New Zealand trip suggestion

This was an itinerary that I suggested to a friend of mine today who is planning to visit New Zealand with her parents and son from Sydney for about a week. Putting it out here in case someone else finds it useful.

Note, this is for someone who will be travelling the country for about a week, entirely using public transport, and do not intend to take part in any challenging sporting activities. If you can drive, and even take part in skiing or other activities like bungy jumping or balloon riding, I highly encourage you to do so. New Zealand is just beautiful so try to be there for longer trip if you can. But for someone short on time, I think my suggestions work.

South Island

 

Main highlights:

1. Helicopter flights to top of any mountains (Mt. Cook/Fox Glacier)

2. Milford sound lake cruise

3. Lots of lakes on the way

 

OPTION 1:

1. Land at Christchurch, and stay overnight.

2. Take a trip to Queenstown

http://www.greatsights.co.nz/new-zealand-tour-destinations/mount-cook-and-queenstown/christchurch-to-queenstown-via-mount-cook-bus-tours/

Take a helicopter ride to top of Mt Cook during the trip. The trip says you can organize with them for the helicopter. Otherwise, look athttp://www.viator.com/tours/Mount-Cook/Mount-Cook-Alpine-Explorer-Helicopter-Flight/d405-3434MON_HLC3

3. Stay at Queenstown for 2 nights

4. Go on a Milford Sound cruise

http://www.intercity.co.nz/bus-to-milford-sound/

There is a really nice lake, recommended to travel there and take the cruise. The tours usually include the cruise in the lake.

Intercity sometimes has $1 fares to some of the destinations if you book early  🙂

5. Fly to Auckland from Queenstown the next day.

OPTION 2:

1.  Fly to  Christchurch, and stay overnight

There isn’t anything specific to see here, just a nice small NZ town, but a good starting point

2. Travel to Fox Glacier

(all trips start really early in the morning, hence need to stay overnight for 1)

Option 1:

1.       TRANSALPINE scenic rail to travel from Christchurch to Greymonth  – nice train ride http://www.kiwirailscenic.co.nz/tranzalpine/   Around $200 NZ pp

2.        Greymonth to Fox Glacier – via bus http://www.intercity.co.nz

Option 2:

Go directly to Fox Glacier via bus: www.atomictravel.co.nz

3.  Stay at Fox Glacier

4. Fox glacier helicopter flight

highly recommended, starting at around $200 per person

check http://www.viator.com/franz-josef-and-fox-glacier-tours/Air-Helicopter-and-Balloon-Tours/d757-g1?pref=02&aid=g2655 or similar sites

5. Travel to Queenstown via bus

6. Stay at Queenstown for three nights

7. Queenstown to Milford sound day tour:

take bus tours like ones here: http://www.intercity.co.nz/bus-to-milford-sound/

There is a really nice lake, recommended to travel there and take the cruise. The tours usually include the cruise in the lake.

8. Fly to Auckland  the next morning

 

NORTH ISLAND

Highlights:

1.       Natural caves

2.       Natural hot water springs at Rotarua

3.       Hobbits village as was shown in Lord of the Rings

4.       Lot of nice view on the way

5.       Auckland and Wellington are nice cities, but are like any other cities in Australia, and are not really the highlight of NZ if you are mostly into nature in my opinion. You can spend a few hours going around Auckland and Wellington though.

Take some tours from Auckland:

http://www.greatsights.co.nz/filter/departs-auckland

see http://www.greatsights.co.nz/new-zealand-tour-destinations/waitomo-caves/waitomo-rotorua-experience/

or

http://www.greatsights.co.nz/new-zealand-tour-destinations/hobbiton-movie-set-tours/auckland-to-rotorua-incl-waitomo-caves-hobbiton-and-lunch/

I would personally take the tour to the caves and the hobbits place, and spend the night at Rotarua,  and enjoy some time soaking in the hot water the next day, it’s quite nice.

You could then travel back to Auckland, or travel towards Wellington, to fly back to Aus.

Again, intercity bus has a trip available for this trip http://www.intercity.co.nz

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The above image shows most of the places I mentioned, just to give you an idea and was taken from http://www.newzealandcoachtours.co.nz/mapindex.php

When I travel overseas, I usually use Expedia (http://www.expedia.com.au/) to find me the best flights and even hotels.

Life can be overwhelming sometimes. So many choices to make, so many lessons to learn, so many yearnings to yearn…

You fight for what you think is right. Or you fight because there is no other way out.

You don’t give up, because you just cannot imagine defeat. Or you give in because it just feels right.

Whatever you try to do, life always pushes you to the limit, but then always gives you the strength to pick up the pieces. Sometimes it feels like you are not going to make it, but you remember that there is always a silver lining and so you push forward.  You finally pull through and then you celebrate. You not only celebrate the victory, but celebrate life: you celebrate the good times and the bad…

Daily Prompt: Celebrate Good Times

Inspired by a few blogs about people fighting through various health complications that I came across this week. I won’t link them here, but you all will be in my thoughts…

Daily Prompt: Celebrate Good Times

Living without facebook

So I am now on a “no facebook” diet. My husband laughs each time I say “I DID NOT stop checking facebook because I did not like the social obligation it had become”. I get angry each time he laughs, because I know he is right, and I am lying with that statement. Because facebook HAS become an obligation to people like me, who hang out in facebook often. For example, here is a hypothetical scenario that I think we all can relate to, although the specifics may be different for you and me: 

You see heaps of your friends wishing a common friend on her birthday in FB, and you join the herd, even though you forget about her the second you press ‘Post’. This is because she is someone you haven’t talked to (or about) for more than a decade. You have moved to a new country in that decade, but you have found out (through facebook of course) that she now is in your city.  You even know exactly where she lives (not too far away from someplace you visit often), but you never feel like dropping by or contacting to say hi. But you know exactly what this person has done in the last year or two. She’s landed a job (looks like a nice big salary boost, as she now flaunts those snazzy handbags and dresses that turns you green), has a (very!) handsome husband, and has just completed her family with a chubby kid, while you struggled to find a job or a guy that kept you happy (and financially stable). Of course, all this info was thanks to facebook. You also know that she knows you are in the same city too (you post your photos in front of Vivid Sydney in front of the Opera house every year anyway!), but she hasn’t tried to contact you either. So you feel its OK to not want to contact her. But when everyone wishes her on her birthday, you feel obliged to post. Few words are not going to hurt you. But in reality, it does. It makes you fake. You actually felt more sincere about wishing the old couple in your morning jog with a ” Have a very nice day”, than when you posted this ‘wish’ for this friend. You felt more connected to those oldies. But never obliged.

Facebook is great actually. It lets me tell my mom, who is not very computer savvy, that I went to the beach last weekend and had loads of fun. It lets me know that my mom has grown a nice garden again this year (someone has to post the photos for her when they visit my parents), and I can see my sister’s son’s really cute dance (he has grown up so fast!) from miles away. I get updates about who I am close to, and also about what is happening back home (someone always posts that there was an earthquake, or a major celebration before I had a chance to talk to any of my family or friends there). But I found that I also spent a LOT of time looking at what ‘the rest’ are doing in their lives, how they are digging up their garden (or digging their cars out of snow, when we here in Sydney are dying in the sweltering heat), what they wore to their friend’s wedding or what they cooked for dinner. If that made me inspired to dig up my own garden, or get a fashion tip for myself, or gave me any positive motivation, then it was all great. But besides wasting my time (which I would have perhaps spent doing nothing anyway), more often than not, it gave me reasons to feel inadequate about what I have achieved so far, because others always seemed to do it better. Perhaps just the grass is greener on the other side syndrome, but unfortunately I haven’t made to the other side to compare. So now I was green about 100+ friends who didn’t matter in my world pre-facebook. Lets face it, most of them are not in my life (real life, not FB) now, because I chose them not to be. But now that I chose them to be in my virtual life, I still feel obliged to maintain the friendship? 

So, I decided to see how I go without FB. I have been clean two weeks so far. Don’t get me wrong. I go to facebook often when there are commercial facebook pages, or pages for specific purpose, like my local community’s facebook webpage to see what the current progress is. But I am getting some space for myself from what my ‘friend’ ate for their 10th anniversary dinner or what they decided to name the pup they have just adopted. I sound selfish, but at least I am not faking that I care by liking their post, or posting a well meaning message, when I know deep inside, I don’t really care, and have no reason to feel obliged. 

 

PS. They have predicted that FB will probably stop to exist soon anyway, so I am happy that I am already on the mend with my life without it…

Website inspirations #1

In the last couple of days, I have tried to dust off my rusty web design techniques, and tried to create a website for someone I know. The website is not complete yet (mostly the actual text contents, and SEO remaining mostly), but I wanted to list my inspirations here.

First of all, in the past, I always changed my design quite a few times after seeing other websites. It took me quite a while to decide on what the website would look like. This time, I searched for templates instead.  I finally settled for a template I found at Web Designer Depot. The template was actually a photoshop template, but I did not use the actual template, just the idea. I achieved a similar look and feel by just using css. The actual template and the ‘final’ product are at the end of the blog (you will still see some dummy text and images).  

Rest are a few good tips I used:

  • JQuery slideshow from here. I actually just used the slideshow, just replacing with my images, and required sizes
  • I tried the JQuery Menu from here, but finally decided against using it, as the template I was using was more simplistic than what this menu did.  Instead, I just used css to generate hover effects
  • CSS triangle for a submenu from here
  • Achieved rounded corners for div by using background color, and borders like so: .rounded {background:#555555; border: 2px solid #555555; border-radius: 5px; }
  • Aligned div side by side by using “overflow: hidden” in parent, and float in the child divs to be aligned, as suggested here. I found later that using “display:table-cell” in the parent div also achieves the same result, but did not quite work for me in a quick try, so I left to using float. 

Still under progress

  •  host the website in google while the acutal domain is being sorted out. A guide is present here. Currently I have the web uploaded, but there is still some google settings that is preventing the website from being shown, so working on that.  I installed Python 2.7, although a much later version was available. Also, I had to change the Preferences in the Google App Engine Launcher in order for it to recognize that Python was installed in the system!
  • make sure when I add the contents that the SEO tips are followed. Any good tips on that anyone? 

 

Actual template:

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Final Product:

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