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The Big Adventure

New Zealand - from North to South

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 9 June 2008 | Views [844] | Comments [2]

After a lengthy journey and a stop over in melbourne we finally arrived in Aukland, New Zealand. Originally we weren't going to NZ but Pierre 3 (the car, in other words) got sold so that he could kindly pay for our flights. Thanks Pierre 3. Anyways the first thing we had to do was pick up the campervan we had booked online for the duration of our trip - 5 weeks in total. The company that we got it from are famous in NZ for spray painting their vans with all different themes and colours. I was determined to get the 'Kermit' which had a massive Miss Piggy and Kermie on the side and Mike was praying all the way there that it wasn't available. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending which team you are on, the Kermit was gone and we ended up with the 'Superheroes' van which was even better anyway. On one side was painted Spiderman and the Silver Surfer and the other side had Wolverine and The Joker. Cool? Damn right we looked cool! We decided to name him Dick as in Dick 'Van' Dyke and the three of us began our journey together.


Starting on the North Island we went from top to bottom through the middle. There is just too much of NZ to do in 5 weeks so we had to be a bit picky. The north island is covered in mountains and volcanoes and thermal pools with geysers going off all the time and is simply amazing. Apart from those things it looks just like Wales but larger and with a lot less people and definitely more sheep. One beautiful place we stayed was in Rotorua which is like one major thermal pool. All the water there is heated from the pools so every motel room had a hot spa in it! Dick, however did not so we had to make do with paying to get into a pool centre and luxuriated in 40 degree water. As Rotorua was kind of like thermal central it had that lovely bad egg / someone's cut the cheese smell which you couldnt get out of your nose for ages. But the scenery more than made up for it. We also visited Waimangu Volcanic Valley and got to see volcanic activity up close which was amazing but again, very smelly.


After a few days there we moved on to Tongariro National Park and parked up for the night. As the clouds cleared while we were cooking our dinner we realised that from where we were parked we were surrounded by three massive mountains, one of which was a volcano! It was awe inspiring and Mikey had a photo frenzy and got all excited. We decided we'd better do some of this walking malarky that people do in NZ and did a 17 km hike the next day and thought yet again how it was just like Wales, so so beautiful. We had, however come from 40 degree heat in Thailand so a splurge on hats and gloves and thermals and hoodies was required which buggered up my budget no end. It really was like being back home, all rugged up and freezing cold!


Mikey decided he wanted to see the volcano up close so we set out to climb up to the ridge and look down into it. This involved taking 2 ski lifts up to the starting point. Neither of us have been on one before so it was really good fun, after I screamed at Mike to stop rocking the seat of course, coz 'I dont want to die on some frigging mountain you moron' etc etc! About 20 minutes in I had a tantrum and decided I wasn't going to do it as I was too slow and we had to be back by 4pm to get the ski lift down or we would be stranded halfway up the mountain. So Mikey found a nice old man to walk with who was fitter and faster than him and I drank hot chocolate in the lodge. I did end up doing half of the walk on my own while I was waiting as I was so annoyed that I gave up and had a fine old time scrambling up rocks and following Mike's tracks. Anyway Mike got some amazing pictures of the volcano and the volcanic pool which was at the top and was one happy chappy.


Our next stop was Wellington so that we could catch the ferry down to the South Island. If me and Mikey had to move somewhere else in the world it would definitely be Wellington. The city centre is about the size of Cardiff and a really buzzing little place. We visited the New Zealand museum there and learnt lots about Maori life both past and present. Interestingly the Maori's use the same word for 'land' as they do for 'placenta' as they believe that life is a circle and we should give back to the land what we have taken from it. Beautiful, I thought.


The ferry to the south island was uneventful but as we came into land we passed through lots of fjords. Yet again - this country is beautiful! The south island is where our adventure really began. Our first stop was Kaikoura, a fab seaside town with a very quaint atmosphere. Here we had a blow out and went whale watching. It is one of few places in the world that you can see the Giant Sperm Whale so close to land because there is a giant gorge under the sea just off shore which contains giant squid which they feed on. Luckily after the captain tracking it down with a complicated thing on a stick shoved in the water, we got to see a Giant Sperm Whale. He was amazing and absolutely huge. Also luckily due to some sporadic photo taking we got the money shot of the tail up in the air as it was starting to dive down deep. As no more whales were around the captain then took us to see a massive load of dusky dolphins who swam all around the boat performing an array of flips and spins. Amazing. We also booked to swim with seals in the sea but due to weather conditions it got cancelled and we had to move on which was bogus. We did get to see some lounging around on some rocks though and got up close and personal with them for some photos so it wasn't too bad after all.


Next stop was a big old drive over to the other side of the island to get to the glaciers. We stayed at Franz Josef Glacier town and were able to explore both Franz and Fox glaciers from there. Not a single Fox's mint in sight I might add, so disappointing. Franz Josef glacier was amazing and we had yet another splurge and went on an organized ice climbing trip. We trekked up onto the glacier and one of our guides set all the guide ropes into the top of ice walls whilst the other guide instructed us on how to climb. To hang on to the great big wall of ice you have spikes sticking out of the toe of your boots and an ice pick in each hand and thats it. It actually looks like you are just resting your toes against the wall not climbing it! We both climbed various walls with the highest being 15 metres and both absolutely loved it. It was one of the best things we have done so far and climbing through ice tunnels on the way there and back topped it off.


Next stop was Queenstown were all the action takes place but by this point we were running low on funds so just had a look around instead. We finally got me an engagement ring as well - a beautiful south pacific pearl with diamonds set in white gold. Yummy. Moving on we headed for Mount Cook National Park so that we could do a climb of some sort there. Giant snow covered mountains and glaciers awaited us and Mikey was in heaven. We decided to climb Mount Olivier which is next to Mount Cook and stay overnight in a cabin at the top. The 3 and a half hour walk to the top - just under 2000 metres high - took us 5 hours and I accept all the blame for that. It was exhausting but when we finally got over the ridge at the top it was breathtaking in a different sense. The views were out of this world and as we approached Meuller hut at the top (accessible only by foot or helicopter) we saw a load of avalanches go off. It was amazing, we just sat out on the deck and watched massive avalanches occuring all around us. You really do hear them ages before you see anything happen. There were only 7 other people staying in the hut and it was the last night of the season before they turned the gas off so luckily we were able to cook some food. The hut was just a wooden building with bunkrooms and no heating of any kind and a long-drop 20 metres walk away. We were not in for a comfortable night, especially as we didn't have any sleeping bags and it was minus something degrees. Funnily enough there was another welsh couple staying up there who were from Tenby and who also know my mate Sarah from work. Its a small world when you are up a mountain in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand and you meet someone who knows your mate! The absolute stillness when it was dark was something else and going out for a wee at 3 in the morning and looking around at ice capped mountains all around you in complete silence was sensational. After a freezing cold night with no sleep whatsoever but much giggling at the absurdity of it all we began our descent down which only took 2 and a half hours and treated ourselves to a pint or two with the guys we met up there.


It was now approaching Mikeys birthday and Mr Barclaycard allowed us to book into a B&B for the weekend to celebrate in Wanaka and also so that we could get some rest in a real bed before we did our skydive as Mikeys birthday treat. We decided to do it on the day of his birthday which meant that the first half of his day was spent in nerves! Once we got to the place though both of us lost our nerves completely and we were so excited. We each got another guy to jump with us as well as our jump buddy so that they could film the whole thing from before we jumped until we landed. I didnt realise how welsh we both sound or how much I look like my sister Emily until I saw my DVD. We ended up jumping from 12,000 feet instead of 15,000 as the weather was turning but at the point that you are being thrown out of a plane you really dont care how high it is just that its bloody high! It was the most amazing feeling in the world and we both definately want to do it again. Having a DVD of each of us is fab too, I just hope they aren't worn out before we get home as we cant stop watching them!


It was a fab end to an amazing time in NZ with our lovely Dick who we said a sad goodbye to. Our favourite place so far and by far. Now, on to the Land of OZ............



heya annie and mike, happy birthday to mike for the other day! i read what you said bout me and you looking alike and i was looking at one of your photos of you sitting on a bed and i was like omg we do look alike! hehe Anyways looks like your having real good fun wish i was there looks amazing!As you can see i still aint got my own email! Also we bought a new telle the other day it lush 42inch!!! speak swn lvz emz n stev xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  emily and steve Jun 15, 2008 6:26 AM


hiya annie babe happy birthday to you happy birthday to you your photos are fab i want that superheros van please.your both brave doing skydriving noway i could do thet. Follow these instructiuons straight away hold arms out in front of you wrap them around yourself there a big hug all the way from a soaking wales . i ll check in soon lots of love mrs henry xxxxxx

  mrs henry Jul 10, 2008 7:40 AM



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