Spaceship adventures in the South Island of NZ

Trip Start Jul 27, 2004
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Trip End Dec 13, 2006


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Friday, September 30, 2005

We arrived in Christchurch 2 weeks ago (after a ferry trip to Picton and a lucky hitchhike all the way down to Christchurch) and had a good night out with Nathan and the guys from Spaceships/Stray on the Thursday night. On Friday morning we picked up our Spaceship www.spaceships.tv and drove across to the west coast in the sunshine via Arthur's Pass (this is a gorgeous drive with lots of snow capped mountains and green rolling hills, forests etc...) to Barry'no'town where we met up with some of the people who had travelled with us on the Stray bus in the North Island.. was nice to catch up with them. The next day we headed north (in the rain) to Abel Tasman National Park (via the Pancake rocks and blow hole) and parked up our little spaceship near Marahau. The beaches were really golden and the sea was very blue and fortunately the sun was shining so we planned to go for a long walk the next day and had some yummy NZ lamb and morroccan couscous and enjoyed some wine and watched a DVD in the spaceship. Sunday morning we were greeted by lots of rain so we opted for plan B, to drive onto Nelson, then onto Kaikoura (on the east coat). In Nelson they have the 'World of Wearable Arts and Collector's Cars' museum and Paul and I had a great time wandering round having a look at the various costumes and bras that have won awards in the annual competition.. they were really spectacular.. for more info and pics see www.worldofwearableart.com (good inspiration for Textiles if you're a Food/Textiles teacher).
When we arrived in Kaikoura it was raining so we only stopped briefly, took a look at the fur seal colonies, then drove on the next day towards Dunedin along the east coast. We drove through snow and rain as a cold front had swept across the island, bringing Christchurch to a stand still (they had even closed the airport!!). We had a nice stop over in Waimate in a camping ground in the middle of nowhere which was great.. just us and the sheep!! On Tuesday we stopped at Oamara (where we were going to look for little blue penguins but they only come out at dusk) and we also stopped at Moeraki Boulders (some large round stones on a beach!) before visiting the Otago Peninsula (famous for it's wildlife and NZ's only castle). We battled through the wind and rain and crossed the sanddunes and the stream at Sandfly Bay to get to the hide from where we were able to see Yellow Eyed Penguins hopping down the steep hillside into the sea.. they were really funny to watch and well worth the effort to get there. The yellow eyed penguins are very rare (we saw 6 out of the 3000 left) so we felt very privileged to spot them (for free!!).
In Dunedin we treated ourselves to a very hot curry (Paul Oliver even you couldn't have managed it!!) and visited the museum which was really interesting.
After lots and lots of driving we decided that we were going to drive small amounts each day from now on so we stopped in a fab campsite in Gore (the Brown Trout Capital of the world (except it's not the season til October)) which was in the middle of the countryside so we were able to do some nice walks round there.
We drove to Lake Te Anau the next day which was pretty and we stopped by the riverside in our little Spaceship (freedom camping!!) before moving on the next day to Milford Sound which was our favourite place in the whole of the south island. We took an early morning cruise (only 14 people on our boat) and got free coffee and a muffin (much appreciated as it was very cold). The sun was shining and the water was clear and calm giving perfect reflections of the snow capped mountains surrounding the fiord.. it was sooooo beautiful (the pics won't do it justice).. we saw waterfalls cascading into the fiord and we also had 2 bottle nosed dolphins swimming along with the boat at one point.. it was a fab morning. After a lovely morning around Milford Sound we headed on towards Queenstown and passed by lots of lovely snow capped mountains, forests and lakes (very pretty) and stopped the night by the lake. When we arrived in Queenstown the next morning we had a relaxing picnic on the grass by the lake reading the weekend newspapers and enjoying the sunshine (it was lovely, and the red wine wasn't bad either!!). We met up with Jan and Chris at night (who we'd seen on the Stray bus in the north island) then on Sunday we took the Gondola up for a spectacular view of the Queenstown area and some fun rides on the luge at the top.... they should bring back the one at Alton Towers.. it was really fast (Paul and I had a race and I won!!!).
After Queenstown we went to Wanaka where we camped by the lake and had a romantic red thai curry with red wine in the sunset over the lake and the snow capped mountains... this was one of the nicest places we camped in.
We then visited Mount Cook, which was spectacular (even though it rained) and had a good walk into the Hooker Valley where we saw Glaciers and bright turquoise lakes.. it was so windy we had to take shelter behind a huge rock whilst munching on our picnic lunch.
After Mount Cook we took a slow return to Christchurch via Lake Tekapo, Fairlie (a very rural little village with a great bar/restaurant called the 'Old Library Cafe), Mount Hutt (ski resort although not much snow up there!!), Methven, Rakaia Gorge (bright turquoise river in a huge gorge with snow capped mountains in the background), and Lyttleton (where the original immigrants came to all those years ago, and they have good fush 'n' chups)....
We're now back in Christchurch to enjoy the 'englishness' (punting on the river avon) and to chill before heading to Melbourne in OZ on Monday.
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