Jos and Sandra in New Zealand

This is the online diary of Jos and Sandra's trip to New Zealand.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Time To Wrap Up Now!

Yes, we made it back home. Our shorts, sandals, suncream and shades have been put away and the hats, gloves and thermal underwear are out! This is the view from our window-the beautiful, warm weather is just a memory now. The snow has been falling and it feels more like Christmas now than it did in Sydney in December.

Along with our memories, we have some souvenirs and 850 photo's, so avoid visiting us or you'll be bored to death by slideshows.

Thanks to everyone who has kept up with our blog and thanks for the comments.
Bye for now.

Sandra and Jos xxxxxx

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Our Last Week

From Christchurch on the South Island we took a 45 min flight to Wellington, the nation's capital, located at the southern end of the North Island (see above piccie). We spent a few days hanging around here- Jos did some busking, we both visited the Te Papa museum and went to the cinema. Jos also experimented with a 'bubble shake' from the 'bubble tea shop'. He wasn't too sure about the chewy 'black pearls' in it!

We continued our journey up north, stopping off at the Mount Bruce Native Reserve where we caught a glimpse of 2 Takahe (fat versions of Pukeko, very rare birds once thought extinct).

Soon after, we arrived in Napier, finding accomodation was fully booked due to the Art Deco Festival that was in full flow that weekend. We had to drive 20km further north to Waipatiki beach and stay in a slightly scabby farm, nice location though. Next day we went back into town to watch the vintage car parade and the locals dressed in 1920's gear.

The following day we continued up to Gisborne and stayed at Waikanae beach reserve. Gisborne is NZ's most easterly city and the first place to see the sun rise. Didn't quite manage to get up and see the sun rise (surprise, surprise), but did spend some time on the beach here.

Time was beginning to run out so we decided to have one last dip in a Hot Pool. We stayed at Miranda Springs on our way back to Auckland.

On our last day, we treated ourselves and took a trip to Waiheke Island. Got a ferry from the quay in Auckland and had a very pleasant 35 minute journey to the island. We had a short walk to Oneroa, spent a couple of hours on the beach and had a most enjoyable dip in the sea (cus it was lovely and warm).

Some shots of Auckland from the ferry....

Your faithful bloggers....

The end of the road....

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Fantastic Fiordland!

From Queenstown, we drove to Te Anau 'The Gateway to Fiordland'. We had a walk in the woods at Lake Gunn, where we got a very close look at a Robin (no relation to the European Robin we all know).

These birds seem very tame and this one followed us through the woods. Supposedly they follow people so they can feed on the insects that we disturb on the forest floor, but to us he was just being friendly.

The weather was very sunny, unusual for Fiordland where it rains for 200 days a year. We took a cruise on Milford Sound and saw the most incredible scenery yet! Jos even managed to spot a Fiordland Crested Penguin, a rare sighting particularly at this time of year.

The cruise took us out onto the Tasman Sea and back into the fiord. The best bit of the holiday (so far).

We stayed two nights in the Hollyford Camp....

These cabins are the ones once used as living quarters for the men who built the road to Milford and the Homer Tunnel in the 1930's.

Each cabin had a large cast iron range which made our stay quite cozy.

Bill and Helen, who were running the camp, were very friendly, but the sandflies were pretty bad here.

According to Maori legend, Fiordland was created by the great god Tu-to-Rakiwhanoa. He carved the fiords and the mountains with his axe, starting in the south and ending with his best achievement, Piopiotahi (Milford Sound), in the north. When he had finished this great masterpiece he was visited by Te-Hine-nui-to-po, the goddess of death. When she realised the beauty of his creation she feared that the place was so beautiful that people might want to live there forever, so to stop this from happening she created Te Namu (The Sandfly). What a bitch!

Here's what James Cook wrote in 1773 - "The most mischievous animal here is the small black sandfly which are exceedingly numerous and are so troublesome that they exceed everything of the kind I have ever met with, wherever they light they cause swelling and such an intolerable itching that it is not possible to refrain from scratching and at last ends in ulcers like the Small Pox."

Some other places we visited in the area:

Key Summit....

The Chasm....

Lake Marian (which included a wonderful walk through native forest)....

Swingbridge over the Hollyford river....

Humbolt Falls....

Whilst on the Milford Sound cruise, Jos got talking to the skipper, Laurie, who invited us back to do the cruise again for free, so we did! This time we saw a Bottlenose Dolphin....

On the way back to Te Anau we met several Kea (alpine parrots) which are noted for their cheeky behaviour and their tendency to vandalise cars....

After 5 nights in Fiordland we drove south to Invercargill (not much there) then along the south coast to Catlins. Porpoise Bay is where we ended up and sure enough, we saw a pod of Hectors Dolphins. These are the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world. We also saw some yellow eyed penguins, which are pretty rare too.

Next stop was Dunedin, where we met up with Jos's brother, Greg, and his partner, Sarah. We hired a flat and had a good meal and booze up.

We also went to look at the Royal Albatoss colony on the peninsula - pretty difficult to get a good pic, but here's our effort....

We spent another couple of nights playing cards and dice (p.s. don't play with Sarah, she has the luck of the devil!) at Betty's quirky farmstay in Raynbird Bay before we departed and went out separate ways again.

We completed our circuit of South Island by driving north back to Christchurch via the amazing Moeraki Boulders.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More West Coast

After 3 nights at Punakaiki, we travelled further south on the West Coast to Hokitika. The whole of the West Coast is littered with driftwood (Pla would love it!) and here in Hokitika they have a sculpture competition where the artists use only driftwood and sand.

Took a trip up to the Hokitika Gorge where the waters were a stunning blue....

Jos had a QUICK swim (bit cold!)

The sandflies here are bastards so we couldn't hang around as much as we'd have liked. Also visited Lake Kaniere and Dorothy Falls....

Next stop was Franz Josef Glacier. First glacier we've seen and this is a pretty big chunk of ice!

We sat there for ages waiting for a big slab of ice to fall off and smash in to pieces but we just saw a few crumbs trickle off. Never mind!

Just down the road is another big slab of dirty ice - The Fox Glacier, apparently there are quite a few glaciers in this area, but these are the two most accessible. Just for the LOTR fans out there, this is the area where they filmed the 'lighting of the beacons' (with just a little touch of CGI).

From here you can see Mount Cook (the one on the right) which is really important 'cus it's BIG.

The last place we stayed at on the coast was Haast, which is where ALL the sandflies live so DON'T GO THERE!

The road doesn't go any further down the West coast so we had a good drive through the mountains to Queenstown.

Lake Wakatipu....

Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world, where you can bungy jump, jet-boat, white water raft, paraglide, skydive, canyon swing or do anything crazy (if you've got hundreds of bucks).

So we went horse riding - pretty wild eh?

Actually, this was pretty expensive too (everything cost more in Queenstown, and the service was crap from young backpackers stuck doing rubbish jobs saving up to do all the crazy stuff). Jos found it a bit boring and got quite pissed off with his horse, Chief, who decided to wade into the river and kick up as much water as he could. It took 3 days to dry his boots.

The orphan goats staying at the stables were very cute though!