Hi Everybody, hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year and here's to a great 2008.
A lot's happened since our last entry in Dec 2007, so I'll try to keep it brief....
After spending a few days with some old friends from England we decided to head off down south towards Mount Cook and on to Queenstown for Christmas. Lake
Tekapo is absolutely stunning, the lake is the brightest blue you can imagine and such a contrast against the mountains. Apparently the surrounding hills are one of the best places in the world to
view the stars etc. Unfortunately the sky was quite cloudy the night we stayed so we didn't get to see them. I did however give Nicola a good thrashing at tennis and then got thrashed myself at chess
by Estonia's national champion who had me in check mate after 3 moves!!
Drove down to Mount Cook, a mountain I'd love to climb but it will have to be another time! Walked up to the glacier to get the best possible view of Mount Cook, the walk involved crossing several
wobbly swing bridges... Don't think Nicola really appreciated
Then to Queenstown via Lake Wanaka which again is stunning, finally got to try out our 20 pound tent from Chile! It's not the best, we soon realised that we'd really need to pick our nights (zero
rain and wind).
Arrived in Queenstown on the 23rd Dec, decided to get straight into the action and went on the Shotover River jet boat in the morning which was a really exhilarating experience, the boat can
travel at crazy speeds in as little as 4 inches of water through the canyon inches from the cliff walls.
Got our fix of white water rafting in the afternoon, something i've tended to shy away from! In New Zealand they class anybody who swims using the breast stroke as a non swimmer... that's me. But
luckily I didn't need to show off my swimming skills, thank god we stayed in the raft. It was one of the best experiences we had in NZ, I for one absolutely loved it. I'm sure the rapids weren't too
high but grade 5 is fairly scary when you travel towards them clinging on for life.
Christmas was a little strange, well it just didn't feel like Christmas! Managed to fit some climbing in on the 24th and completed the full traverse of the remarkables, a mountain range on the
edge of Queenstown. Apparently it's the best one day alpine climb in New Zealand. Anyway it was pretty good. Had a good night out on Christmas Eve, bumped into an English couple and a German girl
we'd met earlier on our trip. Christmas Day was a little weird, did get a full turkey dinner... but at a cost! But not much going on really, these kiwis didn't seem to celebrate it like people in
Europe so we just sat watching films so a bit like being at home!
Left Queenstown on Boxing Day for Milford Sound, the weather on the first day was great so we booked a boat tour of the fjiords for the following day. Awoke to a huge storm and torrential rain.
But apparently this is the best way to see them and believe me they are amazing. Under rain the fjiords erupt into 100's of waterfalls falling down the surrounding cliffs.
From Milford headed up the west coast and sandfly territory, I thought I was pretty safe, the mozzies had tended to be attracted to Nicola and pretty much left me alone! The sandfly didn't... I
was pretty much eaten alive upon stepping into the open! And these w***s are nasty and the bites itch for days...
Spent New Year at Franz Josef glacier for new year, which was really good. Hiked right onto the glacier and spent most of the day crawling around cravasses etc. Had a good night New years eve, the
town only had two bars so after having spent a couple of days there you pretty much felt like a local. Managed to get extremely drunk and spent the most of new years day ill (again just like
Travelled up the rest of the west coast to the Abel Tasman national park area, which is one of the prettiest areas in New Zealand. The first night was spent at golden bay in a hostel with the
greatest setting, perched on a hill above a deserted beach and with a fantastic seafood restaurant 10 minutes away by car. Decided to try our hands at sea kayaking, the day started off pretty
relaxed. The Abel Tasman coast is made up off lots of tiny, sheltered coves and secluded beaches. Spent the morning kayaking up past these stopping at a couple for tea and biscuits, in the afternoon
we had to kayak around the headland to get further into the national park. As soon as we hit the headland we reaised that this kayaking game wasn't all that simple, we were met by a 2 metre swell,
may not sound like much! But when you're in a kayak and can only swim the breast stroke its bloody scary. Took us over an hour to travel the headland, a journey we were told should take approx 15
mins. Made it to the last cove and decided to call it a day, the
weather was getting way too risky and we were knackered.
Then on to Nelson on the North coast, had the best fish and chips ever and
spent a full day touring the local wineries in Blenheim. Highly recommended to anyone who visits NZ and yep the wine is good.
Only a few days left so we headed back down to Kaikaora, to hopefully go on a dolphin swimming tour, all booked up! The germans had beat us to it again! Travelled back round to Christchurch and an
area called Akorua, apparently the only place in the world you can swim with hector dolphins. Booked on a tour and what should happen? It rained and the trip was cancelled due to rough
seas, Nicola was absolutely gutted but the dolphins will still be there so maybe next time.
Two days left in Christchurch and then its OZ here we come....
Love Andrew and Nicola xxx