Posted by: anniebananie784 | July 19, 2014

Arrival to Sydney

First time flying with New Zealand airlines, and while I didn’t have a ticket with all the “perks”, it was still a pleasant experience. Certainly their safety videos are SO much better than all the other companies’ videos that I’ve watched. They are hilarious. Granted they don’t have to present in more than one language, but they are very creative. Here’s a link to one.

Last views of NZ coastline from the plane

Last views of NZ coastline from the plane

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Mountains!

Mountains!

Made it through the passport check okay, but after my customs experience in NZ, I was a little bit paranoid of getting “caught” with something so I erred on the over-honest side on my forms…this time there was no x-ray machine but I had to see the officer regarding my shoes and I said I had my magic bag. They call it a wheat bag here and apparently, they don’t like wheat bags from other places. I suppose the customs officer in NZ was particularly gracious. This man allowed me to keep mine on the condition that I didn’t use it and kept it in my bag, since I was not staying in Australia. Close call. Then it was off to find the train into Sydney.

I felt rather lost in the airport without my phone working. I wasn’t able to sign into the free wi-fi either and became rather stressed :( The plan was to meet up with my friend A’s friends, whom I would be staying with at the Circular Quay about 6pm. Except I had no way of contacting them to let them know I was running a bit later with all my customs adventure, and we hadn’t discussed the exact meet-up point. Stress up again. I was praying and asking God to help me out because I didn’t know how or if it would work out. On the train, I’d noticed some kind of announcement about construction and detours, which again made me feel somewhat panicked, not knowing where to go and whether to stay on the train. Fortunately, I  spoke with another family who managed to convince me I was at the right place. At the Circular Quay I walked down to the ferry terminals and wondered where might be a logical place that this family could be waiting for me. I walked down a bit to one end and not seeing the road, I turned to walk back in the other direction. Upon doing so, I heard a lady speaking in French, or at least I heard something that made me turn around to notice a young woman with a stroller. Who proceeded to ask me if I was Anne. And we had somewhat miraculously found one another, phew! In our later discussion of the event, both of us agreed that it was a God moment. :)

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

From there  we took the ferry to Taronga Zoo, the bus to Mosman Junction and a short walk to their apartment. The harbour was beautiful with all the lights, and I was very happy to have found my hosts. And K. even had a sort of wheat bag with lavender inside for me to heat up in lieu of my magic bag. All warm and lovely smelling.

More to come later. Though possibly a fair bit later. I am leaving tomorrow morning for Cairns and after that for 2 weeks in Papua New Guinea on a YWAM medical ship :) Not so much internet there, so I will be updating my blog a bit less frequently. Thanks for all those of you faithful readers!

Posted by: anniebananie784 | July 19, 2014

Kaikoura and Christchurch

Once again I needed to be at the bus station quite early in the morning, and once again I thought to myself how I probably could have done with less items in my backpack :P As the sun came out, it was another beautiful display of colours and we were on an uneventful trip up the coast from Dunedin to Christchurch. Upon arrival in Christchurch, I was able to leave my big bag at the bus headquarters and wander the streets while waiting for the bus to Kaikoura.

The Cantebury Plains

The Cantebury Plains

Fisherman in Oamaru (I think)

Fisherman in Oamaru (I think)

I followed the tram line part way, and visited the Re:start mall, a rather particular sight as most of the shops are in big shipping containers. I had forgotten to take a picture in Queenstown, but discovered another location of Lululemon in the mall(!) Kind of like a taste of home though I have to say we have better prices in Canada. As I waited, I had a cappucino, which proved to not be the best idea as the caffeine made me really anxious on the inside :S Lots of pent up energy and unable to work it out…I like the taste of good coffee but not the effect of ‘stress’ haha.

Lululemon!

Lululemon!

Re:start mall

Re:start mall

Mmm coffee...dangerous but tasty

Mmm coffee…dangerous but tasty

The bus drove up the coastline, up and down hilly, windy roads and finished hugging the coast with a couple of narrow tunnels – though I only observed these on my return trip to Christchurch. It was very dark by the time I arrived at the YHA in Kaikoura and on the bus I had simply noticed being thrown back and forth as the road curved its way…In the hostel, I made friends with the young lady, Sabella, at reception who invited me to eat with her, rather than try and walk all the way to the grocery store (at 20+ minute trip one way) at that time of day. I enjoyed our evening together, the discussions and the tasty but simple meal of tomato sauce with onions and mushrooms on pasta, and grilled potato and squash, mmm. The only adventure was the initial cooking of some onions in peanut oil, which I fortunately noticed before we’d thrown everything else in the pan. Oops.

Dinner with Sabella

Dinner with Sabella

Felt rather warm in this hostel with the heater turned on and an extra blanket on my bed during the night. Sabella had mentioned the amazing view from the hostel, and I was not disappointed. Beautiful mountains greeted me from across the bay as I walked into the kitchen, and I felt like it couldn’t get too much better than mountains and ocean so close together. :P Here’s a view.

View from near the YHA

View from near the YHA

Info along the path to the seal colony

Info along the path to the seal colony

More ocean view

More ocean view

Kaikoura was also a whaling station in the day :S

Kaikoura was also a whaling station in the day :S

Strange looking trees...

Strange looking trees…

After packing my things and sticking them in a locker, I headed out on a walk to see the Fur Seal colony (I heard something beside me that surprised me but it was just some more seal pups :) )and the Peninsula. Ideally the walk was a complete loop but as I rounded the other side of the Peninsula and the descent to South Bay (here’s a view), the pathway had been closed by the Dept of Conservation and I had to return back the other way :S I was a little miffed but I supposed a hillside that is “sloping” isn’t the most secure, especially if everyone continues to walk on the path. Let’s just say I had sore feet at the end of this day.

Seal hole!

Seal hole!

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway views

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway views

Maori fortifications

Maori fortifications

Views!

Views!

Views 2

Views 2

Towards South Bay

Towards South Bay

Mountain ridge

Mountain ridge

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Attempt at selfie

Attempt at selfie

I did visit the townsite of Kaikoura to try out some fish & chips before catching the bus around 4 pm back to Christchurch. Once I arrived at the YHA, I had a bit of excitement as I was assigned one room, supposedly an all female dorm room, that had some suspicious looking bags and clothing items in it to suggest it being otherwise. And it was not the same room that I slept in on my first night in NZ. Awkward moment came as I was in my pjs trying to re-pack my bag when three rowdy young men appeared in the room, and at least one was rather drunk. We sorted it out with the lady at reception, and the guys did feel rather badly about the affair, helping me with my stuff. I just felt a little embarrassed to be in pjs with so much junk to move :S

The next morning I had a little bit of time before I needed to go to the airport. I wandered through the Botanical Gardens, met some sparks and brownies on a treasure hunt in the Gardens, and paid a visit to the “Cardboard Church”. They were holding an Anglican Church service and looking at the bulletin, I wanted to stay for the last hymn “To be a pilgrim” since I hadn’t heard it sung in a very long time. Unfortunately, someone in the congregation fell over and needed an ambulance so the service was finished more efficiently and the ambulance rung. Probably more excitement that usual. So I just returned to the hostel for my things.

Funky cactus

Funky cactus

Impressive old trees

Impressive old trees

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It’s a “cabbage tree” :P Sign in photo above.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

More trees!

More trees!

View down the Avon River and you can even go on rides in a gondola :P

View down the Avon River and you can even go on rides in a gondola :P

Artwork near old cathedral site

Artwork near old cathedral site

Cardboard Cathedral

Cardboard Cathedral

Map!

Map!

I made it to the airport in good time, bought a spider – basically a fancy name for an ice cream float – to use up all my NZ change, and got on the Air New Zealand flight to Sydney.

Spider! Gotta love that ginger ale

Spider! Gotta love that ginger ale

More to come later. Including my airport adventure haha.

 

 

Posted by: anniebananie784 | July 16, 2014

Dunedin and Otago Penninsula

After Queenstown, I had another early morning bus ride to Dunedin on the southern coast of the South Island. Saw a beautiful sunrise, which I suppose I should mention that there were many of the same, with pinks, oranges and reds in the sky. We had a small break in the town of Lawrence, a place that became big when gold was discovered back in the day and now it’s just a tiny town. I arrived in Dunedin just after 12 and walked over to the Kiwi’s Nest, the backpackers I had booked for the night. Somehow even though I tried to not take too many items on this trip, I got the feeling that I had whenever I had to lift my backpack on my back and my pack on the front :P

Sunrise colours from the bus

Sunrise colours from the bus

Scenery from the bus

Scenery from the bus

More scenery

More scenery

Town of Lawrence

Town of Lawrence

Dunedin is a city that resembles Edinburgh in Scotland; in fact, many of the streets are named after the streets of the sister city though they are all in different places. It’s a university town – most of the guests I met at the hostel were studying in one capacity or another – and I was at peace about spending a scant single night. My focus was the Otago Penninsula and a wildlife tour with Elm wildlife tours. Not just to see sea lions or seals but penguins too :)

Otago Harbour looking towards Port Chalmers

Otago Harbour looking towards Port Chalmers

We drove out on the Otago Penninsula, past Larnach Castle – normally, not included but we were picking up two people from that spot and it allowed me to get a photo, shhh – and then along to the town of Portobello, past the town of Otakou to the point with the Royal Albatross centre. I did not pay the extra 40$ to go inside the breeding colony and look at chicks. With most of the other tour participants, we went out to the viewing point, and despite it being a rather calm day, we saw several albatross take flight from the colony, fly directly overhead and off to see or behind the next cliff. I’m not sure I managed to capture any on camera, as they always caught me a bit off guard and I would try to follow them with my binoculars. I could use some practice with that haha.Our guide informed us that this colony is the only off-island breeding colony, to which I replied that we were technically on an island. So, it is the only albatross colony that is based on a mainland. Most of the time albatross spend their life on the ocean as they can sleep, and feed as much as they need on the water. Royal Albatross migrate from NZ over to South America as younger birds and then come back to breed when they are older.

Larnach Castle

Larnach Castle

Taiaroa Head looking up the coastline

Taiaroa Head looking up the coastline

Albatross in the sky...I think :P

Albatross in the sky…I think :P

From the colony we drove over to Pipikaretu Beach (as far as I know) to a Penguin conservation area run by Elm wildlife on private land. We walked down a steep steep hill to a fenced off beach – to try and prevent the feral cats from entering –  and little penguin holes just up off the sand and carpet to prevent some of the grass from growing too tall. This beach houses Hooker Sealions, Yellow-Eyed Penguins and Little Penguins (formerly known as Fairy Penguins because they are about 1 ft tall and very cuddly looking from pictures :P). As we walked on the beach, our guide surveyed the sea-lions to ensure we didn’t come too close. They are very comfortable with humans and if they decide, can move quite quickly towards a group. We got about 10-15 metres and heard a snorting that took us by surprise – a NZ fur seal was hiding in the grass where we normally do not see them on this beach. Just meant we changed our path slightly and then we passed several sleeping sea-lions, some of whom raised their heads lazily to see who was there before falling back asleep, and made our way to a little viewing shelter for the penguins. There we waited in the hopes of seeing a penguin or two arrive back from a day of hunting. Our hopes were not dashed :) We saw about 4 or penguins coming back in groups of two – typically they hunt and swim individually – check the beach for sea-lions and then waddle up the sand, hop up the rocks and climb the hill to their nests. What a noise when two mates were reunited for the day! We couldn’t see where their nests are located but we could hear them. Apparently they received a different name in Maori which refers to how noisy they are but I cannot remember it :S

Here’s a video I took of the penguins…my video skills are somewhat amateur the penguins themselves are worth seeing ;) : video.

Other birds :P

Other birds :P

First sight of the conservation area

First sight of the conservation area

Fur seal!

Fur seal!

A curious female sea-lion...she was pretty brave to come up on a beach with only male sea-lions. Another female had gotten crushed by a big male trying to keep her from running off...

A curious female sea-lion…she was pretty brave to come up on a beach with only male sea-lions. Another female had gotten crushed by a big male trying to keep her from running off…

Having a nap

Having a nap

Penguin!!!

Penguin!!!

Heading up the sand

Heading up the sand

Dusk was slowly falling. We weren’t able to stay much longer; instead we continued to another beach and the NZ Fur Seal colony. It was almost dark but we trapsed down the hill to the viewing shelter to catch a peak at many young pups with their moms on the rocks. Some of the pups slept or played by themselves as they waited for the moms to come back from hunting. Apparently a mother seal is fairly diligent about checking whether a pup is hers when she re-appears as she won’t adopt another pup, even if the pup becomes an orphan. While I have seen  other types of seals before, these ones were quite cute and very playful. A well-spent afternoon!

Here’s a video of some pups: video

Coastline shot

Coastline shot

Fur Seal pups

Fur Seal pups…have to look closely!

Beautiful night sky too :)

Beautiful night sky too :)

Got dropped off again at the Kiwi’s Nest for the night and was in bed at a good time. Had to get up bright and early to catch the bus again.

More to come later!

 

Posted by: anniebananie784 | July 16, 2014

Queenstown and LOTR

This place is a party town. Very touristy with lots of expensive “thrills” to choose from in addition to fancy boutique shops and good restaurants. I most definitely put in my ear plugs to sleep here. I went to bed just before 11 pm, and the bass picked up about the same time until I don’t know what hour in the night :P

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I only had one full day in the area, so I wanted to make the most of things. I decided to walk up the trail to the top of the gondola for a view of Lake Wakatipu. A., the quebecoise, told me I would get very warm climbing up to the top, and I was glad to have worn layers as I stripped off my jackets and mittens,etc. as the path ascended. I was met by a view that was well worth the effort – it even included another rainbow(!) Very cool.

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At the top with the Remarkables in the background

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Rainbow!

Rainbow!

And the afternoon was taken up with a Lord of the Rings tour with the company Pure Glenorchy. I went with my friend, J, from Germany as well as another man from India. The tour was led by Earl in a fancy Toyota four wheel-drive no less, and  with yummy chicken and brie sandwiches and gluten free cookies for tea. Starting in Queenstown we drove in the direction of the town of Glenorchy along the side of Lake Wakatipu. We stopped in a couple of places to point out some of the filming locations of LOTR, mostly from The Fellowship of the Ring, before arriving in Glenorchy to see the miniature library and church buildings and have a quick pee-break. We then left the paved road for a dirt/gravel one that was not maintained by the public highways. We travelled passed through a huge cattle and sheep farm property, and even the “River Jordan” before arriving in Paradise. Beautiful mountain valley with the Dart River to one side, a lake nearby and the site of an old sheep station, now one huge farm. I cannot remember the name of the man who owns this property anymore, but I do know he charged a lot of money to Peter Jackson and to other film makers for the use of his land. Something around $2000/day back in the day and more like $3000/day current rate. Not a bad deal.

The Remarkables

The Remarkables

The tour made me appreciate the work of a cameraman and also a film director a little bit more. You may scout out some great locations, but it’s all in the angles and the little touches which give illusion to what we see on the screen. Granted we have lots of CGI these days – can’t replace seeing such beautiful landscape in person though. We saw where they filmed Amon Hen, the scene with the Oliphaunts and Frod & Sam just before entering Mordor, the Dead Marshes, the background for the people of Rohan fleeing to Helms Deep – actually the Remarkables mountain range, the area where they set up Isengard, the forests during the battle with the Uruk-Hai in FOTR, and where they placed Beorn’s house in the Hobbit movie. Perhaps I would not partake in another LOTR tour, I was glad to have gone and see some spectacular places with a small group of people and live commentary. Makes the place feel all the more alive.

Here are some pictures from the day :) More to come!

LOTR tour... Where the Oliphants were

LOTR tour… Where the Oliphants were

Hill on left side of Lake is where they filmed the ruins before the Uruk-Hai battle in Fellowship of the Rings

Hill on left side of Lake is where they filmed the ruins before the Uruk-Hai battle in Fellowship of the Rings

View towards Pigeon and Pig island

View towards Pigeon and Pig island

Just beautiful mountains

Just beautiful mountains

The Dead Marshes

The Dead Marshes

The scenery near the location for Isengard

The scenery near the location for Isengard

Chase scene in the forest where Boromir gets shot and Merry and Pippin are captured by the Uruk-Hai

Chase scene in the forest where Boromir gets shot and Merry and Pippin are captured by the Uruk-Hai

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I've been to Paradise ;) near Glenorchy...

I’ve been to Paradise ;) near Glenorchy…

Lake near Paradise

Lake near Paradise

Looking at the Dart River

Looking at the Dart River

 

Posted by: anniebananie784 | July 9, 2014

Keplar Track and Te Anau

In the Fjordland National parks region there are several hiking trails or “tracks” as they call them in New Zealand for walkers, trampers and backpackers alike. The Milford track will take you to Milford Sound, the Routeburn track linking Mount Aspiring National Park to Fjordland, and the Kepler track around Lake Te Anau to Mt. Luxmore in the Kepler mountains and by Lake Manapouri. Being winter and not necessarily a hard-core backpacker myself, I opted for a day hike on the Kepler track. When I woke up the whole landscape was covered in dense fog; I wasn’t certain if it would be wet and gloomy all day. Which fortunately it was not.

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In the fog

In the fog

I walked first to the visitors centre at the ‘corner’ of the lake for some information on what hikes would be feasible for the timing, and while I would have liked to be ambitious and climb up to Mt. Luxmore for some views, it was a bit too late in the morning. Instead I went along the lakeshore to Brod Bay. It ended up being a 5-6 hour walk anyways, since I didn’t have a car to drive to the starting point at the control gates. Mostly a walk through old forest, containing large and small beech trees and a few bushes, I admit I found it rather dull just being by myself. I resisted the urge to listen to my ipod as I wanted to hear the birds. It was silent. Part way along I met a couple from South Africa who now live in Australia and we kept one another company until Brod Bay, and they also had the same question as to where the birds had all gone. We got our response when we met a volunteer who was checking the different rodent traps scattered in the forest. He pulled out a mirror and a piece of styrofoam, proceeding to rub the mirror making a very high pitched sound and…voila! Birdsong in the distance and coming a bit closer, then some little birds could be seen descending from the canopy to find out the source of the noise. A useful trick to call the hiding birds. Who’ve learned to find safety far above from all the stoats, weasels, possums, etc. that were introduced into the forests. It’s why they have taken measures to poison and trap the rodents, though unfortunately, not as effectively as they might wish. Biggest annoyance of the day was not the cool temperature, but my over-loaded backpack. Don’t know why I decided to bring along all the different items that I did – I guess experience will help me to remember to pack more lightly next time :p

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View from the end of the lake...sunshine starting to peak through

View from the end of the lake…sunshine starting to peak through

By my return around the lake, the fog had slowly dissipated to offer a lovely view of the mountains surrounding the lake. My German friend took the bus that evening, but I found entertainment in my knitting project and watching Pirates of the Caribbean with many of the hostel guests. In any case, I wouldn’t have been able to find peace and quiet in my room; it was located right next to the TV room.

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Live takahe

Live takahe

Takahe statue in Te Anau

Takahe statue in Te Anau

The next day I decided to wander a bit around the main street of Te Anau, get a few postcards and souvenirs, as I waited for the bus to Queenstown that evening. Went into a tourist company\information place, looked at the brochures to my left and noticed penguins! It caught my attention, so I went to have a closer look. As I was still searching for activities during my last two days in NZ and the idea of visiting some penguins had potential. :) The lady at the desk was very helpful; we booked a tour and a bus to Dunedin for the day after my visit to Queenstown and after making a few enquiries, also booked a bus ticket up to Kaikoura. My inter-city bus pass had 25 hours on it, and even with the trips to Dunedin and up to Christchurch, there were several hours left. I confess, it had been a bit stressful to me to not know what I would do during my last few days and not wanting to “miss out” on a particular sight, I was relieved to get my plans organized.

Remember how the other day I had been wishing for some company and the church had been closed?  On this day, I noticed some people praying for a store owner and decided to speak with them. Turns out they were a group of mostly Kiwis but a couple of Americans doing a week of preparation before a mission trip to Tonga. Later in the day, I walked along the edge of the lake to the marina. As I went to sit on a bench, a van drove up with a large group of young adults, the same ones I had met earlier and the rest of their team. I appreciated chatting with them and they also prayed for me before leaving to drive back to Gore. Again God was looking out for me and encouraging me at an opportune moment :)

I caught a fish :P

I caught a fish :P

Lakeside view

Lakeside view

Huge beech tree

Huge beech tree

Hopped on the bus about 5pm for Queenstown with a bunch of people who’d just spent the day in Milford Sound. The bus driver put in a movie to watch called “Whale Rider”, about a young Maori girl who became the next leader of her people. Found it insightful as to some of the Maori culture and their traditions.

My friend, J, had texted me and invited me to try out this popular burger joint in Queenstown called “Fergburger”. As I walked past to the hostel, there was a huge line-up outside. While I had never heard of this place before, it seemed to be quite popular. I stayed a the YHA Central in Queenstown, I was in a room with three others, a chatty girl from Taiwan, a young German man and a Quebecoise who’d spent the past year on a working holiday visa in Australia. I think she was kind of excited because I was the closest thing to home that she’d encountered for many months. Apparently there are numerous French people (from France) who come on working holidays but not as many Quebecois, and sometimes the French and the Quebecois don’t see eye to eye. Let’s say that I was more than happy to speak French with her and German with my friend, J. :)

The Fergburger was less busy by the time J and I arrived around 8:30pm. They had gluten-free buns (yay!) – have to pay an arm and a leg for them though (less yay!) – and I ate one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever tried. It was a lamb pattie with mint sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. Very filling and very good. Even now my mouth waters when I think of it haha. If you ever go to Queenstown, this restaurant is worth checking out.

Mmm lamb burger!

Mmm lamb burger!

The restaurant looking rather quiet but it was  after 9pm :)

The restaurant looking rather quiet but it was after 9pm :)

I think this entry has gotten quite lengthy so I’ll stop here. More to come later.

Posted by: anniebananie784 | July 7, 2014

Milford Sound

It was a civilized start to the day with a rendez-vous at 9:30 instead of 7:00 am if I’d left from Queenstown. Hopping on the Real Journeys bus filled with tourists mostly from Japan and China, I sat next to an East Indian family from London on a 21st  birthday trip for their daughter . A whirlwind trip all over NZ with no expense spared. Last year they had been in the USA and Canada for their son’s 21st. Celebrations that are on a bit of a different scale than I remember for my 21st  birthday :p pretty impressive.

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Lake Te Anau driving past

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Te Anau Downs

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In the misty valley

Anyhow we drove out of Te Anau along the lakeside turning away when we reached the region called the Te Anau downs dotted with sheep. Then into the fjirdland park with a lane surrounded by the native beech trees. There are four or five different kinds, all coniferous with small leaves and very hard wood. They take many yearsto grow and help put a lot of oxygen in the air. So much so that they imported pine trees over from the USA for building purposes.

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Mirror Lakes

We stopped briefly for a few photo stops along with many of the other tour buses, which meant being alone for about one minute then having to be increasingly creative in order to get a photo that looked like you were alone. In the morning the mist hung low to the ground and gave an ethereal look to the valley. Another stop involved the Mirror Lakes, which true to their name, offered a spectacular reflection of the surrounding mountains on its surface. The drive was not complete without traveling through a tunnel built on the sweat of men’s brows and some dynamite. They had searched for a pass to climb over but discovered a sheer rock face on the other side. So tunnel it was. One lane and now with lighting and a traffic light on either end to eliminate accidents. On the other side we stopped for a picture of a strange parrot-like bird, whose name I’ve already forgotten -so if you see the picture and know the name, please make a comment :) – and we soldiered on.
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Mt Totuku -Topuni

The sound seems to come out of nowhere. You drive past many huge mountains (2200 to 2700 m if I recall) and then you’re there
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in a little bay. Still pretty full for the fall season, would hate to see in summer how busy the place becomes.

It was a beautiful sunny day, so we could see well all around the sound. Only saw a few seals resting on the rocks, and some birds flying about. No whales or dolphins or exciting animals. When it rains the mountains have many cascading waterfalls, but our trip included only a few. Three are permanent and the heights are very deceptive. Looking across the sound, you had the impression to see a fall of 50m height and up close it was taller than Niagara Falls and then some. I chose to stay in the boat rather than have a shower on the front deck under the falls :p
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The deceptive falls

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Real height


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The boat took us all the way to the Tasman sea and then we had to retrace our steps. By the time we arrived back at the bus it was already starting to get dark; of course I arrived at the hostel in the dark or night even if it was before 17:00.

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Gunn Lake -maybe long lost relatives of our family :p

I wanted to go to church because I was finding it a bit lonely, even with the few encounters I was having. There was a church with an evening service a good 20 minutes walk outside of the town center. I ate my supper in a hurry, and set out to find the church except that when I arrived there was no one in sight. The lights were off and it looked very empty. Kind of disappointed I walked back to the hostel and was praying for some company. And I met a lovely young lady, J, from Germany that night. Well , I was finally brave enough to say hello and we hit it off. I was the first person she’d met who reacted with such excitement upon hearing she was German :) We played a few rounds of uno – I got whumped thoroughly haha – and I got to put my rusty German to practice. A nice finish to the day.

More to come later.

Posted by: anniebananie784 | June 28, 2014

Photos from Lake Tekapo

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Heading out of Christchurch on the plains

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Looking towards Mt.Cook from top of Mt John

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Ready for a night of stargazing

And we have a group photo from the tour and maybe it can be viewed here.

More photos to come. A big BIG thank you to my friend Lisa for her computer savvy and solution to posting :)

Posted by: anniebananie784 | June 26, 2014

Drive to Te Anau

I was planning on taking the bus the whole way around the south island during my trip,  but I met a nice young man who had rented a car for the weekend and was looking for someone to travel with him down thru Queenstown to Te Anau.  So I agreed thinking it would be nice to not travel alone for a.stretch and to stop where one wanted for photos. Not to mention that driving would be more efficient :p I was sad to say goodbye to the Korean girls who were traveling by bus to Queenstown but I discovered a pleasant travel buddy for the day. He was friendly,  courteous, well spoken and a good conversationalist. It was a “clin d’oeil ” from my Papa taking care of me. :) Our first stop was the Tasman glacier view point. With a car, we could drive the 9 km road no problem. We had to walk about 15 minutes up the hill over the top of a moraine and what a view. It has been rainy and cloudy that morning and cleared up enough for us to get another view of Mt.Cook and a look at the toe of the glacier. When we got back to the car and we’re driving to the main road,  we saw a rainbow in the valley. Not just onepart but it ended up being the entire rainbow – and it moved with us up the valley for a km or so. A treat and another clin d’oeil for sure. Had a brief stop in Twizel for gas and then continued down through more scenery and little towns, blue lakes to Queenstown. Went up and down and around a bunch of hills and passes often dotted with sheep or cattle. We had to stop in Queenstown so I could deal with my change in plans and transfer some of my  nights from the yha there to Te Anau. Queenstown is everything of a tourist town with fancy little boutiques and many restaurants to choose from. They boast in a wealth of “extreme” experiences from jet boating on the lake, paragliding,  buggy jumping,  skydiving,  ziplining etc. I even noticed aLuLulemon(!) but I forgot to take a photo :s Quite the party town, I was happy to get a quick look at where the hostel was located and then carry on to Te Anau. A route which we had to finish in the dark but not before a few.photos of Lake Wakatipu. In Te Anau my lift was kind enough to drop me at my hostel and even give me a ride back from the grocery store when we crossed paths again. Almost sad to part ways yet again with someone; part of the travel game though. Had to get to bed at a good time as I was off to Milford Sound in the  morning. More to come later :)

 

Links to some video:

Kea’s Point

Tasman Glacier and Mt Cook

 

 

Posted by: anniebananie784 | June 25, 2014

Rainbow in the valley

Rainbow in the valley

Full rainbow in the valley on the way from the Tasman glacier and Mt Cook area. Beautiful :)

Posted by: anniebananie784 | June 24, 2014

Mount Cook

Named after Captain Cook who was the first English explorer to land down here, or perhaps better said, attempted to land, and lost a few passengers on his ship when the locals got a little unhappy with his arrival.

After a relaxed morning I hopped back on the bus out of Lake Tekapo and over to Mt Cook /Aoraki National Park. Went past another gorgeous blue lake,  Lake Pukaki,  connected to Lake Tekapo and other lakes via canals that serve as power sources. The water in Lake Pukaki is higher than originally putting it’s power station in the lake rather than on the shoreline. We were so fortunate to have another relatively clear day with.great views of Mt.Cook and the surrounding peaks. Apparently Mt Cook is over 3700 meters high and.these mountains are still growing at a rate of 17mm/year.

Settled into the hostel and went for an exploratory walk with.three girls from South Korea. Two had been on working holiday visas in NZ and the otherin Australia. I honestly hadn’t realized how.popular these working holiday visas were …as an aside I’ve met a good amount of Asians,  Germans,  French and Brits on these visas but not Canadians. Maybe they just haven’t taken time off to travel?   With the girls we walked up to Kea’s point offering a view of Mt.Cook and Mt Sefton and one of the glaciers in between. I’d heard about the Tasman glacier but decided it wouldn’t be easy to get there on foot at 9+kms on foot.

Instead I came back to the hostel to test out the sauna :) i was feeling quite chilled beforehand and got nice and hot. At supper I met a local tramping club out for the weekend (tramping is hiking for us who might think tramping means sth less savoury).  Proved to be most lucky because one lady, J, gave me lots of advice on places to visit and she encouraged to change up my plans. Which had been to spend four nights in Queenstown including one at a pricy hotel …the town was overflowing with visitors for their winter festival. so that was changed to three nights in Te Anau and two in Queenstown. And I also met another young man who had rented a car with jucy car rentals for the weekend. He offered me a lift down to Queenstown at least and I would arrive sooner than the bus.

I was sad to leave the Korean girls behind and yet happy to change my plans from being stuck in the city and not sure what to do. Should mention that only one of the skihills in the area was open at that point. Unfortunately I might be too early for skiing :(

More to come later.

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