Farewell to our American friends & the New Zealand adventure continues.......
Mar 31, 2014
|When we left you we were with our organised adventurous activity group in Queenstown.
Jim and Carmen completed Bungy jumps from the same bridge and the three of us celebrated by wearing our hard won T shirts (photo)
The following day we drove down to the Fiord land ( Kiwi spelling for Fjord) and the spectacular Milford Sound.
On the way we stopped at the end of one of the New zealand famous walks called the Routeburn track and had a walk up to a great view point.
We then drove to our lodge accommodation through a tunnel that was a mile long and went straight through a mountain.
We were later informed that the locals have a competition on an evening at the end of the season where they sprint down this tunnel completely naked apart from running shoes and a head torch. (No cameras are allowed!) The reward for the winner are inscribed Ken & Barbie dolls.
Wednesday started with a 3 hour early morning paddle in kayaks on Milford Sound which was spectacular except for the numerous sand flies that were having us for breakfast.
The afternoon saw the would be helicopter participants getting a second chance at flying to a glacier. The weather was much more settled and this time their trip went ahead.
We both stayed on the ground and when we regrouped we headed inland for a 6 mile walk on a riverside track near a lakeside town called Te Anau.
Friday had to be a long driving day as we needed to get back to Christchurch on Sunday afternoon and this was the beginning for our route back.
Cassie did a sterling job of driving the bus and we headed to Queenstown where the group did their last shopping, had lunch and then Cassie continued the drive as we headed to a working sheep station (Braemar) near Mount Cook.
We were housed in some sheep shearers accommodation that had been converted into a small hostel that had amazing views of Mount Cook which is the highest mountain in New Zealand and has the Maori name "Cloud piercer". We couldn't all stay in the house and we were given the special accommodation of a Romany caravan in the grounds of the main building.
We all rushed out to take numerous photos as we had a clear view of the mountain and the weather forecast was a little mixed for the next day.
On Saturday the weather had stayed settled, Mount Cook and its surronding mountains were still clear and three walks were offered.
We opted for the most challenging, a 1,000 meter ascent to a mountain hut with spectacular views of the glaciers formed on the mountains.
The rest of the group opted for something a little more sedate (sensible). Some stayed lower to view the effects of glaciation that had carved out the valley and others came to a viewpoint about half way to the hut we were aiming for.
Having struggled up to the hut we were met by a surreal sight.
An eight year old girl was knitting and her brother who was completing an enormous jigsaw with their grandparents. It turned out that this family were volunteers looking after the mountain hut. We gobbled down some lunch and then headed back down to be greeted by Cassie our guide. On meeting her she gave us the good news that as we were ahead of our planned time we could walk the extra distance into the nearby village of Mt Cook. On reaching the valley we saw a statue of Ed Hilary who apparently trained here prior to his Everest ascent. on arriving in the valley we came to the end of our adventurous activities with the group.
We had a final evening meal together where we supplied a couple of jokes as entertainment and the whole group were awarded baseball caps for various achievements during the trip. We were considered " The Dream team" having completed the majority of the challenges.
On Sunday we drove back to Christchurch and deposited the half the group at the airport. We said our final sad goodbyes and hugged everyone before being dropped off at our hotel in the centre of the city.
Cassie and Amanda our guides were exceptional throughout the two weeks and formed a great team, driving us around South Island and ensuring we were all well informed, safe and very very well fed.
We both agree that this trip will be hard to beat as we met some very very special people from across the Atlantic who all made this part of our adventure so memorable. Thank you for a wonderful 2 weeks everyone!
On Monday we got a taxi to the motorhome company and were very happy to find that we would have exactly the same motorhome for our return journey as we had had previously. We stocked up with food (etc) and then headed to a remote area of coast just outside Christchurch called Banks Peninsular. After a walk along the beach, we sat down to plan our last few days on South Island.
We had planned to use the gas powered BBQ but found the gas bottle didn't fit and later found that one of the motorhome headlight bulbs had blown.
Its Tuesday 1st April today and after seeing that fog/low cloud had set in we decided to cancel our walk in the hills of the Banks Peninsular.
We contacted the motorhome company and arranged for a replacement gas bottle and a new headlight bulb and then drove to New Brighton where we are now on the coast just outside Christchurch.
We have now planned the remainder of our tour of South Island which will hopefully involve more mountain walking, wild Kiwi viewing and a further attempt to swim with wild dolphins, this is of course very weather dependant.