With Queenstown a bust with the weather conspiring, we departed after only one day and a fab meal at the local (barely budget busting if you chose a day where we haven’t filled up with petrol).
We moved along to Wanaka and bagged ourselves a great pitch at the local dept of conservation site just past Albert Town. That was, until 4 of the biggest camper vans about decided that the whole field was just too big and that they need to be close to the spaceship. Close, sorry I mean in front of exactly where the view was. It was not like the view could not be seen from the other 4 acres of the empty site!
The drive to Wanaka was breathtaking and the view of the lake and snow topped peaks as you came around the corner fully made up for the poor weather of Queenstown. After a chilled afternoon we had an early night in preparation to climb Mount Roy. Up and out early for the climb which involved a 8km hike uphill to the summit of about 1500m. The rise of 1200m was covered in 3 hours and the silence at the summit
was only broken by the screaming of our calf muscles. The views were fantastic and but with us both having a moment of honesty we felt the views 2 hours in were just as good! I celebrated getting to the top by making a little snowman - there was little coal around for eyes and buttons, but an abundance of sheep poo. So yes, you guessed it, they made a suitable substitute!
The descent was just as punishing but thankfully on a different part of our legs. The downwards trip was only 1.5 hours and true to our Mantra ‘walking is eating’ we had begun to plan the feast that would result following all our hard work.
The next day with sore legs we went to Puzzling world. This is a collection of holograms, a room of faces which follow you, a slanted room and a little and large room. Amy enjoyed the feeling of being tall and was very wobbly in the slanted room. The room is set at a 15 degree angle but everything is set to make it look flat. Walking is very interesting! The centre also has a maze which when we first got
into we decided that because we had no time limits we would attempt to reach the four corners in the order that they had set. We gave up on this after 30mins as we had only found one corner and it was not the one that was at the top of their list. Their toilets were amusing and communal.
We moved on from Wanaka to Makaroa where we went jet boating. This was great and we were spun around in circles with Amy slipping and sliding across the seat in between shooting through tiny channels created by the bank and dead wood! The driver even startled the local cows with a quick drenching as he whipped past.
After our blast around the river we were back on the road heading towards the glaciers. We had planned to stop before we got to Fox Glacier but the lack of mobile phone signal and Mothers day conspired against us. That said, even after getting to Fox in the evening after the 200+ km drive from Wanaka we still didn’t have any signal and resorted to buying a phone card.
After a meal out and a good nights sleep we
got up and headed to a lake where you can get fantastic views of Mount Cook along with its reflection. I say where you can, because we didn’t! Still it was a nice walk around the lake and it really would have looked fantastic if there hadn’t been a blanket of cloud.
Following our walk we headed off to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Fox Glacier. We were a little naughty and followed all the others and dipped under the rope cordon. Feeling a little sheepish we dashed up to a decent point and grabbed a couple of pictures before retreating back down to the main path.
Amy grabbed the wheel and guided Sally around the windy roads to Franz Joseph Glacier. We parked up and went straight to the office to book our trip for the next day. We booked ourselves on the full day hike and headed to bed with the alarm set.
At the office we were kitted out with boots, socks, ice talons, a rain coat and hats and gloves. We headed off on the bus to the glacier and made the short trek to the terminal face (check
out the fancy lingo!) where we were split down into groups of 10. We donned our ice talons and headed on to the ice. The full day package meant that we had about 6 hours on the ice. The day was spent winding between the crevasses whilst the guide cut steps in the ice with his pick axe. Some of the steps were more like grazes in the ice. Thankfully the ice talons did their thing and kept us from sliding all over the place.
I had previously given Amy the title of being a ‘sure footed mountain goat’ from her time in Chiang Mai. Unfortunately this has now been reduced to her being a ‘three legged mountain goat’ as she gave me a fright and slipped whilst stepping across a gap. From where I was standing I couldn’t see that the drop was only a few feet! This was blamed on little legs. Apparently the glacier had not accounted for these in its formation millions of years ago!
We had a great time scrambling up and down. The only down side was having to wait and get cold whilst the guide had to go off and rescue
the number one group who had got them selves stuck. We decided that it was possibly due to their over sized male genitalia not fitting through the ice gap!
That said the whole trip was fantastic and we would recommend it to everyone! The hike was another one of our many highlights of the trip!
After crashing out for the night we moved up the coast towards the Pancake Rocks passing through Hokitika and Greymouth. We were both now feeling a little panicked that we only had 16 days left on the south island and how were we going to fit all the rest in. We decided that we would make a stop in Barrytown to do a little Knife making - this was mentioned in Bex and Craig’s blog and all we had to go on was knife making in Barrytown. We missed the turning marked by the smallest sign but did manage to find it in the end and booked ourselves on the course for the next day.
We had a fantastic day with Steven and Robyn. The raw materials that we were given and the knives that we walked away with, were made from
those pieces of junk. During the whole day the whole group had smiles on their faces as you could begin to see the knife taking shape. I think we would have all been quite happy to have left at lunch time with a half finished knife because even by then they were looking pretty damm fine! That said the end result was awesome.
After the knives were finished and accounts settled we became their guests and joined them for a drink (homemade moon shine!!). This again was a fantastic day and apart from the memories we also now have a big knife each!
Our next stop of interest was Hanmer Springs. At Hanmer they have a thermal spring pool complex. Yesterday we chilled out in the pools which ranged in temperature from 35-41 degrees and all smelled of rotten eggs (sulphur). We both cooked off in the sun, which has been absent for a little while and left the pools looking like a prune! The only thing you have to be careful of is not putting your head under the water because according to the warning signs you then die! - or could get sick? Strangely enough there
appeared to be no warning sign restricting bombing, diving, running, and heavy petting!
After leaving the pools we moved up the west coast, in the sun (yippee!!), to Kaikoura which is a famous marine reserve. We camped 5 metres from the beach and were treated to another starry clear sky. I can still only see Orion. We cooked up a Rosco special of chorizo sausage and pasta.
This morning we were up at 5.30am and all wrapped up for our early morning whale watching session. The boat left the dock at 7am and raced out to sea in search of finding the local resident sperm whale or any of his other whale buddies. We had standard luck and got to see two whales (may have been the same one). Once again the camera did its thing despite being attached to my hands as Amy, the regular camera operator, was clutching the rail. This clutching was not due to feeling a little unwell but the fact the boat moves and she had yet to find her sea legs. Much like falling down things whilst on a glacier! The crew were quite careful to move all the sick people (about
7 of 20) to the back of the boat and I don’t think they could have cared less about the whale by the end of the trip.
Once back on dry land and with Sally we saw Hector dolphins swimming about 25 m of the beach.
Tomorrow we are heading off to swim with Fur Seals and then on to the Wine Country!
We both hope that the above keeps you all a little more green!
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