A Travellerspoint blog

Milford Sound

sunny 20 °C

Our flight that was booked to fly over Milford Sound then land in Milford, get on a cruise ship and then fly back, was delayed due to the weather. While we were tryig to fill in the time and waiting whether we would have any luck later on, my Mum and me had such a big arguement which ended in her storming off and saying that she wouldn't go. Antje and myself decided to go, as we didn't know where she was, when she would decided to come back and it was also booked. And that was a good decision, as it was amazing. Such a shame it had to happen without my Mum but I hate to say that it certainly was one of the highlights in New Zealand. Antje and myself had a plane just to ourselves. That's why they weren't impressed about the cancellation but let us still fly. The plane only had 4 seats, one pilot and 3 passengers. Fantastic! Never been in or seen such a small plane and also never had a privat plane. And the pilot was cute too! :-)
The weather, which is very temperamantle in that area was perfect. The pilot even said that he has seen mountains he has never seen before. Whether that is true or the guy was maybe just new, who knows....;-)
Anyway, the views were truly breath taking. The fiords, the mountains which occasionally had the peak covered with snow and the wonderful deep blue hidden mountain lakes that you could only see from the air. It was well and truly brilliant and a unitque experience.
The only downside was that I felt so sorry that Mutti missed all that, as she would have loved it.
After an amazing 35 minute flight we landed at the cute Milford airport that is surrounded by mountains and doesn't even have a control tower. Everyone, meaning every plane or pilot is just lookig out of the window watching out for each other.
We then got on our boat. That was amazing too. Wonderful waterfalls and fantastic views all around. After the cruise our privat pilot picked us up again and we flew back. Again breathtaking views... What an experience that was. Fabolous!!!

From Milford we made our way to Queenstown...

Posted by Julia1976 07:14 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Catlins

semi-overcast 18 °C

From Akaroa we went to Timaru and stopped at a campsite to carry on the next day to our next stop the Moeraki Boulders, which was wonderful. A fantastic beach where we went for a really long walk which was so nice. They have these funny stones there which looked great (easiest to have a look at the pictures), but it's quite a strange thing. Antje and Mutti were busy collecting shells as always...:-) They probably get stuck in customs, as you are not meant to take anything from the beach with you and Mutti had her pockets filled up. She even had to lie stuff down half way through the walk because she couldn't carry it anymore.... Unbelievable... It's not protectect stuff or anything so it should be okay...
After that we went to Shag Point, which was so beautiful. We saw loads of seals again. Incredible how many seals I have seen on this trip by now. We had lunch with the best view you could possibly have for lunch and then carried on all the way to Nugget Point. The small road leading to Nugget Point looked already incredible in the dark, so I can't wait to see at daytime.
It's all the way along the sea and all the rocks and moon were shining so bright, the moon was like a spot light, eluminating everything. Amazing! The sky and especially the Southern Cross looked incredible. It is really strange that you can see it as soon as you look up in the sky.
It's certainly getting cold here now. Since a couple of days we can't even camp wild anymore, as we need the heating at night and it only works when we pluged in to electricity. We also can't sit outside anymore...:-(

Easter we spent very hung over (what a surprise, as Antje and myself drank 3 liters of wine....), in Kaka Point. We stayed on a small campsite and even had our first night for free, as receptions wasn't occupied. Great!
On our first day in the Catlins we went to Cannibal Bay which we unfortunately passed by accident (Blonds...:-) and went back to Kaka Point to do the Bush Walk instead. On our way back we got lost and had to wander around in town and found a nice little restaurant where we decided to have dinner that evening. Sometimes it's actually quite good to get lost :-)
We then went to Nugget Point and saw seals again and then yellow-eyed penguins. There weren't many but they are sooooo cute. They are just too funny when they come out of the water trying to get onto the beach slipping around on the tummy and once they start walking you can't help yourself but burst out laughing. Too funny those fellows...
After that we had dinner in our new found restaurant which was very good and had an early night.
The day after we started our 4-5 walk at Cannibal Bay which we didn't miss this time and walked up the cliffs where we had an amazing view. After that we walked along the beach to Surat Bay. that was absolutely incredible, as we have seen so many sea lions. They are absolutely massive and just lie on that wonderful beach with huge waves, dunes in the background, surrounded by stunning cliffs. What a beautiful spot that is. To some of them we got really close as they were lying in the dunes. That was really coold. There was one female in grey and white with huge big black eyes that was just georgous. She looked like a cuddly toy, so beautiful. She also seemed to have a little pup and there was quite some action going on, as a male kept them separate. Got some great pics and have never been so close to a sea lion. There have been a couple of scary moments too, when that male starting making really scary noises and "running" towards our direction. Not sure whether we got too close or whether it was still the dispute over the puppy. What a wonderful walk that was. You had to watch out for the sea lions as you kept stumbling over them if you didn't watch out.

After that we drove to Curio Bay hoping to see Blue Penguins but had no luck. We found a really cool campsite though. Brilliant location, facilities were very basic to say the least, but they are still booked out for the powered campsites for the next 6 months, so it's all about location, location, location...:-)
Due to the demand we couldn't get a powered campsite, which meant no heating for us and it was freezing, so another excuse to drink shit loads of wine to keep us warm.
The following day we went to the Petrified Forest, which wasn't too great and then to the most Southern Point on the South Island, which was great but very windy.
After that we drove to Te Anau which a very nice little town just by a lake and our starting point for Milford Sound. Tonight is an early night again and doing things like laundry, internet etc.

Posted by Julia1976 09:32 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Akaroa

Swimming with Dolphins

semi-overcast 17 °C

We drove all the way from Kaikoura to Akaroa and got straight away sent away by a very rude Kiwi, so we had to relocate in the middle of the night and couldn't find anything but outside the firebrigade. Great! As long as they are goodlooking, but let's hope there is no alarm....

The next morning was miserable... completely overcast and rainy and really cold. After being told that the water tempearture is 15 C, Mutti and Antje decided not to go swimming and just come along and watch which was fine with me. Under no circumstance I was giving up my dolphin swimming. Once we got on the boat, the weather was fantastic and Mutti regret her decision. We went out to find the Hector dolphins which are really cute. They are the smallest ones, which is good for the swimming but thinking about the orcas... it's even easier to attack them. They are probably just the appetizer before they go to the next bay to have the Dusky Dolphins as a main....
They are much shier than the Duskies and live in small groups, only 5-6. We eventually did find some and I can tell you it was freezing cold. I was wearing a wet suit and boots but the moment the water got into the wetsuit was literally breathtaking. After a few minutes it got better, but still my hands and face....
It was an amazing experience to have them come up so close to you. The water was really dark blue so could never see them coming and they suddenly just came up next to you or in front of you which is a bit strange, but it was great!
It was definitely an amazing experience but it also made me want more. It must be incredible to swim with a few hundred and also when they are not as shy. But maybe next time... and for now it was absolutely incredible and I can only recommend it.
If we have time on our way back I would definitely do it in Kaikoura with the Dusky Dolphins. They are just amazing animals. Sometimes it is a bit weird when they dive up in front of you and just disappear under you. They come up to proably one meter distance. As they like noises, I had two stones that I had to clap under water and a girl next to me had an underwater camera making strange noises, which seemed to work quite well, as at one point they were all around us. Happy Days...:-)

Posted by Julia1976 08:19 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Kaikoura

Whale Watching

semi-overcast 20 °C

After Maharau we made our way to Kaikoura with a quick stop in Blenheim to do some shopping and another stop by theh sea for some lunch in a wonderful old and really romantic restaurant. Just before Kaikoura we bought a couple (only 2 as Antje doesn't like them) of fresh lobsters for dinner and also saw loads of seals. Absoluteley incredible how many there were. Just next to the road. They were also quite active and swimming in little pools, fighting and annoying each other. I have never seen so many before. What a sight!
We had a quick look around in town and went for a walk on top of the cliffs before having our delicious dinner just by the sea, the two lobsters... yummy....
It's getting really cold now though, so we moved inside straight after dinner and proceeded with loads of wine....:-)
After an early morning we went to our whale watching tour which was a huge success. The weather was fantastic. Unfortunately the boats were quite big but it was still fantastic. We saw 3 sperm whales. They are 18-19 meters long. In case you wonder where the name comes from... here you go:
When whalers first caught them, them examined them and cut open their huge forehead, which holds 2.5 tons of a white oily liquid which they believed was sperm, hence the name sperm whale. They can't have been the brightest... Why on earth would one animal need 2.5 tons of sperm and then keep it in his forehead????
Never mind, they use the liquid to dive. When they go down it turns into wax which makes it heavier and keeps them down and once they want to come up again, they warm it up so it becomes liquide which helps the ascent. They are the whales that dive deepest, up to a 1000 meters, hence they need some help with that liquid/wax. They are the only whale that stays on the surface in the same spot for 5-10 minutes before diving down again, which makes it great for watching them, as they literally don't move. We have seen 3 of them. Very impressive. The best part was when they were diving down again and you could see the tail properly which usuallyis in the water. The classic whale tail! Loved it!!! Got some nice pics and videos form it too.
On our way back to the harbour we saw 200-300 dusky dolphins which was incredible. Have never seen so many dolphins in my life before... I know I keep saying this, but it's true. They are the acrobats of the sea and were very active and jumping around. A few of them did quite a few high jumps, which was great fun to watch. Got again quite a few good pics and even remembered the movie this time :-) The whole trip was a great success. After that I bought myself a nice ring as a memory.

Unfortnately I was stupid enough not to book my dolphin swimming and it is all booked up for the next 2-3 days. I have put us on the waiting list but no luck. After being very disappointed we met a guy in the car park who started the conversation with "3 girls in a campervan looks like trouble..." :-) if only he know how right we was...:-)
Anyway he told us that there was only one company offering the dolphin swimming and one of his friends is driving the boat and called him exactely one year ago from the boat to tell him while his customers are in the water swimming with the dolphins, Orcas are attacking the dolphins and killing them and there was blood everywhere in the water and the people still swimming and so on... Great! Exactely that kind of story you want to hear....
However he also told us that you can also go dolphin swimming in Akaroa, a very nice and cute little French town which is beautifully located close to Christchurch on a peninsula.
I booked the tour straight away and was very happy. We went for lunch again to a lobster place, just by the sea, only a little stall selling fresh lobster, called Molly.

Posted by Julia1976 07:51 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Abel Tasman Park

22 °C

We took the ferry to the South Island (Picton) this morning with Abel Tasman Park being our first destination. Thankfully the weather was quite good so we could sit outside all morning and even saw dolphins twice.
We decided to change our original route and go straight to Kaikoura after Abel Tasman Park, as we all agreed that it is important to all of us to see whales and for me to swim with dolphins. If we would have gone down the west coast first as originally planned, Kaikoura would have been the last stop and apparently you sometimes need to wait a few days before the boats can go out due to the weather and we didn't want to risk that.
The South Island is absolutely stunning so far. Already the ferry ride was amazing. The weather is good and we are wild camping on a beach by Marahau. Here is where the whole disaster with the sand flies started. Tiny little innocent looking flies... but oh no, innocent they are not!! Lethal blood sucking, most horrible itching and ever lasting bites they cause those evil creatures! The bites we would get that night would last until the end of the holiday.... Our legs looked like befallen by some sort of skin disease! Very attractive!!!

The next day my Mum and myself went for a kayaking tour in Abel Tasman Park, which was fantastic! We had really good weather, well , at least it wasn't rainng, which is good here. Absolutely loved the kayaking, quite hard work but not as bad as I expected and it was working really well with my Mum, which proves the point that my technique isn't as bad as Matthi kept saying when we went kayaking in Sweden! :-) I am sure he would disagree...
First we were pulled out to the sea, which was quite strange, as we were sitting in the boat while the boat was still on a trailor. Basically like a taxi which was dropped straight into the sea. The boat dropped us and the kayaks at Bark Bay where we also met the other 4 Israeli attending the tour. We were kayaking aournd beautiful scenary. Fantastic beaches, turqois water and the thick forest of Abel Tasman Park in the background. The forest here looks a bit like the rainforest in Australia. We also went to two little islands where we saw loads of seals. They are a bit smaller than the Aussie ones and have their ears outside whereas the Aussie ones have them inside. REally cute little fellows. We had lunch at one of the beautiful beaches ,which looked like paradise, absolutely fantastic. While trying to climb out of the kayak, Mutti fell in the water, much to the amusement of all of us. And it really didn't have anything to do with me... Promise! :-) Unfortunately it wasn't warm enough for swimming, apart from the unintended dip of my Mum....
We also got to see some cool granit caves, where Mutti fell between the rocks while climbing. REally not her day....
I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it, what a great hobby... might need to consider taking up kayaking on the Thames... ;-)
On our way back we were sailing back by creating a most bizarre construction. The guide told us to hold the 3 kayaks together and then put up a sail, which was used as picnic blanket for our lunch. We got some serious speed and it was great fun. Well, for me and the others anyway, not so much for my Mum as she had to hold up the mast which was quite difficult. As I said, not one of her best days... :-)
Back at the campsit we had a much appreciated shower. That's part of the camping world. Even doing your laundry seems like a reward. Amazing how perspectives change.... By the time I am back, I am going to be one smelly girl....:-) hee, hee....

Although our van doesn't seem that big, we manage to keep loosing things. I lost my camera cable, my Mum her dogging station and so on. The other night my Mum and Antje did their laundry and when Antje went to pick up the second lot from the dryer the whole load was gone. Someoene had quite clearly nicked all our stuff. So, we carried on and had a few drinks to cheer ourselves up. The next morning Antje remembered the whole thing and went again to check, hoping that someone had taken it by mistake and put it back. After she found the dryer still empty and no sign of the laundry and she told a few people on the campsite and made it very clear what she thought of the thiefs. Fortunately the owners werent there. The ladies she cmplained to, even offered here some cloth....
After a while my Mum found a top in her drawer that was believed nicked. To cut a long story short, we were so drunk that none of us remembered and realised taht they had taken the laundry out of the dryer and tidily put it into their drawers... so it has been there the whole time. Needless to say that we had a few too many that night. Anyway, it was very funny at the time but I suppose you had to be there. That's now our joke for the trip though.

After her lucky day yesterday, my Mum almost fell down from the second bed which is in the top of the van and we haven't quite worked out how to fix the ladder properly... so the whole thing came down with a huge bang in the middle of the night, while she was trying to climb down. Antje jumped out of bed in shock, asking her:"MONI, bist du schon unten?" (is only funny in German...). We laughed the whole day about that. Needless to say that Antje and myself again had quite a few. I, on the other hand, being a caring daughter as always, didn't even wake up. My Mum could have broken her back and I would have slept through it. Too much drinkng at the moment... After Australia I am not used to that much drinking anymore...

The next day we went walking in Able Tasman Park. The water taxi dropped us off at Totaranui where we started our 4 hour walk. On our way to the drop off we stopped at another seal rock which was really cool. They were so active and most of them were in the water playing, swimming around, relaxing. Really great!
The walk was amazing. The weather was fantastic, probably the we had here on the South Island so far. The beaches are an absolute dream and Antje started to believe that not all holiday brochures are photoshopped! :-)
There were hardly any other people on the walk and we had some great walking. Either on the beach or inland. Mutti and myself were even so brave to go swimming, which was a great decision, as it was the last time in New Zealand. It was freezing cold, I acutally didn't feel my feet and hands anymore but really really nice. After that sandflie attack the second came over us. So bad. This time they went for the whole body not just the legs.... little Bastards!
The last part of the treck should have taken 1.5 hours but we needed at least 2, although we were almost running for the last hour. Something wasn't right there. Either we got lost, which is hardly impossilbe or they miscalculated. We agreed on the latter option...:-)
Anyway, we missed our pick up from the water taxi and got stranded in huge Abel Tasman Park! Going through our options, which basically meant walking for several hours to get to the next hut, as we couldn't have made it back to the campsite, we realised that first of all a lot of the huts were booked out and secondly the reason we didn't do an overnight treck was that we weren't equipped for it, meaning you have to bring your own sleeping bag and food to those huts. All they basically provide is a roof in a dorm. It wasn't even clear whether we could make it before sunset to one of the huts, which would have left us with the other option, staying at the beach. Checking our supplies, we counted 3 bananas, 3 apples and 3 wet towels..... You see how we got more and more worried of what to do. As the huts didn't sound to appealing we stayed at the beach and fortunately the guy came back 40 mins later being seriously pissed off as he had to come back all the way just for us. We didn't really get the friendliest welcome to say the least but we were so happy to be saved. That would have been a damn cold night!

It certainly taught us a lesson. One girl on the boat said exactely the same and agreed that some distances are under-estimated and vice versa. So, it wasn't our fault! :-)
We had a very relaxed and funny evening following that, so much appreciating our "home", beds, food and everything...;-) We do have a lot of fun I have to say....

Tomorrow it's going to Kaikoura where I have booked the whale watchfing for us and hopefully do the dolphin swimming too...

Oh, while searching for our cables and all that stuff, I took out one of the drawers thinking it might have fallen behind it and see what I find... I beautiful greenstone, nicely wrapped as a souvenir, exactely like I wanted one.
I did feel a bit bad as it was obviously for someone else but there is no way that with a several year old van you could have figured out who has lost it there. In hinsight, I got my punishment as I lost it later on... just wasn' meant to be. Now I will need to buy one on the Internet after all :-)

Posted by Julia1976 08:51 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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