A Travellerspoint blog

South Island update!

As usual it's been a very busy few weeks. Wr arrived on the South Island nearly a week ago and we have been steadily driving and visiting as much as we can. From the ferry that dropped us off on the South Island we drove up and around the Malborough Sounds. I have no idea what a 'sound' is? But it made for tricky driving as it was very windy and hilly. The scenery was amazing. It was great to see golden beaches and the water is an amazing aqua green colour.

Malborough Sounds

Malborough Sounds

From Malborugh we found a DOC campsite to stay at but we managed to spoil their grass by getting our campa van stuck in the boggy bit! The next day we covered a lot of ground as we drove from the sounds through Nelson and up to the start of the Abel Tasman national park. Once again the weather was stunning and i was able to eat sausage and chips on a lovely little beach called Kateriteri! In the evening we went back to our holiday park which was deserted which suited us as it meant we were the only ones in the pool and able to have the kick ass water slide to ourselves!!

Spot the Dog?

Spot the Dog?

Hannah's new home!

Hannah's new home!

The following day we had a brilliant kayaking / walking adventure in the abel tasman national park. Kayaking is a lot more complicated than i though. It turns out that these things have pedals! Who knew that?? We were in a tandem kayak so Hannah sat in the front to be the navigator and i was in the back to be in control of the direction of the kayak. If you have ever heard the phrase the 'blind leading the blind' then it was applicable to our kayaking. I hadn't moved the pedals to a suitable position so when Hannah was shouting "left, left!" i could harldy reach the pedals to turn them left or right. Amazingly we managed to complete the 2 hours without killing each other and at times it got really choppy and a bit scary. The scariest bit was that we saw loads of jelly fish just below the surface of the water. I was worried that i would lassoo the jellyfish straight into my own face as i completed my smooth kayak stroke! The kayak took us around the beginning of the national park along the bay and into two amazing lagoons. It was absolutely amazing!! In the evening we drove north to Golden bay over stunning views of Takaka Hill. Our holiday park was right on the beach so we were able to watch an amazing sunset.

Kayaking in Abel Tasman

Kayaking in Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park

We had a fiarly chaotic driving day the next day. We visited some cool deserted beaches. On one beach there was a jellyfish on the shore. It looked dead but it could have still been sleeping. We didnt mess with it just in case. We then drove to Nelson Lakes national park. When we got there it was full of crazy sand flies!! As soon as we got out there car they attacked us. We moved to a different lakes about 20 km away but it was the same story. We could not have cooked outside without our pasta being infected by flies so we got back in the car and did a late drive away from the lakes. It was unfortunate because we were planning on spending the next day exploring the Nelson Lakes national park.

Nelson Lakes

Nelson Lakes

My new favourite magazine

My new favourite magazine

Since then we have done a long drive down the West Coast stopping en route to check out the pancake rocks. The drive was very scenic. We are now at Franz Josef glacier. It is a cool little town with the mountains and glaciers in the background.

Reflection of the glacier

Reflection of the glacier

Yesterday we went heli hiking on the glacier. It was one of the best things we have done this holiday. We started by taking a helicopter ride up to the top of the glacier. We had both never been in a helicopter before and it was amazing!! We were just getting ready to go when they radio'd through and send we had to get on the helicopter now. It was like a scene from 24 as we frantically ran to the chopper communicating through walkie talkies! I was pretending to be a bodyguard for Hannah. One of the best things about the helicopter ride was obviously getting to where the cool-as headphones! Hannah looked like Challenge Anneka is here headphones. The helicopter ride was about 5 minutes and gave us great views over the glacier. We landed and then put on crampons (teehee!) which helped us with walking on the ice. It was quite hard walking on the ice because every now and then there was a bit of snow and if we applied too much weight on the snow your foot fell through and got wet in the water flowing underneath. There was 7 of us in the group and 2 of us came back with a wet foot. Needless to say i was one of them!

Intrepid Hannah

Intrepid Hannah

Ice Walking on Franz Josef Glacier!

Ice Walking on Franz Josef Glacier!

Ice hiking on Franz Josef glacier

Ice hiking on Franz Josef glacier

The ice hiking bit was cool. We were on the glacier for about 2 hours. We explored all the ice holes and crevices! Hannah was unlucky enouogh to be the smallest person in the group therefore she was used as the guinea pig for exploring the holes to see if they were big enough and secure enough to fit through! Some of the gaps, passages and holes we had to get through were tiny but luckily if we had got stuck we could just stay still for long enough for the ice to melt and then we could squeeze through! It was a crazily different but brilliant and unique experience. We helicoptered down to the bottom again but now before we got an amazing photo...

The Naked Traveller

The Naked Traveller

I will leave you with that. Speak soon...

Posted by Phildean7 12:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

New Zealand - Taupo, Wellington and all inbetween

From Rotorua we headed down to Taupo. We were not expecting it to be as amazing as it proved to be. The weather was fantastic and on the first day we stopped off en route to do the Squeeze!. This was one of the best things we have done so far. The squeeze certainly lived up to its name although it didnnt involve fitting the wet suits onto our bodies! Basically, we enjoyed a 50 minute scenic boat ride up the Waikato river . Then we dismounted and waded through thigh - high (chest high in Hannah's case) warm water. We had to duck and dive through crooks and crevices and at one point had to mount a rope to pull oursevles up onto the higher rocky levels. After 20 minutes of 'squeezing' we reached 2 amazingly powerful waterfalls. We enjoyed a soak although my swimming shorts seemed to inflate and it made me look like i was wearing one of those sumo wrestling costumes under the waterfall. The force of the water nearly pushed my shorts away completely which i don't think our fellow boat passengers would have appreciated. We then caught the boat back but this time it was more hair raising as Dave the guide performed 360 degree spins most of the way back!.

Waikato river scenery

Waikato river scenery

Waikato river

Waikato river

The squeeze lives up to its name

The squeeze lives up to its name

Fine specimens!

Fine specimens!

Waterfalls at the Squeeze

Waterfalls at the Squeeze

On our second day in Taupo we calmed things down a little and went on the Huka (pronounce it how you will) Falls walkway. This was ridiculoulsy stunning. The water is an emerald greeny colour and the waterfalls at the end are very green and white.

Hannah on Huka Falls walk

Hannah on Huka Falls walk

Overlooking Taupo are a series of snowy mountains. That was our next destination as we drove to a DOC site ready to do the Tangriro Alpine crossing the next morning. This had been billed as one of the best day walks in the world. On the actual day the weather let us down. It was a white-out at points around the walk. I couldnt even see the end of my nose! but that is quite far in the distance. The walk was still brilliant and worthwhile and we walked acorss snow, climbed mountains and volcanoes. When the clouds cleared we were able to see frozen lakes and other massive peaks surrounding us.

Tangiriro Alpine Crossing

Tangiriro Alpine Crossing

After walking for 7 hours (20 km) i (not Hannah) was knackered and was walking like a constipated penguin. Nevertheless we intrepidly ploughed on and drove to the next biggest town for a good nights sleep. The next biggest two nwas Ohakune. If you have never heard of this place, don't worry. It is so inbred it makes the Amish people look monogomous! Everyone looks like each other and it describes itself as the 'Carrot Capital of New Zealand' but i didnt see one carrot!.

After a brief stay in Ohakune (Incestville), we drove onto Wahganui via the famous Wahganui river road. This was like completing one of thoese Top Gear challenges. For about a quarter of the 80km journey we were driving on loose gravel in the form of huge stones as well as contending with winding mountain roads with sheer drops into the albeit beautiful Whaganui river. Needless to see Speedster Hannah now known as 'Highway Hannah' because that's only when she is allowed to drive, was not allowed to drive the river road. Eddy the Jucy crib took a battering but came out smiling the other side, if a little muddy round the hubcaps! The drive was very scenic and a taster for more testing drives to come. Following the river road drive we headed stratight to Wellington. Hannah applying customary acceleration to my methodical driving pace (Miss Daisy).

We celebrated my birthday in Wellington! I am now 29 years old. Hannah got me an amazing All Blacks rugby top for my birthday. Even Eddy got dressed up as Hannah tied balloons to his wing mirrors! I celebrated in style by getting a much needed hair cut. I am now officially de-mulletted. We enjoyed exploring Wellington, went up in the cable car and did some shopping. Wellington certainly lived up to its reputation as very windy.

Phil's Birthday Pressie

Phil's Birthday Pressie

We had an amazing curry to celebrate my birthday. The next day we caught the ferry over to the South Island.

Photo for Emily Ross: Neil the Sheep, Bruno the Sausage Dog and Little Phil!

Neil the Sheep, Bruno the Sausage Dog and Little Phil!

Photo for Andrew Cockle: Inside the Jucy Crib!!!

Inside the Jucy Crib!!!

Posted by Phildean7 20:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Rotorua

Quick update today.

It looks like i have missed an amazing Ryder Cup! I am way behind on my sports news since WIfi is expensive in this country.

We drove from Auckland down to Rotorua. The scenery was fantastic. We wasted little time as we know we are on a tight schedule so we went out as soon as we arrived - to the Polynesian Spa. There are 7 natural thermal pools here although one of them was a little too hot for my delicate skin. The spa overlooks the lake and it stinks of sulphur. In fact, the whole of Rotorua whiffs of eggy-farts. This at least means that i can conceal any bad odours and blame them on the city. Despite the smell, Rotorua is a fantastic place with loads and loads to see and do. We had to choose really carefully as we wanted to do everthing but on the 2nd day we decided to do a drive around the many lakes in the area. These were stunning! NZ is certainly living up to its reputation as being amazingly picturesque whilst at the same time being amazingly un-crowded. The places we have been so far would have been rammed full if they had been in England but they are all quiet and very tranquil. The lakes were so, so clear and the colours of the water are ridiculously blue and green. I was able to re-discover the joys of skimming stones and Hannah insisted on being buried in the sand!

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P1070801

The stone skimmed at least 20 times

The stone skimmed at least 20 times

Lake in Rotorua

Lake in Rotorua

One for the ladies

One for the ladies

Our first taste of a DOC campsite

Our first taste of a DOC campsite

The weather is being amazing. We have had perfect blue skies and about 20 degree heat for the last few days.

After the lakes tour we decided to opt for something more adrenaline filled and chose to go 'Zorbing'. This is basically a massive inflatable ball that two people go in and then they proceed to let the ball go from the top of a steep hill. It's filled with water as well which means you get very, very wet. After Zorbing, we found a DOC campsite to stay in. These are great little places where you can stay for 6 quid a night in the most remote, beautiful locations! There are no showers or electricity but we think we will aim to stay at these types of sites every other night as it will save loads of money and we will be able to stay in the most amazing locations.

Posted by Phildean7 19:31 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

New Zealand - Auckland

A new continent and lots to update! However i am limited on time so forgive the spelling mistakes!

We arrived from Chile last Thursday. Due to the time difference, we completely missed out the 29th September and landed on the 30th. This was great as it means it is now only 9 days until my birthday rather than 10!!! The flight was great. We were able to sleep for some of it but i was awoke with a Karate chop to the ribs from my seating partner. It turned out Hannah had woken up before me and was in the middle of watching the Karate Kid.

When we landed it felt amazing. We could read again! Being unable to speak any Spanish had meant we didnt take any notice of things around us so when we were confronted with signs in English we excitedly told each other what the signs said as if we were 5 year old children again. "Look Hannah, this one says men's toilets!". We must have looked like we were on some sort of holiday for people with learning difficulties.

On our first day in Auckland we peresevered even though we were tired and the weather was rubbish. It rained pretty solidly for the whole day. With the bulldog spirit we set off on a coast to coast walk of Auckland that spanned 15km from one side of the city to the other. It took in some of the major sites including Mt Eden, one tree hill and the centre itself. Apparently there is a big crater in the ground that shows Mt Eden but i could barely see the end of my nose so it was a bit of a revelation when we returned a few days later on a clear day...

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P1070775

As i mentioned before the walk took in many of Auckland's premier attractions but for us the most exciting thing was visiting an English speaking supermarket. Two words for you... BAKED BEANS! For some reason i received more than a few funny looks when Hannah sat down to eat her salad for tea at the hostel and then i rocked up next to her with sausages, chips and a mountain of baked beans!

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P1070556

Thankfully the weather improved on day 2 and we were able to go over to the volcanic island - Rangitoto. This was brilliant. The island is protected by the department of conservation (DOC) so it is very unspoilt and so the terrain is what you would expect from a volcano. The climb up was sweaty (which seems to be a theme of my walking this holiday). I am thinking of publishing a book '30 Sweat-inducing walks around the World'. The views at the top, as always were well worth it.

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P1070605

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P1070653

In the afternoon we went up Sky Tower, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. It is brilliantly geared up for tourists and the panoramic views of Auckland from the top made Hannah's clicky camera fingers ache.

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P1070741

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P1070653

The following day we picked up our Jucy Crib! It is called Eddie. He is an amazing green machine. It is really easy to drive and the double bed in the back is massive for two giants like ourselves.

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P1070766

We have the crib for 27 days which should give us time to see all the major sites. After we picked him up we drove down to Rotorua. On the way we started to appreciate how ridiculously green and beautiful New Zealand is. It is a cross between the place where the Teletubbies live and the Lord of the Rings but on a massive scale.

Posted by Phildean7 21:32 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Santiago part 2 and the end of South America!

Today is a sad day. It is our last day in South America. We are cheered up by the fact that we fly to New Zealand tonight!! (It´s not such a bad life really!)

We have been up and down to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar which are about 2 hours away from Santiago. To say we had different opinions on Valparaiso is putting it mildly. I thought it was a bit of a crap hole but Hannah insisted it had loads of ´character´. The place is definately uinique as it is built into the hills (don´t think Beverley Hills!). The lower level is the main town and is full of rubbish while you catch funiculars up to the higher levels. It is a lot nicer up there and the views of the port and the city are pretty cool. One day was enoough here though and on the following day we went down the road to Vina del Mar. It was amazing how different this place was seeing as it was next door to Valporaiso. It was modern and safe. It had obviously shipped off all it´s rubbish to it´s neighbour, Valporaiso. It also had a beach which was really nice. We walked round for a while and enjoyed the beach before we had to head back to Santiago.

Vina del Mar - beach

Vina del Mar - beach

We have spent our last days in Santiago relaxing and enjoying the warm weather. The other night we went to a football match. Only 15 quid but we were in the nicest seats in the stadium. When we got to our seats the usher actaully dusted them down for us! He obviously knew who we were. The atmosphere was amazing.

Brilliant atmosphere!

Brilliant atmosphere!

We were rooting for the home team, Universidad de Chile, seeing as they had 10,000 supporters to the others team´s 10 supporters. We feared trouble had they lost. By half time Universidad de Chile were 2-0 down and couldn´t pull it back in the second half! The home supporters were not happy but there were loads of police about so there was no sign of trouble. Hannah got to wear a cool hat...

What do you call a wally in a hat?

What do you call a wally in a hat?

That´s pretty much it for Santiago and South America. We will leave you with some things we have noticed from our two months travelling in South America...

Argentinian bus journies are amazing!
9 times out of 10 the film showing on the bus will be a John Travolta film!
Your beard grows slower at altitiude (random)
Wi-fi is available everywhere for free.
The iphone is brilliant and has been invaluable.
Hot water is hard to come by in Bolivia.
South America is safer than people think.
Bolivia is far safer than people think.
Peruvian and Bolivian women love to wear funny shaped hats!
Stray dogs are EVERYWHERE!
It is not unusual to see a llama in the middle of a crowded shopping street.
The international language of ´point and mime´ breaks down international langauage barriers.
We don´t speak enough Spanish.
South America is ridiculously naturally beautiful.
Argentina loves to call nearly all it´s roads ´Avenue 9 de Julio´.
Your poo´s are longer in cm in South America than they are in England (random)
All South American cities are designed around a pretty central square.
English people are considered rich.
Dulce de Leche makes everything taste great!

Speak to you in NZ!!

Posted by Phildean7 05:45 Comments (4)

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