Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
17Trip End Sep 14, 2010
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Cold nights, long drop toilets, showers
a rarity, same food night after night but some of the most
outstanding natural beauty I have ever seen, it can only be New
We landed into Christchurch expecting,
coming from Aus for it to be pretty chilly we had layers of clothes
on but when we landed it was an amazing 22degrees and we suddenly
felt rather daft. Mind you the nightimes were something the drop in
temperature was something else.
Christchurch is in the South Island and
not a particularly big place however it is bathed in history and
everywhere you turn they remind you of Captain Cooks discovery etc
etc.. its still a very young country compared to most the Maoris only
arrived about 800 yrs ago unlike the Aboriginals in Aus who are
probably the oldest living races to exist on the earth. Anyway we
were really only there for our camper-van, we picked it up a couple
of days after arriving and it really was like a home on wheels bar
the toilet, it was amazing, I've never been in a camper-van, caravan
yes but not a drive able vehicle and I loved it. A miniature kitchen
just big enough for someone on my midget standards, and a seating
area that by night became our double bed, amazing! The only downfall
was the fact that to get heating in the night you needed to be
connected to a power outlet which meant staying in swanky campgrounds
and being the tight arse backpackers we are we just couldn't do it so
instead we invested in thermal underwear and wooly socks and suffered
from there on.
We were so excited that we wouldn't be
having to pitch a tent after Aus but yet be so free with our own time
we had the most amazing time driving through the south island. There
is beauty and then there is mind blowing, breath taking, awe
inspiring, gobbledegooping beauty, whatever you call it, the South
Island has it.. pretty much every day we were astounded, how could
this place be so dramatic from one day to the next and engulf your
senses with such amazement... I still cant quite explain it to give
In our 3 weeks on the South we covered
4000 kms, the island itself is only 2000 from end to end, we saw
almost every part that we could, we went to Mount Cook and despite
the rain we saw the Tasman Glacier, not much in itself but I saw my
first Icebergs in the lake that sits below it and the landscape was
full of a mix of shingle and glacier colored lakes set against the
autumn colored hills. Even the rain couldn't ruin the mouth dropping
We would stay in the national parks
most of the time off the beaten track and quiet and seriously
beautiful surroundings. We often woke up to mist covered lakes and
mountains surrounded by pine forests its one of those feelings that
you are so privileged to be standing in such awe inspiring natural
When we arrived down in the far south,
Curio Bay we were welcomed by a dozing fur seal most of the seals we
saw were always sleeping, lazy buggers!
The coast line was amazing, huge
crashing waves and forests stretching right out onto the ocean front.
Often there are yellow eyed penguins who come in at the end of each
day and nest in the forests, seriously cute!
We followed the coast and cut through
inland up to Milford Sound, one of the most famous areas in NZ simply
for its mountainous landscape and large lake that stretches out to
the ocean, huge waterfalls cascade down the cliffs which the boat
tour we took of the sound pulled right up to pretty much soaking us
all. We camped a couple of days in the area and although I had to
sleep in every piece of clothing the night skies were some of the
clearest I've ever seen and the sunrise over the mountains was
something to be seen.
The air is so clear that the lakes are
like looking through glass, and reflect like a mirror on a calm day.
One place we camped that was truly magical was Kinloch Lodge, a very
small campground on a pebbly bay we were the only people there, it is
at the edge of Lake Wakatipu, the longest I think, in New Zealand
and the most stunning. We were so lucky as it was a very still day on
the water and the huge lake reflected the sky, hills and mountains
perfectly that looking back on the photos its difficult to know which
way up it should be its that clear.
We covered so much of the South Island
in such a short time that its all a blur but our favorite place was
this lake and the campsite, its close to Queenstown which is a great
town but massively touristy and so we headed onto Wanaka which has
the same vibe but on a smaller scale. It was here that we went to the
Cinema Paradiso, a great place with just one small screen and every
seat is a battered old sofa, they do a matinee and during this they
bake fresh cookies and make hot chocolate hmmmm just like being at
home in a way.
From here we journeyed up through the
valleys and came to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers two huge ice
formations wedged in the mountains, unfortunately unless you pay you
cant really get very close but still a sight worth seeing if not
bloody freezing and despite this the sand flies are rampant.. mind
you through my thermal chastity clothing they had no chance of
We weaved our way in and out the
landscape coming to Kaikoura famous for dolphin and seal swimming,
which we didn't do but we did wake up in the morning to about 50
dolphins fishing just off shore and a group of seals playing in the
water, to be so close to such things is a blessing.
Its a great area and still the colors
of the autumn are just stunning, rich reds, golds I cant get over
them even now.
We had to get to Picton in the northern
tip of the South Island to catch our ferry to the North Island (very
confusing I know) so we spent a few days in the Marlborough sounds
famous for its vineyards but no matter how hard we tried every bottle
of wine we had was pretty pants.. but then we are tight so maybe to
get a good one you really do have to spend +$30 a bottle.. Oh well
didn't stop us drinking it, if only to keep warm!
At one of the campgrounds we made a
friend out of a Weka Bird, basically a cross between a Kiwi and a
Chicken, very odd fella but cheeky as we saw it run off with someones
bacon when they turned their back.. well done Weka!
We finally caught our ferry over to
Wellington on the North Island and from here all the amazing sunshine
we had in the south disappeared and the heavens opened for a couple
of days it got so bad we could barely see the road. Mind you there
wasn'ttt a lot to see at first only when we hit the thermal regions
of Taupo and Rorotura it started to get interesting and very very
smelly, bit of a cross of tinned dog food and egg mayI'mIm sure with
all the stinky air we breathed in once we had left we had the same
lingering smell on us for days.. nice!
We went to see the famous Wai O Tapu
Lady Knox geyser, they pretty much pour some soap in it to make it
react and then boom! Up she blows, its quite something but a shame it
doesn't just happen on its own . good old persil I guess.
At the same place there were a few
acres of thermal volcanic pools and caves, all pretty stinky but the
boiling sulfur water and smoke are something I'm sure we wont see
anywhere else, some of the colors reminded me of my old Capri 1980s
jacket, some good illuminous greens were a happening then!
Moving on from dog food land we only
had a few days to kill before hitting Auckland so we went up the
Coromandal Peninsula to the famous Hot Water Beach, basically your
standard looking beach but with a twist, at low tide you hire a spade
and dig yourself a hole which then fills with boiling hot water which
you then sit in until your skin is literally burning then run into
the freezing cold sea for a quick cool down and then back into the
make shift bath. It was so hot that it was almost unbearable but as
it was a pretty cold day is was quite nice to be in the hot water as
opposed to in the cold sea! Adam made an excellent dam surrounding
our pool to keep the sea water coming in I must say it really was the
best hole there, others were just puddles in comparison a great
achievement I would say.Another achievement was Mr Speedo man, I wish we could have captured the moment he decided to get digging, literally in saggy speedos and flashing his 40yr old crotch in front of anyone, he did get strangely quite close to Adam he was almost teabagged! Nice!
Anyway after the lovely testicular view we headed past Auckland
and up towards the Bay of Islands, which is a very pretty part of the
coast line but the weather was pretty shitty that day and the
campground we had hoped to stay in was closed so we did a bit of a
drive around and then found a great campsite about 100km out of
Auckland, Urititi beach, which just so happens to be a nudest beach!
So come the days of sunshine on a stroll along the beautiful powder
white sands we were met by a pair of saggy boobies and some very free
swinging tackle.. Lovely! But the campsite, (not a nuddy one) was
lovely and we ended up spending our last days in the van there until
we then headed into Auckland and said so long to the van that had
done us so proud.
We stayed in a freezing cold icebox of
a hostel for 3 days and wandered the city streets until the day came
for us to fly to Chile. We don't really have much to report on
Auckland, its a city as any other, with about a population of
1.5million which is almost ½ of New Zealand but its pretty small but
has some nice areas in the burbs, where we were there was a great
fish and chip shop so we treated ourselves on our last night, the
most expensive Fish and Chips I've ever had well for me its minus the
fish but still it was pretty good chips..
So that was New Zealand for us, by far
the South Island was the best and one of the most beautiful places I
have been in my life but by the end we really felt ready to get going
there is only so much you can do and see and its pretty small really
in comparison to most places we've been but that made it possible to
see almost every inch of it. The people are lovely although hard to
understand, when they say bed for instance it sounds like bid, or as
our friends found tent sounded like tint.. but once you can get what
they are saying they are a pretty friendly bunch but still the fact
that 40million sheep to 4 million people well what can I say!
So were now in South America and I'm
sure it wont be too long before we get some stories to tell and some
photos to show you.
For all the New Zealand pictures see
the link -