Now the sheep has become friends with the octopus. Okay, I promise no more lazy photos of the sheep from now on!
It’s been tough being back at work. Here is the new addition to our family we got from our New Zealand trip. Baa!
I have decided to keep the sheep from New Zealand. He’s become good friends with the scary blue thing that the husband loves so much.
Back to reality of being home. Here are just a couple of things we got for our friends and family. A sheep that makes baa noises, turkish delight that has no gelatine, a coffee cup, bungy jump t-shirts (free with the jump), mud soap from Rotorua, kiwi fruit flavoured chocolate, macadamia nuts, a tiny little kiwi, and various animal ‘droppings’ which are really just chocolates with cool packaging.
Day 17 – Auckland to Rangitoto to Auckland to Melbourne
Our last day in New Zealand and we decided to spend a calm morning jumping off a bridge. We went bungy jumping off the Auckland bridge and because they went in reverse weight order I had to go last. It was pretty funny watching the other people do it because there was a school group of like maybe 13 or 14 year olds and they were cheering on their classmates doing the jump. There was one poor girl who was so scared that she got some ‘encouragement’ in the form of a push off the edge. The scariest part of the jump would have been when they tell you to put your toes over the edge and they hang the counterweight over. Willing yourself to jump is the hardest part, but the rest of it is so much fun and easy. I thought that it would kind of jerk up at the bottom, but my jump was more like a gentle swing after the terrifying free fall. That’s one thing I can cross off my bucket list now!
In the afternoon we headed out to Rangitoto Island, which is an inactive volcano. We ran into the same school group again and we all hiked to the top of the volcano. The view of Auckland from the top was amazing. It was a pretty interesting walk and very tiring. I got a lot of good photos of moss. We also explored old lava caves, which was hard without a proper torch. The iPhone torch did okay though, just light enough to see and dim enough that I didn’t see any spiders and completely freak out.
We got back to Auckland and did some last minute souvenir shopping before heading to the airport. We had some dinner at the airport after returning the car, then hopped on the plane and headed home.
Overall it was an amazing trip. New Zealand definitely gets points for being so beautiful and picturesque. My photos don’t do it any justice, but at least I’ll have the memories of being there. It was jam packed and I think it’s the type of place where you could spend ages and still not see everything. I’ve tried a lot of new things and surprisingly really enjoyed it all, bungy jumping, Zorbing, swimming with dolphins, white water rafting, sea kayaking, glacier hike, canyon swing, caving, rode a segway, and just driving around and taking it all in. The most amazing thing about the whole thing was that the husband and I didn’t get into any arguments even when we were lost!
Day 16 – Auckland to Cathedral Cove to Auckland
We finally found a beach that has sand instead of rocks, just like an Australian beach. We tried our hand at sea kayaking and we surprisingly worked well as a team. It was a bit of hard work and the husband would call me a slacker every time I needed a break. The guides were really good, gave us good instructions and were very knowledgeable. It was quite windy the further our we got from shore. I almost lost my hat, but thanks to my lightning fast reflexes (usually they’re pretty slow and lazy so it was surprising) I managed to rescue it. It was a beautiful way to see Cathedral Cove.
After grabbing some lunch we headed down to Cathedral Cove the old fashioned way, which involved a bit of walking in the heat. I didn’t take the SLR because I was worried about all the sand, and I even put my phone in a glad bag because the husband freaked me out about the sand scratching up the screen. It was a shame, but I also quite like not taking photos and just enjoying the experience. I think part of me just wants to take photos because my memory is rubbish and photos help me to remember exactly what it was like to be there.
We also tried the hot water beach, but we went at the wrong time for it. We took a stroll along the beach but it was windy and the sand kept whipping up like sandpaper. At least my legs were nice and exfoliated in a really painful kind of way!
Day 15 – Taupo to Auckland
It was another driving day with a lot of time to admire the beautiful scenery. Ever since the husband saw Flight of the Conchords and they mentioned a toothbrush fence he just had to see it. It is exactly as it sounds. People visit the fence and tie their toothbrushes to the fence with wire. It was kind of disgusting but fascinating. Someone had even tied their electric toothbrush to it including the charger.
Auckland was just like any other city, lots of cars, people, and concrete. We stayed a little bit out of the city as it was cheaper, and it was still close to things like a fancy grocery store. We walked down to Cornwell Park, which was an amazing and huge park. I wish we had something like this back at home because it was so pretty. There were just sheep and cows roaming around the place. We tried to short cut up the hill to get to the obelisk at the top, but we were thwarted by the fences, so we took the long way around. The view from the top of the hill was awesome, including the rocks that people had rearranged into penises and other juvenile things. We then decided to be idiots and raced each other down the hill.
Day 14 – Taupo to Rotorua to Taupo
We drove up to Rotorua today and yes it does smell as bad as I have been told, but only around where the geyser is. The rest of the town is fine. The reason we went there was to go Zorbing, which is rolling down a hill in a giant plastic ball. Except instead of Zorbing we went with a company called Ogo. It doesn’t seem like a good idea in theory to go rolling down a giant hill, but it was awesome fun. We tried both the dry where you’re strapped in and roll with the ball and the wet where you slide around an inner ball together like being in a washing machine. Wet was definitely my favourite. It was very awkward getting into the balls because you basically do a running dive, and coming back out of the balls after a wet run is like being birthed out. The husband said he had to protect his man parts because I kicked him a few times, by accident of course!
On the drive back to Taupo there were a few volcanic valley geothermal parks that we visited. They also did not smell good, but looked pretty spectacular. My favourite was called Hidden Valley or Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park. We took a ferry across a lake and there were so many interesting things to look at. It was so colourful, interesting plants and amazing patterns.
On the drive back we also saw weird steam coming from an industrial like area, and it turns out that it was the nuclear power plant. I didn’t know that New Zealand had nuclear power.
Dinner was at a restaurant on the shore of the lake and I had the most amazing chicken wings with a cheese sauce. We tried to go for a walk around the lake afterwards, but it was too cold so we headed back for an early night before another big day of driving.
Day 13 – Taupo to Waitomo to Tongariro to Taupo
Today was an action packed day. We started by driving to Waitomo and I unfortunately forgot to take my travel sickness pills. It almost ended badly but I pulled through and we headed off into the caves. They gave us wetsuits and socks. We abseiled down into the caves, down a giant slide, across a flying fox, climbed up walls, jumped off ledges, and drifted gently through the glow worm caves. It was very physical, a lot of hard work, very cold, I got a lot of bumps of bruises, but it was so much fun and beautiful. I’m very glad they gave us helmets because I hit my head so many times. Also because the floor was uneven, I fell over almost constantly.
After getting semi warm showers and having some hot soup and bagels, we did a walk around the rainforest before heading off to Tongariro National Park. A few days before one of the volcanos erupted, but there was no sign of that there as they had reopened most of the roads and tracks. It looked very Lord of the Rings like, so pretty.
Day 12 – Wellington to Taupo
We drove from Wellington to Taupo, and I have to say that the north island looks more like Australia. We drove through a desert-like area after passing through green hills filled with sheep. It’s amazing how much the landscape changes in just a few short kilometres. Once we got to Taupo, which has another massive lake, we drove to Huka falls. It’s a very shot drop, but the volume is amazing. It has almost 220,000 litres of water flowing per second. The photo isn’t of the actual falls but of the river it flows into.
Day 11 – Kaikoura to Picton to Wellington
We started the day by driving from Kaikoura up to Picton to catch the ferry across to Wellington. It was a nice drive and it was a little weird that the train line crosses over and under the road a lot. It would make more sense to me to stay on the one side, but I’m sure that there’s a reason for that. We had lunch in town, a delicious bagel topped with salmon and eggs. We then sat in the park waiting for the ferry with lots of ducks, ducklings, and fat bees. They were massive bees and just behaved like our tiny little bees we have in Australia.
The ferry trip was fine and had pretty views. I just had a bit of a sleep and a read of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) which is funny and a bit random.
Unfortunately we picked the wrong (budget) ferry. It turned out that it was about a 3km walk to the other ferry terminal where we were supposed to pick up our next hire car. Time was against us as well as there would be extra charges if we were late, so dragging our luggage we headed off. It didn’t help that the footpath suddenly ended and we had to cross a highway. Instead of being stupid, we went all the way back (about another 1/2 km) to a pedestrian crossing. So far Wellington wasn’t being very good to us.
After checking in to our hotel and being asked if we were here for The Hobbit premiere (didn’t even realise it was opening then) we headed off to the planetarium. It was quite cool, but very hard to walk to up massive hills. I also managed to lose my favourite scarf, which did not make me a very happy person. The husband said that Wellington took my scarf because I insulted it earlier in the day when we couldn’t find the car hire place. I think I’m just really clumsy.
Day 10 – Kaikoura
We went swimming with dolphins today and I’m very glad I took some travel sickness pills because it was rocky on the water! We got geared up with wetsuits and snorkelling equipment. I’m a pretty confident swimmer, but I’m no snorkeler so it felt really claustrophobic in the mask. It took me a while to get used to it and I swallowed a bit a sea water, but once I did I was fine.
We were told that we had to entertain the dolphins so we would hum tunes through the snorkels and dive under and basically act like idiots to attract them. It worked though because they were around us and playing with us within minutes. It was incredible to see them up so close and I think they really enjoyed hanging around us, no touching though. The husband thought it was hilarious when I was following after a dolphin and it pooed in my face. I definitely had a shower after that!
We spent what must have been about 4o minutes swimming around in various spots, but it felt like 5 minutes. After that we got back up onto the boat and got hosed down by some hot water and just enjoyed the view. When we were swimming we were with small pods of up to 10-12 dolphins, but then we found a massive pod of about 100-150 dolphins including some seals, birds, and baby dolphins. It was amazing and photos just don’t do it justice. I found it was much more enjoyable to just put away the camera (was getting mostly rubbish shots anyway) and just be in the moment.
When we got back we had a massive big breakfast and drove up to Ohau, which is where a lot of the seals go to mate in the fresh water. There weren’t many baby seals around near the waterfall, but there was one that just ignored us and was happy to just swim around and do tricks.
Day 9 – Franz Joseph to Punakaiki to Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura
Today was another big day of driving so it was an early start. We drove up the west coast to Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks. They’ve got an interesting formation that looks like slabs of rocks stacked on top of each other. We just so happend to get there around high tide so we could see the cool blowholes. It was a bit of a detour to get there, but it was well worth the visit. I like rocks, but the husband usually doesn’t so much (scarred by having to do earth science at uni maybe?), but even these rocks he said he found really interesting.
We then headed to the east coast towards Kaikoura. We drove through the mountains and through an area called Lewis Pass and through Hanmer Springs, which was covered with all these yellow flowers or broom, which looked very pretty, but I’m sure was just a weed. We stopped at a rest stop of lunch, and it just to happened that it was the only rest stop that didn’t have a table. So we just sat in the boot.
Kaikoura is a very pretty little coastal town and still no sandy beaches, just rocks. We headed out to see some seals on the peninsula, which paid no attention to us at all. It was a long but good day, and the best thing was that we can see sheep from our motel!
Day 8 – Fox Glacier
Today was our glacier walk on Fox Glacier and it was amazing. Our guide was from England and he was a bit of a geek, loves rocks and science. My kind of guide!
We got geared up with boots, crampons, socks (I had to pick the Hobbit sized socks), backpacks, and coats if we wanted them. It was a pretty warm day so I just opted to wear my own light jacket. I tend to overheat when walking anyway, which I certainly did. We walked through the rainforest first and had some lovely fresh water from one of the many waterfalls. I didn’t want to drink too much though because I didn’t want to have to do my business on the glacier!
We then got to the ice and strapped the crampons on. It took a little time to get used to walking in them and I could tell immediately that I was going to hurt by the end of the day. They definitely helped me not die though, so that’s something! We couldn’t go too far into the glacier because of all the hidden and not do hidden crevasses, but it was still amazing. The glacier was a bit dirtier than I thought it would be, but the guide explained that there hadn’t been a lot of rainfall, and the dirt acted as insulation for the ice to not melt as quickly.
It was an amazing experience and I’d definitely want to do it again, maybe on one of the bigger glaciers in Canada or something.
We then rewarded ourselves with an awesome pub meal. I had a massive plate of pork ribs with wedges, and the husband had steak as usual!
Day 7 – Twizel to Haast Pass to Franz Josef
Today was another long driving day, which means plenty of opportunities to take photos when I wasn’t sleeping. I have to take travel sickness pills, but they make me so sleepy. At least it’s better than the alternative of throwing up all over the husband. I don’t think he’d really appreciate that.
We drove past Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka and up into Haast Past, which is full of lovely winding roads. We stopped off a few times to do some walking and see waterfalls. It’s very pretty, even that giant hill we climbed up to get to the lookout of Haast Pass. We had some lunch in a cheap dodgy looking diner, but my bacon and eggs were amazing.
We saw some of the coast as well, no sand, just rocks, and encountered a little bit of rain. Today’s photo was taken driving along the west coast coming out of Haast Pass.
Franz Josef was such a pretty little town. We headed to walk up to the glacier, which you can’t really get that close to unless you’re on a guided tour, which makes sense because there are so many rock falls and stories of careless travellers getting injured or even killed there. It was still very pretty.
One of the things we had noticed today was that we hadn’t come across a single traffic light since we’d been here. Everything is well signed give way signs, roundabouts etc. I can’t believe it took us so long to notice. I suppose where we had been driving was all small towns though, so not that surprising.
Day 6 – Queenstown to Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki to Twizel
I just cannot get over how beautiful New Zealand is. Everywhere you look is just like a postcard. We did a lot of driving today and saw so many beautiful things that it was really hard to decide what should be my photo of the day.
We started the day by checking out of Queenstown and drove up to Tekapo Springs. We went to the tube park, which was smaller than we thought it would be. Normally in winter it’s covered in snow, but since it clearly wasn’t, they had this synthetic track to go down the hill on. It was pretty fun going down together. It was small and cheap, but fun. We then relaxed in the hot pools for a while to admire the views of the lake. It’s just such a lovely pastel blue colour, which apparently gets its colour from all the particles of ground up rocks combined with the sunlight. It’s truly amazing.
We had lunch at a little restaurant near the lake and walked around on the rocks for a bit. There were these flowers called lupins lining the shore, which aren’t native, but kind of pretty. We also walked around the Church of the Good Shepard and saw the bronze statue of the border collie sheep dog. I’m not religious, but I do like some of the architecture of the old churches. This one was so quaint.
We drove back to Lake Pukaki, which was just as beautiful and bought some fresh salmon to have for an afternoon snack. After checking into our motel in Twizel, we headed out for a drive around the lake to the Mt Cook region, which is where the photo of the day was taken. There were some amazing reflections and views of the mountains. Although I think the husband was getting annoyed with me taking photos because when we stopped to take photos of some sheep, he almost drove off on me. I can’t help that New Zealand is so pretty!
Day 5 – Queenstown to Glenorchy to Queenstown
We had a nice sleep in before heading up to Fergburger for breakfast. I am always very sceptical of hype, but these burgers did not disappoint. They were massive, fresh, and very very tasty. We then went to the top of the hill in the Skyline gondola. The view from the top was just amazing, nothing like I’d ever seen before and Lake Wakatipu was stunning. We went down the luge track, as pictured above, which was a bit of fun. Then we decided to have an icecream at the top while admiring the view.
In the afternoon we went for a bit of a drive to Glenorchy. We stopped at a little part of the lake and attempted to skip some stones, which I have discovered I am a complete failure at. There were some French guys hanging out at the lake as well and one of them just stood up and casually skipped a stone about a dozen times. I managed about 3, so I stopped looking over at them! I also have terrible aim. I may have missed the actual lake a couple of times.
It was quite a lovely drive and saw lots of sheep. We had to get petrol for the first time on our trip and we took so long to find the petrol cap release that the service attendant helped us do it. How embarrassing.
We had a massive amount of fish and chips for dinner on the shore of Earnslaw park after heading to the very gimmicky ice bar. I’ve never been in an ice bar before, but will probably not do it again any time soon. After dinner we had icecream (again!) and the husband kept trying to steal mine because I’ve a slow eater. I’ve gotta eat faster or else I’ll lose my food to him!
Day 4 – Queenstown
We had an action packed day today, but I didn’t take many photos because I didn’t take my camera out as it wasn’t really appropriate. I actually enjoyed just taking things in instead of worrying about taking photos.
We started with going on the Canyon Swing, which was so scary and made even scarier by the guys running the show because they really enjoyed psyching us out! I did the pin drop, which is where you stand on the side with hands behind your back, look down and jump to the side with nothing to stop you from falling. The free fall was scary as, but once the rope took hold, it was actually quite cool swinging over the river.
Next we went on the Shotover Jet, and our driver was insane. I can’t believe he came so close to the rocks, and it was cold on the river, but so much fun.
The last thing we did for the day was to go white water rafting, which was so much fun. We had to get dressed up in so much gear; wetsuits, boots, jackets, life jacket, helmet, little booties, and my arms were so tired at times, but it was really fun. I didn’t even get flipped out of the boat or anything, which I was expecting because I’m such a klutz.
At the end of the day when we got back into town we were so hungry we got 2 ice creams each and at them by the lake while watching the incredibly tame ducks.
We couldn’t be bothered going back out for dinner so we treated ourselves to room service. We ate so much, but it was good and worth it. I love little luxuries when we’re on holiday.
Day 3 – Te Anau to Queenstown
We drove back to Queenstown and enjoyed another great day of weather. We keep hearing about the rain in New Zealand, but apart from the tiny bit of drizzle on our first day, it’s been nothing but perfect. I don’t think I packed for this weather as I was expecting it to be much wetter and cooler.
We stopped off at a few lookouts, saw lots of cute sheep, drove through a red tussock grass reserve, which reminded me of something out of Dr Seuss. I can’t believe how clear and blue the water is around here. It’s so amazing.
We had lunch in Queenstown and took a wander around the gardens before meeting up with our guide for our Segway tour. Our guide, funnily enough, was from Adelaide. I’m beginning to notice that most people are on working holidays and we’ve met very few locals. I thought going on a Segway would be tough, but it was actually really easy and heaps of fun.
I have also discovered my new favourite New Zealand food, which is home made creme brulee fudge. It’s so amazing that I almost inhaled it, which my husband thought would be cute to name me the Greedy Fudge Monster.
When we went to check into our hotel, we were informed that they had overbooked the hotel because of a conference. However, we got upgraded to their sister hotel, which was nicer, better, and was closer to town. We don’t often have much luck, in fact lots of things that happen to us make me feel like we’re just a complete disaster, but this was pretty lucky.
We walked out to town for dinner and then had a walk along the shoreline after picking up some more fudge. Yes, it’s that good and highly addictive.
The photo of the day was taken at one of the lookouts on our drive. I’m pretty annoyed about that giant speck of dust on the sensor, but it can’t be helped and I’m not game enough to clean it myself, so there it will stay for the rest of the trip.
Day 2 – Te Anau to Milford Sound to Te Anau
We woke up to the view of beautiful snow capped mountains and after eating a simple breakfast of instant noodles, we headed out for the day to Milford Sound, which is actually a fjord and was just incorrectly named. I’m often not a fan of tours, but I’m glad we took a bus because it gave us some time to relax, and our bus driver was not only knowledgeable, but very funny.
The drive and the weather were beautiful and we stopped off at a couple of places along the way including mirror lakes, drank some fresh river water , and saw some kea birds, which love tearing bits of rubber off the bus. I couldn’t believe how tall the mountains were and photos just don’t do this place justice.
We went on a boat cruise on Milford Sound, had lunch, saw seals and penguins and enjoyed the view. It was very very windy and I had to concentrate very hard not to drop my camera. We got really close to some of the waterfalls and some of the people standing on the lower deck got drenched. I saw the skipper of the boat laughing. He thought it was hilarious and he did warn them that it would get wet.
I don’t know what it is about buses, but on the way back everyone was falling asleep. I don’t know if it’s the motion of the bus, the long day, or maybe even the bus fumes. I blame my travel sickness pills. For some reason the more motion I experience, the sleepier I get even though the pills have caffeine in them. It feels like being drugged with sleeping pills because it’s uncontrollable. The husband finds it hilarious to watch me try and fight the sleepiness and eventually give up.
Back in Te Anau we had some dinner, I had seafood and the husband had roast lamb, and went for a walk along the lakeside, which is where the photo was taken. I took more photos of rocks as well, but I thought I shouldn’t post photos of rocks for this whole trip!