Belated Happy New Year!
Since our last blog, we've really understood why everyone raves about New Zealand, the sun has come out and stayed out and we have seen some stunning scenery. We've spent the past three weeks with my parents and have just delivered them to the airport (with just a few tears..)
We kicked off our time together by going on a Devine wine tour (the company's pun) of the Marlborough wine region and enjoyed sampling lots of different wine, not just Savvy as it is known here, mainly from the smaller producers, gaving us some good ideas of what to put in our christmas shopping basket. We also enjoyed a nice lunch on a vineyard - our backpacker status upgraded courtesy of my brother's christmas present - thank you!
We had definitely left all backpacker hostels behind when we arrived in Abel Tasman to our house there with staggering views over the coastline. We walked some of the Abel Tasman track with the sun shining and some glorious views.
We moved on then to Punakaika on the west coast to get ready for christmas. We spent Christmas in some treehouse studios and had fun
cooking christmas dinner on two rings, with no oven, so no turkey for us. It was all very relaxing and we had a good chance to investigate the pancake rocks and blowholes there. Boxing day was nice and hot and we went for a walk up a gorge. The scenery on the west coast is much wilder than that of the Abel Tasman just a couple of 100ks north.
Next came the glaciers. We arrived in Fox Glacier in the pouring rain (not surprising given the 7m of rain they get a year) and got truly soaked stretching our legs on the way to look at the glacier's toe. The next day we took on a 3/4 day hike on Franz Joseph which proved to be a bit more taxing than we thought, as the guide took us on a new route through some very tight spaces and a fair few ups and downs. Whilst not as beautiful as the glaciers we saw in South America, it was good to get up 'close and personal' with the ice!
New year destination was Wanaka, which provided us with the first chance to see the scenery that I pictured for
New Zealand - vast lakes and beautiful snow capped mountains. Andy and I took ourselves off for a new year's eve to remember - we forced our legs 1700m up on their skyline track which gave staggering views over the region towards Mount Aspiring and over the lake. We walked along the ridge for several hours before descending down a steep gorge. The sun was shining brightly that day and I'm attributing the hangover I had on new year's day to my slight dehydration during the walk! It felt quite special to be the first (along with everyone else in NZ) to welcome in 2008.
From Wanaka we moved on to Te Anau which was a really good place to relax before our day's excursion to Milford Sound. We had an absolutely cracking day for it. The drive there was through what I think I can really say was awe-inspiring scenery - I felt very small compared to the massive rock faces all around us. The sound (or fjord) itself was beautiful - we took a boat cruise for 2 hours out to the tasman sea, via waterfalls, fur seals and some very playful bottlenosed dolphins.
with mum and dad was Queenstown, which seemed suddenly rather noisy compared to where we had been in the past few weeks. We've had a good few days exploring and spent a while gawping at loonie bungie jumpers and all the hair-raising activities you can do around here. We took a drive to Glenorchy which was truly beautiful and took the chance to dive into clear (but freezing!) lake waters.
And now we have just 2 weeks left here .. the time has flew and it is definitely time for the new year detox to start!
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