A Travellerspoint blog

it’s going to be a long day on the road!


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Today, we were once again going to have an entire day on the road. If you really want to see things (if they don’t get cancelled here with the strange weather and all), you always have to wake up early and second of all, drive a whole part of the day to even get where you want to go. For us, this was going to be Fox Glacier and today we were going to drive for about 6 hours in total.

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We left quite early after breakfast and about an hour and a half, it could be a little bit more, we suddenly hear the theme song of the Simpsons playing out loud, what the heck??? I didn’t realize it immediately since I had gone back to sleep but it seemed we were going to stop in Springfield and of course, people who life here do stupid things and they just made a giant donut which was on display in the middle of the town. I admit, I would be so embarrassed if it was my hometown, but on the other hand it is also quite funny to look at, especially with the mountains in the background.

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After this little intermezzo we drove onwards for a while, I can’t exactly say how long coz I dozed off again only to notice that Helen was saying something about a scene which was filmed here of one of the Narnia movies. For most people in the bus this obviously meant a great deal, so we made a quick stop here as well and half an hour later we made a first real stop at Arthur’s pass to grab a bite to eat and a cup of coffee for the once who needed it.

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Me and Tania became addicted to the Chai Latte here in this country, so the only thing we order lately is that kind of coffee and to be truthful, I don’t know why I didn’t try it before, but it is definitely worth it and I guess it will be a true remembrance of this holiday everywhere we are going to drink it.

Back on the road again, we drove further and further along the highway till we reached the town of Hokitika, where we had some free time on our hands. Like most of the towns we came across, this one wasn’t too big either, but it is known for it’s green stone and 1 other icon here in NZ, the kiwi!

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The national kiwi centre houses one and if you like to see it, you have to be very quite and also have very good eye side coz this bird lives in the dark. We were lucky to see it wandering around and got fed. Furthermore the centre houses a few big eals in a very large aquarium as well as a tuatara which is endemic to NZ, it is not that big, but very cute to look at, just as is the other famous mammal.

In the early afternoon, we drove on again and this time it really started to rain. Actually rain isn’t the right word, it looked like they were pooring buckets of water down on us and we drove like that for a few hours till we finally arrived at our destination, Fox Glacier.

Normally we should be seeing beautiful mountains and even the walk towards Lake Matheson is really worthwhile, but you just couldn’t see a thing. Everything was in a haze and rain kept on coming down on us. It was just awful and the moral wasn’t all that good.

One dronk guy told me after dinner that the best thing to do when it rains that much, is to wash it away with Jack Daniels and you forget about everything! Sounded interesting, but to be honest, I wasn’t that desperate, so instead I just took a hot shower and went to bed early, hoping that tomorrow would bring a better and brighter day.

Posted by Ils1976 10:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains people rain city road tour sightseeing group oceania musea grey_weather Comments (2)

in search for some fishies


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Like most of the days, sleeping in was out of the question, so today we started just like all the other days with an early rise and shine and after a quick breakfast we were on our way again. Today we yet again had a whole day of bus sitting in front of us, but luckily we could do some activities as well coz we weren’t that far away from Kaikoura and this little fishermen’s town is known for everything that involves water and the sea life that lives in it.

We must have been driving for a little more than 2 hours when we had our first break to stretch our legs, go to the toilet or for the ones who needed it, a caffeine shot and than it was back on the bus again in the direction of Kaikoura.

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Before we entered the town, we first had a quick glance on a small colony of New Zealand fur seals who were settled here. According to our guide Helen, most of them were still youngsters and although we stayed but a few minutes, it was fun watching them.

To be honest, they were just so cute and the little ones, OMG, I could just go over there and hug them to death, but I guess that wouldn’t be a good thing would it!?

As we arrived into town, we had an hour of free time to do some souvenir shopping or have lunch coz this afternoon, me and Tania were going on a boat to do some whale watching. I always wanted to do that and apparently Kaikoura is the best place to spot the infamous sperm whale, talking about an ideal situation!

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We first wandered a bit through town and than we ate some fish and chips, after all, we wanted to stay into the fish theme now that we were here. The place where we had lunch was proclaimed to have the best fish and chips on the South Island and the second best of the whole of NZ, so I don’t think that we made such a bad choice and after finishing it, I must say that it was more than yummy.

Time is really flying and an hour goes by so very fast, but that doesn’t necessarily means that it is a bad thing. I was so prepared to see a whale that I just couldn’t wait and as soon as we paid for our ticket, we only had to wait for about 15 minutes. At 12.45 PM we got some safety briefing and suddenly the woman tells us that there might be a change that we can’t see a whale because of the bad weather conditions.

Come on, it seemed that everything we wanted to do and see got cancelled, this is just not happening!?

Not that I am really into it, but I quickly said a Hail Mary and hoped that the weather would change for the better so that we could sail out and see some whales.

It was already a good sign that they came and picked us up, it was even a better sign that we could get into the boat and that it actually left the harbor. Yes baby, we were on our way to see some whales!!!!

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Our catamaran was very fast and after sailing for about 15 minutes, we had a first stop to see if anyone on board could spot a whale, but after floating about a few minutes, not one person saw one, so we went on and luckily they could track the mammals because on our second stop we were in luck.

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There he or she was. I have to admit, it seemed to be a youngster and not all that big (compared to a grown up that is), but it was really amazing seeing it swim like that. After a few minutes of following it, it suddenly went down again and it is funny to see the tail and than nothing. A gigantic mammal is underneath us at that moment. Since a whale can go under water for about 40 to 60 minutes, we just went to another place to spot another whale, but instead of seeing whales, we came across some Dusky Dolphins. Cheeky little things coz they always followed the boat and although it was just too difficult to get a picture of them, we just had fun trying to take them.

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After about 40 minutes into the boat trip they tried to track the whale again and we hoped to see it coming out of the water again, but sadly enough it was time to go back ashore as well, so instead of seeing 2 whales, we had to satisfy with one youngster of a whale. Oh well, I was just glad that it went through and that we actually saw one even if it wasn’t a big one.

Back ashore again, we met up with the rest of the group coz some of us also went swimming with the Dusky Dolphins, others went swimming with fur seals and there were even a few who just went on a hike in the neighborhood of Kaikoura. Now that we were one big group again, it was time for us to say goodbye to sea life and for the remainder of the bus trip we were going to drive all the way to Christchurch where we arrived a little before 7 PM.

Not very hungry yet, me and Tania decided to do some more „start to run” and although we weren’t really based in the centre of the city, more or less in the suburbs, it was difficult to choose a real direction, so we just went from one block to another and more than half an our later we were back at our hotel again. A nice hot shower and a bit of a snack later and we were totally knackered. I updated a bit of my blog but by the time it was 11 PM, I could’n even open my eyes anymore so I just called it a day.

Posted by Ils1976 07:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains boats water tour group mammals oceania Comments (4)

a day of hiking through the most beautiful landscape

When we woke up early this morning and I noticed the beautiful blue sky, I was the happiest person on the world. It seemed that good luck was finally on our side and as soon as we had breakfast, we were picked up by some kind of a school bus to bring us to the Abel Tasman NP. The drive in itself was about an hour and we were not only Topdeckers, we picked up other people from their hotels as well.

During our ride, the weather changed however and dark clouds were hovering above us, I guess we were all thinking the same thing, please let today be at least a good day!!!

As we arrived at Abel Tasman, the weather changed for the better again and I could jump for joy, but not after saying a quick goodbye to the rest of our group first. They were going to do a kayak trip and afterwards they even had a short walk, so this meant that me and Tania were on our own today for a leisurely half day of hiking. Bring it on I would say!

Our water taxi was going to drop us of at Medlands bay, but before we reached this place almost an hour later, we first had a look at the split rock and some fur seals, who were enjoying their sunbath. 

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The walk from Medlands Bay towards Anchorage was about 11.5 kilometers, accordingly to the locals a fairly easy walk, so as soon as we got dropped of and Tania changed into some more "summery" clothes, we were on our way. The hike trough the forest was a bit steep and tiring, but as soon as we saw our first bay, this was all forgotten. There was even a lookout point, less than 1 km into the hike and by the time we got there I was out of breath not only because of the steepness of the hill but also of the beauty that surrounded us.

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We quickly ate some power food, in this case a banana, and then we were on our way again. The walk back to the main coastal track was a bit cursed, for me that is. Just as I wanted to tell Tania to have a look at her right to see the beautiful colors of the water, which were greenish by the way, I tripped over some kind of small tree root and I fell smack on my face. If I have to be honest, it was not immediately right on my face because my right hand and left knee broke the fall, but however you put it, it wasn’t pleasant. I scraped my knee and hand and I seriously hurt my right elbow, but after recovering for about a minute or two, everything was fine again. Even my camera survived, it seems that Sony is a good brand and shockproof as well.

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I know I am a clumsy person, but this is just downright stupid! On the other hand, I learned a valuable lesson today, no matter how beautiful the scenery is, look down as you are walking!!!!

Back on the main track, we walked for another few kilometers (we think anyway coz there were no signs to be found) in the sunshine when we suddenly saw another bay, called Sandfly Bay and since we still had enough time before we had to catch our water taxi back, we went for it and had a look at this bay as well. This time I remembered my lesson and walked very carefully, but by the time we arrived at the bay, the weather changed again on us and it started to rain. Bummer!

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The beach itself looked nice and it had its own small creek, so instead of walking through the rain, we decided to wait it all out and about a few minutes later it finally cleared up again and for the better as well coz the sun kept on shining. Following the coastal track all the way towards Anchorage, we came across a few bridges, but the neatest of them all was the suspension bridge crossing Falls River.

Only 5 people could get on there at each time, so it needs no explanation that even when hiking, you could end up in some kind of „traffic jam”. But as soon as we crossed over, a real challenge began as we had to climb several meters uphill. As the minutes passed and we were still climbing, I thought that it was never going to end. This was really a steep hill and for some odd reason lots of people were passing us. I know I am a slow climber, but that slow???

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Even when we finally came at a beautiful lookout point and the track was going downhill again, people were constantly passing us and at a given moment we were even scared that we missed out on something. What the heck was going on here???

We knew that we had to be in Torrent Bay before 2 PM because of the crossing and the low tide. If we weren’t on time, we had to take the long way up to Anchorage and there might be a chance that we were going to miss out on our water taxi, but now that everyone was passing us, we thought we had to move on as well coz maybe the walk was longer than we thought. We were utterly clueless when it came to the length of our hike. Where the heck were all the signs ??? Where we going in the right direction ??? One thinks of many things when you are all on your own in a NP, that’s for sure !!!

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I don't know what was going on, but one thing I do know, we arrived at Torrent Bay way in time! It wasn't even 2 PM yet and with still a little time to spare before the high tide was coming, we decided to have lunch together with some cheeky seagulls at a more than beautiful beach. This truly is the life sometimes.

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The crossing towards the low tide was only a few 100 meters away and while crossing it, we also needed to jump over a few creeks. Sadly enough they were a bit deeper than I thought and soon enough my walking shoes were a tiny bit wet. Maybe I should have followed Tania’s idea and brought a few sandals along, but hey, that was a bit too late now. The walk itself wasn’t that long and as we almost reached the forest again we had to cross an ever bigger stream so, time to walk barefooted. The water was surprisingly enough quite warm, but the ground was all squeezy, so I was glad that after walking a few meters, I could put on my shoes again and as soon as we walked up the stairs into the forest, we arrived at Anchorage Bay … surprise!!!

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I still don’t know why people were rushing the whole time because even the two of us arrived an hour before our pick up time. Not that this was too bad of course, we walked a little further down the beach and as soon as we found a good enough spot to put our bags, we enjoyed the sun for a while. It truly was an amazing day.

By the time we were going to be picked up, we met up again with our fellow group members and while listening to their stories, I was more than glad that we didn’t went kayaking coz they had to stop because of too bad weather conditions and in the end they were stuck for a while on some kind of island where a water taxi had to pick them up and while stranded in the rain, they couldn’t do anything, I am glad we had such a nice walk, except for my little accident in the beginning of the hike that is.

Exactly at 3.45 PM, our taxi is there to bring us back to the beginning of the NP and by the time we got back, Tania received the bad news that she could’ t go skydiving because of the bad weather conditions, what the heck, the weather is just fine now!!! Go figure???

Once back in Nelson, there wasn’t much to do than finding something to eat and we tried a local Italian place, but our pasta was just so tiny that we had to go to the golden arches for a second course, we were really hungry and tired as well coz by the time we got showered and packed all of our stuff again it was time to close our eyes. Time really flies when you are in NZ.

Posted by Ils1976 04:19 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes beaches bridges trees birds boats rain water river plants walk friends trail hikes mammals oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

going from north to south


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Early rise and shine again, but guess what, the weather has finally changed! And for the better as well! I am so glad to see those fluffy clouds again as well as the clear blue sky.

After breakfast, we started to pack our stuff into the bus and than it was onwards to the ferry coz today we were going to make the crossing from the North Island to the South and with the weather looking like it should be, it made us all smile and feeling happy.

Maybe this is wrong of me to say and although we saw many beautiful things and had loads of fun, I am not one bit sad to leave the North Island behind because of the cold and depressing weather of the past few days and I am so looking forward to visiting the South.

Secretly I was hoping that everyone was wrong about the South and it being the cold and rainy part of the country. This just wasn't possible coz we went through all of that already! Been there, done that and wanted to move on thank you very much!

Boarding took about half an hour and once we’ve got sailing, we could go outside and were stunned because of the amazing views. I have to admit that indeed everything looks so much better with the sun hovering high in the sky.

Our „cruise” was going to take about 3 hours and went all the way from Wellington through the Cook Straight and the Tory Channel to the Queen Charlotte Sound and ended in Picton. Quite a distance when you have a look at the map. I always imagined it more close to each other, but now I knew this wasn’t the case.

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As soon as we arrived in Picton we could get of the ferry and we started our trip towards Nelson, which was going to be our home base for tonight.

Since the distance is quite a bit as well, our tourleaders made sure we were going to have a few stops along the way. The first one being almost more than an hour later at a small winery called Forrest. Here we had the opportunity to taste some wines, four in total to be exact, but sadly enough not one of them blew me of my socks like the wine did to me a few years back when we were in Australia.

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Luckily we stayed not all that long, after all, once we tasted the wine and enjoyed the sun a bit, it was time to move on. Yet again an hour later (more or less),we ended up at a small place which is said to be one of the many movie sets for lord of the Rings. It is but a small river where you could do the Totara Walk, which is about 5 minutes, but the view is amazing and at this small river you can as well see if you are a real champion in bouncing boulders, which I definitely am not!

With the sun on our backs and faces, it was just to good to be true and I was more than glad that we left the North Island behind. Sadly enough we couldn't stay here, we still needed to drive for almost an hour to Nelson, where we arrived at 4 PM.

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Since we still needed to pack lunch for our trip to the Abel Tasman NP, we decided to go to the supermarket together with a few members of our group as well as our tourleaders, who had to be there in the first place coz they were going to make us a BBQ later this evening but when we arrived back at the bus at the appointed hour, we kept on waiting and waiting for someone, who turned out the be Helen, one of our responsible tourleaders.

I don’t know what she was doing, but me and Tania still wanted to go for a run before dinner and with the clock ticking the minutes away, this was going to be difficult.

Luckily she arrived back at 5.45 PM, more than half an hour later than she was supposed to and with a short drive back to the hotel, we quickly changed into our running gear and went for another lesson. For me this was number 5, but I guess for Tania it was number 14 or something like that, boy, she can run! I on the other hand was surprised to learn that I could do 2 sessions of a 3 minutes run and I am ready for more, but that will have to wait for another day.

Dinner was at 7 PM and to our surprise me and Tania made it in the nick of time and guess what, we could even enjoy the nibbles and snacks before our dinner. Or we good or our we good! Our tourleaders were still preparing the BBQ and when the meat was ready, so were we to start eating.

Running sure makes you wanna eat more because all of a sudden I stacked up an entire plate without even realizing it and I still had room for dessert.

Once back in the room, I skyped home to let everyone know that I was still alive, took a hot shower and most importantly uploaded my pictures as well as my blog. When it was almost midnight, I called it a night coz tomorrow another early day awaited us!

Posted by Ils1976 05:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes people water road_trip tour oceania ferry_crossing Comments (2)

windy Wellington are you sure?


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Another day, another early rise and shine. It seems to become a habit lately and although I don’t mind the fact of getting up early, it is the zombie feeling that I have for almost an hour later that I don't really like and it doesn’t seem to go away so, like the last couple of days, I ate my breakfast in zombie mode and a little while after, we leaved again for another exciting day. This time our destination is going to be the capital of NZ, Wellington. I am already looking forward to it coz we have all the afternoon free in this big city.

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But that is still a few hours away and as soon as everyone finds a good enough place to sit down, we can finally leave for yet another road trip.

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Wellington is about a four hours drive away from the National Park and halfway into the trip we make a toilet stop in the little town of Bulls. This town makes jokes about everything that is „BULL” related and even most of the stores, supermarkets, etc. have the name bull processed in their name, the funniest of them all being the police office which is baptist into "constabull".

Sadly enough it is but a small stop, so instead of searching for other crazy names, we had to move on, but it is all for the better, coz about 2 hours later we arrived at the capital city.

We first made a quick bus tour through the main part of the city so that we got sort of an idea where we were and than it was onwards to the "Weta Cave" which is very popular coz this is the place to be where they made all the figurines for the Lord of the Rings movies, Hobbits movies and other science fiction stuff. I even heard at one given moment something about the Avatar movies, but I have to admit that I wasn’t listening all that good because I just woke up at one of my many sleeps on the bus. I am really a bad tourist am I !!!???

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The visit of the Weta Cave was once again but a short one. I think I spent more time waiting at the toilet than I spend going through the souvenir shop with some incredible figurines. Some of them were really scary to say the least.

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After this blitz visit, it was back on the bus again and this time we went for the highest point there is in Wellington, Mount Victoria. Sadly enough the weather wasn’t all that good, but hey, at least we really got to see most of the city. With the rain ruining it all, we hurried back to the bus and of we went again, this time to be dropped of at the hotel.

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It seemed that the rain was going to be the party pooper of the day coz as soon as we checked in into our room, had something to eat and went out again, it was still pooring down on us. I was secretly wondering why they call it windy Wellington, they'd better should had baptist it "Wettington" and from that moment on, me and Tania liked the new name a whole lot better.

There is not a lot to do when it rains and because Tania still wanted to go and see if she could find a few t-shirts, we just resorted to window shopping and from time to time even actual shopping. When you say shopping, this means that from time to time you as well have to take a break and for us this break was at Soho Brown’s, a cosy looking cafe where you could eat lots of different cakes and sandwiches with matching coffee or tea.

While Tania opted for the cheesecake and chai latte, I myself went for the lemon tart with chai latte and although it didn’t look all that big, it was very filling and yummie, this needed to be if we wanted to do some more shopping of course.

At a little after 5 PM it was still drizzling and our mood wasn’t all that good. We did some shopping, eat some delicious piece of cake and still the time wasn’t passing by. What to do next???

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Our guide, Helen told us that there was a possibility to go and visit the Te Papa museum and because it still rained, we thought this would be a nice change, after all it is indoors. As we walked up to the waterfront, we had to search a bit, but at long last found the museum and as we entered the place, we first headed for the souvenir shop, where of course everything is well over prized. When we finally had enough of wondering through the shop, we wanted to go into the museum but a guard named Bill said to us it wasn’t possible again. We were just too late coz the museum would be closing at 6 PM. Just our luck, but Bill told us if we went straight to level 2, we could go to the earthquake section where you can be in some kind of simulator and feel a real life earthquake. Sounds so cool doesn't it, so we headed up, but by the time we got there it was "out of service", you are kidding right!!!???

It seemed that Wettington really wasn’t our city. First we wanted to go for a run but it was too cold and rainy. Thinking about today, it really wasn't our day seeing it rained all day, the museum being almost closed, the earthquake simulator is out of service, how much bad luck can a person get in one day.

Oh well, we just walked out again and walked a little bit alongside the waterfront in the rain. I was thinking of the song and almost wanted to sing in the rain, but I was just a bit too depressed at that moment. I have to admit that at least.

Since we still needed to buy stuff for our lunch tomorrow on the boat, we quickly stopped at the local supermarket, brought all of our goodies up to our room and there was nothing else to do but finding a place to have a bite to eat for dinner. This last one we found in a local food court where I once again went for some Malaysian food while Tania went for the Indian. It seems that here in NZ we only eat noodles or rice for dinner and hey, it is not like we are stranded in an Asian country. Oh well, it was delicious and that's the most important thing.

After a slow walk back to the hotel, we called it a night. A hot shower and a few hours later, I closed my eyes again hoping that tomorrow would finally bring a more brighter day.

Posted by Ils1976 02:08 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rain city friends sightseeing oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

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