Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jan 5th - The Poop Incident

The next morning I made a quick run to the bathroom before getting in the van and driving it out of the campsite. We wanted to get out of there before we had to deal with anymore bugs. John then came upfront and got in the drivers seat and asked me to pass him his flipflops which were down by my feet. So I picked one up, felt something slimy! and threw it back down on the floor. It turns out that I had stepped in poop during my trip to the bathroom and had tracked it into the van and onto Johns flip flops and now had gotten on my hands. Disgusting. John instantly gave up on his sandals while I scrubbed mine off at the nearest petrol station. Yuck.

We drove the winding road through the forrest to the Motueka and stayed there for the night.

Jan 4th - Fox Glacier

After breakfast we headed out for our guided tour of Fox Glacier. They supplied us with hiking boots and crampons and drove us to the base of the glacier. It took us about an hour to get to the actual glacier when we put on our crampons and spent about an hour on the ice before heading back down.

Apparently NZ has some of the only glaciers that are so easily reached that you can drive right up to them. Our guide told us that mostly you have to travel for days off road or fly in to get to a glacier. So we were very happy to have taken the tour.

Afterwards we drove to Franz Josef glacier which was in the next town. We checked out the glacier and then went to the Glacier Hot Pools to soak which was the perfect thing to do after walking on a giant block of ice.

We drove to Hokitika feeling rejuvenated and relaxed and ate lunch on the beach where we first saw black sand.

We then heading to a campsite we found in our camping guide which was a little off the main road. We immediately knew that it was an insect infested area so we stayed in the van and barely opened the doors to go to the bathroom. But unfortunately we had left a back window open and the van was soon full of mosquitos. We stayed up late in the night doused in insect repellent listening to the hum of the mosquitos and waiting for them to show themselves. We probably killed around 20 of them before hiding under the covers in the hot van for the rest of the night.

Jan 3rd - Day of Rest

We had arrived in the area a day early so we spent the day doing laundry, emptying the van to rid it of any stray black flies and repacking it, using the internet and watching movies in the holiday park lounge.

Jan 2nd - The West Coast

We drove back to Wanaka the next day and on the way we stopped at a shooting range called “Have a Shot” where I shot a 22 cal and John shot some clay pigeons with a shotgun.

We ate at Amigos in Wanaka, one of the only Mexican restaurants we’ve seen in NZ, and continued to drive West through the ever winding Haast Pass. Finally we decided to set up camp at Lake Hawea where we paid the registration fee found a spot by the water and got ready to make dinner. Very soon we noticed a hoard of black flies swarm into the back of the van and we couldn’t get them to go away. We tried to reposition the van so he wind could help, we tried lighting our citronella candles, but when the flies started biting us and getting in our food so we decided to bail. We were squishing every fly in sight and driving with the doors open and by the time we got to Fox Glacier we could sleep in peace.

Jan 1st - New Years

In the morning we went for a quick dip in the lake to wash up then headed towards Wanaka. We didn’t like how busy Wanaka was when we got there so we got some groceries and continued towards Mount Cook.

On the way we stopped at Lake Ohau and decided to stay there for the night. Right by a beautiful lake with white capped mountains in the distance and bathrooms nearby. Score! But unfortunately we soon found out that the bathrooms were disgusting and the mens room was full of giant flies.

After breakfast we drove the rest of the way to Mount Cook and on the way we came to a body of water that was a beautiful blue color running off the mountain.

We were worried that it was too cloudy and we wouldn’t be able to see the mountains but as we drove closer the sky was clearing and by the time we had gotten to the end of our three hour tramp we could see everything. What a beautiful walk that was, with a view of a glacier in the distance at the base of the mountain.

Stayed in Twizle for the night.

Dec 31st - New Years Eve

We drove into Queenstown early to get a parking spot since we knew it was going to get really busy. We found a spot along the lake and walked into town to join the chaos. We didn’t stay too long since it was so busy and everything was extremely expensive so we spent most of the day by the van and on the beach.

We didn’t realize how lucky we were until we met some guys in another camper van who had driven down from Nelson because there was rain forecasted for basically everywhere in NZ north of Queenstown.

Throughout the day we went back into town, went to a few different pubs, met a couple of young drunk guys from Oamaru who asked us for a piece of our pizza (which we had gotten for free so we gave it to them) and sat in a park watching a little kid do round offs.

John and I both agreed that even if Christmas in the summer was strange New Years in the summer was kind of great.

We watched to fireworks which were good but short from the center of Queenstown madness where we saw girls dressed in barely any clothes, a fight broke out right next to us and there was barely enough room to stand. It took us almost 2 hours to get back to Moke Lack and were so happy when we could finally close our eyes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Zealand Road Trip

As you may know John and I left Dunedin on the 27th of December to travel New Zealand in our camper van until our outgoing flights from Auckland on the 7th of February. During this time I (Katie) kept a journal, mostly just to remember exactly where we were and when and also our thoughts of some of our experiences.

Here is a revised version of my entries...Read from the bottom entry up

Dec 29th - Moke Lake

We spent the morning in Te Anau in the park by the lake tossing the nerf ball around before packing up the van and leaving for Kingston. We ate lunch there by a lake, there wasn't much else to see so we drove the rest of the way to Queenstown where we had planned to be for New Years. On the way we passed a couple traveling NZ on a tandem bicycle! So awesome.

Once in Queenstown we took the gondola up to the luge. We waited 40 minutes in line since we had paid for the luge already. But it turned out to be worth the wait and did it again. (shorter wait the second time around)

We had supper at a spot called Searle Lane & Social and it was SO GOOD. We recommend the ribeye steak and mashed potatoes if you're in the area!

The best part of our day though was Moke Lake. We bought a book of places to camp in NZ and this was one of the recommended camp sites in the Queenstown area. It was spectacular! It was a bit of a drive down a gravel road but so worth it. We stayed in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains while camping by a beautiful lake. This was probably the most breathtaking spot we camped in in all of NZ. Go there.

Dec 28th - Milford Sound

The drive from the camp site was a beautiful two hours long. The tunnel which opened up to a drive through mountains covered in waterfalls was particularly awesome. We pulled over and got out but didn't know where to point our cameras since everywhere we looked was so beautiful!

We took the Southern Discovery Cruise through Milford Sound which lasted about 3 hours. We helped ourselves to their buffet and hot drinks straight away. We didn't want to get stuck inside when outside was so cool. We bought ponchos when it stated to rain which turned out to be a really good idea since we spent most of the cruise out on the deck where we saw dolphins (my first dolphin sighting ever!), lots of seals, waterfalls and just really great views of the sounds. Even with the ponchos we got really drenched but it was worth it for the view.

We topped off the day with some tennis in the heat when we got back to Te Anau.

Dec 27th - Bluff

It is sad to be leaving Dunedin. We've really grown to love this place and the people here. The last few weeks have been especially great with the constant sunshine, having great times with friends, and just being surrounded by Kiwi kindnesses everywhere we went. We have also heard that when we get to Australia it may be a very different story...
Goodbye Dunedin! I will miss you!

Our first stop, after saying our goodbyes to Struan, Visiting Yoobee one last time and leaving Dunedin, was in Bluff which is the southern most point of New Zealand. It wasn't overly exciting to be honest but it was still cool to know that the next thing south (other then Stuart Island) was Antarctica!

We then took a nice route along the coast to Te Anau where we had a camp site reserved. The closer we got to Te Anau the more spectacular the views became with rolling valleys and hills.

It was our first time trying out our kitchen set up and we were very pleased!