Actually NZ - you're pretty gorgeous...

Trip Start Nov 09, 2012
Trip End Mar 04, 2013

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Where I stayed
oamaru top 10 holiday park
What I did
Mount Cook
Lake Takepo
Mount John observatory

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, January 21, 2013

We had a lovely scenic
drive down to Fairlie, where we stayed for our time at Lake Tekapo.
Fairlie looked less far away from the lake on the map, but turned out
to be an hours drive, so after finding our 'pitch' at the campsite,
we headed to the lake to check it out and weren't disappointed. The
lake is massive, a silvery blue colour and is nestled between
mountains. The mountains actually created the lake from the melted
snow which settles on top of the mountains each winter, and the blue
colour comes from rock flour (as the locals call it), where because
the rock is so soft, when the water/avalanches come down the
mountain, it breaks up the rock and washes it into the river, and it
has the consistency of flour (and floats to the bottom). So the lake
is actually white, but when the sun shines on it, the light is
trapped in the lake, and the only light reflected back out is blue,
hence the blue colour.

So after checking out
the lake and booking ourselves onto a tour of the Mount John
Observatory tour for the next night, we headed back to camp for some
plastic-plate-pasta. Actually they were plastic bowls that we
procured to save on washing up :-) and an evening chilling out at the

The next day we went
back to Lake Tekapo for the day, first for a 3 hour scenic walk up to
Mount John and back around following the lake. It was a very long
way up and by the 2 hour mark, my feet were blistered in my walking
boots and I ended up having to walk in my socks... Debs fared no
better and we both have massive blisters which are very sore. 
We decided to walk into the glacial lake to help aid healing but
 forgot that the water's actually melted ice - and was very cold...
After our walk and a lovely pizza in the local Italian and chilled in
the camper before checking in for our star gazing tour. One definite
advantage of having a camper is you can go from eating in a
restaurant to laying down in bed in less than 5 minutes... At
10.30pm we checked in for our night time star gazing tour back on top
of Mount John, but this time, we went up by coach... At the top of
Mount John there are a few domed observatories, most of which are
hooked up to computers operated by the University of Canterbury –
with only 1 which we could look through, across the top of the hill
were 4 or so other telescopes set up to view other objects,
including, the small and large clouds of Magellan, which are 2 dwarf
galaxies outside of our milky way, the Globular cluster (47 Tucanae &
Omega Centuri), the Jewel Box (which has 3 different coloured stars
in a line, made up of stars that were made at different times,
therefore are different colours), the Tarantula, as well as the
Southern Cross and Orion’s Belt and Orion himself! A fantastic
evening out with the stars with knowledgeable guides, an Antarctic
style coat to keep warm – and a lovely hot chocolate...

After a late night, we
had an early morning to travel out to Mount Cook, the tallest
mountain in New Zealand, to go on a tour of the Tasman Glacier. The
Glacier is massive, 27km in length, 4km wide and 600m thick, it's
previous melting has created a large lake in Aoraki/Mt Cook, which
enables speed boats to get up close and see it's icebergs (melting
causes large chunks of the glacier to break off and bob around in the
lake) and the glacier itself. The glacier is a browny colour as it's
covered in rocks from the mountains that surround it. Unfortunately
the glacier is retreating, and in 100 years time it will be gone, not
through global warming directly, but because the lake that the
glacier has formed is eating away that the ice, being around 12
degrees warmer than the ice.

After our glacier tour
we headed away from Mount Cook and down towards Dunedin, our next
main stop. On the way down we stopped for a night at Oamaru, a
quaint little coastal town between Christchurch and Dunedin. We went
for a walk into the town centre and found a Victorian street, with
the old houses from where Europeans settled in the 1860's onwards.
Down from there is a penguin sanctuary where you can go to watch the
penguins come home each night after their fishing expedition, or
watch them in their natural habitat (natural in this case is wooden
boxes in the sand, built by the park). On the rocks we saw some
seals trying to soak up some sun before going back into sea. It was
a very lovely little town.

On our way to Dunedin
we stopped off at 'Shag Point' (hold for chuckles) where you can
drive off the highway, down an unsealed road for 100 metres and watch
seals on the rocks and penguins on the beach (at night time) for free
and in their natural habitat. We saw some lovely seals sunbathing
and kicking back and it was lovely to see them in nature.

We're now headed to New
Zealand's version of Scotland – where many Scottish settlers came
over in the 19th century – hence places called Dunedin
and Invercagill. In Dunedin we hope to go on a wildlife tour to see
some endangered yellow eyed penguins, Fairy penguins, seals and sea
lions – as-well as buy a new camera as our has developed a black
line down the side of all the pictures

A week in the camper
van's nearly up and if we're honest, it ain’t no Australia. New
Zealand is more picturesque than Oz, it has stunning views of
mountains, lakes, snow, sun, sea and sand and the weather has gotten
better – but we are missing the big cities of Sydney, Brisbane and
Melbourne. Added to that Debs got poorly a few days ago, and I am
currently suffering from a cold – in a camper van – in a holiday
park, with no TV or room service to be found. Saying that though, we
are having a really nice time, seeing some outstanding sights, the
weather's good and the people are really lovely.

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