A Travellerspoint blog

Buenos Aires

sunny 23 °C

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Saturday, We arrived to Buenos Aires pretty jetlagged, and took the first two days getting used to our new time zone, sleeping til 11am both mornings. Sunday we checked out Plaza de Mayo and the San Telmo market, where we were entertained by tango dancers, local bands and a puppeteer. Monday Loic had a few phone interviews, so we less exploring but did visit the famous cemetary, la Recoleta, where Eva Peron is buried. We marveled at the size and extravagance of the tombs, some the size of a small church.
Samedi, Nous arrivons a Buenos Aires apres 11 heures de vol et un gros jet lag. Ca nous prends deux ou trois jours pour nous en remettre. Dimanche, nous allons voir Plaza de Mayo et le marche de San Telmo, ou nous observons les danceurs de Tango, musiciens locaux et un marionettiste. Lundi, Loic est pendu au telephone pour des entretiens, mais nous prenons le temps de visiter le cimetiere de la Recoleta, ou Eva Peron est enterree. Nous sommes impressionnes par le cimetiere et les nombreux caveaux familiaux, certains atteignant la taille d'une petite eglise.

Plaza de Mayo

Plaza de Mayo


La casa rosada in Plaza de Mayo

La casa rosada in Plaza de Mayo

La Recoleta

La Recoleta


Tomb in La Recoleta

Tomb in La Recoleta


Loic and a tomb

Loic and a tomb

Japanese garden, not as good as the real Japan

Japanese garden, not as good as the real Japan


Empanadas and Italian food are the most common

Empanadas and Italian food are the most common

Posted by jillandloic 15:04 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Auckland

and the beautiful beaches of the West coast !

sunny 21 °C
View Adventures of a lifetime on jillandloic's travel map.

Wednesday afternoon we drove back to Auckland, returned the camper van (we put on 5400 km in 29 days!), and picked up a rental car. We were couchsurfing with a friend of Rick and Phyllis, Lily, who wouldn't be home til later in the evening, so we drove to the village of Piha, to enjoy a walk on the beach and a climb up Lion's Rock.
Mercredi 15 Mars, nous retournons a Auckland, et deposons le camper-van a l'agence. Fin de l'aventure apres 5400 kilometres en 29 jours! Nous louns une voiture pour les prochains jours a Auckland, et allons rencontrer Lily, une amie de Phyllis & Rick. Nous passons la fin de l'apres-midi sur la cote Ouest d'Auckland et decouvrons la merveille qu'est la plage de Piha, et le rocher aux lions.

Piha Beach from Lion Rock

Piha Beach from Lion Rock


Lion Rock on Piha Beach

Lion Rock on Piha Beach

The next day, we enjoyed the area where she lives so much, the Waitakere Reserve, that we decided to stay in the area and do some hiking. We picked up lunch fixings at a supermarket, and then hiked a loop to Fairy Falls. The waterfalls were beautiful, and again, very full from all the rain. We also hiked the City Walk, which took us past some native, enormous, Kauri trees, which were believed to be 1000 years old. Our third walk of the day was Te Hanga Walkway, a coastal walk along the cliffs, giving us views of Bethell Beach. We found a path down and returned along the beach, enjoying the softest black sand I've ever felt! It was a great day with beautiful weather.
Le jour suivant, sur le sconseils de Lily, nous visitons encore le coin, la reserve de Waitakere, qui constitue, en gros, l'Ouest d'Auckland. Nous suivons le chemin vers les cascades aux fees (Fairy Falls), magnifiques, puis le chemin de "City Walk" qui fait le tour de plusieurs Kauri majeurs, ces arbres gigantesques (les plus grands des forets tropicales), mais menaces d'extinction (surexploitation, maladies). Certains de ces arbres sont evalues a plus de 1000 ans. Notre troisieme marche de la journee sera pres de la plage de Bethells, puis sur la plage elle-meme au retour. Le sable or-noir est juste magnifique, doux, agreable. Super temps, super spot. Super heureux.

Waikatare Reserve

Waikatare Reserve


Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls


1000 year old Kauri Tree

1000 year old Kauri Tree

Friday we drove into Auckland and started with a hike up One Tree Hill. We enjoyed walking through the fields of sheep up to a great view of the bay. We then drove to Mission Bay and enjoyed way too much ice cream with our walk on the beach. We ended the day with a short hike to Lake Wainamu, which consisted of a walk through a stream on that oh so soft black sand again, with huge black and white sand dunes on the side. The lake itself was small but beautiful, with the mandatory green rolling hills surrounding it.
Le vendredi, nous visitons Auckland-ville, et commencons par le mont One-Tree Hill. L'arbre a ete remplace par une obelisque, apres sa degradation au milieu des annees 2000, sur un fond de contestation sociale (Maori). Nous allons en suite visiter la baie Mission Bay, a l'est, et y prenons une bonne grosse glace (Movenpick). Nous finissons la journee avec un retour cote Ouest, du cote de la reserve, et une petite remontee de la riviere jusqu'au dunes et au lac Wainamu. Sable noir, eau douce, et dune de sables. Super spot a pique nique.

Sheep and archery go together like peas and carrots on One Tree Hill

Sheep and archery go together like peas and carrots on One Tree Hill

View of Bethells beach

View of Bethells beach


Bethells Beach

Bethells Beach


Bethells beach

Bethells beach


Loic finding quicksand

Loic finding quicksand

Lake Wainamu

Lake Wainamu


Giant sand dunes at Lake Wainamu

Giant sand dunes at Lake Wainamu

Our last day in New Zealand we took the ferry to Rangitoto Island, the most recently active volcano. We hiked to the summit of the volcano and had a picnic lunch, and then hiked around the crater and through a few lava caves. The weather was perfect and the views of the harbor beautiful. We returned the rental car and headed to the airport for our flight to Argentina!
Pour notre dernier jour a Auckland, nous prenons le ferry pour l'ile de Rangitoto, ancien volcan dont la derniere eruption date de 600 ans. Nous marchons jusqu'au sommet, et prenons le temps d'y pique-niquer, sur le bord du cratere, avec une vue imprenable d'Auckland. Nous redescendons et allons visiter les tunnels formes par la lave. Le temps et parfait, et la vue a 360 superbe. Nous retournons a l'aeroport et decollons pour l'argentine !

Auckland's port

Auckland's port


Volcanic rock trail on Rongitoto

Volcanic rock trail on Rongitoto


Loic in a lava cave

Loic in a lava cave


Overlooking the volcanic crater on Rongitoto

Overlooking the volcanic crater on Rongitoto

Posted by jillandloic 16:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Bay of Islands

sunny 25 °C
View Adventures of a lifetime on jillandloic's travel map.

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On Sunday we headed to the town of Pahia, in the Bay of Islands, and explored the town and beaches. We hiked the Kerikeri River walk, which after 4 days of rain, was impressively flooded and had tremendous rapids. We also visited a famous chocolate shop with free samples of amazing butter toffee macadamia nut chocolate, and of course, had to buy some. Monday morning we arrived to the Paihia pier early for the Cream Tour, the oldest and most popular cruise through the Bay of Islands. We were planning on swimming with the bottlenose dolphins if we spotted them, and though we did spot a pod, there were calves present, so we couldn't. However, the dolphins stayed around the boat jumping and flipping, and keeping up with us when we drove off. They were so fun and beautiful to watch! We did get to enjoy the freezing water when they let people try boom-netting. They let down what looks like a fishing net on the side of the boat, and we jumped in, trying to hang on and getting pushed side to side when the captain drove the boat in circles and in reverse. It was super fun! The boat stopped for a walk and or lunch in one of the bays, so we enjoyed a 360 degree view of the islands from the top of a hill with our lunch. The other highlight of the cruise was passing through the Hole in the Rock, barely fitting the large boat we were on, and seeing thousands of massive fish feeding around the rocks. It was overall an amazing cruise. At the end of it, we drove an hour to Tutukaka, where David and Alice live, a couple that we met on the Botswana safari. We enjoyed grilling out and catching up with them, and then in the morning hiked a short coastal walk from Matapouri to Whale Bay. All of the coastline of the north island is absolutely stunning, but it's too bad the water never really warms up enough to swim without a wetsuit.
Dimanche 12 Mars, nous rejoignons l'est de l'ile (toujours au nord du Nord), et atteignons Pahia, dans la baie aux iles (Bay of Islands). Nous visitons la ville et la plage, et des que la pluie diluvienne s'arrete pour de bon (apres 3-4 jours) nous marchons le long de la riviere demontee. Nous faisons un tour a la chocolaterie du coin pour y deguster chocolat, toffee et caramel. miamiamiamiamiamiamiam. :) On sera raisonnable et ne finirons notre boite de chocolat qu'en deux jours. Lundi, nous arrivons tot a l'embarcadere et prenons un bateau-croisiere pour la journee (Cream Tour) qui fait le tour e la baie, visite toutes les iles et la pointe Est, et nous permet de peut-etre voir et possiblement nager avec des dauphins. Pas de nage autorisee du fait de jeunes dans le groupe, mais nous suivrons un groupe de dauphin pendant plusieurs minutes pendant qu'ils nous observent et jouent avec la vague du bateau. Plus tard, le capitaine deploiera un filet sur le bord du bateau, et nous jetera dedans (avec la 30-aine de jeurnes presents) afin de profiter de l'experience d'etre un poisson dans un filet. Raffraichissant :) A midi nous nous arretons sur une ile et profitons de la vue a 360. L'apres midi nous poussons au Nord-Est voir la pointe et son celebre trou dans le rocher, et ses milliers de poissons. Au final, la croisiere est super-super-geniale. Nous finissons la journee plus au Sud, et retrouvons nos amis David et Alice, rencontres plus tot durant notre Safari au Botswana, il y a 8 mois !!!! Un bon petit barbecue, et des tonnes d'histoires a se raconter. Le lendemain matin, David nous fait visiter son coin de paradis de Matapouri a Whale Bay. Les vues sont absolument stupefiantes. (On y voudrait juste un peu plus de chaleur aquatique :) )

My favorite warning!

My favorite warning!

Rainbow Falls completely flooded

Rainbow Falls completely flooded

This one kept surfacing to get my camera wet!

This one kept surfacing to get my camera wet!


Loic and several bottlenose dolphins inches away

Loic and several bottlenose dolphins inches away

Picnic spot on one of the islands

Picnic spot on one of the islands


The view from our picnic spot

The view from our picnic spot

An island with a lake next to the bay

An island with a lake next to the bay

Volcanic rock

Volcanic rock

Coastline

Coastline

Coastline (2)

Coastline (2)


More coastline

More coastline

Boom-netting- the boat was going in all directions to try to crash us into one another

Boom-netting- the boat was going in all directions to try to crash us into one another

The Hole in the Rock, which we passed through

The Hole in the Rock, which we passed through


Thousands of giant fish next to the Hole in the Rock

Thousands of giant fish next to the Hole in the Rock

David and Alice live near the bay of islands, friends we made on the Botswana safari

David and Alice live near the bay of islands, friends we made on the Botswana safari


Whale Bay, near David and Alice's home

Whale Bay, near David and Alice's home

A view of Matapouri, a walk near David and Alice's home

A view of Matapouri, a walk near David and Alice's home

Posted by jillandloic 13:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Coromandel Coastal Walk and Cape Reinga

rain 22 °C
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On Tuesday we drove all the way to the northernmost town of the Coromandel Peninsula, Colville, and decided our campervan could not handle the steep, gravel road that would take us to the coastal walk (that, and our rental agreement said we couldn't). Knowing that there is a shuttle service that drops you off in one bay and picks you up in another, and that we just missed said shuttle (because we were following it), we knew our only chance of doing this beautiful hike was to find a local with nothing to do but drive us around there. That local, was Charlie, a Maori musician, who was sitting outside the coffee shop, the only business in town. Charlie drove us the hairy 45 minutes to Fletcher Bay, on a steep, one lane, gravel road, and agreed to meet us 3 hours later at Stony Bay, giving us plenty of time for the coastal walk. This walk was the most beautiful hike I had ever done! We started off in green fields, up close and personal with the sheep and cows, followed by steep ups and downs through lush jungle, watching the dramatic coastline the whole way. We arrived at Stony Bay an hour early and began walking the gravel road back to town, when we were faithfully picked up by Charlie. After thank yous and goodbyes, we retravelled the windy road off the peninsula, and camped at a holiday park in the town of Miranda, which had an awesome, hot mineral pool! This is when the rain started, and would continue, for 3 days.
Mardi 7 mars, nous quittons Hot Water Beach pour la pointe nord de la peninsule de Coromandel. A Colville, la route se transforme en route gravillonnee. Nous decidons que le campervan (et le contrat de location) ne subira pas l'heure et demie de conduite sur cette route sinueuse. En outre, nous savons qu'une navette permet de se faire deposer et embarquer a chaque bout de la marche que nous envisageons: Le chemin de cote du Nord-Coromandel (3 ou 4h de marche). Pas de peau, nous avons fait la route derriere la navette, donc pas possible de se faire embarquer. Nous nous parquons au dernier bar du coin, et demandons si un local veut bien nous servir de chauffeur pour l'apres midi, contre dedommagement. L'heureux chanceux s'appelle Charlie, un musicien Maori qui habite le coin et avait rien de prevu cet apres midi :) Charlie nous conduit au nord Ouest de la peninsule, a Fletcher Bay, ou nous lui faisons decouvrir un super spot de camping. Il n'etais jamais venu si au Nord (45 minute de route gravier sinueuse a plein tube). On se donne rendez vous a l'autre bout, Stony Bay, (il ne connaissait pas non plus :) ) dans 3 heures. Et hop, nous partons pour notre marche au bout du monde. La vue est incroyable. En bout de peninsule, a travers les champs, sur un chemin cotier, on se sent vraiment au bout du monde. Nous arrivons a Stony Bay avec 1 heure d'avance, et continuons un peu sur la route, jusqu'a croiser Charlie. Apres remerciements et adieux, nous reprenons la route vers le Sud , et sortons de la peninsule. Nous dormons au camping de Miranda, au creux a l'Ouest de la peninsule de Coromandel, et proditons de la source thermale chaude ! La pluie debutera en fin de soiree, et ne s'arretera pas pour les 3 prochains jours. La Peninsule de Coromandel sera interdite a la circulation due aux glissements de terrain. On est chanceux. :)

Loic near Fletcher Bay

Loic near Fletcher Bay


Fletcher Bay, the start of the coastal walk

Fletcher Bay, the start of the coastal walk


Coastal walk

Coastal walk


coastal walk (2)

coastal walk (2)


Amazing coastline

Amazing coastline


The second half of the walk was through jungle

The second half of the walk was through jungle


Stony Bay, the end of the coastal walk

Stony Bay, the end of the coastal walk

Wednesday was a rainy driving day, through Auckland, and up to the town of Whangarei, where we freedom camped in town outside of an aquatic center. Our only stop that day was in the town of Kawakawa, to visit the artistic public bathrooms which were designed by an Austrain-born eco-artist, who once lived there. Very unique!
Mercredi nous profitons du temps pluvieux pour faire la route vers le Nord du nord. Traversons Auckland, la baie Bay of Islands, et arrivons a Whangarei, ou nous dormons dans un spot gratuit pour la nuit. Sur la route nous visiterons les toilettes publiques celebres pour leur design. Interessant :)

Famous beautiful toilets

Famous beautiful toilets

On Thursday, we woke to yet more rain. Not wanting to waste the day, we drove all the way to the tip of the north island, Cape Reinga, a sacred place for the Maori people. Though it rained all day and the wind was crazy strong, we managed to find a half hour when it wasn't raining to walk out to the lighthouse, and see where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman sea. Watch the video below to see how the waves crash from opposite directions! We droved back down to the town of Ahipara to enjoy the luxory of electricy, internet and showers.
Le jeudi, il pleut toujours. Nous poussons vers la pointe nord, et faisons un tour au cap Reinga. Lieu sacre pour les Maori, c'est le lieu ou l'Ocean Pacfifique et la mer de Tasmanie entrent en collision. Micro-climat, ou coup de peau majeur, il s'arretera de pleuvoir pour notre visite de 30 minute au cap. Regardez la video, les deux etendues de mer rentrent _reellement_ en collision. C'est incroyable. Bref, nosu redescendons a l'Ouest, au bout de 90-mile Beach, pour le confort d'un camping, electricite, internet et douche chaude.

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga


Cape Reinga lighthouse

Cape Reinga lighthouse


The Tasman Sea meeting the Pacific Ocean

The Tasman Sea meeting the Pacific Ocean

Friday morning we woke to more rain. We decided to make it a rest day since there isn't much to be done in this weather in this area, and enjoyed the ping pong table at the holiday park, books, and movies. Loic also updated and sent off his CV, a sure sign that normal life is on the horizon!
Le vendredi, c'est toujours temps pourri :) Il pleut encore, et nous profitons de la journee pour nous reposer, et vider notre liste de tache administrative. Le retour est en vue, nous partons a la chasse aux boulots.

Lots of flooding after 4 days of rain

Lots of flooding after 4 days of rain

Posted by jillandloic 16:28 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Coromandel Peninsula

sunny 25 °C
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Kayaking off Hahei Beach

Kayaking off Hahei Beach

Sunday we drove to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, a mountain that is fenced around and protected, eliminating all introduced mammals. New Zealand originally had no mammals other than the bat, so many birds have become extinct, as well as many plants destroyed when settlers planted trees for buildings and fields for their sheep. This mountain is an attempt to return New Zealand to its original state, and the guide on our walk was a wealth of knowledge of all the plants, trees, and birds we came across on our hike. In the early evening we arrived at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Hot water springs up if you dig below the sand, so hundreds of people gather around low tide to dig a personal hot tub and allow the hot water to fill in. The reality is, the pools never got deeper than 4 inches no matter how much you dug, and the pool that we took over had luke warm water with scorching hot spots, so it wasn't as relaxing as it sounds! We still had plenty of daylight since the sun doesn't set til 8:30 p.m., so we drove to the parking lot at the top of Cathedral Cove, where we would freedom camp, and hiked to Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay to enjoy the sunset.
Dimanche, nous quittons Waitomo, et nous arretons au Sanctuaire de la montagne Maungatautari. La montagne est entierement ceintree d'une barriere anti-nuisible, afin de permettre a la foret de se reconstituer, et aux oiseaux endemique de proliferer dans leur etat naturel. Petit explication: Aucun mamifere terrestre n'existait sur les iles avants l'arrivee des Maori en 900-1200, puis des colons en 1800. Les rats, furets ( et les hommes) ont decimes les populations d'oiseaux qui se sont adaptes a une vie terrestre sur les iles. Les biches, chevres et autres betes ont detruits les plantes locales, decimant encore plus les habitats et les forets. La nouvelle zelande essaye aujourd'hui de reconstruire ses espaces naturels afin de permettre aux nombreuses especes d'oiseaux de repeupler les forets des iles. Ce sanctuaire est un exemple des solutions possibles. Bref, nous passons une visite guidee tres enrichissante a ce sanctuaire. Nous repartons ensuite pour le Nord, direction la peninsule de Coromandel. Nous arrivons a "hot water beach", une petite ville balneaie centree autour de sa plage et de ses sources d'eau chaude. Le but du jeu est de creuser un trou a la maree descendante et de profiter du spa gratuit sur la plage. La realite, c'est que le sable n'est pas un super bon materiel pour retenir l'eau, donc les mares ne sont font pas plus que 10 centimetres de profondeur, avec un cote froid et un cote brulant. Pas super reposant :) Mais bon, Loic s'amuse a creuser un trou :) Comme le soleil se souche a 20:30, nous avons le temps et montons jusqu'a Cathedral Cove, qui sera notre visite du lendemain. Nous dormons sur le camping sauvage/parg du point de vue. Super belle vue.

An amazing rainbow as we left Waitomo

An amazing rainbow as we left Waitomo

New Zealand naturally

New Zealand naturally


New Zealand after farming

New Zealand after farming

Loic trying to dig a deeper pool on Hot Water Beach

Loic trying to dig a deeper pool on Hot Water Beach

The trail to Gemstone and Stingray bays

The trail to Gemstone and Stingray bays

Monday we drove back down to Hahei Beach for our kayaking tour. In the morning we paddled the southern remote coast, passing caves, getting stuck up on rocks (well, only we did, because we tried to squeeze through a small space between two rocks and didn't time it with the waves very well), and into a giant blow hole. We were given a break for lunch, so we enjoyed some downtime in the campervan, and then reconvened for the afternoon tour of Gemstone Bay, Stingray Bay, and Cathedral Cove. We also paddled around an island, and along the way the guide gave us history of the area and the Polynesian tribes that first landed here. We had perfect weather and our guide even made us moccachinos on the beach in the afternoon. We weren't completely tired by the end, so we did a little snorkeling at Hahei Beach before heading further up the coast, to freedom camp again in a gorgeous bay in Matarangi. We are really getting used to not having electricity or internet, in exchange for gorgeous sunsets on beautiful coasts!
Lundi 6 Mars, nous descendons du parking jusqu'a la plage de Hahei, pour faire une journee Kayak. Le matin nous allons au Sud, passons des caves, restons bloques sur des rochers apres un passage un peu trop chaud-chaud-serre entre deux cailloux et une visite d'un trou de mer (blow hole?). Nous revenons a la plage pour midi et nous faisons notre nouveau plat favori (harot-bacon) et repartons l'apres midi pour le nord et la visite de Gemstone Bay, Stingray Bay et Cathedral Cove. Le guide nous abreuve des histoires locales des peuples Maori et nous sert un petit moccachino sur la plage. Super beau temps, super activitee. Contents. Nous prolongeons la journee avec un peu de masque-tuba vite-fait. Nous repartons pour le nord de la peninsule, et nous arretons rapidement des trouvons un autre camping sauvage bien sympa. Deux jours sans electricite ! woohooo ! Des vrais hippys.

The cliffs of Gemstone Bay

The cliffs of Gemstone Bay


Gemstone Bay

Gemstone Bay


Gemstone Bay near Cathedral Cove

Gemstone Bay near Cathedral Cove


Exiting a sea cave

Exiting a sea cave


Champagne Rock

Champagne Rock


Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock


Cathedral Cove trail

Cathedral Cove trail

The sunset while freedom camping at Cathedral Cove parking lot

The sunset while freedom camping at Cathedral Cove parking lot

Walking through the arch to Cathedral Rock

Walking through the arch to Cathedral Rock

View inside the blow hole

View inside the blow hole

Plankton that cleans the water

Plankton that cleans the water

Kayaking off Hahei Beach

Kayaking off Hahei Beach


A narrow space we paddled through

A narrow space we paddled through

Jellyfish while snorkeling at Hahei Beach

Jellyfish while snorkeling at Hahei Beach

Our sunset view while freedom camping at Matarangi Bay

Our sunset view while freedom camping at Matarangi Bay

Posted by jillandloic 01:29 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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