We started off in Picton and have slowly moved our way down to the south part of the island, stopping at a few places on the west coast, traveling through the mountains via Authors Pass, further south along the east coast, back up into the mountains by Mt. Cook and are now in Queenstown (the adventure capital of the WORLD). With that being said, all the activities here are super expensive. So, yes, we have made our way around pretty quickly but have 3 months left to enjoy.
First, we started of camping right on Marlborough sound, on Momorangi Bay.
Our first night it got pretty cold and at about 5am I couldn't take it anymore and moved in the car. Not that that helped at all. We couldn't believe how cold it got at night. So the next night I wore two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, 3 shirts, my fleece, Brian's heavy coat, a pair a gloves and my hat. It wasn't very comfortable and I got a little too warm but at least I knew I could handle the cold. I'm lucky it hasn't been quite that bad again.
After visiting the north part of the island near Picton we spent a night at an old coaling mining camp.
There were some old tunnels that we got to go through that had glow worms in them. They also had free gold panning but the sand flies were so bad we couldn't be down by the river long enough to find anything.
Next we decided we should spend some time trying to find a job. So we went to Blenheim, which is the wine capital on the South Island. We went to a number of different wineries looking for work. Nothing came up that day but since we're pretty sure we have some work lined up for us at the end of March into April.
On our way to the west coast from Blenheim we stopped at a campsite looking for a place to stay. Brian had read me the description of this place and it said something like "swim suits optional" so that made my wonder but what the heck, we still checked it out. So...we pulled up and got out of the car but didn't see anyone around the reception area so we took a look around by the pool and kitchen and such. We couldn't find anyone so we got back in the car to leave. We were half way down the driveway when I hear a lady yell "Wait!". When I turned around that's when I saw her...a much older woman jogging completely NAKED down the gravel driveway to stop us. I didn't know what to do so I stopped and she caught up with us. She stood inches from me on the drivers side and talked to us to about 5 minutes about the prices and how great the campgrounds were. I have never stared into someone's eyes so directly before. I had no idea what Brian was doing in the passengers seat and I knew I would burst if I looked at him. So I told her we were still looking and would maybe come back. What a awkward conversation! And, no, we didn't stay there, but Brian would like to go back when we are up north again.
We found another place to stay but it almost made me wish we had stayed at the nudie place. It was partly on a cemetery and a possum was stocking us. We had a campsite kind of off alone and when we came back from dinner we saw this possum run up a nearby tree. After a few minutes it started making this horrifying screeching sound. From that point on I didn't leave the tent because I couldn't stop thinking about how it probably had rabies and was waiting for me outside the tent.
The next night, however, we lucked out and found a wonderful campsite right on the beach in Westport. We were the only ones camping in this field and enjoyed sitting out at the picnic table. We started noticing these weird looking birds, the size of a cat, coming out of the bushes right by our tent searching for food. I thought they were babies but I have learned sense that they are just big strange birds that can't fly. Anyway, we were both sitting on one side of the table when we heard a bag rustling and looked up just in time to see one of the birds running as fast as he could into the bushes with the handle of one of our grocery bags (that we used as a garbage) in his month. It was so funny. Once in the bushes, he tore it apart and got some banana peels and beer cans.
Also, while in Westport we when to another sea lion colony and went for a hike. It was raining most of the time we were there but it didn't stop us from seeing the sights. After Westport we headed south to Greymouth. It was supposed to be one of the most beautiful drives in New Zealand, but for us, it was rain and clouds. But we did stop 3 times along the way searching for the Pancake Rocks, each time thinking we had arrived, only to find out they were further down the road. We stayed at another campsite right on the beach and got to see our only sunset on the west coast. Also in Greymouth, we went to the Montieth's Brewery where we got a great hour and a half long tour and got lots of samples. We also met a fun couple (Warren and Mary) who are American's that live in Sydney. It was good they were on our tour because our tour guide was basically a big stick-in-the-mud. She complained for 5 minutes about not having her morning coffee (the day BEFORE). What? Also, I've never heard anyone talk about dairy farming more then her - and I'm related to dairy farmers.
That day we went over Aurthur's Pass to the east coast.
We stayed at a decent place where there were only a few other people staying. We decided to camp far away from the kitchen and toilets (won't do that again). That night I was walking to the tent but didn't have my flashlight and ended up having to yell for Brian because it was so black out and the moon was covered, I couldn't see two inches in front of me and I knew the tent was FAR away. I also had to stomp my feet, sing and carry big rocks with me because every once in awhile I saw eyes looking at me in the darkness.
After visiting a few places on the east coast and having no relief from the rain we decided to head up into the mountains where we heard the weather was clearing. We're sure glad we did because we found the most beautiful lake! Lake Tekapo.
If you look it up on Google Earth you will see what I mean when I say the water was the craziest blue we've ever seen! Amazing!
We had a great campsite and stayed a couple nights that overlooked the lake. We were also right next to hot springs which we went to a couple times. While in the mountains we also visited Mt. Cook (the tallest mountain in Australasia) and hiked up to the Tasman Glacier. Boy, I sure learned a lot about glaciers after seeing one in person. We also lost one of our hub caps - poor Miles. Australasia is a funny word.
After our first two weeks on the North Island we headed south across Cooks Straight and are now on the South Island. We've been down here for about 2 weeks and have made our way down to Queenstown. We have to admit that we enjoy the South Island a little more as there are less people and just more beauty. We thought the North Island would be hard to beat but we immediately love the south. The only problem has been the weather. When we were on the west coast it rained on us most of the time, so we headed to the east coast, where it followed. Finally, we have had three FULL days of sunshine - wow! All the locals talk about how they have ever seen such a cold and rainy summer. Just leave it to Brian and I to come during that time. But, even with the rain, this place is unbelievably gorgeous.