A Travellerspoint blog

Queenstown, jet boating and lamb chops

sunny 20 °C

After a freezing morning, we drove to Queenstown. The drive was absolutely amazing again and the whole town is set in amazing scenery as well. By the time we parked our van, we were saying that we could move there, looking for a house and so on. We found out later that the town only has 8000 people, so we kind of thought that it would be difficult to find a job unless you own a business.

So we stopped dreaming and did our laundry istead. I also got a haircut and chopped off my dreadlocks :)

We then drove for a while and found an excellent viewpoint to stay for the night. The land was bought by some corporation and given to the public. So we could sit next to a million dollar houses, some of them newly built and admire the same view. Don't you love New Zealand? I bet the people living in those houses weren't to impressed with our efforts to camp there and grill our lamb chops on the BBQ. But we were pretty happy with our spot, lamb chops, potato salad and beer :) We were staring into the sunset quite happily.

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Next day we headed to do jet boating. We were flying in the canyon and the boat was literally skidding on the stones as the boat only needed about 5 cm of water to be going. The driver would also do 360 degree turns. Yes, everyone was deaf from my screaming! Robert loved it so much that he wanted to do it again, but changed his mind and bought a shirt instead. :)

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For lunch we stopped on the hill overlooking the canyon with jetboats flying up and down. We had an amazing salad with salmon. It lasted that long. Yummy!

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We then stayed another night around Queenstown and then headed towards Milford Sounds.

Posted by Laima 13:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Franz Joseph, Fox Glacier walk & Lake Wanaka

rain 19 °C

The next day we got up and went to see Franz Joseph glacier, which was nice, but it didn't compare to the Mereno glacier in Argentina.

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We then went to Fox Glacier, booked a tour to go climbing on it and met up with the French couple again.

We were trekking through the rocks for a while and then climbing up stairs for an hour. Once we reached the ice, we had to put our crampons on and it was such a strange feeling to walk on ice without slipping.

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After the walk we found a place to camp and after couple minutes the Frenchies pulled in as well. It is so funny how you bump into the same people all the time once you are travelling. So as usual, we opened a bottle of wine and sat in their van chatting. They both were doctors that were working in Tahiti for a year and now were going back to France and doing some travelling on the way.

Next day we left early again to go see Mirror Lake, it is famous for it's reflections of Mt Cook. It was quite foggy and rainy, so we didn't get to see anything except the lake with a couple of ducks :)

After that we headed to Haast Pools and then to Lake Wanaka.

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The drive was the most beautiful in the world and we were stopping every five minutes to take pictures.

We stopped for lunch at this site that had amazing views and it looked like a good place to camp. It had a lot of dried wood and our fridge was packed with lamb chops and meat :) But we agreed to meet with the French couple later on at Lake Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka was a nice little town with cherry trees in full bloom. Unfortunately for us it didn't have a lot of places for camping, so we decided to keep going and find somewhere else to camp. We waited to meet up with the French couple, but they were so far behind that we decided not to wait. We actually never got their details as well. So if you ever going to read this - get in touch :)

We were trying to get out of the town, but all roads were closed due to a festival, so we waited for an hour or so and watched a parade.

After that we drove for another hour and found a spot by Lake Dunstan. Robert tried to light a BBQ, but it was so windy that it was mission impossible. We cooked something else and had some wine to sooth our tiredness.

The wind was very strong at night as well and the whole van kept moving. There was frost on the grass in the morning, so I was really happy to get the car started in the morning to get some heat going and was holding a coffee mug for an hour to warm up. By the way did I mention that views where great? :)

Posted by Laima 09:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Arthur's Pass National Park and getting stuck in the mud

sunny 22 °C

After our dolphin swim, we headed towards Arthur's Pass National Park. We were planning to do a walk, but it was pouring down outside. The forecast wasn't looking great as well, so we just kept driving through the whole pass, which was a little bit dissapointing, but I guess you can't order the weather. We have been lucky enough so far.

By the end of the day, we were struggling to find where to stay the night, but managed to find a tiny camp, where we cooked curry and had wine again.

Next morning, we drove to Hokitika, which is jade capital of the world. We did some shopping and managed to exchange some books. We also bought two disposable BBQs and were planning to stop somewhere early to have a nice relaxing afternoon. It never happened!

We got a little bit lost looking for a campsite and ended up getting stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere. I'm not going to go into the details as these things are better forgotten, but it took 2 people and 2 trucks to get us out just for us to get it sutck again, it took over 3 hours. :)

We ended up camping by the lake and obviously opening another bottle of wine and sharing brie cheese and crackers with a French couple who were camping next to us.

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Posted by Laima 09:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Kaikoura - camping with seals and swimming with dolphins

sunny 21 °C

After our walk in Abel Tasman National Park we drove like crazy all the way to Kaikoura where we were planning to do a dolphin swim.

We were looking where to camp again and got over taken by this huge campervan pulling a car behind them, so we just followed it and stopped at a lookout point by the sea. As soon as we stopped, another campervan pulled in as well. :)

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I thought that it was a good idea to open that rose wine that we got in Martinborough, so that was the first thing that I did. We were drinking our wine and talking and then Robert noticed a seal on the rock.

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So we spent some time taking their pictures and talking to the people from the orther camper van. They were very sweet, but the word of advice for people who are planning to use a campervan - your car battery doesn't need to be charged every day at a camp site, as it charges as you drive and furthermore you don't need to cook your dinner in the dark to save the battery ;)

We also chatted to the couple who were travelling in style. Basically a whole bus to yourself, now that's real camping. They were from New Zealand and had some useful tips for us.

Next morning, we went to Kaikoura to do our swim with the dolphins. The Dolphin Encounter company was quite good, they have special permits as the dolphins are completely wild and they try to work in order to save them with organisations such as Greenpeace, Project Interlock, World Wide fund for Nature New Zealnd, etc.

Once the dolphins were spotted our guide told us to jump in and sing to them as apparently that's what they like or maybe they just wanted to have some fun watching us behaving like kids.

The experience was amazing there were about 70-80 dolphins around us. They kept shooting past like torpedos. They would get really close to you as they are so curious and spin with you in a circle.

The water was quite cold so I had to get out, but I really wanted to stay there forever. Ginger cookies and tea were excellent finish of an amazing morning.

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We also got some cards to post home and again jumped into a van and started to head towards Arthur's Pass National Park.

Posted by RL 07:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Camping by the river and Abel Tasman National Park

sunny 20 °C

We drove all the way to Nelson. It was nice, but we got lost around Nelson and then spent hours driving in the traffic trying to find a petrol station, foodstore and then our way out of town.

We were looking where to camp again and whilst crossing this one bridge we saw 2 campervans parked by the river. So we decided to stop and camp with them as well. After a very bumpy ride to get to the river with forks and knifes rattling and cupboards opening, we rocked up and parked next to them (the thought about intruding their space crossed my mind, but I guess no one cares about it that when your camping).

We took a walk to the river's and and passed this little gypsy type village with an abondoned bus parked in the middle and some tents that were made of plastic bags. Lots of people were fishing.

Once we got back to our camper, we saw that the other people had made a fire. We joined them and had an awesome evening. One couple were travelling for a year and the guy was a wildlife photographer, so he had a couple funny stories to tell. The other couple had a very funny van with bunnies and vegeterian written all over it. They said that they came to New Zealand to look for a job, but they got the van and were still travelling after 7 months. We had some beers and it was the first time that went to bed warm!

There were another two vans parked close by and apparently the guy has been living by the river for 5 years. We saw him playing guitar.

In the morning we woke up quite early and were shocked to open our car doors and see tons of cars around us. Apparently it was a whitebait season and people could get up to $28.00 for a kilo for it. Everyone was by that river with their nets.

We decided to spend a day doing salmon fishing. We headed to Anatoki Salmon farm in Golden Bay. (http://www.anatokisalmon.co.nz/fishing.htm ) It looked not too far on the map, but how wrong we were. The road was winding down, so it took ages to get to the farm.

Once we got there, we were given some fish food and two rods and set off to catch some fish. Robert caught one immediatelly. I had some problems with my rod :), so I had to use his and caught a huge fat one. Of course, being a gentelman, Robert told me that I had to kill my own fish. Oh well, what a girl needs to do for dinner... My vegeterian days were definately over.

It was interesting to see three old ladies fishing next to us. They obviously were locals and have been doing it all the time instead of going to the supermarket.

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The guy at the shop fileted the fish and smoked them for us. It tasted amazing and we had quite a lot of it left to take away.

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On the way back we decided to take the Pokara shortcut to save some time even though it had a sign saying ' not suitable for campers'. The road was quite wide and we started to think that the sign was just something against people who drive campervans until the road suddenly turned into a one lane gravel road. And then it got narrower and narrower. I was praying that there wouldn't be any cars coming the other way as passing each other would be impossible. We were driving like crazy with a jar of gherkins spilling all over the cupboad and the constant sound of cutlery rattling. :) We got lucky and made it down to the highway safely. Never again!

We spent a night by the same river. Today we were camping alone. The people that we camped with yesterday left us some wood so we made a fire. Robert finally opened a beer after a long day and we were cooking potatoes in the fire. The maori guy who has lived in a camper van for 5 years showed up to chat to us. He said he has met lots of people who would camp by the river. But he obviously didn't know where Lithuania was as he called me Russian. Besides, that he was very nice :)

He would fish for whitebait and then trade it for the stuff that he needs such as petrol and food. Then during the fruit season he would do some picking. He then discussed how to hunt for wild pigs and gave us his recipe for it. So the night was quite fun.

Next day, we again woke up surrounded by cars and all people manically fishing for whitebait. We've left our campsite and headed to Kaiteriteri, where we had breakfast on the beach.

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We then went to see famous Apple Rock and were toying with the idea of renting a kayak for a day, but it seemed like too much work especially as the wind was quite strong.

We then headed to Abel Tasman National Park and stopped by this amazing view to have lunch. The Abel Tasman Park was just around the corner from were we had lunch. You can walk the whole track and camp on the beach for 3 days, but we just decided to walk for couple hours. (I definately have to go back to New Zealand and do that full walk! :)).

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We only made it to the Appletree Bay. It looked like the perfect spot to chill out and have our sandwiches. (We had to fight of a couple of seagulls over it though).

After getting back, we jumped into a van and drove all the way to Kaikoura. A long day

Posted by Laima 06:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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