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Published: August 6th 2007
Thermals and pringles, the only way through this
So, Australia and New Zealand, the last 6 weeks.
Obviously we have both been to Oz before so really just a stop over and a chance to use up our free flghts rather than traipsing around the obvious sights. We did however, manage to see both kangeroos and koalas in the wild.
We spent a few days in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney and managed to meet up with one of my Yoga mates (aka Maree) from the beach in Goa. Neither of us have done any yoga since (although we both vowed we were hooked) but it still sounds impressive and also becomes quite believable when you repeat it to yourself again and again.
After Sydney we flew to New Zealand, first to the South Island.
We had met up with some of Simon´s sisters friends in Melbourne and they had laughed at my desire to get in a campervan for 6 weeks after their experiences and they were right. New Zealand was absoutely freezing. After the sun and flip-flops in Sydney, out came the hats, scarfs and even thermals. My desire for the van waned instantly and
instead we checked into a motel. The official excuse
to myself was that Simon had to find somwhere he could watch the football as it would be on in the early hours, but really I was somewhat relieved.
The main reason that I wanted to spend time in New Zealand was for the landscapes - endless lakes, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and the likes. And this is definitely what you see a lot of...
A few days after we arrived we booked ourselves onto the famous ´Milford Track´ - a four day, three night trek through fiordland, forest and up into the mountains. Lucky us we had managed to get a cancellation and were therefore frantically running around the day before hiring everything from used boots to billy cans, even rucksacks, as we had to carry everything we needed to survive. It turned out that we had nearly 15kg each when you add bedding and food to the equation. We were soon to realise that eating the heavy stuff first would be a good idea as you couldn´t dump anything, having to take all you rubbish with you, another note being not too take any smelly food
Wet and cloudy at the top.
Check out the waterproofing, seemed to work.
as a couple of empty washed out cans of tuna don´t
Wet and cloudy at the top.
Check out the waterproofing, seemed to work.smell too good either after a few days mixed with all your other remnants.
The track itself is managed by the department of conservation who maintain the track (about 53kms) and the 3 overnights huts that you stay in. ´Hut´ is in fact far to a luxurious description - we are talking warehouse-style bunk rooms with no heating, plastic matresess, ready for your sleeping bags (no pillows) and sandflies - again that only attacked me.
Separate to the hut is the commmunal room where there are a number of gas hobs for cooking, tables and chairs and the opportunity to create the only heat that is available - a real fire. There are no showers or hot water although to be honest you don´t really want to take any clothes off anyway.
Only 40´trampers´(this is what they called walkers in NZ and walking ´tramping´ - don´t ask me why but they do get very offended if you say walking) in total are allowed to start the track everyday (to protect the environment) And apparently
most of them had booked months in advance, so as I said, and we were told conitnually, we were very lucky indeed for
Am in there somewhere
this experience. Over the next 4 days we got to know some of our fellow trampers = passing in the rain, admiring their flasks of hot tea and gourmet sandwich ingredients, thawing out by the fire, cooking next to each other (sharing matches and gas rings) sleeping next to each other, avoiding the farters and snorers, you get the jist.
We had a lot of fun though, and the scenery was breathtaking even though the visibility was poor as a result of the rain. At the end we both felt a real sense of achievement but made a firm note to self that day treks only for tramps!
So, from here we spent some more time around Queenstown in the South Island and then hired a car and headed up the West Coast through glacier country and across on the the trans-alpine train to Christchurch, twinned with our very own Christchurch in Dorset and also on a river called the Avon...what am imagination hey..in fact much of NZ is the same
Simon´s killer shot
The lobtailing whale
as home - we even saw Birken´ed.
Our next stop Kaikoura, for watching whales (wow), dolphins, seals and albatross. Kaikoura is on the pacific coast and
Simon´s killer shot
The lobtailing whalehas an incredible underwater canyon with a depth of 1500m, which is why you can go whale watching. The whales we were going to watch were sperm whales which can grow up to 17m long. They ascend approx every hour to breath so we went out in search of them. Unfortunately I spent most of the time in the cabin admiring the raging sea over a sick bag whilst Simon stood out on the deck as the captain tracked them down.
After a half an hour they had picked up some signals underwater and suddenly as I looked out of the window, there it was, my first view of a real whale, right there beside us, about 13m long, spouting out of his blowhole. For about 5 minutes he stayed before us and then lobbed his tail into the air and went under again. The next minute we are off to find another whale about to emmerge, this time it was even larger, we were even closer
and Simon even managed the perfect picture postcard shot as you can see. We also saw about 100 dolphins chasing the boat in the shallow water. a few albatross (with at least
Followed by dolphins..
a 3m wing-span) and a seal colony all in the same day.
From here we headed to the North Island, far more populated by comparison and with far less dramatic scenery. And, after a few days in Auckland we thought we had better give this campervan thing a go (as it was warmer up here) so we hired a 2-berth pretty basic transit style van for our next 5 (and last) days in NZ to visit the Bay of Islands.
It was quite exciting to begin with , actually living 24-7 with something other than Simon, especially as Simon had nicknamed me ´Miss Tupperware´since we arrived in NZ because of my desire for the kitchenettes in all the motels we have been staying in - which incidentally he detested. I just loved the idea of standing up drinking a glass of wine whilst preparing the evening meal all in abot 3´sq. of space and then being able to crash on the bed a
few more feet away.
After a few days though we had had enough of the confined space, the aromas of our great home cooking lingering on everything and the ever-blocked, ultra slow draining, greasy
The rain did bring the waterfalls though
Stunningsink water swishing as we drove. We did however, have a pleasant sail (when the wind was there) around the bays of islands on a 12 metre yacht and got so see some penguins.
We also enjoyed a bottle of Cloudy Bay in its country of orgin, a steal at only 12 pounds a bottle from the local liquor store which we enjoyed, like the ´lushes´ that we have become, on the waterfront.
New Zealand is a stunning country, although I think we would have enjoyed it more had we had the weather
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