Current Location: Auckland, NZ
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):
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.
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!
Here are 3 short videos of our cruise on Milford Sound:
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.
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.
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.
Here is some video footage of the sea lions on the Otago Peninsula:
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.
Here is the series we captured of the sunset--Mt. Cook's view of the clouds:
Lake Tekapo photos:
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.
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:
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