A Travellerspoint blog

Christchurch - Kaikoura

semi-overcast 10 °C
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We arrived into Christ chruch that afternoon and it was a very chilled out sunday, the city was just like and english town but was lovely and quaint.

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still get the boyz in da hood although a little more sophiticated with chess playing!!

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We had lunch and did the tourist thing for a few hours but then decided to head on to Kaikoura for the whale watching wacthing so we could spend more time up there..

The drive up there took about 4 hours but we managed to get our whale watching booking done when we got there for the following day. we had heard it was great from others who said they seen loads so we were well loooking forward to it...even though i seem to have developed a seasickness thing since coming away, so i had to get some tablets to help out as teh sea was looking a bit choppy for the morning forecast!

The morning we were heading out was also my mums and sister Louise's birthday back home so i was on the phone to them when i got up for a chat before we headed off.
This wasnt one of my better decisions because as soon as i got through to them i got upset and missed them terribly - i think the fact that there was a party of about 70 in our house and a bouncy castle didnt help when i was sleeping in the back of a cramped campervan! however Ger soon made me see sense and off we went to see some whales..

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The boat itself was quite big but unfortunately the seasick tablets werent doing their job and coupled with my tears for home it was not working out to be a good start to the day at all!
however once we got going the whales started to appear, they were class - big sperm whales about 18m long and we were able to get right up close to them as well, so it was class to see them come up and dive under again with their big tails (flukes)...even if i did have to hang onto the side and keep a sick bag at hand!

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We ended up seeing about 6 whales in total and it had been a fab 4 hours and well worth the $120
When we got back on land we headed up then to see the seal colony as they were just getting back in from theirs days work....
They were just all lying about the side of the road in the bushes and if you would walk past them not knowing at all!!
I thought these were fab, especially seeing as my party trick is to do a seal impression.... which i did and they answered!!

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These guys were cool and there were loads of them all over the place so you got to get really close, even though they made strange bubble noises if you did go too close !

we left here and made our way to a pub called the donegal house - in NZ we thought we had to see this! it was a gorgeous place with a big log fire and proper spuds and dinners, so yeah we stayed a while and i soon forgot about my home and seasickness!

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After leaving reluctantly we headed east for some R&R at the famous Hanmer Springs resort....

Posted by geranddebs 20:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Hokitika - Punakaiki - Arthurs Pass

semi-overcast 10 °C
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Because we left Franz Josef straight after our hike we were shattered when we arrived into Hokitika that night. But when we got there and booked into our camp the owner Brian said he would turn on the Spa for us seeing we were so wrecked!
He was well sound...he turned it on just for us and in we went and locked the door behind us... it was great!
Hokitika is famous for its jade and glass mostly, however most people use it as the crossover town from west to east coast to Christchruch over the mountains and Arthurs pass..
But after some shopping for Jade and watching the glass blowers we ventured north first to a place called Punakaiki...The road from Hokitika up there is grand and we seemed to have left the bad weather behind us. One thing we did notice however were the road signs - slightly different to ones back home!

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The roads were also a bit mad, there are one laned bridges everywhere and shared by most as well - we had to take our chances with this bridge and hope a train didnt come!!

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Punakaiki is only small and i'd say famous for one thing really, its "pancake rocks and blowholes" they sounded too intriguing to miss hence our visit..
They were well worth the 2hr drive as well, all along the coast when you get there are these rocks that basically just look like stacks of pancakes squashed together and then in between them when the tide comes in the sea water blows up straight through them all in massive spirts!

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They were amazing to watch even though you get soaked each time the blow hole goes and there are loads of them as well. We could have stayed there all day but snow was forecast and we needed to get up and across the mountains at Arthurs pass asap so off we went after lunch..
The drive to Arthurs pass hadnt been too bad but as we drove further up the mountain it became extremely ropey.. Snow appeared all around us and it was also dark at this stage, Ger's face was just about touching the windscreen so he could see where he was driving and because we had no snow chains i was shitting myself as well and i dont think my passenger seat driving comments helped Ger concentrate any better on getting up the whinding roads to the top! He has actually taken to calling me Gerry (as in Adams) on occasion lol

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We eventually made it to the top but didnt make it over 10mph to do so.. and it was freezing so there was sod all chance i was spending the night in the van so we booked in for a night of alpine lodge luxury, a big pot of spaghetti bolognese and a few local beers across the road to help us thaw out!
Up early the next morning though to make it back down the other side of the mountain to Christchurch before the snow could catch up with us again!

Posted by geranddebs 01:14 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Fox and Franz Josef Glacier

overcast 11 °C
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It took us about 3 hours to get to the glaciers - surprising really as our cruiza could get up to 120kmph but as soon as you get to a hill this became 20kmph, and given that the south island is mostly hills and mountains 3 wasnt bad..!
We arrived at dinner time but made it to the glacier office before they closed to book our glacier hike day trip for the following day - approx $120 each which is about 60 euros.
So after dinner a la van again we just chilled out and found an interesting and very cool place to go and use the internet...

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Once done we set about transforming the van once more into our bedroom - it was like the bedtime routine and beginning to bore the 2 of us!!
We started the following morning at 10am and had to get all our gear - boots, socks, waterproofs and crampons (metal spikes).
There was about 20 of us going and it was a gorgoeous clear winters day and our giude was called AJ -who had a touch of madness in him but he was well up for the craic so it was a good start..

We started walking through a bit of a forest first and then up the river before you arrived at the bottom of the glacier where you got your first views of the caves and the immense size of the glacier.

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We were divided into 2 groups one for the more relaxed walking trip and the other for the more adventurous "wet" trip... so you guessed it we went for the latter and once we managed to get our crampons on we were off!
Aj took us up, over, down , through and around the glacier all day and it was amazing..we stopped for lunch for about a half hour just to take in the views and scenery which were all just stunning!

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AJ practically hacked our pathway through the ice all day with his axe and we found ourselves jumping across ice crevasses, to trying to fit through them and also in and out of ice caves ... the whole day was just great!

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We finished up about 5pm that evening and even though we all had wet feet, boots, socks etc it had been a fab day...
Once back to base we had thought of staying another night but bad weather had been forecast and when your sleeping in the back of a hiace van wind, rain and snow are what you try to avoid... so we decided to move onto our next stop - Hokitika...

Posted by geranddebs 02:38 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wanaka

sunny 13 °C
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We had driven straight from Queenstown to Wanaka after we had gotten the van fixed and dropped Jess off. It only took us about 2 hours to drive north so it was fine.
The only main thing we had wanted to do in Wanaka was visit "PuzzleWorld" as we drove through it anyway to get up to the glaciers - Fox and Franz Josef.
We stayed the night in Mount Aspiring Motor Lodge - and it was the best camp so far that we have been plugged into..The showers were like ones you would get in a hotel, and believe me this is a luxury when you are travelling in a Toyota Hiace van with no loo and you are used to Hi- Dee - Hi style one.. ie cold and timed!
Usually the showers we go to automatically turn off after approx 6 mins which is not good when you've just put your shampoo on! Its a wonder i havent been caught running out of the shower in the nip to push the button again for another 6 mins..
So these ones in Wanaka got a full 10 out of 10 and this is now the one facility that we base our choice of camp on!

Anyhow, we got up the following morning and headed for Puzzleworld. Its not a very big complex but its got a cool maze outside and then illusion and various puzzle rooms inside.
We started with the maze outside and managed to get each marker in the 4 towers in the corners, but then when it came to get out we got lost trying to find our way back to the start...
So in a maze that should only take 1 hour to complete we were still running around after 2 hours looking for the exit, so yes in true irish chancer style we took the emergency exit instead and never let on!!

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The illusion rooms required far less patience and were fab. fron gravity room to ones where hundreds of faces seemed to follow your every move (v. freaky), and then the grek style toilets it was super...

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So having reclaimed our youth and stopping off at Pebble beach for pics we set off up north for the 2 ice glaciers Fox glacier and Franz Josef.

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Posted by geranddebs 02:37 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Sounthern Catlins - Gore - Queenstown

overcast 10 °C
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The Southern Catlins are most famous for its scenery and as we started to drive up the east coast we found out why!
The scenery was great even though it is winter here it didnt matter, we got our maps of particluar places we wanted to go to so it took us about 4-5 hours to get through them all..
First stop was the famous lighthouse and Curio Bay where NZ's major ship disaster happened, home now though to seal colonies..and where we encountered our first NZ traffic jam!

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then we headed on through the petrified forest ( harry potter eat your heart out!) - fossilized wood from millions of years ago that now looks like stone.. up to Slope point - the most southern part of the South island and extremely windy too!!

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After lunch we headed north for Nugget Point where apparently a colony of yellow eyed penguins live and each day at dusk they return to the beach just like after a days work with the fish for the family... We got there at about 5pm and true enough they all started popping out of the water onto the beach..but unfortunately you had to watch from afar so no pics...
We finished the Catlins and drove 2 hours further north to Gore to stay the night and to take part in some curling at thier renowned olympic sized ice rink the next day..! however when we got there the next day the rink had already been booked by professional skaters and hockey players! So instead the lovely lady on the reception felt bad and gave us a "tour" of the leisure complex instead complete with shamrock shaped spa pool and their meeting room where they had their tea!!
so we got to head to Qtn early than expected and planned to go to Deer Park Heights on the way as this was where a lot of the Lord of the Rings scenes were shot - according to the official book and guide to locations that ger had bought! (big LOR buff!)
I hadnt realised taht it was actually a working deer farmand it turned out to be a really amazing place.
It was like being on an african safari only the animals were different - we had to drive through all of them to get to the top locations, these included: miniature horses, pot bellied pigs, deer, duck, goats, sheep, himalayian Thar (very hairy goat like dudes), Lamas, Alpacas, massive furry Bisons and Tibetan Yaks!
(We actually ate Yak in China too and they are well nice!)
But the Bison were the best and they looked so cosy with their all their fur, but i nearly hit one of their horns with my left wing mirror trying to drive through them..

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The pigs were a bit gruff and defintely needed their teeth cleaned...

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However the Alpacas and Lamas were the funniest and very nosy... one in particular looked as if all she needed was a set of Pat Butcher earrings and a bit of lippy and she'd of been all set for a night out!!!

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All the animals are tame enough and you can feed them and walk through them which was well cool.
Once at the top though the views are amazing of Qtn and surrounding area. The map they give you at teh bottom when you go in tells you where each LOR shot was taken and of what and whom and at each loaction there are signs so its pretty easy to navigate although you need to know the movies and have a good imagination! So i got lunch ready in the van while the other 2 early wet themselves running around...lol

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We left the park then after lunch and had to head for the offices of EZY CRUIZA as we had broken the table leg holder in the van and had to call back in again to get it fixed before we went north - oops.. so after this drama we dropped Jess off in Qtn and headed north to Wanaka....and got a pic of cleaners falls on the way!!

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Posted by geranddebs 02:27 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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