Saturday, 31 March 2007

Half way home...

We spent four great days in Wanaka. It's a small place but they have some cool shops, a really nice sushi restaurant and the cheapest and quickest internet cafe! We went for a number of walks around the lake and up into the surrounding hills where the views were brilliant.

Mt Iron

We played crazy golf at a local attraction called 'Have a shot'. At this place you can shoot guns, bows and arrows, sponge ball cannons, and you can play crazy golf or hit balls at the driving range. Only four golfers were killed on the day we went to visit!

One of the highlights of Wanaka and a must do for anyone passing through here had to be the night at the Cinema Paradiso. The cinema is a small building which shows relatively recent movies. The building is hard to miss as it usually has a huge display on it's roof, linked to one of the movies being shown. This month's display was a giant killer sheep- promoting a New Zealand comedy called 'Black Sheep'.
Cinema Paradiso

We went in early on the Saturday afternoon to buy our tickets for that evenings screening. The guy in charge has lived in NZ for over 20 years but his Scottish accent was still pretty apparent- he was born in Arran and he informed us that we could order a meal for before the movie or for during the intermission! It became clear that this was not a normal cinema. We went early and had a lovely meal and then made our way into the cinema to choose our seats.

We sat up the back on the right!

We opted for the large couch up the back of the hall and passed the armchairs and convertible car on the way! It was like watching a movie in someone's living room. Well, someone's living room that has a car in it.

The way cinemas should be

The living room feeling was further enhanced when the Scottish bloke came out and thanked everyone for coming, told a little story about the cinema and then said that he hoped everyone enjoyed the movie. At the intermission we bought ice cream and probably the nicest cookie ever made! It was still warm from the oven and must have been about an inch think.

Monster Cookie, Cookie Monster

If you are ever near Wanaka, go see a movie-, the steak sandwiches are pretty good too! We left Wanaka on Monday, after making Ming a little bit less Mingin', and made our way to Fox Glacier.

Not so Ming

We stopped briefly for lunch at a quiet little place called Haast Beach but after being devoured by ravenous killer midges we quickly worked out why the place was so quiet!

Haast Beach

Quickly moving on from Haast we headed to the glacier region- Fox Glacier and it's neighbour Franz Josef Glacier are large, almost permanent, rivers of ice that slowly move under their own weight. You can go on guided walks across the glaciers or you can walk on the public paths to the glacier's terminal edge(the melting edge closest to sea level).

Fox Glacier

Franz Josef
We decided just to walk to the terminal of both glaciers on our own. The guided walks onto the ice looked good but they were pretty expensive and you still got quite close just walking to the edge. It was raining and it was really cold standing close to them, so walking on them must have been freezing!

Plastic Ponchos- Everyone will be wearing them soon

Stopping for a photo at the 'no stopping' sign

The glaciers are an amazing sight and these ones are particularly unique as they run parallel with rainforests.
A waterfall on the way to Franz Josef

Some of the icy peaks on the Fox Glacier

The tunnel at the terminal edge of Fox Glacier

The towns of Fox and Franz Josef are very little and there's not much to do other than go see the glaciers. Franz Josef is slightly bigger- it has an indoor ice climbing wall and a couple of really nice restaurants. We spent a few days visiting the glaciers and then we headed further up the west coast to Hokitika.

The grey sand of Hokitika Beach

Like almost all of the towns up the west coast, Hokitika is quite small and it has a funny name. We struggled to remember this one and over the course of a few days it was called everything from WalkieTalkie to HonkyTonky. We managed to meet up for dinner with David and Adam from our Fraser Island trip.

The lads enjoy tasty desserts

They are travelling on the Kiwi Experience coach and they were staying nearby so we picked them up in Ming and went out for a nice meal. After dinner we we to see some glow worms in a little cave. As you do...

Some places charge you for guided walks to see glow worm caves but there is a little cave at the edge of Hokitika that you can see them for free. The glow worms weren't that interesting but the scary guy who shouted at us for having our torch on gave us a good laugh! We dropped the lads off at their hostel and hopefully we'll meet up again at some point in the future.

We have been sleeping in Ming at campsites all the way up the coast and most of them have pretty decent facilities. Some of them have a nice TV room and a few of them have some interesting residents...

A Weka
This little guy is called a Weka, and he lived in some trees just next to our camping spot in Hokitika. The Weka is a pretty rare bird only found in New Zealand. This one liked apples.

From here we headed to Westport and jetboating on the Buller River! A jetboat doesn't have a normal speedboat propeller, instead it has powerful jets that suck up water and then the jets spray it out to propel the boat. This allows the boats to travel very fast in very shallow water.

After the jetboating we made our way to see the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. These are weird rock formations that seem to have gathered in layers, a little bit like a pile of pancakes. They don't actually look that much like pancakes but they are still pretty cool.

At high tide the ocean pushes water up through the blowholes

The drive along the west coast was lovely and at times it reminded us of the Great Ocean Road in Australia. After the Pancake Rocks we stopped at a few small places and then arrived in Nelson in the north of the South Island. We went to Nelson City Church on Easter Sunday. It was a nice service and everyone was very friendly.

From Nelson we headed to Kaiteriteri. There was a nice little beach there and a lot of families enjoying their Easter holidays. Pamela was delighted when we managed to find a little place that was showing the Masters golf! We watched the final day of the tournament at 7.30am NZ time.

Kaiteriteri Beach

From here we drove to Farewell Spit at the north western tip of the South island. This charmingly named place is actually really pretty. We walked along the beach to the end of the peninsula where we struggled through some bushes and up onto the amazing undulating sand dunes.

The peninsula disappears into the distance

Pamela- are you sure you can get through here?

Ryan- there are footprints, you must be able to!

The dunes were amazing and although there were some footprints we were sure there was no one else around. You could see the wind gently move the sand around and our footprints were covered over very quickly. From the top of the dunes you could sea ocean on either side of the peninsula. This was an amazing place and the walk back along the beach with the sun setting was beautiful.

A (insert collective noun here) of ducks

We bid farewell to Farewell Spit(you can't buy this!) and then travelled along incredibly winding roads back towards Marahau, at the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. The national park is a large section of forest that holds loads of protected wildlife and plantlife. You can hire your own kayak and paddle alongside the park for days or you can combine kayaking, walking and camping. We opted for a half day kayaking trip that included lunch and a lift back in a speedboat! We were in a two man kayak. The kayak had a little udder that was operated from the back and both of us had to paddle...let's just say they should introduce kayaking in pre-marriage councilling.

Are you paddelling back there?

Of course, darling!

The kayaking was a little sore on the arms but it wasn't that strenuous. We made our way gradually along the shore to a lovely little beach where we stopped for some lunch.

Watering Cove

After lunch the water taxi came to collect us and take us back to the car park. Pamela and I were the only two on the watertaxi as the rest of the group had opted to walk further into the park. The driver stopped the boat in the middle of the water and asked if we wanted to see him catch some fish. Without giving us much chance to answer he threw a hand line into the water and within maybe twenty seconds he was pulling in a large fish. He was only using a little silver lure and the fish practically jumped into the boat. He proceeded to grab the fish and chop it's head off, much to Pamela's disgust. He then did this another three or four times. He must have caught four fish in about five minutes. The last fish wasn't quite on the hook properly and it spun around and sprayed blood all over the guy and Ryan. Pamela managed to avoid this as she was too busy steering the boat as the guy had instructed!

Pamela avoiding the sound of fish decapitation

One of our last days in the South island was spent back over on the east coast where we went whale watching in Kaikoura. The weather took a turn for the worst and we were unsure if our boat trip to see the whales would be cancelled or cut short. Thankfully the forecasted strong winds didn't strike and the trip went ahead as scheduled. We travelled out to the rough location of the whales where we waited until one surfaced. The captain of the boat had a hydraphone that he used to listen to the whales and detect their likely location.

The captain and his hyrdaphone

Once they knew the whale was about to surface everyone was instructed to watch the horizon for the first sign of the whale's spray. Once we spotted the spray we moved closer to the whale where we watched the huge creature until it decided to dive back under to continue feeding.

We got to see three massive Sperm Whales, one of them apparently fell asleep and has been known to stay asleep and surfaced for up to four hours. We didn't hang around for this one to wake up. We moved on to see another whale and the sight of its huge tail coming out of the water was amazing.

Once we had left the whales we managed to see some dolphins. Around 400 dolphins actually! They were quite small and very playful. They swam around and did loads of flips out of the water. It looked like they were showing off for us.

From Kaikoura we travelled back up to Picton where we caught the ferry to the North island, arriving in the capital city, Wellington. As we write this post it is Saturday the 14th of April and we are officially half way through our trip. Three months down, three to go!


The Vermilions said...

Hi guys! You guys look like you are having a blast. Anna thinks you guys are the greatest and is just amazed by all the animals you are meeting on your journey! It's great to travel alongside you with the photos. They are so neat. Love to you both. Talk to you soon!

Andy & Jenny Weir said...

Congrats on surviving the South Island - looks like you made the most of it. Which is a good thing!

Say Hi to Wellington from us - hope it's as good to you as it was to us.

Go to the Embassy on a Sunday and you'll catch LoTR. Doh, it's Sunday already! There's a wee Morrocan restaurant over the road. Check it out.

Anyway, enjoy Rivendell, Master Gamgee....

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys, Another funny and amazing chapter. The cinema looked brill and right up yours (and our) street! Talking of cinemas...can't wait til you're home so we can get there again!!! Loving the blog and appreciate how much time it must take. Love and miss you both muchn ess. Take care in those campsites, Paul, Jill and Tobster xxx

Lindsay-May said...

Hey!! Pics are awesome and the blog is amazing - I laugh everytime I read it. Pammy for some reason my phone would not let me text you back! my email address is (its sad yeah i know lol) so drop me an email and il email you back really quick :D - thats if i dont get hold of yours 1st!! cant wait 2 chat to yous! so glad that yous (i know yous isnt a real word ryan before you go all teachery hehe) are having such an amazing time. yous deserve it.

I heard a rumour that I might be seeing yous in America - I hope its true, that would be so awesome!

Love yous
LL xxx

Anonymous said...

Hey Ryan and Pam

It all looks so great! Glad you are having such a great time. Can't believe you're half-way there already! Is it going fast for you? By the way how funny are your Uncle Danny's comments? Is he the funny one in the family?!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,
You do not know me, but it was good to see a photo of my son ( Adam) posted on your blogspot recently (and whilst on Fraser Island too)....he is really enjoying his experience and meeting guys like you helps - enjoy the rest of your trip, and if you bump into Adam again, say "hi" to him from his old man....Joe

Anonymous said...

Hey, looks like your having a great time!

Adams properly chuffed that hes in your blog two times, been sending me links to it in my emails off him.

have a lovely rest of trip


The Gunns said...

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Pamela,
Happy Birthday to You!!!

Hope you have a great day tomorrow. Sorry we couldn't give you the cake... mmmm, tastes good though!!

The Gunns.

Anonymous said...

Hi There
Happy Birthday Pamela, hope you have a great day. xxxx
Lots of Love
Tam and Janette

David Simpson said...

Hi Pamela
Joining with others in wishing you a happy birthday. Bet you didn't think that one day you'd have a birthday on the other side of the world. Have a great day and celebrate in style. (Jonny will pay)
Dad, Mum & Jonny

Anonymous said...

Hey pammy happy birthday, must be great having a birthday in exotic locations. Take care and missing you both loads, PJT X

Toneboy said...

Hey Pamela, just another comment wishing you a happy birthday. Have a good one!

David Simpson said...

Now it's your turn. Have a great birthday.Make sure Pamela bakes you a great cake - Kiwi I would imagine.
Enjoy Hawaii - heard a rumour today that the Vermilions might be having another addition to their family!!! I'll let you talk to Anna about that one!

Pity you're missing Third Day (with Brian Houston). Still what about Michael W Smith in October?

Anyway - enjoy your day.

David, cathie & Jonathan

Anonymous said...

Mum & Dad

Hi Ryan
Hope you have a great day and that you enjoy your time in Hawaii.
Your txt bout MSN came in at 3am. We were already in bed.
Toby is coming for overnight tomorrow, we will give him big Cuddles on your behalf.We are going to play him at Risk,( he is very clever for his age)
Love You
Mum & Dad

The Gunns said...

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Ryan,
Happy Birthday to You!!!

Is there an echo in here??
Hope you enjoy your day too.

The Gunns.