More exploration of the cold South
16.06.2010 - 23.06.2010
We got lucky and had our four bed dorm to ourselves, it was a bloody cold room though and a really long walk to the toilet. We were booked onto a cruise at 9.55am which would last until 12ish. The weather was good as was our guide which always makes for a better experience. He drove the boat under one of the waterfalls and we placed a cup underneath it so we could taste the water. It was surprisingly tasty if a little on the earthy side. After this we saw yet more dolphins with one swimming right under the bow of the boat and turning round to show us its belly! Then of course there was the colony of seals to see…!
Once the cruise was over we decided that we were Milforded out and so set off along the scenic road. This time, however, we had acquired a passenger – a German guy who was hitchhiking and had been very forward in asking for a ride the night before. He hadn’t even told us his name which is perhaps why it still eludes me now! The highlight of the journey has to be Kristian getting frustrated because the guy didn’t know the one German word Kristian knows – the word for protractor! This led onto Jo attempting to draw which just seemed to confuse matters more which is perhaps to be expected with her awful drawing skills! This helped to pass the time of the drive anyway which wasn’t quite so interesting a second time in so many days. The remainder of the day then got sucked into scrapbooking.
For Thursday we had booked a full day trip to Doubtful Sound. We got picked up at 8.45am with our packed lunch which contained an excessive amount of food – it had been a last minute rush job therefore everything got thrown in. The bus took us to Manpouri from where we had to catch a boat across the lake. This took about 50 minutes and we were dropped at a visitors centre while the driver went to collect the bus for the next leg of the journey along a road which is only accessible by water. Before this through we were learning about the power station which creates 14% of New Zealand’s electricity. Once he had returned with the bus we drove 3km underground so that we could see the power station itself. The tunnel was quite amazing and we were warned that (ironically) the most likely thing which could go wrong was a power-cut! We met our tour guide, Frank, who took us into the main room and told us the history of how it has come to be there etc. We also saw the most amazing photo of when they had been setting the final explosion for the tunnel; there had been more dynamite than needed and it had blown off everyone’s hardhats! The photographer had caught the moment at the perfect moment when the hats were about two inches off everybody’s heads!
After this strange little galavant into the world of hydro-electricity we were back in the bus for another hour of so. Now we were driving through the rainforest and caught our first glimpse of the fiord – it was huge and mystical looking as there was a haze of cloud floating over it.
Then it was time to board the next boat of the day which would house us for the next 3-4 hours and had the most chocolate orange cookies! Doubtful Sound was amazing – so much wilder and more awe inspiring than Milford had been. It is also much bigger at 44km long. Some of the sides are so incredibly sheer and yet somehow still have a wealth of trees growing on them although the land is marked with scars from landslides. It is just the most fascinating place to swallow such a fascinating landscape. The boat took us right out to the Tasman Sea where we saw yet more dolphins and seals – we are beginning to feel like they are following us around as it is apparently quite rare to see them in the Sounds/Fiords!
We were both ridiculously tired after the day’s travelling and sightseeing and as a result we ended up staying another night in Te Anau – three nights somewhere where there is very little – instead of doing the two hour drive to Invercargill.
We set off for Curio Bay finally on Friday morning and weren’t especially sad to be leaving. As we were now heading off in the daytime we took the longer and prettier Southern Scenic Route down and along the coast. We dawdled along taking in the sights and stopped at Blue Cliff Beach for a wander and to look for pretty stones! Next stop was at McKracken’s Rest where we took a highly unattractive photo of us both with our bum cracks showing – apparently it’s the done thing here!
Then we eventually arrived in Curio Bay mid afternoon. We fond the backpackers and read the board to discover that two cats would be our hosts with instructions to move in and make ourselves at home. It was a lovely, cosy little cottage right on the beach and we chose to stay in the room at the front. The room had two walls of windows with doors opening out onto the beach – true bliss! It was even more fantastic than our hut in Fiji had been!
We went in search of bread and milk before heading to the Petrified Forest. This is where an entire forest has been flooded and then covered in ash to then be turned into fossils millions of years later. It is really fascinating as you can actually see the grains of the wood and it looks like it should be wood/bark. It is only when you touch it that you discover it is actually solid stone; very strange indeed.
We watched yet another amazing sunset from here and then hung around for dusk in the hope of glimpsing some yellow eyed penguins. These are incredibly rare, with only 6000 or so left and can only be found in New Zealand. We sat and waited patiently and were in luck! Soon three penguins were waddling up the beach towards us. They moved slowly and took lots of breaks but were very funny to watch: they looked like three little old men. We sat and admired them until we were too cold before heading back to the cottage.
Once there we got a fire going which made the place feel even more homely and most certainly warmed us up! Unfortunately another couple turned up so we didn’t have the place to ourselves but it was still by far the best place we have stumbled upon so far. We were both pretty bummed that we had no more cash (with there being no ATM for miles and miles) otherwise we definitely would have stayed another night.
Anyway this wasn’t to be and after a very peaceful night’s sleep and explore along the beach we were on the road to Dunedin. Before getting too far we stopped at New Zealand’s Niagra Falls which had obviously been named by someone with a great sense of humour!
Our next stop was to see the more impressive and picturesque Purakanui Falls which are a tiered waterfall. It was on the walk to these that Kristian managed to slip on a step and dirty his hands and knees, sill thing!
Our only other stop was at Jack’s Bay where we ate lunch on the beach and took a half hour walk to Jack’s Blowhole. This was an impressive piece of landscape, 200m inland and 68m deep! You certainly wouldn’t have wanted to fall down there…
We then continued onwards to Dunedin realizing ¾ of the way there that it was rugby night; All blacks vs Wales in the last ever test match to be played at Carisbook. It wasn’t until we arrived that we understood the implications this would have on us; trying to find a bed for the night was a bloody nightmare! We tried at least four places before having to settle at a hostel where we had to stay for two nights with beds in separate dorm rooms. And these beds were lucky! Our choice was either this, a 4 hour drive to Queenstown or sleeping in the car . Needless to say we took the room but it was a nice enough hostel at least. We didn’t have any food and couldn’t be bothered with the supermarket so took the expensive option for eating. Having found a bar serving food we settled down in order to watch the rugby. Our chicken, chorizo and rocket pizza came quickly and the bar gradually filled up the closer it got to kick off. It was a good match with Wales looking the stronger team to start with before the All Blacks found their confidence and completely mullered Wales! Until we wouldn’t realize until a later trip this was to be a very expensive 24 hours – not only did we get a parking ticket but also a speeding fine! Doh!!!!
At least we could lay in since we were staying for two nights. Well that was the theory but in practice Kristian chose it to be a day to be alive and energetic first thing in the morning. So he made himself useful and went off to the supermarket to acquire us some breakfast. Once our bellies were full with bacon sandwiches and our eyes had taken their fill of the morning papers, we set off for a daylight explore of Dunedin. We wound up taking a visit to Cadbury World. Our guide had a distinctively English accent despite supposedly being a Kiwi and it turned out he’d lived in Kristian’s part of London for many years. He was a rather enthusiastic old man in the most amazing purple dungarees! He gave us some interesting New Zealand style chocolate including a marshmallow fish and chocolate covered banana stuff. The tour was shortened since it was the weekend so we wouldn’t get to go into the factory but we learnt all about how they make the chocolate. We also learnet all about a Kiwi favourite – Jaffas – which we stills haven’t had the opportunity to taste although they do sound amazing!
We were taken up a tunnel to see a ton of chocolate be dropped in a waterfall like fashion which was purely and simply a tourist attraction. More a waste of some damn good chocolate if you ask me! The good thing though was that we got to taste some yummy liquid chocolate before an opportunity to win more chocolate! We both managed to get a couple of questions right which spelt the end of our tour. We had a photo in the old fashioned car and bought a bouncy ball from the gift shop as you do at a chocolate factory!
We were feeling rather fat by now and though we should work off the chocolate by climbing the steepest street in the World. First of all though we thought we’d test our little car and drive up it. We didn’t think she would make it but fortunately for us she did – coming down was a little hairy though! We started out climb and it was easier than you would have expected. All in all it made a rather enjoyable interlude to the day – even more so because it was free!
The remainder of the day was remarkably chilled out – just as a Sunday should be. But we did manage to do two things we had been putting off: food shopping and getting Kristian’s haircut!
We left Dunedin on Monday morning and set off on the long drive to Queenstown. It was a fairly lengthy drive compared to most around NZ but we were there by 2ish. We booked into a hostel then went in search of the amazing mini golf Kristian raves about any time anyone mentions any form of golf. It was just a five minute walk away over a waterlogged rugby pitch-nice! The first hole was set in an airport which involved striking the ball through a plane before potting it. Other highlights included: a castle; a ski hill complete with ski lift which the ball rode to the top before “skiing” down the mountain; a volcano; a river rafting course where the ball came down the rapid; a rollercoaster and a candyshop which you got a lolly from when you potted your ball. Kristian lost the game which he is still feeling bitter about! Haha. It was close though with Jo scoring 87 and Kristian 92 – it’s just a shame that par was 68!!!
Having enjoyed our lollies we went for a wander round the town to see what was going on. We bough a set of travel chess (geeks) and settled in a cosy bad where we played a game (Jo won again so it wasn’t just a fluke!) and watched the NZ vs Italy game from the night before. After leaving the car we found another fudge making Remarkable Sweet Shop and fell for their tasting tactics – this time we fell for the lemon meringue version. With fudge in hand we realized that we were hungry, therefore it was time to pay a visit to the infamous and mighty Fergburge. We both order a Tropical Swine which consisted of burger, bacon, cheese, pineapple, lettuce, relish and aioli. The air between us was silent until we had both devoured the huge monstrosities – they just tasted so damn good! The burgers are so good and soooooo big that they are more than you need but it feels criminal to leave any!
With our tummies very full we meandered back to the hostel via the off license where we picked up some vodka. Once at the hostel we had a couple of drink and used the internet before heading back into town. We hit the World Bar and bough a teapot full of Smoochable. As it sounds this was a very sickly drink which we had to drink from shot glasses. We didn’t stay too long once we had finished this sickly drink and like everywhere it was rather quiet. We considered going elsewhere but everywhere was equally dead so we headed back to the hostel to warm up in bed.
Tuesday took us back to Wanaka where we had a super chilled out day. Kristian played football with some guys from the hostel that weren’t very good but it was good to have a kick around none the less. Once he was done we had a moment of insanity and decided to jump in the lake. Not altogether advisable in the middle of Winter! It was bloody bold and completely took your breath away when you hit the water – exhilarating though. Was a very strange feeling as you turned all tingly with warmth afterwards but we were very thankful to jump in a warm shower back in the room!
After cooking chilli for tea we were off to Wanaka’s “must see” cinema to watch “The Hurt Locker”. The cinema is really cool and full of comfy sofas with a yellow Moris Miner at the side! Lovely and homely. We enjoyed some homemade ginger cookie crunch ice cream and a freshly cooked, warm chocolate chip cookie in the interval. Was strange having an interval at the cinema but a welcome relief from the intensity of the film!