Sushi for Breakfast

websizedfiji princess cruise (236).jpgWith sushi as my breakfast I sit in the departure  lounge at Auckland International Airport. Virgin Air apologises for the late departure of its plane while Fiji Airways tells it’s passengers to ‘relax’ and we’ll be boarding soon: I obey.

Chillaxing is on my agenda for the next few days – I have been invited to Fiji for 4 nights on the catamaran Fiji Princess. Sometimes it’s hard being a travel writer.

‘Yeah right ‘ I hear you say and I must concur … a free trip like this (often called a famil ) is  a bonus: however, most of my travels are self-funded.

However the only difference you will see with a self funded trip and one like this, is I will tweet  (and other social media ) about it more. The information and story about my experience will remain the truth. No photoshopped pictures or embroidered words.

So sit back and relax … Welcome to a few days chilling on a Fiji adventure with me.

Packing for a cruise – keep it to a minimum

Revisiting this post …and reposting.. as I’m off on another small cruise. This time a river cruise on the Mekong – China’s longest river

So will re-read this to remind myself to keep its light – my goal is carry on luggage only: that means 7kg (15lb) for most of the worlds airlines.

————

One of the great things about cruising is that you unpack just once. The only cruising I have done is on a river cruise in Europe, and sailing on private yachts in the Mediterranean and along the Great Barrier Reef. However, in four or five days I will be on the Fiji Princess, a Blue Lagoon catamaran, sailing around some of Fiji’s (mainly Yasawa) islands.

So what to take? Firstly, for the Captains dinner a colourful long dress (although it’s not a need to dress for dinner each night) and swimwear, including sarong & aqua shoes, and I have the basics covered (nightwear and undies too of course). Add a pair of trousers, 2 shorts and 4 tops to mix and match and that’s it.

The extras are what takes up space and weight – toiletries, flip-flops (or jandals as we Kiwi call them) my trusty Teva’s for hiking, sunglasses, a necklace and couple of earrings – plus an umbrella for the sun.

Add my camera gear (spare batteries and charger) my tablet and keyboard for writing blogs and posting photos on Facebook and Instagram, a book, e-reader, sun protection, hat, notebook and pens: that should be it.

Now all I have to do is count the sleeps until I leave New Zealand’s cool autumn for the warmth of Fiji and some boutique sailing. Fiji Princess can host up to 68 passengers; it’s 55 metres and can get into bays and islands that are impossible for large ships. Seems they can get so close to shore, that they can tie to a coconut tree and we could swim to the beach. Sound pretty darn good!

Did I mention, swimming with manta rays? Exploring water caves? Sign-up to have my blogs sent to you by email (above right) and get my blog (s) about this boutique cruise that I’ve been invited to join in the warm Fiji waters.

More packing tips

The Rock: take an overnight cruise in New Zealand

The Rock – an interesting name, especially in the Bay of Islands where the ‘Hole in the Rock’ is a destination for boat trips from Paihia.

This ‘rock’ is a boat: originally a car ferry that carried 7 or 9 vehicles and it’s now been converted to a Hosteling International (YHA) hostel and I’ve joined a group for an overnight cruise in the beautiful Bay of Islands (Northland, New Zealand).

We’re picked up at 4pm at the Paihia wharf and with life-jackets on; we’re taken out to the flat-bottomed boat. It’s not long before we have had our rooms assigned, safety briefing given and we have target practice – note, don’t rely on me to feed or protect you with a weapon!

However, I can catch a fish (snapper) but it’s too small and has to be released, although the next day I manage to get some edible kina (sea eggs) which I love and the international tourists eat with trepidation.

So, this boat is not merely for transport around the Bay of Islands, but is our accommodation too. All the rooms are on the top level and my room overlooks the bow (front) of the old barge and as the boat is flat-bottomed there is very little movement unless a boat goes past.

Adam, the Skipper has a job like mine “A millionaire’s lifestyle on a poor man’s wage”. He’s an accomplished pianist and after dinner, as we head for bed he’s tinkling away at the ivories.  A piano on board was not anything I expected!

The next day we are kayaking, snorkelling, hiking, and exploring the area. Our meals are at a long table and are delicious. Perhaps this is the only floating YHA hostel in the world:  let me know if you are aware of others.

I found this overnight cruise (online) many months before my Northland trip (I spent 2 weeks exploring the area in a low-cost rental car from NZ Rentals) and this was the first activity, and accommodation, on my agenda – a good choice. Watch this  four-minute video created by my mates at ONZAMAP. (Check out their other travel info videos too)

Just some of the comments in the visitor’s book say:

  • Our second time on The Rock and you still rock! (UK couple)
  • You guys are amazing (German)
  • F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.

Enjoy a few of my photos from my time on board – the time flew and yet seemed ages all at the same time. Fabulous, I can recommend The Rock – in fact I must do a  review on Trip Advisor about it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Northland, day three: I challenge my fears

Whoops!  I didn’t post this on day 3 . . . shows the fear that was racing around my body 🙂

Many thanks to Destination Northland for helping with my itinerary and Rental Cars New Zealand for the vehicle

for this road trip: I can recommend both!

IMG_6357 (1024x768)IMG_6370 (1024x768)IMG_6430 (1024x768)IMG_6454 (1024x768)IMG_6462 (1024x768)IMG_6471 (1024x768)IMG_6537 (1024x768)

What a day! I’m off dolphin watching, maybe even get  to swim with them – but not a dolphin in sight in the this Bay of Islands (140 or so islands).The reason, the Orca’s were out! And when the top of the food chain is around it pays to lie low … even if the New Zealand pods do prefer stingrays not dolphins. What a  great sight for us. More of that trip in a later blog,

Next up – I face my fear of heights and go parasailing in NZ’s highest one! I cannot believe I agreed to do it . . . the things travel writers do for a story sometimes Smile (and I will write a story or two about it so bookmark this page and come back soon) so those are my feet, dangling at about the Auckland sky tower level above the ocean . . .  the little dot at the other end of the string is the boat that’s pulling me.

And, the last picture is of me failing at target shooting on board The Rock  – and what must be the best YHA in the world –a cruise, a sleep, lots of activities, BBQ meal and now its time to emerge from my cabin for breakfast.

So, lots more stories to be written when I return home and have time to digest them all – and still about 13 days to go – think I’ll need a cup of tea and a lie down before I start!

here are the links to the days activities:

Swim with Dolphinswww.dolphincruises.co.nz

Flying Kiwi Parasail www.parasail-nz.co.nz

The Rock Overnight Cruise. www.rocktheboat.co.nz

Northland provides a fabulous day and trip… a perfect day!

When I look in the mirror I forget I’m a red-head – after all, the face looking back at me has short white hair on top of it: so yet again I’m burnt by New Zealand’s harsh sun Sad smile

Nevertheless, its been a great day out to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve .. you could almost call it a Perfect day, and in fact, that’s exactly what they do call it – A Perfect Day (@poorknights)

Today my blog is mainly photos as I’m off to bed ready for an early start out on three boat trips ( the last one an overnight trip on a floating YHA youth hostel, so no blog tomorrow night)– I just have to remember that even though my sun protection is factor 70  it doesn’t last all day in the fiery  New Zealand sun.

Now, lets see if I can make a  better job of the photos this time (a  new – little – computer and picture programme = issues for me!)

IMG_6008 (1024x768)IMG_5880 (1024x768)IMG_5891 (1024x768)IMG_5934 (1024x768)IMG_5938 (1024x768)IMG_5949 (1024x768)IMG_5950 (1024x768)IMG_5952 (1024x768)IMG_5993 (1024x768)

(No, I can’t change the photo setup!)

Many thanks to Destination Northland for helping with my itinerary and Rental Cars New Zealandfor the vehicle for this road trip: I can recommend both!