Published: February 7th 2011February 4th 2011
Simon shows off his sandcastle building skills with this almost perfect sphere, specially crafted to look like a stone boulder.
Friday 28th January – NZ Here We Come / Welcome to Sussex
The next stage of the adventure with an early flight, 3 hour time difference and the first leg of a long drive from Christchurch to Dunedin: Brisbane
– Remarkably, limited evidence of the recent floods and a hugely impressive effort – with local riverside bars and restaurants having been refitted and reopened within two weeks of being half under water. Countryside
– Felt like we had been sold a bit of a dummy after picking up a car in Christchurch and driving south towards Dunedin – scenery was rural and seriously lacking in mountains, gorges, lakes etc. We could have sworn we had just arrived in Sussex! Wicker Man
– Dropped into a bar in the back of beyond to grab a bite to eat. The locals stopped talking and stared, with a real sense that someone was out the back stoking up the fire… Little Blue Penguins
– Just about got to Omaru in time (at dusk) to see the smallest penguins in the world getting back from a hard day's fishing and into the waterside colony.
Saturday 29th January – Scotland in the
Fur Seals at Otago Peninsular
Ah bless, the little furry blighters enjoy the rays on a rock ledge near Dunedin.
After a layoff in Omaru, we headed for the (almost) Scottish town of Dunedin: Funky NZ
– Early morning start with a trip to the local crafts area of Omaru, showing that original art and crafts are alive and well in NZ. Boulders
– Strange round stones on a beach at Moeraki made for a quick viewing opportunity en route. Brothers in Dunedin
– The Brothers boutique hotel was the highlight of a pretty dull city, having originally been a home for the good Irish brethren of Dunedin.
Sunday 30th January – Wildlife on the Otago Peninsular
A wildlife-filled day with birds, seals, penguins, fish, giraffes and the like, in sight of a peninsular that is the furthest piece of dry land from the UK: Penguin Shaker
– A cruise around the peninsular to see the wildlife, including a sea lion that apparently eats small penguins by first shaking them out of their skins! We thought just opening the wrapper might have been easier. Natures Wonders
– An 8WD trek across the wilderness to view all sorts of wildlife including a close-up of little blue penguins in their nests and a fur seal playground
Queen of Hearts
A little Alice in Wonderland at the only "castle" in the Southern hemisphere (actually built for an Aussie banker about 100 years ago).
– bless! Royal Albatross
– Majestic (and huge) birds but sadly not windy enough to see any flight – apparently they are particularly lazy when it comes to wing-flapping activities…
Monday 31st January – Dunedin to Queenstown
Long drive between the east coast and more central parts eventually bought us to the adventure playground of NZ: St Bathan
– Stopped off for lunch at an old mining town – NZ was part of the second largest gold rush in the world in the second half of the 19th century. Luxury in Queenstown
– Occasionally, completely ignoring the budget can get you a beautiful apartment with all mod cons and a fabulous view of The Remarkables mountain range beyond the aquamarine Lake Wakatipu – and this was one of those times! Adrenalin Planning
– Off into town for a recce of the adrenalin-junkie options for Wednesday, with no shortage of these on offer.
Tuesday 1st February – Mega-scenery and Jet Boats
A big pre-organised trip to tick off a few key South Island activities: Milford Sound
– A cruise down the fjiord (insert dead parrot jokes here) sandwiched between amazing light aircraft flights
Get That View!
Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range in full view as we bust the budget in fabulous Queenstown.
over the Alps – very Lord of the Rings! Wilderness Walk
– Trekking through beech forests to see local wildlife and get to the point in the river where the scary fast jet boats pick you up… Scary Fast Jet Boats
– Whizzing around the river at about 70kph in about 4 inches of water in places, including the occasional 360 spin and associated drenching.
Wednesday 2nd February– Pure Adrenalin
Found more than one way to traverse the famous Shotover river in true NZ adrenalin-fuelled style: White Water Rafting
– A fun-filled experience of shooting rapids in a seven man inflatable. Deborah might still be swimming if she hadn’t been sitting next to the guide, who calmly grabbed her by the shoulder during a particularly fierce rapid and eased her back into the raft. Canyon Swings (adrenalin-junkies see below)
– Determined not to let the opportunity of the world’s highest swing go begging, Simon leaps off the canyon ledge (twice), enjoying a 60M free-fall and a 200M arcing swing across the canyon. Gondola
– A more sedate ride up the steepest cable-car in the world to a viewing platform way above the amazing mountain, lake and
The Southern Alps from an 8-seater heading to Milford Sound. Shame the views weren't a little more spectacular, eh...
town view. Canyon Swing - flight options involved the following, both scoring 5 out of 5 on the brown pants scale:
“Backwards” – Heels over ledge and two guys lean you back into the void, play with your mind a little and then let you go.
“Gimp Boy Goes to Hollywood” – Winched out on a crane in a seated position, then swinging legs up and over supporting rope before being released to fall head first into the canyon. Kindly the guys said they would count me down from 5 and the next few seconds went along the lines of “ready, five…” release – cheers guys!
Thursday 3rd February – To Fox Glacier
Leaving Queestown behind, we head to glacier country to arrange another extreme experience: Sand Flies
– Innocuous sounding little blighters, drawing blood from their bites and leaving you with days of itchiness. T-shirts like “I survived the sand flies in Haast” available at our lunch stop. Full Day/Half Day
– Made arrangements for the glacier trek – despite the demanding nature of the trek, a full day on the ice seemed the only option worthy of the effort, so booked it up.
Colin and Trish
Local weather conditions around western South Island NZ mean that clouds, wind and rain are never far away even on the most spectacular of days.
– Our lovely hosts at the Fox Glacier B&B gave us wonderful food and great company in preparation for our endeavours.
Friday 4th February – Ice, Ice Baby
An early kick-off for a day of trekking on the demanding Franz Josef Glacier: Preparation
– Plenty of kit to collect (waterproofs, hats, gloves crampons etc) before being bussed to the river mouth, then a 2.4km trek to the terminal face and a good half hour of scrambling up scree slopes to get to the ice… Glacier
– 6 hours on the ice, trekking up and down amazing waves of gradually moving ice-flow (about 30cm per day), including scrambling through ice tunnels and squeezing along huge ice crevasses – a tough but very rewarding experience. Hot Tubs
– Free entry to the local hot tubs was a well-received added bonus to help ease out the aches and pains of the day.
There are more photos below