A Travellerspoint blog

Waitomo caves and Taranaki

We left my Aunty and Uncles and headed across the country to Waitomo which is famous for its caves and more importantly glow worms which we had waited to see for some time. After arriving and waiting for the sun to set so we had the necessary dark to see the glow worms we grabbed our torches and headed for the caves. We took a walk that took us through woods and into giant caves with rivers running through them along with some smaller ones which involved some ducking and scurrying to get through. All of this in the dark, surrounded with glowworms which look like stars in the sky it was spectacular!
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The next day for ANZAC weekend we headed to the West of the North Island to the Taranaki peninsula to see our friend Eryn again, this time in here home town of Hawera. Not much to say about Hawera. Along with Eryn's friend Rachel we went on a tour of the beaches on the peninsula making the best of the weather which was less than perfect. We stopped for some lunch in Opunake before carrying on to New Plymouth. When we had finished our circuit we headed to Anna's house, another of Eryn's friends, as we heard she had a hot tub. After a number of drinks and a random 'joke hour' we decided it was time for us all to leave and head back to Eryn's.
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The next day we got up to better weather and went to do some short walks around Mount Taranaki, the major landmark in the area and stopped on the way back for a delicious NZ pie and I had what was the biggest single scoop ice cream possible with chocolate dip! Nom nom.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 23:46 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The North of the South Island

Less wet and windy

When we were in the North of the South Island it was Easter bank holiday weekend and the NZ government in their infinite wisdom made a law that no one can trade, this includes no selling of alcohol anywhere without buying a meal and even goes as far as not allowing adverts on TV and radio! As a result everything in Nelson was shut, apart from a few cafes and bakeries. Wo we headed to Mouteka to see if the weather would hold out for us to do some of the Abel Tasman walk, at least the part that was still open and not blocked by fallen trees or washed away. It did not hold out. We holed up in a cabin for the rest of the day.

The next day however there was some sun(!) and we managed to walk along the track to apple tree bay. The track follows the coast through various bays and climbs a little to give some beautiful views out to sea. We then headed to the Lookout for Split Apple Rock - it is a rock, that looks like a split apple as you can see below. After our walk we headed back to Nelson where we thought we might stay but as it was bank holiday weekend and all the hostels were fully booked so we decided to get out of there and go straight to Picton as we had the ferry back to the North island the next day.
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Easter Sunday in Picton and once again almost everything was shut. We walked along the snout track which takes you to a headland with some spectacular views of the Malbourough Sounds the fiordland in the North of the South Island. It remained mostly dry for our walk until the last 15 minutes when the rain was relentless. The Malborough Sounds are pretty stunning in the rain and sun though and it was altogether a pleasant walk. We also found a seal at the end just chillin' on a nearby rock. After the walk and a situation involving Jimmy's shoe and an encounter with some dog excrement we headed back to the ferry for the boat back to the North island.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 23:28 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The wet and windy west coast

After leaving Wanaka we drove to the West coast to the villages of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. The main attractions here being the glaciers! When we arrived the weather was having a shocking time. We headed first to Fox glacier and walked down to the look out but the visability was so bad that we couldn't even see 100m in front of us and the bad conditions meant that they closed the path that leads up to the glacier face. We also missed the glacier in Torres del Paine, Patagonia and were beginning to think that we just weren't meant to see one.

We headed to the backpackers hostel, which was a really lovely hostel complete with fire and hot jacuzzi, where we proceeded to spend the afternoon whilst the weather played out its tantrum. We had hoped to watch the Luna eclipse that was happening this evening, however that didn't happen. The next morning the rain had cleared and although it was still slightly cloudy, visibility was improved. We took our chances this time with Franz Josef. We were able to walk along the path to the glacier and finally(!) we caught a glimpse of a glacier. THe glacier has retreated so much over the years that you can almost see it edging its way back. We enjoyed seeing the glacier so much that we then drove to a second lookout point some kilometers away for a second view. Glaciers are awesome. We were going to take a guided trip out onto the ice but weren't sure it was worth it with the rain expected imminently and we were pretty chuffed with just seeing it.
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That afternoon we drove up to Arthur's pass, a village settled at nearly 1000m high. The road itself is also called Arthur's pass and connects the east to the west coast by going up over the mountain range. It was pretty chilly up there and we chose to stay in one of the DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites, which was basic but had shelter for us to make some food. After a short walk to a 131m waterfall and a few drinks in the only bar in town, open late (8pm) we headed back to camp where we decided it was too cold for the tent and spent out first night in the car. We had to do it once and it was surprisingly not that uncomfortable.
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The next morning the clouds had come in again and we took a short 8km walk along the path and through the trees. Shortly after we left Arthur's pass and headed back to the west coast. We arrived in Greymouth, where the weather had deteriorated. There were weather warnings when we arrived and winds of 150km. After grabbing some lunch and a hot drink we went to check out the situation with Tourist Information. We wanted to head up to the Pancake rocks, however the road was closed. Subsequently many other roads leading out of Greymouth were also closed. So we took the only one open and headed to Nelson. The drive was actually OK and it seemed we were headed away from the worst of it, but as soon as we arrived in Nelson, back on the coast the winds picked up and the rain too. We found a cabin for the evening and holed up there to see what the next day would bring.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 19:36 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wanaka

A small distance north of Queenstown is Wanaka on the shore of the the lake and surrounded by mountains. We spent two nights here, camping the first and as the rain descended staying in a luxurious (some may say basic, but luxurious to us!) cabin. The weather meant that we were limited as what to do here but we enjoyed some short walks round the town and made the most of having a solid roof over our head.

We did however find time to go to Puzzling world, a maze ad exhibition of mind tricks and puzzles which was brilliant. The maze had 1.5 km of paths and apparently people walk an average 6km (which I am sure we managed) trying to find the way out. It took us an hour and a half to locate all 4 corners and finally the exit! The exhibition was my favourite part though with some excellent holograms as well as a tilted house where balls roll up tables and you are so disorientated you cant work out which way the real "down" is. There were also other exhibits such as concaved faces of famous people that appear 3D and follow you around the room and an room which makes one person in it look massive and the other look tiny.
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After all this mind blowing stuff we needed a drink (well I did, Rosa volunteered to drive) so we went to Wanaka Beer Works to sample some of the brews, and the old toy museum (I take back what I said earlier, with all the model trains, airfix modes
ls and classic cars on display this was definitely my Dads favourite part of the S. island!). Rosa found the Sylvannian family section incredible (again). I then found her at the lego table where she'd made a car, which she was very proud of. I on the other hand sampled some of the local beers from the brewery in a taster session (though I was tempted by an airfix model, especially with the rain now threatening for the next week!). We'd need an indoor activity.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 19:28 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Queenstown to Arrowtown

Our first night in Queenstown was spent camping in a central though slightly less then appealing campsite near the town. Queenstown is the party and extreme sport capital of the South Island and reminds me slightly of Newquay (you can decide if that is a good or a bad thing). It is filled with pubs, bars and tourist agents selling everything from jet boating to sky diving.

We ventured out our first night to watch the Friday night rugby and enjoy a quiet pint in a "traditional" Irish pub. The following day we sampled some fresh cookies recommended to us by our NZ friend from a place called Cookie Time, they were delicious but nothing on Ben's Cookies! The same day we also sampled the world famous Fergburger, said to be the best in the world! Really was a great burger and worth the queue which is there from opening time until closing and never dies down! After all this food we headed up the Gondola to Mount Bob where we dabbled in a not so extreme sport, with a spot of luge, essentially a tray with wheels and primitive brakes which whisks you down a windy course! Great fun! We ended the day with an 18 hole mini golf course, where we drew (though there may have been a number of restarts for some of us....okay both of us but I still deserved to win!).
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The next morning there was a gap in the cloud for us to take part in some proper extreme sport in the way of some paragliding (which Rosa had to spend some time convincing me was a good idea). It was a great way to spend a morning, running off the side of a cliff and dangling below a parachute. It was beautiful, and to be honest not that extreme, my landing left a little to be desired though. I am sure the grass stains will come out of my trousers eventually!
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After all this excitement we headed to the nearby town of Arrowtown, a small 'town' that looks slightly like something out of the wild west, in the middle of a beautiful forest now well into its Autumn colours which made for a beautiful afternoon. We grabed a pie for lunch from the bakery and caught a film at Dorothy Browns, a boutique 15 seat cinema including thrones and sofas to sit on (guess which seating option Rosa chose) along with the added benefit of a glass of wine and no preamble or adverts!
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Posted by Time Well Spent 19:19 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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