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Pacific Coast Highway Stop 3: Pismo Beach

On our way down from Monterey we stopped off briefly at Mckensie Falls part of the Big Sur national park.  It was stunning and so cool, this being California in the aftermath of an earthquake the debris were pushed into to sea eventually creating a beach.  Meaning the falls stopped falling into the sea and onto a beach, Mother Nature is pretty damn impressive!

This was the view from our hotel room… Walked into the room after another stunning drive along the PCH and I decided that I was never leaving a place with views like this.

Our only full day in Pismo we walked along the beach from our hotel to little Pismo town, it was fairly similar to Monterey but on a smaller scale, lots of cute little shops. 

We had dinner that night at the Ventana Grill which had the most incredible view, we got a table by the window which over looked the water and it was like a shelf of water that went on for mile and miles. Beautiful we were lucky enough to arrive just as the sun was setting which made the view even more incredible. The food was pretty god as well.

All in all Pismo was a lovely chilled middle point to our trip.  Next stop Santa Barbara.

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Pacific Coast Highway Stop 2: Monterey

We left San Francisco early and got our first real glimpse of the PCH in all it’s glory!!  It was a stunning drive, we drove past so many beaches on the way out of San Fran not something I’d ever associated with NoCal before.

We got to Monterey early evening after a few stops along the way to take photos of the glorious scenery, after checking in to our hotel we went for a wonder down to Old Fisherman’s wharf to find some food and see what Monterey was all about.

This was both of our first times in Monterey and after San Fran felt much more like we were on holiday.  We had dinner in a restaurant with amazing views out over the marina where the cutest little otter was swimming around.  All in all a great start to our couple of days in Monterey.

Next morning we headed to aquarium – because when in Monterey go to the aquarium – it was fascinating there was a massive exhibit(?) on jelly fish I had no idea there were so many different types!! Although the highlights had to be finding Dory, the Otters (so cute) and watching the penguins swim under water it was so cool!!

We wandered back into town via the Cannery row, Monterey was famous for sardines once upon a time.  There were some cool shops and monuments dedicated to all the factory workers.

That afternoon we went into Carmel which is the next city over, it’s beautiful like stepping back in time it’s a complete time warp so quaint with some lovely vintage shops and a stunning beach.  Just a shame it wasn’t quite warm enough to go for a swim.

The famous 17 mile Pebble Beach connects Carmel to Monterey so we drove back that way and saw some amazing beaches and massive houses was an insight into how the other half live.

The next day we left Monterey and head down to Pismo Beach stop 3 on our trip.

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Pacific Coast Highway – Stop 1 – San Francisco 

I’ve been extremely lax in updating this blog about the adventures I’ve been having whilst in NZ.  To make it up to you I’m finally getting around to blogging about my recent PCH (Pacific Coast Highway in California) road trip for those of you who follow me on Inst (86Kates) or Twitter (@justagirl08) here are the stories behind the pictures.

As little background information I did this two week road trip with my wonderful Mummy who I hadn’t seen since April last year.  She flew in from London, I flew in from Wellington and it was so lovely to see her and felt like no time had past It was also my Mum’s second time doing this particular road trip she and my Grandma had done it in the 80s so for her it was interesting to see how things had changed in 30 year.

We had 3 nights in San Francisco so our first full day was spent shopping – when in America – we hit all the Union Square shops and got some good bargains in the morning.  Then we sent the afternoon down at Fisherman’s Wharf which was heaving, this was my third trip to San Fran and I had never seen it so busy down there. It was obviously a lot busier than my Mum remembered but we still had a good wonder, saw the Sea Lions and my mum tried some of the Clam Chowder (I don’t eat meat or fish).

Our second and last full day in San Fran we got our tourist on and did an open top tour of the city, to get around as I wanted to do the bridge and my Mum wanted to go to Sausalito a city just over the bridge where we stopped and had a coffee.  It was a really fun day we got to learn a bit more about the city drive over the Golden Gate bridge and see Sausalito which is a beautiful little city just the other side of the bridge, where you get stunning views over the bay to San Fran, and obviously not forgetting ‘The Rock’ that is clearly visible in the middle of the bay.

Our next stop was Monterey.

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North Island Road Trip Day 6:

We spent a few days in Wellington, on the first morning we went to the National Museum Te Papa, it was massive 7 levels of exhibitions everyone I’d met had said they loved Wellington and Te Papa is a must when there.  We spent hours in there it was interesting as they exhibitions on all the Maori culture along with exhibitions about the first settlers in New Zealand from Europe and had a time line right up until modern day kiwis.  

My favourite exhibition was a photography one which was an insight into Kiwi life in the late 70s/early 80s and some of the cultural events that happened during the time.  The photos were immaculate and really did give you a snap shot of life at that moment. All the other stuff was interesting as well and there was even a test to see how well you’d have done as a British captain bringing people over from Europe, I did pretty well in that maybe I’ve missed my calling in life?

That evening we decided to go up to the botanical gardens which involves getting a cable car.  The cable car journey was pretty fun it went through a couple of tunnels which had light displays as the cable cars passed through.  We were aiming to get up to the top for Sunset but got there just after though, which was a shame.  The views from the top were absolutely stunning though, you could see right out over the harbour.

Wellington is nick named windy Wellington and it lived up to its name when we were in the botanical gardens it was freezing at the top.  A guy from the hostel came with us and told us there was a free concert in the gardens somewhere, we could hear it but couldn’t find it which was a bit of shame, so we decided to head back down to the city as we were cutting it fine to catch the last cable car back.

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North Island Road Trip Day 5:

Spent a lovely couple of days in Art Deco Napier, known for it’s Mediterranean climate.  After changeable Taupo it was lovely to be somewhere consitantly sunny for a few days.

 The city is very designed and plays on the Art Deco theme there’s art on walls of flapper girls dancing and people dressed in their best 1920s/1930s finery, even the street signs, have been designed in the Art Deco style.

We did an hour long tour of the Art Deco quarter and got to learn a bit about the history of Napier and see the Art Deco buildings.  After an Earth Quake in 1931 flattened most of the CBD, the city decided to rebuild in the ‘modern style’ which at that time was Art Deco, Frontier and Spanish Mission Styles.  Walking around the CBD you do really see the mix of all three styles, although Art Deco was obviously favoured as there are Art Deco decorations on the Mission and Frontier buildings as well as the ones in the classic Deco style.

I loved Napier, the city has a lovely vibe to it, the people are so friendly and rightly so are very proud of their city and it’s heritage so much so that they have a festival every year dedicated to Art Deco and the 1930′s where everyone dresses up in their finest flapper girl and guy outfits.

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North Island Day 3:

We went to the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, which is famous for the Lady Knox Geyser that goes off every morning, one of the few Geyser’s in the world.  

We got there for about 10:00 in time to see a the Lady Knox Geyser go off, I’m not quite sure what a geyser is but basically there’s a lot of hot water bubbling under the surface of the Rock and when the company add something similar to soap to the water it sparks an eruption of boiling hot water.  It blasts out water up to 3. High and usually last from 5-30mins, it was very cool and not something I’m likely to see again unless I go to yellow stone in Montana as that has a geyser as well. 

The area also has a lot of thermal rock pools that you can do three walks around, a 30min, 40min or 75min walk we only did the 30min one as we were fairly tired from the night before, but some of the pools we saw were amazing they looked like something out of Jurassic park. 

 One called the Devils Ink pot was just a mass of what looked like bubbling tar but it was actually mud and some crude oil, there was a massive pool called artists pallet and it was all different colours, caused by sulphurs and other chemicals it’s just incredible to see what nature can do.  The last one was saw literally looked liked someone had poured a sherbet lemon into some water apparently the colours changed with the cloud cover.

For those actually wanting to know what a geyser is here’s the Wikipedia page.