New Zealand part 1

Trip Start Aug 08, 2011
Trip End Jul 22, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , Otago,
Friday, November 30, 2012

G'day from New Zealand! Well I was at work for a whole 2 weeks so obviously I deserved another holiday?! So Wyn and I set off for 3 weeks in New Zealand campervan style on a roadtrip through south and north island So far we are loving it! The freedom a campervan gives you is great. We can decide on the spur of the moment where we fancy going and can make as many stops as we like along the way. We are roughly following a plan which involves a loop through the mountains glacier fiords and lakes of south island then up the east coast for wildlife spotting and wine tasting then across to Abel Tasmna for a spot of sea kayaking. Then we are heading through north island making stops at Rotorua, waitimo caves, Bay of Islands and hobbiton (the hobbit film set) obviously!! Hopefully we may get chance to pop and see some family and friends who live on the north island. 

Our journey started in Christchurch 6 days ago. We had a little look around christchurch mostly to stock up on things we need. It looked like a lovely town but there was so much evidence of earthquake damage - it was so sad! Still most of the city centre is closed off and new temporary shops have popped up everywhere. There is rubble everywhere and we saw 1 building being demolished. A bit of a sober start to our trip but the mood was soon lightened as we left christchurch and headed for Arthurs Pass. Arthurs pass is a national park and extremely pretty drive from east to west. The mountains were breathtaking and I was in photography heaven! We went for a little walk to view some limestone boulders that were huge! We thought it looked familiar and later on learnt it was one of the lord of the rings locations - the bit where the hobbits had been captured and the dwarf was complaining his legs were too short as they ran to rescue them! That evening we stopped at Arthurs pass village and set up camp for the night.

The next day was very cloudy and a bit wet so after a quick stroll, we headed for the glaciers as it was a long drive. We are told the drive was stunning but visibility was shocking! The weather started to improve as we made our way down the west coast and we eventually wound up at a rainforest campsite near Franz Joseph glacier. We were lucky as we got there 5 mins before the tourist info closed and we got the last 2 seats on a trip for the following day! Dinner was spent at a pub with a roaring fire - reminding me of one of the things I missed a lot about the UK!

The next day was brilliant - both of our highlights so far! We bit the bullet and forked out for a hellihike to the glacier. We were wisked off in a helicopter to spend 3 hours hiking through the glacier which was absolutely beautiful! The ice was so blue! We found lots of interesting ice formations and squeezed through some seriously tiny ice tunnels - not for the claustrophobic! Some of the tunnels were too narrow to walk with both feet so you had to shuffle with one foot behind the other! It was fun walking with crampons. If anything I felt more stable on the ice than off it - I am known for being a tad accident prone! After our ice hike, we headed to a hot springs spa which we felt was well deserved! Especially for Wyn who had also ran 11k up a mountain before breakfast! It was then a short drive to the next town near Fox Glacier where we enjoyed a really nice meal out followed by a gorgeous sunset!
The next day was an early one. We got up at 4.30 am and headed for Lake Matheson in the dark. The goal was a photo of the reflections of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman at sunrise. There was a lot of mist which hindered the photos a tad as the reflections were not as clear as I'd hoped but it gave a really errie feel to the place. Once the sun had risen, we completed the 6k walk around the lake before getting some breakfast in the van. On our way out of town, we realised we had been camped ditrectly under Mt Cook but hadnt realised as it had been covered with cloud the previous day and now in the sunshine, the view was spectacular! After some brekkie we climbed partway up to the glacier to see the ice from a different perspective. It was so beautiful. The rest of the day was spent driving all the way from Fox Glacier to Te Anau a 7 hour trip! But with stunning mountains, waterfalls, rivers and lakes to break the journey up, it was actually a pretty nice day! We did a little walk to a place called 'the blue lakes' which were a stunning shade of aqua! Something to do with the minerals in the water from glacier run off. We also stopped in Queenstown to make some food and have a little wonder. Queenstown is a gorgeous alpine town set amongst the mountains on the lakes edge. We decided to press on with the journey and explore queenstown more later. 

The following morning we woke early and finished our mamorth trip south to reach Milford Sound. The weather was a little disapointing as it was so cloudy you couldnt see the impressive snow capped mountains which rise straight out of the fiord. But again a bit of mist did add to the atmosphere and on our boat trip we got to see some penguins and seals and we stopped at an underwater observatory. Sods law meant that the weather began to clear as soon as we got off the boat but it atleast meant some stunning views in the sunshine on our way back to Queenstown! Just a mere 4 hours this time!!!  Whilst we are enjoying the scenic drives, I think both of us are relieved to have got the bulk of the long trips out of the way now in the most remote parts of new zealand! From now on the places we plan to visit are mostly only 1-2 hours apart.
Once we arrived back we went to the cinema to see the new twilight film which was really good!

Today we have spent in queenstown enjoying  a chill day with absolutely no driving on the menu! Instead we headed up the mountain on a gondola and enjoyed some impressive views over queenstown and the mountains and lakes whilst enjoying a hot chocolate. we then  headed into town for lunmch and a little wander. Tomorrow Wyn has his eye on a mountain biking trip. I might skip that one as Im no mountain biker and would slow him down. We might hire bikes together at Lake Tekapo though and cycle around the lake. Im not sure yet what I will do, possibly a horse trek depending on the weather!

Anyway I will update you all again soon ! Photos to follow at some point so keep a look out!

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