Archive for the 'New-Zealand trip' Category

Changi airport, Singapore

Up until I landed in Singapore’s Changi airport, I hated layovers.  Nothing to do but zone out in a boring airport, zonking yourself out with overpriced cocktails or fitfully sleeping till your next flight – right?  Not so at Changi International!

This airport is a major hub for people travelling anywhere in Asia.  Most flights connect or re-direct through Singapore.  Both legs of my journey (to NZ, then back to Taiwan) left me with a 6 hr. stopover at Changi.  And, you know what?  It wasn’t enough time to do and see everything at this gem of an airport.  It’s really a mini vacation spot in itself!

The airport has 3 terminals – all connected by a “skytrain” which is really an automated outdoor rail system.  So here’s what you can do in each terminal.  Keep in mind, some of these things are on the Singapore side of customs, and others are on the departure side of customs – If you are at Changi for a while, best find a place to stash your luggage so that you can walk in and out of customs easily to see all of this stuff. Continue reading ‘Changi airport, Singapore’

New Zealand’s colourful driving signs

Most of our time on the road was in a rental car.  We chose this route for a number of reasons.  Having a car allowed us freedom from schedules, freedom to go anywhere we pleased, a portable shelter we could sleep in (to save money on hotels and such), the ability to give  hitch-hikers rides and a portable storage area, so we wouldn’t have to carry anything on our backs.

Besides all of that, it was simply nice to drive in a western country again (even if I had to drive on the wrong side of the road).  The traffic felt safer, and I didn’t have to worry about any crazy scooter maniacs crashing into or cutting me off.  Unlike on Taiwan’s roads,  I could turn off my sixth sense and drive like a normal person.

The price of the rental was not too bad (around NZ$ 675 for 14 days – unlimited kms etc etc) from Omega car rentals.  We picked up the car in Nelson and returned it in Christchurch (both locations near the airport).

One of the unforseen consequences of renting a car was the exposure we had to NZ’s road signs.  I’ve never seen signs like these in Canada, the US or Taiwan.  They definitely go all out for road safety in NZ. Continue reading ‘New Zealand’s colourful driving signs’

Collingwood wild food fair, Collingwood, New Zealand

One of the best things about living in Taiwan is the abundance of great food at low prices.  Since I am somewhat of a pig, I love eating.  In New Zealand, I was looking forward to having some mouth watering steaks, lamb chops, sausages, meatpies and other foods we take for granted in the west, but are too pricey or not easily available in Taiwan.  I was spending buckets of cash (NZ is more expensive than Canada) going to restaurants and gorging on western food.

So, when I heard about something called the “Collingwood wild food fair”, my inner portly cherub started singing with pure joy.

The deal is NZ$ 25 (US$ – 20 ish) for entry, then an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord.  Seafood, meat, breads, pastries – everything.  Not a bad deal – so the Collingwood wild food fair HAD to happen. Continue reading ‘Collingwood wild food fair, Collingwood, New Zealand’

Wainui falls, Abel Tasman, New Zealand

Whether you’re an outdoors nut, a remote control jockey, or somewhere in between, the sight of a waterfall will awaken a sense of wonder.  Being from Canada, and having seen Niagara falls multiple times, I’d imagined that the wonder would diminish, but was proved pleasantly wrong when I discovered Wainui falls in Abel Tasman (national park in the north of New Zealand’s south island).  Definitely not comparable in size to Niagara, Wainui still had its own effect of awe.  Situated on the west side of Abel Tasman national park, Wainui is a nice spot to stop for an afternoon. Continue reading ‘Wainui falls, Abel Tasman, New Zealand’

River Inn and Paton’s Rock, Golden Bay, New Zealand

One evening found us without accomodation.  All the backpackers we knew were full, and we weren’t about to pay double for a motel.  So, we were driving around looking for a place to park and lay our heads down (in the car) when providence struck.  We spotted a white building off the highway with the words “RIVER INN” scrawled in giant letters across the roof.  We decided to check it out:

River Inn Continue reading ‘River Inn and Paton’s Rock, Golden Bay, New Zealand’

Rawhiti Caves, Golden Bay, New Zealand

Goldeny Bay is kind of like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.  I was expecting a lot of surf, sand, water and sea dwelling critters – which I got.  What I didn’t expect was a healthy dose of cave viewing – something I’d never done before.  Sure, I’d seen some teeny-tiny, Mickey mouse hole-in-the-walls, but never a full out, grand-daddy of a cave – complete with a million or more stalactites (those are the ones that point downward – I had to look it up).  Welcome to Rawhiti Caves. Continue reading ‘Rawhiti Caves, Golden Bay, New Zealand’

Wharariki beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand

Like Taiwan, New Zealand is all about gorgeous stretches of natural beauty.  One such place is called Wharariki beach.  Pronounced Fha-ra-riki, this beach is the epitome of picturesque.  It’s located in Golden Bay, at the north end of the south island – opposite Farewell split.

We took a winding path to get there which snakes through the ever present rolling hills,

Path to Wharariki Continue reading ‘Wharariki beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand’

The Shire – LOTR and Hobbit movie set in Matamata, New Zealand


I’ve just returned from a month long trip to New Zealand, hence my recent silence in cyberspace.  I was writing, but mostly on paper and didn’t publish any of my stuff while on the road.  The next few posts will be about some of the experiences I had in NZ, which is a superbly amazing country.  I’ve tried to keep them as close to the original writing as possible, so that I convey what I felt and remembered immediately after each experience.  Enjoy!


I’m currently waiting at the Auckland airport for my flight to the south island of New Zealand.  I’ve been in NZ for about a week now, and today I had the pleasure of visiting the movie set for Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, so here is some underground hobbit-hole awesomeness. Continue reading ‘The Shire – LOTR and Hobbit movie set in Matamata, New Zealand’

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