Published: June 7th 2010April 19th 2010
Arrived in Auckland safely from Bangkok on April 15th, 2010. Now I read that the Thai army has sent troop in around the Silom Road in Bangkok which was the street near my Hostel.
Auckland is much colder than I used to in SE Asia. I developed a cold because of the combination of Jet lag, sleep deprivation and changes in weather.
Noted many Asian people in Auckland. Went to one Chinese BBQ place for dinner. They gave me such a big portion that I had to have a doggy bag to take home. Met this homeless man on the street and offered him my left over.
Finally got some response from my travel agency regarding the meeting place and time. They called me at 530 am to say that I will be picked up at 710am for the Adventure tour.
Met my guide from the tour, Alibarbar. and 3 other ladies joining the tour of the Bays of Island. We traveled via the East coast up to Paihia and got on the Dolphin Discoveries, the high speed Comtaran, out to the sea to the Urupukapuka Island and to stay at the Oteira Bay Resort for
the night. Along the way to the island, we saw a group of Bottlenose dolphins playing in the water. They came quite close to our boat and swimming under the boat. Apparently they like the feel of the current under the boat, sorted like a massage. Could not get good action pictures as my response was too slow. Our boat went through the Hole in the Rock, a giant hole through one of the rocky island that has fallen through due to erosion.
The Urupukapuka Island was quite beautiful with clear turqoir blue water. Hiking up the hill and we can see miles away with deep blue water.
We partied the night away with a group of locals there for a birthday party.
Went kayaking the next day with our guide, Adirana. There were only 3 of us with the guide so it was a private tour. The sun was out and the water was relatively calm which helped to make me feel less frighten of tipping the kayake. We had to do a 360 degree turn with our Kayake and went backward into one of the cave to listen to the roar of the wave against
the rock. It was a bit scary when you are backing into the unknown but it was worthy to hear the roar when the wave came in and out of the Cave. Had our lunch or High Tea as our guide, Adriana called it. Some nice crackers, jam, cheese and Avocado and chocolate fuge from local farmer's market which was delicious. What a nice relaxing day under the beautiful sunshine. The water was quite cold so I did not venture into the water though I did see one man swimming near our beach. There are more than 150 islands here with lots of small beaches so you can always find some islolated beaches to relax.
The hostel we stayed in were pretty decent in NZ. most have your own Bathroom etc.
Went back to Auckland on day 3 to pick up more passengers. We now had a total of 12 in our North Island trip. Majority are female, only 2 young americans men joined us.
The trip continued onward along the South East coast of North Island. Went to the Cathedral Cove in Coromandel on Day 4th. It was a long walk up and down the path
to get to the Cove. Beautiful ocean view with white sandy rock formation from erosion. One of the formation looked like a Sail boat. Took some nice pictures there. Trying to get everyone to jump up for picture taking. It took us awhile to get the timing right and got nice jump up picture.
There was a hot water beach but full of tourist and we could not find a spot to dig a hole to find the hot water. There were about 10 Japanese tourists that hold up on the only one available thermal spot. The water coming out of the ground on the beach was quite hot, it burned. We went on to Rotaura and visited the thermal village where the Maori lived there cooked their food on a pit with wooden cover to cook their meats and vegetables. Did not taste that good when we tried the food that was cooked by this method.
We visited the Blue Duck Lodge near Whakahoro. It is a sheep and cow farm. We were driven in 4xW drive in group of 5-6 up and down the farm hills chasing the sheeps with the sheep dogs. Tried the Manuka
Honey which had medicinal properties. Great goat meat stews at the lodge. We did see a blue duck, a rare species of blue color duck with with white beak. The next day, we were driven the twist and turn road back down to the Whagapapa village to stay at the Park, a nice Motel/hostel which looked over the distant Mtn Doom in the Lord of the Ring picture. We had a chance to do the 7 hours hike over the Tangoro crossing but because it was raining and cold, most of us opted to do the shorter one to the Tangrirero Fall. due to my newly twisted right knee, I also opted for the shorter route.
Though it rained in the morning, once we got to the hiking route, it actually became sunny again. What a wonderful hike through the beautiful bush and mountain roads.
Next to Wellington, Capital of NZ. A small city compare to North America but nice clean city with great waterfront. Saw some young men jumping into the cold water. There was one bronze sculpture of an old naked man on the verge of jumping into the water. The Te Papa Museum is free to
all and I visited the Maori culture display with their beautiful Gathering House with gorgeous carving and weaving. Love the jade or pounamu carving pieces made by Maori tribes. Got one nice piece in Queenstown by one of the famous NZ sculptor, Neil Brown.
We took the interNewzealand Ferry to cross over from Wellington to Picton and said goodbye to our North Island tour guide, Alibarbar. The crossing is over 3 hrs long. There were reclinging chairs, Bars, and cinema that you can relax in. The water was quite calm so we did not experience any turbulence. Was hoping to have sighting of dolphines or whale, but no such luck.
From Picton, we picked up our South Island tour with new tour guide, Kerry who was quite a fun loving guy. saying alot of Sweet As..., Roadeo etc. He played a special Kiwi band songs by the the Fat Freddy which were quite good. It became our morning songs of the day for the rest of the trip through the south island.
We stayed at the Barns by the Abel Tasman National Park. It had camp ground with wooden charlet and tents with bunk beds. There were
electric heater in the charlet and non in the tent. We cooked our own foods. did the hiking for 3-4 hours after taking the water taxi to see the split rocks, saw some blue penquin in the water, which looked like the duck. some seals laying about by one of the bay island. The sand here was golden in color and thus the name gold beach. water was cold as we are heading into winter. It is too bad as we did not try to swim in the sea. More of the rain forest and dense woodland along the coast. during the low tide, we can walk on the beach for mile picking seashells, I saw one star fish on the beach and trying to put it back to the ocean but it died anyway.
Met many people do travel on Campervan but stay in National park. One French chef that did his gourmat cooking and another couple from Basque Spain who had traveled through Asia via their bikes. Admired their determination and strength to travel by bike and camped all the way. I think the hostel is the most that I can do this trip for now.
We went on to Whagararo and stayed at the Blue duck Lodge. The owner drove us around the farm lands on 4WD, showing us how to herd the sheeps using their sheep dogs. He commanded the dogs with whisle. We later found that the sheeps escaped through a gap in the fence and he then had to close up the gap and secure the sheeps in different area. They are trying to conserve the Blue Duck in the areas as they are almost extinct from NZ due to predators liked the cats, dogs, whild hog etc. We saw only one blue duck under the bridge. It has pale blue color feather with white beak.
I was intended to do the Tangararo crossing but because I twisted my right knee again after I stepped down a stair the wrong way, thus opted for the shorter walk to the Tangrirero Fall. Using the hiking stick that I bought with me all the way from Toronto. The walk was quite pleasant. Had a little picnic under the Fall. There was a scare when two of my friends went a new hiking trail that would have been longer than they can come back
before dark and we were going to send out the searching party when they did not return to pick up point by 3pm. But they got back 30 minutes later, safe and sound.
Stayed at Franz Joseph for 2 nights because it rained the first day when we got there and we were not going to do the hike up the glazier on a downpour. I did the half day hike up the first part of the Franz Joseph Glazier for 3.5 hours in the wet boots they provided. got a blister because of a kinked in the boot. It was quite fun walking up man-made step and narrow creaveses. I was careful not to re-injury my right knee during the hike.
After the hike, I quickly ate a piece of pizza before driven over to Fox Glazier, a 45 minutes away to do the skydiving over the Fox Glazier. I was not nervous about the dive, it is more of a curious excitement. We watched a DVD of the other people's jump just before us and then gotten suited up with long sleeves jumpsuit, eye protective gargle and instruction on how to position before the dive. My
Hiking up the Franz Joseph Glazier in NZ
It was raining that day but we got very hot with the effort to hike up the steep ice steps
tenderm skydiver was Rod, whom has had more than 30 years of skydiving experience, which really helped to make me feel completely safe for the jump. I practiced sitting just outside the door of the plane when it was on the ground. I hanged just outside the plane with the instructor attached on my back. I then bend my legs over the outside of the step of the plane in preparation for the jump. Next I crossed my arms over my chest with my head tilted back a bit for the aerodynamic effect. I waited for his tap on my shoulder to open my arms wide forward in the Banana pose, also with my legs bend backward during the free Fall. for the 12000 meter jump, we did a free fall of 45 seconds. Did not have the sinking feeling as you would expect from a rolercoaster ride effect when you do a free fall. My confident was high after that and felt really free like a bird flying!!!! I think everyone should try it once.
The parachutte came out soon after and Rod said I can take my picture out to take panoramic view of the scenery below. When
the parachutte opened up, we jerked up a bit and then floating down. Rod asked if I liked rolercoaster ride. I responded that I loved it but then got motion sickness. He said that we would try a slow rolercoaster ride with the parachutte. We did a slow 360 degree movement with the parachute, I immidiately felt that my pizza lunch was coming up to my throat and advised Rod that I felt sick and he soon stopped the rotation and slowly drifting down toward the field below. We were going to land with him sliding under with his bum landing on the grass land. I practiced bending both my legs up as much as I can when he signal me for landing. Once he is satisfied, we landed quietly without any bump. I was so happy to have a safe landing!!!!!.
Next we travelled southeast to Doubtful Sound for our overnight cruise. Had to travel via ferry and bus through the mountain before arriving at the Doubtful Sound. Beautiful mountains cliff and rainforest along the coast. We saw seals sunbathing on the big rocks closer to the sea. Saw playful dolphin families early next morning. We did have
a short kayaking experience on calmer water along a bay. Beautiful sunset and sunrise. Did not have any rain when we were there, so the waterfall was not as spectacular as expected. 5am the next morning we experience earth quake shake, apparently that is normal occurence here as the whole place is along the false in the earth.
Traveling back up toward the north on the last leg of the trip in NZ, we stopped over at one of old railway road which now served as biking trails. We hoped on the bike and cycle for 30km crossing beautiful mountains and river beds along the sides. At the end of the bike ride we had to cross a dark turnnel that had a bend and we had to cycle in the dark for a few minutes before coming out another end to sunlight. Stopped to have lunch at the other ends.
Stayed at Auckland for 4 more days to relax. Took a free Strayed City tour bus for a tour of Auckland city and decided to do my first ever bungy jump over the Auckland Bridge. It is a low 40 M jump. There were 4 guys ahead
of me who did the jump and they all looked very apprehensive. I was the only one from the Strayed bus who did the jump. I was shackled up------each ankle, and body strapes then connected to a thick coil rope hanging from the ceiling. I had to shaffle toward the edge of the platform with my toes hanging over the edge. That was the only time that I felt my heart was pacing fast. I did the jump with the same technique in skydiving, by opening my arms wide and upward and flying toward the water below. I just felt foating in the air and before long I am diving toward water. My rope was a bit short so I did not dip into the water. doing a bit of sit up to bounce a few times before pulling the strapes on my legs to be in sitting up position for pulling up.
There are more photos below