Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Zealand Retroactive...

Ok sorry about the late update! If you will believe it I am now in Chile!! I had 10 days at home where I was flat out working on our house and in the gym...it was controlled chaos! But I am getting ahead of myself!

The rest of my new zealand camp was good. I ended the camp feeling that I had a really good idea of what I needed to work on. Instead of going home straight away thought myself, Eve Routhier and Kelly McBroom took a little road trip!

We commenced our little journey from Christchurch and headed north to Hamner Springs. We had a quickie dinner then headed to the hot springs for a little relaxation after 4 weeks on snow. It was the perfect start to a couple hectic days of driving! The next day we drove from the Lewis Pass to Westport were we had a awesome lunch on the beach

The Beach in Westport

After a delicious/random lunch of hamburger, garlic bread and carrots we continued down the west coast. We visited a seal colony that was incredibly beautiful and it ws here that my team mate Eve learned to drive standard...on the wrong side of the road!

The Seal Colony
Around 4 pm we arrived at the "Pancake rocks and blowholes". It was incredible!

We were terrible tourists who went off the main track to discover "the real sites"! After walking around in awe at the pancake rocks we continued a little further to a deserted beach were we watched the sunset and drank kiwi wine.

After watching the sunset we climbed back into the van and continued down to Hokitika. The next morning we managed to find public showers (nothing better than being clean after a few days living in a van!). We continued down the coast past Franz Joesph and the Fox Glacier (we decided not to stop...we see enough glaciers). In the morning we had been told to visit a place called Okarita, a ten km detour off the main road, to see the "beautiful lagoon" and to possibly go kayaking. After navigating a treacherous windy road we arrived in Okarita....permanent population of 35!!! The lagoon looked like a dam that had dried out. After about ten minutes we turned around and left. We continued down the coast and decided to visit another place we had heard about called Monroe beach. The trail sign said a 1 30 hr round trip in and out to Monroe beach...it took us 15 minutes to run! Monroe beach was incredible. After running through jungle it was amazing to arrive at a deserted beach with perfect round pebbles. It was incredible sunny and we wandered the beach like explorers landing on a foreign shore after months at sea! We climbed, looked and pondered all the while being eaten by sandflies...but it was worth it!
Monroe Beach

After Monroe we continued down to Haast were we once again ate dinner and drank wine on the beach at sunset. Beautiful. After sunset we drove from Haast to Queenstown! We lived in Queenstown and had visited Wanaka before so it wasn't a vital area for us. The next day was Eve's birthday and she wanted to see Milford Sound...so we drove through the night!
The view from our campervan on Eve's Birthday morning!!

After we set out from Queenstown our drive was interrupted by a herd of sheep who came barrelling down the road towards us...we sat stunned and giggling in our van for I swear 10 minutes as sheep passed up! One of the cars passing the other way rolled down his window "It's ok if you're on vacation" haha apparently stampeding sheep is a regular NZ occurrence!
This was a photo taken about an hour from Milford sound...we had a personal joke during the drive were we bought a party pack of fake mustaches...the funniest part was when we forgot that we were wearing them and pulled into a gas station. We commenced filling the tank and the usual to do's without realizing how funny we looked! Epic!
We arrived in Milford Sound accompanied by torrential rain!!! We booked a tour of the sound on a small ferry. Rain couldn't get us down!
On board we celebrated Eve's birthday with a toast of white wine in the rain. After unloading from the boat we were soaked and decided that it would be prudent to actually "plug-in" at a camper van ground and try to dry out the van and our stuff! We ended up having a great night spent playing dual language scrabble (french and english) with many onlookers helping out with both languages. We met a few people who were from the same town in Quebec as Eve (Sherbrook)...they only live about 5 minutes apart!

The next morning we woke up to a sign that said road closed due to ice...so we had a lazy morning organizing the van before the road opened at 11. About 30 hr after commencing our drive I looked down and noticed we did not have enough gas to make it over the pass so we had to turn around and go back to Milford sound...however thank god we did as the sun finally came out and we actually got to see the sound! I guess some things happen for a reason!
Milford Sound the next morning!

That day we spent in Te Anau after we finally got gas and drove over the pass. We had a great time deciding on what wool to buy to make our own scarves. The knitting shop we were in had the greatest lady working there who was so knowledgeable and so enthusiastic! It turns out when you buy lots of GOOD wool...its expensive!! At 7 pm we went on a tour of some glow worm caves. It was incredible! Not easy to get to though! We had a 30 mn boat ride to the caves then we hiked up the cave system to where the glow worms lived. Each little glow worm twinkled like a little star on the roof of the cave. It was awe inspiring and so calming to be in the dark, silent cave in a boat over water looking at little lights! After the tour we proceeded just past the village of Gore to sleep for the night.

The next day we headed to Dunedin. I think this was our most memorable day. We booked 2 tours. the Cadbury chocolate factory in the morning and the Speights brewery in the afternoon.
Can you tell we were excited? I felt sick by the time we exited the Cadbury tour...for every question you anwsered correctly you got a piece of chocolate! Between our tours we browsed the shops of Dunedin and recovered from all the chocolate.

Our tour of the Speights brewery in the afternoon was amazing. Our tour guide was lively and hilarious! Sprinting from one part of the brewery to the next! After the tour we went into a bead store and spent over an hour picking great beads to make our own earrings!! then we went for Sushi. It was a great day!!! After sushi we rolled out of Dunedin (by far our favourite town) and headed back up the east coast towards Christchurch. We stopped for the night in Methven were we had left all our ski stuff. At around 4 am I woke up to the feeling of our van being severely rocked!! I thought someone was driving away with us in the back of the van! After thinking it through and realizing it wasn't someone driving away in the van or Kelly rolling around me and Eve decided it must have been the wind and swiftly fell back asleep. It was only in the morning thatwe found out it was a 7.5 earthquake that we had felt!
Morning after the earthquake...still obliviously that it had happened...

We drove from Methven to Christchurch and went to drop off our van. While we were there there was a 5.4 aftershock. We really felt that one! Throughout the rest of the day and that night there were constant small tremors. It was bizarre and at the same time you just got on with life! Our flight was cancelled and we ended up spending an extra night in Christchurch.
How many km's we drove during our trip!

Overall it was an amazing time with great friends and beautiful scenery! I would do it again in a heart beat!

I will update on Chile soon!