23.04.2009 - 11.05.2009
Queen Charlotte Track
We had heard about the Queen Charlotte Track which is in the Marlborough Sounds Area of the South Island and that is was supposed to be a nice trek with varying degrees of difficulty. We choose to do the trek in one day as we had so much to do in so little time!
We had a bad start to the day. We booked the trip for 8.00 but realised at 8 that we were late. In typical NZ style they let us on the next ship with captain Ken ( of Irish descent ). On the boat we met special needs teacher Marcus Hopkins from Blackburn who was charity cycling in QCT. If we ever move to NZ we have a good contact! We were dropped off in ship cove and had to walk to Furneaux lodge. The trek was medium going but we spoke svenska most of the way.
The views were great and it would have been nice to camp on the trek but we had booked our return boat for 4.
That night we stayed in the same place and had processed soup and a movie.. Body of lies! Definitely getting our money's worth out of those Chinese bootlegs!
We headed to the wine region of Nelson next!
Baytours collected us after driving from Picton. We met newly wedded new Zealanders and a welsh family. It was a great trip run by a really friendly lady. As usual on wine tours it is compulsory to overdose on the wine - which we did. Nelson seemed very nice and we would have liked to have done more but Abel Tasman was where we were headed next!
Drove from our DOC site to make the 9am taxi boat. We went to the split apple with stu the driver and Helen, an English girl.
Weather was ombytlig (changeable) and we had heavy rain and lovely sunshine. It was like Ireland!! We saw amazing views of the Tasman Sea. Including many bays. Bark bay, frenchman bay, mosquito bay ....bay bay....bay...
Sandflyes were a scourge all the way. They are like Mosquitos but hurt on the initial bite more. Man they can bite. The feckers drew blood from K.
We were collected at Anchorage. It was again a day trek but was pretty amazing. The Sandflies were a pain but would do it all again..
After Abal we headed to Franz Josef Glacier via Westport. We stayed in a DOC site again (they are brilliant!) but we did not pay this time as we were told by our boat driver not to pay..It was not worth the guilt though and it created bad Karma...Read on....
Tramp was delayed due to weather conditions but only by an hour or so. We got geared up a headed off on a grotty old bus with our guide Daniel. 10 mins later we were staring at the bottom of the mammoth glacier. 1 k trek to the foot and we then put on our cramp-ons. The initial climb was steep but after that it was all about the scenery. Massive crevasses, man carved steps and cold, wet blue ice. Class. A great trek of zero difficulty and the pics were pretty good too!
We headed to Wanaka after a lunch. We stopped off at a doc site and hit the sack for what we thought would be a good nights sleep!! We were rudely awoken to hear scratching and eating. The initial noise sounded like something way bigger than the little rodent it ended up being (a little mouse). The time we were woken at was 12.30. At 5:12am we are waiting to get diesel and head to a solution in Queenstown... We hoped! Not a wink did we get once we heard the HUGE DINOSAUR that was in the van. We mean huge now. Very dangerous too.
Karma for not paying at the DOC site. Me thinks YES:-( We are bad bad people!
We arrived at the Jucy Van Rental office in Queenstown at 8am all ready to demand a new van, 5 star accomodation in the mean time and thousands of dollars in compensation for the trauma we experienced in the last 8 hours. However, we were met by a girl who was not having any of it! Reality kicked in and we were advised to buy mouse traps to catch the HUGE DINOSAUR that was in our van. We felt like right feckin ejits! We bought the traps and set them but rather than wait for the HUGE DINOSAUR to be caught while we were there we checked into a nice 4 Star hotel in Queenstown! The following day we checked in on the van and being the hardened backpackers/hunters that we were we caught the HUGE DINOSAUR in the mouse trap.......it was the smallest mouse that either of us had ever seen. Very embarassing, especially for Martin - a big girls blouse!!
The manager gave us a generous rate if $75 which was all we needed to be convinced to stay. Even though the mouse was literally in the bag we decided to avail of the offer and make use of the jacuzzi overlooking lake Wakatipu! Firstly we rented our bikes and headed to the tailor made course on on the Glenorchy road. There was the sunshine bay track to deal with. It was no bother to us! When we arrived at the seven mile course we saw there was a dual walk and bike track before the loops. Walking was our only option as the track was just too hard, for us, to cycle on. Loop 7 was our ultimate goal and was an enjoyable track. Once we completed it we headed back and were pleasantly surprised that all the treks were easier on return.
We made use of the jacuzzi for the best part of an hour. Amazing view of the lake. We had a few beers and skrapmat in the hotel and hit the sack. Another brilliant day in brilliant New Zealand :-)
Our time in Queenstown finished with a helicopter trip to the top of one of the snow capped mountains. For $99 each it was a steal. Just look at the pics......
3/5/09: We drove to Milford sound at about 10am. A few scenic stops were made on the way. We were aiming for the 2 for 1 cruise but were not too happy it was 1.5 hours only. We reckoned there would not be enough in that and it was a long way to come back!!! Anyways, K had an inkling to do the overnight trip. Final say was passed to M and the decision was made to board the Mariner for the night cruise. It was one of those "we will regret it when we are back home looking back"...and we would have been bang on the money with that theory!
We boarded at 4.20pm. Immediately we realised we were in for a real treat. The staff were very nice and our fellow passengers were super friendly, especially the ozzies. There was a gang of middle ages ozzies from Brisbane who even offered to host us if we ever passed on our trip!
Photos galore we taken on the route out to the Tasman sea. Unusually the tasman was very calm. We waited for sunset. Class photos. Really some of the most breathtaking scenery ever...
Dinner was top notch and the chef spent his summers in Ballyfermot, so there was a bit of banter with him. I am not sure he has been back in the last while, things might have changed! We were treated to a documentary after dinner and hit the sack early.
A real treat and a true highlight.
Woke up at 6.45 on the boat. Had a fantastic brekkie and then boarded the speedboat. We were taken up to the waterfall, saw a baby seal and 1 k high overhangs. Did not take the camera though!!! M's fault and boy was he reminded!!
Drove straight back to QTown but along the way we picked up an interesting LA wanna be/ hippie. We spent the journey from Te Anau with him. He was a nice guy but we both were worried that at some stage he was going to kill us or make us join his hippie cult revolution...neither happened!
Martin cooked spagball and we the took the gondola up bobs peak. Saw a beautiful sunset and watched bungy jumpers and swingers! Again, M wimped out!
5/05/09: Home to skapbil for a movie and popcorn. The next day we headed back to Wanaka. There was a fair bit of travelling so we did a small trek along the lake which was lovely and we then had 3 bottles of wine between us to celebrate ....what we were celebrating was up for discussion! The lake was class so the next day we jogged to beacon point from outlet camp. We walked the same route later again that day and it took 3 hours. IT was that nice we had to do it again! that night we watched Changling, a good movie!
Left Wanaka and drove to mount cook. Took pics of lake punakiki which was an illumious blue lake overlooked by mount cook.
Fika in old mountaineers cafe which was full of interesting mountaineering information and was a shrine to Sir Edmund Hilary - a Kiwi icon! Stayed in DOC site. Had a Swedish test and did ok on vocab but shite on verbs. IT is not getting any easier!! It was freezing all night. M wore 3 layers on top and 2 on bottom! K had 1 layer less...she was proud to announce! Looking out the van window we we greeted to a layer of new Zealand sneachta (snow) the next morning. K opened the door and was met by the 2 good looking ducks - they were different and good looking!! We walked to the second swing bridge of the hooker valley tramp and decided not to venture too much further. The weather was bad and mount cook looked angry! We bought salmon from a salmon farm and fed the salmon that were waiting to be eaten. We stopped in lake tekapo for the night. K poached the salmon and we drank wine. Simply delicious....
Finished off our time in NZ with what we hoped would be swimming with the Dolphins in Akaroa. However, torrential rain and cold meant it was not going to happen. K would still have done it!! Still remains a life long dream!
We arrived in Christchurch too late to see anything of the city really. We headed off and left another fantastic leg of our trip behind us. We traveled 4300 kilometers in 4 weeks in our little Jucy Hiace van. New Zealand was everything we hoped and more. We both cannot wait to return.....