When we left you we were on the west coast and had stopped at a small village called Haast for the night.
It was very lucky we had stopped as after driving for a few kilometres the next morning we found that the road had been closed due to rock falls in the pass and across the whole road.
So it was Thursday, the road had just opened as we carried on south and drove over the pass to a lovely town called Wanaka which could be compared to the Lake District but on a massive dose of steroids. The lakes here are absolutely enormous and almost inland seas.
We had seen the long term weather forecast and decided to get ahead of our plans, got up early in Haast so that we could make the ascent of a mountain called 'Roy's Peak'' a day early and in good weather.
With 1,200 meters of assent, this was a serious bit of exercise and we were quite happy with our fitness, completing the ascent in 3 hours and descending a little under 2 hours.
We had the sound of rain on the motorhome roof sending us off to sleep that night and woke to rain the following morning so our plan had worked out.
We had a lazy day, shopping, cleaning, laundry, arranging new camping sites and Nigel booked his Bungy jump in Queenstown. He will be taking the plunge at 3pm tomorrow. Helen has declined the opportunity but is very happy to watch.
Whilst in Wanaka we came to the conclusion that as we were moving into autumn and the temperature was changing rapidly we wouldn't do any long term camping.
The change from the 45 degrees we had in Australia to temperatures below 10 degrees on South Island in the evenings have been quite noticeable.
We decided we had to have a vehicle to get around as public transport is almost non existent. This left us with a choice of renting a car and moving from hostel to hostel or getting another motorhome for the return journey to Auckland.
Well the motorhome won hands down and after our 3 week break from our current vehicle we've booked another motorhome for the return journey. We're now busy creating a list of places that we want to revisit or that we haven't had time to see during our current journey.
On Saturday we headed to Queenstown which is apparently the adrenalin capital of the world. We drove over a high mountain pass and down typical alpine zig zags roads with hairpin bends just as a little introduction and to get to our new campsite.
We parked up and went for a wander and Helen managed to find The Patagonian chocolate shop. Having previous experience of this product during our South American travels, Nigel was dragged kicking and screaming into the shop by a very eager Helen. We both ordered the hot chocolate with chilli and its fair to say it was the best hot chocolate we've had apart from Bariloche in Argentina.
Then we set off for Nigel to bungey jump, here's why he chose this venue for his first and only jump -
"The Kawarau Bridge Bungy (bungee) is the World Home of Bungy Jumping. It was from this site in 1988 that Bungy pioneers AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch launched both themselves and an international phenomenon, which has become renowned as one of the most exhilarating things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand the adventure capital of the world.
This has been the world’s best known and best loved Bungy Jump for more than 20 years and it sets pulses racing amongst the extreme enthusiasts who visit from all corners of the globe. If you want to be tied up & thrown off then this is the site for you. Once on the edge, poised 47 metres above the stunning Kawarau River, your final choice is clear – how wet do you want to get?"
Having never Bungy jumped before, Nigel was very apprehensive. However, this outfit are probably the best in the world for safety and their professional set up. They have had over a million people jump including members of the England rugby team during the last World Cup. We arrived at the bridge and Nigel purposefully didn't watch anyone else jump off. He went through the booking in procedure with video screens everywhere showing people bungee jumping and managed to avoid them. He signed his life away with disclaimers for this and that. Helen enthusiastically checked the life insurance was up to date. Nigel did not take up the option (apparently very popular), to bungy naked. Nigel was weighed twice and then had his weight written on his hand which was a little heavier than he had expected. This is very important to determine when you stop plummeting downwards and start the return spring on the elastic cord.
As there is a river below, you have the option of going into the water, or not. Nigel, wanting the full experience, opted for his head and shoulders to go in - it makes a better photograph and video.
When he walked out onto the bridge there were no queues and he got straight into the harness, had his ankles bound together and was guided to the edge of the platform.
The guide who turned out to be from Manchester, then counted down 3-2-1 and for a millisecond Nigel thought what am I doing here?... and then jumped. Then, in a matter of a very few seconds, it was all over and he had been dunked in the river and was left swinging upside down with wet head and shoulders. A safety boat then picked him up and it was all over.
Another big tick in the box for things we must do on the trip.
We stayed to watch a few other people jump or freeze at the last minute and then for the rest of the afternoon we just relaxed and had a look around the very touristy Queenstown.
On Sunday we drove up the valley to Glenorchy. If anyone watched 'Top of the Lake' last year, this is where it was filmed. We had just a short walk into the wetlands area as the forecast was for rain. We finished our walk just as it started bucketing down.
We drove back to the site in Queenstown and wrote the rest of the day off to rain and drank beer from the comfort of the motorhome.
On Monday we started our travels again and drove to a lakeside location at Lake Manapouri where we moved into a quiet homely motor park.
On Tuesday we got up early and found it was raining. We walked the short distance to the cruise terminal kitted out in waterproofs and fearing the weather would get worse. We had a 45 minute cruise across Lake Manapouri and luckily the cloud started to break up.
On arrival at the end of the lake we met a coach that took us over a high mountain pass to meet the main boat that would cruise around Doubtful sound.
This journey had become possible as a result of a major hydro electric construction project. A road had been built over the mountain to enable the construction of this facility and as a result we had access to Doubtful sound.
There is another very popular fjord at Milford Sound but we had purposefully avoid going there as it's part of our multi sports organised tour that we start in a couple of weeks.
As a result of the early start we had the whole fjord to ourselves for nearly 3 hours. The weather cleared and we saw some amazing scenery. We saw some wildlife,the ever popular fur seals, Little blue penguins, Yellow crested penguins and bottle nosed dolphins with their calves.
On the way back over the mountain pass we were allowed to drive into the hydro electric power plant. The coach we were in drove about 2 kilometres into the mountain to the turbine room.
Then it was back on the boat for the return journey over the lake.
On Wednesday we managed to convince the owner of a kayak rental company that we were proficient enough to hire a double kayak for the day. After a detailed safety briefing and route recommendation we set off around lake Manapouri. One of the highlights was a 200 meter portage through rain forest to enable our return. One of the low points was having to dodge the clouds of sand flies but once we were out on the water they didn't follow us.
On Thursday we had a full day of driving. We had decided that we would like to get to Bluff, the most southerly town on the mainland. When we got there we drove up to a high point which gave us a view of Stewart Island which is also part of NZ and a little further south. We turned around, headed north and ended the day on the coast near Dunedin. The good news was, that when we crossed over to the East coast, we left the Sandfly's behind us. Hurrah!
On Friday we explored the Otago peninsular and saw our first Albatross. They are absolutely enormous but won't stand still of a decent photograph. Nigel couldn't help trying to recite the Monty Python Albatross sketch but couldn't remember all the words so we looked it up on YouTube.
We stayed around Dunedin on Saturday, seeing all the sites that the city had to offer and taking a scenic railway journey to Taieri Gorge. (Photos)
On Sunday after visiting Baldwin street which is apparently the steepest residential street in the world (photo) we headed north. We had another full day of driving getting us to a site closer to our drop off in Christchurch the following day.
So its Monday 10th March we're now staying in a hostel in Christchurch having given back the motorhome.
We're both well and very happy having seen the England v Wales rugby result.