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Published: April 23rd 2005
New Zealand’s South Island is a remarkable contrast of awe-inspiring mountains, fjords, glaciers and deep canyon raging rivers with rolling pastures, forests and smooth deep blue lakes. It is almost a third larger than the North island but has only a fourth of the population. In spite on this fact, we managed to get into two big traffic jams…sheep traffic! We were really amused to find ourselves right in the middle of a herd of sheep (twice) as they were being moved from one pasture to another.
It’s hard to believe, but getting there really is half the fun. We set sail from Wellington on the inter-island ferry on a beautiful sunny morning. The ferry ride was not only a comfortable mode of transportation but a scenic cruise through Cook Strait. Earlier in the week we saw reports of huge waves in the area so we were very thankful for the mostly smooth seas and good weather. As we approached the port in Picton an announcement told us the Endeavor, a replica of Captain Cooks ship, was moored at the dock. What a great welcome to the South Island!
Our next part of the journey was on the Tranz-Coastal
Railway that links Picton and Christchurch. After leaving Picton the narrow-gauge train passes through farmland eventually entering the dramatic coastline on one side and the Southern Alps on the other. It was a bit of a challenge to maneuver our way our car to the viewing car in the rear of the train. It was sort of like walking around in a plane during turbulence, but since New Zealanders are so polite they didn’t seem to mind as we stepped on their feet and elbowed them in the back of their heads!
Christchurch was founded in 1850 and has many charming gothic buildings. One hour away from town is the picturesque drive to Arthur’s Pass National Park. This famous drive is known as one of the most scenic routes in the world. We certainly agreed as we watched the beautiful mountains change in the shadows of sunset.
The following day we drove to Dundedin where we stayed in Larnich Castle. Well, really we stayed in the stables on the castle grounds. (which seems appropriate since Allan said he has been told he was born in a barn) No, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, the Stables have
The journey along South Island east coast.
been finished into a nice bed and breakfast. Mom insisted on driving into town the next day to tour the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. Cadbury has always been one of her favorite chocolates and she considers herself an expect on the subject ! The tour was interesting and informative but most importantly had lots of free samples. The most humorous moment was when they informed us we all had to wear paper hair-nets to cover our hair and Dad had to wear a whisker net.
On to Queenstown the beautiful resort town that even the kiwi’s go to for vacation. We stayed in a county cottage that sat in a lovely valley near Arrowtown. We spent our first day in Queenstown walking around the city and we took a ride on the Skyline Gondola Cableway. As we quietly glided along taking in the views of the city, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkable Mountain Range our mood was suddenly change by the shocking sight of a body flying past toward the ground. You can imagine our relief when we saw the bungee cord attached to their feet. Typical of New Zealand the inventors of adventure/thrill tourism.
The highlight of our
The Castle on the Otago Peninsula near Dundedin was built is 1871
trip has to be Mildford Sound, the northernmost fjord in New Zealand. First we boarded a six seated airplane for the trip over the snow covered mountain range. We flew over amazing glaciers, canyons and mountain lakes toward the Tasman Sea, up the coastline and right into the sheer cliffs of the fjord, finally landing at a small airstrip. The round trip, over curving mountain roads, takes ten hours by car but we were there in forty five minutes. Allana and Janna thought it was the coolest thing we have done so far! As if the awesome flight wasn’t enough we then boarded a boat for a two hour cruise. We stopped at the Mildford Underwater Observatory for an interesting look at the marine life of the fjord that is usually only found in the depths of ocean. The flight back was just as magnificent as the one in. The pilot pointed out “the worlds most amazing view” as we flew back to Queenstown. Our day to Mildford Sound was so incredible we all felt their was no way it could be topped.
With the challenge of bungee jumping, paragliding and white water rafting all around us, we
decided we had to do at least one adventurous activity. Shotover Jet-Boat was our pick! All we can tell you is…WOW! Close your eyes and imagine yourself… flying down a narrow river gorge at break-neck speeds as the driver points the boat as close to the rock walls as possible and you scream your head off, then just for fun he spins the boat around in a 360 degree turn…okay maybe you can’t imagine it! WE LOVED IT!! So even through we didn’t think we could top the Mildford Sound trip this was just as amazing but in a totally different way.
After all this excitement we thought if would be nice to take some of the filming sites for The Lord of the Rings Movies. It’s easy to understand why Peter Jackson choose New Zealand to become Middle Earth. One of our favorite places was Deer Park where not only can you see the filming locations but you can have fun feeding goats, horses llamas, pigs and sheep. Did you notice we didn’t mention deer…well…Deer Park must have some deer somewhere, but we couldn’t find them. It was a great day anyway! It seemed too soon when we
realized it was time to fly back to Auckland for the trip back to Australia. We decided to go to Rainbow’s End (Auckland’s theme park) for our last day there, we can’t seem to get enough of theme parks. The vote was unanimous the Power-Surge was the scariest ride, we were sure we were going to fall on our heads! As Dad and Mom stood back on solid ground watching the girls ride several more times we decided wisdom comes with age!
How can we ever express how we feel about our time in New Zealand?
Dad- “I really felt at home in New Zealand because of the friendly people”
Mom-“I will forever remember the beauty of God’s creation in New Zealand and the experience of meeting so many generous and kind kiwis.”
"a"- “The Maori word kairora sums up the feeling of welcome in New Zealand.”
"j"-”New Zealand is the most beautiful place I have ever seen and I would love to go back someday.”
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