Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, November 21, 2004

Next stop we flew to Wellington or "Windy Welly" as it is more famously known. Here we stayed for 5 days taking in the sights of the harbour area, Parliment House (boring you might think but not for a carpenter as it was made entirely out of wood and over 100 years old! museums, and indoor rock climbing.
Wellington from the botanic gardens indoor rock climbing botanic gardens
Then we took the catamaran ferry across the choppy sea to the south island. Everyone tells you that the south island is the most stunning. Well we think the north is pretty good but they are sooooo right. Once you cross the Tasman sea then we enter the fiord land area. Wow just look at the photos.........say no more!
We docked at Picton and met up with yet more fellow travellers John and Katherine who we first met when they were on holiday in Raratonga (Cook Islands, Pacific Ocean). Katherine's sister had what they call a 'batch' or holiday home to you and me and there we stayed for a few days before going camping "in style" to the Abel Tasman Nation Park.
We loaded up K&J's 4x4 jeep with 2 tents. blow up beds, sleeping bags and a blow up sofa and hit the road. We pitched the tents in Little Kaiteriteri with a sandy beach opposite from where people hired kayaks and went exploring. Well we blew up the sofa and dossed. Did we get some jealous looks when our other fellow campers spied that?? Well it was a fetching bright blue, you couldn't miss it really!
Some people are mad enough to walk the 4 day Abel Tasman trek. Oh no not us. We drove to one end and walked part of it along stunning beaches and then drove to the other end and walked part of that too. Carry a tent, all food and water for 3 days? Lets just say the thought was enough to put us off!!!!
Well done to all those who do it........you're nutters!!!
A BIG thank you to Katherine and John for driving us around and laughs we had. Here's to meeting you somewhere in Europe in 2005/6.

So after a week with K&J we decided to give them break. We then got the train down the east coast to Christchurch. We broke the journey up stopping one night in Kaikoura. This town is famous for whale watching cruises and swimming with dolphins. Our bodily features still failed to appear so we weren't ready to jump into those sea temperatures and settled on cycling to a sheep farm to watch some shearing instead. "Ohhhh" we hear you say. Well these sheep were quite interesting as sheep go as their woolen coats grow so fast they have to be sheared twice a year. They were called Drysdale sheep and their wool is used to make carpets....oh excitement!!! Well it passed some time away and made you snigger at reading this in the process. Ohh the things we do to keep our readers happy?

Once in Christchurch the summer still failed to appear so we picked up Katherine and John's spare car and headed off to explore more of the south island. Lake Tekapou was our first stop somewhere to the left of Christchurch a bit and down. We arrived there in the beautiful sunshine........summer has arrived we thought......well yes that afternoon we did strip off to t-shirts. The water in the lake was a stunning blue check out the photos. That beautiful scene all changed when we woke up in the morning to SNOW on the ground. A light dusting on lower ground more up the surrounding mountains but enough to make a little snowman anyway as the photo shows.
Then we headed off to Wanaka. Another area of outstanding beauty chiefly because of it's lake. The water here is the most vibrant blue we have ever seen. Caused by the sun reflecting off the fine particals of sediment within the water. Check out the photos. We walked to the top of Mt Iron where we could see both Lake Wanaka and Lake Haewa. Stunning. We also tested our skills at Puzzle World in it's huge maze that looked simple enough from the viewing platforms but once inside you can forget it. Instead of the usual hedges there was just fence panels. Easy enough you may think but even Martin couldn't see over them and even when he could it still took us a good hour and a half to find all 4 coloured houses and get back to the beginning. Frustrating was not the word!

As we had been travelling around the south island for a few weeks now most people had suggested that we should go and visit "the Sounds" Miford Sound is the most popular or Doughtful Sound which is bigger and less touristy. With that in mind we booked an overnight cruise in Doughtful Sound.
Not really having a clue what we were in for only that we would be sharing a quad bunk cabin with 2 strangers. Our first dorm experience if you like. Well we get on board what turned out to be a luxury boat capable of taking 72 passengers by on had 42 that day. And we get a cabin all to ourselves!! Maybe it was the flatulence problem Martin was having whilst the Captain welcomed us on board!! Who knows but it worked.

So the boat sets sail on a rather cloudy chilly mid afternoon but we didn't mind as there was huge windows to look out of and a nature guide on board telling us the occasional points of interest. Then out comes the muffins, coffee, tea all the hot drinks available...........more cruising...........more chatting to fellow passengers..............more food, hot soup,fresh rolls by which time the boat has sailed up one of the numerous arms of the Doughtful Sounds. Then it was announced that kayaking or going out in the Tender was being offered. So Martin and I jump into a kayak each and follow the other bods on what was very calm still waters. And then the sun came out fab!! The sun light reflected off the whiteness of the boat it was beautiful. Once back on board and showered then it was time for another huge feast and as much as you could fit in. Martin was in his element. We eventually rolled into our cabin beds well after midnight with a reminder that breakfast was at 7am. What!
The next morning was beautiful. The cloud had lifted still no sun but the water was sooooo still that it is difficult to tell which way round the photos of the fiords are...........judge for yourselves.
Yet more food at breakfast, everything was on offer that we both felt like Mr Kreosote. The sight of one waffer thin mint................
During the morning a pod of Dolphins joined us at the front of the boat. Jumping and leaping out of the water you can never fail to tire of them. And we saw Penguins too. A fantastic cruise we just didn't want to leave.
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