Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More stuff

Not been keeping track of dates and places as I had been doing before so this will just be a quick update of vaguely where I have been and what I have been doing.

After leaving Kaikoura I had planned to go to the Marlborough Sounds but the weather looked rubbish and I could not get into the Hostel I wanted to stay in so I continued on to Abal Tasman and stayed about 4 days. I stayed at Old Macdonalds Farm again which is right on the edge of the National Park, because it is away from street lights the evening stars where very spectacular, saw 4 shooting stars in about 20 minutes. Took a water taxi one day far into the National Park and walked and swimmed my way down the coast in time for a water taxi back to Marahau.

Torongo Beach, (start of my walk)

Travelled down the west coast until Greymouth and took the TranzAlpine express to Arthurs Pass National Park in the mountains and walked to a 130m waterfall, quite spectacular! The train journey is supposed to be one the greatest in the world, it was quite nice, mostly impressed by the loooooooong tunnel through a mountain that took nearly 30 minutes to get through.

Only just managed to catch my bus from Greymouth as the return train journey was quite late. Then travelled to Wanaka/Queenstown area and spent about a week there. Lounged around really but did a couple of activities including River Surfing and Luge, planned to go Canyoning this afternoon but the trip has been canceled (so trying to do this instead). Went to a really quirky cinema in Wanaka which had sofas for seats and served fresh cookies and warm milk in the interval. Ate the biggest burger the world has ever seen, a 'Big Al', i'll get the fuill list of ingredients but it included 1 lb beef, 2 eggs, bacon, beetroot(??), salad, managed to finish it no problem, it was quite an event all the people I was with took pictures. Also did walk along the lakeside to a place called Franklin and took the Gondola up the hillside above Queenstown.

Wanaka Cinema

Chair Lift to Luge, above Queenstown

Luge (Death trap), Queenstown

Big Al, Fergburger, Queenstown

Think i'm going to go to rafting again before going to Akaraoa and New Brighton beach for some Dolphin swimming and surfing.

Internet running out so will tidy this post up later and add some photos. Actaully i'm sure I have done much more than this so will probably add some text too.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Whales and Dolphins (and Seals)

Thought i'd elaborate this post as it was a bit rubbish before.

Anyway after waiting around in Christchurch to say goodbye to Pete and Gemma I travelled up the east coast to Kaikoura and went swimming with seals! Never heard of anyone swimming with seals until I came to New Zealand but it is really good, you get close and can see them darting around under the water.

The main reason for being in Kaikoura is Whale watching, I saw Humpback Whales, Sperm Whales and hundreds of Dusky Dolphins on a boat trip.


Dusky Dolphin

Humpback Whale

Sperm Whale

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

bit of a (huge) update (added more 10-02-07)

I think I have written the following to sound a bit dull (but it was actually all really good fun) but I wanted to keep a note of everything - you don't have to read it!

23rd Wellington
Not much, visited sites in Wellington, Botanical Gardens, Museum.

Travelled (north) to Picton on South Island and then on to Abal Tasman National Park. Looked at the stars and comet in the evening.

Hired Kayaks with Peter, Wouter and Joost (Jan). Went to 2 deserted islands and played cards on the beach.

Only the best accomodation for me (Abal Tasman)

26th Abel Tasman - Barrytown (Nothingville, population 40)
Nice sunset, nice party.

Sunset over Barrytown

27th Barrytown - Franz Josef
Not much, played some bad pool at the Rainforest Retreat (should have noticed the name before booking full day on the glacier)

28th Franz Josef Glacier
Full day on the Glacier with Marloes. Very spectacular but heavy rain in the afternoon made it very tiring.

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef - Makarora
Planned to do another 3 day walk on the 'Gillespie Pass' but everyone was very tired and we could see fresh snow on the mountains. Stayed inside and ate most of my 3 days worth of food.

30th Makarora - Wanaka
Decided to spend a couple of days on Wanaka with Pete and Marloes to do a few shorts walks whilst others moved on the Queenstown. Won at Poker and pool, wahooo.

31st Wanaka
Weather was good so combined a number of short walks around lake Wanaka (Ealy Point, Beacon Point, and some of the Outlet Track). Started to rain in the afternoon whilst in the middle of nowhere by a dirt track, thankfully an old couple with a 4x4 gave us a lift back into Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka (trying to be arty here, could do better I think)

1st Feb Wanaka - Queenstown
Not much, met up with others.

2nd Queenstown -Te Anu - Milford Sound - Tautapere
Busy day with a really early start. Stopped at many locations for photos. Milford Sound was spectacular though I was a little disapionted with the weather (the place does have 10m of rain a year so I should not have been surprised)

Milford Sound boat trip

Milford Sound

Kea Parrot on the drive back from Milford Sound

3rd Tauatpere - Invercargill - Bluff - Oban, Stewart Island
Early start to visit a sheep farm, all the dutch seemed really excited about this. Tour included free bacon sandwich so I was happy too.

The ferry crossing to Stewart Island is supposed to be one of the worst in the world and I can imagine why, the sea at first looked like a mill pond on a clear sunny day but after we were out into the open sea lots of people (not me) turned a funny colour whilst the boat bounced all over the place. In the afternoon decided to go on a trip called 'yak about', I am not sure why it is called this but it was a trip on a boat, kayak, then a snorkle and then fishing. Trip was really good with only Simon, Marloes, Gemma and me on the boat. Had to wear a 7mm full wet suit due to the water being really really cold. Kayaked from the boat up an estuary and had lots of water fights and at some point everyone got pushed in. Then moved up the coast and snorkled, it was cold on your face at first but I soon got used to it. Never snorkled in this kind of water before but it was clear and the guide showed us lots of things including sea urchins, huge pregnant male sea horse, pava, sheriff star fish, bandidge fish and lots more. Had a hot shower and coffee on the boat before starting to fish for blue cod. Caught one imediatly after dropping the line in the sea and cought 4 in total but one was thrown back. They were then filleted on the boat and we had about a kilo between the 4 of us. Whilst fishing huge Mollymawks (albatros) gathered and wated for scraps. Once back at the hostel Gemma cooked the best meal I had eaten in New Zealand. Went to the local (only) pub and played really bad slooooow pool and reallllly bad giant chess. GREAT DAY.

Stewart Island 'yak about' with Simon, Marloes and Gemma.



end of the yak about

4th Oban, Stewart Island - Dunedin
Early start, stopped a couple of nice beaches and saw petrified trees.

5th Dunedin - Queenstown
Went to Cadburys World in the morning, stocked up for the long journey ahead. Booked 'The Nevis' a 135m bungee jump (highest in NZ, 3rd highest in the world) for the following day and went for Sushi meal in the evening (was more nervous about the Sushi than the bungee).

6th & 7th Queenstown
Did 'The Nevis' (with a cold, do'h) bungee jump in the morning. Only scared when standing on the 'meat tray' (edge) but once jumped its was all good. Pete also jumped but Gemma waited on the 'meat tray' for about 5 minutes then changed her mind, unfortunatly the meant she had a $200 credit voucher for the bungee shop, eeek!? Went to a free part/concert/dj thingy in the park in the evening to celebrate Waitangi day (the treaty thingy, national holiday). Nothing much on 7th, got my hair cut, did some washing.

Bungeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, 135m above the river

8th Queenstown - Rangitata
Long time on the coach but stopped at Lake Pukaki looking over Mt Cook, the lake was a most spectacular colour due to the water containing 'glacial powder' (ground up rocks). Rangitata is supposed to have the best white water rafting in New Zealand. Stayed in a really nice hostel in the hills and sleapt on top of a 3 storey bunk bed (extreme nz). Rafting trip included 3 meals, hostel and obviously the rafting for $160 which I thought was really good value. Lost at poker in the evening.

Lake Pukaki

9th Rangitata White Water Rafting - Christchurch
Went rafting with Scott, Aran, Cara, Matt and Pete. Scott (big mouth) was the first to fall in on flat water so that was quite funny. Next was pete but this was on a grade 5 section of the river, looked like fun to fall in, but unfortunatly I stayed on the boat until we all got off and jumped from an ledge to float/swim downstream. Aran belly flopped into the water for the second time this week, looked like it hurt (again). Really good fun day again, want to go again.

Marloes and Simon where leaving the next day so spent the evening with them playing cards, will miss them!

Probably should have been rowing

10th Christchurch
today, not done much but seems like a nice place. trying to decide where/what to do next. Still have most of the east coast to visit (and other bits i want to go back to) but thinking of fiji or the cook islands at the moment.

Added more photos, see link on the right.