New Zealand - Could it get any more spectacular???
Trip Start Jan 04, 2011
22Trip End Mar 23, 2011
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After being wowed by Dunedin and spending some really nice time with our friend Carolyn (Jamie's penpal from childhood) and her family, we headed off to Wanaka where Carolyn and Rob have a holiday home in the mountains. On our way to Wanaka, we stopped off for the afternoon in Queenstown, which dubs itself as the "adventure capital of the world". Naturally we visited (but did NOT partake in) the world's original Bungee Jump (they now have 2 additional even more terrifying bungee jumps. Quite a sight to see someone jump off a bridge head first, with ankles tied to a cord. Most opted to simply reach within a few feet of the river water below, some took the head and shoulder plunge! As twisted as this may sound, it was fun watching (other) people scream in horror!! Then took the gondola ride up to the top to get tremendous views of Queenstown and it's setting on the lake surrounded by jagged mountains. Once up there, we took a ride down the luge
After Queenstown, we continued on to Wanaka where we stayed at Carolyn and Rob's lovely holiday home. It was a lot of fun to spend the weekend all together, especially with her two sons, Ben, 11, and Sam, 9. They had to be two of the nicest kids I've ever met. Both so polite, so well-mannered, so thoughtful, yet so different from each other. Ben, the pensive quiet one and Sam the effusive outgoing little imp. We had great meals and drinks in the evenings and spent such fun-filled days being exposed to the true Kiwi lifestyle. On our first day there we spent most of it in Rob's jet boat. Think it was my very first time on a jet boat, and hopefully not my last. Looked like a motor boat, but this thing had a massive 8 cylinder car engine that propelled it like a jet! Vroom vroom! We took it out on big Lake Wanaka for a ride in that inspiring alpine landscape. Incredible feeling whizzing along the foot of these giant mountains, which within minutes change from gentle grass-covered slopes, to rock-faced cliffs, to almost desert-like brown mountains
Our second day was spent in Rob's 4x4 touring the area around Wanaka. We got to see more spectacular scenery - crystal clear rivers, suspension bridges, alpine mountain bike trails, massive rock faces laden with rock-climbers... but the most fun part of it had to be off-roading. I guess since I've never had one of those massive 4x4 beasts, never realized you can drive this thing anywhere,regardless of whether there is a road or not... We went over rocks, steep grass covered hills, through and over bushes. I felt like a kid with a big power truck smashing over anything and everything. All were fun, however the most excitement had to be driving through the "fords"
As all good things must come to an end, it was sad to say good-bye to Carolyn, Rob, Ben and Sam. Each one of them so kind and so fun to be with. What I've begun to realize on this trip is that it's not so easy saying good-bye to people who live on the opposite side of the world - 15,000 kms away! :-( Having said that, I am hopeful that we will see each other again - sooner rather than later.
After we left Wanaka, we drove toward Milford Sound, stopping overnight in Te Anau. The closest accommodations to the famous beauty of Milford Sound which is still another 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive from there
After a good night's sleep back in Te Anau, we awoke to a day that would become a very dark day in New Zealand's history. As my previous post stated, Christchurch was devastated by a massive earthquake. Still find it hard to talk about it. Just hope and pray for those affected by this tragedy. So I'll just end this blog here for now.