Posts Tagged With: Wanaka

End of the van

Whilst in Wanaka, and knowing that we’d need to stop spending money for a while after saying goodbye to our van, we lined ourselves up a helpx at a cafe in the town. This meant that after saying goodbye to Rachel and Anika we’d only have a few more days of freedom before 3 weeks of potentially hard work!

It seemed impossible to leave Queenstown without doing at least one expensive day of adventure activity, so we decided to go with a Dart River jet boat / kayak day trip. It was expensive, but also totally worth it! We drove out to Glenorchy, and the road hugs the lake the whole way with mountains in all directions, and when we arrived were kitted out in wetsuits, boots, fleeces, life jackets and waterproofs. It was a sunny day, but after the jet boat span it’s first 360, the outfits proved their worth.

Jet boat selfie

Jet boat selfie

The boat zoomed up the river for about an hour, cutting close to the edges and flying over the shallows, stopping to show us some scenery or to do another 360 along the way. After an hour, and about 40km upstream, we transferred to some inflatable canoes aka funyaks, and began to gently paddle back down the river. It was nice to take the time to properly enjoy the views, so once again a load of photos that will never do it justice were taken. We stopped for a picnic lunch, and one point canoed (funyaked?) up a tiny, narrow little gorge of glacial melt, where the water was bright turquoise, before heading back to the trucks. On the drive back, we went via a place called Paradise, where loads of scenes from LOTR were shot. Best. Daytrip. Ever.

Not the worst picnic spot ever

Not the worst picnic spot ever

After leaving Queenstown we drove up the West Coast, over the Haast Pass, camping at some really nice sites along the way. Whilst the DOC sites are basic, for $6 each they always seem to be in amazing locations. We visited both Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and did a nice couple of day walks around them. At the rate the glaciers are retreating, it seemed like soon they’d only be accessible by helicopter. The glaciers were impressive, but the real highlight of the West Coast (aside from an awesome Whitebait fritter) was a FaceTime chat with the Roe family and the chance to say hello to their newest addition!

Foxy Glacier

Foxy Glacier

We crossed back over the country via Arthur’s Pass, the highest alpine pass on the Island, and decided to camp the night there. Whilst the scenery was stunning and we walked to a beautiful waterfall, it was the worst nights sleep yet – our van was attacked by Keas! The parrot-like birds have become so accustomed to being fed by people that they have no fear, and spent the night trying to eat our tyres and roof rack! No wonder they’re endangered…

Evil birds

Evil birds

On our last full day with the van, we found a discounted horse trekking place online which was on the way back to Christchurch. Not being especially horsey people, we weren’t too sure what to expect, but it was brilliant. We rode for about 2 and half hours, across paddocks, along some huge steep paths over a valley, up and down some hills and along a river. As ever, the views were amazing and our horses, Mr Bojangles and Samson, were very nice to us!

Rohan style

Rohan style

Horse whispering

Horse whispering

When the time came, we said farewell to the van at Christchurch, and after paying for a couple of windscreen chips (damn NZ roads), we headed into the city. We had a brilliant 3 and bit weeks in the camper, and going back to getting the bus has been tough! With a few days until we needed to be in Wanaka for work, we visited the Antarctica Centre in Christchurch (very ’cool’, but I was happy we got half price tickets) and then headed up the coast a bit to Kaikoura for a couple of days.

Goodbye

Goodbye

Chilling out in the Antarctic storm chamber

Chilling out in the Antarctic storm chamber

In Kaikoura, and special thanks to Mr and Mrs B for our early birthday present, we went out whale watching. Due to the position of the continental shelf at the Kaikoura peninsula (I listened and learned), there is a deep ravine a few miles off shore perfect for whales. We got the first boat of the day nice and early, and after bouncing out over the waves we stopped and waited, with the captain listening via sonar. Suddenly, a whale burst from the surface, and we got to watch him swim around for about 15 minutes before he put his tail up and dove back down for some food. As we waited for his return appearance (they stay down for around 40 minutes before coming back up for air – more learning), we watched albatrosses fly and fish around us. Awesome.

Whale wave

Whale wave

Thar she blows!

Thar she blows!

After all these weeks of fun (and spending), we’re now back doing another helpx at cafe / deli in Wanaka. For four or five hours work a day of pot washing, waiting and odd jobs, we are living in a nice house in town, eating delicious food and, with a view of snow capped mountains, went for a dip in the lake after finishing today. It’s tough being back at work.

Post work dip

Post work dip

Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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