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Cleanliness of room

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Service of staff

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Basic Amenities

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Planned itinerary of activities for 3D2N

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Meal spread

(Buffet/ Set Meal)

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Overall Rating

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Cabin type we stayed in

Suite Ocean Full View
Location of cabin

Second level of cruise

Average cabin size (m2)

17.0
Rate for 3D2N/pax (USD $)

202.50 (inclusive of meals on board)

Day 2 Highlights

Morning Sunrise 

Cruising on Bai Tu Long Bay 

Kayaking around Cat Ba Island 

Swimming near Cat Ba Island 

Lunch Set Meal on Day Boat 

Exploring Fairy Cave a.k.a Small Cave and Big Cave 

Sunset Gazing 

Dinner Set Meal on Pelican Halong Cruise 

TIPS?! 

This is a continuation of the pervious article on the 3D2N tour with Pelican Halong Cruise!

Click here if you are interested in how we spend our Day 1 with Pelican Halong Cruise at Halong Bay!

Day 1 was all about chilling on the junk boat and experiencing life on the tranquil Halong Bay waters as the locals row us all into semi-oblivion. But… … Day 2 was all about us rowing ourselves on the glistening Halong waters like there was no tomorrow! Yay!

It was such a precarious experience but in hindsight it was so invigorating I would do it again without a doubt. To experience Halong Bay over a mere night was really not enough. I was so glad we decided to do a 2 night’s stay! And I would recommend this so for everyone!

Click here to watch our vlog on YouTube during this trip!

 

Day 2 Highlights: Morning Sunrise

You know how living in this fast-paced society where we (well… at least for me) leave our homes even before the sun exhumes its full glorious self? And once out the door, we plugged into our little world we call Spotify and gambolled about with our daily work and life itself?

And on weekends? Oh sure… We could really wake up to smell the fresh air and all, but honestly sometimes, do we really have the energy to rise above all?

But hey, on vacations, ah, now that’s a different story. Somehow on vacays, energy levels were high. We tend to want to wake up or in this case, we were (sort of) compelled to wake up with full force pumping because of the itinerary set aside for us by Pelican Halong Cruise! Haha! It really wasn’t an enigma to where our source of energy came from. I am sure anyone who had been on a vacation would know this feeling. 😉

I remember being awoken not by the alarm, but by the many heavy footsteps of early risers on the junk boat. I was, and still am, usually not the one to draw the curtains and peep to see what was plastered outside at our peripheral vision. As such, I still recall that I was just coming of the toilet, still in my PJs, when my cabin mate shrieked. And I peered out to see… …

The SUNRISE.

It was really a blessing and a gift to be able to experience this sunrise at Halong Bay, which was unimpeded and concinnate with the calm(ish) Halong waters and distant limestone cliffs! It was behooved to start snapping away, obviously!

So, still in my PJs, I scoured my backpack hurriedly and through my camera lens, it was the SUNRISE in all her glory. The Halong Bay’s air was so fresh as we opened the slider window and allowed a whiff of crisp morning Bay air in. The view was impeccable. And at that point of time, I really did feel so lucky to have eyes to see, and lungs to be filled with fresh air.


 

Day 2 Highlights: Cruising on Bai Tu Long Bay

So after the epic awakening by my cabin mate’s shriek and crazy snapping of the dramatic sunrise, we headed for our quick scrumptious breakfast and went back to our cabin to prepare for the day’s adventure! By half past 8, we were on a small boat towards a bigger one for our cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay.

So… … here’s the catch. Apparently, we were the only ones in the group who opted for a 2 night’s stay on Halong Bay. As such, we were the only ones, 2 girls (yes only 2 of us), on this huge day cruise, sailing on Bai Tu Long Bay! That was totally hilarious. We initially thought the cruise was going to get other passengers from other junk boats, but well… it was not the case.

Hence, unknowingly, we had booked ourselves a private cruise?! Haha! 😀 What a way to start the day right? #presidentialtreatment much?

Because it was only us on board, we had a nice chat with the cruise captain. We learnt about his life, his family and what he did on a daily basis. It was really heartening to connect with the locals. They really do have much to offer, we just have to take a step to see and understand.

And as preempted by the captain that the journey on Bai Tu Long Bay to Cat Ba Island was going to take a while (~ 1 hour), we decided to use the time to enjoy the Bay’s breeze and of course… SNAP PICTURES!


 

Day 2 Highlights: Kayaking around Cat Ba Island

The cruise boat anchored at a distance away from the shore of Cat Ba Island. The captain set the kayaks into the waters and off we go- wild and free! It was such a galvanising experience. Because there weren’t any kayaks around us at all, we were practically owning the Bay for that temporary moment. We were cognizant of the serenity around us, and the late morning rays that reflect on the waters were just imperatively perfect.

Soon, the captain came towards us in his kayak, and told us if we would like to, we could kayak towards the shore and have a swim along the island coast. We decided to kayak a little longer considering it was such a beautiful calm morning.

Words really cannot describe how splendid the whole scene was. It was just amazing!

 

Day 2 Highlights: Swimming near Cat Ba Island

We spend a great deal of time by the beach on Cat Ba Island. It was as if it was our private beach area! Totally mind-blowing how pristine the waters were! There wasn’t a single soul around us, excluding our captain, who was busy digging for cockles by the beach.

We swam and laid by the beach. It was really an experience unimaginable. We still couldn’t fathom the fact that the entire day’s adventure was so exclusive! Hahah! 😀

Soon after, a local lady who was rowing along the Bay, selling snacks and drinks, approached us! Asking us if we wanted some food! 😀

In total, we spend about an hour(ish) kayaking and swimming near Cat Ba Island. I reckoned we could extent the time if we wanted to.

 

Day 2 Highlights: Lunch Set Meal on Day Boat

The lunch meal provided by the cruise was really massive. It was probably meant for at least 4 people! Not a hyperbole. Honest!

The lunch experience on board the day boat started with the captain, who then became our head chef and waiter, coming out with two Vietnamese drip coffees. It was my first time seeing such an intricate coffee setup. We asked more about how to make such a coffee and the captain delightedly gave us the steps to do so.

Because it was a drip coffee, we had to wait for the coffee mixture to drip through the metal filter before drinking the filtrate. And goodness, was the first taste of the coffee AMAZING. I was really impressed.

The captain’s assistant came out with our appetizer- potato puree! It was warm to the belly, and really apt after a nice swim! Then the main course came. Or should I say main courseS. It was a plate of ‘Vietnamese style rice and meat’ and ‘burger with fries’ EACH! I mean a plate of either was way more than enough for us, but to have a plate each of the rice and burger? Haha!

To honour the hard work of the chef, we really did try our best to finish as much as we possibly could. Overall, the meal, which was absolutely prepared meticulously, was really satisfying! No complains at all!

 

Day 2 Highlights: Exploring Fairy Cave a.k.a Small Cave and Big Cave

Small Cave Big Cave
Entrance Fee VND $30k

VND $50k

We sailed on for about another hour after lunch towards the Fairy Cave for some exploration! Because it was close to high tide, we only had time to squeeze in one of the caves as part of the itinerary.

Though the Fairy Cave was dubbed the Small Cave, it was actually big enough for a good caving experience which lasted about 40 or more odd minutes with the captain, who now was our cave guide! Man of many roles he was. Haha!

We each held on to a small torch and we followed him into the cave. At times, I felt like Alice in Wonderland, falling through a hole, and into an amazing world. Well, in a less glamourous sense, and what actually happened was that, we were walking through a rocky opening into a few moist dark and humid secret tunnels. It was really neat to be honest.

I remember vividly a little opening we had to crouch to enter. And when inside, the guide asked us to turn off our torches. We did so and it was pure darkness. I couldn’t even see my own hand if it was placed inches from my face. We had to follow the voice of the guide. At that point, I was a little nervous. I probably had some trust issues. I remember he was asking us to place our hands into some smaller hole. I was skeptical, and was unwilling. I started shrieking like a little wuss even before placing my hands inside. Haha! In hindsight, it was pretty hilarious.

The scene on the outside was amazing too. We didn’t need torches. The sunlight from outside shone in like a beam of hope!

 

Day 2 Highlights: Sunset Gazing

So when there were sunrises, then there must be sunsets right? And you would think that having seen 2 sunrises and a sunset on Halong Bay, the views and feelings would get old? Well… Totally NOT at all!

We got back on the main Pelican Halong Cruise by half past 3, and were already chillaxing on the sun deck and waiting for the sun to set. During this time, you could access the wifi near the captain’s cockpit and connect with the world outside the Bay… … Or if your phone somehow cannot get any signal, then be like me- enjoy the Bay’s breeze and snap more pictures!

I cannot describe how marvellous the sunsets on Halong Bay were; as with the sunrises earlier! It was by far the best I ever had.

 

Day 2 Highlights: Dinner Set Meal on Pelican Halong Cruise

Because we were pretty beat up after a long day of adventures, the manager of the cruise was so very much kind and thoughtful enough to bring our dinner to us in our cabin!

I really do have to mention that the meals on board Pelican Halong Cruise were without a doubt having a great deal of standard. With huge portions and meticulous presentation of the foods, there was really no error at all!

 

TIPS?!

(a) Bring your camera

There is no need for contemplation to whether you should bring your non-waterproof camera up the day boat. You just have to bring it along. The views were so prefect and important that it would be such a pity if I wasn’t able to capture them!

(b) Set aside time for the Big Cave?

We did not have enough time to explore 2 caves due to high tide, hence, if you would want to have the option/opportunity to do both, then maybe you could speak with the captain and express interest?

In hindsight, it was easier for us to request to explore both caves, considering that we were the only 2 passengers on board! Haha! But in my opinion, I feel 1 cave exploration would suffice? Would prefer a more chill and laid-back kinda plan.

(c) Pack in your own beverage?

And yes, in my previous article, I did already mention to bring your own booze and what not right? So I shall not say more again. Haha! But really, a bottle or two of Somersby or Strongbow won’t hurt right? 😀

Hope this prods you to capture some beauty around you! ‘Cause the world is really perfect when you have a kind heart willing to see it!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

 

 

Cleanliness of room

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Service of staff

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Basic Amenities

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Planned itinerary of activities for 3D2N

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Meal spread

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Overall Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Cabin type we stayed in

Suite Ocean Full View

Location of cabin

Second level of cruise
Average cabin size (m2)

17.0

Rate for 3D2N/pax (USD $)

202.50 (inclusive of meals on board)

Day 1 Highlights

Arrival on Tuan Chau Island + Check In 

Buffet Lunch with a View + Exploring the Junk Boat 

Luon Cave 

Relaxing on the sun deck (Free & Easy) 

Making Vietnamese Spring Rolls 

Dinner Set Meal 

TIPS?! 

Halong Bay, located in the North East region of Vietnam, is a fairy tale on its own, especially at sundown or at sunrise. A picturesque sight that will imperatively blow you away. Surrounded by calm emerald waters and ever so periodic sights of thousands of towering limestone cliffs and islands. Some with shapes that look somewhat familiar to us (with a wee bit of imagination) and hence were given names by locals. Names of islands include, Dog Stone Islet, Incense Burner, Fighting Cock, Coconut Tree Island etc.

For someone wanting to go on an escape from the buzz of city life, then this cruise would really take you away, literally, from the city. Stuck on a junk boat as it cruises along Halong Bay, I reckon you wouldn’t be bored at all, well… at least I wasn’t. There’s really so much to see and do. Packed with engaging activities for everyone, I would say, even without strong wifi connection (at least on my mobile device back then) I really wouldn’t mind at all.

It was a tranquil, very relaxing experience on board the Pelican Halong Cruise during all the 3 days, and 2 wondrous nights!

Click here to watch our vlog on YouTube during this trip!

 

Day 1 Highlights: Arrival on Tuan Chau Island + Check In

The Pelican Halong Cruise package included a shuttle bus pick up from our hotel stay at Oriental Central Hotel in Hanoi city to Tuan Chau Ferry Terminal. The bus would pass the Red River Delta country side, where you could get to see open fields of rice paddies and local villages.

Because the drive to Tuan Chau Island takes approximately about 3.5 hours, a quick respite of ½ hour, for both driver and passengers at Hai Duong province was an essential. At the respite vicinity, you could do some local snack shopping as well. It was basically a big souvenir, snack, clothes and coffee shop. There was a wide variety of light snacks and beverages, including local crackers, chocolates and nuts. There was also a lot of souvenirs both perishable and non-perishable, like local cookies in packets, T-shirts and magnets. And if you walk around to explore the shop, you would see an area where local ladies were busy and meticulously threading out frames of beautiful masterpieces.

We arrived on Tuan Chau Island at around half pass noon. Boy, was it a long journey. But even though the sun was at its relentless peak, the air felt crisp and hopeful. The breeze from the waters beside the ferry terminal was cool. It was such a pleasant day! Very thankful.

We were led into Pelican Halong Cruise Lounge and served a simple welcome drink while the customer service lady confirmed our personal particulars to check us in. While waiting for all cruise passengers’ baggage to be loaded onto the junk boat, we had about an hour before boarding, which was plenty of time to chill at the lounge, or go out to explore the nearby vicinity along the ferry terminal. And of course, we went out to snap photos! Haha!

The waters were invigorating. Under the strong sun rays, they glistened like crystals floating on the water surface. And the distant towering forest cliffs as backdrop just excited me for I could only imagine what was installed for the next 3 days!

It was half past 1 when we were slowly making our way onto the Pelican Halong Cruise and into our cabin, the Suite Ocean Full View! Located at the second deck of the junk boat, the view was impedingly perfect! A small cosy room with the wooden slider window/door that opens to a welcoming view of Halong Bay’s emerald waters, limestone cliffs and islets, is something we don’t get to experience every other day! Marvellous!


 

Day 1 Highlights: Buffet Lunch with a View + Exploring the Junk Boat

Lunch was set to be about quarter past 2. Oh man was the spread luxuriously generous. Looking at the wide variety of food just made me ravenous. There was a mix of Vietnamese and international dishes, from Vietnamese vegetable rolls to Japanese salmon sashimi and sushi to fried rice and stir-fry seasonal vegetables and meat skewers. All so tasty to the palate!

One thing I noticed and appreciated about the chefs at Pelican Halong Cruise was that they really took pride in the food they made; down to the meticulous detail of food presentation. Incredibly skilful and passionate people at what they do. I remember seeing a dish which had ‘fish net’ made out of carrots as a presentation piece! Very impressive handiwork I have to say!

As we stomach our bellies with delectable, the junk boat was cruising through the jade-green waters of Halong Bay. Passing incredible views that were impeccable. Limestones cliffs and islets, glistening crystal water surfaces, and perfect cerulean sky. It really wasn’t every day that anyone could say that he/she was experiencing a constantly changing view as he/she was dining for lunch! It was perfecto!

After a very fulfilled lunch, we went around the junk boat exploring.

The bottom deck access was where the entrance to the boat was, and it was also where the 18 cabins for reside were. Then to the middle deck of the junk boat (where we resided for the next 2 nights), there was a small viewing deck at the front with a small table and 2 chairs, perfect for soaking in the Halong Bay’s breeze and maybe taking a beer or something. It was also a designated smoking area. The middle deck had the other 10 cabins as well. Lastly, the highest deck- the sun deck. The sun deck was where the magic happened. Most planned itinerary by Pelican Halong Cruise, like the cooking demonstration, squid fishing and morning Tai Chi exercise class were conducted on the sun deck.

The sun deck was also the place to get impeded panoramic views of Halong Bay. #speechless And the deck was also where the wifi signal was at its best, especially nearer to the captain’s cockpit. Personally, I got none on my cell phone. But it really doesn’t matter, the uploading of Instagram pictures could always wait right? 😀


 

Day 1 Highlights: Luon Cave

This was quite a memorable part of Day 1 on board Pelican Halong Cruise.

Before Vietnam, I had never done caving, or stepped into a cave before. But my trip to Vietnam really brought me to another world. A world of confine yet massively high ceilings of moisture and dim lights; where sometimes, not walking through forest to a peak, but wandering through limestone walls and uneven rocks was also an adventure on its own!

Well, this trip to Luon Cave was really nothing as I described actually. Haha…! This caving experience was really family-friendly oriented. We didn’t even have to walk, but just sat back on a bamboo boat that was manoeuvred by locals ladies, all so relaxed and enjoying the view!

By evening at about 4, the manager of the Pelican Halong Cruise got all of us to gather at the bottom deck to get our safety vests on. And soon, we were transferred to a smaller boat, and then up on the bamboo boat, where the local lady started her manoeuvring skills on the Bay.

Luon Cave is located on Bo Hon Island, which is about 1 km away from the famous Hang Sung Sot a.k.a Surprise Cave a.k.a Cave of Surprises or other similar variations. Visiting Hang Sung Sot was part of the Pelican Halong Cruise itinerary for Day 3.

Luon Cave has the shape of an arc, which was 60 meters in length, and between 2.5 and 4 meters in height depending on the Bay’s tide. This cave could only be accessed by small boat vessels, either by a kayak or a bamboo rowing boat. When the Bay’s tide rises, visitors have to cower down to pass through the cave.

The bamboo boat I was on must had at least 8 adults on board, it was so heavy, but with the two paddles, the local lady paddled as if it was nothing! I could only imagine if I was the one doing it, we would either go around in circles, or not move at all! There were other bamboo boats, and even kayaks (from other junk boat tours) within our peripheral vision. As the lady paddled, and we floated on the jade-green waters with surrounding cliffs and biodiversity towering above us, everyone was quiet. Mesmerised I reckoned. It was very soothing and serene. I remembered, only hearing the waters from the paddling and occasional sounds from birds. It was the most placid experience. It was like, you were surrounded by people, but yet still in a state of Zen. It was just amazing.


 

Day 1 Highlights: Relaxing on the sun deck (Free & Easy)

Then it was back on board the Pelican Halong Cruise! And no need for much explanation, of course the sun deck was by far the best place to be on the junk boat when you need some Halong Bay’s breeze!

Since it was already sunset, the sky was in its epic hues of blue, orange and pink. It was beautiful. Slowly every island or islet in the distant, that once had colour of green and brown, turned to dark silhouettes with a dreamy fairy tale backdrop of sunset colours. Very epic! I was pretty much kept busy with my camera, snapping all the way through because every sight just seem so flawless!

During this time, if you are feeling a need for SPA massage session, you could book a slot with the cruise manager (charges are applied based on the SPA menu). If not, just chill out at the sun deck, have a drink, and just enjoy the cool evening breeze!


 

Day 1 Highlights: Making Vietnamese Spring Rolls

So it was already pitch dark past 6 pm at Halong Bay. It was really chilly by then. Most people had gathered at the sun deck for a cooking demonstration and some hands-on making of the Vietnamese spring rolls!

I, personally, was pretty excited for it. First of all, I LOVE eating spring rolls. And secondly, who doesn’t like a cooking demonstration right? Yummylicious! Nuff said!


 

Day 1 Highlights: Dinner Set Meal

After a light snack of Vietnamese spring rolls (though I wished I had maybe a couple more in my belly, ‘cause they were just so nice along with the sauce!) on the sun deck, we made our way slowly to the dining area for dinner!

And oh boy, was dinner anything but ordinary. So we sat at our tables, and when everyone arrived, the lights went off! It was pitch black. So imagine the surprise everyone was in, because we were only expecting a dinner with no extravagant entertainment. Then suddenly, the chef and the waiters came out all in rehearsed formation with our entrées in hand. Music played, fairy lights turned on, and the waiters walked to their assigned table and placed a pineapple centrepiece (with mini table candles) with fried meat roll sticking out of it.

The manager of the junk boat then made a mini speech, and the lady head chef explained a little about the dishes that we were going to eat. Could really feel that passion and love for what they do. Really admired their work ethics.

Then a mini surprise came for a couple, when the manager of the junk boat announced that a couple was celebrating their anniversary. Everyone cheered as music played, and the couple had their dance in front of us all. It was some experience to be part of this! Haha! 😀

The lights turned back on, and we started with our first entrée. Next up, was a seafood and meat skewer, and then our main course! I had the beef with mushroom sauce and some fries and steamed vegetables. It was not too bad; filling definitely!

Overall, it was a hearty meal with an astounding ambience.

And so that wraps up Day 1 on board the Pelican Halong Cruise on Halong Bay!

 

TIPS?!

(a) Bring your camera

I was contemplating if I should bring my non-waterproof camera on the mini trip to Luon Cave, and I am forever grateful that I did so! I managed to capture so much ethereal beauty that I would always hold dear to.

Furthermore, with hindsight, I would trust the lady paddling the boat. It was stable, and I felt safe the whole time when I was in it. Of course, I cannot vouch for the other boats, but looking at the rest, they seem all pretty stable and safe!

(b) Pack in your own beverage?

If I would to head back to Halong Bay, and honestly I wouldn’t mind at all, I would definitely pack in a bottle or two of Breezer prior to boarding the junk boat! I mean, since I am not into beers and all that, a Breezer or two is definitely nice to unwind as I look out into the calmness of the Bay and enjoying the breeze! 😀

Hope this prods you to capture some beauty around you!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

 

Route: Parking Lot –> Swing Bridge –> Series of Mini Waterfalls –> Elevated Track –> Lake Marian –> And Back
Total Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
Average Walk Time:

~ 4 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots, light snacking & a quick swim)

Seasonal Restrictions: Do not walk around the edge of the lake during the snow/avalanche season (winter and spring)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there? 

Highlights and Views 

TIPS? 

Well, I reckoned New Zealand needs no prelude whatsoever. Everything about it just never stops to inspire me in a frivolous way. And it was probably the first time I jaunted through trails and treks every other day for a month until my feet got sore and blistered. I would imagine this to be otherwise for anyone else. So yes, a weakling I was?

But it was all worth every drop of sweat to climb. It was all worth every minor or major slipups along the way. And it was all definitely worth (at times) sacrificing sleep for the enthralling views that time sleeping will never give. Lake Marian is imperatively impeccable, and I would recommend this trek to anyone, that is without a doubt!

The closest town to Lake Marian would be Te Anau. It is also the closest town to the famous Milford Sound attraction in the South Island of New Zealand. Te Anau is a quiet, humble little town, with quite a selection of restaurants and smaller eateries. A nice place to be away from the buzz of city life, and still be able to enjoy amenities of excellent food, accommodation and at the same time satisfying those basic grocery needs.

 

How to get there?

Though Te Anau township is the closest to Lake Marian, the drive was still quite a far bit long from our accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau near the town centre. A straightforward driving route on the main Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 would basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 20 mins.

Just remember to make a turn right soon after Pop’s View lookout, onto Hollyford Track when you see the signage ‘Lower Hollyford’, otherwise, you would be on your merry way to Milford Sound, which is also not a bad option. Haha!

Drive down about 1 km on the unsealed gravelled Hollyford Track a.k.a Hollyford Road and you would reach the Lake Marian carpark!

 

Highlights and Views

1. Swing Bridge

The start of the trek to Lake Marian requires the crossing of the swing bridge which hovered above the Hollyford River (Whakatapu Ka Tuku). The river was in its clear refreshing blue and the sounds of the waters crashing against the rocks as it rushed down with gravity was invigoratingly welcoming! What an excellent way to start a morning! 😀

I recalled I was so tempted to go down to douse my hands in the refreshing and presumably cold waters. But as I made my way down gingerly across large rocks and boulders to the edge of the river and I squatted down, I realised my hands were too short to reach into the waters. Haha! Yup, woes of having short hands.

Looking to both of my sides along the river, it seemed very unlikely I could reach down into the waters unless I sat down on the rocks or something like that. Hence, I decided to give it a miss and head back up, for the waters at Lake Marian would definitely be as refreshing too right? And definitely easier to reach in…

2. Series of Mini Waterfalls

About a short 10 minute stroll on the boardwalk past the swing bridge was the next highlight of the Lake Marian trek: the exhilarating rush of the waterfalls. It was quite thunderously deafening when we walked deeper into the track; closer to the top of the waterfall. With the morning sun beaming all so strongly, the waters that flowed down glistened crystal white. Which really was not a bad sight for a morning!

There were some people who visited this place just for the mini waterfalls. Because it was a relatively easy paved short walk, some would decide to have a nice easy morning stroll and would give the slightly more advance tramping track a miss. That could be an option, but if you are more able-bodied, then continue on the elevated track to Lake Marian ‘cause the reward at the end is just mind-blowing! Period!

3. Elevated Track (through the forest)

After the end of the series of mini waterfalls, where the initial road underfoot was still well-paved and easy to walk on, came the start of the elevated tracks to Lake Marian! Which by then, consists of gravel roads, steep inclined and at times, wet and muddy pathways. From here on, it was approximately 1.5 hours to the beautiful Lake Marian as stated on the signage.

So into the native forest we ascended, starting with steady inclines up on uneven rocky road. It was still relatively manageable at the start, with very obvious reasons. It was enjoyable and exciting to wander through the amazing forest. Even the sweat and the panting from climbing up against gravity were all part of the package of adventure! Totally enrapturing!

But the climb soon became a little relentless as time passed. However, thinking about it now just made me missed manoeuvring through the dense forest like some explorer on a mission; a mission to find the hidden gem of a lake that is! Haha! 😀

After trotting through the rocky, and at times narrow paths, feeling all sweltering, we arrived to an area of openness. There weren’t any shelter from the sun by the trees like before, and if one would just have a quick glance at the entire peripheral view on its own without being meticulous in the details, one would totally missed out the orange beacon (which we all know is there for the very reason to guide trekkers in the right direction)!

And we decided, of all places, to take respite in an unshaded open piece of area surrounded by trees and huge logs. Hhhmmm… And the idea of respite is to dance silly as if the trees were the compelled audiences there to stay. Haha… You can see the embarrassing footage in the video linked below.

Click for Lake Marian video!

Following the orange beacon prudently along, we were on our merry way back into the forest under the cool shelter from the sun. But from this section on, the path was definitely way more exciting to manoeuvre through. Much more narrower pave, and even at times having to balance on thick tree trunks and all. I imperatively enjoyed my climb for this particular trek during my whole stay in the South Island of New Zealand. I found the zeal and passion just moving through the forest. Yes, it was tiring, but I found the joy in it. I felt so alive and just plain satisfied. I really don’t know how else to explain this feeling but it was pure simple happiness! 😀

I recalled we did asked other trekkers who were descending back from the lake, how much more distance we had to cover. And the answers to that were always, “Oh yeah yeah, soon, very soon.” And after a while, we figured, “… soon, very soon.” was but a mere sentence. Totally inaccurate. Well in their defence, probably the distance was short, but maybe we were already quite worn out that “… soon, very soon.” seemed “… far, all so very far.” Haha!

We just had to ramble through and press forward!

So trust me when I say that these huge pieces of logs that you have to cross over, is a pretty good indicator that the end is near. The end to eternal ethereal beauty of Lake Marian was just so close within our reach. Honest!

4. Lake Marian

Lake Marian is an alpine lake in a hanging valley formed by glacial action. This lake lies above the bush line and is surrounded by the amazing Darren Mountains. The Lake Marian region probably provides the most enticing setting of a hidden gem in the Fiordland National Park region. Perfect for photographers!

Albeit jaded, the breeze from the lake just doused the tiredness and rekindled a whole new feeling of enthusiasm and glow! When we first saw the sight of Lake Marian, we were awestricken. Speechless. Dumbfounded.

I needed a moment to soak in the wondrous beauty of it all. The distant partially white snow-capped Darren Mountains as backdrop and the undisturbed clear waters were just in a perfect cosmos. It was really impressive how incredible Mother Nature was. And time and again, she never failed to amaze and blow me away. It was like a wallpaper that I would only imagined and dreamed about, but there it was, sprawled right in front of me in my peripheral vision, unimpeded!

The hours of climb through the forest and all the pushing through was all worth it. Worth it to be in the moment as such, and to have that memory to have at least seen and felt it just once was bliss enough.

We spend quite a long time by the alpine lake. Having our packed lunch of sandwiches, admiring the beauty, and of course taking loads of photos. Haha!

It was so beautiful, we were quite reluctant to leave. But we did have quite a journey back to the parking lot. Alas, we had to leave to make up for the time before it turned dark.

 

TIPS?

(a) Start the trek EARLY

Before embarking on this Lake Marian trek, I already knew we had to start the trek early. But because we were beat out from previous nights, we decided that we would still get up early, but… just not so much earlier.

Hence, we missed out on the magnificent reflections of the Darren Mountains on the lake waters; which could be seen when the weather was calm making the waters in Lake Marian very much still. And that usually happened at dawn when the air would be crisp and the breeze at its minimal. When we were heading towards the lake, we stopped to have a conversation with a couple from Israel. They headed to the lake extremely early in the wee morning, and were already on their way back. We saw some of the shots they took of Lake Marian early in the morning, they were GORGEOUS! Words cannot describe.

So if you want to have amazing reflection shots of the mountains imprinted on the lake waters, a good timing to arrive at Lake Marian would be around 8 – 9 am? That was according to the Israeli couple.

If not, Lake Marian is still a gorgeous sight in the late morning early afternoon; which was what we got to see. Still ain’t half bad you know. 😀

(b) Go for a SWIM

Minor regrets in life comes when you thought you were all packed for a trek, but didn’t occur to you that you could actually bring your swimming gear. I didn’t know swimming was allowed at Lake Marian, well… apparently so it seemed. If I had a do over, I would make sure I pack my swimming essentials that’s for sure. I am positively sure the waters would be so refreshing after a long arduous climb up. Totally energising!

But because we were not prepared for a swim, we only doused our hands in the waters, which was extremely chilly!

(c) Beacon of SAFETY

The start of the tramping track on this Lake Marian trek would be after the series of mini waterfalls. The pathway started to get more uneven underfoot and the route was not at all straightforward. Hence, it would definitely be advisable that one should be of moderate to good level of fitness and also have a certain level of navigation and survival skills.

Getting to Lake Marian was still somewhat manageable. We just had to find orange beacon arrows mounted on tree trunks, or any form of track markers or indicators. Of which, some were very obviously spotted, while others required a wee bit more eye for details. But either way, it was still alright, coming from someone who really do not have much jungle experience.

However, on the way back, we had probably missed a beacon and sort of side tracked a little. The pathway did not seemed at all crossable. Hence, in such situation it would definitely be wise to trust your gut, retract your steps and find the orange beacon or any indicator that you might have missed, sometimes it could be a red ribbon or something like that.

Always remember to be safe. If you don’t feel that it is right, even the slightest bit, to move forward… don’t. Trust yourself.

The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawbai, a government agency in charge of conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage, placed Lake Marian Track to be in the ‘Advanced: Tramping track’ category.

In New Zealand, tracks that are listed in this government agency website, are placed in one of six categories. And to be placed under ‘Advanced: Tramping track’, indicates that the Lake Marian Track is considered to be the second most demanding track, with ‘Expert: Route’ being the most challenging one.

Click for more information about the six walking track categories.

Hence, it is always wise to stay safe and be mindful of the surroundings!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money! And I do hope to conquer more treks in the future.

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Parking Lot –> Elevated Track –> Summit –> And Back

Total Distance:

16 km (9.9 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 7 – 9 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Seasonal Restrictions:

Track closed for lambing between 1st October and 10th November each year.

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂 🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

The Wanaka region is still by far the most memorable part of my New Zealand trip. Weather in New Zealand can get pretty precarious; with moments of sunshine, and then moments of melancholy!

In hindsight, we were pretty much blessed during our visit to the Wanaka region with perfect skies, not too chilly temperature, and best of all, refreshingly cool breeze that fills every volume corner of our lungs as we inhaled in the best of nature!

 

How to get there?

The start of the Roys Peak Track is just a quick and simple approximately 5 km drive North West from Wanaka Township! Drive on Ardmore Street, which will lead you on Wanaka- Mount Aspiring Road.

Look out for the yellow signage (which is not as prominent) ‘Roys Peak Track’ on the right (if you are coming from Wanaka Township, that is). The car parking area is just there at the base of the peak!

 

Highlights and Views

There is a green donation box near the entrance of the Roys Peak Track. The donation is more for maintenance and upgrade of the walking track. It is not compulsory and you do not have to be compelled to donate if you do not want to.

The first section of the Roys Peak Track crosses private land, hence, it is sage to keep on the paved track, and respect landowner’s property! Since there would be approximately a month’s long of lambing between October and November, obviously we could get to see some, well… … many… … sheep and lambs up close and personal all throughout the track up!

And of course, you have to accept the animals in all their glory right?

By that, I meant the woolly fur balls’ poops and their glorious smell that accompanies with! Yup, poopies all over the track; especially the initial section! Here. There. EVERYWHERE! 😀 Glorious smell!

The view just keeps getting more amazing as you ascend. I couldn’t help but always take a glance back as I climbed up a few steps further!

First it was just the hills, the thin strip of Wanaka Township, and the partial view of Lake Wanaka, then slowly, the lake view just extents wider, and the town strip gets larger! Soon we could see the sprawling Wanaka Township on the right and the cerulean Lake Wanaka on the left- all within our peripheral vision; unimpeded!

The distant mountains and beyond were now visible as well! Partially shrouded by the clouds, some mountains were snow-capped. Hence, I kept my eyes peeled for the moment the mountains were less covered by the clouds to capture a shot or two or three!

I do know that the view is going to be even more awe-inspiring up at the summit of Roys Peak, but I just couldn’t help myself! I had to pause the trudge up (at intervals), snapped pictures and immersed in it all! It was just too beautiful, it was impeccable! Maybe that’s why when people say that they take a certain time to complete a trek; I probably take longer than what was mentioned! 🙂

Along the journey up Roys Peak Track, you will see an up sloping field of alpine tussocks, and from far it looks like fur balls of hair that sways so gently and in sync with the wind. The tussocks just remind me of the movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, where the colourful vibrant trees look like cotton candy and balls of hair!

There is a long narrow strip for respite just before you continue on the climb to the summit. You could stop here for a snack/lunch break and if you are really not up for it, you could slowly make your descend. Most people would stop here and have photos taken of them on the narrow strip with the blue hues of sky, lake and mountains as backdrop! Very Instagram-worthy! ;P

This is a nice spot to be ensorcelled by the beauty of the landscape in front of you. And by this time, you would be imperatively certain that the arduous trudge up earlier was definitely all worth it; every drop of sweat!

Comparing the long elevated way up from the base, to the climb from the respite area to the summit, the latter is really not that long a journey. You have reached the Roys Peak summit when you see the tall radio antenna tower!

So knowing this now, if you see it afar whilst climbing, maybe you would want to use this as your beacon of hope to spur you on? Haha!

I cannot explain how much satisfaction I had gain from conquering the Roys Peak Track. The amount of effort I vested in to get a view as gawkingly breath-taking as this was just very deserving in my opinion.

You know there are some treks where you don’t need to put much effort and still get awesome views? And there are some which make you cringe and grit your teeth, but yet you still press on, and are rewarded with the views to die for?

Well, though sometimes we all need treks which requires less effort in exchange for good view; ‘cause you know, we are all not made of steel; and we cannot always and every day be conquering challenging treks right?

But, in my opinion, it is good and healthy to challenge yourself every now and then to a trek that makes you work your ass for something deserving. I feel a greater sense of achievement as compared to a simpler and easier trek! Don’t you think so? 🙂

‘Cause the best memories will be deeply etched when you actually put an effort and work for it rather than just getting it on a silver platter! Though, I have to say, sometimes silver platters would be nice too! Haha! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Just keep swimming moving… … Just keep swimming moving… …

For someone who hasn’t done the Roys Peak Track before, you couldn’t really pinpoint where the final destination (a.k.a summit) really is. All you see is just a relentless elevated winding track to the heavens; which means against gravity! And well… … we all know, gravity ain’t exactly the best-est of friend sometimes right?

Definitely not the most benign track to be on, but you really need to rivet on the goal here; and that’s to reach the summit, because you presage that the view up there is going to be so swooning, and it’s just a pity if you were to miss it! Well… … at least that’s what I tell myself whilst on this track!

So don’t just stop at the narrow strip for respite! Have a break and continue to the summit! It’s really not that far! Honest!

(b) Start the trek EARLY

If you are someone who loves pausing to snap photos, or need multiple breaks to catch your breath (because, this is a massive elevated track), then you really need to start early. Take it from someone who had done this trek in the morning, and finished it close to evening.

(c) Sunscreen is a MUST; alongside windproof outer coat

Roys Peak Track gave me my first sunburn on my lower arms in over a decade! Usually I would use sunscreen and at most I would just tan up, but this time there was massive skin peeling. Why? ‘Cause I was lazy, that’s why.  And overly complacent! It was bad enough for me to get an aloe vera after sun lotion to soothe the burn.

This is an exposed track, with no trees to shelter you like most forest track. So do not be lazy like I was, and slap on sunscreen!

Windproof coat is much needed just in case the weather changes. You do not want to be freezing your ass at 1578 m above sea level, do you? Haha!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money!

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Car park –> Jetty Lookout –> View of Views Lookout –> Reflection Island Lookout –> Car park (Circuit Jaunt)
Total Distance:

4.4 km (2.7 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 1.5 hours (with plenty of time to take great shots and respites when necessary)
Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 (at that point of time)

How to get there?

Hiking Highlights and Views

TIPS? And overall experience?

 

How to get there?

A mere 5 minutes drive or so from Fox Glacier Township on Cook Flat Road, and turning right onto Lake Matheson Road will lead you straight to the parking space.

The Matheson Café is located within the vicinity if you want to settle breakfast before the walk. It opens at around 8 am. The prominent signage for this circuit jaunt near the café  marks the start of your odyssey!

Click here for more information about Lake Matheson Café


 

Hiking Highlights and Views

I was pretty much excited for this trek as there are many enrapturing images on Google that captured rad reflection of the mountains on the motionlessly tranquil Lake Matheson. The cerulean blue, alongside the strip of forest green trees just make the entire picture all in a cosmos.

Alas, that wasn’t the view for us to take home that day.

It was quite a cloudy morning to began with. With only a few minutes of intense shaft of sunlight at irregular intervals, those were my only precious opportunities to grasp when taking photos of the landscape.

Through the mini forest

From the starting point, we had to walk pass a bridge over the tannin stream and boulders. It was a much pleasant sight to take in on a morning walk. Calming and breezy, this was a moment that depicted life’s simple pleasures.

I like to take regular glances to the back when I walk. There were many times, when I got awestricken by the vista behind me; and was always glad I did not miss it. With weather that was adept at changing fast and relentless at times, it was quite possible to miss a good view with two snaps of the fingers!

Hence, I was happy to have caught the distant snow capped mountains amidst the fluffy melancholy clouds.

Into the forest we went, the road, though gravelled, was well paved. Kids of all ages could do this walk, easy.

Little information boards about the plant species were found along the way. Nice bite sized facts, made the walk intriguing. It’s really great to learn new things, especially if you are a botany lover!

Reflection Island Lookout

Because it was a circuit jaunt, going either direction would still lead you out the same way. Hence, we decided to take the way which would lead us straight to the Reflection Island Lookout first; and of course, fast- which at that time, we thought would give us the best view.

I reckoned it was the timing we went, the weather, and maybe other variables, the view was… … How should I put it? Hhhmmm… … Not as satisfying? I mean, it was nice, but not as nice as I thought it would be. (Google did set high standards for it, you know.)

It was quite a letdown for us, as we had expected the whole dandy experience. But, nevertheless, we made do with what was presented to us, learnt from it, and made the best out of it! I mean, some pictures were still really cool; having the whole lugubrious vibe and all.

This included the out- of- nowhere appointment of a fury, curled- looking fern to be the ‘face’ of my hair (courtesy of J of course). So yup, now my hair is like a walking mascot for the Ponga tree fern (or until it grows longer, and out of it)! Hhhmmm… Haha! 😀

Endless road

We decided to take a leisure stroll down the Lake Matheson Road. Cow gazing, car watching, breeze inhaling, whatever it was… …It was just imperatively nerve-calming.

The straight endless road with tranquil vista on the sides and ahead, is something we don’t get much of back home. So of course we had to spend time immersing in it all!

 

TIPS? And overall experience?

1. Best views at DAWN and DUSK!

Before we embarked on this Lake Matheson Circuit walk, we did know about the time period to get best views- at Dawn or Dusk. However, we were too shack to get our asses up early in the morning, so that was probably our corollary for being lazy bums. 🙁

Sometimes, a bit of sacrifice is really much needed in exchange for views that amazing- as seen on Google.

So hey, you win some, you lose some right? Win some hours of sleep, lose some nice photos?!

It’s all a learning experience! 😀

2. Breakfast before walk; YES please!

We did not have a meal at Lake Matheson Café, though we did pop by to have a look see at their menu board. The café does provide a peaceful vibe setting with clear distant snow capped mountain views on a good day; that I have to give it to them.

But I would say if you really want to settle breakfast outside your motel, Fox Glacier Township has great delectable varieties! Just my humble opinion anyway. I have never tried the food at the café to judge much, but food in the town could be just as good, and at a slightly cheaper price too. So… yeah…!

I would say the Hobnail Café’s breakfast at the Fox Glacier Guiding doesn’t fall shot either? A hearty breakfast of massive baked potato with stuffing and an American breakfast plate with staples of bread, eggs, sausages, bacon and hash browns to share with your friend would totally fuel you both for a great trek ahead! ‘Cause we all know… …

Sharing food = More varieties = More experience to try new food = Life’s perfect

Furthermore, the view from the glass window at Hobnail Café does paint a flawless view of the majestic snow capped mountains in the near distance! What’s not to love about it all?!

Food at the Cook Saddle Café & Saloon is amazeballs! I can’t say much about its breakfast though, but… …for lunch and dinner, the barbeque pork spare ribs with fries on the side is just finger licking awesome! (Out of topic, but just a little FYI here. Haha!)

3. Moment to relieve oneself? Fret NOT!

The public toilets just further down from the café near the car park are clean. Odourless and all, you can safely have a nice dump before or after your trek! No worries! Haha! 😀

Though we did not get great reflection views as ‘promised’ by Google, due to our laziness, or rather, mine slothfulness, I would totally do this again! Obviously at a different timing, probably near sunrise?

The walk is fairly trivial, so I don’t see why not try this once more and be enraptured by the beauty of the serene Lake Matheson with the distant backdrop of the mountains! I am sure it is going to be jaw- droppingly amazing; as ‘promised’ by Google!

Hope this goads you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Round trip:Parking Lot –> Valley –> Glacier –> And Back

Total Distance:

2.6 km (1.6 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 2 – 2.5 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

This was an impromptu trekking trip, and I was, and still very much am, very glad we did it! We had an extra full day at Fox Glacier (because there were some items on our itinerary we were not that much interested in anymore), and being in a very small town, there really wasn’t much we could do. So conferring with Google… … The journey through the valley to the glacier begun! Yay! 😀

I do not honestly know how and why I had totally missed this valley walk during my itinerary research, but this is just one of those walks that are pretty much less strenuous and you get views just as invigorating!

Less energy for greater returns? Say what now? An absolute MUST DO on the South Island of New Zealand!

 

How to get there?

The drive to the start of the Fox Glacier Valley Walk is a fairly easy one, and really straightforward! Just drive down South on Haast Highway from Fox Glacier Township, and immediately turn left before the Fox River bridge. This drive takes roughly 10 minutes.

The left turn will take you straight to a huge parking area, at the end of the road, where the landscape is already melodramatic enough! Surrounded by massive cliffs on each side, it is just so ethereal.

Imagine… … If the parking area welcomes you with such imprinting effect, even before you embark on your trek, what more when you are ON the trek? The view, then, would be imperatively even more wicked!


 

Highlights and Views

Since it was an impromptu trek, we arrived at the place in the afternoon. It wasn’t very crowded then, there were basically less than 10 cars present (including ours)? The weather conditions were to our favour, as indicated on the board at the start of the trek, so we were in great expectation for good views! So let’s spiel… …

The thing about valley walks is that it was something new to me at that time. Usually the treks I embarked on were climbing up hills in the forest, or clambering on the edge of a cliff (back in Tasmania). And typically we were pretty much surrounded by trees, bushes and scrubs half the time; only to have a rewarding view at the summit or at the end.

But valley walks were very much new fresh perspectives; and I LOVE it! Not that I don’t love the other treks I went on, but you get the gist.

WHY?

Valley walks are not convoluted. Out in the open, and not shrouded by the trees, the feeling of frivolousness as the sun rays galvanise everything on the open valley was just speechlessly amazing. The heaps of moraine that were left behind when the glacier retreated in the 60s, glistens under the light. It felt like diamond dusts were lightly smeared on the rocks, and if you would to take notice, they really do twinkle as you saunter towards the glacier end (final section of the track)!

You could see people ahead of you and behind. The glacier end is always in sight, so you could roughly gauge how far off were you. Views were not being impeded, and because it is a valley, due to the recession of the glacier, most gravel grounds were of minimal degree of steepness. It was inconceivable how easy the walk was!

The only time when the route got a little steep, and a tad more strength was required, was when we were getting closer to the glacier end. The gravels were loose underfoot, and with the steeper incline, it could get a little slippery. Good gripping shoes during such times were much appreciated.

I like the idea of how we are really minuscule in comparison to the hillsides encaging us; how massive Mother Nature is, and how the towering sides just energises me.

During the walk, we saw parents (fathers), carrying their precious on their backs as they gaited on. I would like to brood over the fact that these parents were incredibly awesome. If it was me, I would have fumbled, stumbled, and probably rolled down the steep gravel hill, causing damage everyone in my path! Haha!

And to see how stable the dads were, going up and coming back down with ease, just makes me want to applaud for their adept balancing and strength. Haha! 😀

We reached the glacier end viewpoint at about sunset. The close-to-evening breeze just calms your nerves and gives your lungs a refreshing renewal of air. And of course, catching our breaths aside, we took moments to just gawk at the glacier ice and moraine. Such an incredible sight it was!

IMG_0345

On the journey back to the parking area, we saw a bunch of children, their Mum and two other travellers huddled near. The kids were in awe by the Kea who was busy being fed by the travellers. The kids ended up feeding the Kea too, with food provided by the travellers. I don’t remember what they fed the Kea with. Judging from the picture I took, I reckon crackers?

And of course, I had to help the Kea take its selfie since it was looking right at me, right?! Haha! 😀

We also had the opportunity to take a good glance at the early 3/4 moon that rose just above the hillside. And it totally added as a nice backdrop ‘accessory’ in the picture, don’t you think so? 😀

Seeing so many things all packed in an afternoon, and considering it was an imprompt trip, I suppose this was such an eventful bonus day well spent!

 

TIPS?

1

Sunscreen

As this valley walk is an open area with no shade from the, at times, inexorable sunlight, slather on sunscreen you must! Skin peeling as the corollary of your laziness to apply sunscreen can look very unsightly in photos, I know… … Been there. 🙁

2

Check For Track Closure

Another tip, which is the MOST important, is to check if the track is close for the day due to ice collapse, flooding or rock falls before you embark on the trek!

You can do so at the local Department of Conservation (DOC) office at Fox Glacier Township, or at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre at Franz Josef Township.

Click for more information on Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre

Fox Glacier Valley Walk is one of the easiest walks for the fairly able- bodies. With dramatic vista right from the beginning, and being greeted by shimmering moraines along the track, you will definitely not return to your motel blasé.

This track, I can safely say with conviction, is a MUST-ADD into your itinerary planning!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Cataract Gorge

Wineglass Bay

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Bay Of Fires

Cradle Mountain

Of all the time spent in Tasmania that one Summer time, and having visited both Hobart and Launceston, it is limpid to me now to consolidate my thoughts- these two cities give off totally different vibes.

On one hand, Hobart gives me the rich historic, at times shuddering, blast- into- the- past vibe. When I think Hobart, I think Port Arthur immediately. Then images of the penal settlement and all those that comes with it, came sloshing back into my head.

Click on the links for more detailed articles on Port Arthur and on the things to do in Hobart!

Sights & Sounds: Tessellated Pavement State Reserve, Port Arthur

Sights & Sounds: Historic Site, Port Arthur

Sights & Sounds: Coal Mines Historic Site, Port Arthur

Treks: Cape Raoul, Port Arthur

And on the other hand, Launceston gives me the bonanza- of- nature vibe. When I think Launceston, I think Cradle Mountain. I think of all the trek trails I had been on. How invigorated I was, and how honestly just plain happy I was. It is simply amazing that a simple activity in the woods can be so galvanising.

It is quite an enigma to why Taylor Swift kept asking if she was ‘Out Of The Woods Yet?’, when I would love to spend more time In The Woods. Huh… Huh…Get it? Get it? Out Of The Woods, and wanting back Into The Woods? No? Okay, was talking baloney. 😀

(And here right now, is an episode of how I really do love T.Swift. Evidence of my hopeless excuse to try to infuse her lyrics into this article. HHhhmm… …)

Alrighty, back to topic. So by now, you should have roughly guessed which part of Launceston is my favourite! Cradle Mountain; if you hadn’t already guessed so! 😀 But Launceston is way too huge to concentrate on only one favourite! That’s just so much one can do, and worth doing! So here are my Top 5 MUST DOs in Launceston Tasmania! Let’s spiel… …

 

Cataract Gorge

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

3 – 4 hours; depending on whether you just want to have a short leisure saunter or if you want to do the simple trek trails; which is longer.

Admission Fee

FOC

Visitation Suitability

Everyone & Anyone who loves nature. Awesome for family gatherings.

The Gorge is located strategically within walking distance from Launceston CBD. This site is the perfect place to spend a day at. With easy grade walking trails options, it is basically a place for light trekking within the city’s vicinity! Super convenient and totally awesome-making! Nature within the city? Say what now?!

The Gorge has facilities like the world’s longest single span chairlift, the outdoor swimming pool, and my personal favourite- the iconic Alexandra Suspension Bridge; because it makes the perfect photo backdrop! Haha…! How typical, I know.

With treks trails that cater to people with varied level of fitness, the Gorge is very family-friendly. There is even a play area for kids too!

Lunch at the First Basin Café is also a great food option with views overlooking the outdoor swimming pool and the open greenery. With hindsight, after a nice walk to sweat it out, this eatery is the place to be at to binge on some good food to satisfy those voracious pangs.

With The Gorge offering cliffs of nature beauty and being so accessible, no wonder this is a MUST DO in Launceston!

Click on the link for a more detailed article on The Gorge!

Sights & Sounds: Cataract Gorge, Launceston

 

Wineglass Bay

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 full day (inclusive of beach time! Yay! :D)

Admission Fee

AUS $12 – $123; pricings are for adult national park passes of different categories.

Click on National Park Passes for more information.

Visitation Suitability

Nature Lovers. Trekking Lovers. Beach Lovers.

With its curved circumference of a coastal beachline that may take on the shape of the bottom of a wineglass, it’s my personal speculation that its name is given because of the very obvious reason? This walk gives you the best of both worlds. Why so? Let me illuminate you.

Image taken from: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=1478

Image taken from: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=1478

Firstly, the walk from Wineglass Bay Carpark to the Lookout will give you a pseudo aerial view of the beach and the vast sea! The crystal clear waters of blue that glistens under the strong afternoon rays, along with the curved coastal beachline from the lookout is totally a site for a lunch respite with a view! This is something no luncheons at fancy restaurants can beat, now can they?

Secondly, the expedition down to the beach will give you the opportunity to reward yourself for all the arduous trekking. Unwind on the coastal sand, meander along the white sandy beach, or take a dip in the luminous waters? Your pick!

We definitely spend a teeny bit more time on the beach before heading back! I am sure we all deserve it. 😀

Hence, a tip? Do start off the trek early, so you have more buffer time to spend chilling by the amazing beach! You honestly will not regret it!

A day spend trekking and some beach time? This seriously got to be the way to have it all- a MUST DO in Launceston!

 

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

2 – 3 hours

Admission Fee

AUS $7.50/pax during the period of lavender blooming (1st Dec – 31st Jan).

Visitation Suitability

All those who love to embrace the floral field or those who want a chillax at the café with a mind-blowing purple vista as the backdrop.

(First-timers to a floral field patch will be awed. Trust me. Been there, felt that!)

This lavender estate is just an ethereal beauty. With the vast field of purple and a peripheral vision of distance fogged mountains, this place is just perfect to spend a quiet morning along aside a cuppa at the café. I do suggest an outdoor sitting to placate the enthralling jolt of the calming purple field.

There’s quite a few places to explore within the estate. The distillery over at the wooden shed operates after the lavender blooming period. I reckon it is worth a pop by.

Of course, the star attraction would imperatively be the transcendent purple hues. The best time to visit this sight would be during the Summer months. December to January would be lovely!

Mesmerising picturesque landscape? Check! A café option for chilling. Check! What more could one ask for to spend a thwart-stress day! Definitely a MUST DO in Launceston!

Click on the link for a more detailed article on Bridestowe Lavender Estate:

Sights & Sounds: Bridestowe Lavender Estate, Launceston

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtGUSN9x6ic&list=PLTQHYLfXkzDVhuFvsqBqcBUcUKKhf2TWt&index=2[/youtube]

 

Bay Of Fires

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 hours
Admission Fee

FOC

Visitation Suitability

Those who love a beach that has a tint of orange feistiness.

This sight is definitely worth a come by especially at sunset. The orange rays from the sun enhances the tint on the rocks, making the colour all the more conspicuous. Love it!

The Bay of Fires will impinge on you a whole new level of beach waves crushing rocks. The sea breeze howling, crashing waves serenading and the orange lichen that encrust the rocks makes meandering through it, all the more adventurous!

This is undoubtedly the best way to end off the day exploring; a MUST DO in Launceston to unwind!

Click on the link for a more detailed article on the Bay of Fires!

Sights & Sounds: Bay of Fires, Launceston

 

Cradle Mountain

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

4 – 5 days
Admission Fee

AUS $16.50 – $123; pricings are for adult national park passes of different categories.

Click on National Park Passes for more information

Visitation Suitability

Nature Lovers. Trekking Lovers.

So I have saved the best for last. And yes! I adore the Cradle Mountain region most. It was probably the highlight of the entire Launceston vacation. With so many amazing trek trail options that all seem so enticing, my only regret was not being able to spend more time to explore.

The exuberant trekking trips on the various trails available just makes me want to implode with excitement when reminiscing them. With the walks through alpine rainforest and endless vistas that comes with every trekking trip, it is no wonder this region is dub a ‘walkers’ paradise’!

The world famous Cradle Mountain with Dove Lake just sprawling at its foot is an iconic photo to take home. An approximately 3.5 hours (with plenty of time to snap pictures and for lunch) trekking odyssey around the Lake will give you different angular perspectives of the Cradle Mountain zenith.

Canoeing trips provided by Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge during the Summer is also another alternative to have the Mountain experience to remember forever!

During a hot Summer’s day, the spires of the Mountain against the cloudless cerulean sky is the perfect wallpaper! So how can I not say this is a DEFINITE MUST DO in Launceston!

Click on the URLs for more detailed articles on the Cradle Mountain region, YOU WON’T REGRET!

Treks: Lake St Clair National Park, Cradle Mountain

Treks: Dove Lake And Canoeing, Cradle Mountain

Treks: Marions Lookout, Cradle Mountain

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqMbbYBh164&list=PLTQHYLfXkzDVhuFvsqBqcBUcUKKhf2TWt&index=1[/youtube]

So there it is, a list of Top 5 MUST DOs in Launceston Tasmania where I am able to say with conviction that you will bound to make the trip to Launceston all worth your ride!

Hope this helps! And remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Mount Wellington

Salamanca Market

Port Arthur

Maria Island

Bruny Island

The initial reaction I got from most people when I told them I was leaving for Tasmania on a getaway would be them telling me there was really nothing to see but trees and more trees.

Well, I am here to say that there’s a huge misconstrue going on. Sorry guys, there’s really so much more to it than just trees. And even if it is ‘just’ trees, the trees are situated at locations with backdrops so ethereal it’s unbelievable!

So why Hobart they asked?

Well… … Here’s why…

Top 5 MUST DOs in Hobart Tasmania. Let’s spiel shall we…?

 

Mount Wellington

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 hours; depending on how many photos you want to snap, and how long you wanna’ amble on the metal platforms gawking at the magnificent bare view.

Admission Fee

FOC

Visitation Suitability

Everyone & Anyone

You cannot say you’ve been to Hobart without placing yourself at the summit of Mount Wellington. Nope you cannot, period! The sweeping view over Hobart City which towers 1270 metres above ground is the must-do-spot to be at!

If you are lucky, a single trip up on 4 wheels (car; for the families or people who have tight itinerary schedule etc.), 2 wheels (bike; for the dynamics who hanker for an adventure uphill) or 2 feet (for trekkers who enjoy longer ramble through cold dense forest) welcomes you to a sprawling peripheral vista of Hobart in a whole new light. I remember driving up there twice in a day with no luck at all, considering the fact that thick cold fog shrouded every inch of the area. It was pretty dangerous just impelling slowly up the narrow sinuous road.

Thank goodness, on our last day in Hobart City, the weather did clear up, and BAM! With minimal trekking of any kind to get views as splendid as these, no wonder it is the MUST DO in Hobart; spoken by the locals!

 

Salamanca Market

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 hours; depending on how much food you can stomach.

Admission Fee

FOC (exclude bought goods)

Visitation Suitability

Everyone & Anyone

Operates every Saturday, all year round from 08 30 to 15 00 along Salamanca Place, this place is swarmed with locals and tourists all in for a piece of Hobart’s unique cultural experience.

With 300 odd stalls all in tandem along Salamanca Place, you better get there early on an empty stomach so you could try all the local produce and goodness. Not only does this place sells delectable foods, handy crafts and cute souvenirs are massively available for purchase. Some less perishable food items like nougats and honey are available in sample sizes for you to try before buying.

And if you are in luck (yes, I realised I do say that a lot, but come on, right timing is really fundamental, and you know it), live performances of song, dance and magic tricks will get the crowd howling for more. It is absolutely the time to reel off on a lazy Saturday morning!

TIP?

After ambling through the market, and soaked in the atmosphere of it all, take the food TO-GO! Head on down to wharf, just about a 100 metres away, for a nice ‘picnic’ with the view of Sullivans Cove!

I mean, come on, awesome food, perfect local culture experience, and brunch by the wharf overlooking the Cove? Rating is a definite 5 without a doubt; a total MUST DO in Hobart!

 

Port Arthur

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

4 – 6 days; depending on how in-depth of the place you want to cover.

Detailed information on things to do at Port Arthur, click the URLs below for past articles.

Admission Fee

AUS $35 – $130; pricings are for adult tickets into the Historic Site

Detailed information on which pass package to choose?

Click: Sights & Sounds: Historic Site, Port Arthur for more details!

Visitation Suitability

Everyone & Anyone

 

Once a convict settlement, this area is now with rich history of how the convicts lived amongst the officials and their families. Ambling in the Historic Site during the self-guided tour, with the handy iPod commentary playing does make the entire experience come alive.

A suggestion would be to stay in the Site until dusk when it gets real quiet; just you, the ancient old buildings, and your imagination of how life was like years ago. Aahhh… Now doesn’t that sound like the perfect history lesson outside the classroom?

Well… at least that was how I like it- just me pretending I was in that convict era; imagining how the convicts were in the Penitentiary. Yup, no judgement please, I like to be in the moment okay? 😀

Other than wandering off in the Historic Site during the day, the GHOST TOUR is something you might wanna’ check out, for experience sake. I mean, you owe it to yourself to just lock those jitters in a box for one night and just do it! You are really in perfect hands of the adept ghost guides, they do these sort of thing on a daily basis, so I am confident it’s safe… … Right? 😀

There are loads to do at Port Arthur like visiting the Coal Mines Historic Site (which is FOC; by the way, and the drive there is quite awe-inspiring #justsaying) and trekking of course! Trekking up Cape Raoul was a beauty too!

Port Arthur is undoubtedly a MUST DO in Hobart to complete your trip!

Click on the links below for more detailed articles and pictures on Port Arthur!

Sights & Sounds: Tessellated Pavement State Reserve, Port Arthur

Sights & Sounds: Historic Site, Port Arthur

Sights & Sounds: Coal Mines Historic Site, Port Arthur

Treks: Cape Raoul, Port Arthur

 

Maria Island

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 days

Admission Fee

AUS $12 – $123; pricings are for adult national park passes of different categories.

Click on National Park Passes for more information.

Visitation Suitability

Natural Lovers

The convict hold up before Port Arthur, this quiet island gives you the first hand experience of life as a convict during those times. Not exactly the ‘first hand’ experience, ’cause we all know that’s never going to happen, but it is as real as it gets!

Accommodation on the island would be the once Penitentiary. Yup! How wicked awesome is that?! Of course, this means no electricity, no room decorations, and definitely no room service! Toilets and showers are just a short walk away. It’s time to rough it out people!

For those who prefer day trips, that’s cool too. Mode of transportation on the island is either on foot or on a bike. Definitely choose the latter to cover more grounds on the island.

An imperative MUST DO is to take an approximately 2 hours return (4.4 km one way) stroll to the Painted Cliffs at Hopground Beach from Darlington. The sculpted sandstone cliffs boil in prominent orange in the late afternoon; definitely a moment to snap and remember forever!

A hidden gem just slight North-East, this is a thumbs up MUST DO in Hobart!

 

Bruny Island

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 days

Admission Fee

FOC (exclude the cost on the vehicle ferry)

Visitation Suitability

Natural Lovers

Travelling to Bruny Island was my first experience on a vehicle ferry. Up till today, I am still somewhat fascinated by the whole idea of loading the car onto the ferry can being transported to an island. Sorry, but it’s not very often you get to drive up a ferry and enjoy the breeze while you’re at it!

There are many cruises and tours that bring you to the island, but I suggest driving there. Not only do you have a say on what you wanna’ do there, the luxury of time and space is just so crucial when on this serene island.

The Neck Game Reserve is a good stop to be at to have a symmetrical view of the sea divided by the isthmus of land. A nice tranquil drive on Bruny Island Main Road to the South of the island provides nice lunch options at the Hot House Cafe, and trekking options up to the Fluted Cape.

If you are lucky, spotting of a clan of wild wallabies is not a problem!

Click on Sights & Sounds: Food Hunt: Treks: South Bruny National Park, Bruny Island for a more detailed article on Bruny Island!

Loads of things to do on the island that captures the heart. An enrapturing island less populated, and very personal; it’s no wonder a MUST DO in Hobart!

So there, a list of Top 5 MUST DOs in Hobart Tasmania that I am able to say with conviction that you will bound to make the trip to Hobart all worth your ride!

Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee