Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ballet dancers, us? Why not!

We're in sunny Sydney, we arrived on Sunday, and finally today (Thursday) we've seen the sun! It was really pouring with ran for 4 days, which meant that me and Dan have been to lots of museums and exhibitions and found this amazing contemporary design exhibition, which had lots of stuff from really cool Australian designers.

Last night was when I got the rest of my 30th Birthday present from Dan. He had bought us tickets to see Don Quixote -ballet at the Royal Opera House! It was just great, really cool being inside such an iconic building, and it was even better than we had hoped. The ballet was great and the story was very funny (we had bought the programme, so we could follow it really well - we've learned from past mistakes!) and the architecture inside was beautiful, you could see the arches that are the massive sail-like structures, and everything was very well thought through from the funky sinks in the toilets to the bars with amazing views across Sydney Harbour. We had a bottle of bubbly there so that we could better appreciate the views by the bar.

I have to say the best thing was when we left the ballet and got out the front door, and we were stopped by this excited lady who came to tell us how she had enjoyed the ballet (to which I enthusiastically told her that I thought it had been brilliant as well) and she proceeded to ask us whether we are sad that it's over (it was the last night they did the Don Quixote ballet, but neither of us felt especially sad about it, so we were a bit confused, but told her that we agreed it was a bit sad), after which she asked that now that it's coming to the end of the season, what are we going to do next? Dan told her that we are off travelling, which she was stunned about. This was the point at which it dawned on us that she thought she had just watched us dance in the show! We had to then break it to her that we had only been to see the ballet, and didn't actually have any part in it. As she was being pulled away by the arm by her embarrassed daughter she told us that she had thought we both looked just like ballet dancers! We thought this was so funny we could hardly breathe for the next hour from laughing, however Dan did manage to say that she obviously has never seen him dance (a treat that was offered to those who came to our wedding), and unfortunately I didn't think of offering to give her a special ballet dance demonstration until it was too late.

Today we have been to Bondi beach, but we weren't mistaken for life guards. What a disappointment.

Dan's broken the adaptor, which is why we don't have enough battery power in our camera to share our photos with you lot. Sorry about that, I blame Dan.

Lots of love,
Jenni and Dan

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Goodbye Colin and Steve

It's our last few hours in New Zealand now, we have just given Colin and Steve back to the rental company and are off to the airport soon to catch our flight to Sydney. It was quite sad to give the van back, we had grown quite attached to it over the last month, we clocked up just over 5500Km so we did spend a fair while in it! As we were returning it another guy turned up to return his too, his picture wasn't as good as ours, but he did have something extra that made us both a little jealous. He only had a bloody heater didn't he, and it turned out we were meant to have one too, the rental guy said sorry, so that made up for the freezing nights in Wanaka and Mount Cook, so we don't mind at all now!

One thing that no one mentioned before we set off on our trip was about public toilets. These facilities are a some what rarity in England and if you are to find one on your travels the chances are they have been bolted shut since 1984 and graffitied to within an inch of its life. If however you are lucky enough to find one with an open door you are taking your life into your own hands once you have gone beyond the darkened threshold, the smells, sounds and sights are beyond compare! In New Zealand however public toilets are everywhere and they are great, not just in the big tourist spots but every little town has at least one spotlessly clean lovely public loo ready for you to use, there is toilet paper, soap, hand dryers, everything! This is how it should be everywhere, it certainly helped us out when we were free camping on beaches and by the sides of the road. I think when I come back I may go into the public toilet industry.

We have been doing a few walks and things since our last post. We walked up to the Tasman glacier near Mount Cook and the Hooker valley track that takes you up to the terminal lake at the base of the mountain. They are really lovely walks across swing bridges over raging glacial rivers and up to the glacier face and the terminal lakes full of icebergs! When we were there one of the mountains had a small avalanche which was pretty cool to see and really loud! Also one of the icebergs split in half and collapsed into the lake as we watched. We had really hot sun for the walk which was great, but the wind every now and then coming down the snow capped mountains was, I suppose rather predictably, freezing! We met some nice kiwi farmer types who persuaded us to try the water from one of the glacial stream which was yummy and ice cold. It was so much nicer than the vaguely swimming pool tasting water that we had in the van!

We have been so impressed by how friendly everyone is here, everybody chats to you whenever they get the chance, they actually seek the chance to talk to you rather than avoid it at all costs like we are used to! We had a funny half hour in a pub the other night with a local south islander who was convinced that the South Island was completely overcrowded and crime ridden now. This came as a bit of a shock to us South Londoners, maybe because they are so far away from the rest of the world they don't realise how lucky they are here, it's not like that at all!

All in all we have had a brilliant time in New Zealand, we absolutely loved the place and the people. It has such an amazing variety of landscapes and climates packed into such a small space. Every corner you turn reveals another fantastic view. We have got about 600 photos so far of lovely things, so those of you who have sat through the wedding photos know what to look forward to when we are back!

We need to head off to the airport now so we will write again soon in Sydney. Thanks again for the comments they are great to get, and something we always look forward to reading.

Lots of love

Dan & Jenni

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Finally it's my turn!

Hi it's Jenni! It had started to feel like it was Dan's blog, so I've managed to finally get to have my own go at writing a blog!

We've become excellent wildlife spotters over the last couple of weeks. We've seen dolphins three times now swimming about in the sea, once in Abel Tasman National Park when we were on our way to do the seal swimming, then next in Milford Sounds, and yesterday we saw some Hector dolphins at Otago Bay just outside an albatross centre. They're the rarest and the smallest dolphins in the world, so we were pretty lucky! We also saw an albatross flying back from the sea to feed its chick, which we were very excited about - they're enormous!

At the moment we're at Mount Cook which is NZ's highest mountain. We had already driven past it on the way down the west coast, but as it happened we could not see it because it was covered in rain clouds. We got 150mm rain during our stay at Fox Glacier, which meant that I stayed up most of the night - the van's roof isn't the best sound proofer! But we've got the most perfect weather now, clear sunny days, so we've got amazing views all around us. We're planning to do some more walks around here tomorrow, we've heard about one that will take us past some lakes that have icebergs in them, and over some swing bridges with beautiful views over the mountain ranges.

The odd thing we've got at the moment is that nights are absolutely freezing, the temperature in the van is around 10 degrees when we're sleeping, but the days are really hot in the sun. Also, we've had a couple of days of storm winds. One of those days we camped on a cliff on the side of the road overlooking this huge white beach - really pretty place to wake up - but the winds were so strong that the van kept rocking and shaking, and I was terrified that the handbrake would fail and we'd roll into the sea! Of course Dan tends to manage to sleep through the night no matter what weather hits us...

One thing I wanted to tell you guys about was our stay at Marlborough wine region. We were so excited about going there, because we really love their Sauvignon Blanc, and we hired out bikes and visited 7 wineries, sampling on average 5 or 6 wines per winery! That was another hot and sunny day, what better way to spend it than on bikes cycling through stunning scenery, constantly drinking these delicious wines! We've put some pictures for you to see as well, just click on the right. By the end we were pretty merry and thought all the wines tasted just amazing...

Yesterday was pretty exciting day for me. We went for a tour of the Cadburys chocolate factory in Dunedin! We got to see how they make chocolate and taste cocoa beans, not to mention getting samples of their products - I really was a lot more into it than the kids on the tour! I can't wait to be in Indonesia or Malaysia where they grow the cocoa beans, then I will have seen the whole process.

Just to remind you all to have a look at my and Dan's photos as we were dangling over the edge of a plane at 15,000 feet or 4.5km! I've now allowed myself to think about just how high it was we jumped from, and what a long time 60 seconds was to freefall towards the earth. I think my adrenaline makes me think that what I'm about to do is just normal and that I'll be safe and everything will be fine... I stil can't believe that when the photo was taken and I could see the ground looming beneath me I was happy to jump out of the safety of the plane! Can I just add that 15,000 feet is the highest you're allowed to skydive from, and 60 seconds is the longest freefall you're allowed to do - at least if you're a first-timer!
If that doesn't work, try this link: and go to page 5 of 12 April photos (link at the top of the page)

I have to go because we've run out of coins. More to follow soon, together with some killer pictures of Dan in his skydiving outfit! Oh and at the Cadbury chocolate factory Dan had to wear a beard net as well as the standard hair net, I'll put a photo of that up for you as well (we're back in the USB port problem zone again it seems), he looked so ridiculous it's just incredible.

Miss you all, thank you for all the comments!!!

Jenni and Dan

Thursday, April 12, 2007


That was ace! my arms are a bit shaky now which is making my usually slightly slow and rubbish typing even worse! I thought it was wicked, we did 60 seconds free fall doing flips and spins and things on the way down, and then we got to fly down next to each other and steer the about a bit making it spin and stuff, it was brilliant. Jenni didn't think it was that special, but I'm sure it will hit her in a bit! You can have a look at pictures of us about to jump from the plane at we did it on 12/04/07, as the more observant of you would have already figured out from the big date on the top of the post!

My left eye decided it wanted to weep on the way down which mean my left goggle slowly filled up with tears as we went down which was odd! I also had my mouth open which creates a very strange dry mouth flappy sensation! It was very cool but we do both feel a bit travel sick now, I think we should have a nice sit down and a cup of tea and a timtam! we saw this thing ages ago where you bit opposite corners off a timtam which is a chocolate biscuit a bit like a penguin, and then you such your tea up through the biscuit and then quickly eat the whole thing before it goes to soggy and falls in your tea, it's lovely!

Lots of love

Dan and Jenni

About to jump out of a plane!

I was allowed to go into reception at our campsite on my own this morning, and now we are sitting in an airfield making use of the free Internet before we jump from 15,000ft out of a little plane! Jenni wasn't quite expecting that, we were going to go for a little walk, but i thought this would be more fun! We'll let you know how it goes once we are down, should be cool though. Oh we are in Wanaka by the way, a very pretty mountainous area quite south.

Lots of love

Dan & Jenni

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Seals are brilliant!

We have just got back, well a few hours ago, from swimming with seals in Abel Tasman National Park. It was brilliant, they took us took a large wild seal colony in the marine park and at this time of year the pups are left with just a few females looking after them, so they spend there time swimming about and playing in the water. We swam right in the little lagoon where most of the pups were and they swam right over to us and all around us for about an hour. There were about 50 or 60 pups there on the rocks and in the water. They swim right up to you and stare at you and turn at the very last minute just before they would bang into you, they are super agile and cute. On the way to the colony on the boat we had 4 dolphins along side us surfing the wake and jumping out of the water, it was two mating pairs that were practicing in front of us! It was really great to see them so close up in the little boat we were riding in. They move so fast and elegantly it was brill. On the way back we saw a sting ray, so it was a wildlifetastic day! Water was really calm and pretty warm, and all the sea around here is either bright green or turquoise, so it was pretty spectacular.

We wrote a long post yesterday about all the things that we had done, but the nasty computer decided to shut itself down, so we lost everything that we wrote, very annoying. We will fill in that gap in a bit, it mainly involved drinking lots of wines, walking lots of miles and kayaking 18km, we'll flesh it out a bit when we've got more time (we are very busy here! :) ).

Hope you are all well, still no additions to report on the allergies front and still no reinstation, I might have to secretly get on here when Jenni isn't looking! If you have time have a look at the photos on flickr by clicking the little banner on the right, they are quite pretty and tell a few stories.

Lots of love

Dan and Jenni