A Travellerspoint blog

South Island Summary...Finally

Current Location: Auckland, NZ

Hello Everyone,

It has been too long since we last posted on the blog. We apologize for that! The fact that the Internet has been so slow and expensive along with our camping has really set us behind. Thank you for being patient, now let’s get you up to speed.

We wanted to show you what our Holiday Park site in Queenstown was like so we made the following video (you'll have to open a new tab or browser and copy/paste):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpHoa-hYQSM&feature=feedu_more

From Queenstown we headed out to Milford Sound. We debated the pros and cons of driving out to the coast to Milford Sound but in the end we decided to go. Great decision! It was amazing! We got really wet but we had an awesome time! The mountains right up against the fjord, the waterfalls and seeing wild penguins hopping on rocks made it all worthwhile! It was really something to see penguins in the wild. Jennifer had tears running down her cheeks at the sight of those rare and endangered penguins.

Yellow-Eyed Penguins at Milford Sound

Yellow-Eyed Penguins at Milford Sound

The sandflies inspired us to only spend one night in Milford. We learned of the Maori Legend that told us of the goddess Hine-nui-te-po. When she saw the fiord's beauty, she was worried that visitors would never want to leave so she released the sandflies to encourage humans take a quick look and then leave the area right away. That is exactly what we did but we are still suffering from those itchy bites two weeks later!

Milford Sound

Milford Sound


Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound


Tazman Sea from Milford Sound

Tazman Sea from Milford Sound


Milford Sound

Milford Sound


Starfish 10 meters below surface at Milford Sound Discovery Center

Starfish 10 meters below surface at Milford Sound Discovery Center

Here are 3 short videos of our cruise on Milford Sound:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjtfQlWQFZc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmk5oq0omL4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDeVivJLuwE

Next we cruised across the island to the nice but cold little college town, Dunedin. Dunedin was interesting. We spent several nights at a hostel called Manor Place. It is a big old house and is very comfortable. It felt like we were staying with relatives and we made some yummy meals in the nice big kitchen. We participated in the ping-pong tournament at the hostel, and enjoyed the 6-beer prize for Robert's 1st place victory! USA! USA! USA! There is a small but adamant presence of occupiers in the Octagon in the city center. The streets are very steep which makes for challenging walks to and from the city. It is spring right now so there are bright colorful flowers in everyone's yard. We never knew there were so many different types (and colors) of Rhododendrons.

Jenny and Diesel

Jenny and Diesel


Dunedin Botanical Gardens

Dunedin Botanical Gardens


Occupy Dunedin

Occupy Dunedin

From Dunedin, we took a trip out to the Otago Peninsula. We drove our campervan to the Royal Albatross Center at the tip of the peninsula. We didn't see any Albatross because they are sitting on their nests this time of year. There was a great museum with some informative displays so we were able to learn all about those incredible birds.

Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula


Tip of Otago Peninsula

Tip of Otago Peninsula

Next we hiked over a huge sand dune down to a beach where we found about 15 huge sea lions hanging out right there on the sand! It was unreal! The Department of Conservation had posted signs as to how to interact with them. We were careful to follow the directions of stepping back if the sea lion started to react to you. It was truly amazing to walk on the beach right next to these enormous creatures (and some babies)! We walked the length of the beach and sat in the Penguin hide, but to no avail; all the birds were busy hunting under the surface of the ocean for food for their baby chicks waiting for them in nests in the tall grass on shore.

Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula

Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula


Sea Lions on the beach - Otago Peninsula

Sea Lions on the beach - Otago Peninsula

Here is some video footage of the sea lions on the Otago Peninsula:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQsOSbvBz7w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owrEUJhP4to

After a relaxing week in Dunedin and enjoying the opportunity to sleep in real beds, we hopped back into our camper van and drove to Mt. Cook. Mt. Cook’s name in Maori is Aoraki, which has historically thought to mean “cloud piercer.” Mt. Cook has a very sharp tip and the clouds seemed to be leary of going near it when we were there. We captured some amazing sunset pictures of the clouds on our first night. We both decided we loved our two nights camping at Mt. Cook the best of all the national parks. Next we traveled over to Lake Tekapo. As you can see in the pictures, the lake is an unusual color of turquoise blue that is a result of the “rock flour” that is created by the headwaters of the glacier that grind the rock into fine particles that are suspended in the water and reflect the sunlight in such a way as to create such a beautiful and unique color.

Mt. Cook

Mt. Cook


Jenny and Bok Choy Baby, Mt. Cook Campground

Jenny and Bok Choy Baby, Mt. Cook Campground


Jenny and Bobby - Mt. Cook

Jenny and Bobby - Mt. Cook

Here is the series we captured of the sunset--Mt. Cook's view of the clouds:

Sunset on Mt. Cook

Sunset on Mt. Cook


Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook

Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook


Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook

Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook


Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook

Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook


Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook

Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook


Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook

Sunset on Clouds - Mt. Cook

Lake Tekapo photos:

Monument  to Sheep Dogs who helped build Tekapo Area

Monument to Sheep Dogs who helped build Tekapo Area


Church of the Good Shepard.  Lake Tekapo

Church of the Good Shepard. Lake Tekapo


Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo


Bobby - Lake Tekapo

Bobby - Lake Tekapo

We left Lake Tekapo to head back up to Christchurch to complete the circle around the South Island. When we arrived in Christchurch we had a few days left with our camper van, Bok Choy Baby. So instead of parking and paying for a hostel room we chose instead to head back out to our first camping spot in Arthur’s Pass to camp for free. The spot is called Greyney’s Shelter and it has a lovely fireplace in the cutest little shelter. So we spent our final camper van nights at Greyney’s Shelter and hiked around Arthur’s Pass, built some nice fires, sang songs and played guitar with our fellow campers. It was a wonderful way to end our camper van adventure! If a camper van adventure around New Zealand is in your future, we would like to do a shout-out to Escape Campervans. They provided us with such a wonderful experience. Our beautiful van was often photographed by folks passing by--made us feel like celebrities. It was really fun to drive a beautiful piece of artwork around such beautiful country.

Bobby at Greyney's Shelter

Bobby at Greyney's Shelter


Jenny at Greyney's Shelter - Arthur's Pass

Jenny at Greyney's Shelter - Arthur's Pass


Bobby cooking our last camper van breakfast

Bobby cooking our last camper van breakfast


Bobby driving on the left side of the road

Bobby driving on the left side of the road

We are now in Auckland and will be staying on the north island for the next 6 days, then we depart for Australia! We got the backpacker prices (and saved 20 NZD!!!) and took the elevator up the Skytower--the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere! Great views from up there! We made a short video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iuQaYUqo4k

We're excited to spend a couple more nights in Auckland, then we plan to visit our friend Matt (the chap from Wales who we met at the Jailhouse and hung out with in Queenstown) who lives 2 hours south of the city, and then over to the Coromandel Peninsula to hit up the Hot Water Beach! We'll post again before we depart for Sydney!

Glad to hear that the snow melted back home!

We miss you!

J & R

Posted by JennyandRobert 19:40 Comments (3)

Queenstown, New Zealand

This place is amazing!

Hey gang,

The more time we spend in New Zealand, the more we like it. Today is Sunday October 30th(Sat night back in Madison), and we're just hanging out and reading the local newspaper and maybe have a fire up at our Holiday Park tonight. We've had some problems uploading videos to the internet, but we think we've finally got it figured out.

It's so beautiful here with the glacial lakes and mountains. We met up with Greg and Marion, our French friends we met in Christchurch on a trail near our campsite (another happenstance!) and took a 3 hour hike with them on Thursday. You can hike anywhere around here and get blown away by the breathtaking scenery. We especially liked seeing the 'double-lake' reward after hiking uphill for 2 hours! The name of the smaller lake is Dispute, and the larger is Wakatipu. We're planning to take an even longer hike up to Moke Lake tomorrow, and we hope to earn the 'triple-lake' view!!!

Here are some photos we've taken from the Queenstown area:

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On Friday we rode the gondola up to Bob's peak. This is how it looked on the way down (you'll have to copy/paste):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJLOqCg1AzY

We also made a quick video of our campervan setup and of the camsite at 12 Mile Campground on Lake Wakatipu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1Qy-SXhIgs

We're happy to let you all know that we're doing well; hope you are too! See you next week from Dunedin!

J & R

PS--It occurs to us that we have yet to tell the story of why our blog is titled: Switch to Wine at the Border. Here is the story:

In 2008, we took a 4.5-month trip to South America. When we got to Cusco, Peru, we stayed at Loki Hostel. On our first night there, we ate dinner with a british couple, Simon and Lynn. After dinner we were enjoying beers together and talking about our trips. We found out that they were doing the same basic 'gringo trail' that we were on--they were headed North and we were headed South. We swapped tips on places we had been, and they recommended that when we cross the Border from Bolivia into Argentina, that we MUST stop drinking beer and switch to wine, not only because the beer is bad in Argentina, but because the wine is so good.

During this discussion, an Irish bartender (employee of the hostel bar) rolled up to us and asked us if we wanted to partake in the pub quiz, and if so, what would be our team name. We all said yes, then Robert said, "our team name is 'Switch to Wine at the Border.'" We all had a good laugh, and then proceded to kick the shit out of all the other teams and win the trivia competition--most of the questions were about English Soccer and American Pop culture. We dominated and won free T-shirts--Robert was able to wear his while bartending at the next Loki hostel in La Paz, Bolivia.

So that's the story. STWATB.

Posted by JennyandRobert 19:32 Comments (3)

Way to go the All Blacks!

New Zealand won the world cup!

Hello Everyone,

We arrived in Queenstown in time to celebrate the World Cup Rugby Match between NZ All Blacks and France. The All Blacks now hold the rugby championship title for the next four years! The players did a special Haka, which is a traditional war cry/dance of the Maori people, before the game. It is interesting to see how much of the Maori culture is incorporated into everyday New Zealand life.The All Blacks

The All Blacks

The best part of arriving in Queenstown was running into our friend from Wales, Matt, who we met in jail in Christchurch. We were stopped at an intersection in the van in the city center and he just walked up to our window and said hello. Crazy! We didn't even know he was heading down here for the game. We got to hang out together and shares some beers for the game.

On the drive to Queenstown we hit up the Franz Josef Glacier. Bobby's first glacier and a huge tick off of the ol' bucket list. DSC05944

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It has been nonstop raining for the past couple of days. Boo. Yesterday we took a breathtaking drive to Glenorchy and stayed there for the night. Today we are making our list of fun things to do when the rain stops. The camper van is super super fun to live in. We really enjoy making our meals and the freedom the van allows us.DSC06015

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We will say good-bye for now. Stay tuned for our next video. J&R

Posted by JennyandRobert 19:41 Comments (0)

Christchurch/Jailhouse Hostel

Hello Friends!

Yesterday we were holed up in the hostel all day due to torrential rain. Today we walked around the city of Christchurch. The entire city center was blocked off because of the danger of the damaged buildings and demolition work. The earthquakes have devastated this once beautiful and historical city. It was heartbreaking to see old stately stone churches lying in crumbled heaps. We walked past memorials with flowers and children's toys. Christchurch

Christchurch

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A Kiwi approached us to welcome and thank us for visiting Christchurch. He told us how frightening it was the day of the aftershock. He pointed out the buildings around us that were scheduled for demolition. One of the buildings is a very large hotel that took up a whole city block: DSC05867

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The man told us that they are carrying on because that is all they can do. Several other skyscrapers and over 2,000 homes are slated for demolition as well. It's tragic. He told us that if we looked closely we could see where the Cathedral once stood. We couldn't tell where it was due to all the rubble. DSC05873

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On a positive note, we did secure our campervan from tomorrow morning until November 14th! The guy even gave us 5% off! We are really excited to hit the road! DSC05895

DSC05895


Also, the hostel that we're staying at is a very old renovated jailhouse. It was in use until 1999 and is unique; it has been a cool place to stay! We cut a little video to show you what it's like (you'll have to copy/paste):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m4q_mAwKu0

From Christchurch,

J & R

Posted by JennyandRobert 16:14 Comments (1)

Mango Bay Video

We finally figured out how to upload a video!!!

Check out a short video we took while at Mango Bay in Fiji (you'll have to copy/paste this one, we're working on setting up the link)!!!:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP6OWmsZGOg

Posted by JennyandRobert 15:56 Comments (4)

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