New Zealand - South Island. West Coast to Christchurch (via Cromwell) & back to Australia.

27th April - 5th May

The following morning Jonas, my new German companion, and I left for Franz Joseph, stopping at Lake Rotoiti, one Nelsons two Lakes where we met another amateur photographer (Jonas is also one.) in the form of a retired lady. She had both a Nikon D200 & D300, both of which were my ideal cameras to replace my wounded and scarred D70s. She freely let me play with them but in the few minutes I got I was unable to identify any real differences between them, barring the slightly larger LCD on the D300.

The view we got of the lake was great and we were almost able to replicate one of the shots I’d seen in the Lonely planet. (The missing aspects being sun and the possible inclusion of too much camera shake as a result of trying to avoid the too-many busy sand flies. )

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Lake Rotoiti.....almost as good as shot as in the Lonely Planet.

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Seen just outside Greymouth....don't ask me why. They were on private land.

After getting back on the road again we got to the ‘Top Ten’ site in Franz Joseph in good time. I took a cabin & Jonas used his tent, albeit in the rain. After dinner and some further discussions, I offered to take Jonas to the Glaciers for a shortish visit if he wanted. He decided to take me up on my offer and continue on with me to Queenstown. By the time Jonas left for his tent it was raining very hard, and despite my offer of the other bunk in my cabin, he stuck to his plan for the tent.

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Views around and of franz Joseph.

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An algae growing in a river close to Franz Joseph.

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A lot of the camper-van rental compaines in NZ have witty slogans on their vehicles.

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Wanaka.

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The following morning we left to see the Frans Jospeh Glacier and then onto the Fox Glacier too. After Jonas had a look and took a few Photos of them both we continued onto to Queenstown and back up to the Shotover camp site Sylvia and I had stayed. Once there, we set up our tents and prepared a Tuna special for dinner, which as far as I know, is the same as everybody elses, a can or two of Tuna, some pasta and anything else you happen to have with you. Not sure what’s special about it !!

After a relaxed evening of chatting and surfing we retired to our tents, me to sleep, and Jonas to use his wireless laptop connection to make a Skype call to his family in Germany. However, his Skype call required him to speak quite loudly (remember he’s in his tent) which only took a few minutes to wake up some of our neighbours who were not happy, which had the result of him terminating that Skype call and transferring himself and said laptop to the camp kitchen.

When we finally got going the next day I took Jonas into town so he could have a look around whilst I made some more updates to the web-site. I collected him later and we visited a local pub in the evening who’d purveyed a reasonable buffet last time I’d been there with Sylvia. This time though, the buffet was only just ok.

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Seen from the camp site at the Shotover.

Next morning I woke up after having had a freezing night in the tent despite being fully clothed with my hat on ! The weather was supposed to be beautiful today and so we got up early to drive down to Glenorchy to see the mountains and river in good (photographic) light. It was amazingly beautiful and we spent 5 hours in all and got some great pictures between us.

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The drive to Glenorchy.

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Seen on the back of a 4x4 tour. A lot of The Lord of the Rings was shot in NZ.

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Glenorchy !

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The Jet-boats again. The nose still looks too close to the water at the end for my liking !

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In the afternoon we visited A.J. Hackets original Bungy Jump site and took a few photos of jumpers jumping. I was tempted to jump myself but I thought about it for too long… ! .... which I was sorry about as it looked really exhilarating.

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That's the way to do it ! We saw an 'ordinary' guy in his 60's do this whilst we were there. He loved it.

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This is not the best way to do it. She was very scared and jumped feet-first which meant she got a bit whip-lashed when the bungy fully extended. She was ok afterwards though.

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When we returned to the camp site I asked if I could hire a duvet, to which they responded yes, $NZ5 for the duration of my stay plus a $NZ 20 deposit. Perfect !! (Poor Sylvia, when I think of all the nights she was so cold when we stayed last time. ) I made Jonas and I a big stew tonight and we sat down eating half of it with mashed potatoes & more veggies. (A rare meal to prepare when travelling on the bike.) It twer raht luvvely !!

After not jumping yesterday, I wanted to do some thing adrenaline based today. My ideal being a 12,000ft free-fall tandem parachute jump. However, I awoke to foul weather which held no attraction for such an event, especially at the £250 asking price (with photo‘s etc.). In the end I completed some more updates and gave up on any further adrenalin ideas which was disappointing as they had been my main reason for returning to Queenstown. We finished the stew tonight, this time with Broccoli and rice !

On the 1st I was due to leave & drop Jonas off down in town as he planned to catch a coach to Te Anau (from where he was to visit Milford and Doubtful Sounds.). However, after some further discussion, Jonas decided to come with me to Cromwell & ultimately stay with me until I got back to Christchurch to collect a hire car for himself. The weather was really grotty this morning so we faffed around on the camp site until around mid-day before finally leaving. When we did leave finally we only initially made it into town to buy a few t-shirts and souvenirs …before eventually and finally heading off towards Cromwell.

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This Hotel is famous for its use by a NZ brewer, Speights.

The drive to Cromwell was pleasant enough and fairly quick. Once there we found the, yes you’ve guessed it, ‘Top Ten’ camp site. I took a cabin again and Jonas used his tent. In the evening we chose to eat together again and I introduced Jonas to Branston pickle and cheddar cheese, which he liked enough for us to pretty well demolish the jar in one night and for him to buy himself an additional one later.

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Can you guess where this yet ?

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Another fruit that can be found growning in Cromwell.

The following morning we left for Cromwell Old town, which is made up of a number of businesses that had existed and moved before the flooding in preparation of new local dam. It was quite a pleasant experience and we finished it with a couple of coffees.

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Cromwell old-town. Rescued before they flooded the old town area for the new dam.

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The area of the old town.

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Views between Cromwell & Lake Pukaki & Tekapo.

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We then drove up through to Lake Tekapo & Lake Pukaki and back to Fairlie for me to re-visit Pip, Sylvia and I’s new friend from Christmas and the Horizons Unlimited meeting at Arthurs Pass. Jonas was blown away by the beauty of both Lakes and we looked, photo’d and ate lunch whilst trying to take it all in. I dropped Jonas off at the Top Ten camp site in Fairlie and took off for the pre-arranged meeting and dinner with Pips at around 5pm. The first thing I did, after a tea, was to help Pip install the base of her new rotary washing line with a Super-fast setting concrete. After which Pip and I had dinner, exchanged stories and generally chatted until around 2:30 am where I retired to bed ..... dead .

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Jonas at Lake Pukaki. Note that he waves with his camera, such is his dedication to the art of photography !

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Lake Pukaki.

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Lake Tekapo.

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Seen on the way to Pip's.

After such a late night it took a while for me to get going and so I collected Jonas before I was ready to leave Pips and took him to meet her. He was delighted to see the inside of a Kiwi weather-board house and meet Pip. We finally left at around 12:30 and drove up to Christchurch. Once there, I collected a book I wanted & some drinks for a small good-bye reception Donald & Annette were holding for me. After that, I dropped Jonas off at his campsite(where Sylvia and I had last stayed) and drove on to Donald and Annette’s where I was to be there guest for the nest 2 nights. Once there, I started to unpack the car and the boot of the car was in a mess and Annette appeared a little shocked as I started to unravel its contents. She was though only too willing to help me transfer the boots contents to my room for the next two nights. That done, I assembled my washing and popped it into her machine so that it would be ready for drying first thing the following morning.

As I now only had two nights left in New Zealand, a small gathering had been kindly arranged for me tonight as the following night I had to be up at around 3am for my flight. We had a nice evening with Phil & Charylane & Mike Hyde (from Twisting Throttle.) where I heard many stories and antics of their club, the Dustdevils, who also have there own web-site; www.dust-devils.net .

The following morning I washed my tent & clothes and visited a Zoo with Jonas, famous I understood for its Kiwis, just outside Christchurch. We went primarily to see some Kiwis which was a little disappointing as there was only one which seemed a bit psychtoic as it only ran up and down one wall. This routine only altering to eat some food or take a drink occasionally. However, on a more positive note, I did get to see a tiger from about 2m and so after all the effort I’d made in India trying to photo/see one, I finally had ample opportunity to do so now. The same was also true of the Cheetah enclosure, although I got a bit of shock when one really growled/snarled at me as I‘d stepped over the normal public restriction cable to be next to their fence. In the end Jonas and I were both very pleased to have visited.

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New Zealand's Two-tailed Lemur.

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Here Kitty Kitty....

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...ahem, not quite that close !!

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There were about 4 cheetahs as I remember and one of them made me jump out of my skin by screeching at me when I was too close to their fence. :

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After my scare with the Cheetah I had to re-assert my courage.

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This one went a bit shy after Jonas asked it for a kiss.

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Seems even the monkies in New Zealand have caught on to the whole 5-a-day thing. In my day they just got bananas !

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I returned Jonas to his campsite and we said our goodbyes (and found my neck scarf which was a gift from Chris Harman in South Africa ) before I returned to Donald & Annette’s house only to find that I couldn’t unlock the front door with the key they'd lent me. Fortunately, they were only 10 mins short of returning home themselves and so I sat and waited on the door step with their cat !

In the evening we chatted over a number of things I’d experienced and many things they were preparing to experience. We had dinner & continued talking, however my packing was still outstanding, so finally at around 9pm I got back to work. I’d done most of the hard work in the morning e.g. washing clothes & tents etc, so this was just a final sort out of what to keep and putting it to my bag. I was very concerned over the weight of my luggage as whilst I could pay the excess charge of $NZ10/kg, that only applied from 20-32kg, thereafter I would have had to have employed another method to get my/our stuff back to Australia. As a result, I'd already sold my road atlas of NZ to Jonas for $AU10 & gave Sylvia and I’s NZ Lonely Planet guide to Donald for someone that might need it. By the time I’d thrown/given or sold stuff I was feeling a little more optimistic of getting what I had back to Australia without undue hassle. With Donald on the scales with & without the bag we established it to be around 25-26kg’s, a relief to me in more ways than one as I’d also obviously have to carry it !! Once that was all sorted at around 10:30 we sat down and had a cake and some coffee which lasted until mid-night, at which point we all retired to bed.

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Annette & Donald. Our new friends in New Zealand and themselves to be RTW'ers in the not too distant future. Sorry about Donalds dress sense.....the polo-shirt, not his shorts !

The 5th March was my final morning in New Zealand and I was up at 3:15am for my flight back to Australia. I was very tired with just the 3 hours sleep and concerned with driving to the airport as my concentration wasn’t as sharp as I‘d have liked for a very dark and wet morning. I managed to find the airport and the parking point in the car park where the car hire company had requested its deposit. It felt a bit weird as I had to leave the car in a normal car park, its keys in the glove compartment and the doors to the car open. (In England the Police would call that cohersion if the car got stolen ! )

Once in the airport I had a few hours to kill and so I bought an hours Wireless time, sent a few e-mails and updated the journal underlying the web entries for this web site whilst trying to bolster the few brain cells that were awake further with a large coffee.

Finally my plane was called and I boarded along with all the other half-closed eyes who were on a budget. I don’t remember much about the flight and was soon back in Melbourne.

Dave from Get Routed had kindly offered to collect me from the Airport and offered for me to stay at his flat for the night. A very kind offer for a friend, and an even greater offer when it comes from a shipping agent !

I rang Dave when I landed ( as arranged) and he drove in and collected me. We visited the local Bottle Store on the way ‘home’ where I bought some hopefully decent wine for dinner. After some lunch I dozed off on the sofa, only to be interrupted by Dave to ask if I’d like to stay for the week !...whilst I got the GS repaired, serviced and cleaned for selling ( the suggestion was very generously made by his wife, Maggie). To which I responded with a very dozy ‘ yes thanks’ and returned to my slumber.

In the evening I had dinner with Dave (one of his stews !… hmmm) & one of his friends where I could hardly keep my eyes open. We all struggled to stay awake in the end and toddled off to bed at around 22:30.

Mike.