New Zealand

A Month in New Zealand continued, Te Anau, Fiordland,

4 days 3 nights in Te Anau, Fiordland, New Zealand  Pictures and top travel tips

We arrive in Te Anau as the sun begins to fall in the sky and casts a shimmering glitter over Lake Te Anau. Checking into our motel we are less than impressed (Parkland Motel), but having left it late to book this is virtually all that is left as it is high season with virtually everywhere fully booked. On that count I guess we are lucky to have found accommodation, but this place, although clean and well located, is seriously dated and overpriced and on reflection would count as the worst value of the entire trip.


Top Tip For accommodation, Te Anau for Fiordland, book as far in advance as you can.

Ok, so putting that aside, Te Anau itself is a nice small town with a good range of amenities, including some good cafes, bars, restaurants and a good supermarket. For my recommendations see links to bottom of this post.

After checking in we head into the small town in search of information and tickets for Doubtful and Milford Sounds. Arriving at the i-Site (You will find these centers in most tourist destinations in New Zealand, a great place to get both information and book tickets for trips and attractions.

With the aid of the very friendly and helpful advisor Laura Needs we settle on a dual package deal covering Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound and receive a discount for the double booking. If you are using this i-Site to book and purchase tickets see if Laura Needs is around as she is a fantastic advisor, with great patience and care in the way she deals with all visitors. Following Laura’s advice, we booked the Real Journeys tour for Doubtful Sound and Southern Discoveries for the Milford Sound trip and I can highly recommend both, although the Doubtful sound trip was definitely the better of the two, but hardly surprising as it cost a lot more money. The main difference between the packages and tours, Doubtful Sound is virtually an all-day experience on the water, whilst Milford Sound is about one and three quarter hours on the water. If I had to book again personally I would probably just book Doubtful Sound and give Milford boat trip a miss, but still do a road trip from Te Anau to the Milford Sound terminal as it involves some of the most breath-taking scenery in New Zealand.


Trip 1 Doubtful Sound

We are up at the crack of dawn and on the road by 7am. The itinerary starts at the pickup point at Lake Manapouri. Even though the boat does not leave until 830am and the distance from Te Anau to   Manapouri is a mere 22 kilometres we are keen not to take any chances, given that we are unfamiliar with the route, or road. We needn’t have worried as the road is easy and straight, although heavy with early morning misty fog. There is also a good café on site serving decent coffee and sandwiches. We also managed to snatch an hour of the Paul Henry show as we readied ourselves for the day.

The Doubtful Sound tour consists of two parts, with the first boat taking us out onto Lake Manapouri as the sun began to rise and clouds gently broke and cleared. This is followed by a trip across New Zealand’s most expensive road leading up and over Wilmot Pass, it also stopped along the way providing the perfect opportunity to view and gasp at the first sight of Doubtful Sound glistening far below. It has to be said that all staff on this trip were first rate, extremely helpful, knowledgeable and in parts funny, in particular our bus driver who took us on the Wilmot Pass stretch of the journey and kept everyone amused and laughing with his repartee. Equally, the compere/local expert, on the Doubtful Sound cruise gave a knowledgeable and enthusiastic commentary throughout the trip.

I would have to say the highlight of this trip for me, and one of the most memorable of my many travels, was when the captain announced a request for 5 minutes of silence, when the boats engines were cut and all passengers and crew just sat, or stood, still and quiet. Rarely have I ever experienced such, sheer calm, uninterrupted and beautiful silence.


Lake Manapouri Fiordland New Zealand



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New Zealand

A Month In New Zealand- Christchurch-Dunedin-Te Anaua

A picture od Dunedin Town House with the setting sun creating a halo aeffcet behing the clock tower

New Zealand road trip, Christchurch to Dunedin and 1 night stopover then Dunedin to Te Anau-Fiordland via Invercargill

Leaving Christchurch we head out onto the open road heading south for Dunedin and our first real taste of life on the road in New Zealand. As we set off for Dunedin little did we know we were but a day away from discovering Paul Henry. Looking back I know realise how fortunate we were to have made this discovery so early on in our trip, but more on that later.

Driving in New Zealand New Zealand drives on the left, great for us as we are visiting from the UK where we also drive on the left, but challenging for anyone not used to driving on this side of the road. Don’t just take my word for it though, as a couple of days after we departed Christchurch a Chinese driver caused a very serious accident by driving on the wrong side of the road at high speed around a blind corner, causing serious injury to New Zealander. In fact, of all the bad driving we experience in our month long travel I can guarantee that at least 80% was the result of very poor road driving skills displayed by visitors from mainland China.

Don’t expect motorways, or dual carriageways although there are a few duals c’s, instead most routes consist of 2 lane highways with passing lanes every 4 kilometres or so. That said driving in New Zealand is a pretty pleasant and relatively stress free experience, due in no small part to low traffic levels. In fact, the only time in our entire trip that we encountered any form of road traffic delay was in and around Auckland, but again, nothing when compared to a pretty typical UK road.

Driving time from Christchurch to Dunedin is about four and a half hours, but allowing for a more leisurely drive, with a few stops along the way, give it five and a half. The other great thing we discovered about New Zealand is that virtually everywhere you stop they will have real coffee, made fresh, with a proper coffee matchine. A real plus, if like me, you like your coffee fresh and strong.

The speed limits on most long distance roads is 100kph, which at about 60 miles an hour,  which is lower than the UK max.

All in all follow these top 4 Top tips and you should enjoy a stress free driving experience.

Top 4 driving tips: (1) Check you’re hire car, or van, thoroughly for any and all faults prior to setting off from collection (don’t assume it will be fine) including looking under the car for any signs of damage to underside, wheels, or bodywork,  (2) Drive on the left (3) Obey local speed limits. (4) Check your fuel and fill your tank prior to departing on any long road journeys, as the next petrol station may be a lot further away than you think.

Top Tip Do not be tempted to break the 100k speed limit in New Zealand, the Police here are vigilant with many Police cars stationed along all major routes, usually hidden waiting to catch anyone tempted to break the limit. You are here to relax and enjoy and that should extend to a leisurely and laid back approach to driving and low speeds. The only other thing to watch out for is in a lot of the more remote and rural parts of New Zealand many locals seem to have a dislike for turning on their lights in the dark, which led to one or two hairy encounters for us along the way.



St Paul’s Cathedral, Dunedin, New Zealand

Although the primary interest for most tourists visiting New Zealand is the landscape and the great outdoors, some of it towns and cites are well worth a day or two of any visitors time, Dunedin is, to my mind, one of those place. It is also the gateway to the Otago Peninsula and on to the stunning coastline of Invercargill.

Dunedin is a charming city with strong links and connections to Scotland and indeed much of its architecture would not look out of place in Edinburgh, whilst the Gaelic transliteration of the name Dunedin is Edinburgh. Equally, a lot of the architectural colour would not look out of place in parts of the USA and much of it reminded me of San Francisco.


Staircase detail Museum Modern Art Dunedin

Another architectural gem of note, the train station is a must see and following that if you continue along to the end of the street there is also a charming Japanese garden. The Toitū Otago Settlers Museum Dunedin is another place worthy of a visit, as is the museum of art, for the buildings architecture if nothing else. I loved the lines of the staircase pictured above.


The Old Railway station Dunedin New Zealand

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New Zealand

A Month in New Zealand Travel Stories and Top Travel Tips

Botanic Garden Christchurch New Zealand

Travel-Wise Travel-Well Travel-There with DK-Travelpix


A Month In New Zealand 

DK Travel pics visited New Zealand earlier this year and over the next few weeks will be posting a series of picture posts and top travel tips documenting all the places we visited, but in the meantime and to get things off to a flying start here are my first top travel tips for anyone planning a trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth. or, to quote Paul Henry, welcome to another day in Paradise. Who’s Paul Henry I hear you ask? More on that later.

First Stop Christchurch

Although I had, like everyone else, heard on the news about the tragic earthquake that hit Christchurch on February 22nd 2011 nothing quite prepares you for the sight of the devastation left behind, particularly if, like me, it’s the first time you have ever been to an earthquake hit place. Some 5 years on the pace of the rebuild is slow, with many factions apparently fighting over what to keep and what to lose along with slow fund releases by the insurances companies involved, further hampering the rebuild. In its place there is an evident strong resilience amongst local people to invent and overcome as witnessed by the fabulous cardboard cathedral erected as a replacement for the famous Christchurch cathedral, which is in a state of propped up ruin. The use of converted shipping containers is, to my mind, another fantastically creative innovation which has seen shops, restaurants and bars pop up, and in so doing help to revitalise city life. The Botanic gardens, located on the edge of town, provides a green oasis in which to while away sometime and is a must see. All in all despite the devastation wreaked by the earthquake no visit to New Zealand would be complete without at least a one day visit to Christchurch.

As if to emphasise the true resilience of the locals we heard reports of another reasonably big earthquake about a week after we had left Christchurch, occurring on a holiday and a warm sunny day many on their way to the beach for the day carried on regardless!



A forlorn spectacle hanging in the balance The Famous and Original Christchurch cathedral resembles something more akin to a disemboweled alien creature.


Symbols of destruction and renewal archway to Bridge of Remembrance. Currently undergoing reconstruction and closed to the public.



Tip 1 Vehicle rental

Whether you are planning on hiring a car or camper van it is essential to book your vehicle as early as possible as there is a limited number to go round, the later you leave it the narrower the choice available. We toyed with the idea of a camper van but after speaking to many who had, and given that we planned on being on the road for 30 days, in the end we opted for car hire as this allowed for greater freedom and flexibility of accommodation choice. Many fellow travellers told us that in their experience a van was great fun for the first week but after that cabin fever tended to set in. All in all a camper van is really not necessary as New Zealand is very well set up for road travel with lots of motels and hotels to choose from in all locations. Bear in mind though that these can fill up quite rapidly in peak season, again forward planning is essential. I did my research using Booking.Com saving a shortlist for each place into my next trip folder and then booked a few days prior to arrival in each destination. We pretty much got the places that were  first choices on our list except for Milford Sound area where we ended up in a pretty second rate motel. That’s not to say there was anything particularly wrong with it apart from being a little dated and overpriced in comparison to other places we had stayed at along the way.

Top Tip When arranging to hire a vehicle try you’re very best to secure a diesel car, or van, as diesel is half the price of petrol on both islands this will save a small fortune when you think about driving for a month.

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Weekender Llŷn Peninsula Gwynedd North Wales

August Bank Holiday 2016 Llŷn Peninsula Gwynedd North Wales

The Llŷn Peninsula extends some 30 miles into the Irish Sea and I am told on a very clear day you can see the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. In my humble opinion its a place of outstanding natural beauty. Being on the gulf stream this is also one of the sunniest places in the UK. From glorious blue, to broody grey, the changing light adds to the drama of this stunning landscape.

Day 1

Llyn Peninsula Gwynedd Wales (2) by David Keegan PhotographyCraggy rocks atop a hill afford a view through purple heaters and fading grassy mounds to mountains beyond.

Llyn Peninsula Gwynedd Wales (3) by David Keegan PhotographyBeetle on lichen covered rock. This one has some really cool twists!

On a visit to The Llŷn peninsula in Gwynedd Wales over the August bank holiday weekend I couldn’t help thinking how much the landscape and topography reminded me of Cornwall. That set me to thinking that somehow this area of Wales is missing a trick. This was my first visit to this part of Wales and to be honest it was never really on my radar prior to this, nor had I heard very much about it. In fact it was a small feature in the Sunday Times travel supplement that caught my attention and made me do a bit more research, eventually leading to a desire to visit. What is missing is the crowds one would expect in Cornwall and although the weather was superb over the bank holiday weekend nowhere was what I would consider packed. Yes Abersoch may well be the exception to that rule and is firmly set on the Cheshire radar but even here what’s on offer is nothing special, and is in fact the one place I would avoid as it’s a bit trashy if I am to be totally honest, as well as being probably the least interesting destination that this area of coast has to offer.


Llyn Peninsula Gwynedd Wales (4) by David Keegan PhotographySweeping views through rusted bracken and purple heaters across fields of verdant green to oceans blue and green to the tip of the peninsula and on to Bardsey Island.

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The Long Weekender Oslo, Norway Part 3


Day 3 Oslo 

Day 3 starts early  with the ferry to the Bygdøy peninsula which operates operates between March to October. More info and links for ferry at the end of post
The trip on the ferry is included in the Oslo pass again making this a fantastic investment for any travel to Oslo.
Departure is every 20-30 minutes from Pier 3 by the City Hall. We caught the first fery at 8:55 as this was to be the last day of our visit we wanted to see and do as much as possible.
Leave the ferry at the first stop  Dronningen and taking about 20 minutes to get there its a very pleasant trip across. (Norwegian Museum of Cultural History/ Folk Museum, Viking Ship Museum and Oscarshall).


Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 3 (0)

View from the ferry back to City hall

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 3 (1)

Viking Museum

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 3 (2)

Viking museum. Fascinating place full of preserved artifacts and Viking boats and things.

Norwegian Folk Museum

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 3 (3)

For me this museum had to be one of my favorite places to visit as part of my Oslo long weekender. Packed full of fascinating glimpses in Norway’s past, and near past, history all brought to life with full size replicas and originals of the lives and living places of the Norwegians. Fascinating and deserves a good few hours of any visitors time to see it all as the grounds are quite extensive. More info on this at link to bottom of this post.

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The Long Weekender Oslo, Norway Part 2

Day 2: The Long Weekender

Top Travel Tips; Places to See Things to Do

The day starts with a visit to the magnificent Vigeland sculpture park a must see for anyone visiting Oslo and probably the best collection of sculpture I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. This is the worlds largest sculpture park to be created by one sculptor and i don’t think i have ever seen or heard of anything like it before. Containing over 200 works created over a lifetime by Gustav Vigeland in a mixture of mediums from granite, wrought iron and bronze, it is a truly unique place.  There is also a vitality and life affirming charm to the quality and scope of the works that can but make you smile whilst the park itself is a great place to spend a day have a picnic, if the weather permits, weather was great when I visited in May! I have included a link with more info on the park to the bottom of this post.

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 2 (1)A Statue of Gustav Vigeland stands in a landscaped area at the entrance to the park.

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 2 (2)The wonderful vista from the highest point in the park.

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 2 (3)Granite sculpture in the park

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 2 (4)Seagulls take flight from one of the water fountains

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The Long Weekender Oslo, Norway Part 1

9 Top Travel Tips for Visitors to Oslo, Norway

Or put another way, things you may want to consider before travelling to Oslo in Norway


The long weekender a 3 part picture post

Day 1

Top Tip (1) For travelers from the UK It’s very expensive, at probably about twice the price of the UK average for food and possibly 3 times the UK price for a drink with a bottle of beer costing about a tenner

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 1 (1)

The Museum of Modern Art as seen from the water, with viewing lift in background. Yopu pay a small fee to ride to the top of this free standing lift shaft which offers pretty good views.

Top Tip (2) If travelling on a budget you may be surprised to find buying in  supermarket is generally no cheaper than eating out, but tap water is free and restaurants quite happy to provide it, even adding sliced lemon and cucumber in some places.

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 1 (2)

Picture of one of the current exhibits in the Museum of modern art, pretty funky place and some very interesting pieces as well as some downright bizarre installation including a gold life size porcelain of Micheal Jackson with chimp and a collection of heads of what is supposed to be Tom Cruise but looks nothing like him!

Top Tip (3) If your flight leaves you arriving late at night from the UK, as ours did with Ryanair from Manchester, there is a bus from the Airport to the City and is the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city, but try and choose accommodation that doesn’t involve a Taxi ride to your final destination. We took a 10 minute taxi ride and paid about £25!

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 1 (4)

I particularly liked this pieces which is a shelf of books with books made of thin sheet steel.

Top Tip (4) If there is one must see destination for the short break weekender in Oslo and there are quite a few noteworthy places to visit it has to be the sculpture park, it’s unique and outstanding.

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 1 (5)

To the foreground of this picture is a small beach where locals go swimming when the weather permits brilliant public space so close to the city.

Top Tip (5) Whatever budget traveler you may be get an Oslo pass, worth its weight in gold as it includes all public transport, entry to various museums and attractions, including the ferry to visit the Viking museum.

Weeekender in Oslo by DKTravelPix Day 1 (6)

I loved this tidy and uniform display of Violas against the outside wall of the museum.

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The Roaches, Staffordshire, The Peak District

Day Tripping in The Peak District

Having lived in Manchester for many years now and having spent any spare time, and nice weather weekends, exploring the Lake District and The Peak District I felt sure I had found, visited, and seen, pretty much every place of note. How wrong was I. Recently whilst preparing for the visit of some friends from London I fired off an email to Geoffrey, one of my visitors, asking where himself and his partner Alan might like to visit, should the weather be favourable.

My suggestion was either to be the Lake District, or The Peak District, both being a comfortable drive from Manchester for a day trip. When Geoff replied saying he would like to visit The Roaches I was slightly confused, initially thinking he had friends he wanted to visit. Inquiring further, he told me it was a place in The Peaks he had visited with his brother some 20 years ago on a bike trip around the UK. Needless to say I was intrigued, and more so, stunned, when we visited. A breath-taking and beautiful piece of landscape steeped in fine history.

The Roaches


On a clear day like this one the views across the countryside to as far as Cheshire and a wondrous sight.


Weather worn gritsone stands sculptural amid this landscape


This is also a very popular spot for mountaineering with many climbers using it for training purposes.  The British Mountaineering Council also lease the Don Whillans Hut used as accommodation for its climbers.


Geoff a dance movement therapist in London likes to connect with the landscape find out more by clicking the link at the base of this post.

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Europe Ireland

The Road To Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

The Road To Lough Dan

Day Tripping in The Wicklow Mountains

Hidden away and down stony lanes, over grassy hills, banked by screens of bracken fern, walk through the verdant ever changing weather and vista to reach the quiet shores of Lough Dan in Co Wicklow, Ireland.

The Road To Lough Dan, A Picture postcard by David Keegan (20)

Along the path, snatched glimpses of the Cloghoge River catch the eye, until it banks curve and wend to greet you as you arrive at the lake shores and the abandoned and forlorn white house. Meanwhile in the fields below herd of Sika deer pause to look before returning to graze.


The Road To Lough Dan, A Picture postcard by David Keegan (2)

The Road To Lough Dan, A Picture postcard by David Keegan (3)

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Asia Malaysia

Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia.

The Archipelago of Langkawi Malaysia

The Island of Pulau Langkawi is a tropical paradise located some 30 kilometers off the northwest coast of Malaysia. Considered the jewel in the crown of the state of Kedah it is in fact an archipelago of some 104 island in the Andaman Sea, with Pulau Langkawi being the largest inhabited in the Archipelago. Many refer to it as the Hawaii of South East Asia, but to me that title does not do it justice and having visited both I prefer Langkawi for the diversity of it landscape, wildlife and rain-forest. Mainstream tourism tends to concentrate around Pantai Cenang beach area and although this is a good base when visiting the island, being close to all the best eating and drinking establishments, there is so much more to explore and see not far beyond and all within short driving distances. I would recommend if you intend visiting Langkawi that you hire a car for at least some of your stay, if not all, as this will allow you to explore the Island more fully and freely. Driving in Langkawi is also a much easier and safer experience than what you might experience on mainland Malaysia. Being a duty free island expect to find lots of cheap tobacco, booze and chocolates.

Langkawi Malaysia in pictures by DKTravelpix (16)Offering a range of accommodation types from the cheapest budget places Langkawi also plays host to some top class and secluded luxury resorts, with the most highly rated probably being the Datai and closely followed by the Danna and the Four Seasons Langkawi. Links to all can be found at the end of this post.

A couple of places not to be missed I would suggest are the Langkawi Wildlife Park, and my favourite Gunung Raya.

Telaga Harbour Marina is also well worth a visit with a nice stretch of usually fairly quiet white sand beach just beyond the harbour area, although it’s not great for swimming as the as the base sand is muddy and slimy, I presume from pollution. There is also free parking on the beach edge at this place.

Langkawi Malaysia in pictures by DKTravelpix (1)

Langkawi Malaysia in pictures by DKTravelpix (2)

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