The Van Part 2 – more wonderful visitors!

Being away from home for a year means that we are missing a lot of lovely friends and family, so it has been awesome to have a few visitors in New Zealand – first mum and dad, then Jon and now Rachel and her friend Anika, with whom we have just spent a brilliant few days in Queenstown and Wanaka.

But before meeting the girls, and whilst they were enjoying many many vineyards in the north island, we got ourselves and the van from the Catlins to the southern Alps, via the amazing Milford Sound.

After leaving the penguins and dolphins we drove to the (sort of) most southerly point in New Zealand. Bluff is pretty much the Lands End of NZ, complete with Japanese tourists and an obligatory cheesy photo op.

Bluff - the very bottom of New Zealand

Bluff – the very bottom of New Zealand

The views were pretty cool though and we can now officially say we’ve been from the top to the bottom of the country – from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

We then headed up the Southern Scenic Route, stopping off to buy famous sausages in Tuatapere (because Lonely Planet told us to) before spending a night in the lovely sunny lakeside town of Te Anau.

Te Anau in the sunshine

Te Anau in the sunshine

When we woke up it was absolutely chucking it down with rain, so the famous drive to Milford was at its most ‘atmospheric’ – we couldn’t see the views or the tops of the mountains, but there were hundreds of waterfalls coming down the hills and the misty atmosphere was pretty cool.

Driving to Milford in the rain

Driving to Milford in the rain

Luckily the next day was beautifully sunny and our mini-cruise on the fjord was incredible. The size of the mountains and waterfalls is so difficult to comprehend and another few hundred photos were snapped.

The magical Milford Sound

The magical Milford Sound

On the way back we stopped for an awesome walk up to the Key Summit – also the start/end of one of the “Great Walks”, The Routeburn Track – and had some wonderful views of the snow capped mountains and lakes.

The Key Summit

The Key Summit

After leaving Milford we drove through some more incredible mountainous scenery to Wanaka to meet up with Rachel and Anika. It’s strange how normal it is to be meeting across the other side of the world, but we were very quickly catching up on the goss over tea and wine – just like normal! We had a great dinner and drinks before planning our time together.

Catching up over wine

Catching up over wine

The first activity was skydiving. Not for Rachel and I though – we sensibly stayed on the ground while Sam and Anika strapped themselves to two strangers and jumped out of a plane at 15,000 feet.

Ready to go

Ready to go

The plane!

The plane!

Providing moral support, safely on the ground

Providing moral support, safely on the ground

It looked amazing from the ground and it sounded like it was a pretty awesome experience, especially over the Wanaka mountains and lakes.

Sam and Anika’s graceful landings video – http://youtu.be/XJhZfx-syHg

We then headed to Queenstown and were hit by the party town, in full swing for St Patricks day. Rachel and Anika had a day trip to Milford, so Sam and I visited Arrowtown, before getting together again on the evening for more lovely New Zealand wine.

On our last day together we headed up the Queenstown gondola to enjoy the views of the town and Lake Wakatipu and did some lugeing at the top. Queenstown is all about the adventure activities!

Cable car fun

Cable car fun

The view of Queenstown

The view of Queenstown

Luge fun

Luge fun

After a famous and delicious Fergburger we had to say goodbye to the girlies.

Best burger ever

Best burger ever

It’s been awesome having them to visit!

Cheeeeese!

Cheeeeese!

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