A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand South island

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Short hop across Cook Strait and we had landed in the South Island, and have to say it was a beautiful ride in. The sun was shining as we approached Picton harbour and the countryside looked lovely. We checked ourselves into a campsite and headed for a pint in Seamus' bar (with some great live irish music for entertainment) before tucking into the obligatory fish n chips. Never fails to please! The sun was still shining the next day so we took a walk to get some nice views of the area. The 'bush' walk reminded me of the painful inca trek but it was good to get the muscles working!

We headed to Abel Tasman National Park but the we were too lazy to head kayaking or the like so we just did a few walks. From here we headed down the west coast, stopping off in the towns of Westport and Greymouth along the way. The rain came back to haunt us a few days but mostly the sun was shining so we were happy campers. Nothing less appealing than a mid night trip to the bathroom in the lashing rain :)

Finally we made it to the little town of Franz Joseph, home of the famous Franz Joseph glacier. On recommendation from our fellow travellers we checked into the lovely Rainforest retreat and booked ourselves in for a half day trek of the glacier the following day, hoping the rain would hold off. We went for a pre hike drink and entered into a game of partner pool, hooking up with none other than the principal of Ballinamore Boys primary school for the game! Small world. We tried but my pool skills left a lot to be desired and we didn't win the prize, but at least we tried..... Headed off to our cosy camper and with all those pints, a trip to the bathroom was necessary. Off we headed and when we came back, our camper had somehow locked itself and there was no getting back in. So there we were, half naked at 2am standing in teh middle of a dark campsite with no where to go. Murf ran down to the pub, which thankfully was still open, and got one of the local handymen to agree to 'break into our van'. For the pricely sum of $40 we were tucked up again in no time with a lesson learned!!

With sleepy heads, we headed off for our hike the next day which was great. We heard that with the full day hike you get better views but we settled for the half day and got to dig around in the ice for a bit. There were also episodes where we were crouching through narrow tunnels and up and down really steep 'ice' steps but it was all good. We made it out in one piece and headed for teh local hot pools for a bit of a soak before we were packed up and on our way. Destination Queenstown.

Arriving late at night, we couldn't really get a good look at the town but the next morning we were able to appreciate how beautiful it is. Sitting next to Lake >> and with snow capped mountains in the background it really is a beautiful place. There was a great buzz around the town as well as everyone was getting ready to go or coming back from the slopes. So we decided to join them and booked our few days skiing on the Remarkables ski area. We were only skiing once before but we knew the basics...well Murf was a bit better than me. We got kitted out and got a few lessons and spent the next few days whizzing down the slopes (I was sauntering for teh first day but soon got the hang of it...the snowboarders are scary!)

We met up with a few travel buddies and had a few nights on the town in Queenstown and of course we tried out the famous Fergburgers which did live up to its name as being the best burger in the world! We were sad to leave, but Queenstown is expensive so we had to get on our way. We decided to head south and make our way through the scenic route to Dunedin. We stopped off in a little place called Te Anau for a few nights, which is really gorgeous. Here is where most people depart for a trip around Doubful sound but we didn't get that far. We just admired the countryside from our cosy camper.

We headed south to Invercargill around through some little villages on the south coast and ended up in Dunedin. We headed to the Otago Peninsula where we went to see the famous yellow eyed penguins. We got to see them in their natural habitat which was really good and we got up really close to them for a few snaps. We stayed in a little village outside Dunedin and gatecrashed a local fancy dress party.
We had been told about a little village north of Christchurch which was worth a stop for some R&R. A loooong drive from Dunedin we were just time for the rain but we for the time being, and headed to Hanmer Springs for a nice soak in the hot springs.

Our last few days in New Zealand were spent in Christchurch, a lovely city where the sun was shining. We took a tram ride around the city to see the sights, took in a few of the Irish pubs and started packing up for our move to Oz. Bye bye New Zealand, and we just made it out before the earthquake hit Christchurch.

Posted by murfclaire 03:55 Comments (0)

New Zealand

North Island - August 2010

After losing a date in our lives, we landed in not so sunny Auckland on 31st July and picked up our camper, ‘cosy’ Mitibushi Delica with a bed in the back, and that was it. The rain had arrived to remind us of home (although home was probably having better weather at the time!). We decided to stay a few nights in Auckland to catch up on some sleep and to settle ourselves into the time zone. We treated ourselves to a hostel for the first night but then it was all systems go with the camper, which was to be our new home for the next 5 weeks – driving, sleeping, eating, hiding from the rain :).

Despite the rain, we still managed to fit in a few touristy activities in the city, heading up to the city’s Skyline attraction to get a view over the harbour over a glass of vino and a pint, trying out a bit of New Zealand roulette at the casino (where we were both delighted to be asked for ID on the way in!) and heading to the city museum where we got to see a live Maori show and experience the Haka live which was great.

After that, it was up North to the Bay of Islands, which we heard was gorgeous. But just as our luck would have it we woke up the following morning ready for our ‘cruise’ to lashing rain which was showing no signs of going away! We went off on our trip anyway, which was an experience in itself . Got absolutely soaked but we saw loads of dolphins playing around our boat. Didn’t get out to see the famous Hole in the rock as the sea was too stormy. The skipper even drove the boat out a small bit to let us see just how stormy it was….that was like a rollercoaster ride!

In an attempt to get away from the rain, we headed for the northern tip of the North Island, Cape Reigna, and it did eventually dry up in time for us to take a trip to the lighthouse to see the Tasman sea and Pacific ocean meet and ripple in the middle of the ocean. While we were up that far, we had to head to 90 mile beach - the campsite host the night before had told us that we’d be ‘sweet as’ to drive down Te Paki stream to get to 90 mile beach and "just head straight down the beach". Her only piece of advice was not to drive too close to the dunes. We were both a bit nervous (although at the time neither of us said it) but nevertheless we headed down Te Paki ‘stream’, which after all the rain had turned into our definition of a shallow river. We got through that alright and got as far as the beach, drove a bit, nearly got stuck but kept on going when we saw a few coaches stopped for their tourists to take pictures (all the tourist buses drive up and down 90 mile beach every day). The driver told us we’d be ‘sweet as’ but when he heard we were in a rental car he warned us not to get stuck and hoped he wouldn’t see us on the news that night. Very encouraging… NOT. Anyway, we headed off, not a word spoken for around forty minutes and when we eventually got off the beach....well lets just say the sigh of relief was loud :)

So we headed south and after a few stops we eventually arrived at the base of the Coramandel Peninsula, home of the famous Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach (as the temperatures were dropping a trip to a hot water beach was looking very appealing). The rain was on and off but we still managed to make it to the cove and burned our bums on hot water beach, its crazy to dig a hole a few metres from the tide and the water is nearly too hot to stand in!

From there we headed south to Rotorua, events capital of the north island. More rain was on the horizon so we stayed a few nights. Tried our hand at zorbing (which is rolling down a hill in a giant inflatable ball, with water in it for the craic) and that was great fun. We then headed up on a gondola to Rotorua’s answer to auckland’s Skyline to see a view of the city but this time you can ‘luge’ downhill which is brilliant. Hadn’t heard of luging before but its basically a little go kart and you control the speed by pushing the handle bars forward and back. We were heading downhill at high speed!! Taupo was the next destination which was really cold! We woke up to frost on the ground the next morning but even at that Murf somehow persuaded me that doing a bungy jump was a good idea. I never thought I’d do a bungy but we met an irish couple the night before who were raving about it so thought we had to try it out. We did it together and it was bloody scary to say the least BUT I was chuffed with myself when it was all over. Every time I think of jumping over the edge my stomach flips…don’t think I’ll be doing it again too soon. We also tried our hand at indoor rock climbing - of course Murf was flying it but it took me a few attempts to touch the tip of the wall…but I got there!
Then down to Napier, vineyard country. But seeing as we did the wine tours in Argentina we decided to save a few bucks and sip our own bottle of vino from our cosy camper (which is now nicknamed Hulk purely for getting us off 90 mile beach in one piece).

From Napier we headed down the coast making our way to Wellington for the w-end. We stopped in havelock north and Martinborough, both nice towns but quiet as it’s the off season. When we arrived in Wellington the 1st fellow we met was a Cork man who gave us the low down on Wellington and pointed us in the right direction for a place to park hulk. (Who is an alcoholic) When he found out I was from Kerry id say he was going to change his mind and send us the wrong direction.. But he had never met anyone one from Leitrim before so that helped. (Claire hears that a lot..)

Wellington was our last destination on the north island, and it really is a beautiful city, on the coast with lovely views. The rain had decided to return so we decided to sample one of Wellingtons finest ale house’s JJ Murphy’s and a few more (for comparison purposes as Murf put it). We met a lot of Irish in Wellington, some living there and a lot passing through like us. We had a few recommendations of places to eat and drink so we left Wellington happy with full bellies and headed on the Interislander ferry to start our trip of the South Island, hoping it wasn’t going to be too cold!

Posted by murfclaire 18:02 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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