. It all started when a local farmers wife died of breast cancer and after she passed , her husband and his friends were mourning her and decided to hang their wives bras on there as commemoration. This all lead to many others doing the same and now a donation box for breast cancer is built there too.

We also stopped by Cardrona hotel. Though people say it’s one of the oldest hotels in NZ, the truth is that the front facing board is only the oldest part and everything else was built in the 70’s or later with many refurbishments. Nevertheless it is a famous spot and great for touristy photos. There were constantly people stopping by on the opposite side of the road, waiting for their turn to get a photo but it wasn’t so badthat you felt like you couldnt take your time to get the good shot without anyone standing around it.

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-medlabgeek

Queenstown Trip (2)

Date : 1st July 2016

Today was a fairly relaxing day as we had no plans booked and we just went with the flow.

Our first mission was to drop off my boyfriend at the top of The Remarkables so that he could snowboard all day. It took around half an hour just to drive up to the drop off zone from the bottom of the mountain! Thank goodness the weather was on our side which made driving up a lot easier. We had also gotten his day pass and rental gear fitted out and taken back to our motel room the previous day so all we had to do was wake up, get ready and begin driving up towards the mountain.

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On our way back down, we made a few stopovers at the lookout zones and boy oh boy was the view to die for !

By the time we finished taking photos and made it back to road level, it was noon so we decided to go try out the famous Vudu cafe. As expected, the cafe was really busy but had such a wonderful homely and cosy feel. We were lucky enough to get a table straight away. The coffee was quite nice but a bit too sweet for my taste.

After that me and my best friend just did a bit of window shopping and went into Ferg bakery to buy some bread for our breakfast the next morning. By now it was already 3pm so we had to get going and head back up The Remarkables to pick up the sore yet happy man.

Due to very heavy traffic, it was already 5.30pm by the time we arrived back to the town centre. Since my bf didn’t eat anything the entire day, we decided to eat dinner before heading back to our motel room to relax instead of having to drive back out.

We already knew that the wait would be long but you can’t go to Queenstown and not eat at Fergburger ! I ordered the classic Ferg burger with cheese. I must admit that though the burgers are good, it’s not so special that there would constantly be a huge line for it. I’m not sure about other countries, but in NZ there are many burger joints that make just as good if not better, burgers. Maybe, like me, most people go because of its “fame” and novelty.

After that, we just headed back to our room, made a cuppa tea, and relax. As of now it is 9.30pm but I feel sooooo tired that it feels as if it’s almost midnight. I’m going to bed now so that I can fully enjoy my day tomorrow. Really excited! Will write about it soon (though all of these will be uploaded together once I get back to Auckland).
Goodnight all!

Below are some more photos we took as we explored the town during the day.

 

-medlabgeek

Queenstown Trip (1)

Date : 30th June 2016

My boyfriend, best friend and I boarded a flight from Auckland to Queenstown and once we landed we boarded a free shuttle from Go rentals to get our car sorted. We had a jam packed day today and thanks to pre booking all of our activities online, everything ran smoothly (hooray for the Internet and online bookings!).

Our first activity of the day was the Stratosphere lunch buffet up at the Skyline in Queenstown at 12pm. I highly recommend you give this a try as the food is ah-maze-ing and the big open windows just make the scenery around you shine. It also helped that the sky was sunny and clear with many paragliders just gliding around in the background. The buffet is $60 including a gondola ride up and down the hill but if you don’t want to pay that much, you can still see the amazing views by just paying to go up the mountain (or you can walk if you love hiking!). We’ve all already done the luge so we didn’t do it this time around but if you’ve never experienced it then do it! It’s super fun and great for kids or adults (no shame in who wants to ride really fast down a hill).

After enjoying the food and the view, we headed back down to drive to our next activity at 3pm. The famous AJ Hackett Kawarau Bungy. As my best friend and I are too chicken to bungy, we opted for the Kawarau Zipride which is less intense so great for people who want to have some adventure but don’t want to jump right into a bungy straight away. The actual bungy is $195 pp and the zipride is $50 pp. However, we booked the zipride through bookme for only $32.50 pp and they do alot of discounts for all kinds of activities and restaurants around NZ so be sure to check it out ! You might find a great deal on something you’ve had your eye on doing or even find something new that you never knew you could do!

By now it was 4pm and we still hasn’t checked in to our room so we drove to Arthur’s point to check into the Shotover Lodge. After unpacking our bags and resting for a bit we headed back out to the town centre for dinner at Winnie’s. They serve a range of freshly made specialty pizza in three different sizes. The lodge is decent for its price, there was a kitchenette, 2 single beds and a bunk bed with a warm heater and separate bathroom. However, the walls are REALLY thin and you can hear your neighbours quite easily.

We then headed back to our room for a rest and changed into our swimwear (under our clothes) before heading to the Onsen Hot Pools which was just across the road. This is a private hot tub that has an open roof for a beautiful view of the night sky. The Stars shone brightly and the cold air was a great way to prevent us from becoming boiled lobsters. Even though we didn’t opt for the candlelight option, we still had them prepared in our room to our delight. Even though this was so relaxing, it would have been better if we had booked this on our last day of the trip to top it all off. But I’m still glad that we got to experience this opportunity. The price is $61 pp for an hour in the tub but we found a discount for this on bookme for only $40pp!

Most of the photos are on the camera and the wifi is limited so I shall be adding in the photos and posting these blogs all together once I head back to Auckland. Even though you guys can’t read this now I just want to say sorry for my delayed posts! Will make it up by posting all of these together 🙂

Oh and if you want to read more about our trip or see better photos, check out my best friends blog here! (Shes the photographer so her photos will be much better 🙂 )

-medlabgeek