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Thread: New Zealand - Queenstown and Fox & St Joseph Glaciers to Kaikoura

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    New Zealand - Queenstown and Fox & St Joseph Glaciers to Kaikoura

    26th February - 10th March

    Queenstown-New Zealand’s Adrenaline Capital and Fox & St Joseph Glaciers to Kaikoura.

    After being so wet and cold for a few days we wanted to stay in our room (at the 'Top Ten' near the Shotover river) for the following day also, but a family had booked it and needed the space ’our’ room afforded as it also had a bunk bed. We were however offered another room next door but we couldn’t move in until 14:00. It was now 10:00 am. The weather was rough so we weren’t that bothered passing the time sitting in the living/dining area for most of the day. The only hassle was that we had to move everything out of our room into a garage (200m away) and then move it back into our new room which was only 3m away from our original room. The manager did all he could to accelerate the process but we still moved in mid-afternoon, around 14:00.

    In the evening we enjoyed a second buffet at the local pub and settled back in our room to watch the Special edition DVD of the Fastest Indian. We just couldn’t get enough of the Burt Munro story !!

    The following day we were back to tent life again and so after setting up camp, we popped into town where the weather turned out to be nice, contrary to the weather report. Everybody in town seemed a bit more optimistic and started booking all the trips available in Queenstown. If you’re in Queenstown, you have to take a ride on a jet boat as they are so unique to here, so we asked about the forces involved in jet-boating with respect to Sylvia’s arm and generally weren’t encouraged at all, being told stories of how hard you have to hold on etc. and 'they really wouldn't recommend it !'

    The next day we visited the hospital at Frankton for Sylvia’s follow-up X-ray but were told it may take at least 2 hours to be seen so we went back to Queenstown to make a booking with the Private Clinic there-for the following day. We also made a booking for her to visit a physiotherapist afterwards to help her rehabilitation.

    I managed to lose one of my gloves in town , which I replaced with a cheap ski pair which work very well with the colder weather BUT the liner would come out of every time I removed my hands and was a real pain to put back in properly. The rest of the day we spent ambling about in town, replacing my broken sunglasses and trying out a famed (but not that special) Furgeburger before hiring Che's 'Motorcycle Diaries' for watching on the lap-top later.

    For the morning of Sylvia’s x-ray we overslept very badly , waking at 09:27 with Sylvia’s first appointment due at the hospital at 09:45. : By some miracle we managed to get dressed and to the hospital for 09:52 which was close enough not to lose the appointment. After a quick consultation (where we also learnt that the Hospital gets no injuries from Bungy jumps …I had to ask.), an X-ray and a visit to Physio we were pleased to discover than Sylvia was on the mend, even if she did find herself still in pain quite a lot and had restricted movement.

    Pursuing Sylvia’s desire to take a ride on a jet-boat we asked the physio what she thought about Sylvia’s arm. She said that it may be a little painful but if she positioned herself with her broken arm facing away from another passenger it would help-‘in any case, if I’d come this far to New Zealand, I’d take a couple of pain killers, do the ride, and take a few more afterwards if necessary’. My kind of woman. (Please read in the purest context. )

    After talking with the various representatives of two particular jet-boat companies, we opted to take what is know as a ’Dart river wilderness tour’ which is a trip partly upstream by 4 wheel drive with a nature walk and overview of Maori natural living, followed by a return 2 hour jet-boat trip. (The alternative is a 40 min high adrenaline canyon ride which is exhilarating but not much more, and potentially more damaging to Sylvia’s arm.)

    We were going to try and ride Skippers Canyon this afternoon, a gravel/dirt track recommended by our new New Zealand friends, Donald and Phil, but we let the afternoon slip through our fingers. In the evening we went to the cinema in town to watch “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson-it’s good, if you’ve not seen it yet.

    The following day we were supposed to be doing our jet boat ride on the Dart river in the afternoon but we re-scheduled as the weather wasn’t that inspiring, overcast and a bit wet. In the end we milled around town a bit, hired a movie and headed back to try and ensure we were in bed early enough to ensure a good nights sleep. The film was my Father Romulus, which was based on a true story but blinking depressing -It was so bad we decided to watch part of the ‘Fastest Indian’ again to cheer ourselves up before going to bed.

    It was very very cold in the night. In fact, so cold on one of the nights (not sure if it was this one) that Sylvia had got up in the night to go and sleep in the kitchen as she was so cold in the tent. We were up very early in the dark and cold to prepare for the day as not only were we taking the ‘Dart river wilderness tour‘ but intended to move on towards the Glaciers further North afterwards. The water which had been on the tent fly-sheet froze when left for 20 mins whilst packing and my fingers were hurting badly as they were so cold.

    In the end we managed to get to Glenorchy for the start of ‘Dart rivers wilderness tour’ at 08:45. The views along the way at sun-rise were astoundingly beautiful. The wilderness tour was ok but led by a 20 or so year old who was regurgitating what she‘d been told and knew no more. What she said was ok but it was obvious she had no real depth of experience in what she was talking about. We did however get to see the film set for 'Wolverine', the sequel to the 'X-men'.

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    En-route to Glenorchy -'The views along the way at sun-rise were astoundingly beautiful'

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    One of our views on the 'Nature-Trail'

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    An example of a Moari saw....judging by the time it's taken them to cut through this log, they should have gone to B&Q !!

    We heard one very sweet story about a small girl who grew up in the area where the filming was being done. The area is actually called 'Paradise' with many, if not all the the surrounding areas being based on Biblical place names. The little girl got to around 6 or 7 before she’d heard anything from the Bible and was amazed and delighted to hear that so many people from the Bible had visited her town !!

    The Dart river jet boat ride was good fun. The boats are fast and every now and again the Skipper would turn the boat through 360 degrees which was great fun and got us all wet. The Skipper also would take the boat very very close to rocks in shallow water which kept our adrenaline levels at a sufficient level throughout the trip. The views from the river were impressive.

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    My view from within the jet-boat.

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    It was an amazing that the boats were able to travel in such shallow water.

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    From these shots you can see just how shallow it was.

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    A few views along the Dart River.

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    Full-on!!

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    The sequence for a 360 degree spin - first, a fair amount of speed has to be acquired......

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    ...next, the Skipper has to try and turn the boat completely around back to continue in the same direction it was alreday travelling in but without any throttle.....in doing so however, some of the paying guests get a shower. :

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    ...whereby finally the boat comes to a rest with its nose closer to the water than looked safe at times !!

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    The origin of all the trouble !

    After our ride and an early lunch, we went onto Skippers canyon for our off-road ride. Near the beginning we met some other riders who’d just come off the track on relatively low-loaded Dakar’s. We chatted with them for a while but they were a bit worried that I would be taking the GSA down it fully loaded and two-up. Our friends had said it was a great ride so no one was going to easily put me off. We got back on and toddled off.

    The ride was great, albeit a bit hazardous with oncoming Land Rovers pulling dingy trailers around tight narrow bends who’d spent too much time watching Michael Schumacher. After a particularly rough section which was made of deep fractured dried mud we came to an old Homestead area with a school and house. Whilst we were there we met up with a small tour group in a 4x4 and we got given tea and biscuits by the tours guide/driver. It was interesting to see but we’d mainly gone for the ride.

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    Our views from the begining point of Skippers Canyon.

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    The following shots are from the ride itself....You can see the Prospectors/Settler's School house and living accomodation also.

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    Some Sunday afternoon 'droving' we saw...........

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    ...one of which became quite beligerent about our presence and its rights !!!

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    ............and finally back on Terra Firma.

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    A gratuitous beer shot of one of New Zealand's own....not their finest in my opinion but nice all the same.

    After we left there, we went onto A.J. Hackett’s original Bungy Jump site. They were closed for business when we got there but we were able to walk out to the bridge that the jumpers exit from. I’ve never been tempted to do a Bungy jump but looking over the side I could see that the most important thing would be to not think too much. Sounds silly and obvious maybe, but the science behind it is proven-the hospitals in Queenstown haven’t had any injuries from Bungying according to the Doctor I spoke to and so the ’natural’ fear is all that remains.

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    The site for AJ's original Bungy Jump.

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    You leave from here and you jump towards here ......

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    ...Simple...eh ?!? This shot actually does give the correct perspective as to how far away the dingy was. In a later entry on my second time around the South Island I have a few pictures of people actually jumping. :

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    A Hedgehog I almost ran over just after leaving AJ's Bungy site.

    After re-evaluating Bungying and taking a few photos we left and headed off , finally making it to Wanaker at around 20:00, where we managed to find a very nice but expensive Motel. I was so tired that after eating our take-away Pizza that I fell asleep pretty well straight away involuntarily…if you know what I mean. It had been a very long day.

    The following morning we set off again towards the Glacier region. We arrived at Hasst ,which is en-route, quite early which made a nice change. After a few false starts trying to find a room (as opposed to camping) we secured a Motel for $NZ 110/night. Not cheap but it was dry which is more than could be said for outside !! …and we had a TV !!

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    A very powerful waterfall we stopped to look at on the way to Hasst.

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    We leave Haast the next day and drive over to Fox, home to Fox’s Glacier and the mint (which is true).

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    For the doubters among you !!

    We check into another self-contained unit for 2 nights as it is cold and damp and I feel a bit of a cold hanging about me anyway. The unit was not great and looked like it had been made in the USA in the 50’s, which was also when it looked like it had last been maintained too , but it was warm and dry and ultimately did us. The weather was still pretty rubbish and so we were grateful not to be camping.

    On our arrival we had enquired about the many helicopter flights that can be taken to visit and walk on the glaciers. We’d read so much about the experience that we initially were quite keen to share in it.

    On our second day at Fox, the weather was still miserable so we had a lazy morning. We finally went out in afternoon to see the Fox Glacier & met a group of other mature bikers from New Zealand in town representing a project called ‘Idream‘. Idream are collecting peoples dreams from around the world and are going to write a book etc in order to inspire ‘us/you’ to pursue (y)our dreams, and not someone else’s formulae or set of rules. I was very interested in their project. 1 hour later we continued on to the glacier, that is after jump-starting my bike due to the battery going flat as I’d left the lights on whilst talking to them. We walked out to the glacier which was quite impressive but due to the overcast weather, didn’t see it in its best light.

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    One of first sightings of the Fox Glacier not long after the weather began to break a little.

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    Later we went for a walk in a near-by national park/lake area to take advantage of the better weather.

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    ...and we came across this odd-looking specimen. I've not altered the colour at all, and although it may not be 100% correct(due to camera falibilities), it is pretty much as we saw it !!

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    We move on to Franz Joseph the next day, after walking out to look more closely at Fox, and tease ourselves about taking a helicopter flight as the weather had improved. In the end, which took us a long time to arrive at, I just felt it was too much at around £NZ250 (each !) : for a 40 min flight and a 5 minute touch-down on a glacier. Instead, we walked as close to the Glacier as was safe which gave us a 3 hour round trip. It was impressive although Sylvia and I still dispute which of the two is best. Overnight we stay in a ‘Top Ten’ unit which is very nice after our Hillbilly shack.

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    Sun rise on a near-by hill on our walk out to the Fox Glacier.

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    ...yes that's right Sir, you can't do your shoe lace up here......

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    Fox Glacier.

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    Franz Joseph Glacier.

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    An impressive waterfall we passed on our way to the foot of the Glacier.

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    This is as close as you are recommended to get to the foot of the Glacier. None-the-less, some of the visitors don't seem to have grasped what a few tons of ice falling on them would mean.

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    They probably hadn't understood what the sign meant !!

    The following morning we make another very early start as we’re aiming to get to Kaikoura which is about 500km’s away on very twisty roads. Not that I obviously minded the corners , just that they would be keeping our average speed down. As Sylvia was going to be flying home on 15th March, this was to be her last chance to take a boat ride from Kaikoura to see the Whales and Dolphins before leaving New Zealand and so I had an additional impetus behind me for making it today. (We’d missed the opportunity the first time we passed through due to chasing the ferry. )

    In the end I rode hard all day. The weather changed as we rode from a cold and wet morning to a dry, warm sunny afternoon. We saw some more beautiful sights on some beautiful roads but it was a very tough day. Even though I was so tired and we’d already seen so many beautiful scenes in New Zealand, I still had to stop here and there to look and take the occasional photo as it was just so unbelievably beautiful. We finally arrived at Kaikoura at around 6pm, check into a nice unit I’d pre-booked and Sylvia toddles off to get some supplies. Meanwhile I lay on the bed in a semi-zombie state, absolutely exhausted.

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    One of our views on the way to Kaikoura......the photo doesn't do justice to the grey band of trees near the middle.

    We have some dinner and a beer and crawl into bed…….to ostensibly continue watching a 'Superman' film but about 30 seconds later I was gone……..... I think. (It may have been 20 seconds !!) I think Sylvia managed to watch the film to the end……..?!?!

    Mike.

  2. #2
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    thanks 4 all the pics brings back many memories

  3. #3
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    Hi Rob,

    You're welcome.

    What part of Switzerland are you from ? as Sylvia 'normally' lives in Zurich.

    Regards,

    Mike

  4. #4
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    Hi Mike,

    oh right! well i split my time 1/2 between zurich and basel, working and living in kloten but also living in basel.

    when she is back let me know ill be happy to meet 4 a beer!

  5. #5
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    Hi Mike,

    oh right! well i split my time 1/2 between zurich and basel, working and living in kloten but also living in basel.

    when she is back let me know ill be happy to meet 4 a beer!

  6. #6
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    Hi Rob,

    Thanks, we'll take you up on the offer when we're next there.

    Regards,

    Mike

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