Moeraki New Zealand Day 2

Today is my second day in Moeraki. On the agenda today is to go see the famous boulders on the beach then head back to Katiki Point to try to catch a sight of penguins again.

I enjoy the cooler weather with a yogurt, granola and banana with a coffee looking at the water below.

Yummy yogurt from the local store

I watch the boats heading out for a day’s fishing.

The best time to see the boulders is a low tide. Today that is scheduled at 11:30 am.

I walk along the road a little bit until I reach a now partially closed path. I take the Millennium track toward the beach. It seems like the track was longer in the past (closer to my holiday park) but erosion has made part of the trail unsafe. The brush is slightly overgrown. I am wishing I would have worn long pants today.

I finally make it to the beach where it is nice and calm. There are very few people on the beach but I do notice a dead seal. It is really sad to see. Luckily it has been removed before my walk back.

I make it down to Moeraki Boulders Beach to look at the unique boulders. The boulders were formed around 60 million years ago during the early Paleocene. They are now being uncovered due to coastal erosion.

I head up to the nearby café to order some fish chowder.

Moeraki Boulders Cafe

After lunch I walk back to the holiday park back along the beach.

I hop carefully from rock to rock to a secluded area. I savor the sounds of the ocean and birds. It is very calm here. I notice tide starting to rise. Not wanting to get “trapped” I head back the way I came. I think this probably used to be part of that now defunct track.

I notice different types of flowering plants on my walk back.

I relax for a little while before heading back to the Katiki Point to try to get some more penguin viewing. Today I end up seeing only one penguin.

He goes away from view for a while so I end up looking at some more seals.

The penguin moves uphill where I snap a couple more pictures.

I drive back to the campsite but first stop by the village to walk around. There isn’t much to the village but a pier and a nice restaurants. I have food to eat back at the campsite so I forgo the restaurant.

Cool campervan I see

Back at my campervan I set up a semi-healthy dinner. I make a large salad but can’t resist butter bread with this spectacular butter (I feel like an influencer now, they should be paying me).

I love my stop in Moeraki. If I had more time I would have checked out the nearby towns of Dunedin and Oamaru. Oamaru in particular has the Steampunk HQ: a funky museum of all things steampunk (a missed opportunity on the drive into Moeraki). I just kept missing the window of opening hours so I regret not stopping on the way. I think it would have been fun to visit.

Tomorrow I head further south to Te Anau to get closer to Milford Sound. Loving my visit to New Zealand so far.

Kaikoura, there she (doesn’t) blow

Train to Kaikoura

We take the train to Kaikoura today. We arrive at the station in Kaikoura and there is no uber and no regular taxis. There is only one guy with a passenger van who will give rides from the train station. He has a business card but doesn’t seem to be always available for rides. I arrange a ride in the morning to the dock for my whale watching boat (at the time I didn’t realize it is in walking distance from my hotel). Anyway, it is hard to get around here without a car unless you don’t mind walking a while.

The ride to Kaikoura is beautiful with an open air observation car at the back of the train (think cattle car).

Train station and whale watch office

Hotel in Kaikoura – Lobster Inn Motor Lodge

My aunt has a sunset kayak tour scheduled for the evening. We originally thought I would be joining her but I have done some damage to my shoulders while traveling. I am pretty sure ocean kayaking is not in the cards for me at this time. Unfortunately due to rough seas her tour gets cancelled for the evening. She hopes to do a paddle tomorrow sometime during the day instead.

We arrive early enough for lunch. We visit the cafe across the street where I get to try green-lipped mussels. They are large and quite tasty.

I go to bed early because I have an early morning boat ticket for whale watching tomorrow. Kaikoura is supposed to be a magnificent place to see whales and other sea animals.

There is a 6:45 arrival time for my tour, the first tour of the day. My driver drops me off on time at the office. Once I arrive I come to find out that both my cruise and the cruise scheduled immediately after is cancelled due to rough seas. There are people in line already to reschedule for a later time but most of the other times this morning are already booked. The only time I can reschedule is for the afternoon but doing so would make me miss our train ride that we have booked back to Christchurch. I am disappointed. I usually schedul multiple days in a location in case something like this happens but in this case I did not.

My aunt goes on her kayaking tour this morning as scheduled. I plan to meet up with her later in town. I decide to walk back to the motel from the whale office instead of trying to find the one taxi guy in town. It is a nice walk along the beach.

I spend a couple hours making some phone calls that are much needed to the USA. I have a short window to take care of business by phone since our days are their nights and vice-versa.

After I take care of things I walk down to town. It is a cute little town. I see signs for crayfish everywhere but I am too cheap to order it so instead I end up getting a huge fried flounder and chips at Strawberry Tree Kaikoura. While the fish below is quite tasty, I regret passing up the crayfish because later when I get serious about trying it before I leave New Zealand I end up paying even more for it and end up disappointed. It is probably much fresher in Kaikoura.

My aunt finally meets up with me and helps me finish the fish. She has a photo of the bones and asked if I wanted to post it but it isn’t pretty so I’ll forgo the photo.

We have a little more time to kill before we pick up our luggage so we visit the local museum Kaikōura Museum. It gives a little taste of the history of the area. There is a good exhibit that talks about the major earthquake that occurred in 2016. A great deal of damage had been done to the coast, roads and tunnels. It is said to have pushed the south island 5km closer to the north island.

We head back to get our luggage and then to the train. We are heading back to Christchurch to overnight before our day trip to Arthur’s Pass tomorrow.

Kaikoura is beautiful and I am very sad I didn’t get to see whales during my visit. If I ever make it back to New Zealand it is definitely on my list again – next time for more days.

Video of train ride to Kaikoura

More Great Ocean Road Australia

I have just left my wildlife retreat. Currently (December 2019) Australia is experiencing an outbreak of fires. I start actively watching for news updates because the fires escalate day by day. I may need to alter travel plans or even leave the country.

Today I am heading to an airbnb in Port Fairy Victoria. I am staying in an adorable cottage for the night and stopping at some sights along the way.

Gibson’s steps

My first stop of the day is Gibson’s steps.

The steps provide a pathway down to a beautiful beach. Today the Gibson steps are closed due to storm damage and erosion. I just soak up the view up top instead.

Great Ocean walk

From the parking lot I notice a trail marker for the Great Ocean Walk. I read later that that it is an 100k scenic walk along the coast. Today I only walk a little bit of the trail since I hadn’t prepared for a long hike.

12 Apostles

I head back to my car for the short drive to the twelve apostles, a collection of limestone rocks off the coast.

I plan to head to the next rock formation down the road, Loch Ard Gorge, but I see a sign for a cheese and food trail and suddenly decide it is more important to follow that trail then to stop at any other roadside wonders.

12 Apostles Food Artisans

I follow the road with the food trail signs until I get to the first stop Apostle Whey Cheese. I skip the chocolate stop (Gorge Chocolates). I know you must be thinking there something wrong with me but I prefer a block of cheese over a chocolate bar 99% of the time.

I partake in a cheese sampler, tour the grounds and purchase to cheese to go.

I also pick up an official copy of the food map.

I head off to the next location but stop to look at some cows on the way.

I am heading to a brewery nearby, Sow and Piglets Production Brewery. From the website it appears that they sell sausages and such to eat. Beer samples and sausages sound good to me. When I arrive I find the brewery is closed for tastings. I must have arrived off season. If I want to try the beers I have to go to their microbrewery location in town.

Instead I head to the town of Timboon. My first stop is Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. It is a whisky distillery and restaurant. I try a couple whisky samples and then sit down for a late lunch.

Slow cooked beef over potato cake

I finally try a sow & piglet beer.

Right around the corner is an ice cream shop. I head over to Timboon Fine Ice Cream where they have some unique and fun flavors (at least to this American).

I order one scoop of Orange & Cardamon and one scoop of Rhubarb & raspberry. I really love the flavors.

After my ice cream I head back on the road. I plan to go straight to my Airbnb but I drive by Cheese World and I cannot help stopping.

They have Meredith Dairy in stock. I first learned about Meredith Dairy in central Florida where a local cheese monger sells the marinated goat cheese feta. It probably is one of the best cheeses I have ever tasted. Meredith Dairy cheese is produced in Victoria; in fact I emailed the farm to see if they gave tours before my trip and sadly they do not. In the USA we import the feta but some of their other products are new to me. I pick up some cheese to take back to my cottage tonight.

I check out the cheese store’s wine collection which is unfortunately heavy on the not so great wines we can already try in the USA. Luckily I already have some bottles I purchased a couple days prior.

I head to my cottage in Port Fairy to rest for the evening. It is an adorable cottage named Elizabeth Margaret Brady Cottage built in 1860.

There is charming bedroom and a cozy living room with a working gas fireplace that I use that evening.

The cottage can hold a small family. There is an attached area with another bedroom and bathroom. It is a pretty large place all to myself. There is also a washer on sight. I am happy to be able to do laundry.

additional bedroom and mini kitchen

There is complementary wine. I can add it to my wine and cheese tasting for the evening.

I prepare some snacks and a cheese plate and relax by the fire for a evening. Today has been a great day.

Great Ocean Road Australia

I have my rental car ready and I am heading out along the coast for a road trip. In my research I found that a drive down Great Ocean road is a must. A road trip along great ocean road is the plan. I am starting from Melbourne (or Lancefield – guesthouse location) and will ultimately end up in Adelaide where I will return my rental car.

I drove near Hanging Rock yesterday so I am not a total novice to driving on “the wrong side of the road” but I admit I am a little nervous on driving on curvy cliff-side roads in traffic. I will drive slowly and cautiously. Hopefully locals won’t want to kill me for backing up traffic.

My little car seems to do well. Things do get a little curvy at some points but I make it through ok.

As soon as I reach the coast I am rewarded with beautiful views. My first stop is in Torquay for some lunch. I originally planned for lunch at another restaurant in another town but I discovered the restaurant I originally wanted to dine at is closed for the day. I instead stop at Fishos for some fish and chips.

Torquay

It takes me longer than usual to order because I have never had any of the types of fish on the menu. I ask the cashier lots of questions to get an idea of the different fish types and how to compare them to fish I know. I settle on one finally and of course order it fried – because fried. I like the nice little outdoor area. The weather is perfect.

Weirdo birds that just lay in the grass like this. Must be nesting.

I am parked across the street at a park that overlooks the water. I walk along the trail, taking in the views. I notice many birds along the way.

I drive on but stop on my way to Lorne to get some spectacular views of the coast.

Lorne

I stop at Lorne to take some pictures. I enjoy the shale-like flat rocks and watching surfers at the beach. It looks like a nice area. I would have liked to spend a night here and explore a little more.

Lorne Beach

Again I am on my way and stop at another lookout.

I slowly move away from the coast as I head to my final destination for the day north of the Great Otway National Park. Oh how I wish I scheduled more days on this drive. There are so many areas I would have loved to explore more….

Da Nang is a bust

I asked for downtime and I got it. My time in Da Nang is basically a bust.

I am able to arrange to van ride to Da Nang from Hue. The van ride I book includes a couple stops along the way.

Thanh Toan Bridge

First stop on our ride is in a small village that is famous for its Thanh Toan Bridge. little bridge Thanh Toan Bridge, a Japanese bridge built in the 1700’s. It is a quaint wooden bridge in a quiet town. Note: At the time of this post I discovered the bridge has been disassembled for possible renovations.

Lang Co Beach 

Our second stop is at Lang Co Beach. We stop at what looks likes a once great beach resort but now appears to be fallen into disrepair. There is a place to buy jewelry on this stop (there is always is). I don’t bother going in so not sure if it was gold or whatever. We walk through the resort to get a view of the beach. If it isn’t for all of the trash on the beach it seems like it could be a wonderful place during season. I see some medical waste.

Hai Van Quan

Last stop is the Hai Van Quan along the Van Hai pass. Van Hai Pass is the curvy scenic road that you take into Da Nang. It is quite overcast today but it does still look pretty out the window. We stop at the Hai Van Quan. Built in 1826 by King Minh Mang the gate overlooks Da Nang and also contains an old French fort and Vietnam War bunker.

Da Nang

Finally I am in DaNang. I think I am the only passenger stopping here, the rest are onto Hoi An.

I had high hopes for Da Nang. I am going to visit that famous hand bridge, the marble mountain, and more…. but of course I am visiting during rainy season. I knew there is a risk of rainy days but pretty much my whole time in Da Nang consisted of thunderstorms, not unlike the tropical storms we get in Florida. I felt at home, sort of.

My room is on an upper floor and I have a great view of the ocean.

Storms start. I head upstairs to get a look at the pool. It is closed of course. I’ll try for a visit later.

As the storm progresses the wind gets stronger. The weather proofing from the windows does not hold and water slowly puddles in. I use towels from the bathroom to soak up the water so it doesn’t further flood the room. I later call to tell them repair is needed but they don’t seem too concerned so I just make sure to ask for more towels since mine are all on water duty.

It is later before the storms end. I am not in the mood to explore town in the evening. Instead I take pictures of Lady Buddha off in the distance.

I send an email to my family to check in and let them know I am safe. It is soon after I get a reply from one aunt who remembers my uncle getting stationed in Da Nang during the Vietnam war. I had no clue, war stories don’t seem to be widely discussed. It is odd for my aunts to imagine it being a vacation resort town now when my uncle had a vastly different experience here many years ago. It makes me appreciate how far things have come since then.

Day 2

It is supposed to storm once again all day. I decide not to arrange a ride to sights and just take more downtime since I am not in the mood to be out in the rain.

Buffet breakfast is interesting at the hotel. This is the first place I’ve been at in a while that doesn’t offer a western style breakfast.

During breakfast the storm comes again.

Got a little rooftop pool time during one the brief times the sun comes out. I almost have the entire pool to myself. It is a nice and relaxing view but doesn’t last long because the storms start again.

My hotel offers afternoon tea. I decide to take advantage of it today.

A couple hours pass and I am sick of wasting time watching movies and such. I am in the mood for pizza and luckily the rain stops again. I find a European style pizza place run by an Italian ex-pat near by.

L’Italiano Da Nang

After all that food I need a walk, luckily the rain still hasn’t begun again. I walk down to My Khe Beach.

My Khe Beach

On the way to the beach I walk by some seafood markets. The different types of crustaceans and clams fascinate me.

It is a little challenging to walk across to the beach. There is a steady stream of traffic and they are going much faster than Hanoi. I am scared to try the Hanoi cross here. Luckily traffic lightens up enough for me to cross.

The beach is nice and quiet with only a few people relaxing in the sand; it is off season so it is normal for the beach to be empty.

The rain starts again so I head back to my hotel. This evening is Halloween and rain does stop briefly in the evening for me to go out for a beer. There is a not so crowded bar and food area about 5 blocks away I don’t stay long because I am sure the rain will start again soon.

My stay in Da Nang is short and I pretty much miss all the main attractions but I am well rested. I’ll have to return to Da Nang sometime when it is not rainy season!