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Day 14: Lake Parangi – Fox Glacier – Franz Josef Glacier

sunny


Soon after settling into a cold bed at Lake Parangi, Joe lies awake listening to a faint scratching sound. It is unclear whether it is inside or outside but Joe is a little scared as he has been having a strange recurring thought that every time he opens the curtains when dark, he will see a man standing outside staring in through the windows with a blank expression on his face. Joe has been reading too many scary stories. The scratching got louder, and was joined by a bumping sound. Being the brave man that I am, I woke Sarah for a little moral support before I confronted the staring man outside... With moral support hiding under the covers, I bravely jumped outside the van with a small torch doubling up as a searching device and weapon. Of course there was no one there, but what followed was a very restless night consisting of short bouts of sleep interrupted by continued scratching and noises which could only have come from inside the van. Various suggestions where ventured for the noise – possums, mice, staring men to name but a few – but come morning, the noise had stopped and no clues were left behind...

So we drove on from the Lake to have breakfast on the coast at a lovely little spot overlooking waves. Driving towards the glaciers there was a yelp from Sarah in the passenger seat – there was a hole surrounded by bite marks in her tube of lip balm!! Pulling over to the side of the road and inspecting further we found mice poo in the glove box, under the passenger seat and on the engine – we had our culprit and can only applaud Houdini Mouse for his ability to enter a glove box and steal some lip balm.
Mouse Attacked Paw Paw Cream

Mouse Attacked Paw Paw Cream

Mouse issue to one side, we had a lovely day full of walks.
Fox Glacier, View

Fox Glacier, View

An uphill hike in a rainforest for a great lookout over the Fox Glacier was followed by an hour walk around Lake Matheson where there is a great mirror image of Mount Cook & Mount Tasman in the water.
Mount Tasman and Mount Cook, Lake Matheson

Mount Tasman and Mount Cook, Lake Matheson


Sarah, Lake Matheson

Sarah, Lake Matheson


Lunch was then followed by a trek across the glacial valley to the base of Franz Josef Glacier. Amazing views all around!
Franz Josef Glacier 2

Franz Josef Glacier 2

Posted by Joe and Sarah 16:14 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 15: Franz Josef – Okarito – Greymouth


We stayed the night in a campsite just north of Franz Josef which will forever be remembered has having the smelliest long drop toilet encountered so far. Sarah ventured in there and returned with the smell attached her fleece and threatening to vomit which was a little unpleasant. The campsite is therefore known as Capey Foulwind (not to be confused with the famous seal colony Cape Foulwind further up the coast).

For breakfast we drove to a small settlement called Okarito which is well off the beaten tourist track. Great decision!
Sunrise, Okarito

Sunrise, Okarito


Tea and porridge on a glorious sandy beach, overlooked by towering cliffs and crashing surf... and not a soul in sight! Whilst watching a particularly large waving and wondering whether it was surfable we got our answer... a dolphin came leaping out of the water and surfed in towards shore. A spectacular sight not to be forgotten in a hurry!
Joe, Okarito

Joe, Okarito

We got chatting to a man who turned up walking his dog on the beach. A lovely chap named Ken who invited us back to his bach (holiday home) for a cup of coffee. Cup of coffee was terrific and accompanied by 2 oreo biscuits each. What a treat! Ken and his wife Lin then offered the use of their power shower. A serious treat for two weary travellers who hadn’t showered for six days! (This may have had something to do with the reason we were offered a shower come to think of it...!) Whilst Sarah was in the shower, Ken then offered Joe a beer. This was just unchartered territory for 11.45am given our last two weeks of rationing – the beer tasted magical!
Sarah, Lunch Stop West Coast

Sarah, Lunch Stop West Coast

Following the lovely morning we made the long drive north to Greymouth smelling as fresh as daisies. We are in a nice little campsite by the beach with a lovely sunset, hot showers and a hot tub. A hot tub I tell you! A day of luxury!
Sunset 2, Greymouth

Sunset 2, Greymouth

Joe Sunset, Greymouth

Joe Sunset, Greymouth

Posted by Joe and Sarah 16:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Days 16 & 17: Greymouth – Buller River – Farewell Spit

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Driving and sleeping... that is what we have done for the past 2 days!! We left Greymouth and drove the last bit of the West Coast in lovely sunshine. The scenery was magnificent – yet more of the best driving we have ever done! We stopped for lunch at the Pancake Rocks before continuing north and turning inland to say goodbye to the West Coast.

Sarah Pancake Rocks, West Coast

Sarah Pancake Rocks, West Coast

Pancake Rocks, West Coast

Pancake Rocks, West Coast

We drove alongside the Buller River, camping overnight in a free spot at an historic railway site.

Buller River, West

Buller River, West

After a lazy morning we continued driving north, towards the Abel Tasman region. Unfortunately we misjudged the length of the drive north and so after dreaming of an afternoon on the beach, we drove all day until reaching Farewell Spit on the far north of the South Island. The cheap campsite on the beach we were hoping for is inaccessible due to recent flooding so we are forced to pay for a serviced campsite which is annoying!! At this point we would like to suggest anyone considering a campervan trip to New Zealand should seriously consider a self-contained vehicle for more free camping options!

Posted by Joe and Sarah 17:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Days 18 & 19: Farewell Spit – Motueka – Nelson

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Day 18 began with a morning 3 hour stroll along Farewell Spit, a huge sand spit jutting out from the northern tip of the south island. We were only allowed to walk the first 4km of the spit as it is a protected area (breeding area for lots of birds). The land side of the spit was very calm, compared to the waves and fierce undertows of the coastal side. The two are separated by large sand dunes / playground for Joe.

Joe jumping in dunes, Farewell Spit

Joe jumping in dunes, Farewell Spit

Farewell Spit

Farewell Spit

We then drove to Wainui Bay, which is as far into the Abel Tasman as you can get by vehicle due to flooding in the area. The road was reduced to one lane in many places due to landslips caused from the heavy rain having washed much of the road away.

Abel Tasman, landslip road

Abel Tasman, landslip road

We planned to stay in this area for several days, lounging on the beaches and hiring kayaks... but the combination of inaccessible roads, expensive campsites and rain has unfortunately changed these plans. What we did see of the Abel Tasman region looked lovely, but would like much nicer aboard a kayak in the sunshine we imagine!

Abel Tasman, northern edge

Abel Tasman, northern edge

We continued south beyond the town of Motueka where we found a delightful (and far cheaper) camping spot in a place called Ruby Bay. From Queenie we could see the bright lights of the city of Nelson across the bay.
We woke at Ruby Bay and made the short drive to Rabbit Island, an island of Pine Forest and nice beaches. Despite the cloudy weather and threat of rain, we bravely went for a cycle through the forest and back along the coast, followed by a lovely cup of coffee watching a surfer and paddle boarder in the waves. The waves were too small however to tempt two pros like us. Rabbit Island is a place which given a day of tropical sunshine we would both love to spend a lot of time!

Next up was the city of Nelson, which appeared a little damp for ‘the sunniest city in New Zealand’. We visited the Christ Church Cathedral, a building which has several critics for its art deco style. Cathedral experts as we are, it appeared to us as a modern building trying to be in an older style. In our professional opinion the attempt was unsuccessful and it looks a bit silly.

Christ Church Cathedral, Nelson

Christ Church Cathedral, Nelson

Queenie has chosen to camp in a spot just outside of Nelson this evening. Joe is currently very excited as tomorrow we are scheduled to visit Pelorus Bridge – site of his infamous thrill-seeking bridge jump 4 years ago. The jump is over 20 metres high into freezing water and it was a very silly (but very fun) thing to do. It won’t be repeated but will be lovely to see again!

Posted by Joe and Sarah 18:15 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 20 & 21: Nelson – Pelorus Bridge – Picton

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After breakfast we made a quick stop in Nelson to do a spot of admin (bringing forward the ferry crossing by one day as the weather forecast was not too good). We then drove on towards Pelorus Bridge. When we arrived, Sarah was a little overwhelmed by the size of the bridge and therefore the bravery of Joe’s leap. Despite being very obviously impressed she hid this well, only saying ‘it’s not as high as you made it out to be’. Joe still maintains it was an act of extraordinary courage to leap.

Pelorus Bridge 2

Pelorus Bridge 2


As we were staying at a campsite in the Pelorus Bridge area, we went for a hike up a nearby hill which offered great views so it said... the views weren’t great in the end, but it was a great workout for us as the ascent was extremely steep - luckily our campsite for the night had hot showers! We made friends with a tame bird in the campsite kitchen that evening... and then became sworn enemies as it took to flying towards us and veering away at the last minute as it tried to catch the large population of moths. After several attempts we worked together magnificently – Sarah screaming as it briefly left the kitchen, Joe sprinting to the door to banish our former friend.

Next morning we drove over the Queen Charlotte Drive – a scenic bit of road offering good views of the Marlborough Sounds. Unfortunately the weather remained below par and so the views were a little cloudy. Not to be beaten, we went for a stroll to a lookout point which did offer good views, but the sun would have helped! We stayed overnight in a campsite near to Picton harbour, ready to say goodbye to the South Island in the morning.

Posted by Joe and Sarah 17:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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