2013 has been a big travel year. It saw the Wandering Kiwi family relocate across the world (yet again) from Australia to the United Kingdom. A bit like coming home, except that beautiful New Zealand still hovers in the background of my consciousness. Here is a wrap up of my best of travel in 2013:
The first month of 2013 saw the Wandering Kiwis return to India to attend a dear friend’s wedding just outside Delhi. En route we stopped in southern China and explored the bustling city of Guangzhou. From there we travelled by overnight train to Guilin and Yangshuo to see the legendary karst mountain scenery and even manage a bit of rock climbing. We were lucky enough to stay at an idyllic eco lodge – the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat.
The end of the Australian summer was a time to revisit favourite haunts in Melbourne and around, including the charming village of Daylesford, the Dandenongs, the Yarra Valley and Healesville Sanctuary. We also made a visit to see the Little Blue penguins come ashore in their nightly ‘parade’ at Phillip Island.
I made a trip back to New Zealand in March, mostly visiting family but also finding time to visit the Hobbiton Film Set – built for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies and now maintained as a tourist attraction it is near my home town in the Waikato province. Loved those sweet hobbit houses!
The Easter holidays were a last chance to revisit Mt Arapiles in the Australian state of Victoria for a rock climbing good time. Some claim this is the best rock climbing destination in the world; I don’t know it that is true but the sheer number and variety of routes to choose from is mind-boggling. It is also a beautiful Australian landscape in which to camp, with kangaroos hopping past your tent and Blue Tongue Lizards sunning themselves on the old red rock.
Flying long haul between Australia and the United Kingdom we stopped over in Malaysian Borneo. Based in Kota Kinabalu we climbed Indonesia’s highest peak – Mt Kinabalu – went snorkelling in the warm waters of the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park and got up close and personal with some young Orangutans at the Rasia Ria sanctuary.
July saw me heading to Northern Ireland with Wandering Kiwi Jr to meet up with @Ecotravellerguide and her two little ones. Having a local guide is a wonderful way to see a country and we did a city tour in Belfast, explored the Causeway Coast and then headed across the border into Donegal. Again I was blessed with good weather and the beaches in this part of the world are simply stunning.
The summer holidays saw us having fun (mostly) in the sun in England, enjoying walks in the Hertfordshire countryside of woods and fields. There were many lovely days but one of my favourites is walking The Ridgeway – an ancient road that has been used for millenia by pre-historic man, herdsmen, traders, soldiers and pilgrims and offers some wonderful viewpoints and skyscapes through the Chilterns.
I had another local guide for Salzburg in September. This stunning Austrian city is famous for being the home of Mozart, for the Sound of Music story but offers so much more. I had a wonderful day hiking on nearby mountains and around Lake Fuschl, as well as a Salzburg city walk. There were some amazing meals to be enjoyed in Salzburg, not least at the Augustiner Brewery.
The autumn often sees the Wandering Kiwi family seeking a bit of sunshine before the onset of winter and this year it was the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Travelling to Split, where the old town is built in a Roman Emperor’s palace, we then caught a ferry across to the island of Hvar. Exploring the ancient towns, beaches and interior of Hvar was amazing. I managed to tick off no less than three Unesco World Heritage Sites on this trip!
This December we will be doing our semi-regular tour of the Netherlands and Belgium to visit family and enjoy the Christmas Markets, seasonal treats and charming landscapes of the ‘Low Countries’. Will there be snow? Will it be a white Christmas? We will have to wait and see.
A very merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy New Year to you all!
From the Wandering Kiwis