28 December - Stayed over one night in Haast then moved on to Franz Josef and the glaciers.
29 December - Stopped off at Knights Point and Monro Bay on the way to Franz Josef. We saw dolphins and we think penguins feeding in the bay at Knights Point. At the Fox Glacier we walked as far as was allowed to the base - it was an amazing sight and only a taster of what was to come. 30 December - What an amazing day! We were originally intending to go on one of the hiking tours but they were fully booked. So instead we opted for a 40 minute helicopter flight over the Fox, Franz Josef and Tasman Glaciers. We also flew over the surrounding area seeing Mt Cook, Lake Pukaki and numerous other mountains. The glaciers were absolutely amazing and we were completely stunned for the whole flight (we were lucky to be seated in the front of the helicopter). Part of the flight included a snow landing at the top of the glacier which was great fun and we were able to tramp about on fresh, deep snow. We didn't think that Milford Sound could be beaten for WOW value - but we were wrong - this has come out top so far. The whole experience was magnificent.
31 December/1 January - Moved on to Hokitika - stayed in accommodation for 2 nights. Went to Lake Kaniere and just chilled out by the lake - had a picnic lunch and a few beers - weather was beautiful. Visited Hokitika Gorge - went across another wobbly suspension bridge. The colours in the Gorge were so blue - it didn't look real.
2/3 January - Moved on to Murchison which was a funny little inland town but it was just a stopover as we were now heading back to the East coast. On the way we visited Shantytown which is a living museum of an old goldmining town. While we were there, we panned for gold and found some! Don't get too excited, it's only a few tiny flakes which we still have in a little bottle. Also visited Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes). While we were in Murchison we went to Buller Gorge and thought we'd try our luck again at gold panning. We set off to the river and were pestered by sandflies from the moment we arrived to the time we left (which wasn't long). Sandflies are the only bad thing about New Zealand - they've even been biting Pat! Buller Gorge is also home to the longest suspension bridge in NZ - it was very long and very narrow and I had to keep looking straight ahead to get across.
4 January - Packed up the tent in a hurry as once again we were pestered to death by sandflies and bumble bees! They just wouldn't leave us alone and we were waving our arms around and swatting them with tea towels - we must have looked quite comical to all the other campers as they didn't seem to be affected. It was a relief to get in the car and on our way. Stopped over one night in Hanmer Springs - had intended to use the hot springs but it was too commercialised and we decided against it.