A Travellerspoint blog

Milford Sounds

The next day after we'd completed the Kepler track we took it easy and drove the famous Milford Road to Milford Sounds. The road itself is a beautiful drive with numerous stops along the way. We stopped at the Mirror Lakes, as you can see from the below picture they are a perfect mirror for the mountains towering above them. Other stops included a chasm, a creek and various other lookout points taking in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and fiordlands. None quite as spectacular as Milford Sounds itself. The road also included a 1.2km long tunnel that was dug by hand in the 1930s and completed in 1991 (I think they probably gave up with the "by hand" after a while)!

We spent some time at the sounds walking around and taking in the scenery. Our legs didn't enjoy the walking bit too much but we did enjoy the scenery.

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Posted by Time Well Spent 19:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Te Anau and the Kepler Trek

As I sit here writing this I am nursing my tired legs and back and enjoying a well earned cup of tea and this is all because of the Kepler Track. But more on this later.

First I should start with talking about Te Anau, the town which sits on the lake of the same name in the Fiordlands of the south island. Te Anau is a pretty little town two hours south of the famous Milford Sounds with its main function being a jump off spot for various walks, cycles, boat and heli rides in the area. We spent a pleasant day here getting the customary New Zealand pie, wandering along the lake front and visiting the small bird sanctuary where there are a number of Takahe flightless bird thought extinct until rediscovered in 1948 in the local area.

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So onto the Kepler Track, one of the great walks of New Zealand the track is a 70km circuit climbing up and over Mount Luxmore at 1472 metres. We did this in two nights and three days, one short and two long. Our first day, the short one was a walk from the carpark at Rainbow Reach to Brod Bay campsite, the walk was not so exciting winding its way through the woods occasionally catching a glimpse of the river. The same however cannot be said for the campsite which was basic indeed but in the most beautiful setting on the beach by the lake where you could watch the sun set over the mountains, a spectacular way to end the first day. We slept early that night knowing that the next day would be our longest. Our second day was a 1,400 metre assent and descent covering 24km, a walk that took us 8 hours. The first section of the walk was a fairly uninteresting assent through the trees. Though once the tree line is passed you are rewarded with a spectacular view with the clouds settled in the valleys and the mountains in the background. We stopped for a break at the Luxmore hut where we were greeted by a Kea, the worlds only alpine parrot and apparently the cleverest, he certainly wasnt shy.

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After our break we continued to the top of Mount Luxmore with its stunning panaramic views, made all the better by the beautiful weather. We then continued along the ridge with spectacular views either side before descending to our second campsite at Iris Burn where we were more then happy to arrive and rest our weary legs after a tiring but beautiful day. We took a further 45 minute wander up to the waterfall nearby. It looked like it would be a lovely spot for a swim, however as you can see from our attire it was far to chilly for that.

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Our final day was a 25km tramp (walk, hike, trek to everyone else who isn't a Kiwi) back to the car, through forests and wetlands with a beautiful stretch along the shore of lake Manapuri.

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As happy as we are to be sitting here with a hot cup of tea away from the sandflies we loved the walk and were very lucky with the beautiful weather. It really was stunning and I hope the pictures do it some justice.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 23:45 Comments (0)

Oamaru to Dunedin

Our next stop on the East coast was Oamaru where I was particularly pleased to spend our first night in a hide watching the yellow eyed penguins come ashore after a days fishing, a spectacular site!

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The town has an ancient history, once being the most architecturally beautiful town in the South Island before falling into disrepair and then recently coming back to some of its former glory. The main street, Thames street is a beautiful street with banks built in the late nineteenth century, which look like Greek temples, and a beautiful old post office to boot. They even had red telephone boxes. This town (even more than others in NZ) felt like it was stuck in the 1980's, Rosa was particularly excited to see Sylvanian families still on sale and a trip to a charity shop answered the question of where everyone's old cassettes had gone! We paid a visit to Steampunk HQ, a quirky building with a futuristic steam train in the front and weird and wonderful creations bringing together the old and futuristic including coliderscopes and a dog with a laptop...strange. A stroll back to the car passed a radio museum confirmed to me that this was probably my Dads favorite place on the South Island, I am surprised Mum managed to drag him away!

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Before leaving Oamaru we had to visit the Whitestone cheese factory where they make delicious cheeses, we had a taster board with our favorite being their award winning Windsor blue which we then bought a block of to have for lunch later that day.

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After this overnight stop we continued south to Dunedin passing the Moeraki boulders, perfectly spherical rocks on the beach formed millions of years ago and which the Maori believe to be the cargo of an ancient fisher boat whose sailors lost their cargo, came ashore to find it and became mountains.

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Dunedin is another large town in the South Island with its too main attractions being the Cadbury factory and the worlds steepest hill, presumably to burn off some of the calories from the first attraction. Our visit round the Cadbury factory was great, we got some free samples and saw the worlds only chocolate waterfall, along with finding out the different types of Cadbury chocolate availiable here but not in England, Jaffas are delicious, little round balls of chocolate covered in an orange coating (those in England go check out the first factory in Birmingham, well worth a visit!). Some of the other concotions available in NZ are not as good. Too much marshmallow and not enought chocolate.

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We walked up the steepest hill in the world after this, or Baldwin Street as its known. This really is steep, and as we were leaving we saw a crazy Frenchman cycling up it, and were surprised to see that he actually made it! Every year on this steepest hill Cadburys do a charity race, not for people but for these little Jaffa balls which you buy and if it wins (first to the bottom I presume) you get a prize, apparently they release 50,000 balls with all proceeds going to Make a Wish foundation, sweet. Apparently there used to be a soap box race down it though it was banned, cant imagine why.....

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Posted by Time Well Spent 23:35 Comments (0)

Christchurch

We carried on down the East coast arriving in the rather shell shocked city of Christchurch which, three years on is still recovering from the earthquake and aftershocks that rocked it so badly.

This was only a quick stop on our way through and we spent a pleasant evening having a drink at the Peddle Pushers bar whilst we did some trip planning.

We ventured to a farmers market in the morning and then walked down the river to see what was left of town. The damage is quite incredible and sad, most of the CBD has been levelled with the buildings still standing being in a state of disrepair and in some cases unusable whilst insurance claims are waited upon. The most obvious area of damage is the Cathedral which is in a sorry state as the pictures show. Currently the town center is a box park with all banks and shops in crates which has a bitter sweet element to it with a sort of beauty in itself.

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We left Christchurch feeling sorry for its residence not just because of the damage but also because of the worst traffic we had encountered in NZ! So it was with not such a heavy heart that we continued south.

Posted by Time Well Spent 23:24 Comments (0)

Kaikoura

Our first stop on the South Island was down the East coast in Kaikoura, a town famous for its wales and dolphins. Unfortunately the weather was a little overcast when we arrived though it did clear up before we left.

We took a stroll over the headlands and back across the beach to take in the views and see if we couldn't spot any wales or dolphins out of sea, we were unsuccessful here but saw plenty of seals from the local seal colony. Rosa ventured too close to one of them which barked at her, so she learnt to keep her distance after that.

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As we returned the sun came out so we stopped to have a seafood lunch of mussels, scallops and salmon, at one of the shacks along the beach where the fish comes in fresh off the boats, it was a delicious way to end our time here. On our drive out of Kairkoura we pulled up on the coast where we spotted a pod of dolphins and a whale(!). The eagle-eyed amongst you can spot it's tail in this picture.

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Posted by Time Well Spent 23:19 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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