A Travellerspoint blog

South Island part 3

Ice Ice Baby

semi-overcast 22 °C
View a migratory path on Dani Parry's travel map.

I didn't fully appreciate we were sleeping in a tin can until it rained for 12 hours straight. And then on and off for the next 36 hours until we left. We postponed going to the glacier on the first day in the hope that it would clear up - so we sent some postcards, did some laundry and Noush went slowly stir crazy. We went to pay for our next day adventure to the glacier as part of the deal was entry into the hot pools and we wanted to do it while we had nothing but time. And I cooked some lovely gurnard with a sort of egg fried rice and salad with flowers in it. The camp site had large planters outside the kitchen area full of leafy vegetables and herbs - how cool is that?

Monday morning we got a five minute glimpse into where we were.

A sneaky peek at Gunn Peak?

A sneaky peek at Gunn Peak?

We headed into the village to meet our tour group and get kitted out. I think Noush found the clothing like an all over version of bowling alley shoes and wasn't particularly impressed. Not that she complained. Not at all.

We were bundled into a bus through the front of which I could actually see the road and driven to the start of the glacier walk. Anyone can walk to the foot of the glacier but only organised tours can go on to the ice itself. And why wouldn't you want to spend hours freezing on a perilous ice ledge on your summer holiday?

Cool as a cucumber

Cool as a cucumber


A kind of blue

A kind of blue


Conquering Everest.....kind of

Conquering Everest.....kind of

It was a pretty impressive experience in the end and I am quite partial to a crampon now. We also got to see a Kea - a green NZ parrot - at the plateau which is quite rare so that added to the thrill. Noush got to be an A Level geography student again and point out various terrains to me and pretend she was an explorer for a few hours. Special mention goes to Cliff our guide, who kept proudly reminding us that he gets paid to have fun. He also told me that his daughter went on the ice at 11 weeks of age and now goes on with woolen mittens over her gumboots for grip. She's 3 by the way.

Kea

Kea

We had a plan to get to Wanaka before the impending cyclonic pattern hit glacier country - they were expecting 400mm of rain on Weds. So we grabbed a coffee, jumped in Erk and headed south again. After our recent weather problems you can imagine how blown away we were by turning a corner to be faced by Mount Aspiring National Park and Lake Wanaka - glistening in the sun at 7.45pm. Truly one of the most mindblowing views of my life. Lake Wanaka is about 50kms long if that gives you some indication of what we were seeing.

Taking a moment

Taking a moment

Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park

We arrived in Wanaka last night and were told it had been 30 degrees that day. It's raining today but still pretty stunning and it's a great little town. We're about to head off to Cinema Paradiso to watch The Ghost Writer and they serve warm cookies at intermission - now that's my kind of cinema. And we're up to date. Queenstown tomorrow and then heading towards Fiordland and Milford Sound where I am praying for clear skies so we can see it in all it's splendour. I'll let you know.
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Posted by Dani Parry 19:48 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

South Island part 2

Before the rain

semi-overcast 21 °C
View a migratory path on Dani Parry's travel map.

No one told us the famous west coast is partly famous for being the Wet Coast. It is raining as I type this, it rained for the last two days in Franz Josef and I am starting to think it may never be dry again.

The drive down to Franz Josef was tackled in two parts - it's not the distances, although we have driven over 2000kms.....it's the mountains! I had no idea I would spend so much time climbing massive mountains, ears popping and then trying not to hurl us to our death while driving down the other side. (Don't panic parents - we are being very careful!) These hired campervans are certainly put through their paces.

On the way out of the Tasman area we went to Te Waikoropupu Springs (or Pupu springs for short). It's the largest natural spring in Australasia and was historically a site for religious Maori ceremonies. It's so protected that the DOC (department of conservation) put up pretty horrific images of the contaminant bacterias that we carry on our skin to show how easily we could mess up the water systems.

Hard for photos to do this place justice but it looked a bit like this.....

Pupu Springs

Pupu Springs

And we look a bit like this.....

Reflection

Reflection

We then drove to the gateway of the West Coast otherwise known as Westport. Kind of Baywatch meets Deliverance. It was a gorgeous afternoon when we arrived and we threw ourselves straight in the sea, the first time since we left Auckland. I'm not sure what type of beach it was but the sand was dark grey with sparkles in it - it glittered in the sunlight. Gorgeous. We managed to find somewhere to have dinner - having been to afraid to enter the first place we looked at (!) and Anouska tried a local speciality of whitebait pattie. Nothing like the whitebait at home, these are to quote Noush 'like tiny eels', kind of see through - and cooked in an omelette. Much better than it sounds trust me. I had some rather pleasant herb crusted turbot and for once it wasn't served with fries - hooray.

On Saturday we drove south along some stunning coast. Our first stop was Punakaiki, made famous for a strange type of rock formation, singular to the area, that has become known as pancake rocks.

See?

See?

Not being a geologist I don't really understand what all the fuss is about but apparently they have scientists baffled. I'm not really doing them justice - they're a lot more impressive than that and look like they have faces in them - in a Lords of the Rings kind of way.

mountain man

mountain man

There are also massive blowholes in the rocks but as it wasn't high tide we didn't get to see any action.

Our next stop was the town of Greymouth - and all I can say is don't bother. 2pm on a Saturday afternoon and the place was deserted. Should have gone to Blackball - they have a sausage fascination apparently - festivals and everything!

We did stop at Hokitika to have a look at some of the pounamu workshops - this is the greenstone or jade that NZ is famous for and is made into every type of jewellry you can imagine. Apparently it isn't considered lucky to buy it for yourself though, just incase you are ever considering it.

We were heading towards Glacier country now but weren't getting any clear views as cloud covered the tops of the mountains. They don't really look like clouds through - rather more like smoke billowing from the tops. We arrived in Franz Josef (the man who discovered them Haast, name it after the then King of Austria...I think) at dinner time and were thrilled to find we could walk to the nearest restaurant and enjoy a bottle of local wine with our dinner.

The next day.....

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Posted by Dani Parry 19:27 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

South Island part.1

Picton Ferry to Abel Tasman

overcast 20 °C
View a migratory path on Dani Parry's travel map.

We crossed over to the south island on the Picton Ferry about a week ago and have seen and done so much already that I am going to break it down into seperate entries for fear I forget anything or bore you senseless.
We got on the ferry super early so that we would have a full day when we reached the other side (not as ominous as it sounds)....and it's a good job that we did. We soon realised when looking at the Lonely Planet / WWW/ people's recommendations, that the south island is teeming with must sees and must dos and we hadn't made any sort of plan. It was a bit overwhelming to be honest. If we had unlimited time then it would be a piece of cake but we don't so.....well let's just say we may have had a tiny meltdown! A few hours later though we had made a plan - and it involved getting out of Nelson where we thought we were going to spend some time (we didn't find it as cool as people say) and getting back in the van and heading north. A few hours and mountain passes later we arrived in Pohara, just in time for sunset.

Pohara Sands

Pohara Sands

I loved this place - the campsite was massive but ultra friendly and right on the beach. The local shop sold everything from fish bait to locally produced smoked garlic and homemade curries/cakes/pies you name it. It also made fantastic local coffee - who knew NZ produced coffee? We haven't had a bad one yet - and not a multinational among them (we have seen Starbucks - they're not saints or anything, but it seems the chains are being kept well out of small communities and they are all the better for it. Anyway I digress......)

The next day (after one of the most perilous drives of my life) we headed out on a boat from Totaranui past seal and cormorant colonies to Bark Bay where we were dropped for a walk (or as English people would call it..... hike up a massive mountain.)

Pup(py) love

Pup(py) love


Rockclimber

Rockclimber

The walk was only 7kms but managed to include beautiful coastal scenery, rainforest, a massively scary (for me) ropebridge crossing over a gushing river....and did I mention it was quite hilly?

Abel Tasman view

Abel Tasman view


Flora and fauna

Flora and fauna


BRIDGE!

BRIDGE!

We reached the bay where we would meet our boat back pretty early so we managed to find a spot out of the wind where I promptly fell asleep and woke up to find I had been joined by a turtle.

Noush passes the time

Noush passes the time

Another fabulous boat journey, hellish drive and about two hours later we were back in Pohara Sands BBQing some lamb for our dinner. As days out go it was pretty bloody good.

Posted by Dani Parry 18:02 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Introducing ERK

Hitting the road - kiwi style

overcast 21 °C

Last Sunday (9th) we picked up the van that was to be our home for the next 23 days. Apparently named Vulcan but as we're not trekkies, it quickly became known as Erk (licence plate ERK 143).

This is one of Erk's faces.....

Erk at Te Mata

Erk at Te Mata

We decided to get south as quickly as possible as that's where most of the 'must see' points are in NZ and I've never explored it. (Nb. Noush has never been here so it's all new to her). Drove to Napier on the first day - a town completely devestated by earthquake in the late 20s and therefore completely rebuilt in the Art Deco period. Since then a lot of spanish influence has also crept in so it's Art Deco meets Miami boardwalk - kinda odd - but pretty nonetheless.

Napier Telegraph

Napier Telegraph


Napier (Miami Vice view)

Napier (Miami Vice view)

Found somewhere to pull in for the first night - didn't get to meet our neighbours unfortunately.

trailer

trailer

We've learnt quickly that the range of campsites is massive. We're pretty self contained here so we can cook, wash up and sleep on board. However we don't have power (to charge iPods etc), shower or a toilet so we have to stop somewhere (plus the NZ authorities have really cracked down on parking on the beach fronts etc). New Zealanders have been 'staycationing' forever - something to do with being a million miles from the nearest neighbour I guess - and they are bloody amazing at it. I didn't know people took their own fridges camping and the average tent can house a small community (handy I guess as they like to breed - sorry Kiwi friends!). But the thing that has really struck us about being on these sites some of which have about 200 spaces - is the fact they're so clean. And not because there are cleaners running around all day but because the facilities for rubbish and recycling are amazing and everyone uses them - there is literally no litter. The beaches are clean - no fag ends, no water bottles or crisp packets - you get a sense that people care about the land they live on. Europeans take note.

This theme continues into the food shops but I'll save that for another time.

So anyway - we spent another night in the Napier/Hastings/Havelock North region. Drove/climbed Te Mata which is a mountain that legend has it is the body of a giant (it's a good story - google it!). The region is called Hawkes Bay and I'm sure plently of you have drunk a bottle or two from this region - it's all vineyards and Maori legend - all good stuff. We didn't go on a wine tour as there are plenty of opportunites down south and as our insurance is strictly no booze allowed, I'm practically teetotal thus far.

On the third morning we hit the beach for a bit - although we seem to be taking your weather with us (geddit). Seen a lot of clouds and wind and even some rain since we left the Coramandel.

Waimarama Beach, Hawkes Bay

Waimarama Beach, Hawkes Bay

Then we drove to Wellington so we could get up at 5.45 and get the ferry to Picton on the South Island on Weds morning. We'll tell you about our south island experiences as we go although we've only been here for two days and all I can say is WOW! I have a feeling every bit is going to be more wow than the last though so it could get pretty repetitive and if you live here or have been here or have friends who have travelled here, you'll have heard it all before - for which I can only apologise.

Have been trying to upload a video for the last 20 minutes and not having much joy and we are late leaving the campsite this morning so I'll have to leave it for another time I'm afraid. Have a good day / sleep everyone xx

Posted by Dani Parry 12:21 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand Pt. 1

Pohutakawa, possums, Parrys and parties.

sunny 26 °C

These first nine days in New Zealand have been spent at Wharekawa on the Coromandel, a jagged finger sticking out of the north island into the Pacific about 90 minutes from Auckland. It'a a stunning spot and a lovely holiday to start the trip and a great introduction to kiwi life for Noush.
Sitting on the deck as I type the view is like this...
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It was drizzling and grey the day we arrived but I am pleased to report (although sorry to all of those in freezing temperatures) that it has been sunny ever since.

Our first hurdle to overcome was New Years Eve with jet lag but after a shaky start we managed to push through til 3.30am with lots of young kiwis - although we did pass on the indoor rugby which seemed to leave everyone with an astonishing array of cuts, bumps and bruises. Apparently hurling yourself to the ground repeatedly is some people's idea of a good time.

As you can imagine, New Year's Day was pretty subdued - and very quiet for Noush as I lost my voice.

Since then we have been embroiled in the Parry Reunion 2011 - although why anyone thought it was a good idea to put 80 Parrys in one place is beyond me! Special mention has to go to our new friends Harry and Rhys - who managed to bring an electronic drinks fountain with cocktail cups as part of their camping gear - which deserves a round of applause. Incorrectly named the Foutain of Youth, it tended to leave me feeling about 10 years older after an evening sipping it's waters....(ie vodka cocktails).

Golf tournaments, fishing competitions, touch rugby, badminton, running races, fancy dress, entertainment prizes - these Kiwi Parrys love a bit of healthy(ish) competition. A riotous 48 hours ensued and most people only left the campsite yesterday. Has anyone else played Monopoly Deal by the way? It's my new favourite card game.

Right pics from the last few days.....

Soaking up some sun

Soaking up some sun


Learning to fly

Learning to fly


Fancy pants

Fancy pants


Poppy the Pink Lady

Poppy the Pink Lady


That's entertainment!

That's entertainment!

Yes the guitarist is wearing a poodle skirt.......

Yes the guitarist is wearing a poodle skirt.......

How many Parrys does it take to change a lightbulb?

How many Parrys does it take to change a lightbulb?

Noush's kiwi experience so far has included Hokey Pokey ice cream, kumara chups, Whittaker's Peanut Slab, possum traps, pohutakawa trees, lollies, patties, pies and JANDALS!

We head to Auckland today to say goodbye to Poppy and Dominic and to get ready to pick up our camper van and really start seeing some of this beautiful country.

Posted by Dani Parry 17:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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