NZ Days 5-8

Hi again,  Well, the last few days..  I continued to drive south after I wrote the last email, Lynsey was feeling seedy all day so I enjoyed the scenery by myself.  Though I did drag her out of the car to see the Moeraki Boulders – huge round boulders on the beach that have limestone through them and therefore have amazing patterns on the outside – literally like massive eggs that you could imagine some huge pre-historic bird laying on the beach and leaving them there for centuries to become stone.  Very cool.  We stayed at some little Gorge again that night, though this time the scenery on the drive into the Gorge reminded us of Brokeback Mountain – those of you who have seen the movie will know the type of scenery I’m talking about, funny that we both thought the same thing at the same time.  I was stuffed after driving so far – we’re averaging about 200kms a day thus far – so I went to bed pretty much straight away.  We must both have been tired cause we woke up at 12.30pm the next day – bugger that half the day had gone but we obviously needed the sleep – I think I’m still catching up on lost sleep in the week before I left, I’ve been sleeping about 9 – 10 hours a night here – crazy!  Anyhow, we headed to Dunedin to go to the Cadbury Factory and see some other sights.  The drive to Dunedin was interesting, we’d see a “town” on the map only to reailse that you would miss it if you blinked while driving through – they were tiny.  And a lot of the houses were tiny as well.  Cute but I could never live there – way too small, and I’m not a fan of small towns! We arrived in Dunedin, after stopping at a few service stations to pump up the rear tyre.  I discovered that it has a slow leak, and requires a re-pumping every day or so, I’m keeping an eye on it cause I dont want it to go flat mid journey, in the middle of no where.

We toured the Cadbury Factory, collecting lots of free samples along the way.  NZ has a “PerkyNana” bar – which is basically a banana lolly covered in chocolate and flattened into a bar.  I actually liked it, I was only one of two in the group who did – and so we got two more bars of the same.  I also figured, when the tour guide asked who liked it (whilst holding the box in her hand), that if I said yes I might get some more – and free chocolate or lollies are good anytime if you ask me!  It worked!   After the choc tour, we headed to a Castle and a lighthouse for my viewing pleasure – I have a huge affinity for Light houses, so I convinced Lynsey to drive 30 kms out to see one..  Only to get there and be told that it is in the middle of an Albatross Colony and no-one can walk up there without a tour guide.  I considered paying for a tour, just to get close enough to see the light house, but the next tour wasn’t until 11am the following morning and even then I wasn’t guaranteed of getting close to the light house itself.  Bugger.  I love light houses, not sure why.  Those and waterfalls will keep me entranced for ages!   So after our unsuccessful tour to the light house, we headed west across the country, looking for some remote mountain for Lynsey to climb – my plan was to sunbake, weather condusive to my goal..

We sort of got lost, I say sort of because we were following the map that came with the campervan, and it shows all the major roads, and some of the minor ones, but not all.  So you will be aiming for a certain white road on the map (white are the smaller ones), and you will end up in a different area because ten smaller roads are not marked on the map and the turn you thought you wanted, wasn’t!  However, this did prove to be quite lucky on this occasion, as we came across a river that we decided would do for a swim and sunbake.  Mind you, we had to scramble down a steep embankment, clinging onto tree branches that would suddenly give way and you found yourself floundering for something else to grip onto to assist the descent, and then had to submerge ourselves in icy cold water with our bags held above our heads to make it to the sunbake-able side of the river to start with.  But the trek was well worth it –  the water was freezing but crystal clear – simply gorgeous.  And it was hot – whoever told me it was never hot or sunny in NZ was wrong – thankfully!  We sunbaked, and had a wash – I felt a little bad about the shampoo in the water, but it soon dissipated and so did my guilt!   A beautiful relaxing afternoon with huge mountains providing a fantastic back drop.

Following our river adventure, we headed further west to Te Anau and Manapouri for our Doubtful Sound tour the next day.  Both towns were tiny, but thriving tourist towns.  Beautiful sunset photos were taken, I still cant get over the magnificent scenery and combinations of lakes, mountains and rivers that provide often breathtaking photo opportunities and moments of awe.  Truely amazing.  We parked near the beach to cook dinner that night, and sat on an old log on the beach to eat.  I’ve got some photos that will make awesome panoramic shots, with the sun setting in the west and the moon rising in the east, all over the beach and shoreline we were at.  If I let myself get a little sentimental, it could have been quite romantic, but that thought was only entertained for a few seconds!  Lol.  The next day we went on our tour of Doubtful Sound.  It consisted of an hour boat ride over Lake Manapouri, a bus ride over the mountain (including a 2km underground ride to the power station – the only thing that I remember from that power station is that enough water is pumped through it that 8 Olympic Sized swimming pools could be filled in 60 seconds – that’s a huge amount of water by any standards!).  After the bus tour, we arrived at the boat for the trip around the sound.  Wow.  Absolutely amazing.   I can’t describe it other than its huge, beautiful, wet (obviously :-p) and breathtaking.  The captain of the boat turned off the engines for a few minutes and asked everyone to be silent to hear what is around – and there was heaps of noise.  Birds, water, other animals I have no idea what cause I couldn’t see them but it was full of noise.  Stunning.

I have realised that I am a bad passenger.  Not sure if its because of Lynsey’s driving ability, or just that we’re driving so much together that I’ve noticed it.  I spend most of the time studying the map while she drives, so I’ve got a fairly good idea of where we’re going and what is around and where.  And I’ve noticed that we seem to be going in the opposite direction to most travellers.  Most seem to travel the south island in an anti clockwise direction, where we’re doing it clockwise.  Even the guide books read in an anti-clockwise direction – ie, I find I’m reading the book from back to front to cover where we’re going as its opposite to everyone else.  Interesting.  And for anyone that wanted to tour NZ as a golf trip – you would be kept more than happy.  It seems that every town (even the tiny ones) have a golf course.  Even the town that was near the river we found the other day had a golf course.  Only had one pub, one little convenience store and one caravan park – but it had a golf course… Day 8 saw us in Queenstown.  Party town.  Everyone who has been to NZ has been to Queenstown, I’m sure.  I took a River Surfing trip for some more adrenaline – you have a boogie board (you remember when you were little and took them to the beach to try to body surf the waves??) and a wetsuit, and you surf down the river.  Through the rapids and all.  Loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!  More of a thrill than rafting, because you are only on a little board, not in a big raft, and you have to do all the work yourself – except when you are in the rapids and they throw you about all over the place of course.  I thought it was fantastic, but soooo tiring.  The guides are so fit.  You have to paddle with your flippers all the time, and steer in the direction you want to go (or were planning on going) and when you get off course, the guides always managed to reach you and pull you back onto course.  We went down a grade 4 rapid – the rapids are graded in intensity from grade 1 (basically flat water) to grade 5 (churning, rocks everywhere sort of rapid) so a grade 4 on a boogie board got the heart going a bit!  I loved it and had a ball.  Some of the others weren’t so keen – but I find I have to do the most extreme to get a kick out of it.

After the surf, we headed out for a few drinks (almost mandatory in Queenstown) – to the World Bar for a “teapot”.  Yes, its a white teapot that you would associate with scones and tea – but they mix up a cocktail and put that in the pot instead – combined with a few shot glasses and you are laughing – well very after anyway!  I had such a good day, met more people, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I met two other Aussies, from Perth, so have set up my contacts for when I head over there.  I’d been feeling a bit socially isolated, after a week in the campervan with just Lynsey and myself for company.  I think I’ve realised that I need to have a fairly social existance to be most happy.  I love my own time, but not when it is forced on me.  I’d rather choose when to have it.  That day in Queenstown was just what I needed – an adrenaline fuelled activity, a chance to meet some great people, and build up my social network.  It also got me thinking about more travel (I dont think I’ll ever really settle down in one place “forever”!)  I’m hoping to get my Maltese citizenship and passport this year, and head to Europe in 2010 – what a party for my 30th that would be!! Well I’m sure this email is long enough (once again) – dont feel bad if you dont read to the end – I know they are long, however I figure I’ll give you the chance to keep up with what I’m doing, and it gives me a record of what I’ve been up to also.  Thanks to all those people who replied, much appreciated.  Until day 12, take care, Bel xoxo

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