Thursday, 1 August 2013

Week 21 - 24 New Zealand

Kia Ora! (welcome in Maldi) to my blog on New Zealand. Now they say a picture is worth a thousand words; well I certainly hope so, because that`s pretty much all I intend on putting in this, the last of my blogs. 

New Zealand may be the most consistently beautiful of places I have been so far, although often I found it eerily quiet, particulary in the south island.

Home to amazing fish and chips, beautiful coast line and emerald green hills, framed by pristine white mountains. I loved this place. It`s also one of the best places to see an abundance of marine wild life.

 The hills are live with the sound falling on my back

 Went for another scenic coastal walk, lined with cute little, limb crunching, seals

Like this fellow...

 Even these ones are dangerous apparently....really though! Baby seals are the cutest thing ever by the way.

The place where the ferry connects the North and South islands of New Zealand. Unlike most transport hubs, it still manages to retain a serene charm. We went for a walk through the Queen Charlotte Sound (I think it was called that anyway). It is the only Sound in New Zealand, which is in fact a sound and not a fjord. Wikipedia it, for those of you not clear on the difference.

 The 3rd one on the right is mine...

 The ferry between the North and South Island of New Zealand.

 Walking around the Sound. Sounds good to me!

 Abel Tasman
So this is one of the many national parks in the country, but incidentally also one of the legendary `Nine Great Walks`. Basically a few of us foolhardy travellers decided to get dropped off by a boat 50km from anywhere and walk back to civilisation, over two days.

 Our intrepid travel party eager to begin exploring.

One of the many beautiful coastal views.

 Despite checking the tidal tables, we still ended up wading through the coldest water you have ever felt!

Our reward for a long days trek was an unheated, unlit, wooden cabin. Here you see us getting cosy for the cold night ahead. Stars were amazing here incidentally.

Power tramper! Yeah!

Our new friend who took it upon himself to steal one of our sandwiches.

Cape Foulwind and Punakaiki
These places were incredible! I`ve never been more astonished than to find a beach, laden with pure black sand and waves rolling backwards out to sea.

Ever get the feeling you`re being watched? Credit goes to Katja Buss for this master piece of stalking.

 Cape Foulwind, actually has amazingly fresh air.

Cape Foul Wind from the top. I love how turbulent the sea is from the waves interacting in all directions.

 Pancake rocks in Punakaiki and because I`m so lucky, there is even a rainbow. We also had many Irish with us, but sadly no leprechauns or gold.

Punakaiki again...

Franz Josef Glacier
 One of many glaciers in the country, this is just one that we stopped at. Rather than attempt the rather expensive heli-hike option on the glacier, a few of us decided to hike up the rather bizarrely named `Alex Knob`.
Just for once I will spare you any puns relating to `Alex Knob`.

 This should be on the front of a mountaineering magazine somewhere me thinks. (The view from 1300m up).

 What we just climbed.

This is the first place in the Southern Island where I trully felt like I had encountered civilisation. Now technically the next few photos aren`t Queenstown, but rather stops we made on the way to getting there. Half my time in New Zealand I had absolutely no idea where I was or what I was looking at, but it was always stunning nonetheless. 

 Perhaps the most famous lake in New Zealand, Lake Mattheson. Unfortunately not showing it`s mirroring ability at time of photo.

Lake Wanaka

 Lake Hawea

 Me, super hyper after having done my first bungy jump!

 Bungy jumping 134m off Nevis into the canyon below. AWESOME!

 Finally an actual picture of Queenstown. This is the view from our room (at night, but you got that).

Having exhausted all my cash falling on a stretchy bit of string, I spent the rest of my time here climbing hills and watching other people do cool stuff. 

 Milford Sound
This was just a day trip from Queenstown, but oh my was it worth it. Genuinely this day held perhaps some of the prettiest landscapes I have ever seen. 

 Depending on who you ask there are apparently 35million sheep in New Zealand. I thought it only right to dedicate a photo to them.

On the way to Fjordland National Park.

 Wow. Just wow!

 So this was the scene in Lord of the Rings where.... I`m just kidding, I have no idea, but it could be!

Ice Ice baby...da da da dum dum da dum

And finally we have a picture of Milford Sound (which is in fact a fjord). 

 I took about 50 pictures like this which are pretty much indistinguishable.

 Mount Cook
The highest mountain in New Zealand at 3754m. I had been looking forward to exploring it, but instead I chilled out in the hostel and viewed it from afar.

 Mount Cook....maybe, it might be the other one. Don`t say I don`t bring you quality information!

 More mountains and lakes...

The windy capital of New Zealand. I'm almost certain I was woken up by an earthquake here. I also missed a 6.5 magnitude earthquake by only one day here. I was actually quite disappointed!

The view from the ferry to Wellington.

Not really much here to be honest, just a ruddy big beach with a couple of people silly enough to swim in the ridiculously cold water. I meanwhile honed my fire twirling skills on the beach.

Beaches be crazy!!
So Moreau isn't actually a place, but rather the name of a traditional Maori house. We spent an eventful evening in one, learning all about the culture and making fools of ourselves by performing the Haka, while the girls performed Poi.

The ladies insisted on it being performed topless...

On route to the Moreau we also stopped off to do some caving in the Waitomo caves. I was a bit weary about yet another cave experience, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip; abseiling down waterfalls deep underground and crawling though impossibly small holes. I was also fascinated to see "Glow Worms" for the first time, which are in fact cannibalistic maggots with shiny excrement as our guide so helpfully explained. 
Not a good experience for anyone who is afraid of heights, the dark, tight spaces, worms, spiders and/or cold water 

Looking up the crack... worst pun ever! 

A couple of wonder struck tourists

A really interesting geothermal location. Eat your heart out with these rather dismal grey shots of boiling mud.

Shot one of boiling mud...

Just in case you didn't quite see that boiling mud properly

Then we stopped off at some waterfalls and rapids. 

This lagoon turned into the next picture in a couple of minutes! 

Grade 6 rapids

Huka Falls. A name befitting of its beauty. 

Lake Taupo
We stopped off in this quiet location for the night. 

$10000 hole in one challenge. Sadly I suck badly. 

Lake Taupo

Next up we stayed on a farm known as Blue Duck Lodge. So named because of its endangered species of duck. We saw one, but it was rather unexciting to be honest.

The 'wh' is pronounced as an 'f' in Maldi, making it a somewhat comical name. 

Move along, move along!

Tongariro National Park

The rolling green hills and dotted lakes of this area were pleasant enough, but I was here for only one reason, to do a tandem skydive.

Seemed an appropriate pose at the time...

A little relieved the parachute finally opened!

You'll just have to believe me when I say that is actually me.

For some reason this place gets a bad wrap from tourists. I personally quite enjoyed it. It's home to an astonishing 2/3rds of the New Zealand population and frequently voted one of the best cities in the world to live in. Tired from all of my adventures, I spent most of my time here sight-seeing and relaxing in parks. 

Bridges, buildings, towers...

Walking through The Domain, this tree caught my eye.

The 196m high Mount Eden volcano overlooking the city. Funny how I can't remember the names of any of the lakes, but I remember the height of every mountain.

The harbour at night.

Me getting distracted on the motorway instead of navigating my stressed out driver.

Trip Stats
Places visited: (18) Christchurch, Kaikoura, Picton, Abel Tasman, Punakaiki, Lake Wanaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Mount Cook, Rangitata, Wellington, Raglan, Moreau, Rotorua, Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Whakahora, Whangerei  

Distance Covered: 2930km (excluding re-travelling the same route)