Mooontains mooontains mooontains and other things!

Trip Start Sep 07, 2004
Trip End Aug 15, 2005

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Saturday, April 2, 2005

Monday finally came and it was at last time to be reunited with our mums. After being told how well we look more than a few dozen times we got down to some serious wine drinking and catching up in our B&B in Auckland after a lovely meal out in the city. The following day my mum's very best friend from Canada, Maurice, came to join us and after his 14 hour flight from LA we all set off for a look at the geysers and mud pools of Rotorua. The smelly sulphur got a bit of getting used to but the geysers and hot colourful lakes were most interesting. Sorry, no pictures at the moment until we get my mum to email them to us.
The next day we all got on our flight to Christchurch in the south island and from there we set off in our campervans down south. Rich, Gina (Rich's nutty mum, we love her!) and I were in a 4-berth and my mum (Maralyn) and Maurice were in their 2-berth. After a very apprehensive and nervous start on my mum's behalf, within minutes she was as excited as a puppy to be behind the wheel and the mothers became collectively know as the Mother-truckers. 1st stop was halfway to Queenstown in a place called Fairlie where we discovered that our campervan's electricty wasn't working so had no heater or microwave but the next morning we got that fixed and off we went to Mount Cook. The drive down was lovely and at lake Tekapo (which induced tears on my mum's behalf, bless her) we had our porridge looking at the moutains.
When we got to Mt Cook we took a couple of 1 hour walks to see it at different angles. Again, no photos till we get them emailed to us.
We arrived in Queenstown that evening and we were all looking forward to my mum's surprise 50th Birthday prezzie - a hot air balloon trip. Unfortunately we woke up the next morning with the sound of rain on the campervan roof and were informed we couldn't do it. C'est la vie! That evening we realised we'd made the most awful mistake of not buying wine the day before as today was Good Friday and the sale of alcohol outside of a restuarant or bar was strictly not allowed. Rich had several failed atempts of trying to buy bottles from the local pubs but in the end we made do with whisky coffee back at the campervan. The next morning we made it all the way down to Milford Sound in the Fiordland national park. And what a breathtaking drive that was! The only thing that interupted the raucous and tone-deaf singing of me and Gina was the dramatic views ahead and around us, sheer cliffs and huge mountains. We managed to get a place at a camperpark with grand views, and that night Rich cooked Thai mussels which went down a dream. This time we were stocked up with 15 bottles of Shiraz and Sauvignon blanc.
After a pretty on and off wet few days we woke up to a most gloriopus sunny day. Good job, because we were booked in for a cruise down the Milford fiords. The scenery is something else at Milford sound. The 2 hour boat journey was really special, waterfalls, mountains, and a pod of dolphins with a baby dolphin, ahh, see photos.
On our way back from Milford sound, due to the rain the day before the waterfalls were in full form and this made the journey even more dramatic. To get to the Glaciers from there we had to go all the way south and back up to Queenstown to get on the right road. This, I imagine, might be a pain if you left yourself little time to see the south island or were in a big hurry but its one of the things that makes NZ so unspoilt.

On the way we stopped at Haast, calling in at Wanaka for 10 minutes. The journey from Wanaka was sublime, really beautifull mountains and lakes. At Haast we couldn't even manage to get a pub meal at 8.45pm - they were closing the kitchen due to only having a few people in. This is one thing that can drive you crazy in NZ! So we wipped up some pasta and collapsed early after a pretty shattering day of driving on curly whirly roads.
We drove up to Fox glacier that morning and took a 1 hr walk to the foot of it as you're not allowed to go any further without a guide. It was pretty nice to look at but we all just wanted to get near the ice which was barriered off and this was somewhat frustrating. Still, tomorrow we were gonna land on it in a helicopter!!!!!
After a pleasant but damp walk round Lake Matheson which is supposed to have the glaciers and Mt Cook mirrored in its waters, we drove up to the next glacier town, Franz Josef. The camperpark we were in had lovely views of the glaciers and we had a spectacular sunset that night.
Wednesday came and that morning we had a helicopter all to ourselves (the 5 of us) for our 30 minute trip over the glaciers. Like, of my god!!!!!! This simply was the most amazing experiece of our lives. Having done a skydive in the UK this was even more of a thrill than that. The sensations you get in a helicoptor are incredible, due in part to being able to see all around you, but as you soar from great heights over sudden drops its like the most awesome fairground ride in the world as your stomach ends up in your mouth. Then when the helicoptor landed on Fox glacier it was like being dumped in the middle of the antarctic. The temp went from 24 degrees to -1.

Talking of regrets, later that afternoon, while Rich and Gina played a game of very windy golf (we are talking gale force here), My mum, Maurice and I went western style horse riding. It was a lovely 2 hour trek and I really got into the swing of western syle riding and felt confident enough to canter at my will and thought western style was far superior. Mmmmmmmmm wrong. The next day my mum and I (not Maurice, as this is the style he was used to, coming from Canada) woke up with the sorest bum and inner thighs and for the following 3 days developed bruises and could hardly walk. It took me until sunday (4 days later) to feel I could walk properly without pain! So English style rules for me.
That night in Franz Josef we had finished off an amazing day with a nice meal out, complete with champagne.
Thursay, and it was time to drive up to Christchurch as the old folks were leaving us and catching their plane on Friday. Friday moring and I woke up with a lump in my throat. It was time to say farewell, see you in August. We had a really good time with the old dears bless their granny socks and they have been sorely missed.

Over to Rich in a new entry now as my fingers ache!
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