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Published: July 13th 2010
New Zealand - South Island.
This weeks edition is bought to you by Kate as Matt is playing chef for the night, so we have swapped roles!
Firstly well done to everyone who is still reading, do you know it has now been over 9 months that we have been away - so that is a lot of blogging! We really appreciate everyone who is still reading, and sending us messages, its so good to hear what is going on in your lives.
So last blog left us on the Ferry journey leaving the North Island. Matt made it off without being sick and I was loving the wonderful scenery as we meandered around the luscious green islands and into Picton, it was very different to a Dover to Calais crossing as the captain actually had to avoid hitting lots of islands. We decided that we would drive straight down to Kaikoura where we wanted to go Whale Watching. The drive down to Kaikoura was spectacularm it was like the best bits from the Great Ocean Road drive in Australia. Each corner we went around the scenery got better, already the mountains seemed bigger and better than the
North, we were loving it! Well the two of us who sit in the front of the van were loving it, but whoever sits in the back of Sue seems to get van sick as the roads are so windy. Cerri is the only lucky one who has not been affected by this, so Matt, Ben and I are all playing swapsies when it gets really bad in the back!
We made it to Kaikoura which was a lovely little place. We popped into a Sheep Shearing place where we saw some gorgeous dogs. Matt and I have realised how much we love dogs being away and not seeing any of the families dogs for so long, so when we occasionally see a lovely looking dog and get to give it some attention, it’s great! So once I had my fix of doggie loving we left without seeing the show as we were more keen on seeing the seals down the road for free. The seals were fabulous to see. We had seen them right next to the road on the journey down just lying on the rocks and doing seal like things! See pics. We saw lots more
Franz Josef bum bag friends!
in Kaikoura which was great.
We booked a Whale Watching tour for the next day, but the ladies advised it was unlikely that the tour would go out, as the sea was so rough that day, the boats had not gone out, and it was forecast the same for the next 2 days. With the possibility of this we decided to “go wild” and eat out and go for a few drinks. We had fish and chips (which incidentally was the best piece of battered fish I have ever eaten!) then headed to a lovely bar with a real fire where we all had a few “handles” of Speight’s (Pride of the South Island beer). The next morning we awoke from another free nights camping and headed to the I-Site to find out if the trip was on. We all had mixed votes whether it would be on or not as it seemed to be another wet and wild day, but I was keeping my hopes up as its something I have always wanted to do. The news was - No Go. No boats were going out that day. I was a little disappointed but it couldn’t be helped
and I’m sure Matt and I will do it again somewhere, someday!
So with Whale watching off, a local museum was on! It was only a $2 and we could see why! It was OK for getting a bit of info on things from the past and we got to step in another jail which was good, it’s pretty amazing thinking people were actually locked up in these places. As we walked back toward BFS we heard a siren (like from the war telling everyone to go to the air raid shelter). A few minutes later as we got back into the centre of the town we heard a screeching pickup truck coming flying around the corner and a wheel barrow came hurtling off the side of his pick-up and into a car waiting at a junction. The pickup stopped about 30m down the road, the driver who was a big guy jumped out and began to run back up the road to get the wheel barrow. The guy got halfway to the wheelbarrow when all four of us noticed he had forgotten to put his handbrake on and his truck was rolling down the hill away from him.
Nice view from the side of the road on the way to the next destination.
We all shouted and yelled but he carried on towards the wheelbarrow, only realising his truck was rolling away once he had the wheelbarrow back in his hands. Now at this point I’m sure any average Joe would drop the wheel barrow and run towards the truck rolling away however this “local” chap began to run holding this heavy rusty wheelbarrow in his arms, he actually made it back to the truck, threw the wheelbarrow in the back and managed to jump into the moving car and he then speeded off leaving the damaged vehicle it had hit just sitting there! In the end it turned out he was in the local volunteer fire brigade and he was rushing to attend a car crash that the siren had gone off for. It was a moment of surreal-ness within a very normal kind of day!!
On leaving Kaikoura we headed up to Blenheim to get the demister fixed on BFS as we thought it would probably come in handy now the colder weather was beginning to approach us. Blenheim was better than expected, so we made the most of a great combo deal, coffee and cake for about $6, happy
Happy glacier climbers!
days, its becoming a bit of a regular though so we are becoming the muffin tops! We found a good shopping centre and then it was time to head on. With BFS still not fixed we made our next camper appointment in Greymouth on the west coast.
This journey was great, it was a beautiful blue sky day and so we made it to one of the most wonderful places I’ve ever seen, in perfect time for a bit of lunch. It was Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Park and the view was fantastic. Has anyone been to Ikea and seen one of their classic pictures of a pontoon going into a lake with beautiful snow capped mountains behind,? Well this was our view whilst we ate lunch! Magnificent! We even managed to eat outside as the sun was out and there was not much wind so it was not too cold. I tried to take a mental picture to keep with me always, so far its working I can still see it when I close my eyes! Amazing!.
On the next part of the journey, Banj drove, like the clappers, to get us to the Punakaiki rocks (known
Caught with the romans!
as Pancake rocks!!) before sunset. As we got there, Cerri, Matt and I all felt sick from the really windy roads and the speed we had been going along at, as Sue is normally more slow and steady than fast and furious! However, when we saw the view we were pleased Banj had got us there to see these eroded rocks. The layers of the rocks did make them look a little like a pile of Pancakes (hence the name) and with the sun setting it was another beautiful moment. They reminded us a lot of the 12 Apostles in Australia, which was one of my highlights of Oz, but here in New Zealand the views are all so fantastic, its almost unspoken of, but it was truly lovely.
Next on the wild Kiwi tour was Greymouth, where we finally got Sue’s bits and bobs fixed and then did some Panning for Gold. Matt was really looking forward to this as he is a “Lucky Man” (in the words of the Verve)! It was also on our to-do list in Oz but we didn’t make it into the real wilderness in those specific locations so this was our next
chance!! We made it to the I-Site but it had just closed and this is where you can hire panning equipment, so we improvised and used a colander and our keen hands!! After literally a moment, Matt struck gold!! Wow!! We were all excited and keen to see the nugget, unfortunately it wasn’t big enough to extend the trip to a permanent holiday - but it was still gold never-the-less!! We each found a little bit of gold, but nothing major, in fact I think most of it disappeared in pocket linings, never to be seen again. But a good experience all the same!
The next stop on the magical mystery tour was Franz Josef. It’s a small town just one street really which revolves solely around the Franz Joseph Glacier experiences. The Glacier is a “must do” on the tourist trail and one that we couldn’t miss out on. When we got there we found a camp site for the night and decided we would head straight out for drinks and food. As I mentioned the main reason we were there was to climb the Franz Josef Glacier, so we signed up to a guided walk, got given
trousers, coats, crampons and even a very unstylish bum bag !! The next morning we awoke to blue skies and no rain and made our way over to the bus to drive to the glacier. We were greeted by our guide “Zach” and we headed towards the bottom of the glacier, we walked through a brand new bush track, jumping over rivers and wading through mud under and over tress. We all eventually emerged onto a massive dry river bed and saw the mountain and glacier which looked a little far away. Zach informed us it was still a 45 minute walk to get to the bottom of the mountain! He put it in perspective for us how big the glacier was, (it started the equivalent height of 5 story high building) yet it was still hard to believe and the photos cannot show the true size of it.
We were in a group of just the four of us plus a couple from Hong Kong, Phillip and Molly, she however turned into a moaner and so refused to move any further once she made it up the steep slope to the bottom of the glacier. This was a
huuummmm where does this one go?
real shame as she had done the hardest part but at least it gave poor Phillip a break from her moaning! So then it was the 5 of us with Zach. We had to put spikes on (the crampons from our stylist bum bags) just before we steeped onto the ice to help us to grip it and not slip and fall. Walking on the ice was brilliant! Zach walked in front, he and another guide had been up tto he glacier the day before and cut the fresh steps that we were now walking on for the first time, the track was awesome. It took us straight up through narrow ice crevasses which are naturally formed as the ice naturally melts and then the water cuts through the ice slower over time. It was great being in such a small group as Zach even gave us the opportunity to climb down a void individually and drink freshly melted glacial water! We also came into contact with a Mountain Parrot on the glacier which has been known to kill sheep by pecking it from on top and eating its liver and so farmers have been known to kill the parrots
Keep running girls!
to protect the sheep so now the parrots are starting to drop in their population size. The whole glacier experience was one of the best experiences of my life, I loved so much.
After a long day on the ice we headed back to the van to grab our swimwear to go to the local hot pools to unwind and relax our aching muscles. The hot pools were made up of 4 different pools ranging in temperature from 36 degrees to 40 degrees which was just wonderful. Matt did find it quite hot to handle but did manage to get into the 40 degree pool for a little bit. After the hot pools we had certainly worked up and appetite and headed to a restaurant for a meal. We chose the same place we went for drinks on the first night as the food looked great so in we went. On the menu was a “Mountain of Nachos” and boy they meant it! Matt couldn’t eat all the nachos and I couldn’t finish a lamb salad which is unheard of! I did manage most of my banoffee pie though and Matt polished off a big chocolate pudding with brandy
snap basket and ice-cream! It was certainly the best meal we had had in NZ so far. After the meal we all headed back to Sue in a food comer for the night.
In the morning we hit the road to Wanaka but Matt was advised by a lady at the camp site to stop at Bruce Bay, she did not say why but did say that we must “do something whilst we were there“ . Now when we got to Bruce Bay it only had one shop and that was it so we couldn’t immediately see what we had to do, but then we noticed piles of rocks on the edge of the water line. So we stopped the van on the road side, ran across the road to the beach front, and realised all the rocks had been written on by tourists. Well, thanks lady from the camp site for telling us to bring a felt tip as all we had was a biro and it wouldn’t write on the rocks! Luckily Cerri managed to carve our names in and place the rock with the 1000’s of others on the road side.
So, back in the
Smiling happy people
wagon we headed for Wanaka. When we arrived we headed straight to the info centre to see where we could camp for the night. The guy in the info centre actually said we could park on his lawn as you were not allowed to sleep anywhere in Wanaka in a motor home over night. We did have a look at his house but is was really residential and decided against it, so in the end we found a nice little spot right outside a bar that was showing the England v USA match the next morning at 6:30am.. So Matt, Banj and I all got up at 6am to get to the pub by the start of the game. Cerri joined us for the last 10 mins, maybe she had the best idea as it wasn’t exactly the game of the century, but the three of us still enjoyed it. After that we thawed out as it was really cold and then made our way to Puzzling World. Puzzling World was the first puzzle café and maze which Amanda and Mark at Yallingup had based their idea on to build the maze that we worked at in Australia. So we
were keen to see the original. We enjoyed the maze, but we have to say the Australia version is better and we are not just being biased, the NZ one could do with being updated as Banj who also went there 8 years ago said it hasn’t changed! It was still fun though and we were like kids running around the maze trying to find the four towers. Cerri and I won and felt quite pleased with ourselves! Wanake is a really nice town, again with a beautiful lake, sourrounded by mountains and its got a modern stylish feel to it which we all liked. We watched the rugby in the evening and again had afew drinks out in town before moving on the next day.
Next Sue stop was Invercargill, at the very bottom of the south island. Here we got to see a Tuatura, at the info centre/museum/art centre, which was approximately 100 years old and its ancestors were alive at the same time as dinosaurs! We stopped for lunch next to the animal park in the botanical gardens so had a look around at the various animals before hitting the road again. Before we knew it
Matt looking fab in the outfit!
we were arriving at possibly the smallest “town” in NZ called Waikawa. I jumped into the I-Site to enquire about Wi-Fi and was greeted by a lovely old lady, so I asked if there was anywhere we could get onto the internet, she had closed down her computer for the night (as it was literally turning 5pm) but she said she could call Derek who lived opposite, he was the only one in the town who had a PC with dial up internet but he was happy for people to go around and use it!! What!!! What century are we in??!!! I did have a conversation about “wireless internet” but the lady informed me they don’t even get phone signal for about 40km around there. This was hilarious! We were tempted to go around to Derek’s just to see what his house was like, but thought 4 young people trying to check facebook and go on You Tube might give Derek a heart attack so we thought better of it!! So with absolutely nothing to do in this place since 1965 we decided a nights stay was plenty and so were keen to see local fascinating attractions instead the next
Now the Lonely Planet love it or hate it, is good as a guide and to point out things along our journey. When we read that only 4km away from Waikawa was Niagara Falls we keenly read on!! It stated that there is much debate on which is better this one or the American/Canadian version! We were very surprised as we hadn’t heard of it, so chatted about if the book could be lying - but it’s a book surely it cant do that…it turns out it can and it did!! We were very disappointed to see the tiny waterfall. We took a photo to show you what we saw, but we were not even sure it could pick up the falls and us in the picture or whether we covered it completely! So we learned that day not to trust the LP! The same day we saw a petrified Forest (covered by volcanic ash, thousands of years ago and preserved in it’s state on the beach) and a blow hole created 200m inland that appeared one day in a farmers field called Jacks Blow Hole (at Jacks Bay). This was pretty huge worth the climb up the
Has Matt grown or Banj shrunk?!
hill to see it. So it was not all a let down and we had a laugh about it!
So all in all the South Island had already shown us a brilliant time with Franz Josef, the Lake in Nelson Park and Wanaka being fantastic highlights and we still had Dunedin, Queenstown and Christchurch to go! So happy days were had by all.
Love as always
Kate and Matt xx
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