New Zealand South Island (Part 1),
So, we set sail. We were all excited about getting to the south island..... well Lau and Kate were asleep, while Phil, with some good sleep walking action, drove the camper onto the ferry. A world renowned ferry crossing, some of the best picturesque scenery in the world - we did the crossing in the pitch black!!
Determined not to missthe landscape we drove as far out onto the Marlborough sounds as we could ready for the sunrise. Phil and Lau managed to open thier eyes for it, Kate didnt move out from under the covers.
After a bit more sleep we headed onto Blenheim - the wine capital of NZ. With the girls love of wine and Phil's record with wine, we smelt trouble. And when we were told there was about 30 vineyards and tasting was free we thought it would be rude not to abuse the situation.
Hop, skip and a jump into our first winery; "Good afternoon, are you here for wine tasting?" Bit of a stupid question eh! especially as we were all wearing flipflops, slightly smelling of no-shower-for-few-days-ness and obviously not here to spend money. The man behind the bar noticing this filled our glasses. "mmm, what an excellent aroma ofapple and melon that rushes into the nostrils, clean, crisp on the tastebuds with an exceedingly fresh aftertaste" SMACK "Shut up Phil", laura wasnt impressed and after being told the 2005 Reisling we just tried was light in the nose with apricot and pear, typical of Reisling from this area and was dry. From then on Phil on used his mouth for drinking. We left after tasting 8 wines, and learning a lot about wine. Sprinting to our next winery - "Wine Tasting?" "Yes" "Would you like to try this one?" "Yes" GULP, "like it?" "yes, next one" etc etc. There was no time for conversations, there was drinking to be done. Oh how we love wine tasting. Striding to our next winery we actually realised why some wines were expensive. So, we started making a list of our fav's to give to our parents when we got home. The next 3/4 wineries followed the same pattern - lots of wine. So, we finally stumbled into our last winery for the day. (they all close at 5pm, why so early???) we got chatting (trying not to slur) with the woman who was serving the lovely wine. She had done a degree and masters in Wine!!! In England!! Wow!! Why the hell didnt we study that? Tuition fees would have been better spent - on buying wine!
With all the winery's shut, we pndered what to do for the rest of the evening. In party mood and in want, sorry i mean need, of more wine we headed to the only place in town that we knew would fulfill our needs - our campervan. Again, not a great idea. The 'party' resulted in Lau + Kate having a midnight run to the shop where fudge was 'eaten' and kate didnt realise the whole trip that her skirt was tucked intop her pants. Phil, not wanting to loose his 100% record of crying after drinking white wine, had a good cry and was captain for the night - captain cunder of course.
We awoke to find a 'phantom' poo outside the capervan. We decided to move on, quickly far away from Belnheim. We are still awaiting forensic analysis to determine who the 'phantom' was, animal? (dog, sheep or Phil) or Human.
We moved house down to Kaikoura. Home of whales, seals and penguins. We booked ourselves in for a whale watching trip the next day and went to visit the seals. We drove into the seal colony carpark where sings said 'warning seals'. Too damn right, warning! We nearly ran one over. The big hairy beast was lying in a parking space. Must have been a female seal 'coz she was parked right over the lines (ba-doom cha!) The sings did also say we should not get within 10m of the seals, not sure Lau and Kate read this bit as we got a good picture of them lying 1m away from one doing a much better seal impression than the seal itself.
For entertainment that evening we entered a pub quiz in the only pub in the village. Good pub though. With the last time our brains were tested a wee while back, laura and kates general knowledge being about as good as George Bush's knowledge of World Polotics and phil suffering from lossing a few brains cells the night before we weren't expecting to win! Well, we didnt but didnt do half bad. Actually we had some help, Jodie and Mark a local couple who were standing next to us were resouces well used. Along with many answers we also got an invite to lunch, not just any old lunch. Turns out Mark caught crayfish, so we were pretty keen for a free crayfish lunch, which was about $100 in any resturant in town.
We awoke early doors ready for a morning of watching whales. Very excited we boarded the boat. We were in search of Sperm Whales, not a small creature. Interesting fact of the day coming up....whales evolved from a type of dog. A dog that hunted on the beach and in the end decided to get in the water, smart dog eh? because a cudgillion years later that dog is now the biggest mammal on earth. For such a ginourmas animal they are sometimes tricky to find, especially as they have a nice big ocean to hide in. Eventually we found one, but could only see 10% of its body mass. We saw 3 in the end, but with seeing so little they kinda looked all the same.
Back on land and hungry we headed for our crayfish. 4 big fresh crayfish were waiting for us at the nicest house for miles around. Mark and Jody were not only the nicest people EVER but also pretty rich. They invited us to stay longer, well for as long as we liked, but we had to head on. So they loaded us up with piles of magazines and waved goodbye.
Our next stop was Hamner Springs. Luckily, as we were all stressed up to the max from doing not a great deal, there was a massive spa resort to relax in for the evening. 40deg thermal sulphur pool at the base of snowcapped moutains made for moderate relaxation. After to pools, being far to relaxed Lau and Kate decided it would be a good idea to eat a litre of ice cream. An impressive eating feat which resulted in mild sickness and spending the next day finding ridiculously hard walks to burn off some of the guilt and calories. The walking part displeased Phil greatly. It also nearly proved to be the end of Lau's life. Setting out on a 2-hour trek to a gorge on semi-wet ground we should have perhaps spent some time thinking, maybe even risk assessing. Laura had a misfortunate collapse while crossing a river. Her not-so-sturdy walking flipflops gave way on to of algee covered rock. Onlookers, well just Phil and Kate, were amazed lau survived with only a bruised arm and bum. Will we ever learn that flipflops arent really as good as walking boots? Doubt it.
We arrived in Greymouth. Two guesses what the weather was like, sun? Nope guess again. So, with the planned caving trip cancelled due to caves being full of water (good reason), we had a day to waster and wasted it we did well.
The next day, very thankful the boredom was over, we headed out for some underground action. Thermals, wetsuits and gumboots - check. Hardhat lights and guide - check! We were ready Pretty awsome day in caves. Included some pretty glowworms lighting the way and some incredibly tight gaps. Tuight like a tiger. We crawled, walked, jumped, slid, sat on a rubber ring, fell down water falls, wiggled and shimmied thru the caves. At one point, lau and kate thought it was hard work, scaling the walls like spiderman untill the guide said it was easier to just walk in the water - should have left them struggling. On the way back up we had to venture thru the 'love tunnel' ending in being re-born - what an experience. Just like our 1st birth, we were all slimy and wet, laura was kicking and screaming.
On the way back we faced our toughest challange yet. The 'death slide'. A steep section of alge covered wet rock with water running quickly down it.We were given a matt and shown how to ride the beast. We later found out why our guide didnt slide - he broke his coxix last time he did OUCH! A bloke from NZ stepped up first, wish he hadn't! No confidence was taken by this guy slipping and riding the slide completely worng. Fear could be smelt. Luckily we all managed to slide down no problems, the brown stain on our wetsuits was mud, well in most cases.
The day ended with beers and muffins in a hot tub. We managed to blag free photos, headlamps and a pile of free big mac tokens.
To be continued.....