We arrived in New Zealand amid controversy... we missed/sta travel neglected to let us know that the flight we were supposed to connect with to get to Christchurch was no more!!! luckily we arrived eventually and were met by ian and katie who were good enough to house us for the following few days!! Neal woke up at 3am on the first day here to watch the drama at Goodison Park between Villa and Everton- need to!
After a day or two milling about Chch we finally picked up our campervan which is quite simply IMMENSE!! it is sprayed with Superheroes on both sides and has tinted windows- and basically dominates the road with its 0.001 litre V0 diesel engine/steam engine! However, we were not informed as to what fuel the badboy took and an hour later broke down!!!
The next day after shelling out to get it fixed we were on our way again to Lake Tekapo in Central Otago... The scenery in New Zealand was by this stage already obscenely impressive... Lake Tekapo is a gorgeous glacial lake whose water has an un-naturally light blue tinge due to the extra minerals and the amazingly clean water. We visited the Church of the Good Sheperd, which is nice... We spent our 1st night camping and cooking in our van in temperatures hovering about the -1C mark, which was a shock!
We arrived in Queenstown the following day, which is an amazing place, we got our bearings and admired the incredible scenery, after an early night we were RUDELY awoken at 8am by a member of the council telling us we couldn't camp where we where and we had 5 minutes to be gone or face a $400 fine!!! Again it was sub zero camping and we decided that we needed to update our bags which were packed with fiji and africa in mind! Then Neal headed off for his TERRIFYING bungy jump, which in his own words: "WAS AMAZING, but i couldn't have shown my parents the video- my language was offensive even to me!"...
The next day we went jet boating on the lake and Shotover river- famous for its alluvial gold rushes in the 1800's. we zoooooomed past some Lord of the Rings locations which was cool and particualrly enjoyed the 360 degree spins. In the afternoon we set off to Fiordland in the very south of the South Island, whose scenery was yet more amazing. After uncountable photo stops we pulled up at a campsite in the muiddle of a gorgeous valley, all the stars came out to play as did Jack Frost... by 8pm the floor was iced over!!!
Needless to say we woke up and had to scrape ice off the windows, inside and out, we later found out that it dropped to -9C that night, we pretty much slept in a freezer! Caroline had by this stage perfected the technique of rapping herslef up in ALL the blankets! Today we arrived at Milford Sound; no words can justify how awe inspinring it is, so i won't use any!). We went on a two hour cruise, and as well as taking in the rugged scenery and waterfalls we were accompanied by lots of wild Bottlenose dolphins, which was great to say the least. We then enjoyed the Milford Drive back towards Queenstown making loads of stops making the drive as much fun as the cruise... the kilometre long homer tunnel is ace! We later took 2 hours to cook a steak and slept once again in sub-zero temperatures.
We woke up next to a lake which was steaming and looked hot... it was not!!!!!!!! And we drove to Wanaka via Arrowtown and the highest sealed road in Australasia, the van did not thank us for this, not one bit! We spent the afternoon hiking Mount Iron, which gave great veiws over the glacial landscape around Wanaka. We also went to Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World, which we urge anyone in the area to go to, it is so much fun and probably the most random things we have done yet, which takes som beating! its hard to explain but bascially it is an interactive illusion and puzzle place with an awesome maze!
The next day Caroline drove the famous Haast Pass road which was exhilerating! we made a number of stops along the way which made the drivwe a lot more fun. one such stop was the 'Blue Pools' walk. Accessed by a huge swing bridge, which Caroline's vertigo had to overcome. These waters are beautiful azure blue but notriously cold year round, let alone in winter... anyway, Neal decided that it was about time he jumped into some of this water and see just how cold it was! To the amusement of an old couple who were quite aware of how cold it was going to be, Neal duived into confirm that it was FREEZING, however, Caroline missed the photo, so Neal was promptly sent back in! the old couple later pointed out the inch thick ice 50m further down the river!! We then stopped at Thunder creek waterfall and did a very scenic drive up the West Coast, past the Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier. We had a little drive to the snout of the Fox Glacier which got us very excited for tomorrow's glacier walk.
The weather was awful, but the experience was once in a lifetime. The route along the outwash plain was quite extreme, over ladders and chains etc, again Caroline was forced to overcome her fear of heights, and did so like a star! We then donned the Cramp-Ons and marched up the glacier, which was really cool in both levels of temperature and fun! We saw some very deep crevasses, and got to walk along a semi-tunel, which revealed the gorgeous flawless blue ice of the glacier, it was so good! We later drove on to Punkaki, the home of the apparently famous Pancake Rocks!
We woke to look at the Pancake Rocks which are very impressive and strangely shaped limestone rocks subject to the wrath of the Tasman Sea and left to erode into cool shapes. We then drove to the Cape Foulwind Seal Colony and then via Westport and the Buller Gorge Road to Nelson Lakes National Park: Lake Rotoiti, which was stunning, but full of eels!!! Caroline got wet feet on stepping stones and we did a nice walk along the lake shore before driving to Nelson , one of South Islands bigger settlenments, making it difficult to park up!
We woke up early to avoid being moved on; we realised in the morning we camped in one of Nelson's posher suburbs! We drove to Pelorous and did a few nice walks and had a momentous skimming stone competitiopn before driving along the Queen Charlotte Drive along another fiord- the Marlbrough Sounds.
the next day we drove the remainder of the drive to Picton and got the ferry to Wellington... North Island.