A Travellerspoint blog

Milford Sound Boat Trippin'

Terrible weather but a brilliant boat cruise 23rd September 17

rain
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I woke at 6.30am to the rain beating off the camper again and got everything ready for the day so we could move off at 8am. A shower, some bran flakes and a cup of tea later and I was sorted and we were on the road.

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The weather was progressively worsening and, trying to remain optimistic, we had a giggle as we passed a place called Knobs Flat and arrived at Milford Sound with only 5 minutes to spare before the departure of our boat cruise. We sprinted to the ferry terminal, jumped on the Mitre Peak Cruise boat, where we realised we were two of a group of around 15 people taking the tour that day, thankfully not overcrowded. Despite the horrible weather, we were very excited.

The cruise started and after I got straight into the complementary tea of coffee on board, we started taking some photos and began enjoying the trip. We passed a beautiful waterfall coming out of the quay that was over 100m, 3 tines the night of Niagara Falls, amazing!
Within no time we felt we had our monies worth as we became surrounded by dolphins, jumping out of the water and racing the bow of the boat. I couldn’t contain my excitement, the surreal beauty was astonishing.

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The conductor of the tour sailed the boat right up to one of the massive permanent waterfalls so we could feel the sheer force of the water. We stood out in the rain most of the trip so due to already being soaked we stood closest of anyone to the waterfall getting drenched from the splashes as the boat moved under it. We were utterly soaked through but it was entirely worth it.

There were several points of interest thoroughly the tour including seal rock, where we managed to sea beautiful seals swimming around and climbing up onto the rocks, there was also Mt Kimberly (obviously exciting me!), that had been more commonly known as The Lion after its magnificence.

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The tour was exceptional but we returned soaked and frozen to the bone and the unpleasantries involved with having to get changed out of the wet clothes were all to real. We got to driving though, warming up slowly eating a blueberry muffin each before the uphill fuel consumption left us with not enough fuel to get back to Te Anau, we had to detour.

The directions took us over 50km out of the way we needed to go, into a forested area that looked unknown to anyone never mind a petrol station. Yet, desperate, we carried on until we stumbled upon a little farm with a shop and a single fuel pump for themselves. They were selling fuel at 3.50 per litre, extortionate, but we couldn’t complain as they were lovely people, they sold us exactly what we needed to get back to Te Anau and we were on our way. Hunger and tiredness set in so we returned to the same campsite as the previous night threw together some spagbol sandwiches and jumped under the duvet at 5pm – not moving until 9am the following morning (apart from to get chocolate out of the fridge).

Posted by FarandFree 04:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls lakes trees sea boat milford_sound trip Comments (0)

Queenstown and The Remarkables

Skiing, Ice-cream, Skyline & Luge - 2 days don't get any better! - 21/22nd September 17

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We let our legs recover from the mountain until about 10.30am before we headed to the ski shop, where we were lucky enough to know the staff, to get all our rental gear (skis, poles, boots, gloves – the works) for only $30! And with 50% off our ski passes for the day, we were quickly learning that having Wills cousin around was working massively in our favour.

We started for The Remarkables Ski Field, excited to tick Skiing in New Zealand off the life bucket list. We stopped at a petrol start ion and picking up a coffee and a pack of mini snickers before arriving after some remarkably good driving on some massive uphill stints. We were on the slopes for 12pm. The clouds were in, slightly reducing the visibility but the snow was in perfect condition and so we jumped straight into the slope where I found my rusty ski legs rather quickly and we started smashing out the runs (with some good instruction from Will). Being the least able skier of the pack, I stuck to the easier slopes that ran parallel to the awesome jump runs so I became quite the photographer capturing some awesome shots of the boys doing all sorts of tricks.

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There were plenty of great off piste opportunities, providing a lot of entertainment and an array of spectacular falls for the afternoon. It wasn’t long before the tiredness of the previous days activities started wearing on our legs but we pushed through staying on the slopes until they closed at 4pm not wasting a second on the snow. Will sped down his last two runs earning himself a hot mince pie and we climbed weak legged, happily back into the car. We left all of the rented kit back, bought a loaf and some soup for dinner and collapsed on the sofa, in my case going straight to sleep. By 6pm I managed to move towards the shower and make dinner before we spent the evening cuddled under a blanket watching ted in front of the wood fire. I never wanted to leave Queenstown.

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The next morning we took it upon ourselves to chill out for the morning before heading into Queenstown centre for a look around at 11pm or so. We arranged to meet up with Tom and have a go on the Queenstown Skyline Gondola before we left for Milford Sound that evening.
Tom worked at the gondola that overlooked the most amazing views of the mountains, Queenstown and the lake and so managed to get us free passes for the day. I wasn’t aware however, that at the top of the gondola there was actually a whole array of activities to do including luge tracks (a luge being a small go-cart like thing with 3 wheels and the handlebar is the break), shops, restaurants, all sorts.

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We took the gondola up and had our minds blown by the outstanding views, grabbed a few photos and headed towards the luge tracks.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect but excited, we fitted some ridiculous looking helmets and took a small ski lift up to the top. After a quick demo we were on our way, racing like children around the track. SO FUN! On the first lap the boys sped past first a small boy you divided he would take his frustration out on me by refusing to let me pass him by consistently crashing into me. It was hilarious.

We went down a further 2 times, none of which I won but with the adrenaline and the laughs pumping I didn’t mind. The tracks had several points on the way down where cameras took photos of everyone in action at critical points of the race, of which looking at after the run was another very amusing factor.  After a few entertaining hours we called it a day and returned to the gondola, collected a few of the photos of the day and said our goodbyes. We wandered around Queenstown, falling further in love with it and the beautiful Mrs Fergs Ice-cream before we got on the road.
It was a several hour drive down to Milford Sound and on the way we found a campsite a few miles away with a deal of $30 for two people and unable to pass it up we stayed there in Te Anau for the night. We got laundry done and food cooked at the brilliant campsite before heading for an early night for our big day ahead the next day – our Milford Sound Boat Tour.

Posted by FarandFree 03:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains snow skiing lake skyline Comments (0)

The Highest Mountain I've Ever Climbed

Mt Isthmus Peak & Arrival in Queenstown, Fergburgers & Frolf - 20th September 17

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I woke will, cleared away the condensation from the windows and had him look out on the amazing lake views. The beauty encouraged us to get up and climb the beautiful mountain we could see in front of us. We were on the go for 8am and were the first on the mountain that morning.
The walk was steep and the legs were tender from the start, but at no stage were we disappointed or discouraged by the experience because the natural beauty of the world around us seemed somewhat surreal and kept us going.

About an hour into the climb (recommended be 4 hours) we had felt somewhat close to what we thought was the summit but we were soon to discover that this feeling would grace us a further three times, false peaks are heart breaking. But the higher we climbed the more beautiful the views and when we eventually reached snow I was kept thoroughly entertained. The first snow I experienced on the day came shortly after I lifted my head to notice Will was down off the edge of the track as an icy snowfall flew towards my face. It almost made me forget that there was still a few 100m to go.

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The summit, 3 hours from the start point for us, was insanely worth it, with a nippy breeze but 360 views of snow topped mountains, blue sky and the blue glimmering waters of both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. At only 1386m we felt on top of the world. The descent took 2 hours, completing the 8 hour hike in a total of 5 hours, we felt very accomplished. We met a few fellow climbers struggling with the uphill on our way down and we shamefully felt good as it felt a distant memory to us. We thought no need to warn them of the false peaks as some would turn back at that stage and we couldn’t deprive anyone of the sensational views .

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We were back with Persil, uninjured, content and excited to be on our way to Queenstown. We stopped in Wanaka for a short leg stretch to see an open all year round Christmas shop which made me extremely happy before we messaged Tom, Wills cousin we were staying with there to arrange an arrival plan. We paid extortionate amounts for fuel and arrived at there awesome house overlooking the lake and the mountains. Our hosts took us to the Queenstown Park where we were introduced to Frolf (Frisbee-golf) a game based across the whole park with the aim being to throw frisbees into baskets all around you from random spots. It was a hilarious game, highly recommended and a great way to spend our first evening in Queenstown.

We walked through the night lit city centre to the very busy but highly anticipated famous Fergburger. I asked for the Cockadoodle-oink, a huge, amazing chicken, bacon, chilli and avocado burger. Easily the BEST and BIGGEST burger I have ever had, so big that between 4 with a burger each of us we couldn’t even handle a single portion of chips. If in Queenstown it is a MUST.

We ate on the wall over the lake with the city lights all around and to show our gratitude we purchased a few beers and headed back to there’s to light the fire and have a chilled night before our busy day skiing the following day.

Posted by FarandFree 03:42 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains lakes beaches night queenstown burgers Comments (0)

Frans Joseph Glacier, Bruce Bay & Ships Creek

19th September 17

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Another beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. We debated wether or not to do a walk to the glacier that would have taken us 6 hours or to do the 1.5 hour track to walk right up to it, we eventually chose the latter. The shorter walk took us much further away from the glacier than we thought, simply because year on year the glacier is receding and melting, Global warming and all that. The views however were still spectacular. We learnt that the only way to actually stand on the glacier now was via helicopter because it has become some dangerous to climb so due to our budget, we just stayed content with a view from a distance. The fact that the Frans Joseph was melting, however, made some of the most beautiful glacial waterfalls and rivers that flowed the whole way throughout the walk, making it worth it even just to see those.

I clumsily slipped on a rock on the way down, due to having a very unreliable ankle from previous injuries. The decent became more of a hobble for me but we made it back to the camper for me to make the first use of our extensive first aid kit – Deep Heat is the best thing ever. I decided to take myself on another little walk, only half an hour or so, to Peters Pools, a kettle pool formed by a large iceberg left from the receding glacier that eventually melted into a beautiful pool. Relaxed, I returned to the camper and we made our way back into Frans Joseph, picked up a post card and a coffee before moving on our way towards Wanaka.

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It was a glorious day and wanting to waste none of it tucked up in a camper, we made as many stops as we could on the road, the first one being, Bruce Bay where we were planning to have lunch. Bruce Bay was a beautiful beach covered in washed up wood from the extremely powerful waves. There was also a washed up dead cow that was quite horrific but Will distracted me with some pretty pebbles and we headed back to the camper. We stopped at a pretty spot called Knights Point View Lookout before travelling a few more kms to Ships Creek. This place was something else. The DOC had taken a Beach, swamp and surrounding forest and made it into a fascinating board walk. It was deserted and we had some energy to burn so we ran on the beach, squat jumped up the steps, carried logs for shuttle runs across the sand and finished with a little 1.5 mile run loop of the board walk. I was very chuffed that exercise could be so enjoyable and so pretty.

We rewarded ourselves with a dip in the sea as the sun came down but the waves were so powerful and the sand flies so keen that our excitement was short lived and we ran back to get changed and head south. We made a quick stop at Thunder Creek Waterfall and sprinted back to the van to get to the camp site for dinner soon as possible. It was getting dark and on the road, Will came up with the great idea that we would climb a mountain the next day so I had a look at our options and we found Isthmus Peak a short drive south between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. The drive was breath-taking but we sped up to the start to the peak track just to make sure it was open and after confirming, we arrived at the closest campsite ‘Kidds Reserve’ in the pitch black, down a windy road. I was a little spooked so I didn’t sleep very well but I woke to the morning light beaming in behind the blinds and jumped out only to discover that we had parked unknowingly, on the edge of an amazing still, stunning lake and the most sensational view of the mountains we were due to climb. I became really excited.

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Posted by FarandFree 03:31 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains lakes beaches animals sea Comments (0)

Greymouth, The Hokitika Gorge anThe Rainforest Reserve

So many pretty stops on the road to Queenstown 17/18th September 17

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The long sleep was glorious after our busy few days in Abel Tasman, waking to rain the next morning. We felt a lazy morning was justified so, a little stiff from our adventures, we lay deciding where our next destination was. We had wanted to venture through the mountains of Arthur’s Pass so we set the sat-nav onto Greymouth as a mid way point and decided to see if there was anything of interest on the road. We stopped off in a small town called Riffton, probably the dullest little town in the South Island, bought a loaf for some lunch and ate a twirl while the rain pounded off the camper. The day involved very little apart from a lot of driving, an unfortunate part of road trips and about the most exciting thing to happen was the camper bed falling on me half way through the journey crushing me to the ground (I was fine after a cry and a cup of tea).

We made it to Greymouth in good time and headed down towards the Hokitika Gorge as we decided to see if the weather would clear more for the Arthur’s Pass on another day. We pulled up to a small free campsite which was basically the car park of an old bar called ‘Woodys’. The open fire and a pitcher of cider between us comforted us for a while as we cuddled the inquisitive pub cat before heading off to bed. We would head to the Gorge in the morning.

We decided to get a move on early to the Hokitika Gorge, something I had been quite keen on seeing for a while. It was definitely worth the distance we travelled to see it! A short drive from the bar and a sunny walk freshened us up and the surreal beauty of the fresh blue waters beneath the Hokitika swing bridge reminded us again of the beautiful adventure we were on.
We walked a few of the small tracks to take us upon the big rocks by the river, it was sensational. The entire place was a definite MUST SEE for New Zealand
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We returned to the camper optimistic and started on an 80km drive to our next destination, the Frans Joseph Glacier. We wanted a full day for the glacier so we took our time down the road stopping at a silent and majestically still lake holding a reflection of the snowy mountains in the background. Despite sights like these being all over New Zealand especially the South Island, we were mesmerised.

We arrived in Frans Joseph only 4km north of the glacier, where we picked up a postcard and decided to stay the night at a highly recommended site called Rainforest Reserve at a reasonable $39 (the cheapest in the area). We drove in and to our amazement it was an outstanding site with a large hot tub pool, little nature walks throughout and a fantastic cosy restaurant selling 2-4-1 stone baked pizzas the night we arrived, or all you can eat pizza every other night. YES!

The lovely lady behind reception gave us free laundry powder too which was just awesome. We sorted all of our bits and bobs before jumping into the AMAZING hot pool. We felt hunger for dinner and decided for the first time in the trip that we would dress nice and make a date night out of it and headed for some pizza by the wood fire. Perfect end to a perfect day!

Posted by FarandFree 03:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains beaches Comments (0)

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