The Forgotten World Highway

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Good evening everyone! S0rry, I’m a day late this week but lets not think too much about that! Tonight’s post is all about our first venture out of the town of New Plymouth to explore the North Island some more.

Our first real experience of New Zealand’s roads was the Forgotten World Highway, the state highway 43, which we joined on our way to Lake Taupo. Having spent the last year travelling Australia’s long straight roads, wide enough to fit two road trains on, the narrow windy lanes of New Zealand were a bit of a shock. The highway itself is only 150 kilometres long, linking Taumarunui to Stratford and passing through the village of Whangamomona, which declared itself a republic in 1989. We broke up the afternoon of driving by pausing at places of interest for photos and a picnic lunch before running into a New Zealand traffic hazard… hundreds of sheep on the road.

Having wound our way along the Forgotten World Highway we arrived in Lake Taupo, where we spent the weekend in a batch (or holiday home) my aunt and uncle had borrowed from their friends in a small lakeside town. The house had a lovely view of the lake, which we spent plenty of time enjoying in the evenings since my uncle had planned plenty for us to do in the days. Our timing was well timed (completely by accident) in order to go white water rafting in the upper section of the Tongariro Gorge, which is normally inaccessible. Twice a year they release water into the river from the dam and our visit that Saturday was one of the two. Jack and I hopped into a raft, whilst my uncle kayaked the river and met us again at the bottom. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of us rafting but it was so much fun, I loved every minute of it and would have happily gone down for a second time! Having tried our hand at rafting, that afternoon we took my uncle’s kayak out on the lake for a play around before heading home for an early night. The next morning we were taking on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing but more on that next time… Have a great weekend everyone!!

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Mt Coot-Tha Lookout

After spending Christmas on the Gold Coast we returned to Brisbane to say our goodbyes to Filip, who had a flight to Cambodia to catch. For our final trip together we headed to the Mt Coot-tha Reserve, a 15 minute drive west from the city to take in the views of Brisbane and complete a last bushwalk together. After Filip had left, Jack and I stayed in Brisbane to work a while before heading to Newcastle for a wedding. The final two photographs of Brisbane in this post are taken from a different lookout point in South Brisbane, near to where we were staying.

Skypoint Observation Deck

As part of the cost of the Skypoint climb (seen in Friday’s post), you are given entry to the observation deck, which can be used anytime on the day of your climb. The evening after our climb, Jack and I returned to the observation deck for a drink and a chance to take my own photos of the view.

Skypoint Climb

Surfers Paradise is home to the Q1 building, “the world’s tallest residential tower” and we decided to climb it. As you may have noticed from some of my earlier posts, Jack loves any opportunity to leave the ground and climb to new heights, remember that tree climb? So we booked ourselves onto a morning climb. Unlike the tree climb, this one involved a harness to keep you connected to the building. We climbed from the observation deck, already 230m above the ground, to the Bird’s Nest up a specially built metal staircase on the outside of the building. The Bird’s Nest was the highest point in the Skypoint Climb and at 270m I was thankful for my harness! Safety procedures meant that you weren’t allowed your own cameras on the climb (its 14 years in prison if you drop anything off the edge!) and so all the photos in this post were taken by the climb team. More information about the climb can be found here on Skypoint’s website.