Chocolate and snow!

Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
Trip End Aug 17, 2009

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, April 9, 2009

We left Queenstown to go to Dunedin.
We spent two nights here and spent an hour or so at Cadbury World! Chocolate in Australia was horrible but it's nice in New Zealand so I couldn't really pass up going to Cadburys. I had envisaged our tour as my golden ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but somehow it just didn't live up to the hype! Unfortunately the factory closes at the weekend so our visit was a bit shorter than a normal tour. Myself and John were the only people on the tour at the time that we chose! The tour started with us getting a little goody bag of fun size chocolate and then we were shown a video of the history of Cadburys in New Zealand and the chocolate that they produce in the factory. We had to pay close attention to the video as there was a test after it! Being the only two people on the tour it would have been embarrassing if we weren't able to answer the questions and we did get some chocolate if we got the correct answer! We were told a few facts and then came the fun part! One tonne of liquid chocolate was dropped from above us. It splashed everywhere so wearing a white top wasn't the best idea.

After Cadbury World we went in search of the steepest street in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. We walked to it instead of getting a bus and ended up on a detour which involved walking uphill in the heat! At one stage it was 21!

Baldwin Street is three hundred and fifty metres in length and a cul de sac. At the beginning of the street it's not that steep but it gradually gets steeper. At its maximum, the slope of Baldwin Street is approximately 19 so for every 2.86 metres travelled horizontally, the elevation rises by 1 metre! On the top section of the street, one hundred and sixty one metre stretch it is a vertical climb of 47. 22 metres! The lower section of the street has an asphalt surface but the upper section has a concrete surface as tar would melt and flow down the street on a warm day. Every year there is a race up and back down the street which is know as Baldwin Street Gutbuster. Roderick Mc Lay (1917 - 2006) ran Baldwin Street over five hundred times between 2000 and 2005 ( he was 84 -88 when he did it!)

We stopped at Oamaru for one night to watch the penguins come in, a bit similar to when we were in Melbourne but John had missed it. We had the opportunity to see Yellow eyed penguins also known as Hoiho. These penguins are endangered, with an estimated population of 4,000. It is considered one of the world's rarest penguin species. So we were really lucky to see four! The average height of the Yellow eyed penguin is 75 cm.

We then got to see the tiny little blue penguins that I saw in Melbourne. The difference between Melbourne and Oamaru was around nine hundred and ninety two penguins! Only eight appeared in Oamaru which wasn't as impressive but it was still nice to see them!

On our way from Oamaru to Lake Tekapo we stopped at the Moeraki Boulders.
Māori tradition tells of the ancient people Kahui Tipua building a canoe, Arai Te Uru, which sailed from southern New Zealand to the ancestral Polynesian homeland, Hawaiki to obtain kumara. On its return it became waterlogged off the Waitaki River mouth, lost food baskets at Moeraki beach and ended up wrecked at Matakaea (Shag Point) where it turned into Danger Reef. After the wreck a crew member, Pahihiwitahi, seeking water, discovered the Waitaki River, but on returning south and failing to reach the wreck before dawn he was turned into a hill in the Shag Valley.

The Moeraki Boulders are a number of huge spherical stones, found strewn along a stretch of Koekohe Beach near Moeraki. These boulders are grey-coloured septarian concretions which have been exposed through shoreline erosion from black mudstone coastal cliffs that back the beach. They originally formed in ancient sea floor sediments during the early Paleocene some 60 million years ago.

The boulders weigh several tonnes and are up to three metres in diametre.

Māori legend tells that the boulders are remains of calabashes, kumaras and eel baskets that washed ashore after the legendary canoe, the Araiteuru was wrecked at nearby Shag Point (Matakaea).

The day we got to Lake Tekapo we stopped at the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was lovely and sunny and there was a nice clear blue sky. The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1935 as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie country. It is a nice small church. Inside the church, behind the alter is a large window that gives a gorgeous panoramic view of the lake and mountains behind the church. So it's no wonder why it's usually booked up eight months in advance for weddings!
There is a famous sheep dog statue on the lake's edge near the church. It is in memory of the dogs "without the help of which the grazing of this mountainous country would be impossible."

We stayed in Lake Tekapo for two nights in a dorm. Our first night in the hostel it was freezing as there was no heating on in the lounge. I couldn't believe when I asked was the fire going to be lit the cheeky receptionist asked me did I know how to light a fire! The next morning I woke up at seven when some guy who was in our dorm said it had snowed. I grabbed my runners, threw on a hoody, got my camera and was outside within seconds! I could not have anticipated how much snow there was! I got outside and there was snow EVERYWHERE! It was just a blanket of snow and white for almost as far as the eye could see. The mountains, trees, grass, cars and buildings were covered in snow. That's when I realised that some poor guy had camped overnight, outside in his tent! He said he had woken up when his tent started to cave in!

I was like a kid on Christmas morning, I was just so excited to see so much snow. I've been to Lapland (Rovaniemi) but I have never seen so much snow in my life! Even though we celebrated Christmas in Sydney it didn't really feel like it was Christmas because it wasn't cold so I suppose my day in the snow was my Christmas. After taking loads of photos and falling on my ass in my pyjamas twice I thought it was time for breakfast and to get dressed properly for the snow. We did take a time out to use the miracle of the internet....... skype to show some people how much snow there was so I hope you enjoyed it! We had a brief snowball fight and then we made snowmen and I made a snow angel. We were the only people in the hostel that had embraced the snow so much to make a snowman. After a while we decided to walk to the Church of the Good Shepherd so we could have some photos to compare with the day before.

The next morning we left Lake Tekapo and within ten minutes of driving there was no visible sign of snow. We went back to Christchurch for one night before flying to Auckland to start our tour of the North island.
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nicole curry on

When were you there? We are heading over in end of march through April11. Our boys would flip if it snowed!! After two christmas in Asia they are dying to see some snow! Thanks for all the great tips!

annemarie.demp on

It was the first week of April so you might be lucky enough to get some snow! The locals had said it was earlier than normal but you can live in hope and pack warm clothes

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