Like New Zealand itself, much of the latest leg of our journey has been shaped and formed by water. Since we arrived back on the south island we've clung to the coast from Christchurch to the Catlins before heading inland to Queenstown and a chance to renew acquaintances with old friends...
Christchurch is a beautiful city with a really relaxed atmosphere. On a glorious summer day i meandered around the beautiful botanic gardens, minced around the awesome art gallery and enjoyed the free buskers festival - the highlight of this was a pint sized Freddie Mercury impersonator participating in the least impressive crowd-surfing i've ever seen. The watery nature of this blog begins with me watching folks punting down the River Avon - a peculiarly English pastime.
Further down the coast, the Otago Peninsular offered an opportunity to get up close and personal with furry seal pups as they basked on the sand. Mountainous sand dunes were enormous fun on the way down to the beach, but much less so on the return journey. Unfortunately the rumoured appearance of rare yellow-eyed penguins remained just that.
The scenic Catlins coast allowed more time for seal spotting - on this occasion they yelped and yapped as they frolicked in forests of bull kelp. They sound remarkably like dogs and made the drive to Nugget Point well worth the effort.
As we made our way west we stopped at Jack's Blowhole, an enormous hole in the ground 200 metres from the coast which is connected to the sea by an underground tunnel which allows the salty water to make its way far further inland than it ought to.
Before a night in a strange hostel/house hybrid we visited Parakanui Falls, an ideal photo opportunity but sadly the last stop we made as a pulled muscle in Rachel's back curtailed our adventure for the day.
With the back-knack healed a whirlwind tour of beautiful lakes followed. Hauroko was first - the deepest in New Zealand at a staggering 472 metres deep, and all carved from the ground by glaciers thousand of years ago. Picturesque Manapouri followed, before we rocked up at Te Anau, the largest lake in the south and the launchpad for Milford Sound. The sound is a fiord, where fresh water meets salt, but the best way to see the scenery is via an expensive boat ride which we couldn't afford. It was still nice to wander around but it was definitely one of those moments when i wished i had more moolah.
Thankfully the drive to Milford was packed with some awesome sights. The Mirror Lakes (they do exactly what they say on the tin) were lovely and at the water's edge it was possible to watch tiny ducks swimming beneath the surface as they sought out their lunch.
The Homer Tunnel, which took 18 years to complete, allowed us to drive through a mountain with epic views on either side. Vertiginous vertical rock-faces lined with silver veins towered on either side of us. On closer inspection these were revealed to be waterfalls of melting snow which connected the clouds clinging to the cliffs with the drifts of snow at their feet.
The Chasm gave us another chance to see the power of water - the Ceddau River had wound its way down through the hills moved from a bed of hard rock to one of softer limestone. Here, the rocks had been worn smooth into circular patterns and swirls which looked like they had been designed by man rather than created by nature.
And now, having indulged in scenery created by the power of ice and water, we have come to rest at the edge of Lake Wakatupi in Queenstown. Here, we've met up with Wee Emma (still the smallest adult human i've ever encountered) and her cats, taken a crap on an ancient Chinese toilet in the nearby gold mining settlement of Arrowtown and watched Rachel imbibe alcoholic beverages from a ceramic teapot. I think we'll stay here a while...