Oceania summary

We passed the six month mark in Oceania when we lost a day crossing the International Date Line. I cannot believe it has gone so fast. It feels like only yesterday that we arrived in Panama City.

We spent nearly six weeks in four Oceanic countries (French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, New Zealand and Australia) and it was the highlight of the trip so far. Full details of exactly where we visited can be found here.

Destination highlights (almost everywhere we went!)

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  • Exploring Bora Bora’s lagoon – spending the day cruising the the most amazing aquamarine water, snorkelling with sharks and giant fish and having lunch on a tiny uninhabited island

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  • The beautiful green peaks of Moorea – motorcycling and kayaking around the island to see the them from all angles

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  • Observing the Gallic influence across French Polynesia – locals shouting ‘bonjour’ from bicycles, baguettes on dashboards and gendarme directing traffic

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  • Cruising Aitutaki’s lagoon – even more stunning than Bora Bora – with the best cerulean colour I have ever seen and deep calm waters you could relax in all day

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  • Driving around the Margaret River region – not only amazing vineyards but also dolphin spotting and more amazing stretches of sand

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  • Spending time with friends from home in Sydney – so nice to have normal conversations that don’t start with “where are you from?” or “how long is your trip?”

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  • Stu and Morgan’s wedding in Sydney – it was an honour to be best man, the day went perfectly and the bride and groom looked ecstatic together

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General highlights

  • So much time spent in the water all over the continent, from the lagoons of French Polynesia and the Cook Islands to Wellington’s beaches and the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia
  • Beaches were uniformly stunning and amongst the best we’ve ever seen, not only in the Pacific but also in Western Australia
  • Good transport everywhere as we flew a lot but also not a cramped chicken bus or sweaty minivan in sight
  • After loving camping in the US, we decided to book another campervan around Exmouth and we enjoyed it just as much again
  • Decent accommodation everywhere, much better quality than the USA

 

Lowlights

  • Having to leave French Polynesia –  we could easily have stayed another two weeks and explored more of its 118 islands
  • Mostly poor food in French Polynesia and Cook Islands – a surprising lack of seafood (apart from dry tuna) and over-priced fresh food – a cauliflower was £8 in a shop
  • Getting bogged in sand the day before we had return the camper in Cape Range National Park
  • Not spending more time in Western Australia – but we’ve left loads more to explore on another trip
  • Flies in Australia – they are mental and get right in you eyes and won’t leave you alone
  • Getting pissed on by a cat – this happened to Becki while she was sleeping; when she realised, she was actually relieved she hadn’t wet herself!
  • Expensive and slow wifi – the first places on the trip where we have had to pay for wifi or it has been non-existent
  • Having hangovers in New Zealand and Australia – we barely drink more than a couple of beers per day so they were a horrible shock

 

Observations

  • As four island nations, all life is centred around the water (so much so they have waterproof notes so no need to empty your pockets before you go in the sea)
  • How underdeveloped the Pacific islands were, compared to our expectations
  • Lots of Cook Islanders live or have lived in New Zealand – the countries have a ‘free association’ allowing freedom of labour movement
  • Wine in New Zealand and Australia is not snobby, like it can be in the UK or Europe – everyone drinks it and it’s cheap as beer
  • Western Australia is super remote – you would drive for hours without seeing another car and when you do you give them a little wave
  • Separate booze shops as alcohol is not sold in supermarkets
  • Public BBQs everywhere in New Zealand and Australia – on beaches, in parks and throughout campsites

 

Food and drink highlights

  • One good seafood meal (in an amazing setting) in French Polynesia

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  • Gouging on French cheese and red wine on our balcony in French Polynesia

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  • Delicious selection of local food (served on a banana leaf) on our lagoon cruise in Bora Bora

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  • Tasty coffee in both New Zealand and Australia, the joint home (they disagree over who invented it) of the flat white
  • Home cooking in Wellington – Lorna made a cracking chili con carne and a delicious BBQ

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  • Amazing breakfast and brunch culture also in New Zealand and Australia – so many versions of eggs Benedict – I was in heaven

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  • The traditional Christmas dinner we cooked in Margaret River (as we thought we were unlikely to have one in Thailand) – rack of lamb, roasties, carrots, parsnips, sprouts with bacon, broccoli and mint sauce.

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  • Lamb in general, we hadn’t had it anywhere since leaving the UK so indulged wherever we could

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Favourite photos (we could literally put all of our photos here)

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Huahine, French Polynesia
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Bora Bora, French Polynesia
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Moorea, French Polynesia
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Moorea (with Tahiti in the background), French Polynesia
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Aitutaki, Cook Islands
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Aitutaki, Cook Islands
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Aitutaki, Cook Islands
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Aitutaki, Cook Islands
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Coral Bay, Australia
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Coral Bay, Australia
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Cape Range National Park, Australia
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Margaret River, Australia
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Margaret River, Australia
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Sydney, Australia

Next stop: Thailand

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Zoe says:

    Happy New Year to you both…! Zoe x

    1. Jack Solesbury says:

      thanks Zoe, same to you and Harry. x

  2. Loved reading about your Oceanic experiences, and really like your photos. Here’s hoping the next 6 months are just as fabulous xx

  3. Jack Solesbury says:

    thanks Vic, how are you and Si? x

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