What happened on the South Island...

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Kenya 2006


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After the ferry crossing we arrived early evening in Picton and drove in the dark along a very twisty road to Nelson for our night stop.  Next day the sun was shining again so after a little bit of food shopping we hired some mountain bikes and hit some trails.  Always some hills to climb in NZ, but also some great down hills as well.  Later on we went to their local pool for a swim and a much needed hot shower.  So after our energetic day we set off to make Kaikoura for the night.


It sure was a cold night here even parking up a few roads from the sea front.  Kaikoura is known for its whale watching and being a beautiful place with the unusual combination of snow capped mountains by the sea.  As we had both been to this place before and did the must do trip out on the boat to see the whales we thought we would see them differently this time.  So we took a plane ride instead.  It was a tiny little 4 seater plane that was in contact with the boats all spotting together.  Well we saw a pod of dolphins with over a hundred of them and a huge great sperm whale.  From the air you could see it was the size of a 20ft boat…  We were also lucky to gain some extra flight time as the pilot (a woman) needed to do a bit of a recky for a boat company.


We had also planned to do some sky diving here but that was all shut for the winter!  So we ate some more Fush’n’Chups at the bay where the fur seals were just lounging around.  Then we headed down and in land to Hanmer Springs. 


Hanmer Springs is like an Alpine village with lots of pine trees around.  You can ski and snowboard here if they have enough snow.  We got here early evening and headed straight for what it’s known for its hot springs.  They may have been modernized with a few more pools added here and there but they sure where great to be in.  Either swimming up or down in the lane pool or just lounging in the hot tubs under a cold clear sky was very nice indeed!  This was also the only place in the campervan we got asked to move along from a spot.  Good job it was only while we where eating and not in the middle of the night!


Next day we set off early and passed through Christchurch heading to Akaroa.  It’s an old French settlement town that we had heard lots about.  It’s basically at the end of that peninsula and when you see it in the distance you see why people say it is a beautiful place and probably the most beautiful town we visited in NZ.  It’s a quiet town in a bay where most of the houses are empty due to the Kiwi’s buying houses here for holiday homes.  Lots of great little coffee shops too!  That afternoon we got on a boat trip and saw more dolphins, penguins, seals and some great views around the bay in the sun shine.


After a night in Akaroa we headed back to the city of Christchurch and dropped our bags at a lodge then dropped off the campervan.  Hooray NO more nightly bed building, banging your head and cold nights!  Here we had a couple of nights in the city in a real bed, mooching around, swimming, running and eating.  We had a great Indian meal with a BYO wine, so we had the bottle of Red we got from Chile.  It sure did travel well…
















Nelson Bay view

Akaroa Bay












































Milford Sounds

Breathe in we're coming through!



















A small selection from the South Island



Early Monday morning we picked up a car for the long drive down to Queenstown.  Nearly 500km’s away.  Great driving views again and strange to be low down in a car after 2 weeks in the campervan.  Along the way we passed two beautiful lakes called Tekapo and Pukaki and once the Japanese tour buses had gone they made for a great photo with the snow capped mountains in the back ground.


Queenstown is the place most people rave about.  Very much like an alpine village and quite large in size with lots of different ski fields around to choose from.  It’s also a busy hub for backpackers and adventure people.  This was probably the busiest of the places we visited in NZ.  They had also just had a dump of snow at the weekend, so we hit the slopes straight away on Tuesday.  We went to Cardrona which is about an hour away and great for beginners.  It was a cold and windy day with the sun struggling to come out.  Rachel had a snowboard lesson but announced afterwards “that’s my last day on a board”!


Next day we did a day trip to Milford Sounds.  It’s miles away so it was an early start with a long coach trip.  The road had also just re-opened from the weekend avalanches.  You could see piles of snow either side of the road when driving along as well as lots of Lord of the Rings filming locations!  Once at Milford sounds we got on a boat and did a 2hr cruise around and saw the fur seals, penguins as well as more great scenery in this national park.  It really was a beautiful spot.


The following day we headed to the west coast and after a couple of quick photo stops along the way taking in the views we stopped the night in Franz Josef.  This place is known for it’s glacier that bizarrely is still advancing even if not that far from the sea!  We booked a ¾ day trip for the next day to do the Glacier hike.  The hike was absolutely great and definitely in the top 5 of the trip league so far.  This glacier has a real steep front so you have to climb up and into it from the start with boots and crampons.  It’s obviously ever changing so the poor guide has to do plenty of ice bashing to make steps/holes and clear walkways.  We went through tunnels and deep crevasses, it was great and would you believe we had another woman pass out in our group while she was in a crevasse!  Her husband in true Ozzy male way, as good as said “what’s the trouble mate” not really rushing to her aid at all…


After a couple of nights there we hit the road going up the west coast to stop in Hokitika.  This wasn’t to far away which was good as today was a very wet and miserable day.  This town is known for being the Jade capital of NZ.  After some time looking round a few shops Rachel bought a nice piece of Flower jade as her memento of New Zealand.


Next day we had the long drive across the country through Arthur’s Pass back to Christchurch for a night and to hand the car back.  The drive back through was absolutely stunning, definitely one of the most scenic parts of NZ on the trip.  One we arrived it was a night of the dreaded travel admin and a hair cut for Terry with the clippers ready for a 4am pick up the next morning for a flight to Melbourne, Australia.  See Great Ocean Road section on the site for more details!




Another small selection from the South Island


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