New Zealand

Chapter 3 – New Zealand
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We arrived in Auckland, New Zealand this past Friday. Our first afternoon was consumed with logistics. Getting from the airport to the van rental place, going over our new groovy mobile with the rental company, getting groceries, unpacking and finally finding a place to camp for the night…..not too exciting but necessary.

The next morning we started making our way North along the East Coast. Our first stop was Shakespear Regional Park. It is just outside Auckland, and from one of the bays you can see the city off in the distance.

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Auckland from a distance

From the top of the of the park we were also able to get this cool shot of Cathy.

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I think we should get this one framed

One of the things we have noticed about driving this coastline is the rock spires out in the ocean. There are many of them along this beautiful coast, and during low tide I was able to snap this pic.

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One of the many cool sea spires we have seen so far

We ended up spending the night at a campground in Sandspit. As we checked into the campground we were hit with a rude awaking……it is summer here and everyone is off for the holidays…..the campgrounds are packed! Luckily they had a little piece of grass for us, and it all worked out for the night. The next morning we went for a hike at Ti Point to check out a climbing area. It had rained the night before, so we ended up getting pretty muddy and wet, but we did find the crag right on the water. Unfortunately, everything was wet, the tide was high so you couldn’t get to half the climbs…..and I’ll be honest….some of the bolts looked a little manky! ;-)

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The hike over might have been a little wet and muddy;-)

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One of the cool formations you could climb…..if it was low tide

We left Ti Point and headed for Goat Island to check out the some of the local snorkeling. It just wasn’t our day, because the weather was starting to roll in. It looked like a really cool place to hang out, but….another time.

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Goat Island

After Goat Island we made our way to Langs Beach. We have friends, Glen and Cherie, who use to live in Oxford, MD (near my mom and step-dad) who have since moved back to New Zealand and were spending their holidays with all their friends and family. We would like to say a huge thanks to Glen, Cherie, Mark, Mary, and all their family for hosting us……we had an awesome time! Mark and Mary’s house sits on a hill looking over the Langs Beach…….and the view is impressive to say the least.

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From left to right, Mark, Mary, Me, Cathy, Cherie, Glen

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Not a bad view from the living room!

While we were there I also gave boogy boarding a shot…….lets just say I need a little more practice. ;-) I think out of all the waves I tried to catch….I was 2 for 40!

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Tearing it up….well not really…this is a baby wave

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Yep….2 for 40….kind of a big deal!;-)

Today is New Years Eve here in New Zealand, and we started the day by making our way further North. We made our way along the coastline of the Bay of Islands, and ended up in Russel. Looking at our pictures from the day, we only got one really good one, unfortunately,……we promise to never let that happen again! ;-)

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Part of the Bay of Islands coastline

All is good from this side of the world. We just checked into the campground in Kerikeri. No big night for us…..both of us are pretty tired from the drive today, so Cathy is making a great dinner, followed by a movie on the laptop, then an early night…..maybe we are getting old……nah! We want to wish everyone out there a safe and Happy New Year…see everyone in 2013!

 

Northland
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We hope everyone’s 2013 is off to a good start. We had a great New Years day…..we slept in! Which was good to do for once without the hangover. Our first stop of the new year was Rainbow Falls, just outside Kerikeri. Not a bad way to start the year!

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Rainbow Falls

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Us and Rainbow Falls

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I was excited to start the new year;-)

We moved on from the falls and started making our way further North. The next stop was the small town of Mangonui. Beaufitul coastal town which also has one of the best Fish and Chips shops in New Zealand., so we had to stop and try…..we both agreed, it was nice to have some fresh fish and chips, and gave it two thumbs up.

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Fish and Chips in Mangonui….hmmm….yummy!

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The beautiful bay in Mangonui

Since we don’t have the time we did in Australia, and we really want to save a good chunk of time for the South Island, we decided to push hard this day and try and get all the way up to Cape Reinga. Cape Reinga is the Northern tip of the North Island, and it is where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. The views there are spectacular.

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West side of Cape Reinga

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Heading down to the lighthouse. The whitewater in the picture is where the Tasman sea and the Pacific Oceans are colliding

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Another view of Cape Reinga’s East side

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The Northern tip just beyond the lighthouse

As we started make our way back down the pennisula we decieded to stop off at the giant sand dunes of 90 mile beach. They are huge! A lot of people sand board on them, but we elected to just check it out. Good thing, cause you have to get yourself to the top, which I did (Cathy elected to stay down at the bottom….smart girl)…..and it is a slog!

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Giant sand dunes of 90 mile beach

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What you have to climb up to get to the top

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Looking down from the top at the smart girl!

We ended up crashing for the night in the small town of Dargaville. Just as we were pulling into town we got this shot of the hill around us….pretty cool.

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North Island countryside

The next morning we headed off with the intentions to get past Auckland. On our way, we saw a sign for Piroa Falls, and we swung the groovy mobile around to check it out. It was a little off the beaten track, but well worth the short hike in.

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Piroa Falls

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Us at Piroa Falls

After the falls we pushed on and finally hit Auckland. We headed into the city, mainly to find an outdoor store, so we could pick up some guidebooks. We were able to pick up a really good one for the South Island, and some local information on climbing in the North Island. We also hit up the Sky Tower, which is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. We don’t do too many of the touristy things, but we decided to give it a go, and got some good pictures of Auckland from the top.

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Sky Tower

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View of Auckland from the tower

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Cathy treading lightly at the top

From Auckland we headed to Wherapapa South. We were told this place had some decent climbing. Upong arrving, we checked in with the local shop, and sure enough the owner pointed us in the right direction. Off we went to get in a few routes before dark, and climbed until about 8:30 that evening on some great rock. Here are some pics from the afternoon.

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Cathy at the crag called Froggett Edge

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Looking down from one of the climbs

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At the end of the day heading back to the groovy mobile

The other nice part about climbing here is the campground. There really isn’t one, but the climbers have a good relationship with the primary school, so you are allowed to camp in the backyard of the school grounds for $4 per person, they offer a toilet, drinking water and a pool….sweet!!!

We woke today to some pretty crappy weather. We were hoping to climb again, but had to change our plans, so we headed off to check out Rotarua. Rotorua is located on Lake Rotorua, which has a small island in the middle of it. We spent the day checking out the thermal activity in the area, since there are a lot of volcanos in New Zealand.

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Thermal activity around Rotorua

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Boiling mud pools at Rotorua

We also took the gondola up Mt. Ngongotaha, which is a dormant volcano.  Other than the great views from the top, the other cool activity they offer when you arrive at the summit is luging! We signed up to give it a try and it was blast. I could only get one picture of Cathy luging near the bottom.

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Looking out over Rotorua from the top

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Cathy with her hairnet/helmet ready to luge!

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She made it!! All smiles near the bottom;-)

A cool thing happened as we were getting ready to head down the gondola. As we were making our way towards it I noticed this guys wearing an Ohio State jacket. Of course we said something, and sure enough he went there and lives in Columbus. Cathy instantly knew we had to get together with them for the O-H-I-O picture…..

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O H I O in Rotarua!

We ended the day checking out the thermal pools in the area. For a reasonable fee you can relax in the pools. I had never done this before….and it was relaxing! We wanted to get this blog post out, but to be honest….all I want to do is….zzzzzzzz. ;-) We have checked into a local campground here in Rotorua, and tomorrow we are going to try and get some more climbing in….hopefully the weather will cooperate. :-)

 

More North Island Adventure
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After leaving Rotorua and with the rain behind us we headed back for some more climbing in Wharepapa South area at a crag called Sheridan.  It was a gorgeous day and the climbing was really good.

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Sheridan Crag and a parking spot right in front!

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A view from the top, Sheridan Crag

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Climbing at Sheridan

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Hiking out of the crag through the grassy fields

We spent one more night at the Wharepapa South Primary School which offers their grounds to campers for $8/night, a great deal.

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Wharepapa South Primary School Campground

Our next stop was the town of Taupo, home to the great Lake Taupo, the largest fresh water lake in the southern hemisphere.  We drove through town to check it out and its a really cool town on the water with alfresco dining everywhere.

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Jamie with Lake Taupo and Mt Ruapehu in the background

Jamie’s friend Ben told us about a hole-in-one golf challenge that is held at the lake so we went to check it out and there was no delay in getting Jamie on the green to hit for a $10,000 prize.  They have a floating platform in the lake about 100 meters out with 3 holes, the red hole is regulation and the other two, white and blue, are bunker size holes at 30cm and 20cm wide.  The goal was to hit the ball in one of those holes.  A hole in one on the regulation hole is what wins you the $10,000, the other 2 holes offer prizes like a free buggy jump or free jet boat ride around the nearby river.  If you miss the holes but still hit the platform, you get a free ball.  We purchased a bucket of 15 balls and Jamie hit the platform nearly every time so he kept getting free balls but with all those chances, he wasn’t able to nail it : (  We were planning how to spend the $10,000 if he won!!

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Playing for $10,000 at Lake Taupo!

Just north of Lake Taupo is Huka Falls and the Aratiatia Dam which are both tourist attractions.  The dam releases water about 3 times per day at a rate of 90,000 liters per minute, the water rushes out of the dam and down the narrow river at such a speed it creates rapids.  It was a very interesting sight to see and there were about 100 tourist who showed up to watch.

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Aratiatia Dam prior to water release

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Aratiatia Dam after water is released

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Huka Falls

Now it was time to make the push toward Wellington to catch the ferry to the South Island so we would have at least 2 weeks to explore it.  We took a couple days to get down stopping off at some of the attractions on the way. Driving past the Tongariro National Park is what gave us our first sighting of the snow capped mountains Jamie remembers from his visit to NZ about 8 years ago.  Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu were the first peaks we passed and Mt Ruapehu is a ski mountain and resort but at the top is Crater Lake, the aftermath of its massive eruption in the 90′s which sent smoke and ash all across the country.    However, this particular mountain has been erupting regularly since the late 60′s and is the most active volcano in this volcanic region of NZ.  Here are some shots of this mountain range…

 

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Mt Ngauruhoe on the left, Mt Ruapehu on the right

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A closer look at Mt Ruapehu

Wanganui was our stopping point for the night and this town is set along the Wanganui River so again, another cool town.  We camped outside of town at Castlecliff Beach.  It was a nice campground right by the beach so we jogged there and then had some fun in the nearby playground.  Jamie can’t control himself when a Flying Fox is nearby!

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The Flying Fox, made for kids, enjoyed by adults

The following morning we made our way to the top of Drurie Hill for 180 degree views of the city.  This hill is more famous for the tunnel and elevator which gets you there.  The historic elevator is actually inside a shaft which was drilled into the hill and for $2 you can ride it.  This website gives it a good description:

http://geekygetaways.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/wanganui-nz-durie-hill-tunnel-elevator/

At the top of Drurie hill is a tower with an observation deck.

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Tunnel to the $2 historic elevator to Drurie Hill Lookout

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Or you can take the stairs up, lots of them!

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View from the top of Drurie Hill overlooking Wanganui and the Wanganui River

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Having some fun up in the observation tower

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We arrived in Wellington and had a good workout at the indoor climbing gym then made camp at a National Park outside of town, our camp spot at Rimutaka Forest Park

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Camp spot at Rimutaka Forest

Our final day on the North Island was a day in Wellington, first stop Mount Victoria. Mt Vic offers very impressive 360 views of Wellington and the surrounding ocean, it is a must see for visitors to this area

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Views of Wellington from Mt Victoria

The rest of the day we walked around the city visiting the Parliament House, Te Papa Museum and finally a drink on the harbor.

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Parliament House, Wellington

There are no campgrounds in Wellington and the nearest ones are about 30-40 minutes outside the city.  Luckily we found the Wellington Waterfront Motorhome Park right in the middle if the city.  For $50/night you get to park right next to the ferry terminals and get a hot shower and toilets.  Not too shabby.  This location kind of reminded me of tailgating at a Steelers game!

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Inner city living in down town Wellington

South Island, here we come…..

 

p.s. In the gallery section of the blog we have a New Zealand section now!

 

Start of the South Island
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To get to the South Island with our groovy mobile we needed to catch the Interislander Ferry from Wellington. This is by far the largest ferry either one of us had been on, it holds 200 cars. While on our way to the South Island we were lucky enough to get a picture of the other Interislander Ferry heading to the North Island……so you could imagine us being on it!

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Interislander Ferry

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Groovy Mobile all loaded up and ready to go

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One of the many awesome views from the ferry on the way over to the South Island

Once we landed in Picton we started making our way towards the Northwest of the Sorth Island. There are some more direct highways that get you there, but we elected to take the Queen Charlotte Road, which is the scenic way……and the curvy way! Here are some pics we got along the drive.

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Awesome views from along the highway

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Enjoying the day!

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Cathy at one of the stop off points called Cable Bay

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Hawkes Lookout….pretty cool!

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From Takaka Hill….not bad!

We ended up spending the night in a little town called Takaka. One of the reasons we headed this direction to start the South Island is just outside this town is one of the South Islands best sport climbing crags called Paynes Ford. We woke the next morning and hiked in to check it out. The climbing is on limestone, but different than any limestone I had climbed on before. We were able to spend a good part of the day on a few of the classics.

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Cathy on the climb Temples of Stone

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We are in New Zealand…of course I had to climb this climb….it is called Bilbos Great Adventure!

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After climbing the classic climb Rawhide, which climbs out this giant roof…cool moves!

After we both were worn out we decided to spend the rest of the day checking out part of Abel Tasman National Park. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the best so we only got a couple of pics.

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Looking out over a small part of Abel Tasman National Park

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While driving in the park’s mountains this was TomTom’s view….not a road to be found…….you could say we were officially off the grid;-)

The next morning we came to the realization of how spoiled we were in Australia, because we wanted to go climbing again at Paynes Ford, but it was raining. The whole time we were in Australia it rained maybe three days during our trip. New Zealand on the other hand…..well as you can tell from the pictures….it is green….really green, which means it rains more! No big deal, it just means we need to start paying more attention to the weather. We decided to make it a driving day and push further South and start making our way down the West coast.

We finally made it Westport and as luck would have it….it stopped raining. We decided that before we checked into our campspot for the night we would check out the local seal colony. The colony is located on a beautiful coastal hike. We were able to see a few, including some pups, but a lot of them were hidden in the rocks.

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Momma seal lounging on the rocks

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On the hike to see the seals

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Trying to look down and see more seals

Today we woke to some better weather and so we started heading down the West Coast. The drive down the coast from Westport is awesome! We both agreed it could rival The Great Ocean Road in Australia.

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Just starting the West coast and we were impressed

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Cathy and more of the beautiful West Coast

One of the highlights are the blowholes at Pancake Rocks. It is a pretty short hike around this area, but there are so many interesting formations and things to see. As you are hiking around you hear these loud rushing noises, and you can’t quite see into some of the holes, but it really seems like a blowhole of whale in way.

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Part of Pancake Rocks

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The largest blow hole was something to see

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More of Pancake Rocks

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One of the many channels carved by the water

After some lunch we pushed on further South and ended up a Franz Josef Glacier. We had heard of this as one of New Zealand’s great sights to see, and we were excited about checking it out. Unfortunately, once again, mother nature shut us down. Due to the heavy rains they have been getting here in the South Island they closed part of the hike up to the glacier because of flooding. We made the most of it though, and we were still able to get a few cool pics.

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Unfortunately, this is as close as we could get

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Franz Josef Glacier…..zoomed in on with the camera!

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Cool shot from the Peter’s Pond near the glacier

We were both a little disappointed we couldn’t get closer, but all is not lost. We have moved further down the coast and stopped at Fox Glacier for the night. Hopefully the weather is going to clear overnight, and we are going to check it out early tomorrow morning. If all goes well we should have some better glacier pics for the next post! ;-)

 

Fox Glacier to Wanaka
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The Franz Joseph Glacier shut us out due to the weather but a bit further south the Fox Glacier was much more inviting.  Both Glaciers have their own villages and offer all the same adventure activities but Fox Glacier was a bit more inviting as the valley floor was within walking distance from the village, it’s a bit smaller, a bit quieter and much more accessible.

The night before we planned to explore the glacier we spent the night camping at the Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park, by far the nicest campground we’ve come across, with awesome view of the snow caps!

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Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park, a favorite

There are two access roads to the Fox Glacier, one on the north side and one on the south side, we rode up both since we were able to access the hike to the valley floor of the glacier on the north side but it was the south side and about 2 miles up the road where we found the most stunning view of the mountain peaks filled with ice and snow.

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South side view of Fox Glacier on Glacier View Rd

We caught some other good shots of the glacier from different angles on the north side valley walk….

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Start of the valley floor track into Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier Valley Floor

Without a professional guide we could only get as far as we did in this picture below.  It may look like a dirty construction site in the photo but it was pretty cool to see and we could only imagine what the top looked like…

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Base of Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

Way back when we visited Glen and Cherie at Langs Beach they all made a lot of recommendations for us as we traveled through New Zealand.  One of them was to eat some Whitebait Fritters along the west coast of the south island, a New Zealand delicacy if you will.  Whitebait looks like a mix of sardines and anchovies but here in NZ it is a different type of fish.  They fry the whitebait into an omelette and serve it between 2 slices of bread, with a bucket of chips lunch was served! Very salty but worth trying.

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Half way through our Whitebait fritter sandwich

The rest of the afternoon we spent driving south toward Wanaka which offered us our next opportunity to climb.  Jamie and I are moving to NZ (one day), it’s been decided because we came upon the awesome town of Wanaka, just north of Queenstown.  Wanaka is the jewel we’ve been looking for with all the right ingredients; big beautiful lake for all your water sports, incredible mountain ranges surrounding the town with awesome ski resorts, a climbing crag that offers the best access, great rock and really fun routes, hiking, biking and running trails galore and a town not too big but not too small with an array of bars, pubs and restaurants, everything is within reach and all within a short drive.  Here are some pics of our future home……maybe when we retire!!

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First views of the Wanaka region after passing Mount Aspiring National Park

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Lake Wanaka, this is right in the middle of town!

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Standing in the middle of down town Wanaka with the snow caps behind

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One of the many breath taking views just outside of Wanaka

We had a great morning exploring this cool town and then spent the afternoon climbing at Wanaka just minutes down the road.  We started at Roadside Attraction crag which had really great routes and the best approach ever, we parked on the side of the road and crossed the street, that’s it, rope up and climb, my kind of crag!

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Jamie hanging out at ‘Roadside Attraction’ crag

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Jamie waiting for me as I climb up the Main Wall

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Impressive views from the top of all the Wanaka routes

Next stop is Queenstown, the “adventure capitol of the world”…..

 

Queenstown
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Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world, and it definitely lives up to that claim. We rolled into town a couple of days ago, and spent the day hanging around the village, getting grocery shopping done for the week, signing up for a couple of things, and doing a little sight seeing. The mountains around the town are really impressive….I guess that is why they call them The Remarkables! Here are some pics of our first day around town.

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Looking out over the Queenstown area from Coronet Peak

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Just outside the town, the lake is called Lake Wakatipu (and no, I did not just make that up!;-)

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More of the mountains around Queenstown

Our second day was just one activity after another. We woke at 7am to head down and do a Jetboat ride on the Shotover river. Neither of us had ever ridden in a jetboat before, and it was a blast. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take a camera with you….liability reasons, so we got some shots afterwards of the boats after us flying through canyon. Check it out.

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As you shoot up the river they get pretty close to the rocks

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Real close!

As soon as the jetboat ride was finished we literaly just walked over to the next prevision to get ready for some whitewater rafting. Even though it is summer here, the Shotover River is still pretty cold, 6 degrees C, so luckily they bundle you up in plenty of neoprene! Unfortunately, once again and for obvious reasons we couldn’t take a camera with us, but we can say we had a blast! They have had so much rain this season our guide said the river hasn’t run this high since the 70s. It was running so high, that at one point everyone had to get out of the boat, and walk over land past a section of rapids they would not run with people in it. Good thing, cause they sent the boats down roped up, and then we are suppose to get in and continue on. Well, one of the boats flipped and got wrapped around a rock, and it took the guides and hour to free it…….good thing no one was in it!

After we finished up rafting we headed back to our camp spot next to the Shotover river to get cleaned up and had some lunch. It was a great spot right in the mountains over Queenstown.

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Looking out from our camp spot

After lunch we headed out to Wye Creek for some climbing. We had heard there was some really good climbing there, and there was……so much so that we ended up climbing until 9pm! (you got to love the long days in New Zealand)

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Cathy cranking one of the classic climbs at Wye Creek

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This is called Monkey Roof, and it has some really fun climbs

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Some of the climbs are pretty tall….rope stretchers!

Not only is the climbing good…..Wye Creek ranks right up there in the top 5 places I have ever climbed as far as scenery. You hike past these awesome waterfalls on the way up, and you look out over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. When you look around from the top of some of the climbs you are just in amazement. Here are some more pics of what you see when you look out from the the crag.

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Cathy on the hike in to Wye Creek

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One of the waterfalls you hike over on your way to the main wall

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All smiles after an afternoon of cranking….Monkey Roof in the background

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The view looking out from the main cliff is just impressive!

By the time we got back to our campsite it was after 10pm….to say we were exhausted would have been an understatement!  We slept well. ;-)  Next adventure….Milford Sound.

 

Milford Sound
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We left Queenstown heading for Milford Sound. We had heard a lot of good things about Milford Sound, and we were anxious to check it out. Once again though, the weather on the drive down was not cooperating. However, Milford Sound is so impressive….even rain can’t take away from the jaw dropping scenery. Here are some pics from the drive in.

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The flats before the fiord

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Mirror Lakes

The rain was coming down so hard it was creating all these mini-waterfalls all over the mountains.

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Mother nature doing her thing

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More waterfalls streaming down the walls

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Even more waterfalls

To see all the sights of the fiord you need to take a boat cruise around it, which we were scheduled for the next morning. We arrived at our campsite the evening before, and since it was pouring rain, we ended up spend the rest of the evening having a Lord of the Rings marathon ;-) The next morning luck was on our side, the clouds started to part and we were able to really enjoy the cruise around the fiord. Both of us agreed…..Milford Sound has to be one of the most spectacular places we have seen so far in New Zealand, and for anyone coming here…..it should be a must do! There isn’t much more to say, but show you the pictures….we think they speak for themselves, so we decided to put up a bunch for this post.

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Our Campsite at Milford Sound the morning after the rain stopped

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Lady Bowen, the boat we cruised on around Milford Sound

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Heading out into the fiord

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Enjoying the cruise

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Enjoying the morning…..Stirling Falls over my shoulder

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Close up of Stirling Falls

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What remains of one of the glaciers that formed Milford Sound

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Seals at Copper Point

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The falls are from all the rain we had the night before, they usually aren’t there

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Bowen Falls

One of the highlights of Milford Sound is seeing Mitre Peak. They say it is the worlds largest mountain to grow out of the sea. At the start of the cruise clouds were covering the peak, but by the time we ended they had just moved off enough for Cathy to snap this shot.

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Mitre Peak

We are now making the turn towards Christchurch (where we have to turn the van in), but still many things to see! We can’t believe we only have 5 days left in the groovy mobile before heading to Thailand……time does fly when you are having fun! ;-)

 

Christchurch
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Milford Sound turned out to be one of the most amazing places we’ve been to in New Zealand but as always, we had to move on. We made our way back up through Queenstown and then on to Wanaka, our new favorite town. So we stayed for a bit. We climbed a bit more in Wanaka before heading out again.

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Working a route at the Little Big Wall, Wanaka

Our first stop after Wanaka was Aoraki/Mt Cook, the highest summit in New Zealand at 3,754 meters. Unfortunately, we had rain all day so never actually set eyes on the summit, too many clouds, but we did get some good shots in and around Mt Cook.

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View on the way into Mt Cook

The historic Hermitage Hotel at Mt Cook is home to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center and Museum so this turned out to be our highlight. It was definitely cool to see such a tribute to this legendary Kiwi!

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Statue of Sir Edmund in front of the Hermitage

Since the weather was so bad we moved right on and stopped in Lake Tekapo for a quick visit to the old stone Church of the Good Shepard.

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Church of The Good Shepard, Lake Tekapo

There was also a bronze statue just next to the church paying tribute to the sheep dogs for all their hard work and contribution to the farming industry back in the day!

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Sheep dog statue!

The rain finally called it quits on our way out of Lake Tekapo, so we were able to capture a few good shots from the road side.

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Lake Tekapo

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Perfect shot of this area, one of the canals, Lake Tekapo, and the surrounding mountains

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Wildflowers and Lake Tekapo

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Pulled over for this shot while driving past Lake Pukaki

Just outside of Christchurch is a place called Castle Hill which is a field of boulders and rock walls. It’s mainly a tourist attraction but also home to some of the best bouldering in New Zealand. Jamie and I are not big into bouldering but thought it would be a cool stop for a circuit workout on the boulder problems and see for ourselves what everyone has been talking about. Here are a bunch of shots form Castle Hill.

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Castle Hill from a distance

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Amazing boulder field, Castle Hill

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Castle Hill

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Jamie working some boulder problems

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Hiking through Castle Hill

We finally made it to Christchurch, our last stop in New Zealand. We checked into a swanky little caravan park on the east side of the city for our last 3 nights in country. We spent those last days checking out the city, climbing and winding down our visit to NZ.  Christchurch experienced quite a few serious earthquakes over the span of just a year between 2010 and 2011 which destroyed so much of the city center. Many of the streets are still closed down and the rebuilding effort is everywhere. We managed to drive through a bit of down town and saw the evidence of the worst natural disaster they’ve experienced since the 30′s.

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Entering the central business district, Christchurch

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Remnants of a building that had to be taken down

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This building has cracks up the entire side of it, pretty scary

We made a day trip to the Banks Peninsula, south of Christchurch, to a town call Akaroa. This was another recommendation from Glen and Cherie. The drive there was impressive and the town was at one time a french settlement and the town retains some of that French charm. We had lunch on the wharf. It was a sleepy little town but worth the visit.

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Views on the drive into Akaroa

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Lunch at Bully Hayes, Akaroa

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The pier, Akaroa

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A shot of the Akaroa harbor on our way out

There is a large concentration of climbing available for the locals within the city limits or just outside so we checked out a few crags, the ones that were not destroyed by rock fall from the earthquakes.

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Climbing cliffs at Christchurch

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This is what is left of Castle Cliff which was pretty much destroyed by the earthquakes

We went to Cattlestop Crag first and it was COLD! Jamie ran a bunch of laps on a few classics and that was it, we headed out. Maybe it was the weather or maybe it was the crew of men working on the cliff next to us cleaning off all the loose rock by drilling it out. You would be in the middle of a route when all of the sudden you would hear the crash of all this rock falling down the mountain, all a result of the earthquakes, but a little bit intimidating : o

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Men were working on this cliff right next to us cleaning rock

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Wrapping up our climbing session when some friends showed up

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Cattlestop Crag

We hoped to climb once more outside but settled instead for an indoor workout at a local climbing gym in Christchurch. We spent our last day cleaning out and turning in the van, having lunch out, and then settling into our hotel for the night. We’ve got an early flight to catch in the morning and a long journey to Thailand. New Zealand has been everything we hoped for and more. We will certainly return to this beautiful country one day but for now, we are on to the next chapter.

 

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