Posts Tagged ‘fish’

29th December
written by Justin
Tropical Paradise

Tropical Paradise

For Part Two of my Last Big Thing, I wanted to make great use of our scuba certifications from Thailand and go down into the deep again.  This time it would be off the eastern tip of Borneo.  I wanted to go to the world-famous Sipadan site, a volcanic island that drops down to ocean depths of 800 or more meters in a very short distance, but didn’t plan ahead enough to go.  Sipadan is now under regulation, and it appears that the best scuba shops don’t get nearly as many permits as some of the shops that are, say, generous to the local government.  We wanted to go with Scuba Junkie (no relation to Scuba Junction from Koh Tao) which had a great reputation and a beautiful island resort at a great price – but they couldn’t get us permits for the famous spot.  So we dived beautiful Mabul Island instead, and while it may not have had huge pelagics in town it did amaze us with beautiful wildlife! (more…)

5th August
written by Justin

Everything we’d heard about Slovenia told us that we should not just stick to Ljubljana – we needed to get out to the countryside. So, on the recommendation of a fellow hosteler, we set our sights on the small country town of Bohinj, a 2 hour bus ride from the capital.  The direction we headed (NNW for the crossword puzzle geeks out there) took us into the Julian Alps section of Slovenia, a mountainous paradise with lakes and hiking and everything you could want!

Bled Lake and Castle

Bled Lake and Castle

In fact, on the way to Bohinj we passed another retreat town well-known to Slovenians called Bled.  There is a rather large lake with a super castle perched on a rocky overlook on the lake.  Unfortunately we had to pick one or the other but we will leave Bled to another trip.  It appeared much more built-up and touristy than our final destination: Bohinj!

The View from our Hotel

The View from our Hotel


24th June
written by Justin

After seeing Edinburgh for a little bit, we decided to see my old college friend who now lives in Oban.  This is a small port town north of Glasgow on the west coast of Scotland, and not far from all the famed Scottish isles.  It’s a beautiful place!

Oban's Coastline

Oban's Coastline


15th May
written by Hazel

We enjoyed our beach relaxation time in Paraty so much that we decided to head about 40 minutes south to Trindade, a tiny town known for having really incredible beaches.  And they were perfect.

Justin on the beach in Trindade

Justin on the beach in Trindade


6th May
written by Hazel

Since I’m so incredibly behind on these blog posts this tour may not get quite as much attention as deserved.  However, Justin has already put up our wildlife report and I’ll sketch out a few of the tour details.

Firstly, we went to the Manu National Park Cultural Zone with Amazon Trails Peru and would absolutely recommend this company.  Since we only had a short time in Peru we did the shortest tour that got us close to the wildlife reserve.  We had been a little concerned that if we didn’t make it all the way into the reserve we wouldn’t see very much.  This turned out to not be a problem though and for the short amount of time we had we saw so, so much.

We also need to give a lot of credit to our guide, Carlos.  He was excellent – knew all the birds, found us all kinds of things to look at that we would have missed, and could tell us all about the plants and how they are used by the people who live in the jungle.  He also carried about 80 pounds of wildlife reference books (including one he had put together with his friends) and spent lots of time helping us record what we saw.  Awesome!

The tour was 4 days and 3 nights.  We started in Cusco and had a very long van ride out to the jungle.  On the way we stopped at some pre-Incan burial ruins.

Pre-Incan burial towers

Pre-Incan burial towers


1st May
written by Justin

Hazel and I just got back from our trip to the rainforest! We had a blast, and that will be explained in another post, but we also saw and photographed TONS of wildlife! In this post I’ll introduce you to most of the species we saw by name and picture!

We couldn’t have done this without the great help of our guide Carlos, who was working for Amazon Trails Peru our tour operator. He did a really spectacular job!

Even though this post has a TON of pictures, there are many more on SmugMug. Check out our BEST photos, and the REST of them!

Reptiles and Amphibians

I saw each of these on my second night walk in the jungle, except the last two which we found during a daytime walk:


31st March
written by Hazel
We were so excited to see my dad, Nigel, that we arrived at the airport really, really early.  It didn’t help that we had thought his flight got in an hour earlier than it actually did.  Everything went smoothly though and after a nice coffee at the airport cafe we met my dad and got our rental car!  I was amazed how much energy he had after a long flight and we set right off for Valparaiso, a town on the coast where we were spending our first three nights.

On the way we stopped off at a nature reserve for the first of many birdwatching expeditions.  My dad is an avid birdwatcher and we were determined to help him see as many of Chile’s birds as possible.  He was full of interesting information.  For example, there is less species variation in the southern hemisphere, so in all of Chile there are not many more species than on the small island near Seattle where he lives!  We took an informed bet as to how many species we would see in ten days.  I guessed 93, my dad guessed 115, and Justin was optimistic with a guess of 119.

This first stop was at the Reserva Nacional Lago Peñuelas and we had some good sightings.  There are additional bird photos if you click any of these for the link to the gallery.

Horses in the reserve

16th January
written by Justin

Tree Pose!

Tree Pose!

This photo was taken on one of the first “Trig” hikes we ever took. Trigs are little pyramids that New Zealanders put atop their hills so they can tell how far stuff is. I know, weird. But I guess it could work. Hazel is imitating the tree in the background in this photo.

Exploring a Massive Cave

Hazel discovered a gigantic cave at the top of one of our hill climbs. It was filled with stalactites! WoHoo! How far down can you go?!?

Franz Josef Glacier

This is a sweet pic of the river that flows out from under a glacier. Makes sense, eh?

Hooker Valley Track Bridge @ Mt. Cook

This is from one of the most beautiful alpine tracks we’ve walked on. A rickety bridge starts it off.

The Hut on Hooker Valley Track

A WC Hut in the middle of the track.

Glacial Stream @ Hooker Valley Track

A bright blue stream from glacial runoff in the middle of the track.

Glacial Lake @ Hooker Valley Track

Us + Glacial Lake

The lake at the bottom of the Hooker Glacier, a little less dramatic than Franz Josef. But it had its own serenity.

Ready for Stargazing @ Mt. John

Here’s what we were outfitted in before we went up to a summit to view stars. Not pictured are our socks-and-sandals.

Hazel Topping Key Summit

This was a really remarkable hike starting at the Divide on the way to Milford Sound. We got to the top of the mountain, and here is the proof!

Hazel's On A Boat

Obligatory “On a Boat” picture

Serenity on Doubtful Sound

This shows just how alone one can feel out in the boondocks of Fiordland. This picture looks out on the Tasman Sea.

Albatross on the Tasman Sea near the Thompson Sound

When we were about to start fishing, we were greeted by the friendly neighborhood ALBATROSS! So huge! The picture doesn’t do it justice but it must’ve had an 8 foot wingspan.

Hazel kissing her First Fish Ever

Finally. Hazel, after only 5 minutes of fishing in Proper Conditions catches her first fish, a Sea Perch. She was made to kiss it by our friendly captain Fiord — who said we wouldn’t get off the boat until Hazel caught her first fish. Luckily it was a good day!

The Shark Andre Caught

The Shark #2

This was huge. And amazing. And scary. Basically Andre was a hero.

Hazel and her First Fish Ever

Since we hadn’t had enough of her first fish, we got it out of the “to be dinner” bucket and photographed it again :)

Sunset on Doubtful Sound

Hazel's Eye reflecting Doubtful Sound

Sunset on Doubtful Sound #2

Sunset on Doubtful Sound #3

Moon + Sunset on Doubtful Sound

These photos reflect the beauty of the Sounds at sunset. Also how grateful we were to finally crawl into bed after seeing dolphins, pulling up lobster pots, fishing, kayaking, and eating. Did I mention eating?

Morning on Doubtful Sound

Morning on Doubtful Sound #2

The infamous Morning After. This one wasn’t so bad!
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Hazel Perched on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Hazel Conquering the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Hazel Walking Into The Light

These photos represent our initial experience of Tongariro — a steep hike up rocky volcanic ground, only to cross a huge, barren crater.

Tongariro's Red Crater

Then we found out what a real crater looks like.

Us Atop the Red Crater

The Red crater was also the highest altitude we attained on the Crossing, a whopping 1886 meters high!

Tongariro's Emerald Lakes

Tongariro's Emerald Lakes #2

This is the icing on the cake, after peaking Red Crater you get to lope down loose soil to see the beautiful Emerald Lakes.

Blustery Wind and Hazel the Photographer

We had gale-force winds up at the top, and were worried about falling into a crater almost the whole time!

Hazel + Lake Rotoaira + Lake Taupo

Here’s the view at the end of the Crossing — serene and pastoral. Mission Accomplished.

Hope you liked my Best Of – this is a great selection from the photos I’ve taken so far!

9th January
written by Hazel

It has been a while since I’ve managed an update.  We’ve had a busy and amazing time recently and have been very, very lucky.

Since the last post we took the southern scenic route around the bottom of the South Island.  This took us through the Catlans region and then up into Fiordland.  All in all we’ve had pretty good weather (except at Milford Sound), so we’ve been able to do some really good hikes and see lots of incredible scenery!

Beach in the Catlans at Sunset

We saw more penguins, did a beautiful river walk and met some incredibly nice people who shared their campfire one night.  There are loads of waterfalls in the Catlans, so I had a chance to practice taking some waterfall photos.

We had a huge adventure getting to Milford Sound as we realized part-way that we would not have enough gas in our tiny tank to make it back if we went all the way to the Sound.  There is no gas anywhere along the route, so running out would be pretty annoying, as would turning back and not seeing it.  We found ourselves at a hut where a few of the hikes start and managed to talk our way onto a bus that was passing through.  It ended up being really good because the road was incredibly scenic (despite the rain) and we both got to enjoy it instead of having to think about the very windy road.  It also ended up giving us only about 1.5 hours at the sound, but we didn’t mind that because we were saving our boat trip for Doubtful Sound and it was really poor visability.  We paid the bus driver and he told us “this never happened” and we went on our way.

The road to Milford is just incredible, with waterfalls everywhere and the steepest cliffs – highly recommend a whole day just to explore that road.

The next day we did a hike up to Key Summit (still before getting gas) and got some incredible views of the valleys and mountains.  I’m not going to have time to get pictures up, but I really will try in the next few days!

Our boat trip to Doubtful Sound was absolutely AWESOME!  We went with Fiordland Expeditions and it totally exceeded anything I had imagined.

Doubtful Sound

We had all the lobster and blue cod we could eat.  Which it turns out is quite a lot!  We also got to catch both of these things and they were cooked fresh right there on the boat.  I caught not only my first fish, but three more as well!  We actually went all the way out to the Tasman Sea for fishing and it was totally unreal (unreel?) how easy it was to hook a fish.  Except for the guy who caught a 5 foot shark!  Absolutely incredible!

We also went kayaking, did a little stargazing and Justin jumped off the ship’s helicopter pad.  I jumped off something a little lower, but it was awesome that we had such perfect weather that we could swim.  Everyone kept saying that they hardly ever have that much sun there.

But that wasn’t even the end of the seafood.  The kind people who shared their campfire invited us to their beautiful home to try Paua (abalone!).  So straight off the boat we drove back across the country and had another amazing seafood feast and wonderful evening of conversation (and showers and laundry!) at their house.  Much to my surprise I really liked the Paua and ate both strips of it and ground up patties. It’s a pretty off-putting black and blue color on the outside, but it tastes delicious!  We also had fish and chips style blue cod.  It’s amazing how generous people are as we would never have been able to try Paua like that.  Chris knows how and where to dive for them and snatched them that same day off the rocks!  You aren’t allowed to tank dive to get them, so it takes quite a bit of know-how.  We’re hoping that one day we’ll be able to return the favor, but we were having trouble thinking of truly American food besides hot dogs and twinkies.

My internet time is almost run out, even though I could go on and on about the last week.  We’re on our way back to the North Island now and going into intensive Spanish practice mode to get ready for South America at the end of the month.