Monday, 26 March 2007

Middle Earth...

We've been travelling and living in our orange spaceship for over a week now and we're loving it! The bed is pretty comfortable and you can't beat sleeping at the bottom of a mountain or beside a beautiful lake. The 'moonroof' is directly above where you sleep so you can lie and stare at the stars for hours. The night sky in New Zealand is truly awesome. We have never seen so many stars.

Watching a DVD inside the spaceship- it's not usually this tidy!

When we are not staring at the stars we've got a DVD player and dotted around the country are 'spacestations' where we can go and exchange our DVDs for free! If we see another spaceship on the road it is customary to wave and/or flag them down to exchange DVDs! All the spaceships have sci-fi/space related names. Ours is called Ming(Yup, Ming!)- the bad guy from Flash Gordon, and so far we have passed Dalek, Taybor, Galactica, Nasa, and Rimmer!

Cooking on the van is not as much hassle as we thought it would be. There's a two ring hob that spins round from the door and there are loads of compartments to store food and all our stuff. We have rustled up some pretty impressive meals and have considered setting up at the roadside selling rolls to tourists!

Cooking sausages down the woods with his dad has prepared Ryan for life on the road

Pamela smiles bravely while eating Ryan's cooking

We left Christchurch with our passenger (Diana from Uddingston!) and headed to Lake Tekapo for our first overnight in Ming. We Passed some unbelievable sceneryin the MacKenzie District before arrinving at the Church of the Good Shepherd, a tiny little church at the side of Lake Tekapo with an amazing view behind the pulpit.

Thsitles in the MacKenzie District- just like home!

Ryan at Lake Tekapo

Diana and Pamela

Ryanalf, the short grey wizard

A tribute to the sheepdogs of the region- stay boy, stay! Good dog.

The Church of the Good Shepherd

The view behind the pulpit- At least you would have something to look at if the sermons were a bit dull!

We dropped Diana off at her hostel and then set up for the night at our camping spot by the lake.

After dinner we want for a walk along the lakeside and then headed back to the spaceship for a night of star gazing and DVD watching. We woke up to some stunning views of the lake and then Ryan went swimming in it while Pamela made breakfast! It was very cold- the swimming, not the breakfast.

We picked up Diana and headed to Mt Cook. Mt Cook is the largest mountain in Australasia and Edmund Hilary used it to train for Mt Everest apparently. We went for a walk taking in the amazing scenery and taking a ridiculous amount of pictures.

Mt Cook from Lake Pukaki

Mt Sefton on the left, Mt Cook on the right (Mt Cook is actually the bigger of the two)

A suspension bridge

Pamela on the suspension bridge

Breakfast with Ming and a Mountain in the background

Since arriving in New Zealand we have taken more pics than we did our whole time in Australia! The entire country seems to be 'photographable' and we apologize in advance for over usage of the words amazing and awesome.

The camp that night was at a DOC- Dept of Conservation campsite. Pamela continues to refer to them as Dept of Conversation campsites. These sites are much cheaper but they don't have any facilities other than a toilet, maybe.

The next day took us through Lake Pukaki, Tarras, Twizel and eventually onto Wanaka. You will have noted already New Zealand's extensive collection of silly place names.
Ming at Lake Pukaki
The scenery along the way was amazing and we stopped at the roadside regularly to take pictures of snow capped mountains and rolling hills. We also visited our first Lord of the Rings location!

At this stage we(Pamela) would like to apologise for the unavoidable geek content that will no doubt bore most of you to tears. Pamela has patiently spent numerous hours being dragged around hillsides while I have tried to imagine a bunch of orcs standing on certain rocks or hills! The guide book takes you to the locations but it's still tricky trying to work out exactly where you are supposed to be looking!

The quest to find these locations and have them match up exactly with the pictures in the guide book has started to consume me and I have clutched the book tightly and referred to it as 'my precious' on a few occasions. Ticking off the locations is strangely addictive but many of the sites are along difficult dirt tracks where you can't really take a hire car- even if it is a spaceship. It became really frustrating after a while thinking that the spot you were looking for might be just around the next bend or just along the track. I have accepted that we aren't going to be able to see every single location unless we hire a helicopter. I'm still looking into prices for this.

LOTR Photo Game!
Rather than go into loads of detail about each LOTR pic we'll just put the odd pic up and call it LOTRa, LOTRb etc... For those who care you can have a guess at what scene was filmed there and post your answers as comments! For those who don't care then you can brush over the random photos of fields and trees!








Leaving the world of Middle Earth for a while we spent a night in Wanaka which is a lovely little town on the bank of Lake Wanaka. Here we stayed at a campsite with really nice facilities and Ryan and Diana did some crazy dives into the eel infested lake while Pamela took some wonderful action shots.

After Wanaka we headed to Queenstown and parted company with Diana. We had a great few days with her onboard the spaceship and hopefully we'll meet up again either on this continent or another.

Queenstown is a cool place. It has a reputation as a party town but we saw no sign of this. We are kind of in between the summer and the winter ski season so maybe things are a bit quiet at this time of the year. The town is surrounded by hills and vineyards and it sits on another huge lake- we can't remember the lakes name but it's a safe bet that if you shuffle around a 'W' a 'K' a 'P' and a bunch of vowels you'd come pretty close. There is a Gondola ride that takes you up into the surrounding hills and the town is filled with lovely restaurants and shops. A lot of the hostels and restaurants have large log fires and we have already decided that at some point in the future we must return on a snowboarding trip to Queenstown.


A bungy jumper near Queenstown

From Queenstown we spent the day at nearby Arrowtown. The site of a few LOTR locations as well as a lovely little town that dates back to New Zealand's gold mining era. Arrowtown is really quaint and the shops along the tiny main street wouldn't look out of place in a western movie.

Main St, Arrowtown




After Arrowtown we went to a place called Deer Park Heights. This is basically a big hill on which numerous groups of animals live. Many of these animals shouldn't really live together, or in New Zealand for that matter, but it makes for a strangely enjoyable few hours as you drive up the hill stopping to feed the miniature horses, alpacas, llamas, ducks, goats, highland cows, and deer!

A crazy donkey rolling around on the ground!

To add to the surreal nature of this hillside a number of LOTR scenes were filmed at the top and there's also an abandoned Korean prison, left over from an 80s movie set!




The hill on the left- LOTRn

A Korean prison from 1986 movie, The Rescue

After another night in Queenstown we got up early and tried to get to Paradise in our spaceship... this was much harder than you would imagine!

There's a little place called Paradise near Glenorchy, just north of Queenstown and this too was another LOTR location. The problem is- the road to paradise is hard to find and extremely treacherous at times. We crept slowly along a dirt track for ages, hoping not to damage our vehicle and just as we decided that we should turn and go back we approached a sign:

The sign says 'Film Crew'

We decided to continue for a little longer and eventually came to a large field filled with vans, tents, and cables. Across from this was a group of horsemen in costume with a young man in their midst. The young rider was dressed differently and clearly stood out as the star of the show. A large camera followed the riders as they rode across the field. We asked someone what was being filmed and they said it was a little New Zealand documenary. This was said with a smirk and it was clear from the costumes and size of production that this was no small documentary.

We cheekily took some photos and then drove on a bit looking for the LOTR site. We think we found the site but the road became extremely rough and eventually we came to a stream that blocked our way.

We headed back towards the filming and passed an old man who had the exciting job of stopping cars from getting into shot. He was happy to inform us that they were filming the new Narnia movie- Prince Caspian! The young horseman was clearly Caspian. The old man waved us through and we drove past while they were still filming. So when the movie comes out and you are watching a scene with Prince Caspian and maybe a dozen horsemen in a field, look out for a bright orange spaceship in the background!

It is clear to see why so many movies are made here as the scenery is breath taking and unlike most other countries, you can drive for miles without seeing any other people, buildings, pylons or any signs of life. New Zealand is Narnia and Middle Earth.

Glenorchy- it's just near Paradise!

Next on our list of must do's for the South Island was a visit to Milford Sound. We had to pass through the rather scary Homer Tunnel to get there.

Homer Tunnel

The view from through the tunnel

The view back to the mountain we just drove through!

Milford Sound is a fiord surrounded by spectacular mountains and in order to illustrate just how stunning the scenery was- we went on a two hour cruise and took 94 photos. The boat took us close enough to the mountains to feel the spray from waterfalls and it took us to a spot where seals lazed in the sunlight. The highlight of this cruise was undoubtedly the moment when a huge school/pod (pick one!) of dolphins appeared behind our boat. The dolphins swam with the boat and jumped out of the water as they played in the boats wake. It was awesome.

Pamela admires the view

Seals lying in the sun

Stirling Falls

The dolphins swam around the boat for ages and watching them was amazing. One of the dolphins was tiny and it was clearly a baby. At some points they were so close to the boat you could have touched them.
Sad to leave the dolphins behind, our cruise took us to an underwater observatory where we could view some of the wildlife that lives under the surface of the lake. This was cool but it didn't compare with the Sound or the dolphins.

We stayed the night at Milford Lodge- a nice hostel near the Sound. We enjoyed a quiet night sitting in their common room, where Pamela beat Ryan at Risk in a record breaking twenty minutes! She was clearly cheating and it's a stupid game for kids anyway.

We left Milford the next day and stopped to do a nature walk- recognised walks in New Zealand usually have names, signs, lookouts and sometimes wooden boardwalks to make them easier. We chose to do the Lake Marian walk which sounded nice and we didn't think it would be too hard. After two hours of struggling over rocks and tree roots we eventually got to the lake. It was hard work but it was worth it.

The 'pathway' to the lake!

Passing a stream along the way

Stopping for a much needed rest

Lake Marian- worth the effort!

We passed through Te Anau on the way back to Queenstown and then after another night there we travelled back to our current location- Wanaka. We really like Wanaka and will probably spend a few days here before setting our coordinates and zooming up the west coast in the spaceship.

We are nearing the midway stage of our trip and the time is flying by. Thanks again to everyone for their kind comments and good luck with the LOTR pics!


John & Chanda said...

So when do you guys work then?

I mean, I could put in a good word for you at your local subway!

(perhaps the film crew need some sandwiches!)

As your friends, we are dissapointed, you don't recognise the LOTR locations instantly. I could name them all - they don't call me footlong baggins for nothing; actually they don't call me that at all. Oh well!

Have a great time whereever you are - I don't know where to send this message cos i don't know which part of the world you are in.

I need to go now, as my printer is running out of ink.

God Bless!


David Simpson said...

Hi guys

You're trip looks better and better every time you update the blog. Looks like this is THE trip of a lifetime (unless you do it again next year). We're all missing you both, but blessed by the time you're having. Don't get lost in Middle Earth!
Not too much to report back home - 'Well just going from bad to worse and don't think the 'Tic are doing much better!
Third Day going well - did I tell you Brian Houston is the support...maybe something can make you jealous.

Love ya

Dad, Mum & Jonny

paul said...

Hi ryan and pammy, amazing pics. Thanks for being so generous with your time and putting so much effort into your blog. Pics are brill. I can almost smell inside that orange van, ahh ming, i know the smell well!!!! Easter weekend already guys, feels like yesterday we said bye at the airport. You are so priviliged to be seeing what you are seeing and doing what you are. Dead proud of you both. I hope you are keeping a journal cos a wee boy called Toby is desperate to hear the amazing tales of The hobbits Ryan and Pamela. Can you text me your current email address as we want to send some jpegs and video footage of tobester. ,Love and miss ya both so much, Paul Jill Toby XXXXX God Bless

David Simpson said...

Thinking of you both this Easter. May you truly be blessed above all measure.
Case you hadn't heard Ryan, the 'Tic scaped thru against the Mighty Well 1-0
Love from Dad, Mum & Jonny

Mum & Dad Ferrie said...

Hi Ryan And Pamela
New Pics are awesome.
We are really missing you but can't believe how quick the time is going in. Halfway Mark already.
We were praying for Ann today in Church, her adventure begins on Tuesday.
Take care, love and miss you both. Happy Easter.
Mum Ferrie

Anonymous said...

[url=]Online casinos[/url], also known as accepted casinos or Internet casinos, are online versions of noteworthy ("hunk and mortar") casinos. Online casinos legalization gamblers to pick up forsake in and wager on casino games all out the Internet.
Online casinos typically interpolate up owing trade odds and payback percentages that are comparable to land-based casinos. Some online casinos directing higher payback percentages as a panacea into deficiency automobile games, and some state upon known payout take a part in audits on their websites. Assuming that the online casino is using an fittingly programmed unpremeditatedly clump generator, delegate games like blackjack clothed an established column edge. The payout plot voyage of origination of these games are established be means of the rules of the game.
Varied online casinos consent into part publicly see or rhyme inseparable's hands on their software from companies like Microgaming, Realtime Gaming, Playtech, Supranational Manoeuvre Technology and CryptoLogic Inc.