Tuesday, 13 December 2011

New Zealand Highlights Photo's

Fraggle didn't find it too cold in Franz Josef!

Wanaka from our Hostel

Lee getting a bit messy at Ferg Burger (check out the que)!

One of the two waterfalls we backed into on the Milford Sound Cruise

Milford Sound Able Tasman Sea.

Gary when our Kiwi Bus broke down (temporarily)

Lee just before jumping out of the plane

Sarah when the parachute is released

New Zealand Highlights

First we saw Christchurch, there isn't much happening here, lots of the city is still shut off to tourist, but they have one small set of shops which are build out of sea shipping containers, with glass fronts and stacked with balconies, very interesting architectural project, worth checking out.

From there we went to Kaikoura where we stayed in a hostel named The Dolphin Lodge, which has a hot tub, and went whale watching, we saw 3 sperm whales, and I have a really great video of one diving and its tail in the water, they were unbelievably big, especially compared with Orca whales we saw in Vancouver a few years ago.

Then to the Abel Tasman national park, Westport, and Franz Josef, where Lee and I did the Full day hike, 7 hours of walking on ice, shimmying through ice caves, walking over crevasses and our guide carving out steep steps as we went.

We stayed in Wanaka for only one night, but the lake with the snow topped mountains in the background were so beautiful and apparently they have a cinema there where the seat are all different and you can watch the films sat in a beetle car, and they bake cookies for the intermission!
Our Kiwi bus driver told everyone on the bus, that if they went to the Lake at 5pm with Peanut Butter sandwiches, they could feed the Dolphins, shockingly some people on the bus did turn up, and even started questioning locals about when the Dolphins would be getting there, the confused local told them, they must be thinking of Ducks, how can a Dolphin get into a Lake? (the power of the Microphone)

After that we headed to Queenstown, the Adrenaline town, first day we went up the ski lifts, and went on the Luge (like go carting) and in the envening we decided to check out the infamous Ferg Burger, where we both enjoyed Fresh, Huge Falafel burgers and Lee had his with a Gluten Free Bun too!
The second day we spent doing a full day trip and cruise of Milford Sounds (a huge bay) beautiful, postcard worthy scenery and underwater aquarium, this included the cruise ship backing into a waterfall, while those of us on the front deck got absolutely drenched!
On our last day Lee and I decided in Tandem to step off a cliff into a canyon, after a 60 meter freefall we swung across the canyon before being hoisted back up. The locals refer to this as the Canyon Swing, and there are over 70 ways to jump/be pushes off the ledge, we went for a 2 pants scary rating out of 5, pretty brave I think! We heard that Orlando Bloom had just been in town for the filming of The Hobbit, darn, we must have just missed him.

Next we were dropped off at Lake Tekapo, where during the day we scaled Mt John, exhausting ourselves before a coffee at the Astro Cafe, waiting at the top, along with some amazing views. In the night time sky observatory and saw the Moon, Jupiter and the southern cross as well as the closes stars (Sirius and Canopus) to earth through telescopes! Again, we found out the Hobbiton crew had been in town only a day before us, camped up near Mt John.

We crossed over to the north island and went Sky Diving from 15000 ft, jumping out of a plane at Taupo, over views of the largest lake in New Zealand and (Lord of the Rings) Mt Doom!

We have a few days left before we leave for china, but we have definitely enjoyed our time in the adventure capital of the world, let hope there is more excitement in store for these newly turned adrenaline junkies!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Milford Sound

Leather Jacket Fish, female is more patterned.

A 12 hour day trip 8 till 8 well worth it!
We left at 8am, on the Kiwi Milford explorer. It was a beautifully sunny day despite weather warnings of rain. Along the way we stopped off for a few photo opportunities regarded as the appetiser to the main dish of Milford Sound, on the way to Te Anau, as well as a few drive by shots.
We learn a lot from the driver about the history of Milford Sound, being discovered, a hidden bay on the coast.
We went on a beautiful cruise of the Sound, including the boat backing into a waterfall, which was quiet funny for the couple whose photo I was in the midst of taken when they began to run towards me! The most famous iconic image of Milford sound is the most pointed Mountain.

Franz Josef New Zealand

We left Franz Josef kitted out with boots, socks, cramp-on's, waterproof trousers and jackets, a hat and gloves! Its only a few minutes up the road, and when you get their it doesn't look far but then you see the size of people and realise its a long walk. In total we walked for 7 hours of the day, on the Ice Glacier and pick-axed steps smashed into the ice, we chose between the fast, medium and slow groups, ranging from 1-6, we were in group 2, in small groups of 11. We crawled through ice caves and walked over huge crevasses.
It was surprisingly warm, I was wearing Leggings and a Long top and Hoodie, and did have to wear the jacket at one point, as we were all freezing, a troop of blue jackets stamping in the ice.
It was really sunny during the day and apart from a few clouds creeping in, the views were amazing and the sense of achievement walking up the Glacier was amazing (there were some pretty steep steps and taken at a breathtaking pace) we had a great time, but needed the free Hot pools included in the price afterwards!
Starting in the 36 degree pool, then 38, then the hot 40! was so relaxing...OK Sarah's legs still hurt a bit 2 days later though!