Colourful mud and smelly steam at Rotorua

    A short trip south out of Rotorua takes you to the Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland, a site of intense geo-thermal activity. Here you can walk around a tiny portion of the site on gently cordoned off paths and experience the sights and smells of the demonicly named craters.

    Biking through Stanley Park

      Here’s a fun thing to do of an afternoon in Vancouver. Go to Stanley Park, rent a bike from one of the many shops at the top of Denman street. Take about two hours to cycle round the seawall, with a loop on some of the bike trails inside the park too. I went for Spokes bike rental at Denman and West Georgia, and a 5 speed cruiser. Great fun and about 12.

    I found a Sake brewery, I may be sometime…

      For 5 of those Canadian dollars you can try not one, not two, but three fabulous hand crafted Junmai Sakes at Masa Shiroki’s (micro) brewery, 1339 Railspur Alley on Granville Island in the heart of Vancouver. Made in a space the size of a small shop, they’re all quite lovely and surprisingly fruity. He’ll also educate you in any and all aspects of his noble art; how temperature affects the brewing process as well as the flavour come serving time, the different grades of sake, how to taste it and where the flavours come from (it’s all in the rice).

    Giant NZ latte

    They certainly know how to do their coffee over here in New Zealand. I was served this giant latte in what was basically a soup bowl (hand for size reference) somewhere on the North shore near Auckland. It was a breakfast in itself. Which is all the more surprising since you consider the cafe culture is a recent invention in this country. Ten years ago you would be hard pressed to find such things.

    The start of a very long train trip indeed.

      For the next 12 hours, I’ll be on New Zealands Overlander train, from Wellington to Auckland. Originally built in 1908 and “covering every kind of scenery there is, from coastline to volcanoes to mountains, from lush green farmland to thick New Zealand bush” (from   Apparently this journey was also the inspiration for a young Peter Jackson to film The Lord of The Rings here - he started reading the

    I surf!

      One of the reasons for going on a trip is to learn new things, to do new things. Pick up a skill, because it’s fun, but you also learn about yourself. How you react to new situations, who you are, and it encourages the feeling side of the brain (rather than the thinking).   Surfing is a curious thing. More lifestyle than sport - but it’s hard to pin down why.

    Black Sands and Rainforests

    Most people come to New Zealand for the amazing scenery, rather than any city pursuits. And it’s not hard to see why - even for this city lover.   So barely an hour out of Auckland you have the Waitakere Ranges for the rainforest environment (it rained while I was there - I felt like I got my moneys worth) and the notoriously dangerous Piha beach (it did look a bit dangerous - but I contented myself with taking photos of seaweed, rather than of people dying).

    Sleeping on the train

      At Raglan, New Zealands surf capital, one of the best places to stay is SolScape ( An eclectic hostel of converted train carriages. Stylish and cost effective - plus close to the beach…   Hey I’m not working for them, but I have been learning to surf here - and surprise surprise, I can actually surf! Another watery accomplishment to add to my portfolio.

    Just in case I wasn’t sure where I am

    This pretty much applies to all the roads round here. But it’s good to know there’s a special Kiwi road above all the other Kiwi roads.   I didn’t go down it. I’m not from round here.