Around the World in 30 days Saskia and Andy 2016/17

And so it begins... we leave a damp, cloudy and dark London for the trip of a lifetime!

First stop, Hong Kong. A brief 24 hour stopover to explore the busy busy streets, super high buildings and of course capture this story's cover photo from the amazing Victoria Peak.

Always a pleasure to indulge in some local cuisine and an opportunity to test our chopstick skills!

With such little space in the city they have just built UP! Walking around you can't help but be amazed by how vertical the city is.

Our hotel was no exception, we requested a harbour view, fair to say they delivered!

After an oh so brief stint in HK we were back on a plane and flying to Fiji....

Quite the contrast from the HK high rises...! This was our home...

Equally not a bad view though 😉

Our island home was just the most amazing setting, a tiny South Pacific island off the mainland of Fiji, only accessible by boat and comprising 3 Bure bungalows, a small dormitory and a communal meal and entertainment building. Max guests while we were there: 8.

Yes, quite a bit of sunburn did occur.... from the British Winter to a cloudy day in Fiji was a bit of a shock. The hosts really did a great job of looking after us, we took part in a traditional Cava ceremony and each meal time we were thoroughly entertained with singing and dancing. Simply the most amazing location, so remote, so unique, so memorable.... Just perfect!

One day we took a trip out to snorkel with Reef Sharks, and took a GoPro so we could share it with you...

The best spot on the island....

The hammock!! 😎

Oh too soon we had to leave our island paradise (partly due to an incoming Cyclone!) so with a suitable handful of Fiji Rugby souveniers (they may have mentioned the Olympics!) we were on our way to Christchurch.

The first thing to say about the South Island of New Zealand is.... it's just stunning!! So many people had told us before we went and they were all completely right! We picked up our Campervan at the airport and off we went to try and take in the range of wide open plains, stunning expansive lakes and snow topped distant mountains....

A typical overnight stop. Throughout the country they fully embrace 'freedom camping'. No guarantee of any kind of facilities, but with views like this, We'll certainly forgive them!

It's unbelievable how empty the roads are here, literally 90% of the time you could look around and not see another item of traffic....

Oh and the lakes, did I mention the lakes...? Just wow.

Road tripping, there can surely be no better place to do it than the South Island of NZ.

Here's another of Saskia's video productions to help show just how amazing this Island is...

As a few people noticed from our postcards, our trip was slightly orientated around food, and Ferg Burger in Queenstown was one such must visit place. The que was outside and along the street but it was totally worth it in the end...

Queenstown was pretty cool, all about action sports. It's the go to place in NZ to skydive... more about that in a minute. And with skiing in the Winter and Jet Boating on this enormous lake in the summer, it's a great destination.

Queenstown is also famous as one of the best places in the World to SkyDive so you know what that means...! 😜

From Queenstown we took an excursion to Milford Sounds, which is a spectacular Fjord opening out to the Southern Ocean. It's a quite a drive to get over there and a way out of our way so we took a coach trip and sat back to enjoy the views...

Our driver was great, full of interesting facts and also very generous with his stops to let us all get out and take in the scenery.

Glacial country... even though this was mid summer, they had had a massive dump of a snow just a few weeks previously.

South Island roads 😘

The Fjord itself is explored by boat, massively deep and with mountanous sides it really is an experience.

It's also one of the wettest parts of the country, we were amazingly lucky to be there on just about the only clear sunny day in weeks.

Our captain basically drove right into this waterfall, I got a quick few photos before running inside for cover!

Milford Sounds was our Southern most location, from there we started travelling up the West Coast.

and we're back on the food theme....! Hokitika was another suggestion from some good friends who said the Gluten Free Pizzas make it a must visit... And well, it didn't disappoint as Saskia can attest...

Our Christmas base was the Abel Tasman National Park, right at the top of the South Island. I promise we didn't know this till we arrived, but it's actually the part of NZ which get the most annual Sunshine... ideal!

We knew from being in Australia for Christmas before, to plan something on Christmas Day which didn't require anything to be open. So as we were in a National Park, we went on a big old hike in the sunshine!

A very Merry Christmas!!

Useful signposts, they must have known we were coming...

Hop Fields

Scenic Lookouts

and time in the Van, love road tripping...!

and onto the north island

and it's Amazing Geothermal activity. This was a place called Thermal Wonderland...

...where water boils up from deep in the Earth, bringing with it a stunning colourful display of minerals, and lots of steam!

another location which I'd seen photos of and couldn't wait to get the opportunity to visit and take some of my own.

A boiling mud pool!

Our route took us via a town called Rotorua, which and there's no easy way of saying this... Stinks!! Of Egg, you wouldn't believe that an entire town can smell so bad!! haha. It does however have some wonderful naturally heated outdoor spa pools and is well known for it's Maori villages...

Take your pick at pronouncing this Maori town's name...! (The upper name is the abbreviation)

This was their kitchen... who needs gas when you have boiling pools! On the string is some sweetcorn.

These were their baths, they actually have to put cold water into them as they're naturally at around 60 Degrees Celsius! ouch

We also witnessed a real life Hakka, the visit really was a very interesting insight into the Maori culture.

Back on the Road North, next stop was Hamilton and it's rather lovely Botanical Gardens...

and finally our most northerly point of New Zealand, Aukland.

Mount Eden, a long extinct volcano towers over the City of Aukland.

A small demonstration of how many tourist information points were visited and much planning was done!!

Christchurch to Aukland, the long way. We'd done it!!

So, A sad Goodbye to New Zealand, it has been spectacular and sad goodbye to our 4 wheeled home of two weeks

and Hello Tahiti!!

For those who, like us until we actually went there have no idea where Tahiti is... it is level with the top of Australia and directly below Hawaii. They speak French, are in the EU and actually play the EuroMillions! Oh and are 23 hours behind NZ, so we had December 30th twice!!

This is the reverse view of the above, our Bungalow was 2nd one up out of 3 and what you can see is the entire accommodation.

Walking a few meters back from there and you're on the beach. It felt wonderfully remote and the views down the coast were simply beautiful.

For New Year's we were invited over by our next door neighbour to join their party! Which as you can see, included this Veal Roast. (back to food again!) 😋

Much singing, dancing, eating local fruit and drinking local drinks. Our host (in the middle here) is a rum brewer, which was handy!!

Followed by the Best New Year's Day ever!!

Tahiti is a pretty small island, about 80miles around it's circumference with all it's civilisation around this outer ring road. As soon as you go inland from here the land immediately ramps up into mountainous jungle demonstrating it's volcanic past. The owner of our accommodation Carlos (who was really brilliant) offered to take us into the middle of the island in his Land Rover, an opportunity we pounced upon...

Carlos standing proud by his beloved Land Rover.

See what happens when you don't have a Land Rover!

I don't even think the pictures do this island justice.

This was actually how we travelled all day, clinging on while traversing up steep roads and down cliff lined paths. Awesome way to experience the island, one of my favourite days of the whole trip without doubt.

We made a little Highlights video of our day inland and of some of our Snorkelling trips..

This is the view from the highest point on the Island. What you can see is the main island, we were staying some way down on the right hand coast as you look at it. The photo is taken from the smaller adjoining island.
And of course, the view looking the other way!

Tahiti was amazing, as you've probably identified from the pics! So far out in the middle of the South Pacific, so remote, so beautiful, the reefs to snorkel, the inland to explore. Would really love to go back and explore the French Polynesian islands further. (Perhaps one day....)

But for now, it's goodbye Northern Hemisphere, we are USA bound....

For our time in San Francisco we were wonderfully hosted by one of Saskia's German cousins who has lived out there for quite a while. They were kind enough to rent a car and take us on an extensive tour of the city...

This is their girl Freya, the driving age in the states really is very low.

Downtown San Fransisco, looking straight down Market Street from the top of a hill known as the Twin Peaks.

Of course we went down Lombard Street!! 😁

There was one place that we were looking forward to more than any other though.... WELCOME TO THE ROCK!!!

The Audio tour is voiced by actually former prison officers and inmates, the level of realism is outstanding and it provides a fascinating insight to the working of the former home to the Worst of the Worst.

5 people escaped from The Rock, 3 of whom were never found... these are the cells they broke out from.

Complete with mocked up heads to fool the guards.

We escaped The Rock! fascinating visit, we fully recommend it.

San Fransisco really surprised us, having barely been to the US before, it far surpassed our expectation, everyone was enormously welcoming, the food and even the beer was great and it's just such a Cool City! Loved it.

So here we are, onto the final leg. Flying back to Heathrow, back to the 'real' world! But what an adventure we had, 4 Weeks, 5 Countries, 7 Flights, over 21,000 Miles of Travel and we had the Trip and Honeymoon of a Lifetime (and then some).

Thank You to everyone who helped make this possible, thanks for taking the time to read my updates, and taking the time to absorb this photo story. It's been a pleasure sharing our trip with you and here's to future memories...

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