Hello everyone, Steve was suppose to write this blog, but due to a very bad 'man flu' he has opted for picture duty. So this is a solo effort from me, Maja.
We have been touring the South Island now for about 3 weeks and feel like we have seen everything it has to offer, except for some disappointments and cancellations due to bad weather, we've had a great time. We began our South Island adventure by going North from the ferry port, to Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park. We had planned to do some kayaking there, but due to the cold weather we decided not to.
From Nelson, we headed straight for Kaikoura on the east coast for some whale and dolphin watching. On the way to Kaikoura we stumbled upon a seal colony, hundreds of fur seals sunning themselves on rocks, just next to the road. We thought it was absolutely amazing just watching the seals hopping around and playing, totally oblivious to us watching them. The next day we had booked on a whale watching trip, but due to stormy weather it was cancelled, very disappointing.
We didn't have time to wait around
another day so we packed up the Maui and hit the road. Before leaving Kaikoura we followed a tip from on of the locals, who had told us to visit a waterfall not far from the seal colony. Apparently, during the month of May, seal mums walk (or hop) up to the waterfall and have their babies. So the waterfall acts as a kind of a crèche, where baby seals can take their first steps in life in a protective environment. When they are ready to take on the world they hop down the stream and join the main colony. Me and Steve arrived at the waterfall and were totally blown away with the experience, the seals were so cute (see pictures below), and these ones were really curious about us to, swimming over on their backs and jumpingout of the water, we just sat there on our own for about an hour, it was awesome.
Our next stop was a quick visit to Hamner Springs, a beautiful village in the mountains, before heading towards Christchurch. We spent five days in Christchurch, just resting; I tried to recover from a cold before setting off exploring the rest of the
South Island. I watched the film Mamma Mia three times and never got bored (Steve thought it was a bit extreme). We also visited some museums and had a stroll in the lovely botanic garden.
During these days in Christchurch, the weather was absolutely terrible, windy, wet and freezing, so we felt a bit sorry for ourselves. We didn't really have a plan and didn't like the thought of spending the last weeks of our holiday in a freezing New Zealand without any warm clothes. So we took action, we booked an incredibly cheap deal to Fiji (yeah Fiji!!!), went and bought new ski coats each and hired a car to see the rest of New Zealand in, and then everything was good again. We picked up our speedy little Toyota and headed for the west coast, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and we had a plan.
We stopped the first night in Hokitiki, before leaving for Franz Josef and the glaciers. Franz Josef is a cozy village, with plenty of good hostels, a hot spring pool and a few restaurants and bars. The first thing we did when we got
to Franz Josef was to check where Steve could watch the European cup final, luckily we found a place. The next morning, we were up at five in the morning, it was dark and cold, everything was quiet, except this little cafe/bar which was full of Europeans cheering on their team....Barcelona won, much to the dissapointment of the tired mainly English crowd!
The following day we did the glacier walk, it was really cool. We had to wear crampons (spike-shoes) when we were on the ice, I had never heard this word before and thought he was saying tampons all the way through the walk...ha ha. "Are you're tampons the right size..strap them on!" The walk was really good, it took about 5 hours and was hard work, but really interesting.
From Franz Josef we went to Lake Wanaka, a really long drive, but definitely worth it. We got a really nice room in x-base hostel, a double room with en-suit and plasma TV for nineteen pounds. Lake Wanaka is a really pretty place, the lake is like a mirror, reflecting the surrounding snow capped mountains. We visited puzzle world in Wanaka, it's like a playground for adults
Whats wrong with this photo?
..Its upside down, hard to tell with the reflection so clear
(and kids). It has got illusion rooms which were really cool and also a maze which was hard work, but good fun. We left Wanaka for Queenstown.
Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, you can do anything from bungy jumping and jet boating to sky dives there. We really enjoyed Queenstown, the first day we bought some Frisbee’s and tried out the local Frisbee golf course, it was free and so much fun. The second day we had booked a tour to skippers canyon for some jet boating. A four wheeled truck picked us up and drove us to down the skippers canyon on the worst roads I have ever been on. The road was just a dirt track, with no fences, clinging on to the side of the mountain, so scary. The jet boating itself was a thrilling ride which took us through the narrow canyon, skimming past rocky outcrops at breath taking speeds. We even did some 360 degrees spins. After the tour we went for a famous Fergburger which we've heard about from everyone (with choices like the 'bun laden' falafel, 'sweet bambi' venison and 'tropical swine' with bacon) it didn't disappoint
We could have stayed in Queenstown longer, but we were running out of time. Our next destination was Milford Sound, apparently the number one tourist attraction in New Zealand. We stocked up on fuel and food since we had heard that you couldn't buy anything in Miford Sound. We had also made sure to book the only accommodation available there, the Milford Lodge.
The only reason you go to Milford Sound is to go for a cruise in the fjord, so that's what we did, but we weren't blown away by the scenery, yes it was amazing but there's amazing scenery everywhere here so we didn't think its was worth the long drive. The Milford Lodge was nice and cosy though, but in the middle of nowhere so we spent the evening playing monopoly.
During our stay in Milford Sound Steve got ill, so we drove for about 6 hours to get to the civilisation (stopping only to buy a jimmy's pie). We arrived in Dunedin late in the evening and booked a nice B&B, so Steve could rest up. After a couple of days there, we went straight to Christchurch, missing out on the penguins.
Steve has still got a pretty bad cold and cough, but has been to the doctors and should get better soon.
At this moment we are sitting in an internet cafe, killing time before we leave for the airport to fly to Fiji (yeehaaa 30 degrees again!). We really need a holiday after all this travelling ha ha. We are so lucky, I know.
Lots of Love
Maja and Steve xxxxx
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