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South Island

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 4 May 2008 | Views [353] | Comments [2]

Day 1. Travelled from Christchurch in the South Island to Greymouth via the tranzalpine train supposably in the top 7 train journeys in the world. It was amazing to travel through the farming land climbing up into the mountains where the train wnt so high we travelled through low level cloud. Some amazing scenery along the way passing through the mountains over brigdes in country that is virtually untouched by man.

Picked up the car at Greymouth and headed to Fox Glacier where the following day I was supposed to go on a Helihike. What a difference a day makes, we went from bright blue sky to pouring rain and cloud meaning we could not go on the hike and the weather conditions meant it was too dangerous for the helicopter to land on the glacier since we may get stuck up the mountain.

Therefore drove to Wanaka where the weather started to clear up mid afternoon, it gave more time to stop off along the way and see numerous lakes Wanaka, Hawea and Dunstan and Thunder Creek waterfalls, through the Haast pass.

The weather changed again in Wanaka and before setting off to Queenstown I walked around the lake which was surrounded by golden autum trees reflecting in the clear water. Arrived in Queenstown later that afternoon after a long but scenic drive and headed to the Skyline to travel up the steepest gondala in the southern hemisphere and hopefuly go for a tandum paraglide, unfortunately (hehe) it was closed, although it was sunny it was too windy for the paragliding.

The following day was sceduled to self drive to Milford Sound, but the weather turned again so decided to let someone else drive the 600k round trip. Everyone wanted the sun and moaned that it was raining, however it was the best weather we could have had as all the rivers were flowing and the countless waterfalls were bursting. Milford Sound itself was also great in cloudy weather, it made the mountains very atmospheric. Saw my first Fur Seals of the trip basking on the rocks.

Leaving Fiorland National Park I headed out accross sheep filled farming land to Dunedin where I had booked a wildlife tour. First we hung around the Albatros breeding area to se if any were flying around hunting for food. It took a while but one finally flew breifly around the cliff top, too quick to get any pictures, so whilst the rest of the group went to get sme refreshments I hung around and luckily saw three more! Although they have the largest wingspan of any bird in Australia it didn't show too well on the photos but you can't get too close since they are trying to breed them to get the numbers up.

From the Albatros centre we drove onto a private farm where we were kitted up with binoculars and headed accross the windswept farmland to see a colony of fur seals. There were loads of youny seals on the rocks waiting for their parents to come home from fishing. They were inquisitive creatures and were not phased by people looking down at them.

From the seals we headed down to the beach where we saw a young male sealion, which was pretty big even for an adolesent. Just before we saw a couple of Yellow eyed penguins resting on the bank after coming in from fishing all day. We headed past a couple more sea lions to the hide where we watched more penguins return from a hard days fishing out of the sea and waddle up the sand to there shelters on the banks around the beach. It was the first time i'd seen penguins in the wild and they didn't disapoint, they are really quirky creatchures and it great to see them in the wild.

As the light started to fade we headed back along the beach where 3 more sealions landed on the beach and started to play with the one we passed on the way in.

The following day we headed to Mount Cook, it was a nice sunny day and despite being only 10 degrees outside it was quite hot with the sun. We got to the hotel lunch time and headed straight out to Mt Cook for a helicopter ride trying to make up for the helihike we missed out on at Fox Glacier. Unfortunately the trip which also went to Fox Glaicer was not running due to bad weather still. But we did manage to get on another flight which went around mt cook and actually landed on another peak where we got out and walked around in the snow, which was fresh since it was only the first snow of the year the night before. This made up for missing out on the helihike.

After the flight we drove to the base of mt cook where there is a ski lodge with great veiws of the mountain.

It was back to Christchurch the following day past Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo. We stopped off at the church of the good shepherd which was quint and then headed accross the Canterbury plains reaching Chrischurch late afternoon giving some time to check out the city in the daylight and do a little shopping. Christchurch was pretty much a stop off between two destinations.

The next day we headed along the rugged ocean coast to Kaikoura where we were supposed to o whale watching since its the best place in new zealand to do so. However the weather had different ideas, although in the car it didn't seem too bad the trip got cancelled which was disapointing since it was one of the highlights on the trip i was most looking forward too and i knew we did not have enough time to reschedule unlike earlier in the trip.

So from Kaikoura we headed straight to Picton where we would get the ferry to Wellington the following day. Picton is ok but not too much to do or see and most people don't seem to stay there, they get off the ferry and head straight off.

So, the ferry was booked for 10am. However do due bad seas the previous night the ferry in the morning got canceled and we had to wait 5 hours until the next one, the past two days had seem to have gone horribly wrong. 

We eventually got the lunchtime ferry which is probably the last time I'll ever get that ferry. I had not suffered sea sickness before and although i wasn't sick the sea was rough and the ferry crashed into each wave witrh a creaking sound i found most disturbing, since it was a passenger and vehicle ferry it had flat front and back from the vehicle ramps and these pounded against the waves and made the boat go up and down.




Hey you forgot Auckland and the Bay of Islands (with the hole in the rock)! And the fur seals we saw on the roadside were seen on the drive to Kaikoura/Picton (actually well after the Dunedin tour).

  Viv Aug 16, 2008 11:34 PM


um scratch the first half of that comment - Auckland and BOI are on North Island (I'm sure I'll find them in your North Island journal!).
*slaps self upside the head* "d'oh!"

  viv Aug 16, 2008 11:37 PM

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