Border Crossing: Erlian to Zamyn-Uud

There are plenty of blogs and forums around describing the land border-crossing process from China to Mongolia (some of those we found helpful are listed below), but up-to-date information is always handy. We crossed on 2nd June 2017. It is of course possible to fly from Beijing, and many other Chinese cities, to Ulaanbaatar. It…

Pandamonium

Growing up I had a certain fondness for giant pandas. Others may use the words infatuation or obsession, and point to the bin bags full of stuffed toys and other paraphernalia in the loft at my parents’ house as evidence, but it was really just a passing phase of a mere 15 years or so….

The Great Wall of China: Hiking and Camping

Whether it can actually be seen from space or not, there is only one way to properly appreciate the Great Wall of China, and that is to stand on it. Better still, walk along it, or sleep on it. Even before you consider its age, length, purpose, or the number of people involved in building…

Chinese Parklife

Temple of Heaven Park, Beijing, Saturday morning, 8am. Jetlag has us up and about early, and in plenty of time to witness an extraordinary aspect of Chinese culture: Parklife. The large park is packed with Beijingers. Individuals, small groups, large groups; young people, old people; some in tatty old tracksuits, some immaculately turned-out and made-up….

Motatapu Off-road Marathon

After the New Plymouth half-marathon in October, our friend/boss/second mother in Taranaki, Jo, somehow managed to convince us that we needed a new challenge to focus our minds and encourage us to keep fit. We allowed ourselves to be signed up for the Motatapu Off-road Marathon, a remarkably scenic, and correspondingly hilly, event run between…

Routeburn Track

The New Zealand Great Walks can be expensive undertakings. Quite apart from geographical challenges – getting to start points and from end points – the increasing popularity of the walks is pushing up the prices of the Department of Conservation (DOC) huts and campsites. The two ends of the Routeburn Track are 325km apart by…

Mount Aspiring National Park

Rees Track, Cascade Saddle and Matukituki Valley If I had to have a regret about our time in New Zealand, it could be that we did not spend more time in Mt Aspiring National Park. Part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site which makes up most of the bottom left corner of New Zealand,…

Kepler Track

We were in the Fjordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau looking for a good walk to do when we thought we would check the online booking system for the Great Walk huts and campsites. Normally the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler tracks, all three of them in Fjordland National Park, get booked up well…

Abel Tasman Coastal Track

  We were¬†told in our first week in New Zealand that if a Kiwi tells you something will be ‘busy as’,¬†you should not believe them and go anyway. They live in a country 50 per cent bigger than the UK, with one fifteenth of the population (roughly four million), and most have never been on…

A Home From Home

About six months ago Gillian and I bought our first home together. Since then we have had a lot of questions but very few visitors. This post aims to correct this state of affairs. The Story of Sam We picked up Sam, our 1997 Toyota Estima, from a nice chap called Anthony in Christchurch. He…

Lake Waikaremoana

Lake Waikaremoana (why-carra-mo-arna, or something like that) sits within Te Urewera, a large, remote, densely forested area near the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The Waikaremoana Great Walk follows the western shore of the lake for 46km, sometimes hugging the lake, sometimes climbing high above it through the bush. Having watched the weather…

Whanganui River Journey

We are two people who like ticking things off. The sort of people who will put ‘write to-do list’ at the top of a to-do list, so we can tick it off when we have finished. So, obviously, when we read about New Zealand’s nine ‘Great Walks’, we thought we had better start ticking them…