The End

The End
Our last day and we have to turn in the rental car, but 1st drop the luggage at the hotel; it’s next door so no problem. The car was being checked and I got some questions about the computer malfunctioning mentioned a few weeks ago, further no comments everything is ok. So after 5700 km of driving at the left side of the road, I’ll have to change back to drive at the right side of the road again. We will see how that goes….
We visited the Antarctic world, a theme park about the South pole where a number of things can be done; see the penguins, experience a storm at -27 C, do a trip with a hagglund snow mobile.
We went back to the hotel and checked in and left for the city by bus.
The 1st stop we saw is the museum so we hop off and spent some time in the museum. After the museum we went further to the city center, walked around a bit and went for dinner, the restaurant is the Little Indian. Then we went back with the bus to the hotel. A woman sees us looking at the map for the nearest bus stop, she says a 100 m further is a bus stop, but she’s not certain which one. We went there and it was not the one we needed, so took some time to find the correct one and finally got back to the hotel.
In the hotel we started repacking our suitcases to get some weight over in the hand luggage. After this we went to the bar for a final beer in NZ and went to bed.

After breakfast Paul came to the hotel to say goodbye and we went to the airport to check-in (total of the suitcases was 46 kilo’s, no comment and luckily they didn’t weighed the hand luggage). We had a coffee with Paul at the airport and said goodbye.

Good bye New Zealand, hope to come back again!
We had a nice holiday (with some rain), met a lot of people, did see a large part of New Zealand; saw more than even some of the Kiwi’s did.
We want to thank again all the family we met and took care of us, everywhere we came we were very welcome and it felt really like family.
Thanks, you made this a memorable trip for us.

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Again a travel day, we are going to Paul and Jackie in Rangiora, just above Christchurch. We did a little bit of sightseeing on the way up; we visited the Mouraki boulders these are big rocks formed like a ball with a diameter of 1 to 2 meters. These balls are formed by erosion of wind and water.
And had a bit of lunch in Templeton, a very quiet town and as it was a Saturday most of the shops closed at noon. So it took some time to find a place for lunch.
We arrived at 4:30 pm in Rangiora and met with Paul, Jackie, Adam and Jordan and Spike (the dog). Paul works close to a salmon factory and had a nice piece of salmon for on the bbq. So dinner was again excellent, we really have to start some work-out when we’re back in Holland.

Paul shows us some highlights of Christchurch: New Regent Street (nice colored houses, a bit like the houses in Curacao), the Cathedral and Cathedral square, the gondola and we had a bit of lunch in the gondola café. So we decided to have a walk outside and walked a bit downhill to the memorial monument. After this we thought going back to the gondola was as far as going down to the base station. It was a very warm day and it was still a bit further than expected, but we managed it.
Paul thought we deserved a beer for this achievement and we went to Governor’s bay for a beer. After this it was time to go back for dinner, we had a nice steak on the bbq. After dinner Paul and I continued with the bottle of whisky we started yesterday :-) .

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Dunedin continued
Dot & Dave are back in Dunedin as well so we meet with them for a cup of tea, after tea we go to the Albatross colony at the Otago peninsula. It was a very scenic drive to the colony, once there we didn’t see any albatrosses. So we decided to have a guided tour where you can see some of the breeding albatrosses. There were only a few nests, but it was nice to see them. The other ones weren’t there and we wouldn’t probably see them flying because there was to less wind. Later we walked down to the beach and see a number of seals; one was a few meters from us in the water showing off and hoping we take some pictures. Probably not satisfied he comes out of the water just at our feet, so we had to make some room for him ;-)
We get back to Dunedin and Dot shows us some of the highlights: the steepest street, the railway station and their shoe factory. The factory was still closed for the holiday, but there were workers busy to put on a new roof. That evening we had dinner at the Mckinlay’s, drink a few wines too many so we take the taxi back to the motel.
Next morning Dave picked me up to get back our car and we leave Dunedin.

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Left Manapouri and on our way to Invercargill, we took the scenic route as always and stop if we see anything interesting. First stop is an old suspension bridge in Clifden, the bridge itself is closed but it is still there. So we made a photo and left. Next stop is where the road hits the coast for the first time, again some pictures and on we go.
We see some trees tortured by the prevailing wind and have to take a picture. Half an hour later we stop at Riverton for a coffee and at the wall hangs a picture of similar trees! After this we proceed to Invercargill, stop here at the i-site and ask for accommodation, we get a hotel at Kelvin Street. One of the 1st shops if we leave the hotel is: Mc Kinlay shoes ;-) (Dot & Dave).
We check in the hotel and leave for Bluff, the bottom of the South Island. (12/1/11 correction seems that Slope Point is the most southern point). So we did now both islands from top to bottom, but as all New Zealanders know it’s not the bottom of New Zealand. I think only a minority outside New Zealand knows that New Zealand consists of 3 major islands: North, South and Stewart Island and a large number of small islands. Stewart Island is really the bottom of New Zealand, but we are not going there, so Bluff is as far as we go.
The rest of the afternoon we spend in the Queens Park, this is a very large park in in Invercargill. Dinner is fish and chips, the fish is the well-known blue cod and it was very nice.

Hey it’s raining a bit, feels like normal again ;-) . We go to the museum it’s free and inside. They have a nice collection and we spent a few hours here, they have also a number of tuatara’s (one of the oldest reptiles still alive), but we see only the head of Henry (the oldest 115 years) and a baby tuatara. There should be 90 reptiles, but it was too cold (we were told), so they staid under the ground.
In the afternoon we went for sightseeing on the Catlins (an area at the coast between Invercargill and Dunedin), a few of the viewpoint are tide limited.
The 1st tourist attraction we visited is the Petrified Forest to be visited at low tide, here are parts of an old forest which are completely petrified (it is stone but still with the structure of wood). After a quick lunch we went to the Cathedral caves, also only accessible at low tide, these are caves which are quite high, but the entrance floods by high tide. After a walk through the forest and over the beach (approx. 40 min.) we saw the entrance of the cave, very impressive. Next we went the McLean Falls; the waterfall is very nice and quite high. We got there after a walk through the forest approx.30 min. At our way back to Invercargill we visited Slope Point. This seems to be the most southern point of the South Island, the sea is quite rough and when the waves hit the rocks the water splashes meters high, very impressive. We got there after a walk through the paddocks of approx. 20 min.
Next and last stop is at the Waipapa Point, here’s a lighthouse and also sea lions can be expected. The lighthouse was there, but no sea lions :-( .
Back to Invercargill and we had a late dinner, we went to the Kiln and ordered the sea food special; this was a large tablet with seafood chowder, Blue Cod, salmon, prawns and green lipped mussels. It was really very nice. It was a long and a very nice day.

Catlins continued, we are leaving Invercargill and heading to the Purakaunui Falls. The waterfalls are quite nice and easy to visit. After this we went to Nugget point, also a place where a light house and sea lions can be expected, this time the sea lions are also there. After this we had a quick lunch in Kaka Point and continued our journey to Dunedin. Here also a short visit to i-site to find accommodation. We are now in a motel almost in the center of Dunedin. We went to the supermarket for bread and fruit for breakfast tomorrow and had a beer. Later we had dinner at Etrusco, an Italian restaurant in the center of Dunedin.

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Doubtful Sound

Queenstown is approx. half way the lake, so going down we do the other 40 km along the lake, it is a nice scenic road. At the end of the lake is Kingston, a small village known of its still working steam train. We were there around 10 am, but it seems the train only operates in the afternoon, so skipped the train and went on towards Manapouri.
We arrived in Manapouri just after 12 pm, the first motor inn we stopped had space so we checked in and booked also the cruise for the Doubtful sound. Manapouri is only a very small village, so we went for lunch to Te Anau. After lunch we looked around in Te Anau and walked a bit. After this we went back to Manapouri and did a short walk over here. Had a few beers, a shower and went for dinner in a restaurant at walking distance (the only one we saw).

Got up early for the cruise, this cruise starts with a short cruise on the Manapouri lake (the second deepest of NZ. 440 m) to the Manapouri power station. This is an underground hydro power station, Manapouri is 170 m above sea level, the water is led to the turbines and then via pipes to the Doubtful sound. To go into the power station we went with the bus through a 2 km long tunnel. From the power station we went with a bus over the Wilmott pass 500 m up and 670 m down again. Here we get in the second ship and cruise on the Doubtful sound starts, it is warm for a few days already so the view is less spectacular, because the waterfalls are dried up. Because the sounds are small and high, the warmth of the sun heats up the air and the warm air rises and creates kind of a vacuum. The only way new air can come in is via the sea, so there was quite a breeze. At the end of the sound were a few islands filled with seals lying in the sun, waiting to be photographed by us.
The sounds are still very nice to see, even if there is no rain. So after all a very nice day with a lot of sun.

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A little bit of drizzle whilst we are skyping with the kids, but rain is over when we leave for Queenstown. First we go to the Gondola (Skyline gondola to Bob’s Peak) to go to the highest point of Queenstown. It is a similar gondola than used in the ski area’s (Doppelmaier), 1st Ine needs to gather some courage to go in to the “Luge”. It is a kind of karting but then just going downhill, first you go in a chairlift up to the starting point and then gravity takes you down on the 800 m track.
After this we had a coffee and went for a walk around the skyline and took the gondola down town. We had a quick lunch in town and booked a bustrip to mt Cook, the highest mountain in NZ, it is 3764 m high.
In the afternoon we went to Glenorchy, this is a drive all along the coast of Lake Wakatipu to the beginning of the lake. The lake is approx. 84 km long and the depth is 378 m at the deepest point, the 3rd biggest lake of NZ. The lake has the form of a giant lying down and the level changes a bit every 5 min, the Maori’s believe that this is due to the breathing of the giant.
The road to Glenorchy offers a number of spectacular views on the lake; in Glenorchy we did a walk around the lagoon. After this we went back to the Lodge and didn’t want to go down to Queenstown for dinner. So we went to the restaurant across the road. We had a menu with matching wines, it was a kind of expensive but the food and wine were very nice.

Got up early because we had to take the bus at 7:45, the day started sunny and stayed that way. Bus trip to Mt Cook took about 4.5 hrs, we stopped a few times for drinks and toilet. The trip itself was very scenic, the landscape was very divers: farmland, wineries, orchards, rivers, lakes (natural and manmade; for hydro power) and mountains. The end of the trip was Mt Cook village, this was a bit disappointing because it is still quite far the Mt Cook it self, they told us that we were very lucky, because of the rain lately Mt Cook hasn’t been seen for days. But the weather was really clear, so we had a good view at the mountain.
People who wanted to see the Mt more closer, could book a flight for $ 300. We thought this was a bit too much. So we booked a 3D movie for $ 16, it was also flight over the mountains, but a lot cheaper.
After an hour and a half we got back in the bus and went to Queenstown, same scenic trip with the same stops.
Back in Queenstown we saw that it was much busier than the day before, it appeared there was rugby tournament going on. We went for dinner and started packing for the next trip (to Te Anau for the Doubtfull Sound).

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Last bit of Franz Josef

Don’t want to talk about this day, it was pouring again. Only in the afternoon we went for a drive with the car to the Fox glacier, but still too much rain and the clouds were hanging very low, so nothing to see there. Took the umbrella and went for a walk in town, most of the shops were still thinking it was a public holiday, but it was a normal Sunday so we ended up in the same restaurant as yesterday.


Still raining when we left Franz Josef, the road to Wanaka comes along the Fox glacier, the same road we did yesterday, but half way Fox the road was half blocked by debris that had come down from the mountain.
Whilst driving we saw a lot of places were water was coming down the mountain and sometimes even splashing over the road. Little rivers normally flowing in a quiet pace under the bridges were turned into fast and furious flowing big rivers.
Ine tried to photograph these spontaneous beautiful waterfalls from the car. But this was very difficult and I couldn’t stop because cars were coming from behind. Finally there was a place where the water really came roaring of the mountain and splashing over the road, no-one behind me so I stopped, but it was so scary that Ine asked me to drive on. (The next day we saw in the paper that the road was blocked for several hours somewhere in this area, because of rocks and trees that had come down).
After Haast you go from the West coast over the mountains to Otago, at the other side of the mountain the weather was much better (we learned from Dot that this was a coincidence, because it had rained all morning). So we arrived at Lake Wanaka, everybody was sitting at the lake, normally there is a nice beach but due the rainfall this was all flooded. Around the lake is a walking/ cycling track but this was also flooded at a number of places. We went also with Dave in the boat (everyone has a boat here; they all do watersports and fishing) for a round over the lake.
Dot, Dave and sons have 2 camping places together with friends, so they were living here with 4 families at a nice big place surrounded by tents and in the middle a place for eating and cooking.
After a few drinks we were treated at a very nice dinner, it’s amazing what these people can do with a barbecue. The bake their own garlic bread, stuffed chickens, Paua (or abalone is a big shell fish, with diameter of 150 mm), potatoes and vegetables. Every day there where friends over, they bring their own drinks and if they stay for tea they bring also some food to share.

We are still at Lake Wanaka. A beautiful day, with a lot of sun . In the morning Dot and her friend Maorene (did I spell this correctly?) took us for a walk. It was a lovely walk, 2 hours, through paddocks with cows and along the river into the woods. Going up and down and it was a bit flooded too. When Ine fell on her bump we decided to go back ;(. When we came back we sat by the Lake and Peter went with Dave on the boat whilst George was knee boarding. Later that afternoon we went to the i-site for information about the Sounds. We walked a bit through Wanaka and we went back to the camping ground. Some other friends of them had arrived for tea, we were that evening with 21 people! Earlier one of Dot’s friends had caught a grayfish, so this was cooked on the barbecue. For appetizer we got some toast with trout (also fresh). There were lot vegetables and off course the homemade bread from Kirsten and Dot. There was also a very good warm pasta salad with pesto and nuts etc.
We had a lovely very sunny day, so we were very happy about this.

Too bad, raining again. Peter went for a walk with Dot and Maorene, Ine stayed home and tried to read her book. In the afternoon the rain almost stopped so we went to Puzzling World. We did a maze and we went into several rooms. The maze we discovered within thirty minutes, this is not that bad. The rooms we saw where a hologram hall, with 3D hologram photos. The second hall was the hall of following faces. The third hall was illusion room; you step into the room through a door, and walked out to the other door, but it seems that you get taller. The fourth hall was the tilted house, very weird. Water flows uphill and you cannot stand upright.
That evening they had cooked a roast on the barbecue (it was on the bbq for 6 hours), two very big pieces. We were with 15 persons. We also had a lovely rice-salad, the homemade bread, and grilled curcumas and pumpkin with garlic. We decided to leave the next day, so that we can see other interesting things of the South Islands. Thanks Dot, Dave and the other families for your hospitality. We had a lovely time.

Rain again, much heavier then yesterday. After packing and breakfast we left at 10:15. We were planning to go to Queenstown, but before that we ended up in Arrowtown. It was a very nice drive from Wanaka to Arrowtown, with lots of beautiful views. It was still raining and the clouds were very low so we couldn’t see that very well. There were also very beautiful flowers along the road. If we hadn’t had that much rain we probably hadn’t see that many flowers. So we had luck….. Arrowtown is a lovely place with a lot of old buildings. We also visited the museum. This was very interesting. After lunch we did some window shopping and we walked a bit around. We saw a China town, where the Chinese people lived when they were digging for gold. And we walked a bit along the river. When we were having lunch we saw some friends who were having dinner with us 2 days ago. How big is NZ? Later in the afternoon we went to Queenstown to find a place to stay. We found a place at Arthur’s Point, not too far from Queenstown and we will stay here probably 2 nights. We did some shopping and we saw how fast the jets were going on the river. Are we going to do this? Don’t know yet, we’ll see. For dinner we had sushi, bought at the supermarket. We weren’t that hungry because we had a big lunch in Arrowtown.
So time to write the blog and to put some photo’s on the internet too.

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Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef

The 1st day of a new day and we left Greymouth to go to the Franz Josef Glacier. In the little village near the Glacier every other house is renting accommodation, but a lot of them show “no vacancy” so 1st stop is at the i-site (tourist office) to check for a place to stay. Luckily they found one, after that we saw also some others that still had vacancies. We dropped our luggage and put on our walking shoes and left for the Glacier. If you enter the valley it seems very close by but it is still a walk of almost half an hour before you get there. We didn’t book a guide so were not allowed on the Glacier, we had to look at it at a distance of 150 m. It was very impressive what we saw, really, when you are in the neighborhood, you have to see this. There were also some other walking tracks nearby, as we were here anyway, we did also 2 of these tracks. In totally we walked for about 3 hours.
We got a bit hungry and thirsty so we went back to look for a restaurant. Most of them had sign that we had to pay 20% extra because it was a public holiday. After some time we saw a bar with a sign of happy hour ;-) , so we went there and they had also some nice food as well and no extra charge. So we had an early dinner this time.

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30 December 2010
We visited the Richmond market, a big market with a lot of local products and art. After the market we left for Greymouth almost 3.5 hour drive. Just past Murchison we saw the swing bridge mentioned by Marianne and Dennis. This is a hanging bridge over a stream, so we stopped and crossed the stream over this bridge. At the other side was a walking track and we found out it was quiet muddy because of the rain. We continued to Greymouth, here we had a short walk over the beach and did some shopping.
Around 6 pm we went to the Pancake rock’s in Punakaki, because high tide would be around 7:30 pm. The blowholes should be spectacular at high tide, but not in our case, the sea was very calm and so were the blowholes.

31 December 2010
It rained a little bit this morning, but we are getting used to it and so we left for Shanty Town. This is a little village to show how the goldminers lived some 100 years ago. We did a trip with the steam train and walked a little bit around in the village. There were some demonstrations how the gold digging was done in those days. They first use a kind of water gun to wash away a part of the mountain, this is captured in some traps. The captured sediment is than washed out with a wash tray.
After this we went to Hokitika and had lunch and saw some of the jade shops.
We went further to Lake Kaniere, the waterlevel in the lake was very high due to rain and some people told us that there was normally a beach, but now even the grass was flooded. We went back to the holiday park and had a nice dinner in a hotel close by.
Now we’re waiting until it is midnight to celebrate the New Year.

We wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Happy New Year

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Wellington continued

Wellington, 28 December 2010

The plan was to visit the botanic gardens this morning, but it’s raining like hell and there is a storm (windspeed 160 km/hr), so we stayed in the cabin and skype with the kids. Nice to hear that everything is still running back home. We also had planned a LOTR (Lord of the Rings) tour so we called the i-site if it was possible the cancel it. But they told us the weather would be better this afternoon. So we did the tour, it was interesting to see the places where the movie was filmed, but all was brought back to the original state, so a lot of imagination was needed. We were back at 4:30 pm and took the cable car up to visit the botanic garden. Half way down it started to rain again. We went down into the city and tried to find a place to have dinner (Kerry we found the Sushi place, but it was closed :-( .) So back to Cuba Street, we had dinner at Floriditas, it was quite expensive, but the quality was good.

Travel to Picton/Nelson, 29 December 2010

So ready for the passage to the South Island, we left Wellington with the InterIslander at 10:25 and were in Picton at 13:45. The sea was very calm compared with yesterday; it was a really sunny day. We had lunch in Picton and walked a bit around along the water. After this we left for Nelson, had already booked a accommodation there, but after 50 km we were stopped by the Police, due to the bad weather of yesterday the road between Picton and Nelson was flooded, so we had to make a detour via St Arnaud (about an extra hour of travel). If we hadn’t booked the accommodation already we probably had skipped Nelson and had traveled further to the west coast.

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