Leaving NZ & Queensland | Australia

20 December 2014 – 9 March 2015

The summer of 2014. Our house has sold, we have a car load of things we’re going to store and the rest is out. We’re cleansing our lives of stuff. Stuff that we’ve been carting around for years. Stuff and things we don’t need.

A week in Te Anau.

Christmas Day in Invercargill – and dang it’s hot.

The rest in Queenstown. Oh my. Lake-sky-mountains get at me earth porn.

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And then this happens. Awesome people turn up at the same spot at the same time. Good times and perfect way to bring in 2015.

After our summer break, it was back to work for both of us for around two weeks (not long to go) and in between time, we manically tried to empty our house, selling and giving away the last things we have.

We each have our last day at work, and then just like that, that was that.

Our first home, our dream home, our earthquake ruined and Earthquake Commission repaired home – sold. Gone.

This is us outside number 8 Champion Street, Christchurch right before we left on January 21 2015 – me feeling a tad sad because holy moly, I can’t believe we’ve actually sold everything and we’re leaving.

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Right after this we went to Hatchi Hatchi with Miles and Annarose and each smashed a sushi burger (you’ll hear more about Miles and Annarose another day) and then they dropped us at the airport and we flew back down to Queenstown.

We spent the next two weeks in Invercargill with Michael’s family and of course, Ruby. We slept, packed and re-packed our bags, I got a cold, Michael dug some fence post holes, we visited friends and held babies annnnd slept some more. Invers – you’re alright with me!

On Wednesday, 4 February 2015 we flew back to Christchurch to attend two weddings. Flip and Jared kindly picked up up from the airport which made them an hour late for their wedding rehearsal – sorry guys! But thanks for the ride. And Phil and Sharon, along with their dog Gizz, kindly offered to have us to stay while we were in town. Another big thank you!

Simon and Kaylene’s wedding ceremony was first on 5th February at the Cashmere Church with the reception in the evening at the beautiful Trents Estate out in Prebbleton.

Flip and Jared were up next on 7th February at Rossendale.

Good times all round! Thank you both so much for having us – I’m so pleased we were able to come along before we left NZ.

And then it starts! We catch an 8am flight out of Christchurch to Brisbane, Australia and get dropped at our accommodation in West End.

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We’d pre-booked it online – $21 each in an eight bed dorm at the Brisbane Backpackers Resort AND the resort has a POOL. Dream. Sounds fricken’ fancy. We get there, walk in, drop our bags in the room and I pretty much vomit in my mouth. We’re totally not ready for this. The pool is cloudy. There is no way I am getting in there. Dream over. So we do the only thing you can do when you can’t get a refund, we paid $32 a night to sleep in a four bed dorm. Slightly better. Tolerable. Not ideal. Our room mates are two Italian girls, one who has some weird sleeping twitch where while lying down, she brings ones knee up to 45 degrees then continuously slaps her foot on the mattress. Between the foot slapping, the aircon only being on between 9pm-7am and the general grossness off the place, we spent all of our time out and about doings stuff.

Stuff like walking around for hours on end, eating mangoes and ridiculously cheap grapes, visiting the Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery and GOMA all while stuffing back the odd sushi roll and dreading the evening when we’d have to return to the backpackers.

Highlights of Brisbane were catching up with an old school friend, Gena, for a beer and pizza and also spending the best part of and afternoon with Erin, a work mate of mine from back in our ChangeLabs days.

Erin was a great tour guide. Firstly she picked us up and let us have the aircon in her car on full, right in my face. Erin wins just for that. We visited Bens Burgers in Fortitude Valley for lunch, YUM, and she took us up Mt Cootha for a gander.

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While we were up there Michel and I had a strange photo with a child we don’t know.

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No wait, that’s Eadie, Erins baby, who is super duper cute and smells liiiiike baby. And then we went back to her place and got to see a real Queenslander house – flash!

And that was about it for us and Brisbane. Above anything else, it was good to spend some time in a city we’d neither really spent much time in and get our bearings.

The following day we got a ride back to the Brisbane airport and waited in arrivals for my Mum, Dad, brother Steven, and Sarah to arrive. This was the beginning of the SUTTON FAMILY HOLIDAY. We jumped in a people mover, Mum and Dad in the front, kids in the back and drove up to Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast where we were to spend the next two weeks.

The reason for the holiday? This guy, Mark the Shark, turning the big six oh.

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And doesn’t he look snazzy with this cake, cake hat and special red ribbon?

Even snazzier than the view of the Glasshouse mountains from our apartments. Whoar.

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We spent our time swimming in the pool, watching cricket, Steven posed for photos, Michael got the best valentines gift ever (a heart shaped chicken schnitzel), we went on people mover trips to places like Noosa and Montville, we watched the cricket and visited the surf club multiple times for roasts, parmas and the like and we each spent our fair share of time at the diner on the burger phone to Alf Stewart.

Hi-five to the Sutton Family Holiday and a big shout out to Ann and Mark for organising the shin dig.

We said goodbye to Mum and Dad at the Brisbane airport – they flew back to New Zealand and we flew north to Cairns.

We’d booked a campervan and had eight days to drive it back down to Brisbane. We looked on Google maps and Apollo Moterhomes, the pickup point for our camper, was only around 3km from the airport. We were facing our first big travel choice – do we shell out the $10-$15 for a taxi to pick it up… or do we walk? As silly as this sounds, we discussed this at length. 3km isn’t that far – $15 is quite a bit and could go towards something better than a taxi – if we want to travel for a year or so we need to save where we can. So it was decided, before we boarded, we were walking. Oh my holy shit balls. When we exited the airport the tempreture was noticably hotter and the humidity, THE HUMIDITY, was through the roof. Off the chain, if you will. It was the longest, hottest, sweatiest, worst-est 3km walk with no footpath, EVER. I’m serious. Don’t do it. Not it Cairns and not in February. And maybe the worst thing? A guy offered us a ride which we declined as we thought it wasn’t too much further. We walked for ages after he’d driven away! We’re idiots. But we picked up our camper in time and named him Dougie.

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Our seven nights in Dougie can be summed up like this: Hot. So hot. So, so, so, so, hot. Hot as in I’m sitting in the shade, not moving but sweating profusely – everywhere. Sleeping in the van was like sleeping in a hot, thick aired, panic room. Michael was able to sleep each night in there – I spent only two of the seven nights in there. One was spent in Zann’s house in Townsville in glorious air con, and the others I slept sitting up in the passengers seat – still sweating, but feeling less trapped and less like I was going to die from hot air suffocation. That was the worst part of our time with Dougie – the rest was good!

We checked out all the sweet sites that there are to see between just north of Cairns and Brisbane. Our first night was in Port Douglas which was beautiful.

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We visited and walked through the Mossman Gorge, the lower end of the Daintree Rainforest and saw a bush turkey playing dead – he was actually just really hot.

We spent a night at the Babinda Boulders, south of Cairns where we went swimming (no crocs) but got murdered by march flies and we woke up to nature – two cockatoos having a chat in the trees above us.

We visited Etty Bay and Mission beach in search of a cassowary – but we were out of luck! Then after a mango sorbet, we arrived in Townsville and spent two nights with Zann and Liv.

In Townsville we did fancy town things like going to a bar, having takeaway Indian, going out for brunch, watching the cricket, visiting a mall, making nachos and jump starting a car. Poor Zanns’ car. As I mentioned earlier, we also spent a night inside their house which was a real treat, especially for the fluid retention thing that was happening to my cankles.

After two nights in Townsville we pushed on to Airlie Beach and parked up at a caravan park. Can I just say how well equipped Australia’s caravan parks and camping grounds are – awesome facilities. We parked up, cooked some burgers (Dougie dished out some pretty sweet eats!) and then as dark fell, we realised we were being surrounded by toads. So we moved the van, parked up again, slept then woke to these guys:

We spent the day on a boat out in the Whitsunday Islands – most of the day, including lunch, was spent at White Haven Beach where we had to wear sexy stinger suits if you wanted to swim.

I actually found the suit to be quite good coverage – with my pale skin, there was no chance of getting sun burnt, thats fo sho.

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It was a great day, lovely warm water and the icing on the cake, we all got chocolate lammingtons on the way back as the boast was docking.

After getting off the boat, we jumped back in Dougie and drove south, into the darkness of the night, to a place called St Lawerence where there was a free camp site. Turning up at a free camp site in the dark is weird and a bit psycho killery. Ugh. We spent the next night in Hervey Bay, where we had dinner with Katie who we’d met in Krakow, Poland on our last trip. Hervey Bay was maybe the nicest place I swam in Queensland. No crocs. No stingers. No waves. Just a bay. The next morning it was straight down to Brisbane, we jumped on the train, arrived on the Gold Coast, spent the night, and we were on the plane by midday the following day back to Auckland – just in time for our next wedding – in Wanganui.

Alice and Simons wedding on Alice’s family’s station was quite simply, the stuff dreams are made of.

Look at it! Fairy tale. Absolutely beautiful wedding team!

Scott, Jen, Riley and Louie kindly hosted us in Auckland, and after catching up on sleep, dinner with buddies (Kate, Jackie & Ryan) and one last kiwi bbq – it was a 5.30am curtain call for our next flight and a big ka kite ano to New Zealand once again.

The finer details:

All prices in AUD

  • Brisbane Backpacker Resort: $32 per person – 4 bed dorm
  • Bens Burgers, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane: $11 each
  • Queensland Museum & Art Galleries: Free
  • ConXions shuttle to and from Brisbane airport: $15 per person one way
  • Tap beer at Alexandra Heads Surf Club: $4-4.80
  • Hippie Camper, Apollo Motor Homes: approx $22 per day + insurance
  • Petrol: $1.07-$1.30 per litre
  • Dougies Backpacker, Port Douglas, unpowered van site: $30
  • Babinda Boulders Camp Site: Free
  • Big Fury, Whitsunday day tour: $115 each (including lunch)
  • St Lawrence Camp Site: Free
  • Scarness Beachfront Tourist Park, Hervey Bay, unpowered site: Usually $30 – walked in at the right time and got it for $15
  • Brisbane – Gold Coast Train and Taxi combo: $110 for two people
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