A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Day 6: Waihola Lake - Owaka - Purakaunui Bay

sunny

We breakfasted with Dave, a friendly Kiwi we met in the kitchen last night. Dave works in customs at Auckland airport and was very helpful with travel tips around his country. It was the last day of his holiday and he also gave us some bread, teabags, a dubious smelling boiled egg, a tin of beetroot, some boysenberry jam, and some cheese!! We set off on the Southern Scenic Route towards Catlins Forest Park – the very southern parts of New Zealand.
Nugget Point, Catlins

Nugget Point, Catlins


After driving to Nugget Point to view the stunning ‘nuggets’ of sharp rock in the sea, we continued to Jack’s blowhole – a popular spot due to a very large blowhole which if viewed at high tide with a large swell creates great sprays of water into the air. Luckily, we turned up at low tide and a sea as flat as a pancake and so saw no sprays. But to be fair it still sounded impressive. On the short walk to Jack’s Blowhole we encountered a small kitten which kept meowing at us and trying to stop us walking by running in front of our feet and sitting down. It was very strange and we only escaped its clutches by sprinting into the distance. It left us contemplating whether it was trying to tell us something... like turn back...! Low and behold when we got back to the car park Queenie wouldn’t start... and we had no phone reception! Luckily, locals Norma and Clive let us use their phone to ring the hire company – Norma then made us a glass of exquisite lemon cordial and a ham, tomato and mustard sandwich. Whilst waiting for the Hire company to contact the AA, Norma decided that we should try a jump start as the battery was likely flat (no fault of owners – no lights or anything left on for the 30min outing!). Norma located the battery hidden under a panel and Clive got his truck and jump leads. It worked and we love Norma and Clive - we purchased some Cucumber Pickle from Norma for $2 to show evidence of this. Norma then shared a recipe for Rhubarb Chutney with Sarah.

Queenie working again, we drove to Owaka, looked around the museum and then drove out to Purakaunui Bay campsite where we indulged in some hand washing of clothes. Slightly nervous of battery dying again, we are taking Queenie to a mechanic tomorrow but couldn’t today as it is a public holiday (Anzac Day). If it does die again, there are worse places to wake up stranded – the place is beautiful and we are parked with great views of the beach we have just ran along and swam in.
Joe, Purakaunui Beach

Joe, Purakaunui Beach


Fingers crossed Queenie starts tomorrow...

Posted by Joe and Sarah 17:32 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 7 & 8: Purukaunui – Paptowai - Orepuki

...Queenie started!! We were so pleased – it was great to hear her engine roar as it does! Prior to Queenie’s engine starting we woke to an amazing sunrise with views right from the bed in our van – it was really beautiful.

Sunrise, Purakaunui Beach 2

Sunrise, Purakaunui Beach 2

We had some lovely porridge and tea and made our way towards Purakaunui Falls which, a little like Jack’s Blowhole, would perhaps have been more impressive after rainfall. however it was still a nice walk and the falls were good – although Joe felt left out that he hadn’t brought his camera tripod and huuuge camera so that he could lie on the cold rocks to get an amazing photo up the falls like the other tourists there. Then it was time to get Queenie sorted so we took her to the garage in Owaka where the staff were excellent at getting us sorted and spent a long time on the phone to our silly hire company persuading them to pay for various things to make Queenie roadworthy, muttering to us “...they should never have given it to you in this condition...” oh good!! We got a new tyre and a new bit for the battery...the old one was loose and had rattled out of place on our bumpy road...or something to that effect!

To explore the Catlins further we then drove to Tawanui to do a walk along the Catlins River – very pleasant and foresty and didn’t see a soul for miles around!
Sarah, Catlins River Walk

Sarah, Catlins River Walk

Our camp for the night was at Papatowai, also on the coast. We walked down to the sea which had a big inlet just down from the campsite – here the scenery was really cool with the forests reaching right onto the beach, really rugged cliffs all along. Joe had to be restrained from exploring the whole southern coast as the tide was coming in and we almost got cut off in the middle of nowhere but a small beach with huge seaweed trees – should be called seatrees really.
Papatowai Tree

Papatowai Tree

We made an effort to leave the campsite early (it appears to be taking us two hours from waking to leaving – we are not sure why...) and were packed up and on our way in only one hour! We drove along to Curio Bay by which the time the sunny days appear to be coming to an end and the weather turned to custard with our first raindrops since having Queenie. Curio Bay is famous for surf and dolphins, neither of which were present today but still an amazing beach. From here we continued all along the coastal Southern Scenic Route to Invercargill – which is a slightly depressing city with odd people....from our little experience of it! After using their internet facilities and shops we continued west to Orepuki, camping at Monkey Island Reserve.
Joe, Monkey Island

Joe, Monkey Island

We are right on the beach again and you can access Monkey Island at low tide apparently. It is raining very hard at the moment and the forecast isn’t great either...but nevermind! Queenie appears to be watertight! We are sitting with head torches on as we have almost run out of power but can’t bring ourselves to pay for a powered site just yet....especially as we are booked onto an overnight Doubtful Sound cruise trip for Sunday! So excited!

Posted by Joe and Sarah 13:51 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Days 9 & 10: Manapouri – Doubtful Sound – Te Anau – Milford

After making full use of the campsites hot showers, we headed down to Lake Manapouri. The weather was dreadful... such dark, menacing clouds and by the time we were ready to board the rain was coming down like stair rods!
Manapouri Lake, pre launch 2

Manapouri Lake, pre launch 2

However this did not dampen our spirits and indeed our spirits were maintained as we heard the words “complimentary hot drinks” over the tannoy on the first boat – and so began 24 hours of constant tea and coffee! (If anyone has done one of these trips before you will know they are not the cheapest – we really felt the need to get our money’s worth here!) So, first boat trip was 45 minutes over Lake Manapouri – the rain continued and heavy clouds blocked out any sort of view, however it was explained this is the real Fiordlands we were experiencing and as they get over 200 days of rain a year I suppose this was true!
Joe, boat over Manapouri Lake 2

Joe, boat over Manapouri Lake 2

We disembarked at the other end of Lake Manapouri where there is a huge impressive power station which is fuelled by the sheer power of the water travelling from Lake Manapouri down to Doubtful Sound. A 45 minute bus journey took us over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove at the end of Doubtful Sound. Here we boarded our overnight boat the Fiordland Navigator!
Doubtful Sound 7

Doubtful Sound 7


It was all very exciting! We spent the next 20 hours exploring Doubtful Sound, with an overnight stop anchored in one of the more sheltered arms of the fiord. In the afternoon we were able to go out in kayaks from the boat to get right up close to the shoreline – this was pretty amazing and the rain even eased for us during this time. The sheer rock faces of the valley are covered in rain forest and the forest can regenerate on even a bare face (after avalanche etc) as the mosses develop. It is amazing! Soon after kayaking was an opportunity for swimming...Doubtful Sound has an average temperature of 11 degrees Celsius....so obviously Joe leapt at the chance (quite literally) and dived off the side of the boat into the water...the look on his face as he emerged from his dive would suggest the water was perhaps a little chilly. Sarah obviously had to wait aboard with a towel so couldn’t go in herself. Shame.
Doubtful Sound 3

Doubtful Sound 3


Doubtful Sound 2

Doubtful Sound 2

One of the most exciting parts of the trip was heading out of the fiord towards the Tasman Sea....we weren’t able to go too far out as it was blowing a hoolie and the swells were huge but it was great to see! Now, although this cruise was obviously all about the scenery, it would be wrong not to mention the food.....hot muffins on arrival, a bowl of soup after kayaking followed by a buffet dinner serving roast beef and lamb, hot smoked salmon, mussels, king prawns, chicken with cashew nuts, filo pastry parcels, vegetables, salads, chocolate mud cake, pavlova, baked raspberry cheesecake and cheese and biscuits, a cooked and continental breakfast buffet....it was amazing! And so we got our money’s worth Joe ate so much that he was unable to move for the rest of the evening.
Doubtful Sound, wet

Doubtful Sound, wet


Looking out to Tasman Sea 4

Looking out to Tasman Sea 4

It would be lying to say it wasn’t mildly disappointing that the clouds didn’t clear for us so we didn’t see the view all around us, but even so Doubtful Sound was an amazing experience and we were so lucky to see all of the huge waterfalls come to life and sea the Fiord at it’s most natural and beautiful. We had a storm overnight and very cold weather resulting in the first snow of the year on the mountains so this made it extra special.
Back on dry land (it was actually still raining as heavily as we got back to our Campervan as it was when we left...) we got back to Queenie and made our way to Te Anau before deciding to drive up the Milford Road to Milford Sound. Deemed to be an unforgettable road to drive it wasn’t a disappointment with vistas aplenty as well as snow, rain, hail and even some sun! We’re camping on Lake Gunn tonight about 40 km from Milford Sound which is stunning but freezing!!
Queenie, Milford

Queenie, Milford

Posted by Joe and Sarah 13:54 Comments (0)

Day 11 & 12: Lake Gunn – Queenstown – Wanaka

Lake Gunn – Queenstown – Arrowtown – Cromwell – Wanaka

sunny

We woke at Lake Gunn to the coldest morning yet – absolutely freezing, but great views of the lake and snow-capped mountains.
Lake Gunn Morning 2

Lake Gunn Morning 2


After a welcome hot porridge breakfast we went for a walk along the beginning of the Routeburn Track – one of the multi-day walks you can do in this part of the world.
Key Summit Walk Danger

Key Summit Walk Danger


Starting in dense forest, we walked up a steep hill to the summit, where we were slap bang in the middle of three huge valleys in the Southern Alps – every direction we turned there was a huge wall of white mountain in front of us. Great walk!!
Key Summit Sarah

Key Summit Sarah


Key Summit 4

Key Summit 4


Key Summit

Key Summit


Loo with a View, Key Summit 3

Loo with a View, Key Summit 3

After descending, we made the long drive to Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand. Last time Joe was here he was armed with a hefty chunk of saved pennies set aside specifically for jumping off things, surfing rapids and sliding down hills. With this in mind, Joe was on the verge of tears as he resisted the temptation of the ‘Largest Swing in the World’, saving money for the cheaper and as yet untravelled Central American portion of the trip! Consolation was found in the shape of a huge burger from the famous Fergburger, followed by a pang of guilt for spending money on a big burger!! Queenstown is a great place, but unless armed with a wad of the aforementioned cash it is a little frustrating!!

We spent that night just out of Queenstown with beautiful views. In the morning we drove through sleepy Arrowtown, before stopping for a coffee at the Kawarau River – home of the bungy! We watched several jumpers and as Joe contemplated jumping with no rope to save the pennies, it was Sarah’s turn to start feeling the adrenaline as we watched the history of bungy DVD. We resisted the jump, and drove to Cromwell for lunch – a nice little town with a quirky historic site on the lakeside. Post lunch and we headed towards Lake Wanaka, where we would sleep that night. Sarah was twitchy – in a matter of minutes the phone was out, Skydive Lake Wanaka had been rung, and Sarah was booked to do a Skydive from 12,000 feet 10am the next morning! Incredible scenes of excitement followed in the campervan, the likes of which are normally reserved for trying to shepherd sandflies out of the windows. Sarah was now so full of adrenaline she decided to wash her hair in a bucket of cold water whilst Joe went for a bike ride before dinner. The ensuing night was bitterly cold again, but a Skydive is taking place tomorrow!

Posted by Joe and Sarah 16:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 13: Lake Wanaka – Parangi Lake, West Coast

sunny

So today is skydive day! How exciting! We wake in a frozen van, both inside and out! Everything was so cold and the view outside non-existent for the mist that had descended upon Wanaka – not the best conditions for a Skydive one may assume!
Cold Morning, Lake Wanaka

Cold Morning, Lake Wanaka


The sun was faintly trying to break through the clouds but it had a long way to go! We drove from the campsite - just so we could get some warm heating going – and waited for Skydive Time on the lake front. Skydive time approached and I was informed that I would be half an hour behind schedule due to the mist. We drove to the airfield and I was so excited! The mist cleared and we had a stunning sunny day with clear blue skies. After watching a very brief video, signing a form to say I understand that human error may lead to my death (well no, not really), donning the standard red and yellow all in one jump suit and meeting my jumper to whom I would be attached we boarded the small plane and set on our way!
Harnessing Up, Skydive

Harnessing Up, Skydive


Sarah and Jumper, Skydive

Sarah and Jumper, Skydive


To the plane, Sarah and Jumper

To the plane, Sarah and Jumper


On the plane there we five of us jumping attached to our jumpers and two camera men to film one of the couples. We sat astride a bench down the side on the plane and as we ascended my jumper man started attaching my harness to his – it felt very tight and uncomfortable but I felt happy with this! At 8,000 feet I suddenly got my first bout of nerves! We had another 4,000 feet to climb and there was only one way down!
Up we go, Skydive

Up we go, Skydive


The views form the plane over the mountain ranges, including Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring, and the Lakes were stunning and despite the huge butterflies I was able to appreciate it! We seemed to arrive at 12,000 feet very quickly and suddenly the door was open and one of the camera men was out of the plane holding onto the side. In the next second the first couple went to the edge of the plane and were gone! At this point I felt really nervous – they just fell so quickly and disappeared! However there was no turning back and before I knew it my jumper was edging me nearer to the door. The most terrifying part was sitting on the edge of the plane, with my legs hanging underneath me looking out to nothing...then before I knew it we were gone! The first fall was so fast and I was all the wrong way up and hadn’t a clue what was happening! I had my eyes squeezed shut and my knuckles were white I was gripping onto my harness so tight – not that this was going to help. Within a few seconds my jumper tapped my shoulders and I was able to let go of the harness, spread my arms, open my eyes and just free-fall! For 45 seconds! It was absolutely amazing- the best feeling ever! Until my jumper did this spinning this that made us whizz around manically – I did a very loud girly scream right in his ear and he stopped this! Phew! Although all the skin was flapping away on my face I relaxed into it and just took in the surroundings! It was just stunning. The parachute went up and we meandered down to earth for a very inelegant landing. The whole thing was just amazing; the best experience ever and given the chance I would have gone up again straightaway!
Parachutes, Skydive

Parachutes, Skydive


Back on the ground, Skydive

Back on the ground, Skydive

With adrenaline pulsing through my veins I then talked non-stop for about an hour explaining every detail of my experience – lucky Joe! We had a quick coffee by the lake and then started our next adrenaline fuelled activity -a cycle ride around the lake! It was very lovely, amazing views and great weather! After a spot of lunch we got back in Queenie for a long and epic drive! We drove up the west of Lake Hawea, then the east of Lake Wanaka, through the mountains and onto Haast Pass through the best scenery we have experienced yet! The sky was still very blue and the snow capped mountains huge right ahead of us! It was so dramatic, green and on every turn something more magnificent appeared! We continued onto the West Coast and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset before heading slightly inland again to camp by a lovely lake. Here we are placed ready for some Glacier Exploration tomorrow!

Joe, Lake Hawea

Joe, Lake Hawea

All in all, today has been a fantastic day and I would recommend everyone does a Skydive!!

Posted by Joe and Sarah 16:12 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 48) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 »