Where in the World are the Margolins? travel blog


horse back riding


Yellow-eyed penguin coming back from sea

After our bungy jump!

on top of a glacier

Milford Sound


New Zealand

We headed to the south island based on feedback from other travelers. The north island has sixty percent of the population concentrated around Auckland. We wanted to explore the vast landscapes that we heard so much about. Christchurch (CC) is our first stop, located on the eastern side of the south island. We quickly got our bearings and headed to buy some clothes. Since we were coming from the warmer climates of Australia and Asia we had almost no long-sleeved attire. At nighttime it gets down into the lower forties.

We headed south to an area called Dunedin (four hours from CC). The entire distance between Christchurch and Dunedin is habitat to the yellow-eyed penguin, an endangered species. There are four thousand penguins known to be on the south island. The remaining population are scattered on islands closer to Antarctica. A few miles out onto the Otago peninsula there is a private penguin reserve. They have tours that allow you to get within twenty feet of the birds. This time of year the penguins are molting (shedding old feathers for new). We were lucky to see a few little guys (see pics). The Otago peninsula is home to the only castle in New Zealand. A Scottish couple built it in the early 1900's. as their home and their family has now opened it to the public. Jen and I both thought the gardens surrounding the castle were more impressive than the castle itself. My family loves gardening and landscaping... they would be impressed.

After two days around Dunedin we headed towards Queenstown, home of extreme sports. If you can think of something crazy involving jumping off bridges, swinging high into the sky or extreme water sport activities the Kiwi's probably have it available here. Bungee jumping was first commercially developed here in 1987. For some reason Jen convinced me it was time to jump off a perfectly good bridge. What a rush of adrenaline falling 143 feet towards a river below!!!

We went on an incredible horseback ride throughout a five hundred acre working farm. There are a few hundred deer being raised on the property. We thought they would be slaughtered for local restaurants (venison is on most menus), but it turns out their antlers are worth more than the meat. Antlers are used to make medicinal oils and exported to Asia for various uses. The horses are used to being in pasture with deer so we were able to get up close and personal. Tim, you couldn't miss one here.

The following day we headed to Milford Sound, which is known for the being a beautiful bay with fjord like walls surrounding it. We decided to skip the eight-hour roundtrip drive and go by helicopter. The flight took us over incredible views of the region. The night before we had heavy rainfall creating waterfalls everywhere we looked. When we booked the trip, the itinerary didn't mention a surprise landing on top of a glacier. It was right out of National Geographic Magazine. The top of the glacier was white snow that drifted off into crevasses and then down the mountain. We arrived in Milford sound for a quick hike and then returned via a different flight plan with yet another glacier landing.

That was enough extreme adventure for a while, so we explored a small village called Arrowtown. This is where gold was discovered in New Zealand in the 1800's. Not much to see, but a cute place. Someone found a twenty ounce gold nugget here a few weeks ago. We thought about gold mining as new careers, but the cold water part of "panning" isn't good for the skin.

We headed back to Christchurch to fly to the north island for some more exploration. After a few minutes of talking it over, Jen and I agreed we should skip the north island and head to Fiji early. BULA!

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